The Fall of Brutality

As I review my upcoming, fall¬†race schedule, I can’t help but recognize the immense challenges ahead of me; but I am also leaner, stronger and better trained than ever before. I am going after this race schedule with intensity and aggression.

Only three weeks to 100 miles
Only 8 days to 100 miles

Only 6 days to 100, er, now, 102.6 miles

Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile Race

As I write this, I am exactly three weeks out from hopping on a plane to Minnesota for the Superior Sawtooth 100-Mile foot race along the Superior Hiking Trail.

The race has a total elevation gain and loss of over 20,000 feet, and a punishing terrain. As usual, I chose a doozy for a first 100-mile attempt.

But, as you can see from the images, it’s also GORGEOUS – some say one of the most beautiful 100-mile ultra races in the country. How could I say no?

Superior 100 Course Segments

Incredible detail of segments along the Superior Hiking Trail, including photos of the views at various locations along the trail where the Superior 100 mile race will take place:


72 Hours of running at Across The Years

Across the years silver anniversary

“Why do you want to do something like that?”, asked my wife.

“To see how many miles I can get, I guess”, I said.

“You’re crazy.” she said

“Yea, I know – wanna go?”


Across the Years is a popular, at least in the ultra community, multi-day ultramarathon event. I will begin running on December 29, 2008, on a track designed for this purpose; and will complete the 72-hours at 9:00 a.m., January 1, 2009 – hence “across the years”.

My goal is to log 175 miles, or about 58 miles a day.

Typically, I only really have liked mountain trail ultramarathons, but as of late, developed an interest in the multi-day discipline. The mental fortitude necessary for three solid days of moving forward should be an unique experience to say the least.

Jumping Stumps and More Masochism

I will also be doing the Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga, TN. Everyone says, “you gotta do stump jump”, “you gotta do stump jump”

So, I’m doing Stump Jump.

And lastly, it’s back to Mountain Masochist, the mean and nasty 50++ miler that handed me my first, and of this writing, only DNF (did not finish) to date.

I have an axe to grind at Masochist.

Shower Me with Love

Well, ok, at least wish me some luck if’n ya feel the love. I really enjoy hearing from friends, other runners, and blog readers who read all this nonsense.

It makes me feel good and stuff…


Laurel Valley Race Report 2008

I love this race. I love this race. I love this race.

laurel valley whitewater falls

One of the interesting allures of Claude Sinclair’s, self-supported Laurel Valley Whitewater Run is the fact that no one truly knows how far it is. The route is very difficult both in terrain, and the amount of climb, which leads many runners to clock times roughly one-to-two hours longer than their typical 50K, but is it really 40 miles?

I have my own ideas, and I think the race is closer to 35 miles, than to 40, but here are some elements that certainly make it seem like 40 miles:

  • Since the race is self-supported (e.g no aid stations), there are really no mental breaks in the race. If you are the type of runner that looks forward to getting to aid stations, that won’t help you at LV.
  • While the entire race is run along the Foothills Trail, and thus blazed white throughout, it’s still possible to get lost. I missed a turn, myself, and ran an extra mile out there for good measure.
  • Climbs, climbs and more climbs. I would love to see the total elevation accumulation of this race. There are some climbs in this race that are ridiculous and really should be switch-backs; but would I change it? Nope.
  • Runner finishing times tend to be more reflective of 50-mile races.

A Week of Excitement Leading up to the Race

I have been training my ass off.

Part of it’s been left on the trails, and a lot of it’s been left in my CrossFit gym, but I t’aint got much ass left.

I was excited about running this race again this year for many reasons, but primarily, I knew that my performance in this race would be a solid indicator of where I am with my training leading into my first 100-miler at Superior.

I was very excited, but also a little nervous. I promised the RD, Claude, that I would clock a respectable finish time so that I would be granted a 6:00 a.m. start with the veteran Laurel Valley runners. I like Claude and did not want to disappoint.

3, 2, 1 Go!

I’m a little bummed that I’ve never had the opportunity to start LV to the sound of Claude firing an old Civil War musket, but “3,2,1 Go!” works ok too, I guess… {grins}

Now, typically in my race reports, I offer a blow-by-blow account of the race, my individual experiences, and the people I met, but this year, in this race, it was mostly uneventful. I ran seven of the eight hours completely alone …making that an individual and unique experience of it’s own.

To sum it up – I just ran. – and stayed focused on three specific goals:

  • Managing my nutrition and hydration
  • Staying strong and injury-free
  • Finishing in a respectable time as promised to Claude

I ran with those things in mind, and just soaked up the Jurassic environment around me.

I finished the race in 8:42, over three hours better than last year’s 12:14, and most importantly, although I was fatigued, I was not completely wrecked, and I now feel a little more confident leading into my first 100.

I’m sorry to make this all about ME, but I have been really focused on both Laurel Valley and my upcoming 100. Below are some of the elements that I believe are making a huge difference in my training – and I believe it’s a combination of all these things, and none more important than the other.

Run Those Uphills If You Can

I know we hear a lot about walking the uphills, but I believe it’s all in how you train combined with the total distance of the race. I have been training extensively on the Appalachian Trail and increasing my uphill running over time to a level where I can almost run the entire AT approach trail {almost – Black’s still kicks my ass}

I aspire to be a gnarly mountain runner. The people around me that I look up to like Byron Backer, Sally Brooking, Janice Anderson, Marty Coleman, etc… all seem to run uphill and they are gnarly mountain runners.

Employing this training strategy REALLY made the difference in this race for me.

There is so much climbing in this race that if you walk all the uphill sections, you’ll be walking more than you’ll be running.

Trim the Fat

Last year I was 215-ish pounds at Laurel Valley.

This year, I came in at a designed 195 lbs.

This helped a bunch with feeling nimble and comfortable throughout the race. Plus, since one must carry so much water and nutrition based on the self-supported element of the race, there’s a lot of added weight in the form of water bladder packs and hand-held bottles.

My continued goal is to get down five more pounds, to 190, by the Superior 100 next month.

…185 by Mountain Masochist in November.

Strength Training Rocks the House

CrossFit baby!

I drank the juice and am a believer forever. It’s stunning how much strength, power, fat loss, and all-around fitness gain that I can contribute to CrossFit training.

CrossFit’s really nothing new – it’s just hard – which somehow got lost over time during the fitness revolution. It’s like self-induced, Army boot camp fitness training.

Get some! You’ll never look back.

Running on Beefy Trail

I like technical, gnarly, single track. I like to be deep in the woods, buried in the mountains, running point to point; therefore, I have been training on similar terrain.

All my races will be this way – aside from ATY – and training on the AT is making all the difference in the world. I wish Chris Wedge was still on the ultra email list. This was his advice to me when I first started running in June 2006, and it was a solid piece of advice.

It’s hard to continue running uphill with heavy fatigue, but it makes all the difference in the world to finishing times.

I Don’t Recommend Laurel Valley for Runners


I think it would be a big eye-opener for runners from far and wide. The foothills carry a magic that you just have to experience to understand.

All 5,000 widely-spaced wooded steps built into many of the uphills…

The ridiculous climb at the finish…

The long, false-summit climbs throughout the entire race that never-end and challenge your mental and physical fortitude…

The Jurassic ecosystem with lots of forest green, big creeks, loose rocks, stunning views, swinging bridges, lotsa bees, tough climbs, boulder scrambles …and a really cool, big-ass waterfall view at the finish…

And lastly and most importantly, the impossibility of a DNF – you either finish, or spend the night on the trail.

As expected, I was happy to eat my ginger snaps at the finish line, sitting with all the finishers, and basking in the glow that is Laurel Valley, …and still, my all-time favorite race.

Thanks Claude.