serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

24/7 Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge Trail Race

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Our Serious Running friend Brian Ansley tells about the Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge.  Even though Brian is a real life superhero, you can be a regular human and still enjoy this race.  He says:

I had a lot of my mind as I pullesuperhero-obstacle-course-challenge-texas-trail-running-raced out of my motel in Dripping Springs, Texas around 6:15 AM to make way to the Flat Creek Crossing Ranch.  This morning I was going to be competition in the obstacles that have made this unique race.  My heat wasn’t set to start until 8 AM, but I was scheduled to do an interview with the videographer at 7 (I’m famous).  I made my way down the dark and winding roads of the Texas Hill country, concentrating on the race that was ahead of me.  I thought of the 7 miles of rocky terrain and the 24 obstacles that I must conquer.  In spite of what I had on my mind, I couldn’t help but smile.  A familiar smile I get every morning before a race.  It was race day and I was ready.

When I arrived at the ranch I received my race packet and linked up with the videographer.  During the interview the main thing I tried to stress is the camaraderie and positive environment at the race venues.  I can recall battling out that last few miles of a tough trail race with a fellow runner, a total stranger, but hugging him at the finish line as sign of respect for their talent and determination.  I played a lot of sports growing up, but none of them have given me the satisfaction of running or endurance racing.  Once I finished the interview I had about 30 minutes to relax and watch the sunrise from behind the hills.  It was perfect.

I trotted up the hill to the start line about 10 minutes before the race.  I assessed some of my competition and then listened to the race director’s last minute instructions about course markings.  The next thing I knew the race had started!  I noticed right off that bat that this race was technical.  I have done several trail races, but never with terrain this rocky.  The elevation shifts were remarkable as well.  The inclines were exceptionally rugged, and it took a lot of focus to make it up with speed.  The declines were just as rough.  You had to make sure your feet were set on the way down in order to maintain your stability.  In other words, this was not your typical Piney Woods trail!

I made my way out to an open field to complete a sandbag carry, traverse a wall, and a few other obstacles.  Thsuperhero-obstacle-course-trail-running-texase trail then took me back into the canyon to the tire flip, boulder hop, and then the creek crossing obstacles.  I made the vertical climb out of the canyon and back on the rugged trail again.  The remainder of the trail seemed to be a steady vertical rise at this point.  With approximately three miles to go in the race, I decided to turn up the pace.  I completed the wall jump and sprinted my way down the trail.  I could hear the cheering and the announcer.  I continued to accelerate my way through the trail.  I threw myself under one last low crawl obstacle and then rushed up the muddy hill to slide into the Muddy Mayhem obstacle.  I low crawled through the muddy water as the crowd cheered and race as hard as I could to the finish line.  The race was complete and there was a medal being placed around my neck.  I felt the familiar smile returning to my face.

I waited at the top of the hill for the guy that was behind me to finish.  We ran together for a couple of miles, completed a few obstacles together, and did the creek crossing.  We congratulated each other and shook hands.  We both thanked each other as well.  This is the type of unity that races like 24/7 Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge brings to communities.  As a Veteran, this is something that I miss.  Racing is definitely something that fulfills that desire that I no longer have with my brothers in arms.  Of course I will always have that brotherhood with my fellow paratroopers.  I have found racing to be such a pleasurable experience.  Thank you Rafael Trinidad for giving me the opportunity to run in your outstanding race.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rafael “Trini” Trinidad, the founder of the 24/7 Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge.  Rafael is from San Antonio and is a member of the San Antonio Police Department and SWAT team.  No wonder he knows how to make obstacles and endurance races!  The 24/7 Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge is run within Rafael’s family.  I asked him about his goals with the race.  He said, “I would eventually like to expand.  I would like to try and take the race to Houston and Dallas.”  I told him Houston and Dallas probably couldn’t handle a race like this.  Maybe he’ll give you a chance see in the future!  The charity that the races raises money for is Kidd’s Kids.  This is a fantastic organization that helps raise money for the terminally and chronically ill children.  Rafael will also be hosting the Superhero Run in San Antonio at the beginning of 2012.  He said, “The main goal is to promote fitness and fun.”  It will consist of a 10k, 5k, and 1k even for the kids.  Keep checking the 24/7 Superhero Obstacle Course Challenge Facebook page for more updates on this event, or go to kiddskids to rally round an excellent cause.

Spartan Adventure Race – Texas Recap

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We’ve been hearing a lot about thesspartan-adventure-race-houstone adventure races lately and our first thought was, “So they are like trail running but with man made obstacles?”  Adventure races seem to be really fun and challenging, which are two of our favorite words, so we thought we’d have our contributing blog writer Brian Ansley, the Great American, check one out for us.  He competed in the Spartan Race Texas this past weekend and here is what he thought:

I pulled into Rocky Hill Ranch about 10:15 this past Saturday morning and followed a path into an open field with what seemed to be hundreds of cars parked for the Spartan Race.  I have done several races in the past, including the Houston Triathlon last September; however, this was going to be my first adventure race.  I was definitely up for the challenge and excited about the course I had heard so much about.  As I was walking to the packet pick up line I heard a huge explosion go off!  Someone said, “A new heat just started!”  I hadn’t been in many races with heats, usually everyone starts at the same time.  I knew this race was more about the challenge of finishing rather than competing against other participants.  I love competing against myself, because I always win (insert “bi-winning” joke here).  After I received my packet I made it way closer to the start line so I could get a good look at the action.  There was a man dressed up in full Spartan attire pumping everybody up right before the race began.  I couldn’t wait for my heat to start!

Before I knew it, 11:30 was almost here.  I took a last minute drink of water and made my way to the starting line.  The Spartan hype man grabbed his microphone and began pumping up the crowd like Technotronic circa 1989.  Everyone in the crowd would reply to his statements with, AROOO!!!  I was ready.  Boom!  The familiar explosion that starts the race echoed through air.  Not knowing what to expect I began my first adventure race

As I made my way down the course my first obstacle was a massive marsh area, followed by a flaming pit that I was forced to leap over; better than running straight through I suppose.  The next mile or so was nothing but soaring hills to wear down your legs for the remainder of the race.  After an extensive low crawl under barbwire, two more water crossings, and the completion of an 8 ft wall, I was nearly complete.  As I ran the last set of obstacles I sprinted to the finish line.  As I rounded the corner thinking I was in the clear I spotted a couple of massive men dressed in Spartan attire just like the hype man at the beginning of the race.  The only difference was that these guys weren’t holding microphones, they were holding padded sticks!  I tried to put my best moves I learned from American Gladiators but it didn’t work.  They both struck me with their sticks at the same time!  However, I can say I proudly crossed the finish line on both feet.  As an avid racer, I found that adventure races challenge me in a way that other events haven’t.  The combination of running and obstacles together provide a demanding, yet exciting setting for a race.

The course was easily marked throughout and there was also a sufficient amount of volunteers to guide you if you were not sure.  The obstacles were rather challenging and incredibly fun.  The organization at this race was handled very well, especially given the amount of participants.  I can honestly say I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face.  Two thumbs up for the Spartan Race!  I can definitely see more adventure races in my future.  AROOO!!!

Destin Beach 50k and 50 mile Ultramarathon Race Recap Part 3

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

This is the last installment of Sean Run Bum Blanton’s race recap of the Destin Beach 50k and 50 mile ultramarthon.  Will he make it?  Build up the suspense, start at the beginning with Part 1.

destin-beach-50-mile-ultramarathonWe passed some more race people checking our numbers and I saw one drinking a beer.  My eyes lit up.  I asked the guy if I could grab a beer.  He looked puzzled and laughed.  I told him I was serious and he tossed me an ice cold beer.  I chugged it.  Beer has never tasted so good.  I later motioned for a toss from some Frisbee players.  The guy overthrew me by 10 feet so I went into the ocean to retrieve it.  The ocean was like Andre 3000, ice cold.

The next aid station was at mile 36.  It was a restaurant that I was told we could order anything we wanted.  I had in my mind from the beginning of the race that I wanted oysters so I came into the aid station screaming, “Oysters, Oysters, I need half a dozen on the half shell!”  Apparently this wasn’t a normal request because the aid station workers were laughing at me and I had to go speak with the owner about my special order.  He said he’d have them ready when I came back around after the turn, at mile 42.

Those next 2 miles to the turn around point were tough.  I saw some ladies playing beach volleyball, baywatch style.  My jaw dropped and my head moved; then my whole body dropped.  I stepped in a hole that some kid had dug, probably attempting to reach China.  Splat.  Right in front of the girls.  Smooth.  I walked it off like nothing happened.  I made the turn, passed the girls again, and reached my oyster eating aid station.  I threw down the sweet ocean goodness in no time and took off for the final 8 miles.

I decided to cut all my food and just hammer water for the last 8 miles of the race.  I don’t recommend anyone else doing this, it’s a gamble.  With about 3 miles to go I saw a familiar face, my boy Wayne D, aka LIL WEEZY.  He was shouting, “Blanton, Blanton pick it up!”  He really got my spirits up and told me to try to catch the guy in front of me to finish 3rd.  At this point I was more concerned about conserving my body, I still had to run a road marathon in 16 hours!

I closed a mile gap into 400m gap with 800m left to go in the race, but decided to slow it down and ease into the finish, I was here to complete the race, not race it.  I moved off of the hard sand onto the soft sand to finish line where I was greeted with a sweet custom finishers medal.  Final time:  8 hours, 32 minutes in 4th place overall!

I pounded some food and treated myself to an amazing post race massage.  I now stood in the wake of determination.  Or rather the wake of 50 miles, 3 beers, 6 oysters on the half shell, and a whole heck of a lot of fun.  Sun kissed and forever changed.  Humbled, yet happy.  I had found one hell of a good time and I will definitely be back again for more fun in the sun, only next year I’m going to make sure I don’t forget my sunblock!

Now you’ve read about it, watch it.  The book is always better than the movie…

Destin Beach 50k and 50 mile Ultramarathon Race Recap Part 2

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

This is a continued race recap Sean Run Bum Blanton’s Destin Beach 50k and 50 mile ultramarthon:

Check our Part 1 if you missed it.

destin-beach-50k-ultramarathonWhen the sun was rising and pushing me forward I was at mile 10.  I was in about 13th or 14th place and all of a sudden a guy comes rocking past me going the other way.  I said, “Hey, great job man, keep it up!”  He had his head down and was in the zone.  Too far in the zone to respond.  As I grew closer to the turn around I saw more runners coming the other way.  My smile elicited high fives.  The bond you share with people on ultramarthons is almost as epic as the race itself.  It was like we were all in the same Platoon, fighting the same way, enduring the same hardships together.

At the turn around I could see the the high rise hotels at Destin Beach way away.  They looked close but I knew from earlier in the race, objects appear closer than they really are!  I thought it must be 15 or 20 miles away.  Then I thought for a second, no, it was exactly 25 miles away!  The exact distance I still had to run!  The sight made my stomach sink.  Like opening the mail box expecting to see your new iPod but instead you see a jury duty summons.

I was running the same 15 miles now I had just covered; however, everything looked different because it was daylight.  Running through Grayton Beach I encountered what appeared to be “THE RED TIDE.”  Thank god I thought.  Being the terrible fisherman that I am, the fish would to flock to me and boom, free sushi!  Well, not so much.  It was just where the swamp water cut its path through the dunes and sand as it makes its escape to the ocean.  Brackish water its called.  The mix of fresh and salt water.  See, you learn something everyday.  Frankly though, it looked like blood.  Like some one had stabbed the earth and she was bleeding.  There were about 5 of these along the course.  I saw other runners tip toeing and trying to not get their feet wet.  I pushed right through them, not breaking stride; not only was I too tired to expend energy running around them, but my neoprene socks were working like a charm!

As I was chowing down on some Chia Chargers around mile 25, a guy passed me running with his dog.  No way!  Well, I guess the dog does have 4 legs to run on.  It didn’t matter though, I went from walk to Chuck Norris speed in the blink of an eye.  That’s right, faster than you can say delta force!  I paced off this guy for about 2 miles before he turned around.  I guess he wasn’t part of the race…

Less than a mile away from the resort I could see the tents at the start/finish.  I hurdled a dead jellyfish and downed the last of my water.  I was in 5th place.  I had a huge smile on my face and said to the race director, “Man, this is a great race.  I love it!”  He laughed and said tell me that again in 20 miles.  I laughed and got a nice picture taken.  I took off but soon realized I had forgotten my drop bag of goodies.  Oops!  I lost about 2 minutes going back to get it.  But worse yet, I forgot to put on my sunblock!  If you’ve ever seen me before you know that I’m part albino, part Irish.

I took off screaming and running with new confidence.  I had finished 30 miles and I hadn’t even started to tap the tank.  People along the beach just looked on most likely wondering, “What the hell is this pale weirdo doing?  Oh, he must be drunk.  Oh well.  Honey, shield the kids’ eyes.”  The first 30 miles were secluded beaches, the last 20 miles I was face to face with people enjoying the beach.  If I wasn’t a run bum, I’d be a beach bum.  The next 8 miles would be spent running with some good buddies I met, the couple from Vermont, Serena Wilcox and Patrick, I believe….Read Part 3.

Destin Beach 50k and 50 mile Ultramarathon Race Recap Part 1

Monday, March 7th, 2011

This is an entry from my friend Sean who owns  He calls himself Run Bum because that’s what he does.  He travels the world, bumming lodging, food, and race entries in exotic locales.  His latest expedition took him to exotic Destin Beach, Florida to run the Destin 50 Beach Ultra.  Here’s what he had to say:

destin-50-beach-ultraAs a runner who loves to run as many races as I can and who loves adventure and new challenges, I stood under the full moon that reflected across the water onto the beach.  It was just moments before the Destin Beach 50 Mile Ultra Marathon and I was about to encounter a race like no other I had run before, 50 miles of sand.  The race had caught my eye months ago.  It sounded like hell, and it sounded like something I wanted to be a part of.  That’s what being a Run Bum is all about, I find delight in the unknown.  Where my comfort zone ends is where I have found the most joy in my life.

My game plan for this race was to run a smart race and really save myself for the marathon I was going to run the next day.  I also put on some neoprene socks, no telling what running in the sand for 50 miles would do.  I also knew that I wanted to run close to the water where the sand was the hardest.  Another fear was the extreme slant of the beach.  The beach we were running on has about 50 feet of soft sand and then hits a big slope down to the waters edge for any where from 2-8 feet depending on the tide.

It was 5 am when the race started.  Surrounded by darkness that was illuminated by the moon, I started running.  I started my easy jog and then walk from the get go.  I knew I wasn’t in shape to run 50 miles non stop that day.  I didn’t have to use my headlamp because the moon was so bright.  About 20 people took off in front of me and another 20 behind me.  I was amazed by the sheer beautify of the race.  Here’s what my camera captured that morning:

I was surrounded by ocean and sand; massive dunes lined the shore, not houses. I would run toward scattering crabs, shine my light toward movement just a couple of feet ahead to see a group of birds scatter out of the ocean. It was like an explosion of nature. I was running directly at the sunrise, but the moon was still shinning bright enough to give you a sunburn. It was almost like they were competing, but we all knew the sun would eventually win this battle.  The air was a perfect temperature, 60 degrees with a light breeze. The air had a hint of ocean saltiness. It was the prefect moment to be running…Read Part 2!

Running with multiple iPhones: Citizen Broadcasting

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

marthon-running-with-gearI came across this article about Joseph Tame, 33, who completed an “online” marathon in Tokyo last week.  He ran the race in 6 hours and 28 minutes.  The first thing I thought was, “He could have probably run the race in 6 hours without all that junk strapped to him.”  He had 4 iPhones in his contraption:  1 pointed at his face, 1 at the pavement in front of him, another using the GPS feature so people could track his progress, and a 4th for typing out tweets.  Oh, and there was an iPad on his back displaying his tweets, seems only natural.  He said, “It’s citizen broadcasting.  Can we take live sports events coverage to the next level?”  He had 3,000 people following his progress at one point so apparently there is some demand for this type of media, but were people really watching his race or his gimmick.  Joseph was also wearing bright pink plastic toy windmills on his helmet and pink bunnies on his sneakers which had nothing to with the run or his broadcast.  So I began to think, is there a market for this?  Do people want to watch races?  Are competitive runners willing to strap on gadgets so we can watch what they see and feel during a race?  We know Joseph said he won’t do it again, that 10 pounds of gear was too much for him!  Good idea dropping the equipment, maybe you can finish under the 6 hour mark next time.

I recently met a very good ultra runner who takes video of his races and shares them online.  He said, “I usually finish in the top 10 but I’m never going to win a race, those guys are on a whole other level, so I figure it doesn’t hurt me too much if I stop and pull out the camera for a bit.”  I see his point, I’m in the same boat, I’m never going to win a race, but I still want to try to get 2nd or 3rd.  If I stopped to pull my camera out it would really slow down my efforts.  If I’m unwilling to do it I assume most competitive runners feel the same way.  In addition, do people really like to watch a video of a race?  I assume there is a reason why there are as many races televised as bowling tournaments.  I know a lot of runners like to share their race recaps on blogs and other places online, but do other people like to read them who don’t have any relation to the runner? has been able to bridge this gap by combining “friendships” with running feats, but does anyone ever search for a race recap?  My experience has been no; that’s why I stopped writing race recaps. However, I have found that people want information about races, it’s just usually before buying a race entry, but not after the race.  Oh yeah, and they don’t care that I got tired at mile 5, so I ate one gel, then I stepped in some mud…

I mean, I’m a 21st century digital boy, but I hate trail running with any unnecessary gear strapped on.  I don’t trail run with an iPod, iPhone, shirt ( if temp above freezing), or even water belt (if under 20 mile run).  However, I do run with a GPS watch so I can make up my path as I run.  I guess that’s the point, I trail run to be free to roam where I want to and get away from my digital life.  I run to clear my mind and don’t want an iPod blasting noise into my head.  I trail run to get away from my cell phone.  My voicemail message actually used to say, “I’m probably on a run right now…” because 90% of the time that was true.  Running was the only time I was away from it!  Trail Running is about connecting with nature and the enviroment and I find it difficult to do so if I’m connected to anything else at the time.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like tweeting while running!

Overall, I would watch elite runners if they were to broadcast themselves running a race, but I understand why they wouldn’t want to strap a camera to their head.  I definitely have no interest in watching someone trudge along at a 14 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles and think many other runners would agree with me.  Maybe we could get some cameras mounted in trees or something, until then I guess we’ll just have to watch more bowling…

Twin Mountain Trudge Trail Race turns Epic (5 of 5)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

twin-mountain-trudge-inside-of-snow-shelterHawaiian Shirt Ray shares how his Epic experience ended up:

The temperature inside the shelter was warmer than the outside temperature but was still very cold.  I knew that I could not fall asleep so I set my alarm on my watch to go off every 30 minutes.  To stay warm I did sit-ups and moved my legs and toes vigorously.  At this point I knew that I would survive the night but I was going to be miserable.  I knew that as the temperature dropped that I would start shivering uncontrollably and that I might lose toes to frostbite, but I would survive.

The Rescue Finally Came

As I laid in my shelter trying to keep warm I heard in the distance two snow mobiles.  I did not want to immediately punch out of my shelter just in case they did not come close because I would then have to reseal myself in and I would lose the little heat that I had generated.  To my relief they came right to my shelter and stopped in front of my ski poles.  It was Search and Rescue and the Sheriff.

When I came out of my shelter they did not think I was the person they were looking for since I was still a functioning twin-mountain-trudge-inside-snow-shelterperson and seemed to be fine.  They asked me if I’m the person that needed to be rescued and after I gave them my name they were convinced I was the right guy.  I have a feeling they were thinking they were on a body recovery mission and not on a real rescue mission.  Once we were back to the start/finish line they made a comment that they have never had such an easy rescue.

The Bottom Line – Be Prepared, Always

My epic adventure could have turned out to have a really sad ending.  Because I took the seriousness of the adventure event and Alec’s advice I was prepared and survived my epic ordeal.  I saw other runners that took less than the minimum requirements set by Alec.  If they would have gotten lost their Epic tale would have been of a recovery and not a rescue.  If you are not educated on survival skills you should not even think about attempting The Trudge.  If you are not willing to take the proper gear because it will weight you down and you are more concerned with “racing” you should not think about attempting The Trudge.  Unfortunately I see people going into the wilderness unprepared all the time and my friends in Search and Rescue are the most frustrated with the people who are not prepared.  Don’t be one of those unprepared people.

Twin Mountain Trudge Trail Race turns Epic (4 of 5)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

twin-mountain-trudge-snow-shelterWhat was Going Through My Mind

Here is a checklist that was going through my mind:  First, I needed to stop moving since I did not know where on the course I was.  Making the decision to stay in one place gave me the direction of what I needed to do until I am rescued.  Plus, it is mountaineering 101 to stay in one place and have the rescue party find you.  Second, Josh and I are the only runners doing a second lap and when Josh comes in Alec will ask him where he past me on the course.  Josh will respond, “I didn’t pass Ray” and with this they will know I am lost.  Third, Alec would not leave any runner on the course.  Fourth, I knew it took Alec about 6 hours to mark the course.  This meant that I needed to stay safe for 6 to 8 hours before I could expect anyone to find me.

The bottom line in all my thoughts was not to panic and make any stupid decisions, and to stay calm.  By going over my checklist I had a rational plan that I would be rescued and this gave me a sense of reassurance.  However, it was most likely going to be a long time before they found me with no guarantees that I would be able to hike out on my own.

My Plan of Action

Since I made the decision to stay where I was, I was going to need a shelter to combat the high winds and snow.  The task of building a shelter gave me a focus and kept me from panicking.  No matter what, I needed a shelter.  What would happen if for some reason they could not find me and I had to stay out overnight in temperatures that would be in the low teens.  I decided that not only would I build the shelter for the short-term, but I also mentally prepared myself that I might have to stay out overnight.

I started building my shelter’s frame with branches and sticks.  I built it about 10 feet off the Trudge course so it would be easier to find.  The snow was like champagne powder and was not ideal for building a shelter.  I used my poncho as part of the wall facing the wind to help give my shelter the most protection.  I was beyond exhausted building my shelter, but what kept me going was that by building it I was keeping warm, and that I MUST have a shelter if I wanted to survive through the night.  After over 6 hours my shelter was ready.  By this point I had been in the cold, wind, and snow for over 13 hours.

I took my ski poles, crossed them over each other and stuck them standing up the snow on the trail in an “X”.  This was a signal that my shelter was here and that I am inside.  I could not take the chance that I would stay conscious and needed a piece of mind to know that rescuers would see the poles and explore the area and find me.  I was ready to take refuge in my shelter, crawled in and barricaded myself inside.  For those of you who have never made a shelter out of snow, it is extremely important that you leave air holes, otherwise you can suffocate and die from asphyxiation.  On the ground of my shelter I put sage brush and pine branches so I would not be lying directly on the snow.  I put on the extra clothes that I brought and then laid on top of my running backpack and the plastic bag that I used to pack my clothes in.

Read More to find out if Hawaiian Shirt Ray made it out alive.  Well, of course he did, he didn’t send me this story from the wifi connection in his shelter…

Twin Mountain Trudge Trail Race turns Epic (3 of 5)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

2011-twin-mountain-trudge-trail-raceThe first two posts Hawaiian Shirt Ray shared were how he was prepared for the Twin Mountain Trudge.  Now you’ll find out why it was a good thing he was prepared…

My Trudge and How it Became Epic

As you can see I was well prepared and mentally and physically ready to start The Trudge.  From last year’s Trudge I found that many of the 22 mile runners would start to really slow down on the second lap.  My strategy was that the adventure really doesn’t start until the second lap and I would use the first lap to keep fueled and stay hydrated.  I set my watch to go off every 30 minutes to remind me to eat a few mouthfuls of food.  Then on the hour I would take two salt tablets (they are not just for running in the heat).  Plus, as I mentioned earlier I wanted to drink the entire 80 ounces of fluid that I carried.

My first lap went just as planned and I was feeling great.  Upon my return to the start/finish area I had a cup of warm broth, refilled my hydration pack with another 80 ounces of fluid, and was ready to go out for my second lap.

At this point Josh Fuller and Jen Malmberg tried to talk me out of going out for my second lap.  I came to find out that twin-mountain-trudge-trail-racenobody was willing to tough it out for a second lap.  It took me about 3 hours and 25 minutes to go 6 miles!  That’s how tough it was.  With this, Josh couldn’t let me be the only runner going for a second lap and got his gear together and took off with me.

The second lap was actually “easier” to run since all the other runners had trampled the trail down.  I still was prepared that my second lap would take me at least 4 hours to complete.  Having a target on my back and Josh chasing me down made me run a lot more of the course than the first lap.

The Spiral into an Epic Adventure

I was still following my set plan of eating every 30 minutes, taking salt tablets every hour, and staying hydrated.  My goal at this point was to stay out of the sights of Josh.  Mentally I wanted him to turn every corner, come to every meadow, and start the long climbs without him being able to see me.  I was able to do this and I started thinking about how it was going to feel to come in first place under such challenging conditions.  I started thinking about the dinner all of us were going to go to after the race and all the stories that we would tell about our adventures out on the course.

Well, during all my day dreaming I missed the cutoff to head back to the start/finish line and ended up starting to run a third lap.  I did not realize I missed the cutoff until things started to look familiar, like I have already run this section.  I decided to backtrack to the last intersection.  When I got there I was thinking this is where the cutoff was supposed to be and it wasn’t.  I decided to start running forward again and went a little further than the first time.  This time I knew for sure that I missed the cutoff.  What really solidified this reasoning is that if I was on the correct part of the course I would have ran into Josh, and I didn’t.

I was already tired, and now I just wasted more energy running the wrong direction twice.  I really started to feel tired around 6 hours into the race and by this time I have already been out for about 7 hours.  I started back tracking again and by now it was getting dark.  Being prepared, I put my headlamp on and started backtracking.  It seemed that I was backtracking further than I needed to.  I have to admit, I had a little panic at this point but quickly regained my composure.  Check out what happens next.

Twin Mountain Trudge Trail Race Turns Epic (2 of 5)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

2011-twin-lakes-trail-race-hawaiin-shirt-rayHere’s how Hawaiian Shirt Ray prepared for the Twin Mountain Trudge Trail Race.

How I Prepared for the Trudge


I knew what I was signing up for when I entered the Trudge again this year.  Beacuse I knew I was in for a long tough day I started out eating a hearty breakfast of:  2 breakfast burritos, a large smoothie, banana bread (see my banana bread recipe), and a few cups of coffee.  For the race I had packed two chicken sandwiches, two chicken and rice burritos, pretzels, and granola bars.  Plus, I planned on eating hot soup at the start/finish aid station before running my second lap.


For hydration I carried 80 ounces of energy drink on each lap.  Yes, that is a total of 160 ounces for a 22 mile race.  My plan for the event was to drink the entire 80 ounces each lap.  This event is a Trudge and it takes double if not more effort to run the same distance on dry trails.

What some people do not realize is that when it is is cold outside you still need to drink and eat as much as you would during a warmer day.  For distance runners, dehydration can complicate and accelerate the onset of hypothermia.  Remember, that when the temperature outdoors is lower than your body temperature, you will give up heat to the environment.  Your natural metabolism is usually enough to maintain your core body temperature.  However, when conditions become extreme your body’s metabolism may not be able to protect you from heat lose.  The result is hypothermia.  Staying hydrated helps your natural metabolism to regulate your body’s temperature (see my story Cold Weather Running).


I came ready for any conditions.  I signed up for two laps and I came prepared to run nothing less than two laps.  Once I was at the start/finish line I assessed what gear I was going to take with me on each loop.

Here is what I took:  a running backpack with a hydration system, arm warmers, neck gaiter, ear warmers, extra wool hat, chapstick, salt tablets, ginger, Tums, Imodium tablets, Acetaminophen (not Ibuprofen), toilet paper, plastic rain poncho, sunglasses, Photo ID, long sleeve wicking shirt, wicking vest, wind jacket, ski poles, Gore-Tex jacket, headlamp with fresh batteries, and a plastic bag to put my clothes in to keep them dry.

Yes, I carried all that gear plus my food and water.

What I Wore

A Hawaiian Shirt; heck it’s an extra layer (fashionable, not too functional), a long sleeve wicking shirt, a long sleeve resistant full frontal zipper jersey, wicking underwear, mittens, running tights, over the tights a waterproof and windproof shell, running shoes, neoprene socks, neoprene shoe covers, hiking gaiters, and micro spikes.

Read more tomorrow to find out why Hawaiian Shirt Ray was glad he had all this gear.