Skip to main content

Ultra memories...and the new generation

Check out this dude.

Kyle Skaggs.

In July, he won the Hardrock 100 Endurance Race in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Skaggs won the race in 23 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds destroying the old record of 26 hours and 8 minutes.

Hardrock has an average elevation around 11,000, a total of 33,000 feet of climb and 13 peaks over 12,000-feet; finishing is a feat in itself.

This ultra man runs around 150 miles a week, mostly on the trails he races on. He represents the new generation of ultrarunners, those who are taking the sport to the next level.

It's a long, far cry from my ultra existence. I have yet to break 24 hours for 100 miles (24:32 is my best) and I was racing on relatively "flat" ground in places such as Ohio, North Carolina and Vermont.

But it's all good nonetheless. The great thing about ultrarunning is that most of us don't compete against each other, but rather ourselves. It's the war against our own inner spirit; many times quitting or finishing rides on a razor thin line.

So, I wanted to wax on a bit about my great ultra memories. Here's a portal into my mind, the wonderful elements that make this sport so epic and exciting:

  • I was racing Mark Carroll at the Michigan Trail 50 mile. We were only a few footsteps apart through the first half, when we made the turnaround (around a tree) on the out-and-back course. Mark was about 25 yards ahead of me, and we stared into each others' eyes. Mark got further ahead, and I ran beyond my limits, hoping to catch sight of him at the road section of the course where it was possible to see a few hundred yards ahead. When I got to that place, he was long gone. I chased him into the finish, and was a bit pouty about his win. Mark admonished me, and made me realize this was about fun and the overall experience...I never forgot that day.
  • Running the JFK 50 mile in Maryland, I was holding a brisk 8-hour pace through the early sections of the Appalachian Trail...it's rough and rocky, and I was racing with Kim Martin, one of the fastest female racers in the sport. Just as I complimented Kim on her great trail pace, she took a terrible fall on a rough, rocky downhill. She knocked the wind out of herself and was disoriented, and ordered me to move on without her. Did I jinx her run? I felt bad until she blew by me late in the race, while we were on the towpath next to the Potomac River.
If you like some of these old-time anecdotes, drop me a comment and I'll rant on a bit more in the next entry!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Scott Jurek ate vegan, won ultras...then got divorced

(Disclaimer:  I am a Brooks-supported athlete; as part of that relationship, I was provided a complimentary copy of "Eat & Run")

I was recently on a few flights making my way home to Wisconsin and en route was able to plow through Scott Jurek's new book "Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness."

It's a fast, enjoyable read. I've been around the ultra scene for a long time and have known some of the greats, i.e. ultra champ Eric Clifton. So it's always interesting to see how the world looks from another icon's point of view.

My thoughts in no particular order:

1) I've been vegetarian/borderline vegan for 12 years and have always been concerned with protein intake.  Jurek advocates for the protein he naturally induces through his plant-based diet.  Maybe that is enough. Maybe it's not necessary to bang down 100+ grams of protein supplement every day. Good info and good advice.

2) I'm buying on big time to Scot…

Now this is better...

Hey, I don't want to dole out too many epic photos in one day...but after that fatty shot from the New York City Marathon, I had to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

Check out that attractive specimen (second from right) circa 1986...only a year earlier and Tommy Terrific was looking pretty ripped.

I'll tell you this triathlon training camp was one of the high points of my master competitor career. On the left is Mark Hinson, the best triathlete in the southeast in the mid 19890's...and far right is Frank Kohlenstein, a soccer coach from South Carolina and the dude who got me into ultrarunning...that's tanned and toned Tommy next to David Bailey, one of the greatest men who ever threw a leg over two wheels with an engine.

So, right around the time of this camp, I crewed for Frank at the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California. Hinson ran with Frank through a very tough 20 mile desert section and when he made it to the next check, he pulled me aside and told…

Build your low cost gravel and commuter bike

It's the saga of Craigslist. You have a great perfect condition road bicycle to market. You ask a fair price. A few calls come in, most often the caller throws out a low ball offer, maybe 50% of asking price.

You don't need to give the bike away. You may not need the cash.

Consider re-purposing. You already own an excellent commuter and gravel bike. Think your bike is too low end, not good for the purpose?

Wrong. In most cases less expensive bikes are build with heavier parts, which means they are stronger. Heavier wheels = better ability to absorb commuter bumps and gravel roads.

A few simple modifications and you'll be rolling for transportation or logging road expeditions.

Here's my 2011 model Specialized Roubaix. I rode it for several seasons as a serious piece of road equipment. A few buyers offered up a few hundred dollars, so I went in another direction.

1) Added 700 x 28 Continental Gatorskin tires. Gatorskin tires wear like iron and you can trust them in off …