Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 In Review

While I know there are still a couple of weeks left in the year to do something cool, my commitment to heal up this Peroneal ankle tendonitis is winning out over running. With nothing to do, really, I find myself reflecting on my accomplishments of this past year. I will review each in its turn below, but some of the behind the scene bigger moments are; getting through 95% of the year injury free, continuing my streak of ultras without a DNF, eclipsing my total mileage of 2009 by several hundred this year, and the biggest yet, making new running friends and just thoroughly enjoying the trails with all my mates. 2010 has been a brilliant year.

Now, reflection.

Big Goals - Coming off of 2009 recovering from ITBS I set a pretty high goal of running a marathon length distance or further every month this year. January and December were the only months I failed to do that (December isn't over yet; don't count me out). While I didn't do it in each of the months, I did run 26.2 or further 15 different times this year, a huge accomplishment for me . . . or just about anyone, really (except Davy who seems to do it week after week).

Sapper Joe 50k - While I had some great runs early in the year, my real test was in May during the the Sapper Joe 50k, my first race of 2010. I knew the competition would be tough and I only had hopes for a personal good performance, but even though I had a really difficult day I was still blessed to run faster than planned and take 4th overall. I'm looking forward to bettering my time in 2011 by more than 20 minutes. Placement won't matter to me.
From 2009, but you get the idea

SL Valley Temple Run - If I get something in my head it generally gets stuck there until I achieve it. Not attempt to achieve it, but actually do it. Running to each of the 4 LDS temples in the Salt Lake Valley was an idea I got in my head very early in 2010 and I just couldn't sleep at night until I went for it. The wet spring and muddy trails really helped me make the decision to go after this urban ultra. 

Bryce Canyon Link-up - Another hair-brained idea was to link the three main backcountry trails in Bryce Canyon, making for an amazing tour of the park. While I didn't get to run every step of the trail I had planned, I still linked all three, technically, and did something I'm pretty sure has not been done before. I can't wait to head back and try the full version in 2011.

Utah Triple Crown - Setting the new speed record on the Utah Triple Crown has been my primary goal since I decided to start running. In 2001 I hiked all three in a day from an advanced base camp, making the papers (silly) and triggering a small wave of followers who were now set on repeating it. However, in 2008 Davy Crockett did all three in a day starting from the car. He not only stepped up the standard, but he set a solid time to beat. My intention was to target a different route and hopefully cut off mileage and time. The end result was that I not only set a new record of 9:41:46, beating the old record by more than 4 hours, but I summited 4 peaks instead of just the 3 tallest (I had to go over East Gunsight to get to Gunsight Pass). Davy thinks the record will stand for a long time. I think, and hope, that it is beatable and anyone who is familiar with the area could do it in the next couple of years. That would be awesome. 

Katcina Mosa 100k - August would be new ground for me, running further in a single go than ever before. The Katcina Mosa 100k is one of the toughest 62 mile trail races in the country, boasting over 34,000 ft of elevation gain and loss. It is run in the hottest month of the year through the mountains behind Provo, UT. I had set a pretty good goal and over-achieved, something I really didn't expect. It was an awesome race and I ran a 13:38:00, taking 9th overall. It was that race that really gave me the confidence to run 100 miles. While wrecked after, I knew I could have gone further if the race required it.

Quest for King's Marathon - In 2009 I devised this little fun run as a way to race the tallest mountain in Utah. It's not an official race since racing isn't allowed on pristine wilderness land, but it is a great way to get all my friends together and enjoy one of my favorite trails in Utah. This year we had a small turn-out and I had a rough day, but overall it was a really fun day. I set a new PR and came in 2nd overall. I'm pretty sure that next year I won't finish that high, but I do hope to knock off more than a half hour on my time. 

Pony Express 100 - My focus since mid-year 2009 was to work up and run a 100 mile race. While I am a mountain runner at heart, the Pony Express 100 was a draw for me for several reasons. First, the race director is a friend and my running mentor, Davy Crockett. Second, I ran the 50 last year, knew the course, and enjoyed the remoteness of the course. Finally, I was on the race committee and therefore had no choice but to go for it. Oh, and Davy was way too smug about always winning it. He needed someone to take him down. While it wasn't me or anyone else for that matter, I did come in 3rd overall, set a 100 mile PR of 22:46:00, and wet my tongue on the world of 100 milers. I'm hooked. Next year I will have no other goal but to win it . . . and try and go under 20 hours. I know I can do both.

Halloween Half Marathon - One of my most prized moments of the year was running a road half marathon with my wife, mom, and brother (and my mom's friend). I can't express how proud I am of my wife and how much I value having the experience to run with her. She beat her goal time by 15 minutes, ran strong the whole way, and we just had a TON of fun. I am so proud of her.

While the year was dotted with other fine accomplishments, such as; running two ultra distances in Cedar Valley, monster days on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, pacing at the Wasatch 100, Lake Mountain marathon, and discovering how amazing the Timpanogos trails are, the ones listed above were truly the highlight of an amazing year. Will 2011 be even better? I don't know. I'm not sure I could ever have a better year than this one, but you can be certain that I am going to try. Stay tuned for my 2011 goals. They should be impressive, even for me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Euro Racing

I've been doing a bit of reading and watching race videos of trail races held in Europe, specifically two kinds of races that differ from those (if only slightly) we offer here in the States; Sky Racing and Vertical Challenges (Vertical Kilometer). Both of these types of races interest me greatly. I'll address them seperately.

First, Sky Racing. This has been defined by the International Skyrunning Federation as - The discipline of running in the mountains above 2,000m where the incline exceeds 30% and the climbing difficulty does not exceed II° grade. Ski poles and hands may be used to aid progress. There are three types of sky races; Sky Marathon (20 - 26.2 miles in length), Sky Race (15 - 20 miles in length), and Sky Raid (multisport team races at elevation). There is also Sky Ultramarathon, which is anything more than 5% greater than a Sky Marathon. We have a few of these in the States that would qualify; Wasatch 100, Hardrock 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch Speedgoat (best possible example) and others. We also have races that are similar in nature to Sky Races, but aren't quite at elevation. One that comes to mind is the Wahsatch Steeplechase.

Often times these races run up and over mountains. The grade is extremely steep for most of the ascent, requiring the use of trekking poles and on occasions, ropes to pull yourself up. The distance of such a race (15 - 20 miles) is ideal in that, for most, runners will likely push their limit on not only climbing but outright running. Often with ultras we just get into a casual rhythm and grind it out to the finish. With Sky Racing you have the challenge of doing difficult mountainous ascents at marathon pace.

I would love to host or co-host races like this here in Utah. For those familiar with the Wasatch Mountains I can easily think of several options that would fall into this category; Bullion Divide, Beatout Hike, Devil's Castle / Sugarloaf / Baldy loop, Alta-Brighton loop, etc. The requirements are easy - make it steep and do it at altitude. I just think it would be cool to do more altitude racing, especially since our local options are in such abundance.

Now, as for the Vertical Kilometer. These races are simple and insane. Find the steepest, toughest trail you can and push racers up it for 1 kilometer. I've watched videos on this and its crazy. The old Widow Maker trails on South Mountain would work perfectly for this. I wonder if Draper City would let me run a race like this. It's individually timed and people leave about 2 minutes apart. And they just go up as fast as they can until they collapse at the top. Sound fun?

What are your thoughts on the whole concept?