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The conditions for the 2006 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run were rather grim. After a particularly snowy winter there was still plenty of the white stuff around, making for challenging movement through the “mashed potatoes” for most of the first 30 miles. Added to this was the soaring temperature, which pushed up perilously close to the record of 80 degrees at the Squaw Valley start and 101 degrees at the 62-mile pacer-pickup point on Main Street in Foresthill.
Jim Campiformio from Connecticut, a good friend and fellow ultramarathoner I had known for many years, had asked me to be his pacer at Western States. Until I could legally begin to pace him at the 62-mile mark, I was assisting his sister Rosemary with crewing support at designated, authorized aid stations. After having met him at several locations throughout the day, we were waiting for Jim to appear at mile 55, Michigan Bluff, in the very warm evening hours. By now he was way behind his intended sub-24-hour pace and barely clinging on to a finish within the 30-hour cutoff. Rosemary and I knew that it wasn’t going well for him.
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In Run the World series, RunGo’s team of run-loving employees will take you on a tour of their favourite runs around the world. Each run will feature a different region, with tons of photos to get you motivated and a link to RunGo’s route, so you can follow the run with voice navigation. Whether it’s road or trail, it will be something to add to your running bucket list.
Episode 4: Mount Baker / North Cascades Copper Ridge Loop, just outside Bellingham
Distance: 52 kilometers! (That’s 32 miles.)
Elevation Change: Lots. 2,776m of gain. (That’s 9,107 feet.)
RunGo Route to Follow: Copper Ridge Loop 52k
Running Club to Go With: Cascade Mountain Runners
Why You’ll Love it
After driving down the beautiful forest roads away from Bellingham, this run is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Have you ever run through the Mount Baker Wilderness area and the North Cascades National Park? They are enchanted places. You’ll go down lush, open valleys dotted in paintbrush, along the beautiful Chilliwack River right near the Canada/US border, and then the “run” (sometimes a hike) takes you on a total different spin, taking you way up rocky ridges, past cascading waterfalls, alpine lakes, and into the deepest greens and browns you’ve ever seen. What’s more, you even get to cross the Chilliwack River in style, via cable car!
Not for the faint of heart! This route is already 53km, and with lots of brush in the way of the trail, and lots of elevation, it may be one of your longest ultra runs to date! But the more time out running, the better, right?! In all seriousness, there is no cell phone reception so you’ll want a buddy, because it’s a remote loop with no escape route, which is also what makes this route so beautiful. Honestly, most people do this route as a 4 day hike, so it’s an ambitious trail run in one go. Expect a long day with fewer kilometers / hour than normal because of the brush along the trail. Other things to note are that it will probably rain, and the brush will probably cut your legs at some point, so you may opt for cropped pants for this run. Oh yeah, and there are two icy cold stream crossings to keep you cool, when we ran the route they were up to our knees. Thankfully they are side by side and sort of a welcome feeling for tired feet! Yes, lots of cautions. But well worth it!
For more on the Copper Ridge Loop, check out the Copper Ridge Loop on the Washington Trails Association website, or go for a beer with the local Bellingham-based Cascade Mountain Runners to get all the details before or after you head out!
On July 11, I volunteered at the Beaverhead Endurance 100K & 55K Runs in Salmon, Idaho. As most of you know – whether it’s through running or volunteering at an ultra event or in reading about it in M&B – any part of an ultra race can be a transformational experience. At this year’s 55K, running friends – Kristine Goodman and Nellie Pryor – exemplified what toughness is all about. I’m including Kristine’s race report here because her and Nellie’s experiences can be an inspiration for everyone out there who may dream of someday doing an ultra. Here is Kristine’s account of the Beaverhead 55K.
Ah – Beaverhead – This course is unforgettable, breathtaking, and full of surprises!
Last year this race nearly killed me, physically and spiritually. My friend Nellie and I rolled into the last aid station well after dark. I was angry and bonking and wanted to quit. I had suffered from IT band issues for miles and the descent was proving to be brutal. I called my husband and told him I was quitting to his reply of “You only have 5 miles – everyone is waiting for you.” So I finished the race at 2 am, defeated. Then, of course, I signed up again – determined I could finish stronger.
This year I was more prepared with having been on the course before. I knew my head could be my biggest friend and having a pre-race pep talk by Travis Macy, the author of Ultra Mindset, solidified that knowledge. It was a surprise and a treat to listen to him talk! I started the day with a detailed plan – a new strategy for me. I knew how long I had between each aid station to finish before 10:30 pm – a stretch goal of taking almost 3 hours off my previous time. I also had learned that my recurring injuries rear their ugly heads when I am dehydrated so I really focused on drinking a lot of water and eating every 45 minutes. Those 3 strategies, combined with better weather held big promises for reaching my goal.
The day started at Lemhi pass with lots of friends. We were bused up to the start at 8358 feet. After bathroom breaks and getting race numbers, we all took turns taking pictures of each other at the start then patiently waited to begin.
At 7 am the race started. Immediately, the trail ascends a very steep hill climb for about a half mile. It’s here that the different paces spread out. I quickly found myself where I should be and was able to relax and enjoy the climb. For the next 18 miles – the course follows the Continental Divide Trail. For about 16 miles of that it is mostly nice, rolling single and double track through the trees. Simply amazing! We made good time and put lots of time in the bank for the skree field later in the race.
I was feeling pretty good through most of this part, and we were keeping on pace. I started to get tired around mile 10 so I ate some sport beans. I suddenly was craving candy like crazy!! I don’t usually eat a lot of sugar so this was very odd for me. I decided to go with it, and it seemed to work. At the 2nd aid station they had Swedish fish and Mike and Ike’s. Along with my regular nut butter and potato chips, the super sugary candy fueled my entire run. I’ve learned over the few ultras I have completed that while it is not smart to try something brand new on race day, I do better when I eat what I crave as this is probably an indication for something I’m lacking.
It is also here that the trail starts to change, and we began to see a lot more rock. We stopped to check out the views a few more times, but we had a big goal this year – so lots less time for pictures.
Eventually, we made it into the Gold Stone aid station. The volunteers were so welcoming. They filled us up, and we were on our way – 2 hours earlier than we had been at that aid station the year before. It was amazing to be that far in a race and not here one word uttered from a volunteer about a cutoff!
Finally, we headed out to the toughest 6 miles of the course. These 6 miles are what make this race different from every other race I’ve participated in. We climbed to the top of that point and then quickly began navigating a 3-plus mile skree field topping out at 10,047 feet.
At this point we had several people starting to pass us from the 100k (I’ve never considered myself fast). Each of them commented on how tough the skree field was, and no one was running. The skree field follows the Continental Divide – one side is Montana, and one side is Idaho. It’s absolutely breathtaking while at the same time terrifying and excruciatingly slow.
Soon, we came to the section where we started to descend, and we saw a trail again. It was a fantastic sight, although this year, I was a little saddened to leave those brutal 3 miles.
Continue reading » Beaverhead Endurance Runs – 55K
Our guest blogger, Ray Charbonneau, is a regular contributor to Marathon & Beyond magazine. In our current issue (July/August 2015), you can read his latest article, “Something to Run For: A Not-so-Short Story.”
In a world where running a Boston qualifier doesn’t ensure that you’ll get in the race, sometimes it seems like everyone is a runner. We may be closer than you think to the day when that’s a reality.
When we look back on the history of running in the US, we like to talk about ‘running booms.’ The period in the 70’s when Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon, road races began accepting women, and Jim Fixx had a bestseller is usually called the ‘First Running Boom.’ Then, in the 90’s, when everyone and their Oprah discovered that even penguins could run the marathon, there was the ‘Second Running Boom.’ And somewhere in the mid-2000’s, when ultramarathoning took off and the women entering races outnumbered the men for the first time, the ‘Third Running Boom’ started – a boom that appears to continue to this day.
But that’s a parochial view of the history of running. If we take a broader look, one that recognizes the long and storied history embodied by the idea of ‘the loneliness of the long-distance runner,’ those ‘booms’ are just noise in the data. What’s actually going on is no mere boom. It’s more like an explosion, a nuclear chain-reaction in the process of going critical.
Let’s look at that data.
This first chart shows the change in the number of race finishers over time, both overall and at a variety of distances, using data from RunningUSA.org and Ultrarunning Magazine. You can see that there are no real ‘boom’ or ‘bust’ cycles. With only one exception, the curves are always going up. And that one exception, a single-year dip in marathon finishers, was not caused by any loss of interest, but when Hurricane Sandy forced New York to be cancelled, wiping out 40,000+ potential finishers.
I included a line in the chart for the US population over the same period. The population is rising, but it’s obvious that the increase in race finishers is not due solely to an increase in the overall number of people.
Now picture the long, relatively flat part to left of the curves shown here, the part that represents running prior to the 70’s, a time when there were so few organized races that a single publication, pasted together manually by a single person, could track all the results. And take note of the significant increase in the rate of increase in the 2000’s, especially at the shorter distances.
When you take the entire history of running into account, it’s apparent that the overall trend of participation in running events closely resembles an exponential growth curve.
It’s not a little boom, or a series of booms (and busts). It’s a running explosion!
What does this explosion mean for running in the coming years? Let’s look at that population curve and at the curve for the total number of event finishers in more detail.
I generated best-fit trendlines for those curves, which you can see on the first chart. They confirm that the US population is increasing steadily, in a relatively linear fashion, while an exponential formula is the best fit for the finishers’ trendline. Both formulas fit the data extremely well, as shown by the fact that the correlation coefficient (R2) is very close to 1.
Now let’s extend the current trends forward into the future. Here’s a final chart:
If things go on as they have been, by 2080 there will be a race finish for every man, woman, and child in the US. It’s science!
Ray Charbonneau is the author of a number of books on running. That number is currently four. Ray’s work has appeared previously in Marathon & Beyond and many other publications. His current project is the “Runner’s Book Bundle,” a specially-priced collection of 15 indie-publishing ebooks by runners for runners. All proceeds from sales of the “Runner’s Book Bundle” go to the Vermont Foodbank and the 100 Mile Club. Find out more at www.y42k.com.
In Run the World series, RunGo’s team of run-loving employees will take you on a tour of their favourite runs around the world. Each run will feature a different region, with tons of photos to get you motivated, and a link to RunGo’s route, so you can follow the run with voice navigation. Whether it’s road or trail, it will be something to add to your running bucket list.
Episode 3: Temescal Canyon Loop, just outside Los Angeles
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Change: 400 meters, mostly all in the first mile!
This run is a true classic, a runner’s and hiker’s favourite in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains in L.A. The loop takes you to a beautiful view overlooking downtown L.A, Malibu, and the Santa Monica pier and back in only four miles, with no filler. You’ll get to run the best of the Santa Monica mountains, including soft paths through ferns, dense forest, wide-open canyons, and a fair share of steep climbing – and you may even see a waterfall, depending on the season.
Beware of cacti! We recommend that you keep on the trail, since there are some spiky plants along the trail.
For a great map of the area check out the LA Mountains website.
RunGo Route to Follow: Temescal Canyon SoCal Coyote Run