Ultra Gear 101 / Fastest Known Times / Tools to Track Your Training / Bone Health
WHATEVER REASON YOU RUN, RUN WITH FORERUNNER®
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100-MILE ENDURANCE RUN
48TH ANNUAL RUN: JUNE 26 - 27, 2021 • PRESENTED BY:
We could have easily left our trail work for another year. But the Western States Trail never sleeps. Nor does our commitment to it.
TRAIL STEWARDSHIP NEVER STOPS
The Western States Trail Stewardship Program, adopted in 2018, provided us a way to tend to the Trail during historically challenging circumstances. Small nimble teams of trained volunteers were dispatched to steward sections of the Western States Trail in the spring. Their work was completed exactly two weeks before what would’ve been our 47th running when the ﬁnal downed tree was cleared in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
...EVEN DURING A PANDEMIC Joe McCladdie
The work to maintain the Trail for the public good was done following Federal, State, and local guidelines limiting large gatherings, requiring sanitization of work tools, and traveling to work days in separate vehicles. We did the work because we know our trail stewardship program must never stop … even during a pandemic.
Race Director: Craig Thornley, RD@WSER.org
Masks adorn runners at the start of the Speedgoat 50K at Snowbird Resort in Utah. PAUL NELSON
CONTENTS 6 Moving Forward LOVE YOUR GEAR 8 News And Notes
New FKTs on Tahoe Rim Trail, New Pennine Way Record, First Female Finisher of Wainwrights, Nolan’s 14 FKTs, 12-Year-Old Wins 50-Miler, New Record at Vol State, Run with Rivs, Race Directors Release COVID-19 Guidelines
ultracoach 11 From the Coach POWER-HIKING WITH A WEIGHT VEST 12 Koop’s Corner TOOLS TO TRACK YOUR TRAINING Jason Koop dives into the details behind training software and the data that’s available to track your training.
18 Ultrarunning Science PACKS & PHYSIOLOGY: HOW EXTRA GEAR ALTERS RUNNING
34 ULTRA GEAR 101: EVERYTHING YOU NEED
65 Destination Unknown ADVENTURE RUNNING AND “STUFF”
20 Beast Coast PUT ON A HAPPY FACE 21 Ultra Doc BONE HEALTH & ULTRARUNNING Ultra Doc Tracy Beth Høeg, MD, PhD, breaks down the results from research conducted on athletes at the Western States Endurance Run in 2019.
26 View From the Open Road HOW FAR AND HOW LONG? 27 Running Wise QUESTION YOUR EQUIPMENT CHOICES 28 The Voice of the Sport BIGHORN 100: A DIFFICULT DECISION
Gear review editor Donald Buraglio lists his favorite essentials when tackling a daunting distance.
39 A N FKT ON WESTERN STATES WEEKEND 42 W OLTERING BATTLES FOR THE ICE AGE FKT After unexpected hurdles at the start, Coree Woltering was able to endure with the help of his crew and community members, as he tackled the historic trail across Wisconsin.
ultraraces 50 C ANAL CORRIDOR 100 // OHIO 56 MT. SHASTA TRAIL RUNS // CALIFORNIA 62 E LKHORN CREST // OREGON
66 Reese’s Pieces WHAT I KNOW NOW (THAT I DIDN’T KNOW THEN) 67 One Step Beyond ENDURANCE COMES FROM ENDURING 68 Sarah’s Stories LISTEN TO YOUR MOM: BE PREPARED 69 Running Down Under MAKING ROOKIE MISTAKES 70 I Am an Ultrarunner JAY FRIEDMAN ON THE COVER: Coree Woltering runs through Wisconsin on his way to an FKT on the Ice Age Trail which spans over 1,000 miles across the state. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
UltraRunning (ISSN 0744-3609), Volume 40, Issue 3. ©2020 by UltraRunning, all rights reserved. UltraRunning is a trademark of UltraRunning Media Group, LLC. ©2020 UltraRunning Media Group, LLC. UltraRunning is published 10 times a year, monthly except for combined December/January and May/June issues by UltraRunning, P.O. Box 6509, Bend, OR 97708. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, OR, and additional mailing offices. SUBSCRIPTION Rates for one year (10 issues): US $3999 per year automatic renewal/$4999 manual renewal; CAN/Mexico $7499/$8499 per year (US funds); outside North America $8999/$9999 (US funds). POSTMASTER Send address changes to UltraRunning, P.O. Box 6509, Bend, OR 97708. Disclaimer: Although ultrarunning is a wonderful activity that we fully encourage as part of a vigorous and healthy lifestyle, the activities described in UltraRunning magazine can entail significant health risks, including significant injury or death. Do not engage in ultrarunning unless you are knowledgeable about all the risks and assume full responsibility for them. Use of and reliance upon the information contained in this magazine and on its website and other digital platforms, is at your own risk. The information, recommendations and opinions of our writers and advertisers reflects their views, and is not necessarily the opinion or view of the magazine or its ownership. UltraRunning Media Group makes no warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein or in its other media, and further disclaims any responsibility for injuries or death incurred by any person engaging in ultrarunning or relying upon content contained herein.
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Love Your Gear
The act of running is as simple as it gets, but as distances grow longer, so does the list of necessary gear. After a few years of carrying handhelds on long runs and suffering from numb fingers, loose straps and a general frustration with carrying leaky bottles, I fell in love – with my hydration pack, that is. The hands-free bladder on the back, secure straps and bite piece which allowed for a steady stream of H2O made me swoon – it felt like I was wearing a giant hug.
Why did it take me so long to figure out the magic of a hydration pack? In all honesty, it was pure stubbornness. Mile after mile, I persisted with handheld bottles knowing that I could scoot through summer months by running in the cool mornings and hitting up a water fountain or two. But come winter, I knew the issue of wearing gloves and holding bottles would arise again and again. Numb fingers, bulky handwarmers and that pesky, leaky bottle. Yes, I was stubborn. Finding the perfect gear takes time and research. Start by asking around to see what others are using and find out why. Borrowing a friend’s gear and testing it for your own use will not only save you from overspending, but also help you discover what works and what doesn’t. Just like
testing a new gel flavor, it’s wise to buy one before investing in a whole box. Last year, after a few years of being completely satisfied with the bladder on my back, I decided to experiment yet again by adding soft flasks to the front pockets of my hydration vest. The heavier frontload altered my running posture, and I quickly learned the soft flasks were not for me. Columnist Matt Laye addresses this subject and how extra gear, specifically hydration packs, affects your running, on page 18. In this issue, Jason Koop dives into technical ways to track your training on page 12. Gear review editor Donald Buraglio put together a comprehensive selection of his personal favorites for running 100 miles, including everything from socks to headlamps, on page 34. You’ll also read about an FKT attempt that didn’t go exactly as planned due to some unforeseen battles with nature and more, on page 42. And Lucy Bartholomew gives advice on making gear-related rookie mistakes over and over again on page 69. The sport of ultrarunning is about problem-solving, whether it’s during a pandemic or a 100-mile race through the mountains. By testing our gear between races, we can eliminate the problems that we can control in order to prepare for the ones that aren’t so predictable. Keep Moving,
SUBMISSIONS Articles, race reports and results, humor and photos should be submitted via email to email@example.com. Unsolicited material is welcome, and will be used as space permits. Photo submissions are very welcome. Photographs should be available in high-resolution files (at least 1Mb, over 3Mb is better). Please label each photograph with: name of race/runners’ names/photographer’s name. Photos that depict effort, emotion, particularly unusual or difficult terrain, or scenic courses, are especially welcome. Of course, the runners are the most important feature of an ultra, so remember to include them in scenic pictures, too! See ultrarunning.com for more examples of race reports.
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Peter Gagarin, Fred Pilon, Stan Wagon, Don Allison, Tia Bodington, Karl Hoagland COLUMNISTS
Lucy Bartholomew, Donald Buraglio, Gary Cantrell, Gary Dudney, Clare Gallagher, Ellie Greenwood, Erika Hoagland, Dr. Tracy Høeg, Dean Karnazes, Jason Koop, Jeff Kozak, Matt Laye, Travis Macy, John Medinger, Sean Meissner, Cory Reese, Amy Rusiecki, Ian Sharman, Sarah Lavender Smith, Meredith Terranova, John Trent CONTRIBUTORS
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DURO | DYNA
Each glorious long run in the mountains is the result of countless hours of training; early mornings, late nights, tired legs and no excuses. The Duro/Dyna makes ever y race or run easier with bounce-free s tabilit y and options that accommodate ever y thing from a f t e r- w o r k j a u n t s t o l o n g d a y s i n the mountains. So keep training. T h a t â€™s h o w t h e G o o d D a y s a r e M a d e .
NEWS & NOTES
New FKTs on Tahoe Rim Trail
Adam Kimble finished the Tahoe Rim Trail on July 7 in 1 day, 13 hr, 12 min and 15 sec, nabbing the supported FKT that had been held for 11 years. Kilian Jornet set the previous FKT of 1 day, 14 hr and 32 min in 2009. Candice Burt set the female unsupported FKT in 2 days, 12 hr, 47 min and 34 sec on July 6, just four days after Helen Pelster set the previous record in 3 days, 3 hr, 44 min and 13 sec. The Tahoe Rim Trail is a 171-mile loop around Lake Tahoe with 31,000 feet of elevation gain.
New Pennine Way Record
Damian Hall finished England’s 268-mile Pennine Way, a National Trail, in 61 hours and 34 minutes, beating the previous record by more than three hours, set by John Kelly, the week prior. Before Kelly, the record had been held by Mike Hartley for 31 years.
First Female Finisher of Wainwrights
A British ultrarunner, 39-year-old Sabrina Verjee, became the first female to complete the 214 summits of the Lake District’s Wainwrights in the United Kingdom. She completed the 318-mile route with 118,110 feet of elevation gain in 6 days, 17 hr and 51 min. Verjee secured the third-fastest known time on the course.
Nolan’s 14 FKTs
Joey Campanelli set the unsupported FKT on the Nolan’s 14 in 1 day, 17 hr and 33 sec on July 2, accomplishing his goal of completing the feat in under 44 hours. The previous record was set by Joe Grant in 2 days, 1 hr and 38 min in 2018. Sabrina Stanley snagged the female supported FKT on August 10 in 2 days, 3 hr and 15 min, just over a month after Sarah Hansel set the unsupported FKT in 2 days, 9 hr, 43 min and 34 sec on July 8. The
previous supported record was set by Meghan Hicks in 2016 in 2 days, 11 hr and 36 min.
12-Year-Old Wins 50-Miler
Gavin Moore, a 12-year-old ultrarunner from South Carolina, won the Cremator Ultra in Beaufort, SC, finishing in 7:49. He placed first over an hour ahead of second-place finisher, Ryan Dunn, who completed the race in 8:51.
New Record at Vol State
Francesca Muccini was the overall winner of Vol State, a 314-mile race across the entire
Damian Hall smiles during a road crossing on his way to snagging a new record on England’s 268mile Pennine Trail. INOV-8.COM / DAVE MACFARLANE
Gavin Moore shakes hands with William Keane, who was running his 352nd ultra as Moore was preparing to run his first. NICOLE CLEGG
state of Tennessee, in 3 days, 7 hr, 9 min and 49 sec, for a new women’s crewed record. Bob Hearn finished second overall and first male in a time of 3 days, 12 hr, 3 min and 12 seconds, also in the crewed category. Philip Vondra finished first in the “screwed” division with a time of 5 days, 12 hr, 2 min and 54 sec, and Julia Lipeles was first “screwed” female in 6 days, 1 min and 46 sec. Runners are divided between crewed and “screwed” divisions based on their decision to run the race with a support crew (crewed) or solo (screwed).
Tommy Rivers (left) with brother Jacob Puzey at the 2019 California International Marathon. PAUL NELSON
year. He had four months to live. Whomever first coined the phrase, “No one ever said life was fair,” was right on the money. In 90 years, I’ve had many friends and relatives who have died; although I had just the few moments on the plane with him, he’s embedded in my memory and he’ll be there until my time comes. Thanks for the memory, Dewayne. Thanks to you Bob for the opportunity to have met Dewayne. —Rich Busa
Run with Rivs
Flagstaff ultrarunner Tommy Rivers has been hospitalized with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, primary pulmonary NK T-cell lymphoma. He has been moved to a hospital in Scottsdale, AZ, where he continues to receive chemotherapy under the guidance and expertise of some of the world’s leading physicians. A fundraiser has been set up at gofundme.com to help with medical expenses.
Race Directors Release COVID-19 Guidelines
A group of ultra race directors, The Race Director Alliance, released Guidelines for Trail Running Events in the COVID-19 Era, in order to “offer suggestions to modify event management.” These suggestions include pre-race prep such as: • Know your state and local phases
• Check in with your land agencies and managers • Create a “COVID-19 Era Safety Plan” • Create and enact a pre-race communication plan • Update your registration, refund, rollover, COVID-19 Era and race cancellation policies Race day and runner guidelines, along with pacer, crew and spectator guidelines are also listed. Visit racedirectortrailalliance. com to find out more.
Letters to the Editor Below is a letter sent to us that was originally received by Bob Bacon, written by Rich Busa. Busa is a 90-year-old fixture at the Vermont 100 and ran his first ultra at age 60. The letter references their trip to the 1996 Western States Endurance Run: Dear Bob, I recently saw an article in UltraRunning Magazine that brought back memories. We were on our flight to California
where I was to be your pacer in the race. I was standing in the aisle when I heard a group of guys talking about the race. I asked where they were from and they replied that they were from Alabama. I told them that I started subscribing to the magazine in 1989 and have all of the issues. I said that I scanned every issue, every race result. At first, I looked for any runner from Massachusetts, to see if I knew anyone. Eventually, in reading the write-up of the races I became familiar with the names. I read about their Mountain Mist ultra that they held each year which had the reputation of being a very difficult course. Then, I said that the two runners I followed were Dink Taylor and Dewayne Satterfield. Dewayne said, “That’s me.” I almost hit the floor. I’ll never forget what a nice guy he was. The enclosed article from the current issue is about Dewayne. He died this year of angiosarcoma, a disease so rare that the Mayo Clinic rarely reports more than one case a
TOM CHRISTOFK Tom Christofk, 68, passed away on July 22. He was the Placer County air pollution control officer, and served as Western States Trail Foundation (WSTF) president from 2007-2008. Tom was an extremely competitive rider and completed the Tevis ride four times, several finishing in the top 10. His love of the trail and the ride created a commitment that involved him in the creation of the joint trail committee with the Western States Endurance Run. Tom leaves behind his wife Laura, sons Clint and Colt, and daughter Heather Christofk-Hively. CHRIS MARTINEZ Chris Martinez, 48, passed away on June 25. Martinez lived in Grand Junction, CO, and was a race director and whitewater rafting guide. He co-founded 360 Moab Adventures and GrassRoots Events and created the Moab Red Hot Trail 33K/55K. He is survived by his wife, Amanda, and two sons and a daughter. September 2020
Just a Magazine.
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FROM THE COACH
Power-Hiking With a Weight Vest
BY IAN SHARMAN
leg muscles as well as the stabilizers, helping to lower the chance of injury on top of raising hiking speed. For city-bound runners, treadmill hiking with a weight vest significantly improves the ability to go uphill and to absorb the pounding of downhills.
COURTESY IAN SHARMAN
Odds are that for the really long distances, like 100 miles, almost everyone will need to power-hike at some point during a race. To put it in context, each time I won the Leadville Trail 100, I typically power-hiked around 25 miles, showing how necessary this is for front runners and back-ofthe-packers, alike. I’m frequently asked what improves power-hiking most effectively. First, mentality is important. Rethink hiking as a strategic choice before you need to use it, rather than the thing you do when you’re tired and need a break. The key is purposeful practice. Not just walking, but forcing yourself to push the pace almost every time you walk so it becomes a habit. That’s even more important when hikes are included in training runs. Long runs are the time where power-hiking typically fits in best, and where it will mimic race day the most. Instead of randomly throwing in short power-hiking sections, think about how you can keep your effort level lower and save your legs for later in the run. One of the most obvious places to do this is on uphill efforts, but even for flatter runs the main thing is to choose power-hiking when the effort level first begins to increase, then try to maintain momentum with a more powerful intensity. What I mentioned above will improve hiking strength and endurance, especially as part of hilly long runs. However, not all runners have access to trails and rugged terrain, especially in cities. I’ve developed many ways to get around this for the runners I coach. One of the best ways is by using a weight vest. Even for those fortunate enough to live near mountains, weight vests work on the bigger
HOW TO CHOOSE A WEIGHT VEST A basic $30 weight vest works fine since it won’t be used for running and doesn’t have to be a snug fit. More comfortable options can set you back hundreds of dollars. Alternatively, use what you already have at home by using two running backpacks, one worn on the front and the other on the back for balancing your center of gravity. A water bladder adds dense weight and can be lightened for downhill hiking to reduce joint and muscle pounding. HOW MUCH WEIGHT? This decision depends on your body weight, but the aim isn’t to make it extremely difficult since we’re not preparing to run with a lot of extra weight. Instead, we’re adding a little extra challenge to make hiking feel especially easy on race day. Many cheap weight vests have around 20 pounds of sandbags (the amount I personally use and recommend), which is enough for most people to get an ideal training stimulus. Start with lower weight – just enough that you can feel the extra effort required – and build up over time. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE THE VEST? This can be included on a daily basis in addition to normal training and for most people, the restriction is their ability to fit in another workout rather than exhaustion. Once you’ve used a weight vest
regularly for a couple of weeks, just a few of miles at a time, you’ll find that initial muscle aches will fade. At that stage, it means weight vest hiking is easy enough on the body to work as active recovery. Yet, it also adds more volume to your week in a very sustainable way, and helps you be more physically and mentally comfortable with hiking faster. OTHER THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND The rule of specificity applies to training for any sport – the closer your training is to the actions you want to master, the more benefit you’ll get. You can gain hiking fitness and leg strength by training in the gym, but this is less effective than what you’ll achieve by running and hiking with and without added weight. Besides, most trail runners would prefer to be outside. Note that your form should be virtually identical
to unweighted hiking. When ascending, purposefully practice adjusting your stride length and whether you land on your heel, mid-foot or toes. The gradient and terrain will naturally influence your form, but try to hike on a variety of gradients. Also, I recommend leaving the straps or zipper undone. This makes it less stable so it swings from side-to-side, thus engaging and strengthening your core muscles to help maintain efficient form when you start to fatigue. You may look a little strange wearing the vest outside, but the pay-offs on race day are worth it. IAN SHARMAN is the head coach at Sharman Ultra. He is on the Altra Elite Team and has over 50 wins from 200 marathons and ultras, including four Leadville Trail 100 wins and nine consecutive top 10s at Western States 100.
Tools to Track Your Training When I first started coaching in 2001, I killed a lot of trees. Throughout the course of a workday, I received numerous faxes and e-mail attachments of training files from my athletes. I printed out every single one of them, and then I’d review each file, examining the critical data. I’d highlight anything important and fill the margins with notes from conversations and debriefs on each workout from the athlete. Finally, I’d place the sheets of paper in individually labeled folders, one for each athlete. Fortunately, over time, training-related technology and software improved and have now become quite sophisticated. The sheets of paper I once collected in file folders gave way to electronic storage and access. Heart rate monitors that chafed, were uncomfortable and clumsy to connect, have largely been replaced by optical sensors seamlessly integrated into the footprint of a watch. Despite these advances, heart rate and pace now appear more obsolete by the minute as new metrics such as heart rate variability and running power emerge to track stress and intensity. As a coach working with endurance athletes, I took to this evolution and some metrics have helped me gain better insight into how my athletes were training. However, more is not always better and just because you can track something doesn’t mean that you should. Below are some of the newer and more nuanced tools beyond your GPS watch you can use to track your training, and I think they are worth it. LOGGING YOUR TRAINING Choosing the right device will start you on the path to correctly monitoring and tracking your training. The 12
BY JASON KOOP
next step in this process is to dial in the software that is going to harness the data and give you actionable information you can use to better guide and focus your training. With a few key insights into how concepts like total workload, work rate, fitness and fatigue work, you can utilize the information collected by your GPS watch, as well as personal feedback, to better monitor your training. STRAVA AND TRAININGPEAKS TOOLS While each watch manufacturer (Garmin, Suunto, Coros, etc.) has developed its own software to harness data, the trend over the past several years is that third-party developers simply do a better job in this role. In my view, Strava and TrainingPeaks are currently the go-to platforms for endurance athletes. Each offers some unique features and benefits. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the ones that impact training the most.
NPG AND GAP Both Strava and TrainingPeaks have developed algorithms to convert running on uphills and downhills to flat, level running. TrainingPeaks’ Normalized Graded Pace (NGP) and Strava’s Grade Adjusted Pace (GAP) take your running and “grade” it as if you were running on flat, level ground. For example, if you are running up a 6.0 percent climb at a 12-minute-per-mile pace, your NGP or GAP would be 9:21. In other words, running 12 minutes-per-mile on a 6.0 percent uphill is comparable to running 9:21 min/mi on the flats. This gives athletes the ability to compare paces on different climbs and descents with the equivalent pace for flat, level running. TrainingPeaks’ NGP takes the paced algorithm a step further (see what I did there?) and “normalizes” the pace to its physiological equivalent had the runner perfectly paced the entire run. For example, if you do a workout comprising of
6∑3 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy, where the hard parts are at 6-minute pace and the easy parts are at 10-minute pace, your average pace for that workout will be 8 minutesper-mile for 33 total minutes. The workout will certainly feel harder and have more physiological impact than 33 minutes at 8-minute pace. So, Training Peaks’ NGP “normalizes” undulating paces seen in training and racing, and calculates a physiological equivalent. This “normalization” feature is pretty nifty in that it lets you compare the physiological load of an interval workout and compare it to a more evenly paced run. Both of these algorithms do a decent job of comparing the respective paces (and therefore work rates) of climbing and flat, level running when performed on similar surfaces and at normal gradients. You can go out and do intervals on flat sections and climbs, compare the efforts, and determine which effort was harder or
easier. However, there are two glaring flaws in utilizing these algorithms for trail runners. Flaw 1: When the surface is different Neither GAP nor NGP has the ability to account for the difference in pace associated with running on different surfaces. You intuitively know that running through sand is more difficult than running on a track. Similarly, running over technical terrain requires more effort than running over smooth terrain. However, the raw paces and calculated GAP and NGP will not account for the difference in those surfaces. Flaw 2: Descents The calculations for GAP and NGP use the difference in energy/oxygen cost between uphill, downhill and level running to arrive at the equivalent pace for level terrain. But for downhill running in particular, energy cost tells only part of the story. Other factors outside of the energetic cost combine to significantly affect the overall stress. These include changes in foot speed, coordination and musculoskeletal stress, all of which are different in downhill running than in level or uphill running. Neither GAP nor NGP takes these additional stresses into account, and as a result, they underestimate the overall stress of downhill running. In a single or shorter run, that may not be a big issue. For ultrarunners, however, it represents a greater flaw as you try to sum up cumulative
training stress during a very long run or over a longer period of training. TOTAL TRAINING STRESS By using NGP or GAP and comparing it to your lactate threshold, you can (theoretically) numerically calculate the total training stress of any session. This is important because it gives an applesto-apples comparison of how stressful different runs can be. Hilly, undulating runs with wild differences in pace can be compared with flat runs that have little deviation in pace on the basis of their total amount of stress. Similarly, interval workouts can be compared to EnduranceRuns. In TrainingPeaks, these values are referred to as Training Stress Score (TSS), of which there are three types depending on how you want to delineate intensity (either by heart rate denoted by hrTSS, power denoted by TSS or pace denoted by rTSS). Strava’s version of this is “Relative Effort.” All of these scoring systems are trying to do the same thing, albeit by different methods. On the TrainingPeaks platform, Training Stress is calibrated using an algorithm anchored to a 60-minute run at lactate threshold being equal to 100 points. Recovery runs will be less than 100 points, and longer endurance runs will typically be more than 100 points. This gives you a basis to determine how stressful a short, high-intensity run
is compared with a longer, lower-intensity run (see the table below for examples). Additional formulas can utilize pace (in the case of rTSS), heart rate (in the case of hrTSS) or power (in the case of TSS) as the intensity determinant to let the user decide which type to use for a particular workout. The reason TrainingPeaks uses this 100-point calibration system is that one hour of running at lactate threshold intensity is about the maximum a person can sustain. The effort would essentially be an all-out time trial. Therefore, when a coach or athlete looks at a particular run, using 100 points as an anchor for an extremely difficult, high intensity effort, the score for the particular run is immediately put into a broad context. On Strava’s platform, “Relative Effort” uses heart rate and the time spent across different intensities to score a workout. If you are caught up in the details right now, fret not. Simply put, TSS/rTSS/hrTSS and Relative Effort take your lactate threshold intensity (defined by pace, heart rate or power) and the time you spend at your relative intensities (endurance, lactate threshold, VO2max) to score each workout using a point-based system. The higher the score, the more stressful the workout. There are plenty of caveats to these scoring-based systems, though. Before we get to those, let’s
dive into how to leverage these training load metrics a bit more. AGGREGATING TOTAL TRAINING STRESS Within TrainingPeaks, your TSS/rTSS/hrTSS can be aggregated and trended over time. This provides one of the more valuable pieces of feedback when analyzing training load. Acute Training Load (ATL) and Chronic Training Load (CTL) provide snapshots of the long-term (>7 days) aggregate training load. Acute Training Load is a 7-day, rolling, weighted average of the TSS/rTSS/hrTSS for each particular day. Chronic Training Load is the same thing but over a 42-day period (the time frame for CTL and ATL can be customized). Over time, these numbers offer a big-picture view of historical training that provides clues as to when an athlete is the most fit (highest CTL), most fatigued (highest ATL) and most ready for performance (highest Training Stress Balance, or TSB, the difference between CTL and ATL). TrainingPeaks provides useful charting capabilities of these metrics that athletes can use simply by uploading their training files each day. BEWARE THE FLAWS Unfortunately, the flaws with TSS/rTSS/hrTSS, ATL and CTL mirror those with NGP (as NGP is used in the equations). Changes in surface and large amounts of descending make
TRAINING STRESS SCORING SYSTEMS NAME
Threshold power, length of the run, times spent at different intensities
Threshold pace, length of the run, times spent at different intensities
METHOD OF SCORING
Threshold heart rate, length of the run, times spent at different intensities
Threshold heart rate, length of the run, times spent at different intensities September 2020
it difficult to compare one run with the next. However, if your training generally contains the same trail surface and climbing and descending from day to day, rTSS, ATL and CTL can give you a ballpark idea of how hard or easy one run is compared with the next, and how these training loads stack up over time. Bear in mind that point for point, Training Stress Scores feel physically difficult to a runner the farther they get into a run. In other words, 50 TSS points (equivalent to a short RecoveryRun) when accumulated at the beginning of a 1-hour run is not nearly as difficult as when accumulated at the end of a 6-hour run, yet they will be calculated at the same Training Stress. MONITORING IMPROVEMENT How do you know if you are becoming more fit? In the road running world, your day-to-day paces and workouts can provide answers to this question. In trail running, the process is similar, though the answer requires more investigation, particularly if you are doing your specific interval work on trails (as you should be). Both Strava and TrainingPeaks provide tools to help you understand how your fitness is trending. These tools do not provide stoplight answers that turn green when things are good, red when they are bad and yellow for somewhere in between. Rather, they provide general trends you can interpret to see if your training is on the right track and if you are making improvements over a period of weeks or months. STRAVA SEGMENTS One of the great and convenient features of Strava is segment tracking. Strava segments are marked-out sections of road and trail, created by users. You can even create your own segments for sections of trail you commonly use for specific interval work. 14
Every time you run across that section of trail, your segment time is recorded for everyone to see (you can change this setting if you wish to keep your run or your segment private). Results are racked and stacked on a leaderboard, and you can see where your time fits in with the rest of the pack or in relation to your previous runs. While you should not try to set a PR every time, the general trend line can provide clues to how your fitness is trending, particularly if the segment of trail is one you use frequently for training. The great thing about these segments (other than being addictive) is that they are automatically calculated and tabulated once you have uploaded your run. No need to print out pages and mark them up with a highlighter as I have done, countless times. NGP BETWEEN EFFORTS TrainingPeaks provides fitness tracking via the capability to break down files and create laps once the file is uploaded. In this way, after doing specific workouts, you can come back to the file and analyze the NGP of the specific segments. You can use these data to gauge the quality of your workouts from interval to interval and by looking at different intervals across several days or weeks. RUNNING POWER METERS As I was ramping up my coaching career in the early 2000s, I had the good fortune to be privy to the power meter revolution that took over cycling. Prior to that, onboard cycling power meters were reserved for only the elite of the elite within the pro peloton. The concept of cycling power meters was simple. A cycling power meter works by measuring the force being produced either on the crank arms, pedal or hub. By measuring the force, as well as the speed of what you are measuring (the pedals, cranks
or hub), it’s a quick calculation to mechanical power as Power = Force ∑ Velocity. Early power meter models were expensive, clunky and heavy. All of which made power meters rarities outside of the small circle of the best Grand Tour and track riders. Yet, they were a powerful enough tool that many of the top riders in the world used them to inform training. Fast forward a few years to the mid and late 2000s, and these devices became more affordable, streamlined and lighter. Those innovations paved the way to widespread adoption not only by elite athletes, but everyday cyclists. This revered tool, once reserved only for training, could now also be used for racing to glean valuable insights into the demands of the sport. This transition revolutionized the way we approached training cyclists. As coaches, we had a direct way of measuring intensity and race demands as well as a simple way of transferring and analyzing all of the information. Coaches subsequently had to “learn” how to read, analyze and aggregate power meter files to better inform their coaching practices. I am proud to say that I helped lead some of the first coaches to be fluent in this new language.
I was also present to witness power meter failures, ranging from misinterpretation of the data, design flaws of the devices, or both. All of this experience continues to shape how I work with data to better coach athletes. Jump to present time. Companies like Stryd, RunScribe and Polar, amongst others, have recently attempted to replicate the cycling power meter revolution in running. It’s a novel attempt, but in my opinion it will ultimately either fail, or at least take on a different meaning. While cycling power meters directly measure the force exerted on the crankarms, pedal or hub, running power meters have had to interpret power through a few degrees of separation. Some companies use the movement of the foot to determine the mechanical work required for the activity, and thus calculate mechanical power through a proprietary algorithm. Others take a different approach all together by reverse engineering the metabolic power (oxygen cost) required to run. Throughout it all, the key thing to keep in mind with a running power meter is that the devices are deriving power using various algorithms, none of which is a good surrogate
for directly measuring force and speed like a cycling power meter. The differences are
Your running power meter does not know if you are running on pavement, sand or an alpine ridge. Therefore, regardless of how good the algorithms are, interpreting the data as an intensity surrogate is a meaningless exercise. so great that even the words ”Running Power” are essentially meaningless, both in terms of its biomechanical interpretation as well as the practical use with athletes. So, where does this leave the average trail runner with “Running Power”? First off, in a trail running application, determining running power
is problematic because the surface cannot be accounted for (similar to NGP and GAP listed above). Your running power meter does not know if you are running on pavement, sand or an alpine ridge. Therefore, regardless of how good the algorithms are, or if the running power meter is telling your mechanical or metabolic power, interpreting the data as an intensity surrogate is a meaningless exercise. Using running power meters that measure movement at the level of the foot might have utility to inform trail runners on effective training technique or form by analyzing the precise movement of the foot over the course of a run. But as a means of determining intensity, the promise of running power meter has yet to prove its worth. HEART RATE VARIABILITY (HRV) Heart rate variability is simply the measure of inter-heartbeat variation for a given period of time. What this means is that even though your heart might beat at a rate of 60 beats per minute, those beats do not happen perfectly every second on the second. There is variability and that variability of the timing within each heart beat is both good and important. Measuring this variability gives you a noninvasive window into how well your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is functioning. The ANS is the regulator of your body with the important job of helping to maintain homeostasis. When you are fatigued, your autonomic nervous system cannot adjust to internal and external stimuli as efficiently, and that is reflected in your inter-heartbeat variation being more regular (which in this case is negative). With this oversimplified background, we can theoretically utilize HRV to monitor training load, fatigue and potentially how well you are adapting to training. Negative adaptations to long-term training would September 2020
WHAT THE COACH USES I will let you in on a secret. Very little, if any, of this information is actionable by itself. In all my years as a coach, I cannot recall a time when I have taken one piece of such information and used it to decide what an athlete should do. Rather, action is determined by the aggregate of the information, combined with feedback from the athlete. From a practical standpoint, I utilize the following system to drive the creation of and adjustments to an athlete’s training. I encourage you to do something similar. • Use TrainingPeaks to schedule workouts • Use NGP, rTSS and Strava segments to evaluate and compare workouts • Use rTSS/CTL/ATL to track training load • Use feedback from the athlete to further gauge fitness, fatigue and motivation • Maybe use HRV and/or sleep patterns as additional context • Use knowledge and experience to synthesize the information and drive action
then be associated with reductions in HRV, and an increase in fitness (positive adaptation) would be associated with increases in HRV indices (Dong 2016). You can capture HRV via a stand-alone app or in conjunction with other variables like total sleep, REM sleep and waking HR and other metrics into a “Recovery Score.” Regardless, in order to utilize HRV effectively, you would have to adhere to the following: ESTABLISH A BASELINE AND MONITOR DAILY HRV does not provide valuable information with one singular reading. Instead, HRV carries the most weight when you can monitor positive and negative trends over time. This means monitoring HRV over weeks to establish a baseline, and when that baseline is trending up or down. As with many other metrics in exercise physiology for performance, context is key. TAKE EFFECTIVE READINGS Aside from daily readings, it’s important to also utilize the best measurements possible. This means taking the readings upon waking, first thing in the morning, and opting for longer measurements than the default 60-second options most applications will give you. Clinicians opt for 5-minute readings, if you can fit that into your morning, which increases the likelihood of getting cleaner recordings. HRV IS NOT CUT AND DRY Like any training metric, HRV is not perfect. An increase in your HRV is not always positive and a decrease is not always negative. Peaking for an event with a taper, an artificial rebound value 48 hours after a hard effort, or an
over-worked immune system while you fight off a bug can send your daily HRV readings into uncharted territory. Utilize context and monitor trends over time; if you start using HRV, commit to gathering data
psychological development that is also critical to success. Author’s Note: Portions of this article have been repurposed with permission from Training Essentials for Ultrarunning. The author would like to
for at least four weeks before making big decisions.
thank Corrine Malcolm for contributions. The author declares no conf licts of interest with any of the products or services mentioned.
SUBJECTIVE FEEDBACK Out of all the tools I use on a day-to-day basis with my athletes, subjective feedback is the most important. Verbally describing how you felt during a workout should be incorporated into your training log, and a premium should be placed on capturing this information consistently. You can record whatever you wish, but at a minimum write down how you felt (was the workout hard or easy, did you feel particularly fast, etc.), any challenges you encountered along the way, as well as any significant nutrition strategies you used. Subjective feedback helps determine your nutrition plan, when to take a recovery phase and illustrates patterns and trends in your training. Finally, deliberately capturing subjective feedback makes you more aware while running, which in turn, can drive mental and
JASON KOOP is the head ultrarunning coach for CTS and author of Training Essentials for Ultrarunning. He coaches ultrarunners of all abilities and is the coach for many of today’s top ultramarathon athletes. He can be reached at jasonkoop@trainright. com and @jasonkoop (Twitter and Instagram). References Banister, E. W., & Calvert, T. W. (1980). Planning for future performance: implications for long term training. Canadian journal of applied sport sciences. Journal canadien des sciences appliquees au sport, 5(3), 170–176. Dong, J.-G. (2016). The role of heart rate variability in sports physiology. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 11(5), 1531–1536.
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Packs & Physiology: How Extra Gear Alters Running
BY MATT LAYE
Big days on the trails can require a lot of gear, nutrition, hydration and extra layers. While necessary, all that weight does not always feel great when you are 10, 20, 80 miles into a long race or run. In addition to the discomfort of a weighted pack, how does running with one alter your stride or performance? What kind of pack might alter your running the least? Can you train your body to increase performance while running with a pack? I’m going to try to answer all of those questions with the existing science. The military has funded a lot of work on how biomechanics and physiology change in response to “load-carriage,” aka wearing a heavy backpack. Many of these studies use packs that are significantly heavier than ultrarunners would ever use (imagine running a 100-miler with an 88-pound pack). In this first study, researchers examined fairly heavy packs while running.3 Specifically, subjects had a 0%, 10% or 20% body weight load and then ran at 3, 4 or 5 meters/second, which equates to 6.7, 8.9 and 11.2 mph. These were short trials in which the runners were just running across the room, but researchers wanted to have all their “toys” in the room to completely capture a three-dimensional video as well as using a force plate, which limited them to how far they could run. When subjects wore extra weight, they landed with a slightly more extended ankle to support and absorb the extra weight, which may lead to more stress on the Achilles over time. In the next phase of 18
their stride, “mid-stance,” extra weight increased the flexion angle of the knee, which may create more stress specifically on the knee joint. In the last part of the stride, the “toe-off,” the extra weight increased hip extension but lowered hip adduction, both of which may contribute to injury risk. However, while the magnitude of all of these changes in stride were quite small, it’s possible that even small changes in stride could be related to injuries, as other studies show that injured runners have small differences in aspects of their strides relative to non-injured runners.
While your biomechanics are likely to change minimally, those small changes could lead to or exacerbate existing injuries, so start out by doing relatively shorter runs with packs. I can picture you saying it right now, “They only ran across the room, what happens during an ultra when you get tired?” The perfect study to answer this question does not exist, but another study did examine the effects of fatigue in combination with a weighted pack on walking biomechanics. 4 These subjects carried either 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs)
or 15 kg (33 lbs) on their backs and were analyzed both before and after a running exercise on the treadmill. Both fatigue and carrying extra weight changed the subjects walking biomechanics, which included a larger range of motion of the hip and knees. Interestingly, the changes due to fatigue and load carriage were different and did not overlap. Given the type of fatiguing exercise in this study and that the analysis of movement was done during walking, it’s tough to say whether this is applicable to ultrarunning, but it does suggest that fatigue and carrying extra weight have distinct effects on running form. In addition to changes in our stride, there are important physiological changes that occur with carrying weight as well. For instance, running at the same pace, you will have a higher heart rate. In another study, subjects could not reach their unloaded aerobic capacity (VO2max) and some of their metabolic thresholds will be at a corresponding lower percentage of their lowered maximal aerobic capacity. All that adds up to is decreased performance under both maximal and submaximal running speeds. One potential reason for this is fatigue, at least under maximal exercise conditions, of the respiratory muscles. Normally, inspiratory and expiratory respiratory muscles do not become fatigued during shorter exercise bouts. However, one study showed that participants carrying a heavy load of 25 kg (55 lbs) produced lower inspiratory and expiratory
pressures typical of respiratory fatigue, which gave researchers an idea. Let’s train those respiratory muscles and see if we can improve performance when carrying a weight. So that’s what they did. Subjects completed an inspiratory muscle training protocol in which they performed a set of inspirations at 80% of their
respiratory max three times a week for six weeks.6 After six weeks, the subjects that performed the inspiratory muscle training improved their time to exhaustion on a treadmill while carrying a load. Another study also showed an improvement in time trial performance while carrying a load following functional
inspiratory muscle training three times a week that included doing core work such as alternating crunches, Swiss ball crunches, prone bridges and dynamic bird dogs while inhaling forcefully through a device that creates some resistance.2 Most of the studies discussed thus far were funded
by the military or done with the purpose of understanding how a soldier might perform with a pack on. I could only find a couple of studies which used experimental parameters specifically aimed at ultrarunners. In one such study, researchers compared a hydration pack that included a bladder in the back to a pack that had bottles in the front.5 Each pack was loaded with 1 kg (2 lbs), 3 kg (6.5 lbs) or 6 kg (13 lbs) and subjects completed a 20-minute run at 80% of their lactate threshold – a speed that is typical of an ultra race. Not surprisingly, carrying 6 kg (13 lbs) increased heart rate, energy expenditure, perceived effort and reduced running economy, versus the lighter loads. Interestingly, there was a small improvement in running economy for subjects wearing the front-loaded hydration pack, but no differences in the heart rate and perceived effort. While it was a small effect, it’s possible that over time, such a difference may widen or result in a significant performance difference in longer events. The last study compared muscle activation levels in downhill, uphill and flat running, with and without an added load. The major finding by researchers here was that a loaded pack will increase the utilization of eccentric muscle contractions relative to concentric muscle contractions in flat and downhill, but not uphill running.1 Those eccentric muscle contractions are the major contributor to overall muscle fatigue and damage, as well as potent stimuli for muscle adaptation. The important takeaways on carrying loads are as follows: while your biomechanics are likely to change minimally, those small changes could lead to or exacerbate existing injuries, so start out by doing relatively shorter runs with packs. Second, you will get slower when running with a loaded down pack. Bring the essentials to keep you
fed, hydrated and safe in the environment, but limit weight where you can. Third, while respiratory muscle training does seem to have some benefits in untrained people, my guess is that habitual runners will see less benefit and you’d be better served going for a run than spending 20 minutes performing these exercises. Lastly, the extra load is going to require the ability to perform eccentric muscle contractions over and over, so a little strength training prior to using a pack and some extra recovery after a pack-filled day in the mountains is beneficial. MATTHEW LAYE is an Assistant Professor in Health and Human Performance at The College of Idaho. When he is not teaching he is coaching athletes for Sharman Ultra, plotting the next experiment or running. You can follow him on Twitter @mjlaye. References 1. Abe D, Fukuoka Y, Muraki S, Yasukouchi A, Sakaguchi Y, Niihata S. Effects of Load and Gradient on Energy Cost of Running. J Physiol Anthropol 30: 153–160, 2011. 2. Faghy MA, Brown PI. Functional training of the inspiratory muscles improves load carriage performance. Ergonomics 62: 1439–1449, 2019. 3. Liew BXW, Morris S, Netto K. Joint power and kinematics coordination in load carriage running: Implications for performance and injury. Gait Posture 47: 74–79, 2016. 4. Qu X, Yeo JC. Effects of load carriage and fatigue on gait characteristics. J Biomech 44: 1259–1263, 2011. 5. Scheer V, Vieluf S, Schröder M, Lappe P, Heitkamp HC. A comparison of economy between two different backpack designs for runners. Appl Ergon 84, 2020. 6. Shei RJ, Chapman RF, Gruber AH, Mickleborough TD. Inspiratory muscle training improves exercise capacity with thoracic load carriage. Physiol Rep 6: 1–12, 2018.
Put on a Happy Face
BY AMY RUSIECKI
I’ll admit it. My mental game can be weak. Of all the muscles in my body that I train to prepare for an ultra, my brain is the most neglected and undertrained. And, in those late miles of an ultra, it’s a critical component. Of all the gear, supplies and fueling that I need for an ultra and all the rotating brands, models and flavors, the one necessary component is a positive attitude. And it can make all the difference in the world to my success on any given day. During the lonely, tiring miles of an ultra, there are times when my mind turns dark. My inner dialog focuses on the training runs I cut short, or how much my belly jiggles when I run or what a failure I am. She reminds me that I’m too old, too fat, too slow and too ordinary to ever achieve anything extraordinary. She’s the reminder of my worst self image and ruthless with her criticism. Left unchecked, she will bring my pace to a slow walk and her prediction of failure will come true. However, there are also times when my inner goddess, my inner best friend, is loud and vocal. She reminds me of how hard I have trained to get here, focuses on my strengths, and reminds me to look up and take in the sights. She tells me I’m powerful, strong, confident and deserve to accomplish my dreams. She echoes all the amazing things my friends and training buddies tell me during training runs and workouts. If only she could be present all the time. 20
A few years ago, I was running the Grindstone 100. Due to some weather and related permitting issues, the race was pushed back a week and my crew and pacers couldn’t be there. I was left with 100 miles to complete all on my own, with only my thoughts to get me through to the finish line. Knowing the weakness of my mental game, this wasn’t starting the race off on the right foot. Well, that’s not entirely true. My friends armed me with all the positive thoughts I needed – they gave me a list of “100 Reasons Amy Will Rock This 100-Miler.” It was like having my training buddies and friends there to whisper what I needed to hear and fill me with confidence. REASON #35 – Your strength, your dedication, the fire you have to continue getting better, because you never settle and you don’t let us settle either, because you believe in us… we all admire you and are already
celebrating what we know will be an epic adventure. I tucked the list into my race pack before I started, pledging to only take it out when I needed the mental boost. Towards a never-ending climb at mile 60, I was about to enter the depths of despair. You know when you realize how tired you are, and how much farther you have to go? Reading a chunk of the list put some pep in my step and reminded me of my friends. REASON #6 – Your left leg is strong. REASON #7 – Your right leg is also strong, maybe even stronger than your left?!? The silliness of some of their statements made me laugh and reminded me that I was on a fun adventure. REASON #58 – The trails of western Mass are soaked with your sweat, tears, blood, snot, and maybe even a bit of pee from all the time spent training for this. They reminded me of how much time, energy and miles I had put into preparing for this race. REASON #78 – Because you’re stronger than you think you are.
REASON #79 – Because you didn’t train to stop. My friends’ words filled me with pride, confidence and positive energy where I wanted to push myself to be worthy of the amazing things they had written. Reading the list of “100 Reasons” during Grindstone that year, helped me through the lonely miles and avoid my traditional pity party, typically 60-80 miles into any 100-mile effort. My friends’ words, when read at those dark moments, helped my inner goddess overcome the negative thoughts. I was treated to one of my best 100-mile efforts, perfectly illuminating the power of positive thinking. Ever since then, I have continued to rely on messages and visuals to be armed with positivity for when my mind wants to go to that negative space. I have carried a photo of my close friend who passed from cancer, but who always believed I was capable of anything. I’ve brought written affirmations or quotes that inspire me. I’ve also printed out encouraging emails. I am always my own worst critic, and late-race fatigue brings out the ugliest of thoughts, but I’ve learned that a positive attitude can take me far. REASON #100 – Because you’re Amy F*ing Rusiecki!
AMY RUSIECKI is an engineer with a passion for ultrarunning which brought her confidence, joy, and a husband. She is the RD of Vermont 100, and coaches ultrarunners. She is a 3-time member of the USA Trail Team and is sponsored by Inov-8 and Drymax. Amy, her husband, and their kitty cat live in Western Massachusetts.
Western States Research
Bone Health & Ultrarunning
BY TRACY BETH HØEG, MD, PHD
Bone injuries may not get as much attention as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and various causes of knee pain. However, stress fractures, or bone stress injuries (BSI), are not only common, but associated with osteoporosis, debilitating fractures later in life and could signal underlying hormonal dysfunction. BSI is an injury to an insufficiently strong bone from repetitive submaximal loading. A BSI can either be a precursor to a stress fracture or an actual stress fracture. About 20% of collegiate distance runners sustain a BSI every year (Kraus, 2019). This is particularly concerning
men, on average), our bones have achieved about 90% of their total density, but we still make gains up through the age of 30. However, it is important to understand that the strength of bones at any point in our life is not only a function of our age. The density and strength of our bones is dependent on what we do, what we eat, what health conditions we have and what medications we take. Risk factors for stress fractures in athletes include insufficient fueling, participation in “leanness sports” such as running, low body-mass index, low bone mineral density (BMD) and BSI history are all risk factors (Kraus, 2019,
Four members of the Bone Health in Ultramarathon Runners research team collecting surveys and leading runners to their pre-race DXA scans. From left to right: Kira Skaggs, Tracy Høeg, Emily Kraus and Megan Roche, pictured on a blustery day in Squaw Valley prior to the start of WSER 2019. JONATHAN LEVITT
McInnis, 2016). In women, late start of menstruation and irregular or absent periods are associated with bone stress injuries (Tenforde, 2013). Other risk factors for stress fractures in both sexes include increased running mileage, insufficient recovery, less shock-absorbent shoes, caffeine, alcohol, cigarette smoking and many medications such as prednisone, cortisone, antacids and SSRI anti-depressants (Goolsby, 2017. McKinnis, 2016; Garner, 1988). Calcium and vitamin D intake as well as strength training
for an athlete’s long-term development as most collegiate athletes have not yet achieved their peak bone density. Specifically, by ages 18-20 (earlier in women and later in
can help lower the risk of BSI (Nieves, 2010). Whether you are in college, middle age or older, it is important to know whether or not your bones are strong enough to withstand the stress of simply logging the miles. If your bones are not strong enough to do this, it is abnormal and may signal an underlying health condition. By the time a person is in their late sixties, a hip fracture can increase their short-term chance of death by over fourfold (LeBlanc, 2011). Especially at this age, if a person survives, it can be very challenging to return to the same level of function as before the injury due to the prolonged recovery period. It was once thought that female athletes were at risk for BSI due to low BMD, insufficient calorie intake and irregular periods. This was previously referred to as the “female athlete triad.” This is a term that has fallen out of fashion, not only because of the unfortunate acronym “FAT,” but because 1) it is not just a triad, but includes a constellation of negative health consequences such as heart and blood vessel disease as well as unhealthy cholesterol profiles and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and 2) a parallel condition exists in men, putting them at similar risk of bone stress injuries and longterm health problems (Kraus, 2019). The underlying condition, now sometimes called Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), can most simply be summarized as insufficient fueling (or probably more accurately, nutrition) for the amount of exercise undertaken leading to hormonal imbalances which cause thin and fragile bones. Women will tend to experience missed periods when this occurs, but in men, it can
be harder to identify. Loss of libido and morning erections have been suggested as possible signs of this condition in men (Tenforde, 2016). And with more and more women on birth control methods such as the IUD, which may alter their menstrual cycle, it is often quite challenging in both sexes to assess sex hormone status without actually measuring the levels of testosterone and estradiol. In terms of ultrarunning, we know from a survey study (Hoffman, 2014) that about 5.5% of active ultramarathon runners report a stress fracture each year and one fourth of them report having had a stress fracture at some point in their running career. However, that was about the extent of what was known about BSI in ultrarunners, and we had no data on bone mineral density. If you were a part of the Western States Endurance Run (WSER) in 2018 or 2019, you may have noticed many runners were getting DXA scans (or bone density measurements) before the race. This was part of a large study of 123 WSER 100 participants. Our research team, mostly from Stanford, with the generous support of the WSER Foundation, InsideTracker and Napa Medical Research Foundation was able to, for the first time, look at the prevalence of BSI, decreased BMD and low BMI as well as hormone levels and other risk factors for BSI in ultramarathon runners. The findings discussed immediately below were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine in June of 2020 (Høeg, 2020). There were 40 women and 83 men (mean age 41.8 and 46.2 years, respectively) who enrolled and completed the survey, 36 women and 72 men September 2020
HISTORY OF BSI, LOW BMI AND LOW BMD BY SEX IN ULTRAMARATHON RUNNERS Figure 2: Percentage of runners by sex with a history of bone stress injury (BSI), current low body mass index (BMI) or current low bone mineral density (BMD).
40 35 30 25 20 15
completed DXA scans, and 19 women and 32 men completed serum evaluations. As you can see in Figure 2, a history of BSI was more prevalent in female runners (37.5% vs 20.5%) however, low BMD (as measured by a Z score which is corrected for age and sex) was more prevalent in male runners (28.9% vs. 15%). In fact, 15% of the population is expected to have a low Z score, so our female participants were on par with the general population for their age in terms of bone density. None of
10 5 0
% HISTORY OF BSI
our male participants had low BMI whereas 16.7% of women did. Interestingly, we did not find a correlation between low female BMI and history of BSI, however we may have had too
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% LOW BMI
% LOW BMD MEN
few participants to detect this correlation. What we did identify, however, was a correlation between the levels of the sex hormones testosterone and estradiol and female bone mineral density as follows: As shown in Figure 3, testosterone was associated with hip (p=.001) and spine (p=.03) BMD. Free testosterone was associated with spine (p=.013) BMD and estradiol (a form of estrogen) was associated with spine (p=0.03) BMD (Fig. 3, Table 3). (The lower the “p,” the less likely our finding was due to chance.) Interestingly, we did not identify any correlations between hormone levels in men and their BMD. However, again, we did have a small number of participants, which means, we cannot exclude the possibility correlations may exist. To our knowledge, our study is the first to identify a relationship between testosterone levels and bone mineral density in female runners. It will be interesting to see if hormone levels in females will be looked at in addition to menstruation, or in place of menstrual cycle when women have sustained a stress fracture. I was able to catch up with a fast road and trail runner,
who is highly qualified to discuss bone health in runners and the latest findings from our bone health study. I am talking about Emily Kraus, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedics and sports medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. She is the current principal investigator of the Bone Health in Ultramarathon Runners study discussed above. She has extensive experience diagnosing and treating bone stress injuries in runners of all ages. I was very grateful she was willing to be interviewed for the purposes of this article. TH: What sort of laboratory tests or medical work-up would you perform on an adult long-distance runner with a BSI? Emily Kraus: It depends on a few things: • Is this the first BSI? If no, I would recommend a bone health work-up. • Is the BSI located at a high-risk location, such as the anterior cortex of tibia, femoral neck, navicular bone, base of second metatarsal, sacrum or pelvis? If yes, I would also recommend a bone health work-up. My bone health work-up often starts with a DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, which measures
FREE TESTOSTERONE (pg/mL)
Figure 3: Signifcant correlations in females only between hip bone mineral density (BMD) and testosterone (top), spine BMD and free testosterone (middle) and estradiol (the predominant form of estrogen in women of reproductive age) and spine BMD.
TOTALSPINE HIP BMD BMD(Z(ZSCORE) SCORE)
r=.52, p=.022 r=.71, p=.001
2 2 1 1 0 0 -1 -1 -2 0 10
SPINE BMD (Z SCORE)
ESTRADIOL (pg/mL) TESTOSTERONE (ng/dL)
2 1 0 -1 -2 0.5
FREE TESTOSTERONE (pg/mL) 3
r=.52, p=.022 r=.71, p=.001
TOTALSPINE HIP BMD BMD(Z(ZSCORE) SCORE)
regular/irregular and age of first period) and sexual function in males and females (libido). Morning erections in males can provide an idea if additional hormonal labs are indicated. I highly recommend asking about dietary history that could indicate low energy availability (under-fueling) or nutrient deficiencies. This can reveal additional lab work-up and/or the need for referrals, such as a dietitian. I’m also assuming a good history was obtained on training volume, intensity, terrain, footwear, recovery days, etc. All of these factors may play a role and should be considered in the management plan. I would take a deeper dive in the runners with two or more BSIs or one in a high-risk site. However, if suspicion is high based on the history and I see value in the input of a sports dietitian, especially in the younger running population, I will refer [to a dietician] sooner. TH: What are some signs in men and post-menopausal women (or medically non-menstruating from birth control) that sex hormone levels and thus bone mineral density might be too low? EK: A post-menopausal woman and a woman not menstruating due to being on hormonal contraception should be approached differently. First off, it should be determined why the non-menstruating female is taking hormonal contraception. For example, if it’s because she wasn’t having
2 2 1 1 0 0 -1 -1 -2 0 10
ESTRADIOL (pg/mL) TESTOSTERONE (ng/dL)
periods prior and her PCP put her on this medication to help 3 r=.58, p=.012 “regulate” her periods, then that could be a sign of low sex
an individual’s bone mineral density (BMD). Studies have found lower BMD to be independently associated with risk for BSI. If the DXA scan shows a runner has low BMD, which we define as a Z-score < -1 in pre-menopausal females based on ACSM guidelines, I would recommend further lab work-up. TH: Could you elaborate on why this is only applicable in “pre-menopausal females” and not in males or post-menopausal females? EK: The International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) has created guidelines for pre-menopausal females and males < 50 years of age, which define a Z-score 2.0 SD “below expected range for age,” and “osteoporosis” defined as a BMD Z-score 2.0 SD plus risk factors for fracture or secondary causes of osteoporosis. If a runner presents in this age range with a Z-score < -1 and BSI history, I question why their BMD isn’t higher given their participation in a weight-bearing sport, hence, this is why I’d recommend further lab work-up. The lab work-up should ideally consist of serum electrolytes, bone health labs (phosphorus, magnesium, 25-OH-vitamin D), a complete blood count should be sent to evaluate for anemia and other hematologic abnormalities as well as iron levels. I’d recommend a limited work-up for thyroid disease. I recommend a thorough review of medications as certain meds can negatively affect the bone. TH: Great list. So just to clarify, this is for anyone with two or more BSIs or one in a high-risk location, and applies to males and pre- and post-menopausal females? EK: Correct. I think this is a good starting point. I also want to emphasize the importance of a good history, including questions surrounding menstrual history in females (are periods
hormones that still need to be addressed. In a post-menopausal female not on hormonal September 2020
replacement, estrogen levels are already deficient and there are signs related to that which can mimic low energy availability, making it more challenging to assess. There are limited studies comparing BSI risk factors in post-menopausal females, but it’s clear that BMD decreases with age, with a big drop after menopause in runners and non-runners alike. Generally speaking, signs to look out for include weight loss, recurrent injuries and/ or illnesses, decreased performance, changes in mood (more irritable, depressed, anxious), disruptions in sleep (sleeping significantly more or less), loss of morning erections or reduced libido (in males), and disordered eating/eating disorder. TH: If an adult long-distance runner suffers a BSI and is identified as having low testosterone or estradiol, what sort of medical strategy might you take with a patient to normalize these hormone levels? EK: Although I order hormonal levels as part of a bone health work-up, I humbly recognize I’m not a board-certified endocrinologist. My initial strategy would be to ensure all dietary needs are met, specifically that the fueling is matching the energy expenditure. I’m also not a dietitian and quite often refer runners to a sports dietitian to thoroughly address the nutritional piece. Other nutrients (iron, vitamin D, magnesium) should also be optimized. It should be noted that this isn’t an overnight “fix” and it may take time for the hormones to “respond” to these dietary changes. If fueling needs are addressed and there are no other medical reasons for low testosterone or estradiol, hormone replacement may be indicated. In those scenarios, I refer to an endocrinologist – ideally one who works with athletes. It should be noted that testosterone is a banned substance in sports participation and athletes need 24
an approved therapeutic use exemption prior to competitive sport participation. TH: What sort of advice would you give the adult ultramarathon running population about life-long strategies to
Eat well, sleep well and stay strong! This sounds simple enough, but keeping in mind fueling needs and how this may change with age and sport is important. maintain good bone mineral density? EK: Eat well, sleep well and stay strong! This sounds simple enough, but keeping in mind fueling needs and how this may change with age and sport is important. For example, protein, carbohydrate and fat needs change with age and runners should be mindful about what, how much or how little, of these nutrients they’re putting into their body. TH: Oh, this is such an interesting point. Do you recommend a higher protein or higher fat diet to older athletes in general? Are you aware of any studies that show a correlation between percent fat or protein in the diet and bone mineral density? EK: Most of the studies are related to increasing protein intake for preservation of lean muscle mass, however the prior recommendation about optimizing overall energy intake still holds for the older athlete. Older athletes need greater amounts of dietary proteins compared to their younger counterparts to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to similar levels. A protein-rich
snack should be recommended in the immediate post-exercise recovery period (i.e. within the first hour) (Doering, 2016). Late ingestion of slow-release protein (casein) before bed can also maximize muscle protein synthesis and thus maintain muscle mass in aging athletes. Sleep and recovery are always essential and often more recovery is needed after similar intensity efforts as runners age. A lower impact workout (swimming or biking) or an extra rest day should be considered if a runner is feeling under-recovered or has some new aches and pains. Resistance exercise is so important for longevity in sport, both to help maintain muscle mass and to contribute to overall BMD. Runners should make it a habit to engage in resistance exercise 2-3 times per week. TRACY BETH HØEG, MD, PHD, practices Sports, Spine and Regenerative Medicine in Northern California. She is affiliated with the University of California-Davis and has a passion for ultramarathon and regenerative medicine research. She is a DanishAmerican double citizen, married to Rasmus Høeg, MD, and they have four children. Tracy has run for the US Trail Ultramarathon Team and the Danish Long Distance Mountain Running Team. References Doering TM, Reaburn PR, Phillips SM, Jenkins DG. Postexercise Dietary Protein Strategies to Maximize Skeletal Muscle Repair and Remodeling in Masters Endurance Athletes: A Review. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016;26(2):168-178. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0102 Gardner LI Jr, Dziados JE, Jones BH, et al. Prevention of lower extremity stress fractures: A controlled trial of a shock absorbent insole. Am J Public Health 1988;78:1563-1567. Goolsby MA, Boniquit N. Bone Health in Athletes. Sports Health. 2017 Mar-Apr;9(2):108–117. Høeg TB, Fredericson M, Sainani KL, Skaggs KF, Roche MD, Miller E & Kraus E. Predictors and Prevalence of Low Bone Mineral Density and Bone Stress Injuries in Ultramarathon Runners. Accepted for publication in MSSE 2020, 52(5) Supplement.
Hoffman, M.D. and E. Krishnan. Health and exercise-related medical issues among 1,212 ultramarathon runners: baseline findings from the Ultrarunners Longitudinal TRAcking (ULTRA) Study. PLoS One, 2014. 9(1): p. e83867. Kraus E, Tenforde AS, Nattiv A, et al. Bone stress injuries in male distance runners: higher modified Female Athlete Triad Cumulative Risk Assessment scores predict increased rates of injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:237-242. LeBlanc ES, Hillier TA, Pedula KL, et al. Hip Fracture and Increased Shortterm but Not Long-term Mortality in Healthy Older Women. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(20):1831–1837. doi:10.1001/ archinternmed.2011.447 McInnis KC and Ramey LN. High Risk Stress Fractures: Diagnosis and Management. PMR. 8 (2016). 5113-5124. Nieves, J. W., Melsop, K. , Curtis, M. , Kelsey, J. L., Bachrach, L. K., Greendale, G. , Sowers, M. F. and Sainani, K. L. (2010), Nutritional Factors That Influence Change in Bone Density and Stress Fracture Risk Among Young Female Cross-Country Runners. PM&R, 2: 740-750. Myburgh KH, Hutchins J, Fataar AB, Hough SF, Noakes TD. Low bone density is an etiologic factor for stress fractures in athletes. Ann Intern Med. 1990;113(10):754-759. Tenforde AS, Barrack MT, Nattiv A, et al. Parallels with the female athlete triad in male athletes. Sports Med. 2016;46:171–82. Tenforde AS, Sayres LC, McCurdy ML, Sainani KL, Fredericson M. Identifying sex-specific risk factors for stress fractures in adolescent runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013;45: 1843-1851.
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VIEW FROM THE OPEN ROAD
How Far and How Long?
BY GARY CANTRELL
We all come to realize, eventually, that the only constant in life is change. And we all know that if you cannot adapt to change, you will become obsolete. Still, it is hard to imagine that some concepts are not immutable. For example, concepts such as time and distance. Time and distance do not seem like they are concepts. We think of them as hard, physical realities. As it turns out, such thinking is entirely wrong. Modern technology has completely changed the definition of time and distance. Back during the dinosaur era (DE), distance had a specific meaning. If you ran around a track or another measured loop course, the distance you ran was the length of the course multiplied by the number of times you ran it. If you ran from point to point, the distance you ran was the distance between those two points. Your daily training miles were the number of miles you ran based on those parameters during training.
During the modern era (ME), those primitive measures of distance have been abandoned in favor of any number that can be produced by an electronic device. The round numbers for mileages are a thing of the past. The modern era runner logs at least hundredths of a mile, if not thousandths. Precision and accuracy, unfortunately, are very different concepts. A group of ME runners can go for a run together, and no two record the same distance. Everyone has recorded a distance with precision down to the thousandths of a mile (about 5.25 feet) The accuracy depends on your definition of distance. To the DE runner, recording different distances for running the same course at the same time is incontrovertible evidence that these precise numbers are inaccurate. The distance from point A to point B is a constant in the mind of a DE runner. For the ME runner, the very idea of defined distances is heresy. The distance they ran is the distance on the device. Whatever
inefficiencies in covering the distance recorded are theirs, and they want credit for them. Likewise, time used to be strictly defined. In a DE race, the time began when the gun was fired, and ended when a runner crossed the finish line. You were in competition with everyone in the race, and everyone who crossed the finish line in front of you, beat you. Everyone who crossed behind, you beat them. If you were a fast runner, you wanted a place close to the starting line. Once again, electronics changed the world. And it changed time. The ME runner is all about this thing called chip time. It doesn’t matter where you line up. In a sense, you are better off closer to the back. Because your time does not start until you personally cross the starting line. The order of runners arriving at the finish does not mean anything. The computer will rearrange them according to the time it calculates for them. If you hide back in the pack, you can beat a lot of people who finish in front of you. Better still, your personal electronic device can alter your time even more. The DE runner always perceived time as beginning at the beginning and ending at the end. Anything that stopped the runner along the way, time was still passing. Now, those devices stop time when the runner stops, and start back up when the runner starts again. Instead of practicing how to best throw a half cup of water down your throat without breaking stride, the ME runner can stop at aid stations and shop for drinks and snacks with no penalty. At the end of the run, the device gifts them with both a “running time” with no penalty for stopping and a distance with extra credit for inefficiency. It truly is a brave new world. GARY CANTRELL has spent over 50 years as a runner, race director and writer, and is currently the race director for the Barkley Marathons and Big’s Backyard Ultra.
Question Your Equipment Choices
BY GARY DUDNEY
what you’ve been using. Don’t waste these golden opportunities. Mine them for the gold that’s already there. When I look back over nearly 30 years of my own ultrarunning career, I can see
on in 100-mile races. It couldn’t be the energy gel, I thought. I bet now that I’m getting older, the stress late in the race is just too much for me. I thought that for 10 or 15 races, constantly battling my stomach through
solved, but not without a lot of searching and experimentation. Don’t be complacent or stubborn about your choices for all of the basic things you rely on. Question everything. You might be clinging to
the night and in the morning, until I finally tried a different gel product. I had nothing but a perfect stomach after that. It was definitely the gel. Likewise, my go-to skin lubricant has always worked well on my feet, but a couple of times in rainy weather, I’ve had major problems with the same product on my thighs. That set me to experimenting with other lubricants and much to my surprise, the “perfect” solution for me turned out to be three different products on three different areas of skin. I’ve been finishing race after race with no skin issues and no discomfort. Problem
something just out of habit that could be easily be improved. And who knows, the improvement could be a game-changer at your next race.
There is a dynamic that runs through an ultrarunning career: the process of searching for the perfect clothes, equipment, food/drink and other products to use for racing. This includes things like ideal running shoes, just the right shell, reliable skin lubricant, energy gels with just the right kick, a headlamp with the perfect beam or a hydration vest with all the right pockets and storage. It’s an important process because having the right “stuff,” the things that work best specifically for you, will give you a solid base during the race. Any ultra is going to challenge you with pain and discomfort, fatigue and other surprise obstacles, and you’ll always have your hands full without having to deal with the breakdown of the skin lubricant between your thighs, a headlamp going dim at 2 a.m., or your energy gel prompting a gag reflex every time you see it. The rub is finding the best products for you among the ever increasing number of choices. Product reviews can help, but there is no substitution for testing it out yourself in race-like conditions, that is, on long training runs or in races that you treat as training runs. Of course, during your actual target race is not the time to be experimenting. You want to be able to start with the confidence that everything you can control has been stress-tested and is as good as it’s going to get. For example, race morning is a bad time to try out barefoot running for the first time, no matter how great it sounds in Born to Run. In fact, you should use every long training run or “training” race to try out new gear, new types of food, a different brand of sunblock or bug spray, new shoes or anything else that might be an improvement over
that if I’d been more open to change and not so stubborn about holding on to the things that I’d gotten used to, I could have saved myself an awful lot of grief. Unfortunately, I can think of many examples of my misguided aversion to change. I stuck with a bulky, two-bottle waist belt long after the introduction of very comfortable and versatile hydration packs. I probably spent 30 ultras with my bouncy waist belt driving me crazy before one run with a new hydration pack instantly changed my mind. For years, I’d been using one type of energy gel with great results when I developed a tendency to get nauseous later
GARY DUDNEY has been writing about ultrarunning for nearly 30 years. He’s finished close to 200 ultras, including over sixty 100-milers, but still finds every race a fresh and thrilling experience. He has written two books, The Tao of Running and The Mindful Runner.
THE VOICE OF THE SPORT
A Difficult Decision
BY JOHN TRENT
Race director Michelle Maneval gives the prerace briefing at the 2019 Bighorn as her team listens in. RICK MAYO/ MILE 90 PHOTOGRAPHY
he Bighorn Trail Run is in speech, Michelle is flanked by her team, Michelle Maneval’s blood. standing not far from the race’s start at the There are few things in her mouth of the Tongue River Canyon. life, other than her family, “We’re an all-women’s team,” Maneval that she’s had a longer or says of the video. In addition to explaining more intimate association the details of the race’s refund policies, with than the endurance races which have the five-minute video also expresses how been held without interruption since 1993 deeply the organizers care about the safety in Wyoming’s restless Bighorn Mountains. and well-being of the runners, volunteers She was in her 20s when her mother, and members of search and rescue, as well Karen Powers, and a group of like-minded as the residents of the Sheridan/Dayton trail friends, founded the Bighorn trail region. “I think because of that fact, the races in an act of defiance against a emotion is different … I didn’t want to proposed hydroelectric plant that would’ve just put out a cold, hard letter. We wanted ruined natural habitat areas around the people to know how we arrived at the Dry Fork Drainage and the Little Bighorn decision, and how much it was based on Rivers. Why not invite trail runners to the keeping everyone safe.” Bighorn and have them experience their The announcement culminated in solemn beauty? what had been a rapidly changing situaGoing on 28 years, the Bighorn Trail tion. Runners from nine countries were Run (a series of races including an 18, 32 entered in the race and in March and April, and 52 miles, with a 100-miler added Maneval began to worry about worldwide in 2002), has thrived, while the plan for travel restrictions implemented by the the hydroelectric plant has withered. In Centers for Disease Control. 2019, the 100-miler had 187 finishers “The travel bans were the first indication,” and together, the four races had nearly Maneval says. To adjust, the race offered 900 finishers, capped off by a post-race a 50 percent refund through the month barbecue and family-style gathering in of March and then extended it into April. Dayton, Wyoming’s Scott Park situated Maneval, a business owner in Sheridan, along the Tongue River. was also beginning to see the impact of When a race is founded on the proposipublic health policies that were counseling tion that the beauty of a dignified mountain people to limit their exposure with one range is worth trying to save, even in the another by curtailing large gatherings and face of modern progress, it can be difficult keeping vulnerable populations away from to realize that nothing in life is ever guaran- possible virus spread. “We were all working teed. A good fight doesn’t always end with and staying at home,” she says. Even with a victory. that, she adds it was difficult to begin a “I remember thinking, ‘I will never, ever dialogue with her team about what the cancel Bighorn,’” Maneval, Bighorn’s longcoronavirus might mean for Bighorn. “We time race director, says. “I believed that we didn’t want to address it at first,” she says. would always find a way to persevere. We “We wanted to avoid that subject as much as will run on the highway if we have to. We possible.” will never cancel.” But, “I’m always planning ahead,” she “I should have never said, ‘Never.’ says, “and eventually, that was what I Nothing could have prepared us for what started to do.” we had to face this year.” She was told by the district ranger from Like many other races facing the corothe race’s permitting agency, the U.S. navirus pandemic in 2020, Bighorn was Forest Service, that if Bighorn followed canceled. The announcement came on CDC guidelines, a race permit was still May 1 from Maneval and her team – an possible. Soon, the enormity of that stateall-women’s race management crew that ment would require a level of detail for safe includes her mother Karen, the course sanitation and disinfecting that was good director, Cheryl Sinclair, Michelle’s aunt news for the runners, but could mean that and the assistant race director; and Melanie volunteers would be put at risk. Green, the medical and timing director and “It always comes down to the porta-potMichelle’s sister. In addition to reaching ties,” she says, laughing and only half-jokout to all of its key stakeholders via email, ingly. “We use 40 porta-potties on the Bighorn also released a video announcecourse. How could I ever ask these amazing ment of the cancellation. Throughout the volunteers to go in and clean and sanitize
each one of those porta-potties after each time they were used? We were talking about things like having our volunteers in full PPE.” “We have a small community. The people in our community, the volunteers – they love our event. I would think that over the past 28 years, a large number of the 18,000 people in our community have helped or volunteered with Bighorn in some way.” “I began to realize that this was the first big moral decision I’ve ever had to make as race director of Bighorn. We’ve never had to consider a mass group of people’s lives before. Without our volunteers, Bighorn doesn’t happen. Was it worth it to me to put their lives in harm’s way?” As far-reaching as her decision might be for her runners, volunteers and the lives of those in her community, Maneval also needed to have a conversation with her mother, who is now in her 70s. If there is one person who has come to personify Bighorn, it is Karen Powers. Her home has been the trails of the race for longer than she can remember. Back in the early 1990s, she was the one who understood the beauty of the Bighorns, and had impressed upon the others the need to create a race in order to save them. “It was really hard,” Maneval says of the talk with her mother in late April. “We had different views. My mother’s an ultrarunner. I’m an event planner. She was really, really holding out for the event. We finally sat down, which we don’t do very often, and had a serious conversation. I told her, ‘I can’t stamp my name on this; this is a moral issue for me.’” “When I was able to explain my viewpoint, and how important it was for the race to be community-minded, and how Bighorn is connected with everything in our community in such an integral way, she began to understand that we were facing something that 30
was unavoidable. She understood that we needed to make the right decision for everyone involved.” The decision hasn’t come without its downside. Although the vast majority of feedback has been positive about the race’s policy of a 50 percent refund for the 2020 entrants as well as a 25 percent discount and first entry rights for 2021, there have been a few runners who have questioned the policy and demanded all their money back. Maneval tries to understand such criticism. She notes that races like Bighorn have a physical infrastructure of tents, banners, pop-ups, water coolers and supplies for 14 aid stations that need to be stored yearround. Website costs, credit card fees, registration fees, insurance, capital improvement in the form of new equipment purchases, venue, rental, set-up and permitting fees all add up. Whatever profit the race makes is donated every year to a host of local charities, including the Sheridan Area Search and Rescue. The accounting side of providing refund checks in June and into July has proven challenging and time-consuming. “We donate all the money that’s left over each year, so it’s been an accounting nightmare to figure out,” she says. “We’re counting our losses, then seeing where we’re at and
THE VOICE OF THE SPORT
moving forward. I’ve been amazed by the positive people who understood that it costs money to put on an event and donated their entry fees in lieu of a refund to secure a future for the event. That’s been so heart-warming and gratifying. But, you can’t please everyone. I’ve been a little disappointed by a few disgruntled runners who’ve called me names and made personal attacks on my character. That’s been hard to handle, because I’m a sensitive person. The vast majority of our runners, though, have been really very gracious and understanding about it. That’s what’s been so overwhelming about all of this – people who have probably lost thousands of dollars in race fees this season have reached out and donated their race fees to us, just because they want to see Bighorn continue. You realize how much people value Bighorn.”
This year’s Bighorn was scheduled for June 19-20. Maneval spent the weekend camping on the course and her 14-year-old son, Noah, ran with his grandmother, Karen. Maneval made turkey sandwiches and gave them water for their journey. She told them she loved them. “It reminded me of family, crewing and ultrarunning,” Maneval says. “People were pretty sentimental during the entire weekend. It was a lot of what the Bighorn experience is all about. You rely on the people from the community where you live to experience something you love.” JOHN TRENT has been involved in ultrarunning as a journalist, runner, volunteer and run organizer since 1987. A two-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year, he lives in Reno with his ultrarunning family, wife Jill and daughters, Annie and Katie.
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How do you know what gear you’ll need to run 100 miles? Experience helps, but course terrain varies and weather can change at the drop of a hat. That said, we put together a complete list of our favorite pieces of gear from head to toe – most of which will come in handy at any 100-miler in North America. What helps us pick one item over another for personal use? Honestly, there’s a bit of subjectivity involved. Sometimes we cater to our individual preferences – this is especially true with shoes where stack heights, heel-toe drop and toebox widths suit everyone differently. Sometimes we have specific needs that one product addresses over another, for example, if you always carry your phone in a front pocket, you’d like a vest that offers a roomy and sweat-resistant place to access it. And sometimes, we just like the fit or the feel of one particular shirt, jacket or pair of shorts. What follows is a standard packing list for a 100-mile event. My preferences are for mountain races and if the Wasatch Front 100 hadn’t been canceled, this is exactly what I’d bring. Everything listed below has been tested and proven during high-mileage training and is currently available in stores or online. September 2020
GEAR FOR THE START LINE These items will be with you every step of the way, so you need to make sure they’re dependable, convenient and comfortable.
puncture-proof. The toe box is slightly narrow to accommodate foot swelling, so I prefer to size up by one half when using these for any distance over 50k.
A HOKA ONE ONE EVO SPEEDGOAT SHOES
SOCKS ($31). Drymax’s proprietary olefin fibers do an amazing job of keeping feet cool and dry even with frequent water immersions, and the fit of these socks stays wrapped around the foot and ankle without any bunching or sagging. Of all
($160). These provide plenty of cushioning for long mileage on rough terrain, with outstanding traction and durability from a Vibram Megagrip outsole and Kevlarreinforced Matryx uppers that are virtually
B DRYMAX MAXIMUM PROTECTION TRAIL
the models in their trail running lineup, the Max Protection version provides the most thickness underfoot, which is greatly appreciated in the final miles of a race. These socks are pricey, so I don’t use them for everyday training, but I’ve worn a single pair in multiple 100-mile efforts.
C PATAGONIA NINE TRAILS SHORTS ($65). The
inseam of these is a somewhat unusual 8" but as a relatively tall (6'2") runner, I find this length is perfect for allowing good ventilation during the day and solid insulation at night. The boxer brief liner is soft against the skin and highly effective at minimizing chafing. The exterior panels shed light moisture well, and the entire garment dries relatively easily after full immersions.
D RABBIT EZ TEE PERF SHIRT ($45). Full-
garment perforations provide great ventilation during hot weather, but are small enough to sustain some insulation in cooler temps. Most importantly, the “quick n’ fit” fabric is amazingly soft against the skin, and has excellent stretch capacity for wiping the sleeves or hem against your forehead when needed.
E BLACK DIAMOND SPOT 325 HEADLAMP ($40). Some 100-milers start in the dark, so you’ll need a good lamp to light the way until sunrise. Even if the race starts in daylight, I carry this lamp in my pack in case I miscalculate my arrival time for my primary nighttime headlamp (see drop bag section). A locking function prevents the lamp from turning on accidentally in your pack, so it’s dependable as a backup lamp. The Spot 325 is small and compact enough to not be cumbersome in a vest pocket but is powerful enough to fully light the trail all night if necessary. F JULBO AEROSPEED GLASSES ($80-220,
DEPENDING ON LENS SELECTION). When the sun comes up, you need to shelter your eyes from it, and these specs from Julbo are remarkably functional in a variety of conditions. Large lens coverage shields you from dust, and Reactiv photochromic technology adjusts the tint level based on external brightness – so when you go through tree cover they clear up, and when you’re on an exposed ridge, they fully darken. The frames are lightweight, comfortable and stay in place well.
G BOCO TECHNICAL TRUCKER HAT ($30). Trucker hats serve three main purposes: 1) combining with sunglasses to help shade your eyes, 2) acting as a sweatband 36
to keep salt out of your eyes, and 3) storing ice on top of your head when leaving the aid station. Since they soak up so much moisture, it’s important for hats to be light and breathable, and this Boco model delivers on both counts. They also come in a variety of cool designs (many of them Colorado-centric) that allow you to show some f lair – call that purpose #4.
H LEKI MCT 12 VARIO POLES ($250). If poles are allowed in the event, these are my first option for their strength and ease of use. The Cross Shark system combines a thin moisture-wicking wrist glove to the pole with a sturdy loop attachment that can easily detach with a press of the thumb. Cork handles provide strong traction and help keep your palms dry in hot conditions. These poles adjust anywhere from 110-130cm in length, and fold down to a tight 42cm for stowing in a pack when needed. I BLACK DIAMOND DEPLOY SHELL ($159). For cool alpine starts or windy summit pushes, you want a lightweight shell which can be rapidly put on or removed, and won’t take up space when not in use. This shell takes minimalism to the extreme, weighing only 48g and packing down to the size of a hacky sack, but provides lightweight protection in harsh conditions; a high collar and deep three-quarter zip help adjust your thermoregulation when used for longer stretches. J ARC’TERYX NORVAN SL JACKET ($325). Fully waterproof jackets are a necessity – and sometimes a requirement – for mountain 100-milers. They used to take up a lot of space in a pack due to poor compressibility, but Gore-Tex’s Shake Dry technology put an end to that. The material is super thin and flexible, and packs down as small as most windbreakers. This hooded model weighs only 125g and is breathable and
comfortable enough to wear even in dry conditions, but has protected us from the full fury of mountain rain and hail storms.
K ICEBREAKER SIERRA GLOVES ($40). In similar fashion as a lightweight shell, having thin protection for your fingers comes in handy at various points when running across mountains. These thin gloves have 88% merino wool that naturally combines moisture-wicking and breathability, and touch screen functionality allows for phone use without freezing your fingers. L ULTRASPIRE ZYGOS 4.0 VEST ($175). This classic reservoir-style hydration vest has enormous carrying capacity for its relative light weight and low profile, and exceptional functionality in its storage areas. Front pockets are sweat-resistant for electronics or salt tabs, and are large enough to carry additional flasks if needed. With 14L of storage space, there is more than enough room to stuff clothes, food and other gear. The reservoir compartment has an insulated barrier to keep fluids cold on hot days, and the 2L bladder is enough to sustain you for several hours between aid stations. M POLAR GRIT X WATCH ($430). New to the market this year, the Grit X is a further evolution of Polar’s ongoing push into the outdoor adventure market. It packs a robust feature profile with a staggering number of back-side metrics and fitness assessments that will keep data nerds occupied for days. Some unique features such as realtime hill analysis, fuel alerts, and power data are especially suited for ultrarunning performance, and battery life of 40 hours in 1-second GPS mode should be enough to cross the finish line without needing a recharge. N UNTAPPED WAFFLES ($2.50
EACH, $32 FOR A CARTON OF 16).
I’m not typically picky about aid station food and will eat whatever looks good at the time. However, if there is a particular food item that works well for you in training and that you know will not be available on the course, it’s a good idea to stash some with you in your race pack. For me, energy waffles consistently hit the spot and UnTapped waffles made from maple syrup have a satisfying natural taste while quickly mobilizing energy. They are available in five flavors and Chai, Raspberry and the original Maple are my favorite.
O TAILWIND GREEN TEA BUZZ
STICK PACK ($2.50 EACH). Regardless of which drink is served on the course, I start my race with Tailwind on board – and if I get tired of whatever is at the aid stations, I like carrying a mix that I know will go down easy. Tailwind has a mild flavor, and the “buzz” varieties have a caffeine boost to keep you alert as your brain grows tired.
P ZIPLOC BAGS (CHEAP!) Snack-
size and sandwich-size Ziploc bags are invaluable for keeping things like salt tabs, sunglass bags, gloves, and other small items dry even in sweat-soaked gear. I always make sure I have some at my disposal when preparing full-day race gear or drop bag supplies (see next section).
GEAR FOR A DROP BAG For a mountain 100-miler, you need to prepare for cold nights, even in the middle of summer. I typically use only one drop bag for the sake of simplicity. This means I sometimes carry gear I won’t actually use, but it also means I will always have whatever I need in rapidly changing conditions.
Q VICTORY SPORTDESIGN BEAR III
BAG ($120). This is a perfect bag to organize everything for transitioning to evening darkness
and cold temperatures. It has a rugged, water-resistant exterior nylon shell, while the interior space can be modified into countless arrangements thanks to adjustable Velcro dividers. It’s easy to designate a place for each item in your pack and see where everything is stored when you’re in a rush.
R PETZL SWIFT RL HEADLAMP ($120). The most important gear in your night bag is a bright, dependable headlamp – and we’ve trusted this Petzl model to run through the night on multiple occasions. Reactive Lighting technology is used to adjust the brightness of your beam based on the amount of ambient light and the direction you’re looking. This also helps modulate the battery life so you have a longer burn time than a constant lumen setting might provide. The “medium” setting of the Swift RL shines at 300 lumens for up to several hours, and it’s often the only lamp we need until morning. S PETZL BINDI HEADLAMP ($45). Did we mention how important lighting is at night? Here’s how seriously I take it. In addition to the Petzl Swift RL and Black Diamond Spot (still carrying that in our vest, remember), I like stashing this “Mighty Mouse” lamp in case of emergency. At 35g and giving 200 lumens, it’s cheap and effortless insurance that you won’t end up stuck in the dark. T VOORMI RIVER RUN HOODIE ($129). The versatility of wool means it can be used during a cold night due to its ability to regulate moisture and keep skin dry, or after crossing the finish line of a 100-mile race. The Voormi River Run Hoodie has a contoured fit that isn’t too tight but will keep your core temperature warm. With a loose hood and thumb straps, we like to wear our beanie underneath and tuck our sleeves in mittens to add insulation. September 2020
U TRACKSMITH NDO MITTENS ($48). This dual-layer mitten system provides heavy insulation and weather protection in cold temps, as well as versatility to remove the external layer if the night isn’t as cold as you imagined. A soft moisture-wicking interior liner combines with a highly weather-resistant merino-lined shell, and the two layers trap air between them for added warmth in harsh conditions. There’s no touchscreen capacity to these mittens, but during the night I’m not usually taking very many pictures anyway. V ICEBREAKER TECH TRAINER
HYBRID BEANIE ($40). If your ears or head get chilled, this thin beanie combines merino wool insulation with nylon moisture-wicking fabric to keep you insulated without overheating. If you don’t need it, keep it folded down in a Ziploc sandwich bag inside your pack.
W GU ROCTANE COLD BREW
GELS ($2.50 EACH). Roctane gels provide carbohydrates and electrolytes to keep you moving, and amino acids to delay fatigue and sustain
performance. There are multiple flavors to choose from, but in the middle of the night we love the Cold Brew variety, which adds 70mg of caffeine, double the amount of other Roctane flavors. One of these got me out of the aid station chair at 3 a.m., and I’ve been grateful ever since.
X SQUIRREL’S NUT BUTTER (SAMPLE SIZE $2.95). Thankfully, many races now provide my favorite anti-chafing balm at aid stations, but this is one of those emergency items I like to have on me just in case it’s not there. I apply SNB liberally before the start of a race, and that’s often enough to sustain me to the finish. But in the event I need more, it’s comforting to know I have it. Y DRY SOCKS (brand of your
choice). As mentioned previously, I generally use the same pair of Drymax socks for a full 100 miles, but sometimes it just feels great to put a dry pair on your feet in the middle of a cold night. I like to keep a pair of Drymax Trail Running socks ($15) in my drop bag just in case.
Z PEET’S ICED COFFEE ($3). Full
disclosure: I consume a lot of caffeine on a daily basis. One consequence is that I often find myself craving coffee during the second half of a 100-miler. I like stashing one or two of these in my drop bag in case coffee isn’t available on the course. They go down smooth and give a welcome boost to my alertness when needed.
P MORE ZIPLOC BAGS (STILL
CHEAP!) In my day pack I use small Ziplocs, but for evening items, gallon-size bags become invaluable, as they are large enough to hold a compressed jacket, and to keep a hat and pair of gloves dry until you’re ready to use them.
are the flip-flop equivalent of HOKAs. When your feet sink into the lightweight foam, your whole body will thank you. DONALD BURAGLIO is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America’s National Parks. When he’s not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.
POST-RACE GEAR These aren’t necessities, but there’s no better feeling after a race than shedding your stinky, nasty race clothes and slipping into soft, dry clothing. I love to have a soft cotton shirt or sweatshirt, a dry pair of shorts, and a pair of comfortable footwear waiting for me at the finish. I’m partial to > OOFOS OORIGINAL SANDALS ($50), which
100-MILE GEAR LIST RUN START
Hoka Stinson ATR 6 Drymax Max Protection Trail Socks Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
Peet’s Iced Coffee
Goal Zero Charger And GPS Cable
Rabbit EZ Tee Perf
Voormi River Run Hoodie
Black Diamond Spot 325 Lamp
Tracksmith NDO Mittens
Boco Technical Trucker Hat Julbo Aerospeed Glasses LEKI MCT 12 Vario Poles Arc’teryx Norvan Sl Jacket (Gore-Tex Shake Dry) Icebreaker Sierra Thin Gloves Black Diamond Deploy Shell
Dry Socks Petzl Swift RL Lamp Petzl Bindi Lamp Icebreaker Tech Trainer Hybrid Beanie GU Cold Brew Gels Squirrel’s Nut Butter
Polar Grit X Watch
UltrAspire Zygos 4.0 Vest
UnTapped Waffles Tailwind Green Tea Buzz (to fill vest before race) Ziploc bag with pills (salt, painkillers, Tums)
Victory Sportdesign Bag
An FKT on s e t a t S n Wester Weekend TEXT AND PHOTOS BY AMY BROADMOORE
Day 5: mile 270. Cody and Brittany cross the Brule River in Judge Magney State Park, 50k from the finish.
rittany Peterson and Cody Lind had hoped to be running Western States Endurance Run this year. When the iconic race was canceled, they set their sights on a new goal: establishing an FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the Superior Hiking Trail. On June 21, Brittany and Cody completed all 298 miles of the Superior Hiking trail in 4 days and 9 hours – 18 hours faster than the previous FKT. Brittany also beat the previous women’s FKT by 2 days and 3 hours. The FKT attempt was Brittany’s idea. She grew up in Carlton, Minnesota, near Lake Superior, and had fond memories of running on the Superior Trail. “When I lived here, the Superior Hiking Trail was developing into the resource it now is for the North Shore community. The Trail was completed after I moved away. I wanted to return to experience the trail and share it with Cody.” Cody was easily convinced to join her FKT attempt, “For a couple of years I have wanted to tackle an FKT that really scared me – something multi-day where you
have to take care of your body day in and day out.” The Superior Hiking Trail is a remote, single-track trail that runs through Northern Minnesota’s boreal forest, along
People don’t realize that the rocks and roots on the Superior Hiking Trail are never-ending, and it is legit. This trail is also never straight. It’s just a slow-moving trail. You can’t open up on it. the shore of Lake Superior. The trail has 43,000 feet of elevation gain and is known for being incredibly rocky, rooty and technical. Brittany and Cody regularly run European sky running races, but even they were impressed by the technicality of the trail.
“So many people from the West and East coasts talk about technical trails and big mountains. People don’t realize that the rocks and roots on the Superior Hiking Trail are never-ending, and it is legit. This trail is also never straight. It’s just a slow-moving trail. You can’t open up on it,” said Cody. “I kept thinking, this is just relentless. It does not cease. Sure, the Superior Hiking Trail doesn’t have prolonged climbs, but it’s just constantly up and down. The accumulated elevation gain is impressive,” said Brittany. In addition to the challenging terrain, the other big challenge facing Brittany and Cody was near-record heat and humidity. For the first couple days of their FKT, temperatures reached 85 degrees with 90% humidity. “For me,” said Brittany, “the biggest struggle was worrying early on that I was doing damage to my body. I started Day 2 by puking, and I peed red for over six hours. So, I was concerned.” Brittany focused on drinking water and was able to turn things around.
LEFT: Day 1: mile 0. Brittany and Cody begin their FKT attempt at the Southern Terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border. ABOVE: Day 3: mile 177. Descending towards the Manitou River in George Crosby Manitou State Park. Brittany and Cody had renewed energy after an afternoon nap.
For Cody, the biggest challenge was his body breaking down during the final 50k. “When we were on the ‘Lake Walk’ – running on the beach along Lake Superior – it really irritated my knee. From miles 270 to 290, the downhills were really painful. Those were my deepest, darkest lows. We’d been out there for four days, and we just wanted to be done.” Despite these struggles, Brittany and Cody said setting a new Superior Hiking Trail FKT was extremely rewarding. Cody noted that running the length of the trail as fast as possible was “an amazing way to see this part of the country.” For Brittany, being crewed by her family made this FKT extra special. “A highlight for me was having my brother, my dad and my brother’s girlfriend as my crew. To see my family rise to the occasion and knock it out of the park – without any real crewing experience – was exciting for both of us. It was just really meaningful to have
Day 2: mile 107. The couple leaves the Castle Danger Trailhead and heads toward Gooseberry Falls State Park. Brittany is dealing with heat and stomach issues.
my family join us on such an epic adventure.” Finally, while this FKT in no way replaces Western States, Brittany noted that this goal brought a sense of fulfillment at an important moment. “This is Western States week, and I am missing Western States,” said Brittany. “But I’m also feeling like I just pushed my body in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do, and I’m feeling rather fulfilled from that.”
g n i r e t l o WB attle s fo r t He T K F e g A IcE BY JEFFRE Y
Approaching the halfway point of last year’s Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (UTMF) the temperatures dropped into the high 30s and it started raining – hard. As the weather worsened and the winds picked up it, became bitterly cold. Then the rain started to freeze, and sleet and snow ensued; the worstcase scenario for even the most seasoned ultrarunning veteran. Justifiably so, the organizers stopped the race around mile 90 with just over 15 miles to go. Conditions weren’t anything like racers thought they’d be. But ask ultrarunners from around the globe and they’ll say that’s part of the joy in racing from dusk to dawn at events that span each month of the calendar year. They just keep moving forward no matter what. “I thought racing conditions could never get any worse than that day,” Coree Woltering said in a recent interview after setting the Ice Age Trail Fastest Known Time (FKT) in just over three weeks. “It was comical in the moment because that kind of stuff doesn’t seem like it should happen.” Regardless, he persevered and would have gutted it out to the finish if he was permitted to. Fast forward 13 months later to rural northwest Wisconsin in the town of Saint Croix Falls. This is the location of the southern terminus of the 1,200-mile National Scenic Ice Age Trail and also the start of
OPPOSITE: Woltering faced obstacles throughout the FKT attempt including a tropical storm, ticks and more. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
RIGHT: The Ice Age Trail begins at St. Croix Falls and goes through rural Wisconsin, finishing in Potowatomi Park at Sturgeon Bay. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
Woltering’s FKT attempt. This time, conditions were worse than the UTMF. Woltering was not only hit with tropical storm Cristobal traveling from the Gulf of Mexico, but hundreds of tiny bloodsucking parasites: ticks.
to be a less than three-week adventure, he felt as if he was already done despite the fact that he was supposed to be just getting started. Day two proved to be even more miserable because of the pesky ticks, until a tip from a backpacker was just the
miserable. I mean, I’ve been in some pretty miserable situations racing before, but it just felt like certain sections seemed to be getting worse. Even the thought of doing one mile more seemed impossible, but I knew I could always do 10 more seconds.”
OBSTACLES FROM THE START Despite being from the Midwest, he’d never experienced such an onslaught from the tiny arachnids. Day one of his Ice Age FKT attempt was off to a bad start, with what he estimates were dozens upon dozens of ticks crawling on him throughout the entire run. When he finally made it through the first day of running, ate and rehydrated, he put his head down to rest but the ticks still haunted him. That first night he didn’t sleep a wink feeling like he still had the microscopic creatures crawling up his legs, even though they were gone. Insomnia ensued. Going into day two of what was planned
solution he needed: duct tape around the ankles of his long pants and tall socks to keep them at bay, so he could clear his head and finally start to click off the miles. Only a few days later after enduring the nightmarish tick hurdle, a crippling ankle sprain and the full onslaught of the tropical storm left him questioning his motives yet again. “The FKT was not starting out the way I wanted it to,” he recounted. “Three weeks is still a long time to be doing the same thing every day and the chances of things really recovering were kind of low.” He decided to slow down and take things just one step at a time. “There were some sections of that trail that were absolutely
With that mantra in mind, he kept grinding away each day. Despite having to walk around 30 miles (off his targeted pace of 60 miles per day) for a few days straight, the strategy became invaluable as he never got discouraged, especially as additional and unexpected encouragement started to roll in. Woltering, his crew (including his husband Tom Aussem) and photographer Kevin Youngblood, were getting updates on social media from people who had been on the trail just ahead of them. This helped a lot with their planning each morning, so they could prepare the right gear for absurdly muddy conditions, or know which trail September 2020
Woltering used numerous methods to keep the bugs at bay throughout his 21-day FKT pursuit. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
sections were currently closed and reroute onto road bypasses more seamlessly. At around mid-morning on day seven of the FKT attempt, Woltering was sitting on the side of a road icing his ankle after a tough start. Two runners were supposed to be joining him that morning, but he knew based on the baseball-sized swelling that was devouring his right ankle, running was not in the cards for the day. Although less than ideal, Woltering knew he could walk for 22 hours each day and still get the miles in he needed to stay on pace. “That was the big moment where I knew if the ticks didn’t stop me, then this ankle was not going to stop me either,” Woltering said emphatically. Low and behold, his pacing friends also got him an appointment that evening with a sports chiropractor in a nearby town, which more than likely saved the FKT attempt. Overall, he ended up spending roughly four and half days just walking with a limp, but eventually the swelling subsided enough and he was able to run again by the end of week two. Now he just had to make up lost time as he was nearly 100 miles off the FKT pace. COMMUNITY COMES THROUGH As the attempt started to gain momentum and more media outlets, both locally and nationally, started to catch 44
party,” Woltering recalls fondly. “That’s when the miles started to get easier and I started to get stronger.”
on, followers started asking, “What is Coree eating to fuel so many miles day after day, and what is he craving right now?” Two things came to mind for Woltering: lasagna and red velvet cupcakes. At the next trailhead, a trail angel dropped off three dozen cupcakes (unfortunately, the bakery didn’t have red velvet). Another angel delivered 18 homemade cupcakes (these were red velvet) and a giant tub of chicken chili with all the fixings to yet another point along the trail. Close to the end of that same day, with plenty of carbs, fat and sugar in his belly (and even more left over in the support van), there was another family that lived in close proximity to the Ice Age Trail who offered the whole crew a place to stay. They added, “By the way, we made a homemade lasagna for you.” The weary Woltering, Aussem and Youngblood gladly accepted the incredible hospitality from complete strangers. Back on course the next day, a rejuvenated Woltering found signs with words of encouragement from his new-found
friends in rural Wisconsin. Along the trail at various points, fans wrote on cardboard and tacked messages to trees like, Keep on rocking it Coree! which incited Woltering to think beyond himself and keep the journey moving onward. He continued to connect with more companions as he chipped away at the arduous task still ahead. Just past the midway point, the current Ice Age Trail FKT holders, Jason Dorgan and Annie Weiss, who both live in Wisconsin, joined Woltering despite having never met in person. He was impressed by their kindness and commitment to help him. “Ultrarunning is one of the few sports where, when someone is trying to break a record, the person holding the record comes out and tries to support it,” said Woltering. During the hours on the trail, they talked a lot about their attempts and bringing awareness to trails in the Midwest, since that part of the country typically gets overlooked for having decent trails and high level athletes, “It turned into just a big Midwest
MENTAL FORTITUDE Before June, the biggest training week Woltering had ever run was just two months prior during his Big Run for Small Business, where he ran Every Single Street (ESS) in his hometown of Ottawa, Illinois. In 12 days, Woltering raised just over $11,000 by running 204.5 miles. Although he didn’t know it at the time, his spring ESS ended up being the perfect training for the Ice Age Trail FKT attempt. Rain or shine, starting everyday at 9 a.m., he ran for 12 days straight in April. The routine instilled in him during ESS helped lay the groundwork for his FKT plan. It helped build a strong foundation of endurance and gave him time to practice running on tired legs. “Your legs are going to be
ICE AGE TRAIL FKT BY THE NUMBERS • Elapsed Time: 21 days, 13 hours and 35 minutes • Miles run: 1,114.92 (compiled from Strava) • Elevation gained: 68,988 feet (compiled form Strava data) • Pairs of Socks: 84 • Pairs of Shoes: 14 • Estimated Calories Consumed: 150,000 • Ounces of AntiChafe Cream: Unprecedented amounts
tired and this is how you’re going to feel,” he said. “Getting used to working through that during ESS, so when I got to the Ice Age I had run with overly tired legs before and it was no big deal.” There were, however, stark differences between his Ottawa ESS and the Ice Age Trail FKT. “Instead of it being a couple of hours per day it was going to be quite a few hours each day,” he said. “At the end of the day,
Woltering chose to collect donations for Feeding America because there will likely be a food shortage by the end of this year, and he is a firm believer that no person should ever have to go to bed hungry. The FKT was then dubbed the “Big Run for Grub” and raised $30,565.
was open to eat – a vital component of his FKT attempt. FEEDING OFF TRAIL LOVE Not long after ESS Ottawa, Woltering asked himself, “What is something that is going to make a bigger difference?” Ultrarunners eat a lot of food to fuel their miles and naturally, Woltering realized how fortunate he has been to never have to worry about food on his plate. He also knows that is not the case for millions of Americans each year. He chose to collect donations for Feeding America because there will likely be a food shortage by the end of this year, and he is a firm believer that no person should ever have to go to bed hungry. The FKT was then dubbed the “Big Run for Grub” and raised $30,565 (as of 7/21). He didn’t want the end of his Ice Age Trail FKT to be the end of his involvement in feeding the hungry, and
Woltering still has considerable plans for the future, “Big Run for whatever will become a thing,” he said. Although he has no idea what that next thing is going to be, it will piggyback on the foundation he’s already set up. One goal Woltering has is to get BIPOC kids into trail running, triathlon and adventure racing through his Team Onyx Adventure Racing Team and the Eco-Challenge. Although the team’s planned youth camps won’t happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout the next few years their goal is to continue to grow and expand outdoor opportunities available for kids. Woltering knows that others can learn from the ultra community. As a member of the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities, and running through a predominately Caucasian part of Wisconsin,
he felt incredibly welcomed. He said the interactions he had during the FKT “were a lesson in the Golden Rule. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Simple basic stuff you learn about as a kid,” he reminisced. “All I had were supportive and positive interactions. I know that is not necessarily always the case, but I could tell that people were watching and truly cared.”
The Ice Age Trail includes roads, fields and other terrain for over 1,000 miles. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
it still becomes about taking small chunks of the day and just getting it done.” And that’s precisely what he did, staying focused on the daily task at hand and taking it in minutes, if not seconds at a time; truly living in the moment. As he moved over the technical sections, his plan remained flexible with a few non-negotiables after completing each day. First, he always ate protein once he was in the car, drank Gatorade to rehydrate and put on his compression socks to keep the ankle happy. Everything else was dependent on how close they were to the hotel and what September 2020
He felt that he was doing something motivational for someone who might catch wind of his run. Multiple times over the course of the three weeks, he received messages from new people that earnestly wanted to know how to get involved in the sport. Some even lived within five minutes of the Ice Age Trail and didn’t even know it existed. “There are still a lot of great people out there. Even if someone doesn’t have the same political views as you, we can still all get along. It was nice to see that,” he said. Woltering admits he didn’t even know what trail running was six years ago when he was a budding triathlete, yet he’s come so far in the sport while
Woltering runs through rural Wisconsin on his way to the Ice Age Trail FKT in 21 days and 13 hours. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
“Throughout this experience I learned you don’t have to have fully dialed training to go out and do this stuff. There were times on the trail when I was completely mentally off my game and felt broken.”
staying true to himself. “I’m sure there is a diverse group of great athletes out there that now know that people race 50k or 50 miles on the trails,” He’s proud to help bring a bigger spotlight to the sport while promoting the warmth and inclusion he’s felt. “Trail running is a really cool thing and people are now finally paying attention to it. I like getting the message out there and sharing stories that people of color can do this too.” RACING FOR THE FUTURE As the dark descended on June 22, Woltering rolled into the finish of the Ice Age Trail just north of the Potawatomi State Park in 21 days, 13 hours
and 35 minutes – besting Annie Weiss’s time from 2018 by 4.5 hours – the very first FKT to his name. He knows the three weeks he spent pursuing this goal only built upon an impregnable perseverance that already existed, but perhaps needed a little refinement. “I definitely had the confidence to go out and win some big races and perform well, but there’s also a mix of lack of experience with fully dialed training. Throughout this experience I learned you don’t have to have fully dialed training to go out and do this stuff. There were times on the trail when I was completely mentally off my game and felt broken.”
With four days left, he had nearly 300 miles to go and ended up running 160 miles in the final 38 hours. “There were times where I was thinking, ‘If I can do this for 10 seconds, then I can do it for 10 more seconds and then maybe my perspective will change.’” Historically, he’s looked at 100-mile races as fun, but was unsure how to take his effort to another level. Now he feels like he can start to push himself at some of the more extreme tests when pinning on a bib number, like Badwater or Big’s Backyard. “We’re tapping into the potential that we knew was there. I just haven’t shown it in past races. I’m a lot stronger than I’ve given myself credit for.” Woltering ran an astounding 100 miles in under 24 hours on day 21. “I want to come back to the 100-mile distance and see what I can do. I think it will be really fun. I’m excited to be able to know that I have the strength to race them and make them harder.” He knows he can improve upon his 100-mile time at the prestigious Western States. Although the timing wasn’t planned, it’s clear Woltering’s run will prove to be a pivotal movement for his career and even ultrarunning as a whole, something that will trickle on forever. “I had no idea that this is what it would potentially become. It feels good to work really hard at something, accomplish the goal, but also get the recognition for it. It’s pretty awesome.” Ultimately, he looks at his Ice Age Trail FKT as an extended race day experience. Similar to a race in that he started out fast with high hopes for the perfect day, and then naturally, encountered an obstacle (or two) which slowed him, before eventually rebounding and finishing fast. “I’m really glad my crew didn’t let me quit,” Woltering said. “I usually keep a pretty level head, but I was so focused on this one tiny thing, I was
ready to just give it all up.” Which reiterates the importance of a strong support network of friends, family and sometimes, complete strangers. The next thing for Woltering is to get out into the community and share his love for ultrarunning. He experienced more than a life’s worth of events in just a few weeks and came out wiser, stronger and ready for whatever life throws his way in the future. This includes the chance to be influential in getting the next generation of all types of people out on the trails. “I’m trying to encourage people to get outdoors. I want to bring many more people into the sport.” JEFFREY STERN is a dog lover, coach, consultant, writer, and has over a decade of experience in endurance sports. He fell hard for ultrarunning after completing the Headlands 50k in 2017. In his free time he coaches high school cross-country, enjoys exploring the Los Padres National Forest, swimming in the ocean, and helping others in any way he can. Follow Jeff at uponward.com.
RIGHT MIDDLE: Tropical storm Cristobal was just one of Woltering’s major obstacles. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD
RIGHT BOTTOM: Overcoming weather, ticks, an ankle sprain and more, Woltering nabbed the FKT in 21 days, 13 hours and 35 minutes on June 22. KEVIN YOUNGBLOOD September 2020
CANAL CORRIDOR 100 // OHIO
AKRON, OH // JULY 11 1,2 // 100 MILES Elevation Gain: minimal The course runs along The Towpath Trail following the Ohio and Erie Canalway. The Towpath is a crushed limestone trail that occasionally yields to asphalt or concrete walkway. Runners can expect a range of weather that includes heat, humidity, rain and more.
(L to R) Zach Merrin, Aiman Scullion, Iz Merkle, Travis Zipfel and Sam Skeels run on the Canal Corridor course which covers existing portions of the Towpath Trail in northeast Ohio. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
A FIRST AT CAN
NAL CORRIDOR 100 BY MELISSA SURMAN
CANAL CORRIDOR 100 // OHIO
Back on June 9, my friend and I took off on a casual 36-mile training run through Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. She was training for her first ultra, the Canal Corridor 100. It has both its origin and terminus in the city of Akron, Ohio, and was established in 2017. The course traverses the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, following the scenic Towpath Trail. All my 2020 big city marathon dreams had been mutated into virtual nightmares by COVID-19, and the chances of any “live” races happening in 2020 were dismal. My interest in Canal Corridor piqued when I heard 52
that race directors, Hugh Patton and Emily Collins, were working to ensure that it would “actually” happen. They had capped registration at a small number and put appropriate safety protocols in place. A week or so before the race, I messaged Hugh to let him know I was in. Canal Corridor would be my first 100. Because of COVID, the race directors had to enforce some effective safety protocols. Race packets were mailed to us beforehand, including a mask, bib, timing chip and shirt. On race morning, I waited inside my car, which we were instructed to do until
five minutes before our allotted start, and three runners would start each minute, beginning at 5 a.m. After snapping a selfie with my friend, I covered my face with a buff and headed to the start to find my place with the other 5:06 runners. Without much fanfare, we started by trotting past the brewery with cheers from the few masked spectators urging us forward in the pre-dawn darkness and onto the towpath. This did not feel like a race at first. I was supposed to be running a marathon, not a 100-miler. I was supposed to be gasping for air with people all around me, not trotting
alone in heart rate zone 1. But something changed around the 50k point. As I coasted along, I began to follow a figure up ahead. I couldn’t make out who it was, or whether they were even male or female. However, the person occupied my mind and became someone I wanted to try and “catch.” Thirty minutes or so passed as I patiently meandered down the limestone path, and as I got closer I realized it was one of the lead females. As I approached her, we chatted and exchanged names and smiles. I could sense she was struggling a little and felt a pang of sympathy before I left her side.
up around mile 44 with aching legs and cramped abs. I recalled a popular quote from Ann Trason, “It hurts up to a point and doesn’t get any worse,” and tried to ignore the pain. My ribs started to hurt, too. “What is happening to me? I’ve trained for this!” I didn’t know why I was hurting. At mile 68, I hit a hot pit of despair and to my great dismay, I was over a mile from the next aid station. I was all alone and wasn’t allowed to receive help. “So much for going totally minimal. I guess I’m out of the race now,” I thought, and laid down in the grass next to the path, unable to walk. Thankfully, I had my phone with me. I sent a text to my husband Josh and let him know I was struggling. Josh made me cross the timing mat at mile 70 before I was “allowed” to sit. My focus was no longer on placing, and I was just wondering how I would finish the other “out-and-back” for 32 more miles. After some sugar and salt hit my blood stream, my ability to speak returned. I knew I needed to get going, so I took some enchanted Pringles from the aid station (they were magical) and headed back out. Having my phone to receive text message and support
In an ultra, there were highs and lows, and it wasn’t my turn for a “low” yet. As I passed her, I felt an overwhelming sensation and tears filled my eyes. That’s when Canal Corridor became “my” race, although the emotion welling inside me wasn’t about winning. It was more about gratitude. I was experiencing a perception of competition that I hadn’t experienced in many months, and I was finally running with a clear objective. The sun emerged and replaced the rain with a humid, sizzling heat. I thought I would avoid a “wall” before the 50-mile mark, but it crept
OPPOSITE: Overall winner, Arlen Glick, of Massillon, OH, smiles through a downpour. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
TOP: Jennifer Tylenda is all smiles for her crew. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
RIGHT: Olivier LeBlond, Team USA member and current 48hour record holder, on his way to a new age group 100-mile record for 45-49. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
CANAL CORRIDOR 100 // OHIO
OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Ryan Chrysanthus travels under a canal bridge. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
Sally Thompson keeps her pace during the early morning hours along the canal. MAGGIEDEAR PHOTOGRAPHY
Author and second-place female finisher, Melissa Surman, gets her award after finishing her first 100-mile race. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
Sam Skeels runs with his pacer. MAGGIEDEAR PHOTOGRAPHY
RIGHT: Aaron Hale (a blind veteran) crosses the finish with pacer, Mark Pancake. JENNYFER MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
ELEVATION & SURFACE 4, 4 So, what does that little symbol mean? The first number is the elevation profile, the second is the quality of the surface. Both are on a 1 – 5 scale, with 5 being the most difficult. ELEVATION PROFILE
1 Flat or nearly flat 2 Rolling; total climb up to 50' per mile (2,500’ in 50 miles) 3 Hilly; total climb between 50'-150' per mile (2,500'–7,500' in 50 miles) 4 Very hilly; total climb between 150'-250' per mile (7,500'–12,500' in 50 miles) 5 Mountainous; total climb more than 250' per mile
1 Paved or very smooth 2 Mostly groomed trail or dirt roads 3 Trail or dirt road with some rocks, roots and/or ruts 4 Trail or dirt road with substantial rocks, roots and/or ruts 5 Very rough trail
helped as I got some muchneeded reassurance. Less than a mile later, I was somehow running faster and the pain in my legs had disappeared. From that point on, I took on a “P” regimen of Pringles, popsicles and peaches – as much as I could stomach. As I neared the finish, I faced a sudden uphill road climb at mile 98. The race had been relatively flat, so my quads begged for that hill. I gladly surged upward and pressed on with renewed vigor. As I entered the final stretch, a male runner and his pacer zoomed up behind me. The pacer motioned with his hand as he suggested with a smile, “Come with us!” I trailed them back to the brewery, running as hard as my weary legs could muster and claimed my second-place overall female finish. The RDs greeted me with a smile, and I was handed my first 100-mile buckle, wrapped in sanitary clear plastic packaging. The photographer snapped several sweaty photos of me, and I remained there a few moments, glassyeyed, in a dazed state of amazement, before finally heading
Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run Akron, OH // July 11
Arlen Glick, 27, OH Olivier Leblond, 48, VA Jon Olsen, 45, CA Brian Polen, 40, OH Israel Merkle, 31, OH Martin Erl, 28, WI Sam Skeels, 42, MI Yasushi Sugita, 49, MD Steven Carr, 53, AL Traci Falbo, 48, IN Kevin Tucker, 34, PA Melissa Surman, 41, OH Russell De Lap, 63, WI Chris Pabian, 44, PA Sarah Moore, 32, MI Debra Horn, 61, OH Sally Grunkemeyer, 43, KY Tim Schmitt, 37, OH Andrew Moore, 42, MI Todd Brown, 51, IL David Peterman, 57, OH Tim Adkins, 29, OH Sally Thompson, 39, KY Ryan Peterson, 30, MN Jason Kotz, 42, PA Ryan Chrysanthus, 38, OH Cheryl Brogan, 38, OH
28 29 30 31 32 33 34
1,2* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
to the car. There was no thought of what I missed out on because of a restricted race. All I could think about was how privileged I felt to participate. I
13:42:05 13:50:05 14:12:04 14:20:02 14:23:02 15:15:01 16:14:01 16:52:01 17:26:01 18:44:02 18:53:03 18:59:02 19:40:00 19:50:04 20:00:02 20:33:04 20:37:02 20:51:03 20:51:03 20:55:05 21:11:01 22:08:01 22:09:02 22:12:01 22:12:04 22:13:03 22:15:03
35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Pamela McGowan, 41, OH Matthew Palmer, 32, OH Nikki Harvey, 46, AL Jordan Marchewka, 30, MI Loren Mount, 38, OH Bob Brashear, 61, KY John Fabianich McClay, 50, OH Brian Kluckman, 37, PA Atlee Burpee, 63, PA Ashley Truan, 37, MI Michael Fatigante, 34, PA Michael Vogelsong, 37, OH Stacy Kopchak, 56, PA Zak Gomes, 32, MA Daniel Robinson, 46, IL Steve Oberle, 48, MI Adam Ator, 31, IL Heather Barger, 44, OH Russell Best, 36, OH Gregory Trapp, 57, OH David Corfman, 57, OH Lori Mitchener, 43, MA Karen Slovak, 52, OH Greg Hood, 57, PA Chase Mohr, 37, OH George Themelis, 60, OH Ann Myres, 39, OH Scott Lee, 49, VA Jordan Stokes, 30, KY Maria Mendoza, 49, IN Michelle Bichsel, 46, OH Jeremey Followay, 40, OH Kyle Livengood, 34, OH Melissa Woodruff, 48, NY Dick Canterbury, 72, OH
22:22:04 22:24:02 22:31:03 22:33:01 22:51:05 23:01:03 23:01:05 23:14:01 23:17:03 23:22:01 23:25:02 23:29:05 23:31:02 23:33:05 23:36:00 23:38:03 23:39:01 23:43:00 23:53:04 24:22:04 24:24:04 24:40:05 24:54:02 24:57:01 25:05:03 25:09:00 25:09:00 25:29:04 25:37:03 25:51:03 25:55:00 26:03:00 26:43:00 26:49:00 26:52:00
know that the successful execution of Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run set a precedent for more race opportunities for all runners.
63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97
David Harvey, 46, AL Jim Lupton, 49, OH Alex Nemet, 45, CA Roy Heger, 65, OH Michael Semick, 47, OH Chrishon Dollard, 21, VA Gayle Marks, 58, OH Randy Kreill, 57, OH Michael Matteson, 62, VA Ronald Ross, 62, OH Mike Smith, 62, NM Kurt Byrnes, 56, PA Mark Elderbrock, 59, OH Alexander Abiang, 54, NC Randall Edwards, 50, NC Mike Ferris, 54, NY Andrew Wetterer, 37, OH Kristin Engle, 40, PA Russ McAndrew, 47, PA Nicole Huston, 26, WA Bob Mohr, 54, OH Aaron Hale, 42, FL Sam Felsenfeld, 45, PA Jack Repasky, 34, CO Edward Enzerra, 49, PA James Hiltunen, 27, NY Tom Mangan, 53, PA Andrew Rosebaugh, 39, OH Wayne Bates, 61, NY Brian Pleat, 63, OH John Yusko, 59, MI Casey Urschel, 41, LA Lara Gonzalez, 45, NY Jennifer Genevish, 37, OH Amy McManus-Simms, 47, CA
26:56:02 27:05:01 27:07:03 27:36:03 27:38:00 27:38:05 27:48:05 27:48:05 27:52:04 27:54:04 27:58:02 28:09:03 28:12:00 28:12:01 28:16:05 28:31:05 28:32:01 28:42:01 28:44:05 28:47:00 28:50:01 28:50:01 28:56:01 29:10:03 29:15:00 29:21:03 29:24:04 29:28:03 29:29:02 29:30:05 29:33:03 29:36:01 30:02:05 30:11:02 30:18:02
MT. SHASTA TRAIL RUNS // CALIFORNIA
RACING IN A NEW ERA
MT. SHASTA, CA // JUNE 20 4,3 // 50 MILES, 50K Elevation gain & loss: 50m - 9,300; 50k - 4,900
BY JEFFREY STERN
Each distance traverses epic single track, remote trail and forest road. With the 50k including two out-and-back sections, the 50-miler includes one additional out-and-back. Runners can expect to run on mountainous terrain through a dense forest until reaching the base of Mt. Shasta.
Sarah Correa of Folsom, CA, races to win the 50-mile distance in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. ERIC LESLIE
MT. SHASTA TRAIL RUNS // CALIFORNIA
LEADING UP TO THE MOUNT SHASTA 50K, my first socially-distanced race, I was flooded with emotion. I just flat out missed racing and all the aspects of an ultra – the training, the challenge, the deep valleys I have to battle through to get those soaring highs, the hugs at the finish line, the high-fives along the way, the tears of joy and collapsing into a pile of dirtdeep exhaustion. As a data geek, I know I’ve pinned on a number 217 times throughout my life, and although that sounds a bit extreme, I can honestly say I remember something from each of those races. There’s just something about preparing the mind and body for unfamiliar terrain with a crew of your closest friends who you don’t even know yet, that inspires me. So, after nearly four months at home I felt like it was time to get out into the world despite
the risks involved, and do so as safely as possible. Come race morning, participants provided wide berths at the start line and the ear-to-ear smiles were contagious; the joy of racing was palpable. How could it not be with the swooping single track and majestic views of a 14,180-foot snow-covered volcano? It was just my 12th ultra and I repeated a mistake I made at my very first ultra in 2017 – I got lost. Other people did too, but it was all good. We were back racing again. Part of racing is getting lost, so I appreciated that aspect much more than I ever had at previous events. This time, I responded differently. Instead of panicking, pouting and pity-partying around, I embraced it. It was a challenge that in previous races would have thrown me for a loop, into a downward negative spiral. Ultimately, getting lost was my favorite moment of the race
because I had to think, tapping into my internal compass among a maze of winding trails, and find my way out. Staying engaged enough to think clearly when exerting yourself at an effort level hard enough to hear your own breathing is no easy task, no matter what shape you’re in. But I did it. I found my way out towards the finish line. I ran hard like I was winning, even though I wasn’t. I smiled big because I was just out there, all alone, running on a trail I’d never been on, in a place I’d
Author Jeffrey Stern speeds across rocky terrain to a second-place finish in the 50K. ROBERT RHODES
200 MILE TRAIL RUN NOVEMBER 12-15, 2020
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? W W W . A R G E O R G I A . C O M
MT. SHASTA TRAIL RUNS // CALIFORNIA
never visited, with people ahead of me and behind me who I barely knew, but felt the same way. As I approached the finish line, I pulled my neck gaiter above my face. A new sense of satisfaction came across me that I’d never felt before. I continued smiling even though the small groups of spectators couldn’t see it. I could see them grinning too. Most events are canceled, but there’s are a few hidden gems, with small crowds, that when put together in a responsible ways can emphasize wellbeing, joy in the process, and the beautiful simplicity of what most races truly are: a long run in a wooded place where you happen to wear a bib number 60
ABOVE: Jon Pascarella runs with Miguel Equina (21) in the 50-mile race. ROBERT RHODES LEFT: Kuni Yamagata from Citrus Heights, CA, is clearly enthusiastic about the Mount Shasta Ultras. ROBERT RHODES
with other people. You’re done by lunch more often than not (in the shorter ones), and can enjoy a refreshing beverage and meal with family before taking a well-deserved nap. Not much has changed on that front, and those days always provide a triumphant feeling.
Mt. Shasta Trail Runs
Mt. Shasta, CA // June 20
4,3* 50 MILES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
Robert Ressl-Moyer, 33, CA 7:42:45 Sarah Correa, 29, CA 9:03:34 Dennis Boic, 44, CA 9:15:41 Chris Murray, 33, OR 9:26:19 Alex Dove, 35, CA 9:27:19 Katy Pieri-McCaffrey, 40, CA 9:30:20 Ronald Hess, 58, CA 9:52:02 Ray Sharp, 60, WA 10:05:24 Ashley Hall, 38, NV 10:06:15 Sylvie Abel, 29, CA 10:13:56 Peter Briggs, 40, CA 10:18:52 Scott Baker, 50, OR 10:18:56 Jeffrey Olney, 31, OR 10:19:52 Drake Bernards, 28, CA 10:45:04 Logan Ziegenmeyer, 26, CA 10:45:42 Margaret Mysz, 28, CA 10:46:55 Jeff Landauer, 52, CA 10:48:55 Joe Steinmetz, 56, CA 10:50:53 Josam Mulinyawe, 42, CA 11:04:11 Daniel Emmenecker, 31, CA 11:08:59 Jonathan Carter, 34, CA 11:09:07 Carol O’Hear, 45, CA 11:10:09 Tara Beaton, 46, CA 11:10:59 Chris Smallcomb, 43, NV 11:13:36 Richard Gambetta, 57, CA 11:28:18 Michael Pickens, 32, CA 11:36:20 Miguel Equina, 28, IL 11:36:39 Rebekah Winter, 31, NV 11:41:43 Jason Howard, 50, OR 11:47:22 Rich Brownlee, 48, CA 11:53:10 Amber Houle, 30, CA 11:55:12 Colin Keller, 42, CA 11:58:03 Brad Chase, 59, NV 11:58:31
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
Alex Howard, 30, WA William Carrera, 30, CA Andrea Kane, 34, CA Shane Seidel, 43, CA Christopher Sheehy, 39, WA Joshua Witte, 48, CA Shawn Sorensen, 36, OR Greg Liu, 55, CA Loren Lewis, 48, CA Ken Hurst, 60, CA Dan Aspromonte, 64, CA Zack Rodriquez, 36, CA Kuni Yamagata, 67, CA Michael Christianson, 30, KS Lisa Kerrigan, 51, OR Jon Pascarella, 38, CA Debbie Pursey, 52, CA Therese O’Donnell, 35, OR Bryan Garcia, 27, CA Steven Nguyen, 30, CA Jessica Meeker, 43, CA Nick Bates, 27, CA Alexander Deboggess, 30, CA Eric Ybarrondo, 51, CA Paul Ralyea, 53, CA Beatrice Song, 58, OR Garth Zindel, 44, CA
11:58:32 11:58:46 12:13:52 12:15:25 12:17:32 12:20:11 12:28:13 12:30:02 12:32:20 12:33:49 12:34:22 12:41:39 12:52:19 12:59:51 12:59:52 13:05:02 13:13:51 13:13:53 13:13:59 13:14:44 13:17:17 13:30:10 13:48:40 13:51:06 13:51:50 14:09:14 14:20:27
50K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Keith Laverty, 33, WA Jeffrey Stern, 33, CA Jec Ballou, 42, CA Genevieve Clavier, 56, CA Colleen Peschel, 49, CA Kristina Randrup, 21, CA Mike Tyler, 53, OR Kali Klotz-Brooks, 26, CA Jeff Maclellan, 36, NV Blair Howard, 36, CA Benjamin Stern, 28, CA William Robinson, 52, CA
4:30:06 4:33:59 4:53:30 4:56:35 4:57:02 5:13:30 5:15:43 5:17:45 5:23:02 5:30:00 5:43:16 5:54:11
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51
Olivia Card-Childers, 31, CA JC Callans, 53, OR Danielle Yokel, 46, CA Kim Gimenez, 55, CA Edgar Manriquez, 28, OR Pedro Aviles, 48, CA Jason Reed, 41, CA Oliver Chan, 38, CA Tony Moore, 58, NV Jenifer Rishel, 35, CA Bonnie Hatcher, 47, CA Federico Ramirez, 38, OR Jesse Stonewood, 42, OR Michael Busick, 48, GA John Spannuth, 50, WA Caroline Wood, 27, CA Melissa Kobetsky, 30, CA Martin Allen, 32, OR Chelsea Cluff, 27, NV Tony Jensen, 52, NV Alan Vitums, 48, CA Gayle Pellizzer, 38, CA Jacob Colbert, 25, CA John Townley, 53, WA Chad Ensminger, 47, CA Sylvio Tagalog, 54, CA Erika Reed, 41, CA Ezekiel Hart, 36, AZ Deanna Ashby, 49, WA Michael Schleifer, 49, GA Andrew Sutterfield, 29, OR Jennifer Callans, 47, OR Alexandra Smirnova, 30, CA Steven Gutman, 53, CA Allan Kelly, 40, CA Mark Bernards, 55, CA Lawrence Hurst, 63, CA Aaron Richter, 41, NV Todd Glieden, 53, CA Kaitlyn Stoddard-Carter, 52 28, TN
6:03:15 6:05:55 6:11:14 6:12:38 6:17:04 6:20:39 6:21:54 6:22:12 6:22:48 6:29:32 6:30:02 6:38:22 6:42:22 6:43:59 6:44:02 6:48:54 7:00:16 7:01:31 7:02:26 7:03:24 7:05:07 7:08:10 7:08:23 7:13:08 7:14:08 7:15:45 7:18:24 7:19:32 7:20:24 7:21:31 7:23:58 7:27:09 7:28:10 7:34:50 7:39:46 7:42:48 7:58:16 7:58:46 8:02:13
53 Ryan Swindall, 45, CA 54 Keith Lubliner, 59, CA 55 Lacey Randolph, 31, OR 56 Erik Joelsson, 43, CA 57 Heidi Faria, 44, CA 58 Randy Muntz, 45, OR 59 Lawrence Kosick, 52, CA 60 Alexandra Dronkers, 68, CA 61 Esmeralda Seguine, 39, CA 62 Michael Lopez, 38, CA 63 Kazuo Sone, 45, CA 64 Ken Hoffman, 61, CA 65 Amer Elbandak, 50, CA 66 Kendall Leon, 41, CA 67 Katherine Decarlo, 44, CA 68 Greg Spike, 71, OR 69 Denice Edgar, 46, CA 70 Danny Stevenson, 40, CA 71 Mike Shaw, 36, CA 72 Ramona Vogt, 56, CA 73 Deborah Gutman, 48, CA Elizabeth Olson-Moran, 74 40, CA 75 Lydia Agurkis, 43, CA 76 John Lotts, 57, OR 77 David Thomas, 44, CA 78 Sallie Arellano, 47, CA 79 Susan Bush, 52, CA 80 Mathias Wakefield, 38, CA 81 Walter Ostdiek Jr, 45, CA 82 Arron Banowetz, 37, OR
8:05:18 8:05:57 8:06:45 8:08:38 8:08:40 8:09:51 8:10:19 8:12:05 8:16:09 8:16:37 8:17:23 8:26:23 8:31:13 8:44:42 8:54:38 8:54:39 9:01:03 9:02:14 9:02:15 9:16:33 9:22:42 9:22:44 9:22:51 9:46:53 10:07:47 10:07:52 10:09:50 10:12:12 10:41:32 11:50:22
See page 55 for key
ELKHORN CREST // OREGON
TRUSTING A LIFETIME BASE BY CHASE PARNELL
SUMPTER, OR // JULY 25 4,3 // 53 MILES, 50K Elevation gain/loss: 53m - 11,000/11,700; 50k - 6,500/7,100 The course is along the Elkhorn Mountain ridgeline across sub-alpine forests and grasslands. The race has an average elevation of over 7,200 ft and the course is a mix of smooth single track as well as rocky, technical sections. There are sustained climbs and descents as you veer off the Crest Trail.
Author Chase Parnell runs through the Elkhorn Mountains on his way to fifth place overall in the 50K. JAMES HOLK
FROM THE SMALL MINING TOWN OF SUMPTER, OREGON, we were shuttled to the start of the Elkhorn Crest 50K in the more remote mining town of Bourne. The ride was quiet and pre-race nerves felt stronger than normal. Mandatory COVID-19 precautions had everyone masked up and sanitized, and encouraging eyes were all the humanity we could offer each other. My wife, Nikki, and I left our two small children back at the campsite with their grandparents, slipping out early from the tent without even saying goodbye. No spectators of any kind were allowed on the course or at the finish line; we were on our own. Bouncing down the 6-mile dirt road to Bourne, I could tell we were following a creek bed but the century-old mine tailings were piled up so high along its banks, I couldn’t see the water. The gold lust that fueled the pillaging of the lower slopes of the Elkhorns was prodigious. Thankfully, we’d be ascending high into the mountains – higher than most men were willing to drag their extraction tools. Janessa Taylor of Alpine Running shouted last-minute instructions as I covertly pulled down my buff to gulp a gel. I gave Nikki a big hug and silently hoped the day would be kind to her. She’s an experienced runner, but this would be her first true mountain ultra on technical terrain. Soon, the siren rang and off we ran, heads down, charging up a 2,500-foot, 4.5-mile climb into the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. The pack of runners quickly strung out as we settled into our individual climbing gears, each responding to the gradient with personalized hiketo-run ratios. Once alone, I checked in with my problem calf that I strained six weeks prior. No warning signs. My fitness was another story. I could tell early on as the leaders separated that I wouldn’t be competing for the win. I let the calf strain lead to a motivational malaise; there was a month there where I couldn’t muster up my “why.”
Honestly, two weeks prior, I had planned to skip the race altogether. But then my family and I rented out our home in Bend, Oregon, and relocated to McCall, Idaho, for the summer. The change of scenery and single track from the doorstep did wonders for my running. I put in a six-day block of 50 miles and 10,000 feet of vert and called it good. Not exactly battle ready, but enough to survive. My mantra for the day: Trust your lifetime base. As I neared Cracker Creek aid station and the top of the climb, the sub-alpine forest began to thin, views opened up and I soaked in the beauty of the Elkhorns, a spine of peaks bending southeast into the distance. After a pitchy out-and-back to Lost Lake, we careened down a steep, washed out jeep track called “The Gauntlet.” It turned out the technical descents were the only segments of the course where I was able to separate from surrounding competition; descending is an acquired skill that doesn’t require great cardiovascular fitness. Gravity does most of the work, so I tried to capitalize on my experience and let it rip. Once at the bottom of “The Gauntlet,” runners begin a burly, one-mile 1,000foot ascent to Summit Lake, nestled at the base of a massive granite mountain face. From there, we climbed the Elkhorn Crest trail that traverses the mountain skyline we had all raised our eyebrows at the day before. Are we really going to be … up there? Five miles of continuous running at 8,000 feet took its toll. I didn’t feel like eating, and the ever-so-slight incline paired with a touch of swooning nausea slowed my pace to a trot. The flagging finally sent us off the ridge down steep, switch-backing single track that required recruitment of every quadricep muscle fiber to keep from toppling end over end. I did what I could with this final, epic 10-mile descent (with a few intermittent, torturous inclines thrown in). I can’t say that it September 2020
ELKHORN CREST // OREGON
Runners start the Elkhorn Crest with masks in the remote mining town of Bourne, OR. JAMES HOLK
was pretty, but it turned out my lifetime base was enough. I finished in 5:34 for fifth place, one minute behind fourth and three minutes outside of third. I had no idea they were that close. But really, this race wasn’t at all about performance or podiums. Life has been heavier than ever, and some of us carry that weight in ways which can affect our ability to train and stay mentally focused on running objectives. Despite an imperfect set of circumstances, I walked away with exactly what I came for: a hard run in the mountains, a reconnect with our community of like-minded humans, and a confidence boosting resolve that even with such grave problems in our world, it still felt like there was value in collectively challenging ourselves in the mountains as ultrarunners. Sitting under the Sumpter Fairgrounds finish line pavilion, I basked in the glory of war stories and newly-minted ultra lore. People got lost on what I thought was a supremely well-marked course, the male winner of the 53-mile race apparently screamed at a badger, a woman finished with an 64
assortment of feathers tied into her hair that she’d found along the way, and I was shocked to see Nikki come in under seven hours in ninth place looking like she just finished
a neighborhood stroll. I never should have doubted her. Back at the campsite, we were finally able to give our kids a squeeze and reflect on the day’s work. It embodied all the elements of the ultra
spirit and we couldn’t be more grateful for all those involved in directing, volunteering, authorizing and permitting the Elkhorn Crest ultras. I think we all needed this one more than we knew.
37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51
25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65
Sumpter, OR // July 25
4,3* 50 MILES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
Matt Palilla, 38, OR Zachary Van Abbema, 37, ID Kedric Osborne, 43, OR Masazumi Fujioka, 48, WA Emma Page Patterson, 23, NM Jonmark Smith, 47, WA Roni Kauri, 52, WA Nathan Stroh, 48, OR Danny Fisher, 18, OR Mike Tyler, 53, OR Mike Bielemeier, 36, OR Dan Veenhuizen, 39, WA Mark Buehler, 47, ID Aaron Lee, 45, OR Jeffrey Bert, 17, OR William Bentley, 22, OR Marshall Hiller, 33, OR Taylor Spike, 42, OR Hunter Weiss, 27, OR Sierra Richmond, 34, MT Blaise Fleury, 34, CO Christof Teuscher, 47, OR Jeff Whitman, 40, OR Todd Telander, 52, WA Ryan Solberg, 37, OR Megan Lacey, 37, WA Ryan Gianelli, 39, ID Andrew Kisslo, 49, WA Lance Waltjen, 43, OR Shawn Olmstead, 42, UT Kiley Borrevik, 35, OR Mychal Gresham, 31, OR Andrea Holmquist, 38, OR Shari Pollard, 45, OR Christopher Rensel, 29, OR Mike Bert, 51, OR
9:00:07 10:14:30 10:15:02 10:20:13 10:47:52 11:16:47 11:28:30 11:32:09 12:00:40 12:00:57 12:03:56 12:11:28 12:18:57 12:21:10 12:27:13 12:29:01 12:35:14 12:35:17 12:52:39 12:53:08 12:58:05 13:13:13 13:22:41 13:37:40 13:40:21 13:40:47 14:00:56 14:05:55 14:06:01 14:06:25 14:20:44 14:22:11 14:53:32 15:00:01 15:01:43 15:03:31
Sara Myre, 30, OR Zabyn Towner, 44, OR Dan Lagoe, 33, CA Keiren Bond, 30, OR Zach Vaughan, 36, OR Chris Camren, 48, WA Mike Rosling, 42, OR James King, 31, OR Reilly Cherry, 23, ID Brandon Galvez, 43, OR Nathan Hahn, 49, OR Mary Cooper, 40, TN Jesse Stonewood, 42, OR Joe Yela, 42, OR Mark Chamley, 66, OR
15:05:54 15:10:26 15:14:08 15:17:16 15:18:33 15:23:55 15:25:50 15:33:30 15:36:37 15:37:56 15:48:24 16:28:51 16:28:55 16:36:51 16:36:56
50K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Paul Dzierba, 38, OR Jeremiah McGregor, 33, OR Lucas Cramer, 40, OR Joseph Pitt, 38, OR Chase Parnell, 35, OR Elise Lagerstrom, 28, OR Elizabeth Holt, 38, OR Amber Singh, 43, OR Jesse Boisaubin, 40, OR Megan Myers, 37, OR Alejandro Arreola, 38, WA Logan Laubach, 28, ID Aaron Young, 37, OR David Sieveking, 51, OR Shannon Boettcher Smith, 35, OR Mariel Hensley, 38, OR Waylon Fuller, 41, OR Jim Ruckman, 41, OR Mari Kauri, 52, WA Sam Poppe, 30, WA Zach Hill, 37, OR Blake Marlia, 44, OR Lisa Malmgren, 30, OR Scott Quirico, 42, OR
5:02:59 5:04:43 5:31:14 5:33:15 5:34:21 5:40:05 5:45:18 5:47:31 5:51:34 5:51:39 5:58:45 6:02:20 6:04:17 6:09:48 6:16:14 6:18:22 6:28:21 6:31:45 6:33:56 6:37:10 6:41:37 6:45:24 6:47:32 6:51:53
Nathan Springer, 26, OR Nikki Parnell, 28, OR Therese O’Donnell, 35, OR Chad Neu, 30, OR Josiah Niedrauer, 29, WA Kelly Vuletic, 51, OR Nikki Utt, 27, OR Jeanne Norman, 32, OR Sheryl Whitus, 42, ID Steven Sands, 33, OR Lance Harpe, 32, WA Mike Crowley, 50, OR Tj Merrell, 37, WA Lucca Criminale, 53, WA Cesar Sermeno, 45, WA Blake Johnson, 38, WA Patrick Maguire, 40, WA Mike Warner, 48, WA Erika Litzer, 36, OR Lisa Dewitt, 57, OR Alison Pitt, 34, OR Dan Rhodes, 49, OR Peter Gay, 42, WA Dan Kearsley, 40, OR Sharon Sieveking, 51, OR Caleb McIlmoil, 38, OR Joseph Barker, 40, OR Alie Columbus, 38, ID Richard Knowles, 71, OR Jonathan Eng, 41, OR Gillian Rowley, 31, OR Doran Nealon, 50, WA Jason Gracida, 47, ID Jessica Savre, 47, ID Bettina Kohler, 43, WA Sarah Tucker, 39, OR Alyssa Sarmiento, 26, OR Mason Bailey, 17, MI Chris Bailey, 46, MI Bethany Lange, 34, OR Patricia Hopkins, 45, OR
6:58:13 6:58:51 6:58:54 7:09:49 7:09:57 7:10:20 7:12:31 7:15:45 7:20:54 7:25:47 7:28:06 7:28:39 7:32:21 7:34:57 7:35:04 7:44:47 7:46:10 7:53:53 7:57:43 8:00:46 8:02:16 8:03:05 8:07:59 8:24:08 8:27:02 8:29:27 8:33:51 8:41:23 8:50:25 8:50:35 8:52:37 8:52:40 8:53:30 8:58:34 9:27:49 9:32:06 9:45:43 10:05:07 10:05:11 10:24:33 10:48:39
See page 55 for key
Adventure Running and “Stuff” BY JEFF KOZAK
George Carlin did this outrageous stand-up bit in the mid-80s about the dilemma of deciding what to bring when packing for small situational snippets of our lives: from home to vacation rental, from rental to quick weekend side trip, from side trip to impromptu overnighter; concentric rings of decreasing size of the “stuff” that we deem necessary for comfort and survival. Preparing for a multi-day adventure run is a lot like what Carlin hilariously demonstrated: from gear closet to pile of potentials, from pile of potentials to separate piles of “yes, absolutely” and “perhaps, maybe,” from those piles to pack (but which pack?). And, the decision-making process becomes increasingly more nuanced as you transition from supported to unsupported, and from “leisurely” adventure to FKT attempt. The reality is that when attempting to run and hike a route in record or personal best time, the weight (or lack thereof) of your kit becomes nearly as important as your fitness, route knowledge and what you end up packing, in determining the outcome. For over ten years, I worked at Sage To Summit, a unique, niche running and ultralight mountain shop in the eastern Sierra community of Bishop, CA. During that time, I had almost immediate awareness of and access to the latest and lightest backcountry gear. My tenure there happened to coincide with a period of rapid innovation in materials, design and functionality for every aspect of gear consideration. By the time I embarked upon the greatest multi-day adventure of my life in September of 2016, the 20L pack I used weighed significantly less than the first 7-ish liter running-specific
pack I ever owned: Ultimate Direction’s Nimbus from 1997. As a potential discussion starting point for ultrarunners desiring to make the leap from organized (and supported) racing to self-contained adventures in remote areas, what follows below is the gear list* from my unsupported and solo sub-4 day attempt on the 222-mile John Muir Trail (JMT): * This list does not contain what I left the trailhead already wearing, from shoes to shorts and tee, hat and sunglasses, and trekking poles. • Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L + detachable pockets (attached to sternum straps) + two 22oz firm plastic H20 bottles (26.1oz/742g) • 35-degree down sleeping bag + cuben fiber stuff sack (14.5oz/412g) • Large polycryo groundsheet + HMG stuff sack (3.8oz/108g) • Pocket-sized burner + small fuel canister + 15oz titanium cup + lighter + spoon (10.5oz/297g) • Petzl Tikka XP headlamp + 2 extra sets of 3 AAA batteries (5.3oz/150g) • iPod shuffle + earbuds (1.1oz/32g) • DeLorme InReach Explorer GPS (6.9oz/195g) • Miscellaneous: skin lube, sunscreen, contact lenses, mini toothbrush/toothpaste, athletic tape, toilet paper, credit card/cash (5.9oz/168g) • Midweight capilene bottoms (baselayer) (5.5oz/155g) • Merino wool longsleeve top (baselayer) (4.1oz/117g) • Windshell pants (3oz/84g) • Windshell jacket (4.2oz/120g) • Patagonia Down Wind Shirt (insulative layer) (4.8oz/137g) • Buff merino wool neck gaiter (2.1oz/60g) • Beanie (1.4oz/41g) • Liner gloves (.8oz/23g) • Midweight gloves (1.4oz/39g)
• Smartwool minicrew socks (extra pair) (1.7oz/49g) Total Base Weight: 103.1oz (6lb 7.1oz/2,923g) Base weight is considered your pack weight minus food and water. Assuming similar weather and water source factors, your base weight should remain roughly the same whether you are heading out for two days or two weeks, with number of calories needed and resupply options being the weight-changing variables. As with race day nutrition, multi-day fast-
My JMT packing was influenced by the weight of a 2009 DNF and a paramount goal, above sub-4, of simply getting the thing done. packing nutrition choices, both in terms of caloric source and quantity, are highly individualized and challenging to dial in, and worthy of a separate column. Based on personal experimentation, the need to balance minimizing food weight with adequate fuel intake, and my goal of joining the sub-4 day JMT club, I packed 18,960 calories of primarily salty fat and protein sources for an average of 4,740 calories/day (or just under 200cal/hr) and a total food weight of 143.6 ounces (8lbs 15.6oz) or 4,071 grams. Adding this to my base weight yielded a total starting weight of 246.7 ounces (15lbs 6.7oz) or 6,994 grams. Because my effort went 9 hours 49 minutes into a fifth day, I nearly ran out of exogenous fuel (150 calories of GU Roctane drink mix was
all I had left when I reached Yosemite Valley). I had more or less nailed that aspect of the endeavor, but what I quickly realized is how much lighter I could have gone in the base weight department with a different sleep break approach and no hot calories, which would have also translated into a smaller and lighter pack. Author Roald Dahl supposedly said that “we pack our insecurities.” Educating oneself on options through research and discussions with gear shop staff or experienced friends is invaluable, but the only real solution to lightening a load top-heavy with the useless weight of insecurity is experience. My JMT packing was influenced by the weight of a 2009 DNF and a paramount goal, above sub-4, of simply getting the thing done. The sleeping setup was informed by a fear of not being able to move continuously through each cold night, and the cooking setup assuaged an irrational, motivational must-have of comfort food. With the insecurity of not having finished what I started no longer a factor, it would now be that much easier to leave even more “stuff” behind for another effort. So, pull out the maps, plan an adventure run and hit the trail. More than a decade beyond my first fastpacking outing, I am still refining what I take and what I leave behind. As with everything in life and ultra, we are never done learning. JEFF KOZAK discovered the magic of the mountain life as a kid at the family Eastern Sierra summer cabin, the transformative power of running in high school cross country, and combined the two passions with trail ultrarunning as a twenty-something. He can be reached at email@example.com.
What I Know Now (That I Didn’t Know Then) BY CORY REESE
I would be starting my first 100-miler, the Javelina Jundred. Since then, I’ve run a couple dozen 100-milers. Now, I realize that feeling some apprehension at packet pick-up is pretty normal. Even if they look like greyhounds, lots of runners are feeling like anxiety-ridden Chihuahuas the night before a race – it’s okay to feel nervous. There are so many things I know now, that I didn’t know then. Now I know how important
COURTESY CORY REESE
COURTESY CORY REESE
I pulled into the parking lot, an asphalt oasis surrounded by the scorching Arizona desert, and walked over to a line of people where I waited to check in and receive my bib number. Everyone around me looked confident and athletic, like a pack of greyhounds ready to sprint from the start to the finish. If they were a pack of confident greyhounds, then I was an anxiety-ridden Chihuahua. The next morning,
it is to take care of your feet early when you start to notice hot spots. Prevention is infinitely easier than treatment. It’s like ignoring your car when the “check engine” light comes on. You can pretend it isn’t there, but that problem is going to come back and bite you. Literally. Ignore a hot spot and soon you will wonder how a piranha got inside your shoe and is now gnawing on the bottom of your toe. John Vonhof’s book, Fixing Your
Feet, is worth its weight in Neosporin. Now I know how important it is to start way slower than you think. I pranced past the saguaro cacti like Bambi, carefree and completely oblivious to my slowly tightening leg muscles. I figured that since I was feeling good, it would be just fine to run a little faster than my normal training pace. By 70 miles, I was loathing myself for not conserving my energy earlier in the race. Now I know that I need to have a plan A, plan B and plan C when it comes to nutrition. I experimented while training for the race, and I knew what nutrition worked for me. The same nutrition plan worked great during the race. Until it didn’t. My stomach revolted, and anything I put in begged to come out. A few months later, I was out with an experienced runner who eats one gel packet per mile during races, so I decided I’d give that a try at my next race. I hadn’t even covered the marathon distance before just the sight of a gel packet made me dry heave. During training, try real food. Try powders and drinks. Try bars. Try Swedish Fish. (You can never go wrong with Swedish Fish.) Find a variety of ways to get your necessary calories, not just one. Now I know how important it is to have something that will pull you through when times get tough, because it’s not “if,” but “when.” Now I know that sometimes, later in a race, I might want to drop. I’ll think, “This is dumb. I’m not having fun. I’m going to go home and bury my face in an entire cheesecake.” When those times arrive, it’s important to have a meaning or purpose to keep you on track.
Sometimes I remind myself that I don’t want to waste all of the training I put in to prepare for the race. Sometimes I think about how awesome it will be when someone hands me a belt buckle. When I was up against the cutoffs at Western States, I thought, “You better hurry and finish this race, otherwise you won’t be able to wear the cool hat and sweatshirt you bought at packet pick-up.” Now I know that a 100-miler is harder than you think. I went into my first 100-miler expecting it to feel like I had just been bodyslammed by Hulk Hogan, but it didn’t. It felt like walking on lava, then being slammed in the knees with a baseball bat, then being kicked in the stomach by an angry mule, then having vultures peck at my calves and then being body-slammed by Hulk Hogan. But seriously, no amount of training can fully prepare you for how physically and mentally difficult it is to travel 100 miles on your own two feet. Before my first 100-miler, I wrote a two-word reminder on my hand: “DIG DEEP.” Standing in the packet pick-up line of my first race, I didn’t know it then. But I know it now. Now I know that all the training, all the low points during the race, all the brawls with Hulk Hogan – it’s all worth it. Now I know that there is nothing like the feeling of making it to the finish line. CORY REESE is the author of the books Nowhere Near First and Into The Furnace. He uses running to help balance out a well-developed sweet tooth. When he’s not running, Cory stays busy as a husband, father and medical social worker. His adventures can be found at fastcory.com.
ONE STEP BEYOND
Endurance Comes from Enduring
BY DEAN KARNAZES
ultramarathoners are not unfamiliar with prolonged struggle and uncertainty. Those same traits that help us persevere step after step, mile after mile, will help us remain steadfast as the COVID finish line vacillates at some indeterminate spot in the future. Getting there may not be pretty, but as anyone that’s ever finished an ultramarathon knows, it can be done. Strength and endurance. EZRA SHAW
We’ve all read the clichés in the headlines: the COVID crisis is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. As the weeks and months go by, it now seems more like an ultramarathon. As such, I’ve found myself drawing upon some of those same tactics and mental devices I typically use during an ultramarathon to help me endure the pandemic. In fact, ultramarathoners seem uniquely prepared to deal with the adversity and uncertainty this epidemic has created. How so, you ask? For one, we’re good at suffering. Running great distances, in sometimes less than ideal conditions, toughens the spirit. Ultramarathoners are a hardy breed – it comes with the territory. But just how do we suffer better than others? For myself, I’ve learned that instead of trying to run from the pain, I welcome it. There’s no denying that this crisis hurts, but instead of repressing the discomfort or constantly seeking relief, I am willing to say yes to the struggle and engage wholeheartedly in the hardship. As the saying goes, “Embrace the suck.” Another trait we ultramarathoners share is our ability to surmount daunting challenges one step at a time. To most people, running for eight, ten or twenty-four hours is an inconceivable impossibility. Yet, we routinely do these things and it teaches us how to be in the moment and persist for unfathomable durations during periods of great duress. If you’ve ever walked the final 40 miles of a 135-mile race across Death Valley, you know what I mean. But even if you haven’t, every ultramarathoner can relate to the challenge of getting to a distant finish line when all hope seems lost. Sometimes we take for granted the hardiness and resolve that these experiences build within
us. Endurance comes from enduring, and we have plenty of practice. One marked difference with today’s situation is that with most ultramathons you know when the finish line is coming – the notable exception being, of course, Last Man Standing (though, let’s pray it doesn’t come to that). Most of the time you know what you’re up against in terms of distance and duration, but not today. Today, the COVID finish line is uncertain, and we’re not entirely sure when life will get back to some semblance of normalcy. The finish line is a moving target, and this is unnerving. What this pandemic has taught me is to love running for nothing other than running, and that running is worthwhile in itself. With nearly all of the races canceled in 2020, reframing the meaning of running was essential. Running to me has become less about training and more about finding the inherent pleasure of putting one foot in front of the other at an accelerated rate and disappearing into the wilderness for nothing other than the pure delight and
life-affirming joy such activity brings. As the pandemic challenges us in new and novel ways, we
DEAN KARNAZES is the author of the NY Times bestseller, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner and The Road to Sparta. He has raced and competed across the globe and was the inaugural member of The North Face performance athlete team.
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Listen to Your Mom: Be Prepared
BY SARAH LAVENDER SMITH
“Anything can happen in the mountains,” I tell my 19-year-old son, Kyle, as I show him how to use the SOS button on my GPS tracking device. When I hand him a windbreaker, he looks at me as if I’m insane, because we’re living through a heat wave and the sky is cloudless. My son, who does not share my love of running, is so bored and feeling cooped-up by life during the pandemic (summer job opportunity evaporated, minimal parties, the well of new-movie releases running dry) that he surprises me one weekday in July by announcing he’s going to summit the mountain he’s been staring at while lying in bed. He starts to leave the house wearing treadless Vans and a bathing suit with the Metallica logo, carrying only a hand-held water bottle, his phone and Airpods. I emit the cry of a panicky mother, “Wait! Don’t go!” and lasso him back to the kitchen to force him into trail-running shoes. He grows visibly impatient as I stuff my husband’s pack with food and a water filtration system, and dodges sideways when I rub sunscreen on his neck. By the time I explain what the small syringe in the first aid kit is for (to irrigate a cut), he squirms as if I’m forcing him to try on clothes in a store dressing room. “I’m outta here,” he says, bolting toward the door. Kyle texts me a selfie a few hours later, next to the summit’s rocky outcropping, and I experience a pang of love and pride mixed with satisfaction because he’s wearing the windbreaker! When he returns hours later with scratches and dirt covering his legs, having consumed all the food and water from the pack, I sense a new feeling of mutual respect between us. 68
For any challenging run in the wilderness, ask the following, “Could I take care of myself for at least an hour if I got injured and had to call for help?” Imagine sustaining a significant injury that forced you to sit and wait. Or picture getting hopelessly lost and consequently spending much more time than anticipated
Perhaps my favorite piece of clothing is the basic Buff. The strip of fabric can shield the neck from sun, warm the ears and head, function as a towel, tissue, bandage or tourniquet. It also can function as a mask. on the trail – perhaps past nightfall. Your body temperature would drop. You’d grow hungry and thirsty. Or, you might get disoriented. Let’s cover the basics to prevent these kinds of scenarios. Know where you’re going and maintain a line of communication. Many of
us who escape to the mountains want to disconnect from devices and reconnect with nature, so I understand the urge to leave the phone behind, but this would be a mistake. Take the following steps: • Download a map of your route and use an app such as Gaia for route-finding. • Put your phone in low-power mode to preserve the battery.
• Share your location with a friend so that someone can track your whereabouts. • Program a local rescue number into your phone (this may be the county sheriff’s office or park service), to call for help directly rather than relying on 911. • If cell coverage is spotty, carry a GPS tracking device (I use the Spot Gen 3). • Carry a signaling whistle; three short blasts are recognized as a distress call. Having a whistle to call for help is much better than using your voice, which will give out. Carry first aid and know how to use it. I can’t overem-
phasize the value of learning wilderness first aid. My first aid kit fits into a sandwich-size Ziploc bag. It saved me once when a sharp-edged rock slammed into my ankle and gave me a blood-spurting puncture wound. Carry extra layers for changes in temperature. A
lightweight windbreaker, a cheap plastic rain poncho, gloves and an emergency bivvy all go in my pack. During monsoon season, or when I’m in an ultra that goes past dark, I also bring rain pants and an extra wool base layer. Bring more calories and fluid than you think you’ll need. Pack a variety of snacks,
some containing sodium to replace salt lost through sweating, and take extra in case you’re out longer than expected. I always carry the Katadyn Be Free filter to refill my water bottles at streams. Take little comfort items that can make a big difference. Small tubes of
sunscreen and anti-chafe lube, a bug repellent wipe and toilet paper in a baggie (pack out the toilet paper; leave no trace!) are small items that weigh next
to nothing but can make your outing much more pleasant. Carry trekking poles when exploring unfamiliar terrain. My Black Diamond Z
Poles often stay folded up in my pack the whole time, but occasionally they are life-savers if I need to ford a storm-swollen stream or navigate a scrabbly slope. They also will help if you roll an ankle and can’t bear your full weight while hiking. Have a light source if there’s any chance you’ll be out past sunset. Your phone’s
flashlight can do in a pinch, but take a headlamp if you’re heading out in the afternoon and might be on the trail past sunset. Bring a Buff. Perhaps my favorite piece of clothing is the basic Buff (or, if you’re like my husband, you might prefer to tie a bandana around your neck). The strip of fabric can shield the neck from sun, warm the ears and head, function as a towel, tissue, bandage or tourniquet. These days, when you pass another person on single track, it also can function as a mask. If you think that carrying all this gear is overkill, I’ll remind you what I told my son: anything can happen in the mountains. SARAH LAVENDER SMITH is an ultrarunning coach, writer and mom of two who lives near Telluride, Colorado. She is the author of the book, The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras. Follow her blog TheRunnersTrip.com.
RUNNING DOWN UNDER
Making Rookie Mistakes
BY LUCY BARTHOLOMEW
TRYING SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY My best example for this is running the Ultra Trail Australia 100k in 2017. At the expo the day before the race, I was given a pair of socks by a brand interested in working with me. I was so excited that I laid them out with all my tested gear for the race the next morning. Standing on the start line of the race, the brand manager saw I was wearing the socks he had given me and was so worried there would be problems that he followed me around all day with extra pairs of socks. I was lucky to pass through 100k without a single problem. This is an example where things worked out, but unless you can have someone spend their day carrying around another outfit for you, don’t risk it. And yes, now I am a proud ambassador for the brand.
IF IT’S NOT BROKE, DON’T FIX IT Have you found the perfect running shorts? Amazing. Just because a new design or updated color comes out, don’t jump to be trendy. Small changes can mean an entirely different experience. If it works, thank the gods that for some reason these shorts don’t let your thighs high-five all day until it becomes unbearable. SPORTS BRAS Ladies, don’t skimp on getting a proper sports bra that fits, sits and feels good. Your experience of running will be very much impacted by how your chest is strapped down but also your ability to still breath. It’s a fine line. YOUR PACK – AND FILLING IT A lot of races make you carry mandatory gear in a vest
I have been in the sport of long distance running for eight years and I can reassure you that I am still learning, re-learning and then frustratingly, learning again. And I’m not the only one. That’s the beauty of this sport. I remember 15-year-old Lucy being so excited, nervous, anxious and over-prepared, that weeks before my first 100k I was preparing my outfit, purchasing the mandatory gear, running in it to get “race ready” and packing drop bags with everything under the sun. Three pairs of sunnies anyone? However, 23-year-old, Lucy definitely has a little more confidence in herself and doesn’t worry as much before the big day. “Long day out? No worries, I do this all the time.” I sure do, and it’s different every time. Here is what I have learned across the years.
or backpack for safety reasons, and that is something you can’t argue with. Training with the pack to see how that weight of extra gear feels is equally as important. It’s also good to think about how you are going to pile the required gear in your pack; putting the things you most likely aren’t going to need at the bottom, the more essential things at the top and food at an easy-to-reach place. Will you need a map to find the way? Best to not have to remove the waterproof jacket, first aid kit, fleece, survival blanket and sunglasses in the middle of the trail. NAVIGATION Speaking of maps, compasses or navigation on those fancy GPS watches: know how to use them. It’s great that your new GPS watch knows how much of the crescent moon is showing, but if you
don’t know whether to turn left or right, then you won’t need the watch to tell you about the moon. You’ll probably be out there all night anyway. CHAFE Even typing this brings shivers. Thighs, arm pits, sports bra, neck, some random spot on your back – all susceptible to the angry red rash that will make you walk like a cowboy or hold your arms like a chicken. Not to mention that post run shower yelp. Just cover yourself, every time. If you missed a spot, you’ll know it and you won’t forget. JEWELRY If you wear rings on your fingers and go for a long run, don’t be surprised if they don’t slip off as easily. I used to wear a load of rings until a long run where I admittedly didn’t have enough water with me. I watched my middle finger turn a crazy swirl of blue, green and white, and had to pry off the metal. Now I wear one ring and use it more as a guide to my hydration. It’s not worth potentially losing that wedding ring to your lack of salt and hydration. I could go on forever, and I am sure if I asked my Dad he would suggest a whole load more. But if anything, this should reassure you that it’s perfectly normal to learn through experience, that “all the gear and no idea” is totally a thing and you’re doing just fine on your journey. LUCY BARTHOLOMEW is a 23-year-old Australian who travels to follow the sun and fuels her life with plants. After running her first 100k at 15 years old, she has been hooked on the sport, the community and smiling through the challenges.
I AM AN ULTRARUNNER
Jay Friedman Age: 44 Where do you live currently? New Paltz, NY Where did you grow up? New City, NY Occupation: Emergency physician, exercise physiologist, coach Family (kids, spouse, pets)? Wife (Jodi, married 17 years), two girls (Alexa age 14, and Dylan age 12) and Teddy (2-year-old goldendoodle) Number of ultras run: 52, not including FKTs How and when did you get into ultrarunning? Towards the end of my residency, I did an elective rotation at the Yosemite Medical Clinic. One of my preceptors there was Dr. Gary Towle who has been on the Western States board since 1982. I had a bit of skepticism about ultrarunning from my collegiate running and marathon days, but Dr. Towle convinced me to come volunteer at Western States in 2005. I worked in the medical tent at Michigan Bluff and the finish line, and got to see Scott Jurek’s seventh win. After that I was hooked. I ran my first ultra at Mountain Mist in Alabama in 2006 and although I was still focused on marathons for the next few years, ultras were inevitable. What is your favorite distance to race? 100 miles, though it took me a while to run one and I still run them very infrequently. I also love 24-hour races. Where do you do most of your training? Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains, right in New Paltz Do you prefer group runs or solo runs? Small groups – running with two or three of my buddies is the best What goes through your head while waiting at the starting line of a race? I try to embrace the experience, to appreciate how fortunate I am 70
that I get to do this. And to remind myself that it’s going to hurt and not be afraid of that. What has been your most memorable race experience? So many. Leadville in 2018, because it was my first big mountain 100 and my first ultra at altitude. I had my whole family there and a crew of friends who made the day so special. Bandera in 2016, my first race over 50 miles, which was a huge mental hurdle for me and it came together so well. I had a near-perfect day and it was probably my best result ever on a big stage. My first time at Mount Mitchell in 2011, which is still one of my favorite races, but I have memorable races going back to high school. This could go on forever. Do you do any cross training? Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in the winter (I’m building my first skimo setup for next season). Basic core work and light strengthening stuff, like 10-15 minutes a day. Otherwise, not much. What advice would you give to a new ultrarunner looking to balance a busy job and long races? If it’s important to you, you can get it done. Focus on the long game. Sometimes work and family are going to take up your time and energy, and you’re just not going to be able to get in the workout or the long run you wanted. That’s OK. It’s the consistency of effort over a long period of time that translates to success. What inspired you to start the ultrarunning podcast, The Pain Cave? As a physician and a physiologist, I wanted to focus on the science behind the sport, which is still
COURTESY JAY FRIEDMAN
BY ERIKA HOAGLAND
an interest of mine on the show and something I try to focus on when I can, but mostly we just try to tell interesting stories and talk to interesting people, and make it fun. The best episodes are when my co-host Phil Vondra and I just BS about ultrarunning. It’s basically like recording one of our long run conversations. What race or adventure run is at the top of your bucket list? Western States. I’ve been back twice since 2005 to crew and pace, and I love everything about the race – the course, the people, the excitement. Plus, it’s a race that matches pretty well with my limited skill set. What are your hobbies other than running? I love downhill skiing with my kids. I used to write a lot – not so much anymore – but I still love to read. And I’m a really mediocre guitar player. What do you do to calm down from a stressful day? Soak in the hot tub What is the worst injury you’ve ever had? Sacral stress fracture in 2012 When was the last time you laughed so hard, you cried? Every time I watch Big Mouth on Netflix What is something people would be surprised to know about you? In college, I was the lead singer in a band that
was named after a Star Wars character. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pizza What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Working with the Yosemite Search and Rescue team in 2004 What are your top three favorite podcasts? I should say Pod Save America because it’s an important show and it’s very good but damn, it is depressing these days. So, I’ll say The Press Box, The Watch and Binge Mode: Harry Potter. When you die, what do you want people to remember about you? That I was generous with my time and sincere in my relationships, and that I loved my family. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Probably still trying to get into Western States. I’ll have 8,192 tickets by then, so hopefully I’ll have a pretty good shot. ERIKA HOAGLAND, an Oregon native now living in Marin County, CA, is a former assistant editor of UltraRunning Magazine and physical therapist. She currently spends most of her time chasing around a future ultrarunner, her two-year-old daughter. Erika has run over 50 ultras and favors the 100-mile distance.
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