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The Duel Trail Race

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultra Running Book Review

bretto_artAnyone with a passing familiarity to the ultra-running scene has heard of Hal Koerner. As one of the most consistent performers in the sport for more than a decade, Hal has won almost every major 100 mile race at some point in his career.

Ask any ultrarunner whether they learned more from a DNF or a perfect race, and they will most likely say the DNF. Clearly Hal is no exception to this, because instead of using the book to describe the incredible amount of ultras that he has won, he gives specific examples of his failures and mistakes in order to highlight the key points in each chapter. (His anecdote about painful chafing at his first UTMB is particularly amusing).

Prior to this book, the only pure training manual for ultrarunners was Relentless Forward Progress (EB review of RFP) by Bryon Powell. That and a runner’s own endless trial and error. That begs the question…

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Sydney Pitt – 168km of Beauty, Pain, and a Glass of Wine at UTMB

“Maybe you should try track instead of basketball.” – 7th grade basketball coach

These unexpected words shared with the youthful Texan, Sydney Pitt, transitioned her to a love of running, a love of beautiful natural environments, and a love to challenge herself with good friends and glass (or two) of good wine.

After exploring the triathlon scene for a few years, she ran her first trail race, the highly popular (now extinct) Sunmart 50km back in 2007 on the pine needle covered trails of Huntsville State Park (home of Rocky Raccoon 100), just north of Houston, Texas. As for most of us, your first trail race and first ultra, is one heck of a learning opportunity.

After overcoming projectile vomiting and “this is the dumbest thing I have ever done”, Sydney learned from this experience and the subsequent trail finishes up through the 100 mile distance.

After a couple friends planted the seed of trying to get into UTMB, a 168 km along the Mont Blanc mountain range that guides runners through France, Switzerland, and Italy – all three were packing their bags to lace them up with 2400 adventure seekers.

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Credit: Chrisophe Lepage

Enjoy as we chat about Sydney’s early running days, first 100 miler, and her sights, sounds, and reflections from being one of 114 woman to finish the 2014 UTMB.

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Pearl Izumi EM Trail N1 and M2 Women’s Shoe Review

olgak_articlesIt is almost too late to share my opinion on Pearl Izumi shoes I had received almost a year and half ago, but since I do have an opinion, and they are still the under-dog where trail running shoes companies are concerned, I decided it is worth it.

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Sometime in the Spring of 2013 I was fortunate to receive two pairs of the Pearl Izumi Project E: Motion series trail shoes – the N1 and M2. I had a great experience with a couple of pairs of PI road shoes and had good friends on the PI running team swearing by the shoes. And so the slow and long testing began.

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From the first try, both shoes seemed a touch on the bulky side. I was used to (not quite minimalistic but) more of a low-to-ground and very flexible shoes (La Sportiva Crosslights and Helios). Despite that initial feel, they also simultaneioulsy felt light and easy to bend. Maybe there IS something to it.

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I’ll Never Finish Leadville – 2014 Leadville 100 Race Report by Jason Bousliman

(Courtesy Getty Images / The Denver Post / Ken Nishimura)

(Courtesy Getty Images / The Denver Post / Ken Nishimura)

This is the story of my attempt to run the Leadville Trail 100 in August of 2014. Technically, the race started at 4:00 am in downtown Leadville on August 15, 2014. More accurately, the race started 29 years ago in my hometown of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

I was ten when my mom first told me about a town called Leadville and “The Race Across The Sky.” A 100 mile long high altitude race which traversed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. She showed me a picture from a running magazine of a skinny bit of trail stretching into the sky. I’d later learn this was the trail up the backside of Hope Pass. The image was burned into my brain.

leadville14_jason2As a kid living in a town that sat 480 feet above sea level, the thought of running 100 miles at elevations ranging between 10,000-12,000 feet was inconceivable. But as soon as I heard about the run, I felt I had to do it. Not just that I wanted to…but that I had to. It was as if I was infected with something and the only cure was to toe the starting line. As I grew up, my Leadville infection was fed by yearly camping trips with my family. We would drive from Pennsylvania to Wyoming each summer and just camp. Dad, my brother Jared, and our friend Jon Cobes, would fish and I’d run up and down the trails. How the hell I wasn’t eaten by a mountain lion I’ll never know.

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Life Happens!: Ways to Flow-With Instead of Fight-Against Life Obstacles

shellyd_eb100Running has taken a back seat for me most of this summer.

Things come up: family crises, car problems, job issues, sweltering heat, etc. When I really need to be running and taking care of myself, disasters strike and sidetrack me. So I have sacrificed sleep, nutrition, and running; which has not helped me deal with any of these obstacles. It’s hard to be focused on my goals, when these challenges keep cropping up.

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So what do we do when life gets us off track?

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2014 Leadville 100: Results and Reflections from our Tribe

A 100 mile race filled with rich history dating back to 1983.

Snuggled within the Colorado Rockies with lush green forests and flowing streams continuously within your field of vision. The views of Turquoise Lake while running along the singletrack trail - magical.

Inbound: The lake growing in the daylight hours. Still heading down towards May Queen. (Photo: David Hanenburg)

Turquoise Lake glowing in the daylight hours. (Credit: David Hanenburg)

A blending of an old mining town and an outdoor enthusiasts paradise.

The Leadville 100 hosted a gathering of the tribe at possibly the biggest 100 miler in the United States with 800-ish registered runners. This big-ness has also created a bit of controversy and logistical issues in the last couple years.

A race with really good running terrain for most of it. The catch – the course traverses from 9,200 feet to 12,600 feet at the top of Hope Pass, which you get to enjoy (or at least not vomit on yourself, hopefully) twice in this out-and-back course. And a 30 hour time limit adds to the keep-it-movin’ excitement.

The top of Hope Pass (12,600 feet) (Photo: David Hanenburg)

The top of Hope Pass (12,600 feet) (Credit: David Hanenburg)

This race also brings out a great group of TALON athletes willing to take on the “Race Across the Sky” adventure. Out of the 360 total finishers, 15 were part of our local tribe! (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the total list of TALON athletes that laced them up and began the journey.)

Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico all brought home a finish with the Lone Star State collecting the majority.

The often smiling, yet gritty trail runner, Liza Howard of Texas led our TALON athletes to the finish at the top of 6th Street in downtown Leadville. Liza led the female scamper for most of the race and held tough late in the race for second place honors in 20:01:15.

Matt Smith of Texas led the TALON boys, finishing 24th overall in 21:53:23.

New Mexico had both our wisest and yougest finishers with Edward Trzcienski earning a  27:09:02 finish at age 52, and 30 year old Trent Wester could finally stop moving after 29:43:06 of heart and determination.

Our average finisher was just under 40 years old.

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Mud, Miles, and Munchkins: Never Doing This Again

lmcgarraughartIt was a very hot Texas day over one year ago, and it would be my first night race. I had just started running trail races and I thought this race would be fun. I asked my husband if he thought the girls would enjoy camping and for some strange reason he thought it was a good idea. So we packed everything up, got the food together and head off to Austin.

Morgan (who is now three) was and still is good in the car. She likes looking outside, sleeping, listening to the radio or reading a book. Milena (who is now two), not so much.

Our first few road trips were the most stressful trips I have ever taken. When Milena is done with the car…she is done! She screams until we stop and she is out of the car seat. Then when we get to where we are going she will not sleep. Jason and I can’t do anything to sooth her. So we take turns sitting up with her. All the while Morgan is sound asleep. She has since gotten better, however on this frightful night Milena was no different.

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We arrive early at the camp ground and I help Jason put up the tent. The girls were just wandering around the camp site and watching other people. I was starting to relax. We went and picked up my packet and for some reason Jason told Morgan “no” and uncharacteristically she completely melted down. The whole packet pick up area sat and stared. I was mortified because I was part of “that” family. I am sure people were wondering why we brought two young children to a night race and at that point I was beginning to think the same thing.

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