Saturday, March 26, 2011

Antelope Island Buffalo Run 2011

I have ran the 50 mile Buffalo Run on Antelope Island every year since they have started so of course I would enter again this year. I was a bit worried to run this race because I had been sick two weeks prior for 8 days and was confined to the house. Then I was feeling better enough to run a 13 mile run on Sunday with Chad Carson. Chad is a local anaesthesiologist and a well known ultra runner. We are training for the ledvilleman this year in August. After our 13 mile run I had a relapse of illness leading up to 5 days before the Buffalo so I was debating on running. I ended up running and turns out I was feeling just fine. My LaSportiva Shoes held up very well and took me the whole 50 miles without any foot issues at all. My co worker Dixi came out and paced the last 11 miles of the run. The weather was perfect and I even PR'ed on the course.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Across The Pond

No amount of research could’ve prepared me for my experience last August as a participant in the 2010 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®.
According to the race’s official website,, the UTMB® is “the original and queen of the (four) races” sponsored by North Face®. The site boasts it as “…a great epic in a magical environment” and adds, “(It’s) the race that every runner should finish at least once in their life.”
The course passes through three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. The Mont Blanc range itself features seven valleys, 71 glaciers, and 400 summits. The race covers 166km (the equivalent of four marathons) and has 9,500 meters (31,168 feet) of positive height gain.
On a whim, I decided to submit an application to participate. Since 45 percent of UTMB® applicants would be denied, I understood my chances of acceptance were slim, and was surprised to get the news of my successful entry.
With only__ weeks from my decision to pursue entry to the start of the race, preparation time was minimal, but I readied as always did: I researched weather conditions, studied the race route’s terrain, and carefully calculated what foodstuffs I’d need to consume to achieve the right balance of calories and carbs. I also gathered the clothing, safety equipment, and other supplies I’d need for maximum performance. I even secured a mild sedative since I’m not a big fan of air travel.
I packed my gear, said goodbye to my family, and headed off to France.
Delta wined and dined us on the 10½ hour flight aboard the biggest airplane I’d ever seen. We touched down around 5:30 p.m. on August ___?___ then boarded a shuttle to the hotel.
I tried to enjoy the scenery and take in the sites of France- an effort proved impossible by the overwhelming fear of death that gripped me as our shuttle driver navigated narrow streets at breakneck speeds through rush-hour traffic. I was amazed we didn’t hit anyone!
The terrifying hour-long adventure ended with the abrupt arrival at our hotel. With a sigh of relief, we exited the shuttle and finally touched our feet on solid ground.

After a good night’s sleep, we scouted out the area and studied the race route. I’d been told everyone in this part of the world uses trekking poles so I’d brought my own- a set won in a drawing at the Hard Rock 100 in July2010 My first time using trekking poles was a real eye-opener. The rugged terrain was more easily navigated with the poles’ utility and I was glad I brought them.
As an ultra-runner with more than seven years of training and thirty-plus 100-milers under my belt, the typical challenges and anxiety that come with the race experience were very familiar to me: building endurance by dedicating every bit of extra time to heavy training, pushing through bad weather, overcoming rugged terrain, fighting off the aches and pains of prior injuries, etc.
No matter how many runs I’ve done, each one brings excitement that build as the race date approaches. Quelling the butterflies of excitement trying to sleep the night before a big race, pushing through hordes of excited runners all eager to gain the lead, running hard despite inclement weather,
The biggest challenge over our first few days was figuring out the terrain and city accommodations and the weather. Thick cloud coverage, 20-foot visibility and chilling winds combined to create an iciness I’ve never experienced anywhere in the West. The snowiest peaks in Utah and the frostiest winds of Denver never produced such an all over numbing, bitter chill. Race coordinators know the risk factors associated with such weather and warn runners of the risks; even going so far as to require all participants to sign a waiver certifying personal mental and physical capability.
For me, a guy used to 5 a.m. starts, the race’s evening start time made for a long day of anticipation. The live music and palpable energy were fun, but I admit it got boring wandering the quaint streets, killing time waiting for the race to start.
We did enjoy spending a portion of our time abundance with some of the German and French ultra-runners. Additionally, it was an honor to visit with …Mika Hoka? Owner of Hoka OneOne, a revolutionary shoe company originally based in France.
As the start time finally approached, we wound our way through 2,300 runners to get as close to the front as possible. With that many people, the public, pacers, and other volunteers, a position toward the back of the line meant an additional two hours of walking just to get to the starting line. We were in the middle and knew the race began when cheers from the crowds signalled the race had begun.
I wound through a service road with Jody Chase, a friend and occasional running companion. We ran together for the first 8-10 miles before we split up. Around 10 p.m., I arrived at Saint-Gervais, the first major aid station
The first sign something was wrong was the sight of hordes of runners on their cell phones milling about in the rain. More focused runners tried to push through the station but were held back.
We learned there’d been a major landslide about further up the trail. I waited with hundreds of other confused runners for news of a rerouting. The information we received was sporadic and sketchy. After 1½ hours, we were told to return to our hotels. That was it. The race was over.

We were stunned that such an event could end something we’d prepared for so carefully. There’d been so much time, money, and energy spent on an adventure that was over almost as quickly as it began.
After overcoming our shock and disappointment us Speed goat team members found each other despite the confusion. We took the provided trains back to Chamonix. Around 3 a.m, we got the news- a make-up bus leaving would be leaving for Coumayeur, Italy at 6:30 a.m. Thought we were exhausted at the thought of starting over in just a few hours, we put on our wet shoes, re-gathered our supplies, and mentally prepared ourselves to go on.
The Italian version of the race was less eventful but certainly more challenging. The false start in Chamonix just hours before knocked me out of race mode. Waiting for the start in Italy was rough. We were fed well, but housed in a large ski lodge-type building with mats laid out all over the floor for hundreds of us to take turns napping.
The events of the re-race were typical: cold, dreary weather, and rough terrain. The decreased elevation was helpful and I finished . Cory took the restart of UTMB in Courmayeur and finished 410, we met him after the race and even though he's a little deceived of not having run the full tour, he's really pleased by this experience and will for sure come back in a couple of years.” Big up Cory!”taken from Petzels web sight.

There were many memorable moments of this experience. I was surprised by the obvious differences between American ultra-runners and their European contemporaries. French runners took smoke breaks along the trail. Novel aid station offerings included: bread, cheese, sausage, and hard-boiled eggs.
My adventures in Chamonix made one thing clear: when it comes to this sport-- the challenges, the risks, the aches and pains… all these negatives pale in comparison to the positives. The lure of ultra-running remains constant, powerful, and intense… and so, I persevere. Essentially, what draws me back to race again and again are the same things that compel every ultra-runner: a determination to push my body to its limits, the thrill of the competition, and the satisfaction gained from setting, and reaching, goals others wouldn’t attempt in an entire lifetime.
We’re a unique bunch, that’s for certain. Not many groups are so devoted to an activity that can be brutal as it is rewarding, but ultra-running isn’t a choice anymore; it gets in your blood and becomes part of who you are. Ultimately, the pure, absolute love of the sport is at the core of every ultra-runner… and when everything is said and done, that’s all that really matters.

Article Writen by Wendy Green: