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Archive for July, 2010

26.2 Car Sticker, 13.1 Car Sticker, but 3.1 Car Sticker?!

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

marathon car stickerI’m going to have to say (well, write) something this time.  I first saw the 26.2 sticker about a year ago.  I believe it was on the back of a station wagon or hatchback of some sort that looked like every outdoor product ever purchased from REI was displayed on the back of the windshield.  I wonder if I could get sponsored by so many companies…

I remember thinking the car sticker was a decent idea, people are proud of running a marathon.  RunningUSA statistics show that there were 467,000 marathon finishers last year.  With a US population of 304 million, that means that .0015% of the population ran a marathon last year.  So if you were one of those runners I’m impressed.  I deduct that about 1% of the population has run at least one  marathon in their lifetime.   Finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment that runners can be proud of for the rest of their life.  It makes sense to attach a permanent sticker to your car signifying this feat.

Then I started seeing the 13.1 stickers, usually appearing on SUVs next to stickers that allow access to a private neighborhood or a favorite beach area.  At first I balked at this display, the first half of a full marathon is the easy part, but then I realized that running a half is still an accomplishment to many runners.  Who am I to judge?

5k-running-sticker-on-carBut now we’ve gone too far with the running stickers.  My brother saw this 3.1 sticker on the back of a car this past weekend (in a burger joint parking lot).  I think anyone that runs, sets goals, and works to accomplish them is awesome, no matter what the distance or goal is, but placing a 3.1 sticker on the back of your car is a little excessive.  I mean seriously, Elementary School kids can run a 5K.  Pretty much anyone can run a 5K.  But my real problem with this is that the sticker is permanent.  So what happens when you want to challenge yourself to run 6.2 miles or farther?  Stickers can’t be removed, that’s what they are made to do, they stick.  Why stop at your first accomplishment, keep pushing yourself, that’s what running is all about.

This is also one reason why I prefer trail races to road races, runners are more focused on finishing the race, pushing their bodies, and seeing what they are made of rather than distance and PRs (personal records).  It’s not because Trail Runners are any different than other runners, it has more to do with the fact that no two trails are exactly the same so PRs are tough to compare.  Also, distances tend to vary more than road races because geographical features keep them from being exact distances.

Either way, whether you are trail running or road running, setting goals and bragging about your accomplishments is part of the positive feedback you get from running, just don’t stick to one accomplishment.  Keep challenging yourself…and don’t put a 3.1 sticker on the back of your car.  That’s lame.  Seriously.

National Trail Running Day August 21st

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

national-trail-running-dayI started National Trail Running Day last year because I love trail running and I wanted to share my love.  So there it is, I love Trail Running and I’m not scared to admit it.  Although, it wasn’t love at first run, my love grew.  First, I was a track runner middle school, then a cross-country runner in High School, then a road runner in college, and I finally became a trail runner in my first job after college, United States Army Officer.  Every morning at 630 my unit would venture out into the forest of Ft. Bragg, NC trails.  Running is what defined many Army Officers and I was serving in the 82nd Airborne Division which prides itself on being the most fit unit in the Army.  Just to pass Airborne School you had to complete a run test that many could not conquer.  So the leaders in the 82nd were expected to be fit; and there is no greater test of physical fitness than a long run in the woods.

One of the reasons I joined the Army was that I love  the outdoors.  Running trails in the morning was my favorite time of day while serving.  The early morning dawn coming through the pine trees, everyone trudging through mud and sand; an exhilarating way to start the day.  It was a time to reflect on the task in front of you while also pushing your body to its limits.  At the time I didn’t even know trail running was becoming a sport of its own, I just knew that exercising in a natural environment made me happy.

army-platoonAfter two deployments and over four years of service I separated from the Army to take on new challenges.  At the time of separation I had to decide where I wanted to live, which graduate school program to attend, and what type of job I wanted.  I had gone straight from college to the Army and up until this point, the Army had always told me where to live, what schools to attend, and what job to do.  I now faced some major life decisions for the first time.  I was up for the task though, I had been a Platoon Leader in Iraq conducting combat missions and making decisions effecting 30 men’s lives.  I was used to making important decisions.  However, I quickly learned that these new decisions that lay ahead of me were much different than the quick, reactive decisions I was used to making for the Platoon, now I had more time, more variables, and the decisions only effected me.  I began working on these decisions with the same fever as if I was still deployed, working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I was maintaining my work-out schedule, but I was often drained and exhausted, running on fumes. (pun intended)

I continued on this pattern for 3 months straight before I finally broke down.  I stopped everything.  I had reached my decision benchmarks and now I could relax.  Slowing down forced me to think and understand everything that was happening.  I realized I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  Was this the path I wanted to take?  I had quickly made all of my life decisions and began executing them before thinking if they were truly making me happy.  I quickly became depressed under the weight of my ignorant direction.  While in the Army I had such great responsibility, respect, and prestige for what I was doing.  All of a sudden it hit me, I was just like everyone else.  But I wasn’t like everyone else; I was a civilian with no valuable skills, specific direction, or contemplated long-term goals.  I had to reinvent myself.  Not knowing how to attack this problem I started running more.  Training gave me goals to work toward without life changing commitment.  I decided to start each day the same why I did when I was in the Army, starting with a trail run.  Eventually I decided to stop doing the job I had picked only because I had to pick an industry for my MBA applications and started doing something that I love; running and writing about running.  That is why I started with my brother and later National Trail Running Day.

National Trail Running Day is a day to celebrate the benefits of Trail running with runners taking to the trails of varying difficulties and distances, connecting with nature and the environment, slowing down their lives and getting back to the basics.  For more experienced runners, Trail Running offers a more technical version of road running that allows runners to challenge themselves.  The fact is, everyone can enjoy Trail Running and National Trail Running Day is a great way to increase awareness of the sport.

Trail Running changed my life forever and it could do the same for you.  Take a friend trail running on August 21st, 2010 and enjoy the trails.  It’s all about happy trails.

The Best Running Trails in Raleigh, NC

Friday, July 16th, 2010

national-trails-dayThis is a guest post by Alexis Bonari, a Serious Runner who loves using the trail running resource tool to find new local running trails.  Alexis is a freelance writer and blog junkie.  In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.  I hope you wrote this on you desktop!

It’s easy to find amazing local trails with this effective locator tool.  From the homepage , it’s the bar that reads “Find the best running trails in….” with a drop-down menu of states and other options like “District of Columbia” and “International.”  The results are extensive and include reviews with photos of the trails, so try it out to get an idea of where to run in your area.

My search for trails in North Carolina offered results that specified which cities hosted the trails, enabling me to sort out which ones were nearby in Raleigh.  True to the reviews, there were some great finds that have me coming back pretty consistently.  Check out what I found and start a local search in your state to find trails that will inspire you to keep running in the great outdoors.

Beaver Dam Trails

These trails run for about 26 miles through a dedicated state recreation area.  Thanks to the photos posted with the reviews, I knew that the rocks would pose a challenge, so I wore my serious trail shoes.  It’s not ideal for anyone with knee problems or significant foot pronation – it’s easy to trip – but for anyone who would rather run away from the beaten path, it’s a great choice.  The only other caveat is to watch out for bikes, as this seems to be mountain bike territory, but the reviews were really helpful and prepared me to keep an ear out for them.

Umstead State Park

The other suggestion for the Raleigh area was this location, which is much more friendly to runners who aren’t looking for a technical challenge.  I found it to be easy going, with wider trails and some gravel for extra stability, just as the photos indicated.  The warnings about equestrians were really helpful and recommended some more specific locations that tend to be avoided by horseback riders.  When I’m looking for a light workout, this is my new go-to sport, but the Beaver Dam location really fits my running style.

American Tobacco Trail

Friends have been recommending this trail to me and I’ve been wanting to try it, so I looked it up with the locator tool.  Thanks to the reviews, I found that this is definitely not worth the drive out to Durham.  There’s no shade and all of the photos show paved trails – it’s described as “hot, flat, and boring” and looks inferior to the other great trails recommended by the search tool.  Besides helping to find ideal place to run, this tool is useful when it comes to checking out recommendations, so be sure to take advantage of it.

See what trails are listed in your area and review the ones you’ve already run so your fellow trail runners know what they are running into!

Thanks Alexis for the guest post.  If you would like to be a guest blogger too, then just send us an email to titled “Guest Blogger” and what trail running topic you would like to write about.  The Internet, bringing people together.

Day 3 of the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This is the last installment from Hawaiian Shirt Ray on  If you like what you read, check out his blog, Hawaiian Shirt Ray – Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things:

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 3 “The Night Run”


"The Night Run" climbing out of Twin Lakes

Leadville Trail 100 Training camp Day 3 is “The Night Run.”  Camp participants have the entire day to explore all the outdoor activities that Leadville has to offer.  For me, I spent the day fly fishing and it was a good day for the fish.  The first time I attended the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp I did not participate in the night run because I thought I knew all of the trails.  I regretted my choice the night of the race because I felt lost at night, did not know what was ahead, or how far it was to the next aid station.  For me it was mentally tough running from Twin Lakes to Treeline.  Then for last year’s Leadville Trail 100 race the course was changed and it was difficult running the new section for the same reasons.

Twin Lakes to Tree Line

The sun setting the evening of "The Night Run"

The sun setting the evening of "The Night Run"

The camp participants meet late in the evening at the Leadville Trail 100 Headquarters and were bused to Twin Lakes.  By the time we started the sun was down and it was dark enough that we needed our headlamps.  Runners left Twin Lakes and climbed uphill for about an hour of hiking before the trail is even worth putting the effort into running.  The runners ran on the Colorado Trail and then turn off into Boxcar Gulch.  Technically this section is not tough, but it is nice to be able to familiarize yourself with how the trail feels running it during the night.  Runners were having a lot fun during this section and I could hear all sorts of “interesting” sounds from one group (I’ll call them the “fun Group”).  They were making me laugh with their monkey, pig, and other strange sounds they were making.  The Tree Line aid station was stocked with burritos, hot cocoa, and beer.  I can still hear the pig noises of the “fun group” coming into the aid station.  Bottom line is that the night run is just plain fun!

Next:  The Leadville Trail 100

After camp I feel that I am ready to achieve my goal of running a sub 25 hour Leadville Trail 100 race.  I also know that even if my game plan goes bad, I know that I will still cross the finish line in under 30 hours.  For me, this is what the Leadville Trail 100 Camp is all about; re-familiarize myself with the course and to mentally prepare myself to know that I will finish the race no matter what challenges lay ahead.

Photos by:  Francisco Moreno

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 2 continues

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Hawaiian Shirt Ray continues on Day 2 of the Leadville Trail 100 training camp:

Winfield to Twin Lakes (Inbound)

Leaving Winfield during the race is a great feeling knowing that distance-wise (not time-wise) you are halfway done and now returning to Leadville.  It feels like progress is being made.  For the most part, this section is downhill to the base of the Hope Pass Trailhead.  Now the real fun starts because the climb inbound over Hope Pass is a grind all the way up to the tree line.  During training camp there are a few “runable” sections, but during the actual race I have never been able to “run” them.  So, during training camp I tried my best to simulate my race day pace and I walked the entire section of the inbound climb to the top of Hope Pass.

Once cresting over the top and running past where the Hopeless Aid Station will be, runners should be cautious through this section because it always seems to be wet and sloppy all year long.  I suggest that runners take their time through this short section before running down Hope Pass.  After that section it is runable all the way down to the bottom.  However, during training camp the runners do not run all the way to the bottom, rather they return on the trail groing back to the Parry Peak Campground.  Again, the point at where the actual race course continues down is at the rusty sign.  I say this again to let the runners at the training camp know that during race day it will be different and they will need to realize that they must keep running downhill and not turn as they did in training camp.

Talking with Fellow Ledville Training Camp Runners

I spoke with many fist time ultra 100 runners and veterans of other 100 mile ultra trail runs and the general consensus of the Double Crossing was “that was a lot harder than I imagined it was going to be.”  The training camp is a great opportunity to test where you are at in your training and what you areas that you will need to work on.  One runner I spoke to is putting in about 90 miles per week and realized that she needs to change his training to include power hiking.  Another runner mentioned that she realized that she needed to incorporate a lot more downhill running into her training program otherwise her quads will be “blown-out” early into the race.  Although I will not be running this weekend I will be taking Simon (my pup) into the high country around Leadville and climbing some 14,000 foot peaks (aka 14ers) just to get my power hiking muscles in shape and to get used to the altitude of Leadville.

Dinner and the Q&A with the Panel of Experts

For me the Q&A session during my first Leadville Trail 100 Trianing Camp theree years ago was the most important part.  Although getting familiar with the course was very important, I left the the Q&A session with the feeling that “I CAN DO THIS!”  It lifted the veil to so many unknowns on what to expect on race day.

Founder and President Ken Chlouber and Race Director Merilee Mauqin

Founder and President Ken Chlouber and Race Director Merilee Mauqin

One of the best parts for me was when the panel discussed how to get from aid staiton to aid station outbound and inbound.  They shared their experiences of their highs and lows, and what to expect during each section.  They also mentally prepare you to dig deep.  They give you the encouragement that when you are physically spent and mentally finished that you should go to the well one more time to see if there is anything left.  Beacuse, if you look deep inside yourself you will find that there is still something there.  Do NOT QUIT!  As Ken Chlouber says, “You are better than you think you are, and can do more than you think you can.”

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 2

Monday, July 12th, 2010


Hawaiin Shirt Ray tells us what to expect from Day 2 of the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp:

Leadville Trail Training Camp Day 2, the “Double Crossing”

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 2 is the “Double Crossing!”  The Double Crossing consists of running from Twin Lakes (the lowest point in the Leadville Trail 100), down the backside, then 3 miles on a dirt road to the town site of Winfield (the 50 mile turn-around point).  Then runners turn around and run back to Twin Lakes.  The total distance is only about 20 miles, but it can take 7 hours at a conservative pace to run this section of the Leadville Trail 100.  Last year during the race I was having a very hard time and it took me over 8.5 hours to complete the Double Crossing!  Be prepared to push yourself farther than you may have ever done before in your life.

Again, the runners meet for breakfast at 6:30 and receive a briefing about the days run ahead of them.  Then the runners are bused to the Twin Lakes area.  The runners have a few options for running the Double Crossing:   1) run to the top of Hope Pass and return to Twin Lakes, 2) run up to the top of Hope Pass and descend to the bottom of the back side, then run back up and over the Twin Lakes, or 3) run all the way to the town site of Winfield and return to Twin Lakes.  During the training camp there were runners that chose one of each of the three choices.  Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville Trail 100, made it very clear that if you are going to run over the top of Hope Pass you must be prepared to get yourself back up and over Hope Pass.

Later that evening there is a pasta dinner for all the runners followed by a Q & A presentation with the panel of experts.  This gives the runners an opportunity to get all their questions answered about how to finish the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 30 hours.  Some of the topics discussed were:  what it takes mentally, course strategy, nutrition, hydration, crews, pacers, gear, and weather conditions.

Twin Lakes to Winfield (Outbound)

The way the Leadville Trail 100 course is described is “Outbound” and “Inbound.”  When the term “outbound” is used it refers to running from the Start to Winfield.  When the term “inbound” is used it refers to running from Winfield to the Finish.

During the actual running of the Leadville Trail 100, the runners leave Twin Lakes Aid Station at mile 40, cross over highway 2, through the river and meadow to the Hope Pass Trail.  However, during training camp the runoff in the river is too fast and dangerous for the runners to cross safely so the runners are bused up the highway to Parry Peak Campground.  This actually adds a bit more distance to the actual race course, but it is the only safe alternative for getting the runners across the creek.

Dangerous Water Conditions on the River

Dangerous Water Conditions on the River

From Parry Peak Campground the runners follow a trail that is perpendicular to the actual trail for the Leadville Trail 100 race.  The runners come to a rusty sign that says something to the effect of “no motorized vehicles past this point.”  They make a sharp right to start the climb up to the top of Hope Pass.  Now the runners are actually experiencing the true course.  The “outbound” climb is longer than the “inbound” climb, but is not as steep.  While climbing this section the runners break through tree line and get their first glimpse of Hope Pass.  One nice thing about seeing Hope Pass is that there are no false summits.  After that, the only other nice thing about running Hope Pass is being done with it.

During the actual running of the Leadville Trail 100 race there is an aid station on Hope Pass called the Hopeless Aid Station, where all the aid station supplies are brought up on llamas.  However, during the Leadville Training Camp there is no aid station on the mountain so the runners must have everything they need to cross Hope Pass.  This includes all the food, water, and clothing for any type of weather conditions.  When I cross Hope Pass in training camp it was actually snowing very lightly.

Hawaiian "Pants" Ray at the top of Hope Pass

Hawaiian "Pants" Ray at the top of Hope Pass

For those runners who decided to continue down the backside of Hope Pass, there is an aid station set up at the bottom close to the road leading to Winfield.  It is important to note that this aid station is not there during the actual running of the Leadville Trail 100.  Again, for those runners who decided to continue to the town site of Winfield, they turned right after the aid station and ran three miles uphill on a dirt road to the 50 mile turn-around point.  During the race, Winfield is a full aid station with a medical check, at training camp it is only a minimal aid station.  My advice for first time runners of the Leadville Trail 100 is to run this section during training camp.  I heard a few people say, “I have run enough jeep roads that I don’t need to run 6 more miles (out and back).”  However, this section can be mentally tough if you are not familiar with it.  And the point of training camp is to familiarize runners with the course, not just to be running to put in the miles.  During the race this section can seem like an eternity to get to the Winfield Aid Station.  Those camp participants that did not run this section will have it very tough on race day.  Another thing is that runners need to know about running the section on the road during race day is that the dust is awful.  There is a lot of traffic going both directions during race day.  It is advisable to have a bandanna or dust mask to cover your nose.

More advice tomorrow as Day Two continues…tomorrow.

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 1 still

Friday, July 9th, 2010

descending-sugarloaf-pass-leadville-trail-100-powerlines1Hawaiian Shirt Ray brings it to us again.  Day One at Leadville Trail 100 Training camp continues…

Tree Line

From the Fish Hatchery there is a long stretch of pavement until the runners come to “Tree line.”  For many runners this is a mentally tough section.  It is slightly downhill from the Fish Hatchery until the runners turn onto Halfmoon Road.  I suggest that runners take advantage of not having to think about running and foot placement and run as much of the pavement as possible, depending on race conditions.  If there is a strong headwind then runners discretion should be used since the headwind equates to running up hill.  Again, during camp there is an aid station setup here, but on race day there is no aid station.  However, the runners are allowed to have crew access at Tree Line.  For crews there is plenty of space to park and it is very easy to see their runner coming in.

Box Car (aka Halfmoon II)

Last year the Leadville Trail 100 course changed slightly and no longer runs up Halfmoon Road through the camp ground.  The new course has the runners turn left at Tree Line and run into Box Car Gulch.  One of the benefits of the new course is that runners no longer have to deal with all the traffic and dust on Halfmoon Road.  The new section is the same distance and actually has more climbing than the old section.  Although there is more overall climbing, the runners do not have to run the punishing climb out of Halfmoon camp ground that the old course dished out.  The Box Car aid station is at mile 30 outbound and mile 70 inbound.  During camp there is an aid station setup here for the participants, but during the race runners cannot have crew assess at this aid station.

Twin Lakes

From Box Car runners return to the previous Leadville Trail 100 course which connects onto the Colorado Trail.  This is one of my favorite sections of the course; running through the pine trees and aspen.  During camp this year I was reminded just how much climbing there is through this section.  For me, I use the first time I can see Twin Lakes as a gauge that I have about 25 minutes to go and most of that is downhill.  There are sections on this stretch of downhill that are on very, very narrow singletrack with some substantial drop-offs.  The singletrack drops runners off onto a very step and rocky dirt road leading into Twin Lakes.

Once the runners are at Twin Lakes they are done for the day and treated to BBQ and beverages.  And since Coors Brewery is a sponsor of the Leadville Trail 100, there is no shortage of free beer.  Runners are invited to hang out and relax until the last shuttle bus heads back to town.  At camp they run shuttles back to town often in case runners are ready to call it a day.

Leadville 100 Training Camp Takeaways from Day 1

Day 1 of the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp gives the participants a firsthand experience of the 26 miles of the course.  Many of the camp participants that I spoke with came away with “that was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” but not an intimidated or defeated attitude.  Rather, they received the experience that the Leadville Training Camp is all about; it let the runners realize how they are going to need to train and how they will need to strategize on race day.  There are a few runners at camp that ran the Leadville Trail 100 last year and did not finish.  They are at camp this year with the regret of not having participated in the training camp prior to their first attempt at running the Leadville Trail 100.  In other words, for those of you who want to run the Leadville Trail 100 for the first time I highly recommend coming to training camp to give you the tools you need to finish in less than 30 hours.

Get ready for Day Two!

Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp Day 1

Thursday, July 8th, 2010


Hawaiian Shirt Ray’s adventures at the Leadville Trail 100 training camp continued.  Check out Hawaiian Shirt Ray’s blog.

On day one all the runners meet at the Mining Museum in downtown Leadville for breakfast at 6:30.  This is the first opportunity for the runners to all meet and start to make new friends.  After breakfast Ken and Marilee introduce themselves as the Leadville Training Camp directors.  Ken discusses the purpose of the Leadville Training Camp as a means to become familiar with the Leadville Trail 100 course.  It is not a race and I would advise first time runners not to run it as a race.  Ken also introduces the panel of experts that will be helping during camp.  This year he also asked all previous Leadville Trail 100 finishers to stand up whereby he directed all the new runners to tap us as a resource on how to finish the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 30 hours.

May Queen

After the introductions, the runners are bused to the May Queen camp site where the runners will start the first days run to Twin Lakes.  During the race this will be the May Queen aid station, the first aid station at mile 13; while the Twin Lakes aid station will be at mile 40 during the actual race.

May Queen Campground - the start of the first training run

May Queen Campground - the start of the first training run

One of the strategies to having a good experience at camp is to try to run each day’s run as though it is race day.  This is very hard to do since all the runners have fresh legs.  For example this run starting at May Queen, the runners will have already had 13 miles in their legs on race day and at camp they are fresh.  Right out of the May Queen aid station there is a small incline that most runners at camp run.  Trust me, on race day they runner will be walking up this hill.  I use this hill as a great spot to refuel before running the next section.

From May Queen the runner run up to Hagerman Road which is a dirt road with a gradual incline; first time Leadville Trail 100 runners are recommended to walk this section.  Again, for a 30 hour finish there is no reason to run this section.  During camp there is a small aid station on the very first hairpin turn.  Runners should be aware that this aid station will not be there during the actual race.

Turquoise Lake from Hagerman Road

Turquoise Lake from Hagerman Road

Hagerman Road leads up to the top of Sugarloaf Pass and descends the “power lines.”  This is the first long downhill stretch and it can take about 45 minutes to run down.  (Hint, so coming back at mile 80-ish, guess how long it is going to take to get back up).  Once the runners are down the power lines they come to a paved road and head to the Fish Hatchery aid station.

Fish Hatchery

During the Leadville Trail 100 this is the second aid station for the runners.  during camp the aid station set-up right off the road, but during the race the runners will have to take a right-hand turn and run up to the Fish Hatchery.  It is maybe about .2 miles up the road, but during the race if you are not expecting to have to run up to the Fish Hatchery it can seem like a very long distance.

Stay tuned for the rest of Day 1 of the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp!

Descending Sugarloaf Pass - aka "The Powerlines"

Descending Sugarloaf Pass - aka "The Powerlines"

Leadville Trail 100 Run Training Camp 2010

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010


This is a guest post by Hawwaiian Shirt Ray who has a great blog where he shares his experiences to inspire others to do extraordinary things.  His mantra is, “You Gotta Keep Moving.”

Leadville Training Camp is three days of trail running on the course for the Leadville Trail 100 Ultra Trail Race.  The camp is designed to give runners all the tools they will need to start and finish the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 30 hours.  The camp directors truly do not want to see any runner fail in their attempt to finish the Leadville Trail 100; that is why they have the training camp.  There is a panel of experts that volunteer their time to help answer all of your questions.  The panel is made up of runners that have done the Leadville Trail 100 multiple times; most of them have ten or more finishes under their belts.  That is over 1,000 miles of running the Leadville Trail 100 race, so they really know what it takes to get to the finish in less than 30 hours.  The panels of runners are out on the trail with the camp participants running and are interspersed in the front, middle, and back of the pack.  They are there to answer the runners questions about the course or any other question that they might have on how to finish the Leadville Trail 100.

Who should attend the Leadville Trail 1oo Camp?

The camp is designed to give first time Leadville Trail 100 runners the tools to finish the race in less than 30 hours, and for veterans of the course, it reinforces the strategies to complete the race.  This is my third time at training camp and I have returned yet again to gauge how my training is coming along, and also to remind myself of the course.  The first time I came to the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp I didn’t know what to expect during my first attempt at running a 100 mile ultra trail race, let alone running the Leadville Trail 100.  During my three days at camp I learned what it was going to take to cross the finish line in under 30 hours and I also left with the feeling that “I can do it!”

Camaraderie and New Friends

Another thing that I really like about camp is the camaraderie of all the attendants.  There are a wide range of runners some that have completed the race before, runners that never have run a 100 mile ultra trail run, and runners that have never even run a 50 mile ultra trail run.  My experience has been that all of the runners want to help each other finish the race.  It is a great way to make new friends, learn their stories, and then see them at the race.

The first two days of camp everyone meets for breakfast at 6:30 am and this is the first opportunity to start meeting the runners that you will be running with during camp.  Each year I have made new friends and it is fun to see them at other ultra trail races and to see them on race day at the Leadville Trail 100.  Then at the end of each days’ run it is fun to hangout and share each other’s stores from the trail.

Three Days of Running on the Leadville Trail 100 Course

The three days of trail running consists of two daytime trail runs and one nighttime trail run.  The goal of those runs is to familiarize the runners with the course.  Day 1 run consists of the “Double Crossing.”  The runners start at Twin Lakes, run over Hope Pass at 12,600 feet to Winfield and return to Twin Lakes; about 20 miles.  The evening of Day 2 there is a dinner and Q&A session with the panel of experts after the dinner.  This is a great opportunity for the runners to get all of their questions answered about the race how to finish the race in less than 30 hours.  Day 3 is the night run which starts at Twin Lakes and goes to Tree Line.  The first year I attended the camp I did not go on the night run because I thought I knew all the trails so well that it would not be of any help.  Wow, was I wrong.  During the race I had no idea what was ahead, where I was, and how much longer I had until the next aid station.  I highly recommend any runner attending the Leadville Trail Training Camp to participate in the night run.

For the next three days I will discuss each day of training camp in detail.

Project America Run: 4514 Miles of Remembering their Sacrifice

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

projectamericarun6smMike Ehredt remembers when he was in the Army during the 1980s.  Now he’s a retired postal worker, going postal and murdering some serious miles!  Mike is running across the United States, from Astoria, Oregon to Maine, 4514 miles in remembrance of those who have lost their lives defending our country.  Project America Run.

Mike isn’t taking this task lightly, he knows what it takes to put on the miles.  He has competed in two Eco Challenges (Borneo and Fiji), finished New Zealand’s famed Southern Traverse and in 2004 finished Primal Quest in California.  He’s not just an adventure racer though, he’s a trail and mountain runner too.  In 2006 he completed a 250 mile Trans-Himalayan run in Nepal.  Twice he has finished in the top 150 at Marathon des Sables – a six day race across the Sahara.  In 2008 he became 1 of only project-run-america-run34 people to ever finish the Rocky Mountain Slam which consists of Brighorn, Hardrock, Wasatch, and the Bear 100 mile races.  He’s fast too, with a 33:54 10K, a 2:52 marathon, and a 7:24 50 miles.

He runs about 30 miles a day for Project America Run.  He says, “I never wanted this to be a political statement, I just want to honor and remember  them.  It’s just out of a sense of honor and duty, to say think you to those who served in Iraq.”  He runs solo, soaking in his surroundings and thinking about why he is running.  He places a small American flag with a yellow ribbon around it in the ground every mile he runs.  Handwritten on the ribbon is the name of a fallen soldier to be remembered.  He becomes oblivious to the fact that he is projectamericarunrunning, heightening his senses and awareness (probably gets a runner’s high) as he thinks of the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

As a combat veteran of the Iraq war myself, I truly appreciate Mike’s focus and determination.  We are all support you Mike.  A truly great American.  Consider contributing to his great cause at  Happy 4th of July!