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The Duel Trail Race

2014 Texas Trail Championship Series: End of Summer Update

Nearly 400 trail runners from Texas and around the country, are participating in the inaugural year of the Texas Trail Championship series that contains 29 races from throughout the state. 19 races in the books, and 10 races queued up for the remainder of the year. And like a good novel, we won’t know the final results until the last race (page) has played out. Someone could join the series today and take home some bling, cash, the mother load of race discounts for an age-group win (half price entries in 2015), or even enjoy a cold beer…from a dreamy Yeti cooler!


Before we take a glance at the current standings, how about a little understanding on how points are accumulated (assuming you have a USATF membership or get one before your series race) for the Ultra and Trail (sub-ultra) series divisions.

  • Finish a series race and you earn points with the following formula ((Winning Time) / (Your Time)) * Distance = Your Points (Example: winning time – 1 hour, your time – 2 hours, distance – 10 miles. (1/2) * 10 = 5 points)
  • Your top 7 points finishes will be used in the series standings for that particular division.
  • For the Trail (non-ultra) series you must finish four races to be included in the final standings.

Now the series standings may make a bit more sense, let’s check it out.

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100 Mile Training Pillars

olgak_articlesSo, you just signed up for a 100M trail race…and it’s a few weeks away! Panic attack! What do you do NOW???

David wrote a timely whole big article about what kind of 100 milers exist in our wonderful TALON region, so I don’t have to begin with that. That said, what I’d like to focus first and foremost are those few 100s that are coming up on us like a freight train, because you know, there is no time to panic but there is still time to adjust and make a dream happen.

The first race on the upcoming Fall calendar is Arkansas Traveller on October 4th, followed by Pumpkin Holler on October 18th and then Cactus Rose on October 25th. Where do you need to be at this point? Hopefully far into your peak training and ready to wind down. Your average weekly mileage varies as we are all individuals with style and life events, but I would surely like to see you in at least 50 miles per week category if you’re a beginner or in-general a “low mileage” kind of person prone to injuries.

For the low mileage runners (sub-50 mile  run week during your peak training), I would pray that you:

  1. cross-train for 2-3 additional hours a week with either cycling or other cardio equipment at the gym and weight training/plyometrics
  2. are an experienced runner who had completed a 100M race before

What could your last 3-4 weeks look like (approx. between 7-10 weeks out from race day)?

You ran your long runs in the vicinity of 30 miles followed by maybe a 10-miler the next day, and/or participated in a 50k/60k race (maybe even traveled somewhere for a 50M). That long run (or race) should have been close to the terrain your 100 miler will have. If it is Arkansas Traveller, you ran dirt roads and pounded your legs hard. If it’s Pumpkin Holler – about the same, and the hills were not steep but on the longer side. If it’s Cactus Rose – you hit lots of rocky terrain with steep climbs and ledges and some flat stretches in-between.

Now let’s look at the key components to 100 mile training.

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TALON 100s and Slammin’ in the Region

Over the weekend, the Leadville 100 was the third stop of this year’s Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, the Slam.  The Slam consists of finishing four 100s all within the same year – Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and the Wasatch Front 100.

To add to the challenge, this string of 100s takes place from June and wraps up in early September. Take out your handy desk calendar and you will notice, less than three months to finish four 100s. Don’t try and wrap your mind around that.

This year, there were 30 souls that started the Slam journey. We are down to 15 heading into the final adventure,  Wasatch Front 100. Oh, the adventure, the journey.

So this got me thinking of some slammin’ right here in our TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) region.

Did you know, we have eight trail 100s in our region of the country?!?

Yes – 8!

And every state is represented! Kind of groovy, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at our TALON hundies.

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Traveling? Find Local Trails!

We are honored and excited to welcome our newest contributor for the EB tribe, Susan Farago of Texas. Susan has a wide range of endurance sports experience along with a deep passion in introducing women into our sport.

Enjoy as Susan shares her first article on trails and traveling.

travelingSF2Trail runners are a naturally curious and adventurous bunch of folks, so when travel plans come up, take advantage of exploring a new neck of the woods! I took the opportunity to discover some new trails as well as revisiting some of my favorites while spending three weeks in Minnesota visiting family. Photos and related stories are at the end of this article.

To get started, there are many ways to find new trails:

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Ferdinand de Souza – Exploring the Unknown, Flip Flops, Peace, and the Hardrock 100



Ferdinand de Souza of New Mexico entered the running and trail running scene in Utah during the late 1970s. Ferdinand progressed through the distances and was intrigued by the challenge of the 100 mile distance, a journey into the unknown.

“Can I do this?”

After finishing his first 100 at Wasatch Front 100 back in 1986, Ferdinand also strung together his own slam of 100 mile races.

Gradually he drifted away from the sport before he and his wife, Diane, returned back to the sport in 2006.

Then the question returned.

“Can I do this?”

A finish at The Bear 100 in 2011 provided the answer – Yes!

At the age of 60, Ferdinand hit the ultra running jackpot with his name being pulled from the Hardrock 100 hat.

Enjoy as we chat about the early running days, reflections on our sport from past to present, and the 47+ hour journey to kiss the Hardrock.

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2014 Hardrock 100: Results and Reflections from our Tribe

100 miles by foot through the unforgiving and majestic beauty of the San Juan mountains of Colorado with the goal to kiss a large stone as your award. To kiss the Hardrock. 140 athletes from around the world attempted just that.

Clear Lake at 12,300 feet along the Hardrock 100 course. (Credit: John Fowler /

Clear Lake at 12,300 feet along the Hardrock 100 course. (Credit: John Fowler /

The Hardrock 100 is a trail running experience like no other in the United States.

Big climbs.

Big views.

And a community with a big heart.

At the beginning of each July, an intimate group begins their yearly pilgrimage to Silverton, Colorado. They arrive to acclimate to the altitude, help with course/event set-up, and simply hang-out with the Hardrock family surrounded by natural beauty until race day.

This year the TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) tribe laced up 14 sets of tread from three states. New Mexico was our largest group with nine runners. Followed by Texas with three and Arkansas with two.

All Tough-As-Nails!

David Coblentz (age 51) of New Mexico, led our tribe to kiss the Hardrock in 34:00:59.

Our final and wisest finisher was Ferdinand de Souza (age 60) of New Mexico, who stayed focused to the finish line in 47:04:30.

Our youngest finisher was lowlander John Sharp (age 36) of Texas who put together his fastest Hardrock finish so far, a 37:04:56.

Of special note, Ken Gordon of New Mexico also completed his fifth Hardrock this year.

Complete TALON Results

  • David Coblentz (NM) – 34:00:59
  • John Sharp (TX) – 37:04:56
  • Tyler Curiel (TX) – 37:47:26
  • Sean Cunniff (NM) – 38:50:19
  • Neil Blake (NM) – 38:52:02
  • Paul Tidmore (TX) – 40:08:36
  • Randy Isler (TX) – 41:35:03
  • Ken Gordon (NM) – 41:40:21
  • Kristen Kern (NM) –  41:52:48
  • Blake Wood (NM) – 42:22:12
  • Stan Ferguson (AR) – 42:41:59
  • Podog Vogler (AR) – 42:41:59
  • Susan Gardner (NM) – 46:46:24
  • Ferdinand de Souza (NM) – 47:04:30

Complete Hardrock 100 results

Hardrock Reflections

Enjoy as our Hardrock athletes graciously share some moments from their adventure.

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Exploring the Edges

olgak_articlesThere’s been a huge boom in organized trail ultramarathons and its participants in the last five years. It may have slowed down ever so slightly in the last year but the popularity keeps on growing. And nowadays, everybody and their grandmother wants to finish a trail ultramarathon – And it’s wonderful. It gets a lot of folks off the couches, out in the open, moving, setting goals, and reaching further than they did before. It allows for an opportunity to meet new people, hang out with the like-minded, share common ideas, trips, chats, and memories. A lot of folks jump into pursuing that wonderful goal of running a trail ultramarathon with both feet and no prior shorter trail race experience or a long trail outing. But believe it or not, these kind of experiences are helpful, fun, and you may want to do more of it once the golden days and hoopla of your own, or country’s trail ultras subside.

Sometime before Dean Karnazes’ book hit the bookshelves in early 2006, trail lovers did two things: they participated in short local trail races and they hiked/backpacked/peak-bagged in the mountains. You knew they loved the trails for real, even if they didn’t really feel the need to share their experiences over the internet or other means with their friends. They just needed to be out there, short or long.

One of my earlier years backpacking back in Russia (circa 1985)

One of my earlier years backpacking back in Russia (circa 1985)

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