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Coping with Injury HOW THE PROS DEAL WITH IT


OC TOBER 20 14 | ISSUE 99









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6 Favorite Trail The fabulous Dog Mountain Trail, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, British Columbia. By Brian McCurdy

12 18 20

28 The Injury Games

A look at how to cope with run-stopping maladies. By Sarah Lavender Smith

36 Around Patagonia

Running adventures with friends and a record attempt at the Circuito Torres del Paine. By Jason Schlarb




PEOPLE MAKING TRACKS How three top trail runners got their roots. By Brendan Curtin


In pursuit of the Goldilocks shoe. 12 new shoes that aim to do it all. By Yitka Winn

PERFORM TRAINING Why (and how) you should strength train for trails. By Ian McMahan


EXPLORE GREAT ESCAPES A wild beach trail run on the northern California coast. By Rickey Gates

COVER: Lydia Blandy cruises prime singletrack in the Marin Headlands, California. PHOTO BY SCOTT MARKEWITZ



62 LAST GASP The author’s trials with the worsttrained dog in the world. By Jenn Shelton

THIS PAGE: Jason Schlarb strides out in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia. PHOTO BY JOEL WOLPERT

(USPS 024-696, ISSN 1536-3134) is published 8 times a year (January, March, April, June, July, September, October and December) by Big Stone Publishing, 2567 Dolores Way, Carbondale, CO 81623. Periodicals postage paid at Carbondale, CO, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Trail Runner, 2567 Dolores Way, Carbondale, CO 81623. Subscription rates are $21.95 per year, $32.95 for two years. Canada, add $12.50 per year for surface postage; all other countries add $15 per year for surface postage (US funds only). Canada Post CPM #7157697.






Dog Mountain Trail

MO U N T SE YM OU R PROVINCIAL PARK, N O RTH VA N CO U V ER , BR I TI SH CO LU M B I A RUNNER: Sasha Brown BETA: When the snow melts in spring, this popular snowshoeing trail reveals the renowned “North Shore,” technical trail-running terrain. Begin running from the Mount Seymour ski parking lot (3,360 feet), and follow the trail into beautiful second-growth forest. Pass by a small lake (First Lake), before continuing left to ascend Dog Mountain. The trail ends at Dog Mountain’s rocky outcrop, where you will enjoy an expansive view of Vancouver’s skyline, set among the Pacific Ocean, neighboring ski hills and the impressive peaks of the Coast Mountain Range. On the way back, stay left around First Lake, passing Dinky Peak, for a lollipop loop. You may expand this tough, seven-kilometer jaunt by exploring Seymour’s other peaks, dubbed “pumps.” DIFFICULTY: Moderate. INFO: From Vancouver, take the Trans Canada Highway to Mount Seymour Parkway. Turn left (north) on Mount Seymour Road and park at the top.
















The Modern Quiver Navigating the mind-boggling assortment of trail shoes > BY MICHAEL BENGE


ong ago, one pair of shoes would serve as my all-purpose footwear. They were technically “running” shoes, but running trails was only one of their functions. They also performed as my around-town shoes, mountain-approach shoes, work shoes and dancing shoes. Who knows the total mileage on these threadbare beaters, but it was always far beyond the recommended number. I still spend the majority of my time wearing running shoes, but, boy, have I passed owning just one pair.

In fact, the four-foot-by-four-foot tower of shoes in my mudroom is almost embarrassing: several aghast friends have taken and shared iPhone images of the colorful array. But it’s all a part of working at Trail Runner, where we are forced to test the seemingly endless supply of new shoes on the market. It’s a tough job, but, in the interest of informing our readers via our Annual Spring and Fall Shoe Reviews, we and our army of loyal testers endure hours mucking through mud, streams, rock and dirt. Herewith, you’ll find our 2014 Fall Shoe Review, which features a dirty-dozen new models, from the minimalist Merrell Bare Access Trail to the burly The North Face Ultra Equity to the nimble Inov-8 Race Ultra 290. In the post-Bornto-Run era, we are fortunate to have such a variety of shoe designs from which to choose, but even seasoned trail runners have difficulty keeping up on the trends. So, whatever your shoe desires, be they fitting a certain foot shape, trimming ounces to gain speed and agility or gaining adequate protection for super-rough trails, check out our reviews. They begin on page 42 for some ideas. Elsewhere in this issue, we share several articles to help keep you healthy this fall season and beyond. In our feature “The Injury Games,” read about mentally and physically coping with the seemingly endless variety of running injuries; we hope you will find the insights from our sport’s top talents helpful. In that vein, in Training, learn how strength training can enhance your trail performance, and help ward off injury and age-related declines. And, in Nutrition, Ian Torrence, running coach and ultrarunning legend, debunks a few myths and lays a foundation for an optimal diet. Everyone eats. And most get injured. And wear shoes.





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Bang a Gong, Vanagon! The Last Gasp article, “Van of My Dreams,” by Sarah Lavender Smith, in the September issue [Issue 98] was awesome! I handed it to my husband (not a runner), and said, “Read this.” He did, turned to me and said, “That’s you!” I have always wanted a Vanagon camper, after owning one when our four kids were little. Not that I’m retired and a grandma—maybe old dreams do not die easy! Thanks, Sarah. —Deb Schopp, Fenton, MO


I want to thank you for “The Hope Seekers” [June 2014, Issue 96]. As a runner who has struggled with recurring depression throughout my life, it was helpful to be reminded that I’m not alone. I’m grateful to these women for being willing to talk frankly about something that can be difficult to understand and that too often still lurks in the shadows of our society. I appreciate their courage. On a less enthusiastic note, I found the opening image of the following article, “True Grit,” to be very disturbing. Why on earth would you open an article (particularly one immediately following an article about depression and suicidal thoughts) with a full-page image of a man pointing a gun in my face? It put a knot in my stomach.

—Michael TenBrink, Oakland, CA


Trail Runner magazine






Lisa Marshall, if you read this, was I a complete dork to cry at the end of your story, “Bonded by Miles” [Making Tracks, July 2014, Issue 97]. I would think not. When you form a bond with a group of people and you lose one of your own, it’s the equivalent of losing a loved one. I want to thank you for sharing your

story. What a beautiful way to honor your friend David Laurienti. Keep on running.

— Freddie DeJesus Jr, Coplay, PA


Great job to Garett Graubins on a compelling article about Ken Chlouber [“True Grit,” Issue 96, June 2014]. Hearing Ken say, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can” at many LT100s in the late 1980s and early ‘90s when I was a kid made a significant and lasting mark on me. Last year, even though I had a mediocre race, I had a fulfilling day at the Silver Rush MTB, because I got to see my three-year-old son riding on Ken’s lap on an ATV as I crossed the finish line—classic Chlouber! Ken and his former LT100 co-RD Merilee Maupin are people who care, and they mean a lot to many of us.

—Travis Macy, Boulder, CO


I thoroughly enjoyed Rickey Gates’ essay, “Conquistadors of the Useless” [Issue 96, June 2014] on a number of levels, but especially for its reminder that running is good simply for the joy of doing it. I sometimes find myself shrugging

off a planned run or downsizing one I’m on because of a lack of time or bad weather or some other lame excuse. Sometimes we forget that we don’t just run to put stickers on our car windows, but that we do it for the rewards in health and personal satisfaction and the underestimated ability to disconnect from distractions. As far as running goes, none of us are accountable to anyone except ourselves, so why fake it?

—Casey Kendall, Fort Bragg, NC


I was deeply moved and happy to see the article “The Hope Seekers” [June 2014, Issue 96]. I’ve also experienced many a dark period in my life, and finding trail running reconnected me to my sense of sanity, settlement and safety. The trails continue to nurture me every time I step out there. It has taught me a different experience of pain, and how I can relate to it. I really only like to run alone, but when I pass others there’s always a welcome smile or acknowledgement. I often wonder what pains those smiling faces have seen, and what’s brought them to the trails. It is nice to hear about some of it, and bolsters the feeling of community with those I pass by. Happy running!

—Claire Chang, Boulder, CO

LETTERS GIVEAWAY Send us your letters! The CW-X 3/4 Stabilyx Tights stabilize the core and knee joints for increased efficiency and power. MSRP: $90.00


| OCTOBER 2014 The lead letter in the next issue will receive a pair of CW-X 3/4 Stabilyx Tights.


In response to our tribute to Alex NewportBerra: “I worked with Alex, [and he was] a wonderful human being. ... I’ve always thought that short shorts differentiate real distance runners from everyone else. Besides, as this story so painfully reminds us, life can be so short, short.” —Joe Fulton

Online Highlights The Beards of Ultrarunning http://tinyurl. com/qyrp6mv

21 Questions with Tony Krupicka http://tinyurl. com/lyrgexr

one dir t y magazine

EDITORIAL PUBLISHER / Duane Raleigh EDITOR / Michael Benge ASSOCIATE EDITOR / Yitka Winn COLUMNS EDITOR / Alison Osius CONTRIBUTING EDITORS / Sarah Lavender Smith, Bernie Boettcher, Garett Graubins, Bryon Powell, Matt Hart, Rickey Gates, Meghan Hicks SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER / David Clifford EDITORIAL INTERN / Brendan Curtin

C R E AT I V E ART DIRECTOR / Randall Levensaler PRODUCTION MANAGER / Julie Schoenfeld



C IR C U L AT I O N CIRCULATION MANAGER / Jeremy Duncan SUBSCRIPTIONS EVENTS/CIRCULATION ASSISTANT / Casey Weaver BIG STONE PUBLISHING 2567 Dolores Way Carbondale, CO 81623 Office: 970-704-1442 Fax: 970-963-4965

WARNING! The activities described in Trail Runner carry a significant risk of personal injury or death. DO NOT participate in these activities unless you are an expert, have sought or obtained qualified professional instruction or guidance, are knowledgeable about the risks involved, and are willing to assume personal responsibility for all risks associated with these activities. TRAIL RUNNER MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, OF ANY KIND REGARDING THE CONTENTS OF THIS MAGAZINE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY REGARDING THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF INFORMATION CONTAINED

HEREIN. Trail Runner further disclaims any responsibility for injuries or death incurred by any person engaging in these activities. Use the information contained in this magazine at your own risk, and do not depend on the information contained in this magazine for personal safety or for determining whether to attempt any climb, route or activity described herein. The views herein are those of the writers and advertisers; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Trail Runner’s ownership. Ţ.BOVTDSJQUT QIPUPHSBQITBOE correspondence are welcome. Unsolicited materials should be accompanied by return

postage. Trail Runner is not responsible for unsolicited materials. All manuscripts and photos are subject to Trail Runner’s terms, conditions and rates Ţ1MFBTFBMMPXVQUPXFFLTGPS the first issue after subscribing or a change of address (to expect continuous service). No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. © Copyright 2013 by Big Stone Publishing Ltd.





By the Numbers > BY BRENDAN CURTIN


46 The age of Karl Meltzer (above left, with Matt Hart, on his 2008 attempt) of Sandy, Utah, who is currently attempting to set a new speed record on the 2,185.3-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). Meltzer left for his 2014 record mission just days after fulfilling his duties as race director of Utah’s Speedgoat 50K, which took place on July 19th. “If I fail, or fall behind a potential record, I am jumping in our vehicle and coming home. I won’t complete [the trail] this time if the record can’t go down,” Meltzer wrote on his website when he announced the record attempt. Meltzer tried and failed to set the AT speed record in 2008. Jennifer PharrDavis has held the current AT record (46 days 11 hours 20 minutes) since 2011.


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876 Total number of miles that Ken Posner (above) and Lisa Smith-Batchen ran (independently of each other) on the Badwater Ultramarathon course in July. Posner and Smith-Batchen’s journeys began at the lowest point in the continental U.S.— Death Valley, 272 feet below sea level—and traveled to the highest—the summit of Mount Whitney, 14,505 feet. Fueled by ginger ale and chia seeds, Posner set a new course record for a double crossing (292 miles) with a time of 94 hours 40 minutes, raising money for Team for Kids. “I did a lot of the long runs with little or no nutrition in order to better develop my fatburning capability,” says Posner. “And sauna training helped me get ready for the heat.” Smith-Batchen completed a quadruple crossing (584 miles) in 14 days 3 hours 46 minutes, as a fundraising effort for Badwater4Goodwater. Both runners competed against sandstorms, hallucinations and near-130-degree temperatures to complete their respective runs. At one point, Smith-Batchen was stalked by a pack of coyotes. “I went into this run with a very different attitude than I ever have before,” says Smith-Batchen. “I took this run one mile at a time and never looked at it as 584 miles and 96,000 feet of elevation change.”




The distance, in kilometers, of the Asics-sponsored relay, Race the Sun Challenge, which circumnavigates Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Kicking off at first light on June 21, the race pitted two teams against the fierce terrain of France, Italy and Switzerland and the lingering daylight of the summer solstice. Team Ultra-Trail (four members, including 100-mile-world-record holder, Jonas Buud) navigated the course in 15 hours 3 minutes 37 seconds with almost 40 minutes to spare before the sun disappeared over the horizon at 9:21 p.m., the cutoff for the race. The other relay team, Team Enduro (seven members, including Spaniard Genis Zapater, pictured above, American Megan Kimmel and Frenchman Sylvaine Cussot) fell 33 seconds short of completing the route before sunset. “I just knew I had to run as fast as I possibly could to finish anywhere close to the minute of sundown,” says Kimmel, the final racer on the team. “[I pushed] as hard as I could for every moment of that run and enjoyed that feeling more than ever before.”

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Kaci Lickteig Kaci ran track and cross country (reluctantly) in high school and chose not to compete while attending Creighton University. She ran in road races for several years and now has 10 wins in trail races 50 kilometers or longer (including Bear Chase 50K and Kettle Moraine 100K). She is sponsored by Pearl Izumi and Honey Stinger. In the beginning “I started running as a junior in high school (2002). I was bribed by my best friend, Staci, to go out for cross country with her. I had never run before and had always played volleyball. I had one week to start running before school started along with two-a-day practices. I wasn’t good at running and hardly enjoyed it at first.

Advice to the youngsters:

Rob Krar (second from left) with his 4x400m team in high school.

How three top trail runners got their chops > BY BRENDAN CURTIN


uch as we’d like to believe, Rob Krar, the scraggy ultrarunning phenom, was not raised Mowgli-style by wolverines in the Canadian wilderness. He didn’t have a grizzly bear for a best friend. His speed didn’t come by racing snowshoe hares along the shores of the Hudson Bay. Despite the tall tales that surround the folks who vanish into the mountains for 30-, 50- or 100-mile runs, the truth is that they grew up like the rest of us. They went to school. Many ran on their cross-country teams. Some were great from the beginning, while others held more jacks than aces.

Rob Krar Krar competed at the 1988 NCAA DI Cross Country Nationals during his junior year at Butler University, the same year Adam Goucher famously won the title, as documented in Chris Lear’s Running with the Buffaloes. Krar fell away from running for years after college, caught in cycles of injury and depression and struggling with his erratic schedule as a nighttime pharmacist. Today, though, he holds the record for the Fastest Known Time on the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim traverse of the Grand Canyon (6:21:47) and, last June, won the presitigous Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.


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Favorite performance “The one that really stands out is my Western States 100 this year. It was not my fastest race, but I gave every last bit of energy, heart and soul to complete it. By mile 47 I knew it was not going to be a good day. I was struggling to run, my breathing was getting short and shallow and I had many demons in my head telling me to stop suffering and take a DNF. I came into the Placer High School Stadium and took my final lap around the track to finish in 20:07:10. It was the hardest race I have ever done, but the most rewarding.” Making the jump “It really came to a surprise to me that I shifted to ultra and trail running. I never thought I was going to like it, because it slows you down. I had always been a track and road runner. However, once I ran my first trail race [PsychoWyco 50K, 2012], I was hooked. I loved the atmosphere, runners, scenery and feeling so fully alive.”

Making the jump: “Although I played around on the trails in 2009, it was really a decade after college until I embraced MUT [Mountain/Ultra/Trail] running in 2012. It was an unexpected rebirth of my running career and one my body and mind have fully embraced since. I almost cringe when I say it because the thought of running for so long is still daunting, but, after two Western States 100s, the challenges that distance presents have made it my favorite to race.” In the beginning “I began running in middle school after it had become abundantly clear my soccer and hockey skills were substantially substandard.” Advice to the youngsters “Quality over quantity and consistency in training would be advice I’d offer to everyone.”

Favorite performance “My Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rimto-Rim FKT remains a favorite of my running and racing performances. I was stepping out of my comfort zone, [it] being only 13 days after the longest run of my life. Although I’d had a few successful days

running in the Canyon in the past, I’d also experienced an equal number of miserable and sometimes frightening days below the rim. I tackled my fears and doubts head on, and to have such a magical run that day is something I continue to cherish greatly.”




Running Roots

“Try hard at something before giving up on it. I was never good at cross country or track. It took several attempts before I finally ran a full cross-country course without needing to walk. And running has now taken me beyond my wildest dreams. Just stay committed and focused and you too can go far!”

You only get 26,320 days, more or less. How will you spend them?



ONE DIRT Y MAGAZINE Canaday, center, running for Newberg High School.

In the beginning:

Sage Canaday As a senior at Newberg High School in Oregon, Canaday finished 13th at the state cross-country championships and then went on to compete for Cornell University. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in cross country and the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon. He ran for the fabled Brooks Hansons Distance Project in Michigan, competing in road marathons before drifting to the trails. Since then, he has won the 2012 U.S. Mountain Running Championships, the 2013 Cayuga Trails and Lake Sonoma 50-milers and the 2013 and 2014 Speedgoat 50K. His sponsorships include Hoka One One, Ultimate Direction and Smith Optics, among others.

Making the jump “I didn’t shift to Mountain-Ultra-Trail (MUT) running right after college. At first I spent 2.5 years toiling on the roads doing half and full marathons. As a fellow Oregonian and Cornell grad, I’ve always kept tabs on how Max King progressed and how he transitioned between track, road and MUT running. Before I started doing a lot of ultras, I followed Max’s example and did short mountain races.”

Favorite performance “My favorite race performance is when I qualified for my first Olympic Marathon Trials, at the 2007 Grandma’s Marathon. I ran a nearly even-split race and ended up with a 2:21:43, [with] only 17 seconds to spare before missing the standard (2:22:00 at the time). I threw up on the finish line and was carted away to the medical tent in a wheelchair. It was my

happiest moment in running.” Advice to the youngsters “In high school we used to run sixminute-mile pace on our easy days. It wasn’t easy. If I just had a bigger mileage base and a better trained lactate threshold, perhaps I could have made nationals in cross country or at least qualified for the Oregon state track meet.”


“[I started running] when my 7th-grade soccer coach told me I was better off without the ball and that I should run up and down the field and be a decoy instead. I didn’t score any goals that season. After that, I dedicated myself to yearround training and did both cross country and track.”

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EEditors’ C Choice


Heath Holden Emma Menzie

Running through a cush pine-forest loop in Isandula, northwest Tasmania.

Enter the Trail RunnerMammut Reader Photo Contest 18

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Please email low-resolution 72-ppi jpegs (no more than six at a time) to: We will request high-res files of images selected for final consideration. In each issue, we will pick an Editors’ Choice image, and the photographer will receive a pair of Mammut MTR 141 shoes. MSRP: $119 (






Brandon Thrower


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Ale x O’Nelio

Running along the extremely technical 6,000-foot-high ridge line of the Black Mountain Range in North Carolina.




Treading the edge of Palisade Head, North Shore of Lake Superior in Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota.

OCTOBER 2014 |




Diana Fitzpatrick in the finishing chute of the 104th annual 2014 Dipsea Race.

Handicapped An even field on an uneven course >BY RICKEY GATES


y the time I crossed the starting line in downtown Mill Valley, California, nearly 600 runners of varying ages and abilities were already ahead of me: clambering, bounding and shortcutting their way toward the finish line at Stinson Beach. I hadn’t missed the start (as I’ve been known to do from time to time). Nor was I suffering the clogged-artery effects of an oversized corporate road race. In fact, the 104th annual Dipsea Race was going exactly to plan. There are various reasons why one might want to run the Dipsea, the oldest trail race in America and one of the oldest foot races in the world, with a long history of heroic wins, epic duels and an occasional trip to the hospital. The seven-mile, point-to-point dash follows one of the most beautiful courses in existence, a Northern California tour that can be summed up as two big climbs and two big descents, with several potential shortcuts to reward those who have done their research. The race’s great history includes legends such as Jack Kirk, who competed in 67 consecutive Dipsea events, the inclusion of women competitors dating back to 1918, and even a 1986 Hollywood film adaptation of one runner’s obsession with the race. None was the main reason I wanted to run the race, famous also for an arbitrary and whimsical entry process (I decorated my registration envelope brightly and, as suggested on the race’s website, stuffed it full of money in excess of the entry fee). The



reason I wanted to run the Dipsea could be read going down the results page from years and decades past. The winners were: 2010 – Reilly Johnson, 8 2001 – Shirley Matson, 60 1996 – Joe King, 70 There was no male winner. No female winner. No age groups. The Dipsea Race has an open field and a unique handicapping system, which means that the winner is the winner, period. And that all but a small handful of men in their 20s are rewarded with a handicap of up to 25 minutes. When, upon arriving, I had casually mentioned to an older runner that at age 33 I wasn’t sure I deserved a full minute lead on the men in their 20s, he wagged a finger at me, saying, “Don’t question the handicap!” He laughed, but I could see he believed in it. “This race isn’t a measure of speed,” he continued. “It is a measure of human will and determination.” And so I crossed the starting line 24 minutes behind the 72-year-old Melody-Anne Schultz, 19 minutes behind 9-year-old Taylor Hill, and one minute ahead of all the young and hungry 20-something bucks. I leapt off the starting line alongside

my friend, training partner and fellow agegrouper Galen Burrell. We climbed up nearly 700 steps, then down a dusty trail into the dark underworld of the Muir Woods redwood groves: yelling, always yelling, “Left, left! On your left, left,” to pass racers. We climbed over a thousand feet to an exposed and often sweltering ridgeline where, if one were inclined to look around, Oakland, San Francisco and the vast Pacific Ocean were spread out in an array below. We, however, had by then managed to pass all but the top 10 runners, and were focused on the harrowing plunge down a thin, serpentine trail to the beachside finish line, nearly three miles away. We flew down the trail. Spectators called out our places, letting us know where we were as we ticked off runners one by one. “Sixth and seventh!” “Fourth and fifth!” On a rare bit of pavement I squeaked past Galen, and then veered around 50-year-old Sissel Berntsen-Heber. Now running in second place, I knew neither who nor how far ahead my competition was, try though I might to listen for cheers ahead that might offer hints. I sprinted across the finish line, to see, waiting for me, the 56-year-old Diana Fitzpatrick, mother of two and herself a threetime Olympic marathon trails qualifier. She was the runner with the most will and spirit on that warm June day. She embraced me, as I savored the humility of coming in second. Rickey Gates is looking forward to a 24-minute handicap.





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Get Lost!

A wild trail run on the northern California coast > BY RICKEY GATES


n the gray, pre-dawn light I studied the outbound tide and the calm, lapping waves. “Never turn your back on the ocean,” I read on the trailhead sign before stepping on to the soft black-sand beach. I recalled a friend’s praise of the ocean as “immediate wilderness.” Trailhead warnings are nothing new to us—lightning, bears, snakes, exposure, hydration— hazards always lurk beyond, putting the “wild” in wilderness, giving us a story to tell when we are safely back at the car admiring the patina of dirt and blood on our calves and ankles. A line where the sock starts and the fetid stench of 50-mile-feet continues below. An ocean, though, now gave me even more to fret about. I imagined a wave creature emerging from the sea, grabbing me by the shoulders and pulling me into the water without a peep. “Well?” I said to Leor. “Shall we?” We made our way to the water’s edge where the wet sand resisted our body weight some and bean-sized sand crabs leaped about at our feet. With a northerly breeze at our backs we set off down the longest, uninterrupted coastline in the continental United States—the 56-mile-long Lost Coast of northern California.

My running partner for this adventure was Leor Pantilat—a man whose name was once ubiquitous across Bay Area ultra results and then gone completely. When I asked some 22

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The author crossing Big Creek at the base of the Kings Range along the northern section of the Lost Coast Trail.

fellow runners where he’d disappeared to, they suggested looking at his blog (pantilat. There, I found that the energy once spent leading races had been reinvested into the research and execution of long, oneday running tours across California. Though our plans to tackle this run had been in the works and postponed for months due to conflicting schedules, unfavorable tides and occasional injury, the physical journey began only a day prior, as my girlfriend, Liz, had agreed to help with the unfortunate logistical need for a shuttle. The four-hour drive north from San Francisco on U.S. Route 101 funnels down from five lanes with In-N-Out Burgers on either side of the highway, to the three lanes of wine country and finally to two. Pickup trucks replace the Prius and a counter-culture of hipnecks (redneck hippies) and marijuana ranges from subtle to conspicuous. In the small Humboldt town of Garberville, we passed a store advertising marijuana-trimming supplies. “Your sticky fingers are welcome here!” said one sign. Pickup trucks cruised up and down






Photo: Gary Wang

Layer up and hunker down: It’s not a typical 100-miler strategy, but that’s what Jeff Browning had to do for 70 minutes during the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. Freezing and shivering in the rain, he huddled up to a cliff band with a handful of other runners while lightning repeatedly struck 14,048foot Handies Peak just above them. Jeff still managed to kiss the rock in Silverton in just under 27 hours—a solid finish, sweetened by a little misery and a lot of good company.

© 2014 Patagonia, Inc.



TRAILHEAD Lost Coast Trail, California WHEN TO GO / Though the Lost Coast can be undertaken yearround, running from May to September will increase your chances of good weather and longer days.

Where forces of nature meet—the highwater mark along a striated cliff band displays the importance of checking the tide chart before your departure.

the streets with bumper stickers reading “Another Logger Gone to Pot” and “Save Humboldt County, Keep Pot Illegal.” We filled up on gas and began the slow, winding drive to the mouth of the Mattole River, where we would rest for the night before setting off in the morning. Though settlers, loggers and developers have been trying to tame the Lost Coast for over 150 years, what’s resulted has been little more than the running of fingers through the long, tangled hair of an unkempt land—a land with a propensity toward being untamed. With over 100 inches of rain per year, nature is quick to reclaim trails, roads and homesteads left untended. Redwoods grow hundreds of feet tall, mountain lions and bears roam freely, great white sharks patrol the coastline and every so often an unsuspecting person is swept off their feet and pulled into the cold deep blue. Even Highway 1, stretching over 600 miles along the California coastline, known for its engineering feats of overcoming steep headlands, deep gulches and eroding cliffs, was finally directed 30 miles inland by the massive upheaval of headlands presented by the wilderness known as the Lost Coast.

Leor set the pace down the beach. Fair skin and hollowed facial features hint strongly of his not-so-distant Russian ancestry. By weekday he is a Silicon Valley lawyer, advising and assisting in companies buying companies. “It’s not what people think,” he told me as we zigzagged about the beach in search of the firmest footing. “I don’t go to court. I don’t see a judge. I don’t wear a suit.” I asked if he prefers the black briefcase or the more traditional accordion-style. “No briefcase.” We were slowed to a crawl over an outcrop of rounded boulders covered in sea kelp. This marked the third time that Leor has made the trip down the Lost Coast, and the first time that he had attempted to do it in a day. Throughout the course of our adventure, we would debate the merits of tackling the Lost Coast in a single day as opposed to two. But right then, we were simply enjoying the crescendo of light coming from beyond the King Range to the east. Leor is encyclopedic with his knowledge of the -ologies of the area—ecology, biology, geology, meteorology. He explained the north-to-south wind patterns, the meeting of three fault lines—a geological intersection called the Mendocino Triple 24

| OCTOBER 2014

GETTING THERE / You can run the Lost Coast in either direction, however, a north-tosouth direction will likely put the prevailing wind at your back and allow for easier planning with the tides. The trailhead at the northern end of the Lost Coast is found at the mouth of the Mattole River, one hour west of Garberville and another four hours north of San Francisco on Highway 101. The Lost Coast finishes at Usal Beach— accessed by a six-mile drive on a winding, dirt road from Highway 1 (low-clearance vehicles OK). The turnoff is oftentimes unmarked, so it’s best to measure the 15 miles along Highway 1 west from the small town of Legget on Highway 101.

ONE DAY OR TWO / (or... Do as I Say and Not as I Do)? The Lost Coast stretches along two counties and is divided into two different government land protections: King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Appropriately, the

Lost Coast Trail is best undertaken as two parts—the northern beach section and the southern headlands section.

MAPS / The Lost Coast is fairly easy to navigate; however, poring over Wilderness Press’ California’s Lost Coastt will give names to creeks, cliffs, bluffs and many other trail features.

CAMPING/LODGING / If you’ve made it as far as the Lost Coast, you might as well stay a few days. Camping is available at both trailheads (Mattole Beach and Usal Beach) and at the halfway point of Shelter Cove (although there is intown camping, Tolkan, Nadelos and Wailaki campgrounds outside of town are cheaper, quieter and friendlier). For those who prefer a hot shower and comfy bed between runs, Shelter Cove offers several ocean-front inns ($150-$300/night).

SHUTTLE / A shuttle can be avoided if you are willing to bike the 100 miles from trailhead to trailhead around the Lost Coast. If that’s not in the cards, you’ll need to bribe a driver with food, wine and beautiful beachfront car camping.

TIDES / Ocean tides and currents are a real threat along the northern section of the Lost Coast. Go to www. tidesandcurrents.noaa. g for tide predictions. gov And remember: “Never turn your back on the ocean!”







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Pickup trucks cruise up and down the streets with bumper stickers reading “Another Logger Gone to Pot” and “Save Humboldt County, Keep Pot Illegal.” Junction—that created the massive uplift of land immediately next to the ocean. He told me that nowhere else in the continental United States does the land rise so abruptly from the ocean. I sensed that so much of the joy that Leor receives from a day of running comes simply from learning as much as he can about a place before he goes. We paused at one of many places on the map that warned, “Impassable at high tide.” The coal-black, striated cliff, even at low tide, loomed menacingly close to the cold dark water. Leor pointed out the water line from the night before nearly two stories above us. In just a few hours the tide would return. The wave creature pulling me out to sea crept back to mind. Farther down the coast we hopped onto Big Flat, where a cruise-y, hardpack trail allowed for a brief reprise from the drudgery of beach running. Backpackers were camped out—some of them with surfboards hauled in from the next entrance, eight miles down the coast. Our fleet-footedness seemed to provoke a common level of disdain and contempt amongst the hikers. We continued down the beach and, 25 miles after leaving the Mattole River, arrived in the small resort town of Shelter Cove, where Liz was waiting for us with food, water and a smile. The unincorporated town of Shelter Cove marks a halfway point along the Lost Coast. The narrow, windy road leading in from Garberville, 25 miles to the east, keeps the town quiet, if not a little claustrophobic. There is no Main Street and no town center. Heavy, iron gates block most driveways, secured with a chain and a padlock and what few residents we came across gaurded their smiles and hellos behind a thick wall of Jurassic foliage. Whether as pot growers or retirees, one thing is certain in Shelter Cove—people like to be left alone. With the ocean briefly at our backs, we carried on 2,000 vertical feet up the road out of Shelter Cove to the next trailhead at Hidden Valley. From there the second half of the Lost Coast became as distinct as the first. From the 2,500foot summit of Chemise Mountain, we descended slowly back down to the waterfront, passing through the polished-brown groves of madrone and for a brief moment, the accumulated miles allowed me to be running somewhere above the Mediterranean. As much as the first half of the Lost Coast trail is defined by its relationship to the ocean, the second half is defined by its relationship to the coastal mountains. The steep valleys


| OCTOBER 2014


Stefan Schlumpf / Robert Bösch

Spanish Flat provides a rare bit of trail along the northern section of the Lost Coast Trail.






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and abrupt features that prohibit beach travel provide real estate for a half-dozen microclimates and eco-zones. Bold groves of redwoods, fir and alder stand segregated from each other. A thick undergrowth clogs every drainage. The trail thins, and the many backpackers we saw in the first half declined to but a tough few. We had covered 40 miles by midafternoon as we arrived at what remained of a 1920s dairy operation—an old barn and the Stewart family house overlooking abandoned pastures and expansive ocean. Adopted by the State Park, the building is now known as the Needle Rock Visitor Center, where a livein docent greeted us with water and nuts and an update on the wildlife he’d seen in the past month. As we headed out down the trail, he casually warned us of bears and mountain lions. We zigzagged up another thousand feet and zigzagged back down. A crumbling concrete pad was all that remained of another homestead that had been gobbled up by this wild land. The elevation profile, I realized, started to closely resemble a healthy heartbeat line. Up another thousand feet, down another thousand feet—from Bear Harbor up to Jackson Peak, down to Jackass Creek up to a nameless ridge and down through a redwood grove into aptly named Dark Gulch. We made our way up the final climb, as the sun approached the horizon and our 50-mile-legs took on a drunken clumsiness. The orange-red sun ignited the air around us. Insistent on seeing out every last viewpoint, Leor dutifully snapped a picture to add to his blog— this one to show Usal Beach not far away, and the paved ribbon of Highway 1 just beyond. We cruised down the last of the trail—a soft bed of redwood needles providing much appreciated cushioning. Nearly 14 hours had passed as we arrived at the southern terminus of the Lost Coast Trail, where some local teenagers stood around a pickup polishing off the last of a suitcase of beer and not far away Liz sat in her car listening to NPR. Whether as a few-days getaway or as a last, lawless frontier to live out your harbored dreams of homesteading, the Lost Coast of northern California is the untamed playground that has earned its name with the unforgiving hand of entropy.

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A now-healthy Anna Frost taking second place at the 2014 Mont Blanc Marathon 80K.





by sarah lavender smith

hile Beverley Anderson-Abbs was recovering from surgery on shredded cartilage in her knee, she tried to maintain a stubborn resolve that she would compete strong in ultras again—no matter what. But as her recovery and hiatus from racing stretched past a year, the voices of doctors who told her she couldn’t run kept entering her head. At times, she felt devastated. “I’d be sitting at my desk at work and have to close the door because I’d be crying,” recalls Anderson-Abbs of Red Bluff, California, a longtime top competitor who won last year’s Headlands Hundred and participated in each of the past three Barkley Marathons, arguably the world’s toughest 100-miler. Being injured “took away a huge chunk of who I am. There was suddenly this question of, ‘Who am I?’ Until that knee surgery, I was a runner. … To have that excised from your life is a hard thing to deal with.” Eric Schranz’s calf injury was relatively short lived, but he too was emotionally wrecked when he couldn’t run for a month and had to relinquish his race plans for the season. “I felt adrift and really disconnected,” says Schranz, host of, of Sacramento, California. His strained muscle “took me from peak [training] to nothing. I had worked so hard to get to that point, and it was suddenly taken away.” Schranz objectively knew that he would get better and that he should cross train to maintain fitness, but he couldn’t muster the energy to be productive. “In pretty much every area of my life, I felt off,” he says. “I found myself lost—that’s the best word I can find for it—and I did nothing.” Except eat, that is. A month later, he had gained 14 pounds. I can relate to such stories. When a doctor presented his analysis of an MRI of my foot, I wept as if a loved one had died. He said the stress fracture would heal, but the thrashed ligament looked “anatomically irreversibly pathologized.” The diagnosis torpedoed carefully laid race plans that were months in the making. Fear, insecurity and grief over the loss of running—layered with a self-centered and exaggerated notion that “nobody understands how hard and unfair this feels”—pushed rational and positive thoughts aside. I packed on pounds from reduced exercise and, most nights, an extra glass of wine. When you’re running well and training for races, “you take it for granted, and it becomes a part of your life,” says Western States 100-mile record holder Ellie Greenwood of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose racing season hit the wall in early 2013 when she suffered a stress fracture of the fibula, followed by a second injury of tibialis posterior tendonitis. She took the rest of the year to rehab and retrain. “It’s not just about racing,” says Greenwood. “It’s also about traveling to places and having goals, so as soon as you can’t run and race, it’s like, ‘What do I do now?’”

WORKING W ORKING T HROUGH THROUGH THE T HE STAGES S TAGES OF INJURY OF ike two sides of the same coin, the moody injured runner who’s sidelined from a race seems as common as the elated runner who’s achieving a PR. Getting injured from time to time is ssuch su c an ordinary occurrence in the sport that ch itt seems as if we should take it in stride and quit q qu it feeling sorry for ourselves when it happens. Why, then, is it so hard, particularly for ultra trail runners, to take a month or more off from running? First, injured runners suffer withdrawal not just ju ustt from from the myriad physical benefits that a daily run delivers but also the mental and ssocial so c al benefits, such as time alone to think ci o tim or time me together with running buddies. They ffeel fe el deep frustration after dedicating so many hours—often h ho urs—often sacrificing family time or work in tthee process—to make athletic gains that time th offf will erase. o of Beyond that, dedicated trail runners who rregister re g ster and train months in advance for gi ultra-distance races grieve the loss of those dashed d da shed goals. If they won a precious spot for a race entry through a lottery, then their ssense se nse of loss deepens when they forfeit that spot. If you’re injured—or if you recognize that tthee odds are high you’ll have a physical th ssetback se tback at some point—then it’s helpful to rrealize re alize that runners tend to follow a similar pattern of psychological reactions to their injury-induced inju ury-induced reduction in training. If yyou’re yo u re aware of these reactions, you’ll be u’ better b be tter equipped to move through them with less distress. Several sports psychologists and coaches, ssuch su ch as Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott in ttheir th eir book Running Within, have drawn a connection c nnection between these reactions and co the t e five stages of loss and grief identified in th the t e oft-cited 1969 book On Death and Dying, th by b Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—denial, anger, bargaining, b rg ba r aining, depression and acceptance. Here H re is how those stages apply to us trail He runners. runners



AFTER WINNING THE NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE 50-MILE championship two years in a row, New Zealand’s Anna Frost struggled with a series of physical problems in 2012 and 2013 involving stress fractures, pain and general fatigue. In hindsight, she realizes, “I was basically denying how bad the situation was. I was in pain, but I was scared that if I didn’t run, then who was I? What would I do? … I was pushing and pushing, but pushing downhill.” This first stage—denial—can be highly detrimental. Running through the onset of an injury usually makes it worse, ultimately requiring more time off. Denial also delays getting a diagnosis and beginning treatment. Hard-core runners often deny the significance of their injuries, because they’ve been conditioned to run through low-grade niggles and fatigue. So, how can you tell the difference between pain that you should run through, and pain that causes or prolongs injury?


Elite-level coach and runner Ian Torrence, with McMillan Running in Flagstaff, Arizona, explains that “good” or “adaptive” pain is the beneficial soreness and fatigue we feel from hard workouts, to which the body adapts, getting faster and stronger. By contrast, “bad” or “restrictive” pain restricts or impairs proper running form. Examples of restrictive pain include swelling, persistent or asymmetrical soreness, sharp pain and chronic fatigue.

Restrictive pain is a trigger for or a symptom of an injury—so don’t deny it. Research the symptoms and seek medical help to get a proper diagnosis so you know what you’re facing and how to treat it. Finally, Torrence advises, don’t deny the time it will take to heal. He sees too many runners try to run prematurely as soon as their symptoms feel better. Mere minutes into their run, they’re hurting again, and the damage is re-done. “Don’t go try to test it and reinjure it,” he says.




Anna Frost worked through injuries in 2012 and 2014, and is off to a great start in 2014.





“WHEN I FIRST GOT THE INJURY, I WAS JUST REALLY ANGRY—upset with everything and everybody,” recalls Caitlin Smith (pictured on next page) of Oakland, California, who felt shooting pains in her hip that forced her to drop out midway through the TransRockies Run stage race in 2010. Smith, a 2:41 marathoner with many record-setting wins at 50Ks, was diagnosed with a stress fracture, which healed enough for her to race the 2011 Boston Marathon. But pain and biomechanical problems plagued her throughout 2012. Last year, she took steps to address these weaknesses and heal thoroughly, and then came back to place second in this year’s Way Too Cool 50K. After the onset of her stress fracture in 2010, Smith says she was driven to get on her bike and do whatever she could to maintain her fitness—“I was so concerned I had lost something”—but at other times, she felt so frustrated, she wanted to give up entirely: “I’m like, ‘I’m never running again—I’m done.’ But if you get that angry about something, it means you love it.” In hindsight she recognizes that she had been in denial about overtraining before her injury blossomed; during peak training, she sometimes would cry for no particular reason and frequently wrote “exhausted” in her running log. “You get in this mode where you feel you need to improve, and you ask yourself, ‘Is this even fun anymore?’ Then you have to take a step back and ask why you’re even doing it.” Once an injury forces you to stop, Smith and others advise redirecting anger toward getting a clear diagnosis and developing a recovery plan, so you can channel the energy and passion you put toward training into healing. In other words, dedicate yourself to being the best patient you can be.



Ian Torrence.

“You have to change your focus and apply your energy elsewhere in a positive fashion, instead of lamenting, whining and complaining. … Sometimes I want to shake my athletes and let them know they’re not the only one who’s ever been injured. It’s the better, more disciplined athlete who will overcome the injury and return to running better.”

Patience is the ultimate antidote to anger, says Geoff Roes (pictured on next page), who in 2012 plummeted from his champion status in ultrarunning to being ill and incapable of running for a year and a half due to severe, systemic fatigue and other symptoms. “Our bodies and minds have an amazing ability to heal, but when we become frustrated and angry about our ill health, we only limit this ability,” says Roes, the past winner of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run and Ultra Race of Champions 100K. “Obviously, when you’re in the midst of the worst of it, this is a really hard thing to see. Try to think about the things you can still do, and not so much on the things you can’t.”

SCHRANZ SPENT THE WEEK BEFORE HIS GOAL MARATHON “ROLLING, massaging, begging and pleading with the running gods to heal my stupid calf.” He knew he wasn’t fully healed before the start, but he gambled that he’d be OK. A mere quarter mile or so into the race, he realized there was no way he could run the distance— so he dropped out, bargaining with himself that the DNF would allow him to run two other races on his calendar: a 24-hour event, and the Lake Sonoma 50-miler. A few weeks later, however, he accepted the scope of his injury and pulled the plug on plans for those other springtime races. Injured runners typically bargain with themselves, promising to do X, Y and Z if they recover. Bargaining can be counterproductive if the runner promises a short-term, superficial change in the hope of a quick fix, such as, “I’ll take a spin class rather than run on Wednesday, so my foot can handle a long run on Saturday.” Such bargaining can contribute to a pattern of chronic injury or frequently feeling “off.” A more healthy type of bargaining results in a change in behavior that promotes healing and prevents reinjury, such as, “If I can run again, I’ll spend 20 minutes three times a week on core exercises instead of using those minutes to run more miles,” or, “If my plantar fasciitis goes away, I promise to keep rolling the golf ball under my foot when I’m at my desk.” The hard part is sticking to that good bargain post-injury, rather than lapsing into old bad habits. “You need to remember what it was like when you couldn’t run, and how much you wanted to run, and if you can remember that, then doing the little things”—such as physical therapy exercises and getting enough rest—“is worthwhile,” says Torrence.




“Not being able to run had a large impact on my social life, as so many of my friends are avid runners and that’s how we typically spent time together,” says Roes. “It was also hard, because one of my symptoms has been difficulty concentrating and processing thoughts. I’m sure I was terribly boring and lame to hang out with, since it was nearly impossible for me to have a substantial conversation without feeling overwhelmed.”

Geoff Roes. TOP: After taking steps to address weaknesses and heal, Caitlin Smith makes a strong comeback at the 2014 Way Too Cool 50K, taking second place.

If you really miss the social aspect of the trail-running scene, then Schranz suggests getting out to volunteer at a trail event. He likes to take photos of participants and cheer them on when he can’t run, because “going to races really inspires me to get better and healthy.”


FOR ANDERSON-ABBS, discouraging prognoses from doctors and uncertainty about whether her knee would heal triggered terrible emotional low points. She fought back depression by being proactive in two ways: doing whatever cross training she could to stay fit, and trying everything medically possible to get better, including stem-cell therapy. “The best thing you can do is stay positive, and as for the people who say, ‘You will never run,’ you’ve got to block them out,” advises Anderson-Abbs. “Keep working at it a little at a time, and try everything. Give it the time that it needs, and strengthen the rest of your body.” She and other dedicated, goal-oriented runners also grapple with their identity and self-worth when injured. They confront the outsized role that running plays in their life—and the depressing, frightening void they face without it. “Running was who I was,” says Frost. “I got to a point physically and mentally where I didn’t believe in myself— only as a runner.” To deal with that sense of emptiness and alleviate depression, Frost recommends cultivating other areas of your life that you might have been neglecting. “It’s important to have other things that keep you challenged and interested,” says Frost. “It could be another sport, language, hobby—anything that you can direct your mental space to. Of course you might never entirely fill the gap, but if you can just keep fit and busy during the recovery time, then when you get back to it, it won’t seem so bad.” Social isolation compounds the running-injury blues. Checking Facebook or Strava reveals all the happy miles that your running friends are logging without you, deepening your sense of loss and disconnection.



acceptance CONGRATULATIONS—you’ve reached acceptance, so you’re ready to get better. Only when you accept the fact that you’re injured, and understand it will take time to heal, can you properly treat and manage it. Greenwood was able to process her eight months of injury and on-again, off-again running without too much dismay, thanks to a matter-of-fact attitude. “Everyone gets injured if you’re trying to run at your maximum potential,” she says. “You’ve got to deal with it and get on with it.”


The hardest part, says Greenwood, was accepting the need to be patient during her comeback period, after she could start running again. Returning to running in very careful, conservative segments interspersed by walking—what Greenwood calls “bumbling-along mileage”—can be more difficult than not running at all.

To avoid re-injury, Greenwood and others say you must be patient and not jump into too much running too soon. Greenwood’s patience paid off with a triumphant return to ultra racing last March, when she won the Chuckanut 50K. On June 1, she made headlines with a gutsy come-frombehind win at the 55-mile Comrades Marathon. It’s normal to feel anxious mentally, and awkward and slow physically, during this initial comeback period. Torrence advises keeping up with cross training post-injury and gradually increasing the proportion of running. During the first week back to running, for example, it’s reasonable to limit running to only 10 percent of your fitness time, with activities such as walking, cycling, pool running or the elliptical trainer filling out the other 90 percent. Carefully, over a period of several weeks, you can work back to the point where running takes up around 90 percent of your time and cross training only 10 percent. Ellie Greenwood is having a banner year after recovering from an injury-ridden 2013 .

silver linings Smith felt angry and depressed during her injury. “People would say, ‘You’re going to be stronger for this in the end,’” she says, “and I’d say, ‘Yeah, shut up, you’re running!’ But it’s true.” Being injured “gave me a new awareness of why I enjoy running, and also an awareness that my body does have limits.” Being forced to stop running for a period can enhance gratitude and lead to a better balance between the sport and the rest of your life, even after you return to it. Seeing these silver linings can fuel optimism and help an injured runner move through the stages toward recovery.


Marathon des Sables 2013 champion Meghan Hicks, a contributing editor at Trail Runner, eloquently captured an injured runner’s renewed gratitude after she went on a short run in late March, following a couple of months of not being able to. “Recovering from injury, you can feel every single, pain-free step,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “You can feel each toe spread itself into your shoe. You can see the freedom of the open road. … After time away from doing what you love, all the senses are acutely aware, making the world seem so big again.”

An injury is also a great teacher, says Torrence. Learn from it, and do whatever you can to avoid repeating past mistakes in training. “I’ve learned most of my rehab skills from actually experiencing the injury and working with people who’ve been injured,” he says. For Roes, not being able to run for more than a year ultimately “turned me into a more content and complete person. … As things have improved, I think I’ve been able to build to a life that’s more balanced and more sustainable.”

Sarah Lavender Smith is a contributing editor at Trail Runner who blogs at TheRunnersTrip. com. She battled the injury blues last winter by taking spin classes, studying Spanish and cleaning out closets.



Meghan Hicks fastpacking California’s Tahoe Rim Trail.

TOP ROW: Jason Schlarb near Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, above Lago Torre, Glacier National Park. Camping near Torres del Paine National Park. Fields of lupine near Torres del Paine National Park. MIDDLE ROW: Icebergs in one of Torres del Paine’s numerous lakes. Schlarb near Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, Glacier National Park. Entering Torres del Paine National Park. BOTTOM ROW: Jeremy Wolf and Schlarb on Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, Glacier National Park. Navigating to Torres del Paine National Park. Schlarb negotiating Glacier National Park’s rugged terrain.


| OCTOBER 2014









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RUNNING ADVENTURES WITH FRIENDS AND A RECORD ATTEMPT AT THE CIRCUITO TORRES DEL PAINE IT IS 3:20 A.M. JANUARY 21st, 2014. After staying up to watch another stunning sunset after 10 p.m. in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine, not to mention pre-run jitters, I have barely slept. I crawl out of the tent we pitched in the Torres Grand campground. My fingers tremble from the brisk morning cold as I cinch my shoelaces. I take a few deep breaths and meditate on the task at hand: running 76 miles of boney trail and off-camber scree and talus with over 20,000 feet of climbing. I’ve never run longer than 36 miles alone and unsupported. By 4 a.m., I am running. Trotting up Valle Ascencio, I soon encounter several groups of hikers, also fumbling toward Lago Torres. While the hikers hope to catch the sunrise, I’m focused on clearing one of the valley’s two technical climbs and descents early in my day. The last mile and a half to the lake entails a series of switchbacks through white-granite boulderfields. Although steep, the switchbacks are a treat here in Torres del Paine—most of the park’s climbs are viciously direct and void of friendly meanderings. I make the 4.5-mile ascent to Lago Torres in 1:12. With light snow now falling, I retrace my steps down from the lake to complete one of the two out-and-back climbs of the circuit. On the way down, I encounter Joel Wolpert, our trip photographer, and whoop and holler. Wolpert is not one for involved salutations or cheerleading and just gives me a simple, “Hey,” and fires off some photos as the sun rises, lighting up the spectacular towers jutting above us. I make it back to the junction of this segment in 2:12.


y day’s mission is to set a Fastest Known Time (FKT) on Circuito Torres del Paine, widely regarded as one of best multi-day treks on the planet. The circuit entails combining the national park’s two sections—the “W,” which climbs the challenging Valley Ascencio, the French Valley, the trail connecting them, and the trail up to the massive Glacier Grey, and the “O,” which is the route circumnavigating the park. Trekkers walk the popular “W” route in about five days, and the “O” route in eight or nine days. During the previous week, my cohorts, Jeremy Wolf and Wolpert, and I had scoped out the circuit in a more leisurely style, camping and staying in huts (refugios) along the way. But now, I’m shooting to run the circuit in under 17:38:21, the current FKT, which was set February 27, 2012, by Rodrigo “Canuto” Errazuriz of Santiago, Chile.


OCTOBER 2014 |


TRAILHEAD Running Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, and El Chalten area, Argentina / GETTING THERE / Tickets are relatively expensive to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia and usually require purchasing a separate ticket from Buenos Aires or Santiago to Punta Arenas on LAN airlines. Several rental-car companies operate at the Punta Arenas airport. To travel across the border to Argentina, as we did, you will need to arrange a rental that provides special documentation, which costs several hundred dollars more.

/ ACCOMMODATIONS / Erratic Rock Hostel (www. in Puerto Natales (the last town before heading into Torres del Paine National Park), just a few hours from Punta Arenas, is a fantastic hostel in a fun town. The staff is incredibly helpful, informative and speaks English (the owners are from Oregon). Visit for general information on Torres del Paine National Park, basic maps, information and links to book refugios and camping permits. Our favorite refugios were Dickson, Grey and Cuernos, but all the refugios and hotels are nice.

/ SEASONS / January and February are the best months to run in Southern Patagonia. Weather in Southern Patagonia is always variable. It can snow at anytime in the mountains, and wind is to be expected.

/ RECOMMENDED RUNS / In Torres del Paine, the must-do runs are: 1) Lago Torres and the “towers.” Begin from Hotel Las Torres; 14 miles round trip (distances are provided on signs en route). 2) Paso John Gardner and Glacier Grey. This run from the base of Glacier Grey (near Refugio Grey) has amazing views of the glacier and tops out above treeline at John Gardner Pass. You can reach Refugio Grey by catamaran (ferry) or by running 20-plus miles from Hotel Las Torres. 3) The best multi-day run in the park is the “W” circuit, which includes both major valleys and John Gardner Pass. Plan to take three or four days to run the W and stay at some combination of: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Cuernos, Refugio Italiano, Paine Grande and Refugio Grey. After doing John Gardner Pass, you can either take a combination of catamarans and shuttles back (with advance planning) from Lago Grey or Paine Grande, or run all the way back to Hotel Las Torres. In three to five days you can either circumnavigate the park by running the O circuit, or run both the O and W circuit. At Glacier National Park, near El Chalten, Argentina, the trails are very well maintained and generally more “runnable” than at Torres del Paine. Most of the trails can be done in a day. There are no refugios in the park for multi-day trips. El Chalten conveniently borders the park, with multiple trailheads just a short jog from anywhere in town. Groceries, restaurants, hotels, hostels and campgrounds are all available in the small town of El Chalten.


| OCTOBER 2014

Encompassing an area of over 900 square miles, the Torres del Paine National Park was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. Massive glaciation has carved magnificent granite towers (torres), dark-topped behemoths that shoot straight up out of dry, windy plains. The word “paine” is likely a misspelling of the Spanish word for comb (peine)—used here to describe the range’s procession of tooth-like peaks and spires. After Antarctica and Greenland, this region holds the world’s thirdlargest fresh-water reserve. If the Dolomites and the Himalayas were to ever forge offspring, it would be the Torres del Paine. Giant lakes surround the peaks, each featuring a unique milky hue of blue and green. Guanacos, wild relatives of llamas belonging to the camel family, trot through the fields adjacent the road while birds hover in the gusty winds. The lower valley landscape is fairly dry, sprouting with short South American beech trees, thorny brush, bushes and grasses. Among the mountains, the forest becomes thick with tall beech forests spotted with the famous Calafate bushes and their tart, dark-purple berries. Small springs and snowmelt cascades are everywhere, and park rangers boast that all the water in the park is safe to drink. So abundant is the water that I only carry one 20-ounce handheld bottle on my run. y FKT attempt was born of a collaboration between me and my running buddies Jeremy Wolf (known as “Wolf”), 34, of Missoula, Montana, and Matt Low, also 34, of Arlington, Virginia. For the past 11 years, the three of us have concocted adventures throughout the mountains of North America and beyond. We all met at Montana State University, where we ran track and cross country. After graduation, our friendships have only grown stronger during our wilderness get togethers. After college, both Matt, a tall guy with bright blue eyes and a Leave-It-to-Beaver friendliness, and I served in the Air Force, after completing ROTC together. Wolf is a level headed guy whose calm demeanor is a good balance to my typically outspoken personality, and works as an engineering consultant. We all three are married now and have kids, but refuse to say good-bye to pushing our limits in the mountains. Past trips have included Mexico, Europe and Canada. In the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, we have run, backpacked and climbed peaks, including 18,000-foot Ishinca and 20,000-foot Huayna Potosí. In the last three years, we have focused on the simplicity of long-distance trail running, inspired by the potential to explore vast swaths of mountainous terrain on foot. Last June the three of us ran 100 miles over five days in the snowy Italian Dolomites and produced a video called Opening the Route. After that trip, we committed to this expedition in southern Patagonia. Unfortunately, Matt’s job obligations precluded him from joining us. Wolf and I were focused on an FKT of the O and W circuit of Torres del Paine National Park. Wanting to document our adventure, we recruited Joel Wolpert, 31, of Belington, West Virginia, who had recently filmed and produced In the High Country, a running film with renowned ultrarunner Anton Krupicka. In addition to Joel’s skill with the camera, he is one of the few guys who can keep up on the trails and through the mountains while carrying a camera.



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Rockin’ in Glacier National Park, with Fitz Roy in the distance; the Americans ran into accomplished Japanese ultrarunner Hiroki Ishikawa, who was running the O and W in three days, Refugio Grey; Wolpert and Wolf witness a burning tourist bus.

he agenda for our 15-day trip was to spend the first five days running and filming the O and W circuits, staying in refugios along the way. Then we would head five hours north to El Chalten, Argentina, a tiny town at the entrance of Glacier National Park, home of the famous Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre peaks. In El Chalten we would take an easier week of mountain running before attempting the Torres del Paine Circuit FKT.


pproaching Torres del Paine, we were bursting with excitement. “These mountains are just so amazingly steep,” I kept repeating. “We have to get out of the car and check them out,” Wolf replied. We ended up doing just that three times in a couple of miles before even entering the park. After paying our fees at the park entrance, we quickly set up camp, suited up and ran up the steep trail to Lago Torres. Perched above steep talus slopes, the lake sits at the base of the impossibly smooth towering peaks. As we quickly cooled off, we opted to continue our adventure off trail and up a side drainage climbing up scree and snow that turned into rock scrambling. With around 19 miles of running and over 6,000 feet in vertical, we had our first fix of Patagonia mountain trail running. Pre-dawn the next day, the sound of rain and wind whipping our nylon tent flys awakened us. We quickly agreed to sleep in, then, around 9, the rain slackened and we began the task of drying tents and organizing for the next four days of running from hut to hut. Shouldering our packs, we ran toward the French Valley of the W circuit, buffeted by 50-to-60-mile-per-hour winds. The only “rain” we experienced was from water blown out of the lake



PRE-DAWN THE NEXT DAY, THE SOUND OF RAIN AND WIND WHIPPING OUR NYLON TENT FLYS AWAKENED US. WE QUICKLY AGREED TO SLEEP IN. and whirl-winded against our bodies. We had never seen lake water transformed into 40-foot cyclones. That evening, after meandering through an eerie burnt forest we arrived at Refugio Paine Grande, situated on the banks of an enormous lake. We relished hot showers, a bottle of wine and comfy beds. The refugios around Torres del Paine are all unique. Inside this one, which would be the trip’s largest, backpackers, predominantly European, enjoyed dinner at tables. Outside, packed like sardines, were nearly a hundred tents full of primarily South Americans, festively singing, eating and drinking. The next day, our exuberance came to a screeching halt when we encountered several park rangers. “Running is too dangerous and not allowed,” said one. “We don’t want to have to come rescue you.” “We will slow down and be extra careful. Don’t worry. We won’t get hurt,” was my stuttering, startled response, which seem to appease them. We had seen no signs or warnings against running and thought that perhaps we had just run into some rogue rangers who had simply made up the rule. Then the next day, we were again stopped by a group of rangers who told us running was not allowed. Again, Wolf (Continued on page 56) OCTOBER 2014 |


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In Pursuit of the Goldilocks Shoe

Fall 2014’s dirty dozen takes its cues from both the minimalist and maximalist trends > BY YITKA WINN


here’s no question that the trail-running landscape is changing. As our sport continues to grow up and evolve, more runners are dipping their toes into ultradistance runs, multi-day adventures and an increasingly varied spectrum of off-road terrain.

Even as some shoes aim to be more specialized than ever (see the Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 or The North Face Ultra Equity), the majority of shoes are aiming be a veritable Jack of All Trades— capable of handling every kind of terrain a trail runner is likely to encounter, whether muddy or dry, flat or steep, rocky or smooth. It’s a tall order, but more and more shoes are hitting the nail on the head, matching rock protection, cushion and ground feel all in one—“just right” across the board. Goldilocks would be psyched.


Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 10.6 oz / 8mm drop / $130 The Dirt: One of the most exciting shoes we’ve seen from Inov-8, the Race Ultra 290 strikes the perfect balance between cushion, protection and terrain sensitivity with a lightweight yet bombproof package. A flexible shank and sticky-rubber lugs roll right over rocks, roots and mud without feeling as bulky or cleat-like as similar models. The gusseted tongue keeps debris out, and is complemented by built-in side slots that integrate with Inov-8 Race Ultra Gaiters (sold separately)— an innovative concept we hope others will mimic. However, the design still needs some work; several testers complained that the gaiters were difficult to get on and off. Best For: Technical trails in any weather; medium- to ultra-distance runs. Fit: True to size; a tad narrow through the midfoot, but roomy in the toebox. Tester-Monial: “The protection underfoot is impressive for how light the shoe is. It absorbs rocks like nobody’s business, which adds to the security I felt when running downhill.” –Liz Stuart, San Diego, CA More:

For more in-depth reviews and opinions from our 80-plus wear testers, check out trailrunnermag. com/fall2014shoes.


Editors’ Choice


| OCTOBER 2014



GE A R Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 9.2 oz / 4mm drop / $170

New Balance FreshFoam 980 Trail

Brooks PureGrit 3 9.9 oz / 4mm drop / $120

The Dirt: With monster teeth on the outsole,

The Dirt: The PureGrit 3 boasts many welcome

the S-Lab Fellcross 3 is designed for the muckiest trails you can throw at it. What’s most miraculous about it, as many of our testers raved about, is its exceptional light weight, given the burly protection it offers—in the laterally supportive upper (sturdy on aggressive turns and steep climbs or descents), rock plate and cleat-like lugs. The solid upper is mostly waterproof—great for snowfields or rainy days, not so great for quick draining or hot weather. Salomon’s signature quicklace system allows easy on/off. Best For: Fell running, cross-country or obstacle races; wet, muddy or snowy terrain; steep trails; 5Ks to half-marathons. Fit: Snug, glove-like fit; true to size, but slightly narrow through the midfoot and toebox. Tester-Monial: “On a wet day after it rained, I had no problem running in the mud, over roots and through rocky areas. Mud gathered underneath but came off in clumps before I lost traction.” –Margaret Litchy, Maple Grove, MN More:

updates from previous renditions. Our testers praised the protection of the new forefoot rock plate, as well as improved tread that handles a wider variety of technical terrain than the original PureGrit and 2 did—everything from wet roots and boardwalks to muddy singletrack. Brooks did away with the PureGrit 2’s burrito-wrap tongue in an effort to improve fit, though the PureGrit 3’s tongue slides around laterally. A few testers also complained of durability issues after just a few weeks— holes in the upper, a delaminating outsole and even lugs tearing off altogether. Best For: Mildly technical trails; 5Ks to marathons. Fit: True to size; snug through the midfoot with a wide toebox. Tester-Monial: “I’m tickled pink with the updates in features and functionality. They are comfortable and gritty—the first PureGrit that can actually boast that—enough that I enjoy running anywhere.” –Sheri Atkinson, Broomfield, CO More:

10.3 oz / 4mm drop / $125 The Dirt: Despite its appearance of beefy cushioning, the FreshFoam midsole is surprisingly firm—comfortable for ultra distances, yet still responsive for shorter, faster pursuits. Even without a rock plate, the stacked midsole and dense foam do a great job steamrolling over trail obstacles. The low-profile, closely spaced tread sheds muck well. The plush, cozy upper offers great lateral support for twisty trails, while a gusseted tongue keeps out trail debris. Best For: Most terrain, ranging from road to technical trails; medium- to ultra-distance runs up to 100 miles; recovery runs. Fit: Snug and a half-size small, with a narrow, low-volume toebox. Tester-Monial: “It had incredible stability and traction on wet downhills—and, with past knee surgeries, I appreciated the shoe’s combination of cushioning, support and traction.” –Todd Merrill, Woodstock, MD More:

GE A R Patagonia Tsali 3.0

Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2

10.4 oz / 10mm drop / $110

9.5 oz / 4mm drop / $110

The Dirt: Hands down the best trail shoe

The Dirt: A year after

we’ve ever tested from Patagonia, the Tsali 3.0 is outfitted with a flexible, quick-draining upper and innovative lacing system that accommodates a broad variety of foot types. The midsole is wonderfully responsive for fast, nimble running, but a tad firm for super long distances. The Tsali’s relatively low-profile lugs offer tremendous grip on just about every kind of trail, and the forefoot rock plate lets you cruise confidently down fire roads and rockstrewn singletrack. Best For: All terrain including rocky trails; dry or wet conditions; any distance up to 50 miles. Fit: True to size; the laces allow comfortable cinching for both narrow and wide feet. More:

re-entering the trail-shoe market, Nike offers this update to the Wildhorse—an agile rocket capable of handling roads, gravel, moderately rocky trails and even mud. Its airy upper thrives on hot summer runs. The relatively firm midsole offers ample cushioning for middistance runs. However, some

testers wished for a sturdier upper and slightly more rock protection to lend comfort on the technical trails that the stickyrubber, waffle-pattern outsole excels on. Best For: Varied terrain in any weather; 5Ks to 50-milers. Fit: The Wildhorse 2 runs a halfsize to a full-size small, with a glove-like fit, medium width

(wider than most road-oriented Nikes) and a roomy toebox. Tester-Monial: “This shoe is suited for the light-footed runner, more likely to rock hop than stomp, who still wants a bit of protection for longer runs.” –David Stango, Aston, PA More: nikezoomwildhorse2


Editors’ Choice

Tester-Monial: “Definitely best suited for techy runs with lots of descent and climbing. Blasting down rocky hills with reckless abandon was a pleasure.” –Forrest Tracy, Saint Paul, MN


| OCTOBER 2014



GE A R HOKA ONE ONE Huaka 8.9 oz / 2mm drop / $150 The Dirt: Light, light, light is the name of the game here. Like many HOKAs, the Huaka is a road/ trail hybrid—but it is significantly lighter (by several ounces) than others and boasts a slightly more responsive midsole for fasterpaced running.


Altra Lone Peak 2.0 11.4 oz / 0mm drop / $120 The Dirt: Altra has made several upgrades

Editors’ Choice

Among our testers, raves abound for the shoe’s wispy feel and airy no-sew upper—not ideal for wet days or creek crossings, but perfect for hot-weather runs. The low-profile tread performs admirably on roads and moderately technical trails alike.

Best For: Dry terrain, gravel roads and flat or rolling trails; marathons to 50-milers. Fit: Roughly a half-size long; roomy, albeit narrower than most other HOKAs. More: hokahuaka

Tester-Monial: “I don’t think there is another shoe on the market that offers this much protection in such a lightweight package. The Huaka truly is a shoe of the masses— HOKA enthusiasts, minimalists and traditionalists alike.” –Jonathan Shark, Olympia, WA

from the Lone Peak 1 and 1.5, improving fit (less slop) through the midfoot, doing away with the heel “rudder” (which we never felt served a functional purpose) and saddling the midsole with a little more cush. The tread, too, is more aggressive than previous verions and perhaps the first Altra offering to really shine on technical trails. A handy rip-and-stick panel on the outside of each heel allows for built-in compatibility with gaiters (sold separately). The tightly woven upper fends off debris but compromises some breathability. Best For: Wide-footed runners; all terrain from gravel roads to muddy singletrack; any distance up to 100 miles, including multi-day adventures. Fit: The Lone Peak 2.0 runs wide and a halfsize short. Tester-Monial: “They are super lightweight while also being pretty cushy. Like running on marshmallows, in Crocs.” –Steph Jeffries, Raleigh, NC More:



OCTOBER 2014 |



The North Face Ultra Equity 8.9 oz / 10mm drop / $115

Merrell Bare Access Trail 8.3 oz / 0mm drop / $100

Mizuno Wave Hayate 8.8 oz / 9mm drop / $110

Icebug Enlight RB9X 8.3 oz / 8mm drop / $125

The Dirt: The Ultra Equity comes

The Dirt: The zero-drop Bare Access

The Dirt: Hayate is Japanese for

The Dirt: Unlike the airy mesh

equipped with a stiff medial post for pronation control and the kind of arch support you’d get from an aftermarket insole. Its “road-running-shoe feel” and minimal tread are best suited for smooth trails, grass, hardpack or even roads. After creek crossings, the highly breathable mesh upper dries quickly. For $130, a waterproof GTX version is available. Best For: Overpronators; dry, nontechnical terrain; distances up to a half-marathon. Fit: True to size, if not a tad small; medium width with a roomy toebox. Tester-Monial: “A great overall shoe geared toward the average runner. Solid from top to bottom, but not to the level someone might need for more difficult trail conditions.” –Khris Vickroy, North Liberty, IA More: tnfultraequity

Trail is a barely-there, minimalist shoe with few bells and whistles. The narrowly spaced, 4mm lugs allow for easy cruising on dry trail (not so much in mud). The thin, flexible midsole is great for those who relish ground feel on the trail. Cushioning is every bit as minimal as the rest of the shoe, so we found it ideal for short, speedy runs where agility is a priority. Best For: Dry, moderately technical terrain; distances up to 10 miles; those new to minimal or zero-drop footwear. Fit: True to size, albeit snug through the midfoot; good for narrow-footed runners. Tester-Monial: “Rugged ups and downs didn’t seem to be a chore, and there was ample traction to handle sections of loose rock.” –Nicole Blouin, Santa Fe, NM More: merrellbareaccesstrail

“swift, like a whirlwind.” Although the 9mm heel-to-toe drop is higher than most minimalist offerings, the shoe’s thin midsole provides an agile, low-tothe-ground feel. For its weight, the midsole is on the firm side—which proffers some protection in the absence of a rock plate. Rugged, X-shaped lugs dig in well on rough trails and mud. A supremely breathable upper keeps things airy, but also lets in a good deal of silt on dusty trails or stream crossings. Best For: Fast running on mediumtechnical trails in any weather; 5Ks to marathons. Fit: The Hayate runs a tad short, with a narrow toebox. Tester-Monial: “I typically wear a bulkier trail shoe and was skeptical that this shoe would give me the support and stability demanded; however, I was pleasantly surprised.” –Teri Hedgpeth, Colorado Springs, CO More: mizunohayate

that graces most trail shoes, the minimalist Enlight’s solid nylon upper sheds water and is highly resistant to abrasion; the tradeoff is less breathability, suiting this shoe best for fall or winter running. Modest, hexagonal lugs outfitted with absurdly sticky rubber grip well on waterlogged trails, craggy ridges and loose scree, while remaining soft enough to handle road miles. No rock plate allows plenty of ground feel. Best For: Cool-weather or rainy-day runs; distances up to a half-marathon on rocky trails, or longer on smooth singletrack; obstacle races. Fit: True to size, if not a tad long; medium width, with a roomy toebox. Tester-Monial: “This sleek-looking, lightweight shoe climbs like a dream and tears up the descents. That it felt great on moderate-length road runs was icing on the cake.” –Hank Dart, Hailey, ID More: icebugenlightrb9x


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PUMP IT UP Strength training for the trails


BEGINNER: 1-2 sessions per week, 2-3 sets per exercise. Start with higher repetition/lighter weight to learn the form and technique. ADVANCED: 2-3 sessions per week, 3-4 sets per exercise. More experienced lifters can concentrate on lower repetition/higher weights in the 3-5 range to build strength and power.

Why you should strength train for trails > BY IAN MCMAHAN


ant the secret to reversing the effects of aging, improving performance and reducing the chance of injury? It is surprisingly easy—instead of spending money on dubious supplements or unproven training techniques, simply employ strength training.

If it’s that easy, why don’t more runners do it? Let’s face it, running on your local trails and paths is probably more enjoyable than spending time at the gym. But if it’s results you’re after, a small investment in strength training will pay big dividends in performance and health. Misguided beliefs, e.g. that heavy weight training is inappropriate for runners, can get in the way of our progression in the sport. For trail runners, the varied terrain, climbs and descents present a significant muscular challenge, demanding a greater degree of muscular strength than other forms of running.

Aging A significant factor in the age-related decline in endurance is related to loss of muscle mass after the age of 35. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are particularly affected, diminishing aerobic capacity, muscular strength and running economy. What’s more, distance running isn’t enough to stave off these changes. A 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that running was not enough alone to preserve muscle strength. In one study, a group of older runners lost nearly five percent of their leg muscle strength per year during the five-year research period, despite maintaining their body fat and muscle size.


| OCTOBER 2014

Muscular strength is also critical in preventing injury with aging. While these changes in muscular and endurance performance can’t be halted with strength training, they can be significantly slowed.

Performance Distance running performance is largely dependent on three factors—aerobic capacity, lactate threshold and running economy. Much like the fuel economy of a car, running economy is the amount of energy required to sustain a given running pace. Improving your running economy results in the ability to run a faster pace for a longer period. A 2008 study by Norwegian researchers

found a five-percent increase in running economy when well-trained endurance runners combined strength training with running. Moreover, these runners did not experience an increase in bodyweight, a common fear among those who have hesitated to incorporate strength training. 2011 research in the Journal of Sport Science also suggests that heavy and explosive strength training improves sprinting ability at the end of the race more so than lighter weight “muscular-endurance” resistance training. Heavy resistance training is defined by a resistance level that will lead to fatigue within four to six repetitions (think heavy




Get Stronger the Right Way

1. Lunge Purpose: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, balance Technique: Maintain tall back; front knee should not travel in front of foot. Progression: Add dumbbells. 2. TRX Single-Leg Squat/Single-Leg Squat (if no TRXback leg on bench/chair/exercise ball) Purpose: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips Technique: Bend at hip while maintaining straight back; reach back with hip. Progression: Drop hips lower 3. Side Plank Purpose: Obliques, lateral hips Technique: Body in line with feet; abs and glutes tightened for extra stability. Progression: Lift top leg. 4. Single-Leg Calf Raise Purpose: Calves Technique: Maintain straight knee; don’t let heel touch ground. Progression: Add dumbbells; use edge of step. 5. Push-Up Plank Purpose: Upper body with core Technique: Traditional push-up technique; keep abs and glutes as with a front plank to maintain stable core. Progression: Hold position before starting repetitions. 6. Advanced: Squat Jumps Purpose: Explosive strength in quads, glutes, hamstrings Technique: Bend at hip while maintaining straight back; reach back with hip; explode/ jump and absorb into legs with landing, without pausing. Repeat. Progression: Single-leg jumps



leg press or lunges with dumbbells), while explosive weight training includes exercises such as jump squats and Olympic lifts. Relatively lightweight resistance training is defined by a resistance level that will lead to fatigue within 15 to 20 repetitions, and traditionally thought to be more effective for endurance athletes.

Injury Prevention With the high rate of injury found in runners, no single measure ensures orthopedic health. But while many overuse running injuries can be attributed to training factors such as increases in volume, intensity and duration of running, muscular strength of the hips, quads and lower legs can be a factor in preventing common overuse injuries. For example, hip strength, particularly the hip abductors, is important in the prevention of IT-band and kneecap injuries. So, if you want to run stronger on trails, get past the propaganda and use strength training to your advantage.

Run Strong Take these steps to get tougher on trails.

1. Be a beginner. Don’t try to pick up a training program where you left off a month/year/ decade ago. Bones and tendons are just like muscles and get stronger in response to regular strength exercise.


Start slow. If you want to try more explosive training like plyometrics, Olympic lifting or CrossFit, start with a basic program to lay a foundation of strength and technique necessary for advanced training.


Aim low. When starting from scratch, trying to adhere to a seven-day-a-week exercise program at best invites burnout and at worst welcomes injury. One or two sessions a week is often enough to increase muscular strength.


Don’t “work through the pain.” Small problems can end up being big problems if they are ignored or “patched up” for too long. Modify volume, intensity or exercise if pain becomes consistent.


You can do both at the same time. When done concurrently, the potential gains of


strength and endurance training do not cancel each other out. However, heavy resistance training reduces exercise potential for highintensity running in the same day, while you can do less-than-maximal strength and endurance workouts on the same day.


Lift heavy (and sometimes light). There is a misconception that endurance athletes should stick solely to light weights and high repetitions. However, training with heavier weights and lower repetitions improves both muscular strength and running performance, in a much more efficient manner. Pennsylvania-based running coach and former collegiate runner Michael McKeeman says, “Distance runners get plenty of general endurance from all the mileage they run, so we emphasize training with heavier weights.”


You won’t bulk up. Runners who combine strength training with endurance exercise do not show the same gains in muscle size as those performing just strength training, because the time spent running usually outweighs the time lifting weights, preventing significant increases in bulk. TR

Hit the trails.

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MIX IT UP I was out for just over a year with stress fractures/shin splints. In that time, I took up lifting to maintain strength. Now that my injuries are healed (fingers crossed) and I’m starting to run regularly again, what’s the best way to incorporate squats, deadlifts and other lifts without sacrificing my ability to perform well in both activities? —Becca Dzombak, Ann Arbor, MI The benefits of strength training for runners are hotly contested, but the research is starting to support its efficacy for endurance (see Training, page 48). “The most compelling results are improved running economy leading to increased energy and oxygen utilization, injury prevention, body-fat loss and improved blood-sugar and hormone regulation,” says Nicole Christensen, strength coach and owner of CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colorado. Assuming that, indeed, your stress fracture is properly healed, begin both running and strength training conservatively. “The best starting point is with traditional strengthtraining exercises, such as back squats, deadlifts, presses, lunges, air squats and pullups,” says Christensen. “Set aside two to three days a week to work on strength, and perform three to seven sets of three to seven repetitions of each exercise. An example might be: five reps by five sets back squat, and seven reps by three sets pullups.” As for running, begin your normal build from no running to consistently running multiple times a week without concern for your pace. Follow a plan and keep track of how your body feels after each run and strength-training session. With proper form and enough rest, you should be able to make steady gains in both your run fitness and your strength.


| OCTOBER 2014

I am running my second 50K in August and first 50-miler in October, and would like to know when and how often to take salt tabs. And is it possible to overdose? —Keith Pedzich, Canandaigua, NY Salt consumption is a topic that recent research has thrown into contention. I’ve witnessed athletes with debilitating muscle cramps turn their whole day around by taking salt tablets. Yet, recent research championed by Dr. Timothy Noakes, author of Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports, seems to indicate that our bodies have plenty of on-board electrolytes for endurance endeavors. I tend to hedge my bets—since most of this recent research was done on marathon or shorter distances—and believe we need less than previously thought. It’s difficult to prescribe exactly when and how much salt each person should take, since each athlete has unique biological requirements. “As a general guideline, for light sweaters or smaller individuals, consider about 200 milligrams of sodium per hour. For heavy sweaters, larger individuals or in hot conditions, consider 400 to 600 milligrams or more per hour,” says Jonathan Toker, Ph.D. and developer of SaltStick. It’s going to take trial and error to figure out what your range is. Practice on your long runs, since they typically mimic race conditions most closely. If you are worried about overdosing it might be worth the cost of getting a professional to test you, or visiting your doctor for guidelines. In the United States, the Recommended Daily Allowance of sodium is 2,400 milligrams. However, on days you train or race, you can go through far higher levels. Says Toker, “A 2010 study, Sweat Rates, Sweat Sodium Concentrations, and Sodium Losses in Professional Football Players, showed sodium loss ranged from 642 milligrams per hour to a stunning 6.7 grams per hour.” The symptoms of over consumption are similar to those of under consumption, and include cramping and fatigue. Start with a moderate amount on hot days and see how you feel; your body will tell you if you need more.

SOME LIKE IT HOT What are your training recommendations for someone training for a race in extreme heat (e.g., Badwater 135 Ultramarathon) who lives in a moderate climate? Should you train your body to run longer on less water intake? —Brad Pulcini, Columbus, OH Our ability to adapt to heat is one of the most robust adaptations we have. And, interestingly, research shows clear benefits of heat adaptation when racing in cooler temperatures. As the temperature rises, your body attempts to maintain its internal temperature, or homeostasis. To thermo regulate, we produce sweat, which evaporates and cools the skin. Heat training can make you a better sweater, and prepare your body to deal with hot temperatures. Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and Badwater veteran Ian Sharman (who also coaches at, suggests three methods. The first is a dry sauna, which, says Sharman, “provides enough heat to force the body to adapt to sweating more with less salty sweat.” Build up time in the dry sauna, staying inside it until the point of discomfort. Fifteen to 20 minutes is a good starting point. Bring some water, and, if you feel up for it, perform light exercises, like stretching or pushups. Second, Sharman suggests hot yoga, which has the added benefit of helping with flexibility (see Trail Rx, July 2014, Issue 97). The final option is to bundle up while exercising, which is simply wearing extra clothing to raise your body’s temperature, causing you to sweat more. “Cover as much skin as possible, so long pants, gloves, a Buff and a hoodie are effective, if slightly scary for your fellow runners on the trails,” says Sharman. There is no need to run particularly fast. Be sure to bring water. “The majority of the adaptations take about two weeks, although further benefits continue to accrue up to about 30 days,” says Sharman. TR T R A ILRUNNER M AG.COM |


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US 100km National Ultra-Trail Champion 1st place and 2013 Course Record at Lake Sonoma 5 50-miler (6:14) 1st place and 2013 Course Record at Speedgoat 50km



Sound Nutrition Myth busting and maximizing performance by eating smart > BY IAN TORRENCE



Scott Jurek is a good example of someone who eats well and runs hard.


et’s face it: trail runners like to eat. You may have even heard your trail partners say that’s why they run. And we all know there is an important relationship between proper nourishment and our trail performance. But many of us wrestle with what constitutes the optimal nutritional plan.



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5x XTERRA USA Champion Max King

52 | OCTOBER 2014 T R A ILRUNNER M AG.COM | PERFORM Massachusetts // New Zealand // North Carolina // Philippines // Pocono // Puerto Rico // Saipan // SoCal // South Africa // South Carolina // Spain // Switzerland // Tennessee // Texas // Utah // Virginia



The process of researching and assessing possible food allergies, the endless array of diets, agenda-driven nutrition studies, supplementation, food sources and nutrient ratios is daunting. We’re left questioning when, what and how much we should be eating. By looking at a few common nutritional myths and putting the above issues into perspective, we can lay the foundation for a sensible nutrition plan.

Myth #1 “I’m really active, so I can eat whatever I want.” We’ve all heard the adage about a runner’s metabolism: “If the engine’s hot enough, it’ll burn anything.” Well, not all fuels are created equal, and, says two-time Olympic Marathon Trails qualifier and McMillan Running coach Ben Rosario, “We should all agree that we run better on ‘premium.’” “It is true, a runner’s body needs a lot of calories to perform,” says Amanda CarlsonPhillips, Vice President of Nutrition and Research at Athlete’s Performance in Phoenix, Arizona. “You may not be facing the same weight-gain struggles of those who are less



active, but it is important to think about the quality and quantity of the foods you eat.” Carbohydrates are generally considered a fueling necessity for runners, although many modern diets exclude them due to their weight-gain potential. It’s important to understand the difference between “good” and “bad” carbohydrates. Carlson-Phillips emphasizes that only the “good” or unrefined carbohydrates—those that are brown and found close to the ground—will provide stable energy and be packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.” Beans, quinoa, steel cut oats and brown rice are good examples. Refined carbohydrates, those that have undergone manufacturing or a repacking process, we should limit or eliminate from our diets. They are low in nutritional value, can spike blood sugar and are the leading cause of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Common examples are soda, chips, pasta, fries, pizza and most desserts. Adds Adam Kelinson, the author of The Athlete’s Plate: Real Food for High Performance and owner of “The most bang for your buck comes from foods packed with nutritional content and flavor. Conventionally grown food like that iceberg


lettuce that took three weeks to get to your plate has a fraction of the percent of nutrition that organically grown foods do, especially those grown locally on small-scale farms.”

Myth #2 “Avoiding fat in my diet will make me a better runner.” Dietary fat is often the first nutrient to go when a runner is trying to lose weight and is often misconstrued as the cause of the spare tire or love handles. “We shouldn’t be scared of eating fats,” says Kelinson. “Low-fat diets can lead to injury and illness.” Certainly, saturated and trans fats, like those found in packaged snacks, fried foods and coconut and palm oils, can be rightly blamed for playing a role in heart disease and weight gain. “In the quest for leanness,” says Carlson-Phillips, “many runners create a caloric deficit by restricting carbohydrates and fat, putting them at risk for overtraining, under recovery and injury.” Healthy fats like those found in nuts, olives, flaxseeds, sesame oils, fatty fish and avocados decrease inflammation, regulate blood sugar, improve cholesterol and provide energy.

OCTOBER 2014 |



“Your diet should consist of 25-to-30percent fat,” says Carlson-Phillips. “There are benefits to being at the best body-fat percentage.” Body fat is necessary to protect the organs, maintain normal reproductive function and sustain life. According to the American Council on Exercise, fit male trail runners should strive for six-to-17-percent body fat while women’s body fat should vary between 14 and 24 percent. Methods for estimating body-fat percentage, however, can be inaccurate or expensive. If you wish to find out your body-fat percentage, visit a nutritionist.

Myth #3 “After my runs, I’m not hungry, so I don’t need to eat until I am.” A runner’s body takes a beating during every workout. Without proper recovery through diet, it’s hard to adapt to tougher workouts and longer distances. “All good food has healing properties,” says Kelinson. “Recovery foods aren’t any different than the foods necessary for proper performance. It’s all about the timing of


| OCTOBER 2014



ingesting those foods and replenishing our bodies as quickly as possible.” The best time to refuel is 30 to 45 minutes after a hard effort. Says Carlson-Phillips, “A 2:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio is the secret to maximizing recovery. For athletes who cannot handle meals after heavy exertion, I recommend liquid, for example, chocolate milk, a scoop of whey protein with two bananas or a smoothie with fruit and Greek yogurt.” Carlson-Phillips underscores the importance of protein. “Due to the damage runners incur, they need just as much protein as a power lifter, body builder or wrestler.” Lean proteins help post-workout recovery by accelerating muscle growth and strengthening the immune system. Follow the motto “the fewer legs the better” when choosing meat. Tuna, salmon, chicken and turkey are excellent lean-protein sources. Vegetarian protein sources include nut butters, quinoa, tofu, lentils and black or pinto beans. But for some runners, the above guidelines might not be enough to improve overall health and performance. Runners also should consider individual factors, like food allergies, stress, dietary supplements, age

and dedication to a sound nutritional plan.

Food allergies The “right” foods for some runners may be wrong for others. Flagstaff, Arizona, trail runner Janel Lanphere says, “For 10 years I suffered through runs with an uncomfortable stomach; I thought that was just normal. After researching food allergies, I started looking into my diet, removed a few foods like wheat and dairy and now run misery free.” Easy running shouldn’t aggravate the gut. If you’re struggling regularly, eliminate common allergens from your diet like soy, wheat, eggs and dairy. “Listen to your body,” says Carlson-Phillips. “Be systematic about how you experiment with pre- and duringrun nutrition. Be detail oriented and keep a nutrition log.”

The role of stress “Your nutrition is only as good as your body’s ability to digest it,” says Kelinson. “Combine food toxins (pesticides), environmental components (pollution) and emotional stresses (long hours at work or relationship issues), and the digestive system is bound to





start failing.” Exposing your digestive system to even trace amounts of chemical poisons can destroy “good” intestinal bacteria, or flora, that aid in digestion. Excessive fatigue brought on by “all-nighters” during grueling endurance events and the anxiety produced by losing a job or splitting with a partner will wreak havoc on the endocrine system, the gland system that regulates digestion. Take action to reduce your overall stress: for example, dial back your workout volume and intensity, take a day off from work, if possible, or change what you eat.

Supplementation Browsing the supplement shelf at your local health store can be overwhelming. There are so many products that claim to do wonderful things. But more isn’t always better. In fact, too much of any supplement can be harmful to the body and, at the very least, to your wallet. Rosario believes there are only two reasons to supplement. “The first is if you’re unable to absorb nutrients from your diet, for example, if you have celiac disease. The second is needbased supplementation, where you find out from your doctor that you’re low in a vitamin

or mineral.” Adds Carlson-Phillips: “The more nutrients you can get from regular foods, the better. Multi-vitamins, fish oil, whey protein and some recovery formulas can be incredibly helpful. Complement your diet with things you know you are missing and always check for supplement safety at”

Aging As we get on in years, our bodies change. After 40, the body’s metabolism slows, muscle mass and strength are more difficult to sustain, and post-workout recovery becomes more important than ever. Carlson-Phillips recommends two diet adjustments for masters athletes: more protein and higherquality foods. “Focus on eating a rainbow often. Eat fruits and vegetables with each meal. By choosing a wide variety of colors, you’ll ensure you’re getting the right kinds of vitamins and minerals that will help slow the aging process.”

Maintaining healthy habits It’s one thing to understand the basics of good nutrition, but it’s an entirely different


task to stay committed to a sound program. Like logging those first miles of a new training plan, the initial set-up is difficult. But once the routine is set, the rest will follow. Kelinson shares a few ideas to help you get on track. “Start by adding a weekly trip to the farmer’s market and setting a small amount of time aside on the weekend to prepare some foods that you can enjoy throughout the week. Seek advice from training partners; nutrition should be just as much part of your conversation as gear and workouts. Take a cooking class.” By no means does changing your dayto-day eating mean omitting those foods you take pleasure in. Food, like running, is something we should enjoy. Carlson-Phillips says to remember this simple rule: “Each meal and snack is an opportunity to fuel your body optimally. Choose foods that are the best for you 80 percent of the time and incorporate some foods that may not be the best, but are your favorites, 20 percent of the time.” For a complete menu plan and an optimal postrun formula, please go to www.trailrunnermag. com/menuplan




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OCTOBER 2014 |


(Continued from page 39)

I MAKE THE END OF THE VALLEY IN 13:16 WITH 62 MILES COVERED, BUT SHAMEFULLY WALK SOME OF THE ENSUING TECHNICAL DESCENT. THE NEXT MILE-LONG SECTION DOUBLES AS A CREEK, AND THE COLD WATER REVIVES ME. and I quickly responded that we would slow down, walk and be very careful. “I don’t believe you,” said one of the group. “My boss will come by the refugio later and talk to you about not running in the park.” I was frustrated. Wolf appeared concerned, but not as visibly irritated as me, and Wolpert seemed to not be upset at all. After eating a late lunch, anger subsided and we all felt we could resolve the situation when the time came. Before dinner, we ventured off for some exploring. Near the end of a nearby lake we found a small bay sprinkled with bobbing icebergs. I saw an opportunity—to hopscotch icebergs to the opposite side. Halfway across, I slipped onto my butt and sliced my hand but popped back up, continued on and made it to the other side without swimming. Now I paced on the bank, ready to reverse the task. “You can just walk around the shoreline, dude!” shouted Wolf, sensibly. But with Wolpert’s camera still rolling, I made the return trip without incident. No rangers showed up that night or the next morning, and we agreed to walk through camps and near refugios and be on the lookout for rangers. We even concocted a code word—“Blob”— that would indicate one of us had spotted a ranger. On the trail to John Gardner Pass we were half relieved to not encounter the rangers, and half disappointed we couldn’t resolve the issue. Our thoughts were replaced with views of Glacier Grey from the pass and the bliss of running down fun, technical trails on the other side. Soon, though, a mud bog stopped us in our tracks, literally. At one point, I lost a shoe in the mud, and Wolf and Joel had to fish it from the sludge. The several-mile-long mudfest sapped a lot of energy, some of it laughing at each other flounder. Refugio Dickson, our home for the night, was a stark contrast to the Paine Grande. There, our room had no real ceiling, just nine-foot walls that ended short of the roof, a skylight the only window. We couldn’t all stand at the same time. My bed was just a few feet under and perpendicular to Wolf and Joel’s. The common areas included a medium-sized room with two tables, a kitchen and some couches. The refugio was manned by college-age South Americans, who were constantly laughing and playing games. That night we played card games, had a few more beers than normal and got to know some of the backpackers. We met a couple who was traveling the entire length of both North and South America, a group of college friends from Buenos Aires and some crazy New Yorkers. In their card


| OCTOBER 2014

game, the objective was to make the most vulgar and politically incorrect statement with a number of short phrases written on pieces of paper you were dealt. The inappropriateness and vulgarity were voted upon at the end of the round to determine the winner. Along with the levity, Wolf and I set objectives and strategies for our FKT attempt. Running the eastern valley first and continuing in a counterclockwise direction, like Canuto had done, made the most sense. Getting the busiest valley done before 6 a.m. would be a distinct advantage; then we’d cover the seldom-visited eastern and northern sections of the O circuit during the morning, which would leave the busier western and southern sections for the late afternoon and evening when most backpackers were settling into refugios. We would each take one water bottle, fill at the numerous creeks and take 100 to 150 calories of Vitargo per hour. Our goals were: first, have fun and keep the first half comfortable; second, complete the circuit; and, third, set an FKT. fter completing our five-day tour around the O and W circuit, we traveled north five hours to El Chalten, where we were once again greeted with a spectacular skyline of glacier- and snow-shrouded peaks. The mountainous skyline of El Chalten is featured as the logo for the outdoor company Patagonia. As a climber, Wolpert was particularly enamored by El Chalten and its rich climbing history. “When I return to Patagonia, this is where I will go for sure!” he exclaimed. The mountains and well-maintained trails quickly dashed our plans of taking it easy, which would catch up with Wolf. Coming down from our last run there, just a few miles from town, he came to a halt. “My knee is bothering me; I’m going to walk back to camp,” said Wolf. Unfortunately, the injury would end his chance at running 75 miles three days later.


ack on the FKT attempt, at the first junction of the W section, I am running east to the campsite where we slept the night before. Wolf is there, and I sit down at the picnic table to update him. Knowing that he is still stung by






Got the urge to pound a riverside trail at elevation then top it off with a plunge down a natural waterslide? Look no further! Lander was just named one of the top 8 Trail Towns by TrailRunner. We’re not surprised. Here you can mountain bike, rock climb at Wild Iris, trail run to the Falls in Sinks Canyon for a plunge down a natural waterslide and finish your day at a classic western watering hole, that buzzes with a lively night scene.


Alongside the Paine River on the east side of the O and W circuit, Torres del Paine National Park.




Just for the hill of it!




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having to bow out, I avoid showing too much enthusiasm. Wolf says, “You look great. How are you feeling?” “I’m great, man, but wish you could be out there with me.” Wolf is never one to show much emotion, but I can tell by the look in his eye that he wants to be running. He tells me, “Have a great day out there,” as I take off through a sleeping village of tents. A few miles past camp I fall into a steady rhythm and pace for the longest runnable, 25-plus-mile section, a rolling open valley, part of the O circuit. My heart feels open, and my breathing is easy. I run with the naive confidence of the collegiate track athlete I once was. I pass through Camp Seron in the heart of the farm-like terrain at 19.5 miles, 3:46 into the run, a bit faster than record pace. Soon, I’m cruising through the last part of the wide meandering valley toward Refugio Dickson, where the more steep mountainous terrain begins. Things go well on this section, and I gain a 20-minute lead on Canuto’s split, which I had memorized from his FKT report. I arrive at Dickson in 5:39 through 31 miles, and stop just long enough to mix some more Vitargo into my bottle. I’m using this concoction supplemented with a few bars as “real food” rewards. I decide to quit worrying about the FKT and focus my mental energy on smaller goals, like getting to the next camp, over the next climb or through a forest section. As rain begins to pound down, I negotiate the mud-bog section using all sorts of awkward dance and gymnastic moves. Soon, the rain turns to heavy snow and the wind is now ripping, stirring my primal instincts. Approaching treeline and then above, I run faster than I should but I am in the moment. I encounter some hikers and they relay that rangers are on their way up from the other side to close the pass due to the treacherous weather. I know that the rangers are not going to react well to a mud-covered runner in shorts sprinting over the pass in near white-out conditions. I’m not about to just turn around. I decide that, if the pass is closed, I’ll avoid it and scramble over a peak and keep going. Just before the pass, though, the snow stops, and I see no rangers. Relief. I’ve run 41 miles in 8:09. At the pass you can see the miles-long Glacier Grey, an ice-cream-like formation flooding the valley below. Down the backside, I descend toward Refugio Grey. The trail is so steep and direct that there is a metal railing on the steepest section


| OCTOBER 2014

GEAR RACE FINDER I SUCCUMB TO CONTINUALLY CHECKING MY WATCH. THE ONLY THINGS KEEPING ME GOING NOW ARE COMFORTING IMAGES OF MY WIFE, MAGGIE, AND OUR 3-YEAR-OLD SON, FELIX. for hikers to cling to. In a matter of 45 minutes I go from a blizzard to sunny T-shirt weather. At the mouth of the out-and-back French Valley, just 13 miles from my finish, I hit the route’s last big climb, but am reduced to an exhausted power hike. At one point, a long glacier snakes down the valley with a severalthousand-foot-long hanging glacier intersecting from above. The hanging glacier drops bus-sized chunks of ice to the valley floor below creating an enormous thunder. Struggling now, I make the end of the valley in 13:16 with 62 miles covered, but shamefully walk some of the ensuing technical descent. The next mile-long section doubles as a creek, and the cold water revives me. Running along the base of the mountains and around the huge lakes, I succumb to continually checking my watch. The only things keeping me going now are comforting images of my wife, Maggie, and our 3-year-old son, Felix. Then with my brain screaming at me to stop, I hit the final mile to the finish. I see Wolpert in a bright yellow T-shirt at the bridge marking the end and pour out a final push, then glance at my watch—75.6 miles with 20,100 feet of climbing in 16 hours 20 minutes, an FKT by over an hour for the O and W Circuito Torres del Paine. Jason Schlarb is a professional mountain runner and coach living in Durango, Colorado. You may view the film Around Patagonia about their trip at T R A ILRUNNER M AG.COM |


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wheeling.” It happens when someone, usually of the male variety, runs two steps ahead of you. You take two quick steps to catch even, then they—supposedly subconsciously—speed up to reclaim their two-step lead. You catch up; they pull ahead, ad infinitum. Or at least until the day you find yourself dropped to your knees on the trail, heart rate cresting 200 and punching the dirt in frustration, vowing never to run with that two-stepping son-of-a-bitch ever, ever again.

Two Stepping Leashing the energy of the worst-trained dog in the world >BY JENN SHELTON


’ve never been accused of owning a well-trained dog. I have, conversely, been accused of owning “the worst-trained dog in the world.”

Fine. If you’re one of those militaristic types who define “good behavior” as a pup never once chewing a tube of its mom’s Body Glide, or worse, never once eating the liner out of her running shorts. Or riding to the trailhead like a statue in the back seat, allowing nary one yip of highpitched excitement to announce your arrival to the sleeping neighbors. Or lying dutifully on your blanket, while the humans gather around the dinner table and chow down on T-bone steaks. Then fine. I have never asked a dog to give up on life. I only have two rules for my dogs. First: Be gentle with children. And second: Show some trail manners while running. If they can manage those, then I can tolerate the noise violations, mealtime panhandling and even ripped upholstery. We couldn’t figure out what type of dog he was. A blue-eyed, coyote-Shepherd love child? I wanted to call the little mutt Bone Daddy. The boyfriend liked the sound of Pickles. We couldn’t agree, which was fitting, since in hindsight the puppy was a last-ditch effort to save our relationship.


| OCTOBER 2014

After a week of addressing the little fella as TBD, and an otherwise silent war, we finally came to an armistice: Bandersnatch. It was a throwback to happier times, named after an idyllic section of singletrack in Ashland, Oregon, the little mountain town where we fell in love—a green and steep-sloped paradise where, of course, all the trails would be named after Lewis Carroll characters. In our nostalgia, though, we created a mouthful. Bandi, Banders, Bandy-Boy became commonplace. Whatever you called him, it was evident from early on that the creature could flat-out run. He’d run with anyone, anytime, any distance. It was a good thing, too, because his father and I had recently rounded the final curve of our bell lap and could each use the company. I should clarify here that I’m talking about the figurative last lap. We had stopped running together in the literal sense years earlier. Because here’s the curious thing about love and sport: They don’t mix. We had coined the term “two stepping,” although I’m told in cycling it’s called “half

Here’s the other curious part of love and sport: They don’t un-mix. I’m told otherwise: stories of scorned lovers throwing themselves into running, dropping their marathon time by 30 minutes and thanking their post-break-up angst for finally getting that Boston qualifier. But that storyline has never worked for me. When my heart is heavy, so follow my legs. I can’t run uphill with my heart dragging to the ground like a lead weight. I can’t breathe when an unsung sob clogs my airway. I’ve found that running doesn’t bring happiness; it augments it. You can’t show up empty-handed and expect the magic to rain down upon you. There’s magic to be harvested, but you have to lace your shoes with at least the slightest seed of a smile. Yet there was that hellion. Bandersnatch. The worst-trained dog in the world. Had he been a good boy, he might’ve lain around with me all day, licking my tears and grunting tired little puppy noises. Instead, he raged around the house like a tornado, destroying everything in his path. When he’d gone through all the lube and shorts, he moved on to sponges, then ski boots, then cabinetry. Nothing was safe. There was only one way to stop him. I had to get up. Pull on a pair of running shorts. Drive the caterwauling, tail-wagging, shotgunriding bundle of fur to the trailhead. Smile, or at least fake one. Then two step that little bastard into the ground. Jenn Shelton lives outside of Durango, Colorado, where she runs through dogsitters at world-record pace.




There’s magic to be harvested, but you have to lace your shoes with at least the slightest seed of a smile.


Born of science, the impossibly plush shoe that’s trail-ready is here. And it’s unlike anything you’ve ever felt. THIS IS #FRESHFOAM TRAIL. THIS IS #RUNNOVATION.

Trail Runner Issue 99  

October 2014