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The Duel Trail Race

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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Jared Fetterolf – Overcoming Body Shutdown at Mile 15 to Finish the Badwater 135

Jared Fatterolf of Texas recently completed his first Badwater 135 in a time of 39:39:27. Jared starting ultra running about five years ago and has since completed twenty 100 mile or greater races including Lean Horse, Arkansas Traveller, Cactus Rose, Rocky Raccoon, The Bear, Burning River, Ozark Trail, Cruel Jewel, Viaduct Trail 150M, and a number of others. And Jared is only 25 years old!

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Enjoy our chat about the moment that reintroduced himself running, reflections on his early ultras, and his 135 mile Badwater adventure with his brother and friends crewing.

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2014 Badwater 135: Results and Reflections from our Tribe

Six courageous Texans were part of the 97 athletes that earned an entry to participate in this year’s global ultra endurance event called Badwater 135. Shoe bubbling temps above 100F, exposure, natural beauty, miles of pavement pounding exploration, and soul-stirring stars dancing overhead are all part of the lure of this historic foot race. This year’s event included a new course based out of Lone Pine, California due to the national parks system banning all athletic events in Death Valley. Over 17,000 feet of gain and 12,700 feet of descent, made this year a new experience for the veterans as much as the first-timers.

One of the unique aspects of this event is the critical role the required runner’s crew has in this adventure. There are no supported aid stations. Each crew shadows their runner throughout the journey (in a vehicle) for up to 48 hours, providing food, fluids, emotional and physical support. Quite the experience for everyone involved.

Badwater first-timer, Steve Maliszewski, led the Tejas train and crossed the finish line in 35:49:58.

Our final finisher was Badwater veteran, Kim Budzik, who completed the scamper up to Mt. Whitney in 46:50:34.

Our youngest finisher was 25 year old, Jared Fetterolf.

Complete Results from our Texans

  • Steve Maliszewski - 35:49:58
  • Phil Nimmo - 36:23:41
  • Jared Fetterolf - 39:39:27
  • Parvaneh Moayedi - 46:06:10
  • Kimberlie Budzik - 46:50:34
  • David Coats – mile 91

Complete results for the race.


Badwater Reflections

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

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Simple Movement Tweak to Reduce Effort and Increase Pace When Power-Hiking a Crazy Grade

Legs and lungs screamin’.

Approaching two hours and over 2,000 feet of mostly continuous climbing up Angel Fire Mountain during the Angel Fire 50km. Getting so close to the nearly 11,000 ft crest.

The course led us runners next to the chairlift taking mountain bikers to the top of the mountain. Oh, the conversation they must have had watching all us runners slowly working our way to the same destination but…by foot.

The foot race veers left and we grunt our way up a loose, gravel type road/trail that has its own gnarly pitch.

Traction becomes an issue.

Move your weight a little too much forward and your foot loses traction and slides out from underneath you.

Move your weight too far back…well, that would hurt.

It was slow going.

A fellow runner slowly and progressively moves by me during the climb. We wish each other well with the small bit of air we were willing to give to such a task.

The grade continues to increase to such a level that my heels were not able to touch the ground. My forefoot was the only contact point which further reduced my traction and control, and also put some crazy tension on my calves. It was like doing constantly loaded calf raisers.

Have you been on such a trail?

You have to laugh. Then swear. Then laugh some more. At least the calves haven’t cramped.

And then this idea bubbled up.

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You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan – Book Review

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you_onlyfaster_mcmillanThe blurb for YOU (Only Faster) seems to point this book squarely in the direction of road racing and shorter distance runners. If you are a die-hard trail and ultrarunner or fall into the anti-speedwork camp, don’t let that be a deterrent to reading this book. Author and running coach Greg McMillan does only discuss training in a track and road racing context, but the content of this book is very applicable to ultrarunners as well.

In fact, You (Only Faster), isn’t really about setting a 10k PR or running a BQ marathon time, or even just running faster. The actual core message of the book is about how to be your own best coach. And the information contained within does an amazing job of explaining how to accomplish just that.

At some point, every runner has found a training plan online or in a running-related book, printed it out and tried to follow it exactly as it is written. Often, any deviation from that plan is seen as a failure, without taking any other factors into account. What this book aims to do is to teach you to take one of those cookie-cutter training plans and learn how to adjust it to meet your own needs, strengths and weaknesses.

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Angel Fire 50k Race Report: Moments

The Angel Fire 50k, a late June adventure, became a great opportunity for the entire fam to head to the mountains surrounded by beautiful views, sunny skies, green – lots of green, and the cooler air of northeast New Mexico.

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With our condo window overlooking the start/finish area, we couldn’t have asked for a better family base camp. And with a 5:00AM start for all the ultra distances (50k, 50M, 100k, 100M), the 30 foot walk to the start was most groovy as my munchkins continued to enjoy some Zs.

After Jemez 50M (er 31M or so) run-n-ski event at the end of May, I was lookin’ forward to my second New Mexico trail adventure in about a month. Race morning showcased clear skies and mildly-cool temps as an intimate group of runners huddled near the start/finish area as we chatted briefly with friends and received final instructions.

The 50k scamper was segmented into a six mile relaxed loop of a bit of resort pavement then mostly open and wooded relaxed singletrack, followed by an 18 mile out-and-back that took you up and over the Angel Fire ski mountain along sweet singletrack, dirt forest roads, and doubletrack, and then repeating the six mile loop as a hopeful celebration loop.

Each race I participate in leaves its own unique imprint. Some stronger than others. This race shared some really strong moments that had this deep intensity and pin-point clarity. I couldn’t help but feel this sense of deep gratitude for the experience.

Here are some of these moments.

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2014 Western States 100 TALON Tribe Wrap-up and Reflections

It was a memory collecting Western States 100 weekend for our 17 TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) athletes as they traversed along this historic 100.2 mile course from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California. Our tribe covered the ages between 30 to 55 with all regional states but Louisiana represented. Texan, Paul Terranova, led our group to the Auburn track in 17:26:00 and Texan, Rob Ham was our final finisher to persevere and sneak under the 30 hour cut-off with a time of 29:54:47.

This year also witnessed Shaheen Sattar of Texas earn a highly-coveted top 10 female finish in her first Western States start. Shaheen’s training partner, crew, pacer, and boyfriend, Steve Henderson, shared a great Western States 100 report here on EB about their adventure. You can check it out here.

TALON Results

  • Paul Terranova (TX) – 17:26:00 (*13th Overall)
  • Shaheen Sattar (TX) – 21:20:49 (*9th female)
  • Ryan Holler (AR) – 23:24:42
  • Eric Zipfel (TX) – 23:25:49
  • Shannon McFarland (AR) – 25:49:13
  • Donald Zoch (TX) – 25:49:58
  • Matthew Searfus (TX) – 25:52:28
  • Brian Hill (TX) – 26:05:04 (*slammer)
  • Larry Pearson (TX) – 27:15:18
  • Daniel Murphy (TX) – 27:20:16
  • Amanda Alvarado (TX) – 27:25:43
  • Danny Ponder (OK) – 28:39:17
  • Steven Grossman (NM) – 28:56:28
  • Jennifer Kimble (TX) – 29:42:28 (race report)
  • Rob Ham (TX) – 29:54:47
  • Juan Escobar (TX) – mile 89.9
  • Jeremy Day (AR) – mile 62

Race Reflections

Enjoy as some of the tribe shares their strongest memories from the adventure.

Brian Hill of Texas

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My question before the race was “does it live up to the hype?”

My answer post race is – “Yes it does and it needs to be on your bucket list!”

Western States lives up to the billing – the history, the race organization, the volunteers, the mixture of elite runners and “recreational” runners, the pre-race panels and festivities – it really has it all and the popularity of the race isn’t just because it was the first 100 – it really is a well executed, fun race.

Two examples that show how the race really is entrenched in the community Read the rest of this entry »