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The Duel Trail Race

The Long Run Book Club: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet

lhoward-artI asked my friend Julie to drive up to Colorado with me last summer, so I wouldn’t be alone with a six year-old and a nine month-old for 16 hours en route to the Leadville 100. Julie agreed because she is an extraordinarily compassionate person – and because leaving South Texas for the Colorado mountains in August trumps traveling 16 hours in a car with children (especially if you don’t have any children of your own and don’t know what you’re getting into.) Anyway, somewhere between San Antonio, Grand Junction, and my son’s last side-of-the-road vomiting stop, Julie pulled out her Kindle and asked if I wanted to hear Kilian Jornet’s book, Run or Die. I yelled, “YES!” so she could hear me above Ruby’s wailing. The following assessment of Kilian’s book is colored by the volume it had to be read at, the truck stop coffee I was guzzling, and the fact that Skyrunner’s Manifesto that starts the book off doesn’t really speak to me these days.

“….Because glory is the greatest, and you can either aspire to glory or fall by the wayside. You cannot simply not fight, not suffer, not die…. Now is the time to suffer, the time to fight, the time to win. Kiss or kill.”

Kilian Jornet is the best and most versatile mountain and ultra runner there is. He might be the best there’s ever been. One of my favorite Kilian quotes comes from Hardrock this year when he smashed the unbreakable course record and said something to the effect of “I was kind of tired the last three miles.” He’s in a class by himself.

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Black Diamond Distance Trekking Poles Review for Trail Runners – Plus 10 Reasons Why You May Want to Consider a Set

olgak_articlesI’ve never written a review on trekking poles. But then again, I’ve never owned poles in my life, unless those poles are for cross-country skiing. Even with alpine skiing, I prefer to tuck mine under the arms and scream downhill freely. I am just not much of a poles user.

But in the last decade or so, it seems that you can’t go to a mountain ultra race without seeing a few folks using them. At first the rule was – poles for anyone over 60. But as years progressed, more and more folks had began carrying them. At first in races like Hardrock 100, where the climbing is steep, long and at altitude, and even the best of the best power-hike the uphills. But soon after, any race that is on mountainous trails experienced the surge in runners utilizing poles.

To see what the buzz is all about and if they really help, yet not take away from the experience of a purist mountain runner and hiker, I managed to try out one of the best on the market, Black Diamond Distance Trekking Poles. The official use of these poles ranged from trail running to fast packing to day hiking and backpacking, to trekking and snowshoeing and even backcountry skiing.

Can it be more versatile?


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Mud, Miles, and Munchkins: An Unlikely Crew

lmcgarraughartMy husband has always been my crew. He feeds me, hydrates me, cleans me up and wipes away my tears. When I was chosen to run Miwok 100k back in May, Jason was excited. We had never been to Stinson Beach and it would be a great “vacation”.

Well the race didn’t go as planned and I was pulled from the course at mile 48 for missing the cutoff. Through the entire race Jason was at every aid station, gave me what I needed when I needed it and sent me on my way. It just wasn’t my day.

After I had recovered, I was determined to finish a 100k in 2014. I needed redemption and a confidence builder. My sister lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and when the Uwharrie 100k and 100 miler opened up…I signed up. It had a little less overall climbing than Miwok, but wasn’t flat. The race also offered a generous 36 hour cut-off. Since we had used our vacation pass for Miwok with Grammy and Papa, Jason couldn’t come with. So I asked my sister to crew me. She was excited to see what this craziness was and happy to have some time away from her everyday life.


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Tailwind Nutrition Review: Initial Impressions of Tailwind Endurance

bretto_artFueling for ultramarathons is one of the trickiest parts to a successful race or long training run. Tailwind Nutrition is a company is looking to simplify that with an all-in-one nutrition product for endurance athletes.

Personally, I have always loved the simplicity of fueling primary via fluids in theory. In practice, after sampling most of the various powder mixes on the market, I’ve always went back to plain water and used gels, chomps and other solid foods for calories.

The Tailwind Endurance product specifically set out to remedy the problems (overly sweet taste, stomach distress, insufficient calories and electrolytes) that some endurance athletes, myself included, have experienced with powdered drink mixes.


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Gobsmacked: Rim Running in the Grand Canyon

susanf_aboutGobsmacked*. The only word I can think of to describe trail running in the belly of the Grand Canyon. It was an 18 month project that came to fruition on September 11 when 7 of us started from the North Rim at 4:00 A.M. and descended into darkness with only our headlamps to light the mule shoe imprinted dirt trail and rock walls. We stopped at a watering station near Roaring Springs to refill our hydration packs and to put away our headlamps. We were only 4 hours in to what would turn out to be a 16+ hour trail run, but none of us could take our eyes off the continuous beauty of the tall looming canyon walls, the overflowing streams and waterfalls (thanks to recent rains), and how the sun was slowly climbing higher into the sky turning dark rock into luminous shades of pinks, oranges, greens, and purples.

Ask any ultra trail runner and they will say that running Rim to Rim (to Rim) is either on their bucket list and/or they know someone who has done R2R2R. In my experience with these athletic projects, the first step to making it happen is to get a date on the calendar. We originally planned to run in the spring of 2014 but hotel availability on the north rim dictated we would run it in the Fall (despite calling 9 months in advance to book rooms).

Why start at the north rim?

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2014 Cactus Rose 50 Race Report: 1.55 in 15

Surfing. With your shoes as the board, and the loose rocks combined with the steep pitch become a good little wave. Our small little group of three glided down the final technical descent, Lucky Peak, hoping to stay upright on our boards. We could feel the closeness of the 50 mile finish line in the distance pulling us towards her shores.

“Do you know how far to the finish?”, Michelle asks two 100 milers as we near the base of this final descent.

“1.55 miles”, one of the two runners respond.

If you mention the distance to the hundredth of a mile, you must know what you are talking about…at least that was my reasoning at that moment.

As we get back to running and less surfing, I look at my watch. 15 minutes before the 12 hour mark on the race clock. I quickly saw this fun little opportunity to finish off our race and announced to our 3-pack.

“Here is the opportunity. We have about 1.5 miles to the finish. It is 15 minutes before the 12 hour mark. The rugged technical stuff is behind us. If we focus and get after it, we can sneak under 12 hours.”

No words were spoken, yet we all heard each others response.

With focus and determination, Armand, Michelle, and I progressively dialed up the effort which we knew we had to hold for the next 15 minutes after running 48+ miles.

We went for it.

October is often a beautiful time through the region and is my favorite trail running month. The cooler temps and drier air mark a transition to Fall and the start of many mild months of trail running in the South.

This would be the first time the entire fam would come down for Cactus Rose. After a few days of family camping this summer in New Mexico and Colorado, we were fairly confident we could handle a couple nights of somewhat primitive camping together. What we haven’t dialed in yet is need vs want with respect to what we bring, so the Outback was filled from front-to-back, plus our portable Roof Bag (which we love) was filled to capacity. Thank goodness for the hearty suspension on the Subaru.

After 6+ hours of driving, we were still all accounted for as we drove into the Hill Country Natural Area.


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EB26: Ask Meredith: Unhappy Stomach During a Run – Why it Can Happen and Ways to Prevent

We are super excited to share more awesomeness for our Endurance Buzz tribe with the addition of the Ask Meredith episode on the Endurance Buzz Podcast!


What is Ask Meredith?

Periodically, Texas-based ultra athlete and nutritionist, Meredith Terranova will share her thoughts on your nutrition question on the Endurance Buzz Podcast!


Do you have a question you would like Meredith to share her thoughts on in a future Endurance Buzz Podcast?

If so, simply visit the Ask Meredith page and submit your question through the submission form.

Let’s get to the first Ask Meredith episode on the EB Podcast!

James asks…

During the Summer months I struggle with nausea during long training runs. I am about to experiment with gels & drinks free of fructose opting for dextrose instead. I suspect the warmer temps play a role as well. Your thoughts?

Enjoy as Meredith and I chat about the unhappy stomach including:

  • some reasons why the stomach can revolt regardless of the weather
  • the type of nutrition isn’t the only component to be concerned about
  • ideas that may help keep the stomach smiling
  • the best dictator of what calorie sources to use
  • David shares a couple nutrition #Fail stories and one #Win
  • a reminder of our individual uniqueness

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