Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shut In Ridge Run

I heard about the Shut In Ridge Run shortly after arriving in Greenville. The race is 32 years old, so you know any trail race around that long has to be good. Many consider it the classic mountain run in the Southeast. It starts near Asheville, NC, and runs up the Shut In Ridge trail to near Mt Pisgah at 5250 elevation, roughly paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway. A total of 17.8 miles, climbing 5300 ft and descending 2500 ft (possibly my first race ever that finishes appreciably higher than it starts). The winning time is usually around 2:30, and you're doing pretty well if you can beat your road marathon time. I was number 75 on the wait list in August, so was happy to get my acceptance letter.

My Activities 11-6-2010, Elevation - Distance1

Lots of uphill...

Temps were warm the past 2 years but snowy and cold this year. The weather was bad enough, in fact, that they weren't sure we would run the regular course until 10 minutes before the race. Fearing a Pocatello 50 recap and knowing the weather would be worse 3000 ft up, I dressed warmly- beanie, short and long shirt, arm warmers, gloves, and 2 shorts. I was a bit warm at times, but cold at others as the wind and snow picked up. I had tempered expectations going in due to a few injuries and lack of recent training, so figured 2:45-3 hrs seemed realistic. I mainly wanted to enjoy myself and the amazing autumn views of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains.


Autumn views during yesterday’s race

The first 3 miles were on leaf-covered fire roads, then the remainder of the race was on narrow singletrack. The trail varied from smooth and fast to very rocky and technical. It was 95% runnable, with a few steep walking sections, including the last climb to Mt. Pisgah (I had heard the last part was brutal- while I'll agree it was steep, but nothing unusual compared to many of my runs this year. Certainly not as steep as portions of Wahsatch or Jupiter Steeplechase, Pocatello 50, or the Bear). However, an almost continuous covering of wet leaves (and snow on all the north-facing slopes) made seeing the rocks and roots very difficult and the footing occasionally slippery. I loved every minute of it!


This obviously isn’t me, but shows typical trail footing- wet leaves obscuring rocks and roots

We started with a 6:19 mile, so pretty fast. I had settled into about 20th spot by mile 3 aid, where I would stay for a while. Marci and my daughters cheered me at this aid station. I was running fairly hard yet controlled. Miles 4-8 are the flattest of the race and I enjoyed stretching out the legs. Miles 8-10 are steadily uphill but my legs had plenty of climbing power. Miles 10-12 were a bit of a low spot, but I got a strong second wind at mile 13 and pushed hard, passing a number of runners while enjoying the occasional beautiful vista. I had moved into 12th place at the mile 15.5 aid station, where the girls were again cheering me on.


Feeling good around mile 15

The real fun started after the aid station, with the trail climbing 1100 ft in 1.5 miles up Mt. Pisgah. I passed 1 last runner on the climb (using the word “passed” in the most liberal of terms- kind of like a turtle passing a snail at this stage of the race), then had a final, very technical, short downhill to the finish. Finished in 11th place, 2:49:29.


View of Mt. Pisgah from the finish- the front side is steeper


At the finish

I am very glad I ran this race. It was nice to have a fairly low-key run. I generally felt good, enjoyed the competition, and can’t say enough about the views of the mountains. Plus it was well organized with lots of aid stations. The stained-glass trophys went 20-deep, so I got one. Marci really liked the fact that I didn’t know a single runner, so we left fairly soon after the finish (also due to Aspen spilling a lot of water on her pants, very cold for her in the 30-deg, windy weather). Marci asked if I will do this race again. My reply is that I want to look for other races that I could do (finding all new races is a benefit of moving across the country), but will definitely consider it. It was a fun, beautiful, challenging course- can’t beat that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grand Canyon R2R2R

Given the beauty of the Grand Canyon, the pictures come first...

Sunset on the North Rim

The beauty and challenge of the North Kaibab trail... can you see the winding trail and the bridge down at the bottom?

It doesn’t say to not hike from the Rim to the river to the other Rim to the river and back to the first Rim… so this must be ok, right?

Rob and Cody in Bright Angel slot canyon- peaceful and cool

Headed towards Phantom Ranch and the South Rim

The gang at Phantom Ranch

Where else can you see views like this?

Typical canyon running

On the South Rim

Entering the tunnel at Silver Bridge

Cody at mile 48...

...Jon at mile 48...

... and Rob at mile 48. (He who struggles the most ultimately learns the most and will have the fondest memories. And for the record, Rob asked me to post this picture...)

Finished, back at the trailhead. Can you guess who worked the hardest based on facial expression?

Like Joe said, “It’s mostly flat, other than actually getting into and out of the canyon”

Last November, I ran the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim (R2R2R) with Davy and company. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and immediately began planning a trip this year. However, the whole thing was in doubt when I moved to South Carolina... but a timely trip back to Utah gave me just enough time to sneak in the run. There were as many as 15 people interested at one time, and it appeared Geoff Roes would be joining us before he had to bow out. Ultimately, Cody and Rob Murphy were the only people who ended up coming. I was excited for a great trip.

After a quick, delicious breakfast at Rob's house (thanks again), we drove to the North Rim on Sunday and enjoyed the overlooks and sunset. I never saw the North Rim during the day last time, since we started and finished at night, so enjoyed the views. After a very fitful night of rest (I think I slept only 2 hours), we started our run at 4:30 am. The first 2 hours before sunrise seemed to pass quickly as we descended the steep and windy trail. Dawn found us cruising along the relatively flat Bright Angel canyon, a unique desert that happens to be surrounded by 5000 ft cliffs. We crossed the Colorado River at 6:30 am and began the climb up Bright Angel trail. Temperatures were nice as we were still in the shade, though the number of hikers on the trail increased dramatically. I felt good and enjoyed the climb and overlooks. We reached the South Rim in a relaxed 5 hours running time (plus 45+ min for stops). After a few pictures and food purchases, we were on our way down.

Rob struggled with his footing a bit on the descent, but never went off trail or fell. I focused on staying smooth and was pleased that my quads never got shot.Apparently a summer full of trail running results in bomb-proof downhill quads. The run down the South Rim is enjoyable because you see many of the same people from the previous hours, and they realize exactly how crazy these R2R2R runners are. In fact, rather than the typical comments (i.e. “I'll pay you to carry me), we had people encouraging us all along the way. At one point, a few groups even began applauding and cheering for us- I can't recall that ever happening before during a trail run. The temperatures were rapidly rising, though, with the thermometer reading 85 when we once again reached to river.

Rob continued on while Cody and I made a 20 min detour to see the Black Bridge and the tunnels. After a quick photo op, we stopped by Phantom Ranch to refill water and talk to some more interesting campers. I enjoy the many conversations with the variety of people hiking the Grand Canyon, all of whom have a love of the outdoors. After using only one bottle up to this point, we filled both bottles for the leg back to Cottonwood campground. After a few miles in the slot canyon, we were completely exposed to the hot sun and almost 90 deg temps for over an hour. Cody was still strong, but I began overheating and slowed down after ~mile 38. Our 7:15 pace a few hours earlier over this stretch was now a 10-15 min pace. Fortunately, a fortuitous creek crossing allowed me to soak my shirt, and we pressed on to the campground where Rob was waiting. We spent a few minutes talking to the crew of Rangers and volunteers working on the camp, then ran to the house water stop.

The house is really the start of the climb up the North Rim, gaining 4000+ ft in just over 5 miles. Rob had never run longer than 26 road miles and 3.5 hours in his life, so our 8+ hour trail run was really taxing his limits (as he told his wife afterwards, he was very wrong when he assumed the trail would be smooth and fast, and he felt very tired for much of the run). But he was mentally tough and pushed hard. Cody was pulling us from the front, making sure were were running most of the reasonable grades. I began feeling better at about mile 44, and thereafter just enjoyed finally seeing the beauty of the North Rim and annoying Rob and Cody with my non-stop blabber and lame jokes. The last few miles are very steep and challenging, but Rob kept putting one foot in front of the other and we reached the finish just before the 11 hour running-time mark (about 13 hrs including stops). Considering that the climb up the North Rim is 1500 ft higher than the South, plus our fatigue and the heat, I was very surprised and happy that our return trip was less than 1 hour slower than the outbound trip. After a quick shower, we drove all the way home. Aided by massive amounts of sugar and caffeine on the drive, Cody and I bid adieu to Rob in SLC and reached Logan just before 4 am.

R2R2R is a truly awesome run. Including the detour, it was 48.5 miles with over 11,000 ft climbing (my garmin said 32,000 ft climbing, and even Sporttracks recorded 20,000, due to the poor satellite reception in the canyons). The beauty and solitude is truly unique. The Grand Canyon has a grandeur and splendor that is unmatched. Running along beautiful, rugged trails, surrounded by red and white cliffs thousands of feet high and billions of years old... words are incapable of doing it justice. A rim to rim hike/run should be on every reasonably-fit person’s bucket list. It’s simply a wonderful, beautiful, challenging experience. Rob and Cody, thanks for sharing the experience with me- I loved every minute of it. For the rest of you, a few pictures from the journey will have to suffice.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Bear 100

I remember when rock was young…

Have you ever had the song “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John stuck in your head for the better part of a day? I rarely run with an iPod but usually have a song in my head, often the last one I heard before the run started. I rather enjoy having music roll around and around in my head for hours on end. I recall that “Bartender” by Dave Matthews Band accompanied me for most of Grand Mesa 50, while Van Halen’s “Right Now” was the song of choice during El Vaquero Loco. Several hours into the Bear 100, though, I realized that “Crocodile Rock” was repeating again and again in my head. I can’t recall the last time I heard this song—probably years ago. Nor could I figure out why my mind grabbed onto that particular diddy, but it would be in the forefront of my mind for the entire race. But I'm getting ahead of myself…

Fall colors in the Bear River Range

In Sept 2008, Paul invited me to work the Richards Hollow aid station at the Bear 100. Though I had enjoyed running trails since high school, I had only recently begun dabbling in trail racing. Seeing these ultrarunners at the aid station so inspired me that I decided I would run the Bear in 2 years. First, I wanted to break 6:00 pace in a marathon, which I checked off my list Sept 2009. Then I started a slow ultrarunning buildup, including completing the Ogden Valley 50, Rocky Raccoon 100, and several other ultras. I also ran on the Bear course as often as I could, usually accompanied by Cody, and ran more trails and more vertical than ever before. In fact, we ran every step of the Bear while training, and had completed some portions dozens of times. As race day approached, an untimely move to South Carolina and several injuries (plantar, Achilles) threatened my race. And while I can critically point to several weaknesses in my training, I’ve long since realized that nothing ever goes as planned. I had thoroughly enjoyed my training all year and finally reached the starting line confident that I was in the best long-distance trail running shape of my life. Hopefully this would equate to a good race. I was excited to go toe-to-toe with the many great runners who had registered, but knew that a 100 mile race is primarily a race only against yourself.

Just a few hills along the way...

Me and Suzie had so much fun / holding hands and skimming stones

The Bear 100 is a point-to-point race with roughly 23,000 ft climbing and 22,000 ft descending through the Bear River Mountains of Northern Utah, just as the fall leaves are changing. Cody, David, and Joe had all kindly volunteered to pace and crew me during the entire ordeal. I had spent hundreds of hours studying maps (Paul made me some awesome course maps that I loved), planning splits, and arranging gear. I felt 21 hours was a very realistic goal for me, which would place in the top 2-3 most years, though had splits for 20, 21, 22, and 24 hours in my crew packet. My splits account for even effort throughout the race, and base each split on elevation change, trail roughness, fatigue, heat, and night. Yes, I am a nerd.

Ready to go at the start with Cody

I flew to Utah on Thursday, where I saw my family for the first time in 5 weeks. I spent most of the day arranging and rearranging my gear, which was enough to invade a small country. After a few hours of sleep, Cody drove me to the start. I got a few strange looks as I ran to warm up- most people just stood around. David and Paul showed up just a minute before we started. I wanted to start very slow, so entered Dry Canyon with a big crowd ahead of me. I soon found myself near Mike Foote and Scott Jaime, and was happy that we walked the majority of the uphill as we talked. I paused to water a bush and was passed by a whole train of people. I passed them back before the top, plus Davy Crockett, and enjoyed the first run of the day down South Syncline. I had no idea what place I was in, but thought a grundle people were ahead of me. I reached Logan Peak aid exactly on 21 hour schedule at 8:14 am, which reassured me that my slow pace was appropriate. I passed a few people right after the aid, including Bruce Copeland, who told me that I was in 5th place. I didn’t believe him.

Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own

The downhill from Millville Peak really worried me. It is on a rocky, rough dirt road, and I really struggled to keep a good pace going and believed I was falling far behind. I feared that I would not have my downhill legs all day, a discouraging thought. Fortunately, I soon reached the beautiful Leatham singletrack and was able to run fast, even pausing the enjoy the gorgeous fall colors. And, shortly before the aid station, I caught Scott and a few others. All was well.

Leatham Hollow fall colors

David showing the goodies at Leatham...

I was passing rocks and trees like they were standing still

Paul and company were working the Leatham aid station, but they had my gear ready, even though I was 6 minutes early. My right heel had a hotspot, so I sat down to tighten my shoes, then was off. The next 3 miles were a mixture of running with Scott, running by cows, and being run off the road by one particular cow (don’t ask). We then reached Richards Hollow, one of my favorite sections of the race. The upper 3 miles are very runnable, with a meandering trail crossing a little creek in a small valley. Unfortunately, it was my first bad stretch. Dakota Jones passed me, and he and Scott simply ran away from me. They would put 15 minutes on me over 7.5 miles. I struggled to run even on the flat stretches. I tried to hold onto Erich Peitzsch after he passed me, but fell back. Finally, Tim Hoppin caught me near the top. We started talking as we descended into Cowley. Tim lives near my alma mater in Golden, CO, and we were both running our second 100, so we had plenty to talk about. The conversation and downhill really boosted my spirits, which would be a theme all day- weak and slow on the uphills (maybe due to the altitude and my lack of hill training the last month?), strong and fast on the downhills. Despite the disappointing stretch, I reached Cowley 6 minutes ahead of schedule. Joe had driven all the way to the aid station, and had me in and out long before Erich and Tim. I wouldn’t see them again. On the climb out, Cameron Peterson, a mountain biker, pulled up alongside me. He was very interested in ultra running, so we talked the whole way up the mountain, which really helped the time fly. I then ran down the always-enjoyable Ricks Canyon, anticipating picking up my first pacer and seeing my family.

My personal cheering section

The pacers saw a lot of this view...

But the biggest kick I ever got / was doing a thing called the Crocodile Rock

Right Hand Fork aid was good to me. I changed shoes, including washing my feet, which eliminated the heel rubbing and severe toe pain I had been feeling. I must acknowledge that my awesome crew continued to set up my foot wash/shoe change station at every aid station, though I never used it again as my shoes were working wonderfully. Thanks, guys. Marci and my daughters had come to the aid station, and it was splendid to see them. I enjoyed telling my daughters that “Daddy is running in the mountains all day”. It was a real morale boost to see them, though somewhat offset when Cody told me I was in 7th place and 20 minutes back from the pack. Joe and I quickly set off, though I sent him back for my forgotten sunscreen. He would carry it for the next 90 minutes- what a guy.

The heat was becoming noticeable running up Willow Creek, so I just relaxed and listened to Joe recount his TOU adventure, confident that some of the front runners would burn up. I felt good, but ran a controlled pace. We passed Phil Lowry (who, along with RD Leland Barker, started an hour early) shortly before Temple Fork, which we reached 9 minutes ahead of schedule. My family and Cody were again waiting, so I lingered a few minutes. After eating some wonderful strawberries and grapes, kissing my family (but not Cody- don’t worry), and earning a baby star (my first of the race!), Joe and I started up Blind Hollow. Cody had placed a handful of ice in my hat, which felt wonderful in the warm afternoon. The climb went well at first, but I eventually slowed as my Achilles complained about the climbing and my legs reminded me that I was almost 50 miles into the day. I had Joe add up the climbing from my split sheet, and was reassured when he concluded that 2/3 of the climbing was done. We finally reached the summit, and relished the soft singletrack downhill to Tony Grove. We reached the aid station 7 minutes ahead of schedule. Perfect.

Leaving Temple Fork (yes, those specs are Jon and Joe)

Arriving at Tony Grove with Joe

While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock / we were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock

Cody was eager to start his pacing here, almost knocking me over as he tried to get me out ahead of Scott, who was recovering in a chair. The next hour was very enjoyable, as we passed the colorful autumn aspens while chatting up a storm. I mentally noted that I was likely halfway done with the race, in both time and distance. We steadily ran down the smooth Bunchgrass singletrack at 8 min pace, with Cody feeding me Shot Blocks every few minutes. The day was wonderful.

Franklin Basin aid came quickly, and my crew was again prepared. After the typical bottle and gu flask swap, Dave asked me what else I needed. I replied, “Nothing,” to which he countered, “Then get out of here. Get going.” Gotta love it! I was dreading the climb up Steam Mill Hollow, and it indeed kicked my butt. By the top, I was barely moving and couldn’t keep my breath even while walking. Fortunately, every mountain eventually has a summit, and Cody and I again began running after a few minutes. I was not particularly spry, though, as we couldn’t gain on Leland, only a few minutes ahead. But we enjoyed the mountainous overlooks and the waning moments of daylight, stopping for a few pictures. We finally reached the festive, Christmas-light decorated Logan River aid at mile 70, still 9 minutes ahead of schedule (I could just picture my parents watching the results online, exclaiming “I can’t believe he’s within 9 minutes of his predicted time after 14 hours!”). Some runners feel the 70 mile mark is halfway effort-wise, so I knew there was still a long ways to go. But I felt good. My Achilles pain was tolerable, and my quads were still enjoying downhills. No complaints.

If ya gotta pee, pee with a view!

Photos courtesy of this guy...

Shock when Dave kicks me out of the aid station

Well Crocodile Rocking is something shocking / when your feet just can't keep still / I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will

While Cody disappeared into the well-stocked aid station, Dave and Joe wisely kept me outside, encouraging me that Dakota was just ahead, which I interpreted as less than 10 minutes. I left the aid station before Leland and immediately ran into Dakota, who had been 35 minutes ahead of me at Tony Grove. With a few encouraging words, I ran hard down the gravel road, excited to be in 4th place and wondering who else was ahead of me (I would later learn the closest runner was Jared Scott, 30 min ahead). I quickly crossed the Logan River, somehow keeping my feet dry, then slowed for Cody to catch up. We donned our lights for the first time and ran up Peterson Hollow, another favorite of mine. It ended far too quickly, and we turned up the faint, poorly-marked trail to Beaver Mountain. I was very glad Cody and I had run this portion, so knew where the trail went. The very rocky, slow downhill seemed to last forever, but I was still feeling good so didn’t mind too much. Cody got lost while running ahead to change his shoes, but caught me again just before the aid. Joe and Dave were again efficient at getting me on my way, even with a stop to put on winter clothes and eat some soup. They said the volunteers were complimenting how organized and fast they were, and I have to agree. Great crew.

Oh Lawdy mama those Friday nights / when Suzie wore her dresses tight / and the Crocodile Rocking was out of sight

Cody and I ran into three deer, the only large wildlife I saw all day, and then started the ever-increasing climb to Gibson Hollow. We ran a fair amount at first, gradually slowing as the grade increased. I really enjoyed the isolated feeling of running through the forest at night, with only the full moon and silent hills as company. Cody claimed to see a light behind us shortly before the aid station. I figured he was bluffing, but decided to play along and run faster. In fact, we cancelled the planned stop at Gibson aid. Cody refilled my bottle but I never slowed down (even though the Bear website showed I stopped for 6 minutes). 3 minutes later I looked back, eager to call Cody’s bluff… but sure enough, someone was just behind us. I was surprised, given that I my pace was still reasonable. Cody also informed me that Jared was still 30 minutes ahead, decreasing the odds of me catching him. We pushed hard, losing the mystery light on the climb towards Beaver Creek. We stopped at the top for a big star, and I was shocked that the runner never passed us. The downhill to the campground was less technical than I remembered, and soon the lights of the aid station appeared, 14 minutes ahead of schedule. My enjoyable 34 miles with Cody were over, as David would “carry me” to the finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how accurate that description would be.

But the years went by and the rock just died / Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy

Leaving the campground, I told Dave that he would have to be patient with me for the next few miles. The last push with Cody and the below-freezing temperature had really sapped my energy, and the following steady climb to High Top never allowed me to recover. Dave coaxed a few runs out of me, none longer than 60 seconds. After 30 minutes, I reached my lowest point of the race. I struggled to move at all, and could barely whisper one word at a time between my labored breaths. I was in a daze. More than just being physically tired, my brain was tired. I had been moving for 18 hours straight and, though only 13 miles remained, my only desire was to sleep. I began to fall asleep while on my feet, and would have lain down on the road if Dave had not kept pushing me. Following my pre-race directions perfectly, he was a brutal and unrelenting taskmaster—exactly what I needed. In my desperation for sleep, I schemed to tell him I needed to take a pit stop in the woods, where I would curl up for a few minutes before he would notice I was asleep. Alas, I found I didn’t have the energy to talk, so continued forward. The only highlight was seeing a Jeep stuck on a huge dirt berm, wondering how the owner would ever get it off. The summit of High Top provided no relief for me, as I could hardly run the flats or downhills. I had no particular pains, just an overall exhausted feeling. Dave continued his patient yet firm encouragement.

Long nights crying by the record machine / dreaming of my Chevy and my old blue jeans

I have no recollection of this, but around mile 90, Dave mentioned that after Ranger Dip aid, we only had a short climb and a nice downhill to the finish. Knowing full well the difficulty of the last leg, I managed to counter, “Yeah, but they’re the suckiest parts of the course.” Around here, a runner caught us, and I was very relieved to see it was Leland. I was content to let Leland go ahead, knowing he was an hour behind me in the standings. But Dave somehow prodded me to run behind Leland, somewhat successfully. The running and pushing thru the pain/fatigue somehow tripped something inside me, and we soon caught up to Leland. Dave had pushed me through the lowest of lows, and now my second (sixth?) wind had arrived. Running three abreast and chatting, we reached Ranger Dip, the last aid station. 8 miles remained, but my crash had left us with only 3 minutes to spare on 21 hour pace. After a quick stop of gummy bears and broth, we ventured onto the last section.

But they'll never kill the thrills we've got / burning up to the Crocodile Rock

The climb up Ranger Dip is the steepest of the course, climbing over 600 feet in half a mile. I again tagged behind Leland, giving him grief that he couldn’t find an easier way to Bear Lake. After 20 minutes, we reached the Gates of Paradise summit at 9063 feet, the high point of the course. Bear Lake loomed large ahead, a black ghost ringed by lights. Dave changed my headlamp batteries (the second best thing all race, only trailing the shoe change at mile 37), and we were soon charging down the mountain, leaving Leland in our wake. I discovered that my legs and lungs felt fresh—all the fatigue was gone. I felt as though I was just starting a run, rather than finishing an ultra. I had no time to ponder this miracle, though, as the twisty, rocky trail demanded all my attention. We soon reached the Dropoff, the murderous 2 mile descent that drops 2000 ft and only gets steeper and rockier the further you descend. I continued to feel strong, quick-stepping down with no pain. I was running so hard that I began sweating. I knew 4th place and sub-21 hours was mine, and loved it. Dave and I climbed the last short hill, wound down an ATV trail, and reached Fish Haven road. We turned off our headlamps as we ran, enjoying the last few moon-bathed miles of the race. I reveled in the feelings and was glad Dave was there to share it with me.

Learning fast as the weeks went past / we really thought the Crocodile Rock would last

Far too soon, we reached the highway. Jared Scott had slowed on the last leg and finished only 12 minutes before, so he and his crew cheered me in. Cody and Joe were also waiting, relieved to see me before the clock struck 3am. I remembered my last few miles of the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February, when my legs were so trashed that I walked the final 4 miles and couldn’t even jog the last 20 yards across the finish line. Now, we ran. We sprinted. We soared. With Cody, Dave, and Joe just behind me, we passed under the banner marking the end of this short, painful, wonderful adventure. 4th place, 20:49:38. After 2 long years, it was over. And I was satisfied. I was happy. I had run my best, and could do no better.

Laaaa la la la la laaa / La la la la laaaaa / La la la la laaaaaa

Leland came hobbling around the corner, pushing hard, and broke the 22 hour mark by 17 seconds, his second best time ever. Amazing. I can’t describe how much he inspired me. Tim Hoppin would finish 30 min behind me, followed 50 min later by Scott and Dakota.

The 2010 Bear was the fastest ever. Mike Foote broke Geoff Roes’ course record, an amazing feat. Evan Honeyfield and Jared Scott, who I never saw all race, gave him a run for the money. My time would have placed me 2nd in 2008 and only 30 seconds behind 2nd place in 2009, and is the 7th fastest time on this course. 17 runners broke 24 hours, compared to 13 in 2008-09 combined. 163 starters, 125 finishers (77% finish rate- very high!) The weather was beautiful, the course was superb, the competition was great, the volunteers were helpful, and my crew was perfect.

The top 4- Mike, me, Jared, and Evan

After the race, Cody drove us all down the canyon. I would return with my girls that evening for the awards, where I would get the opportunity to talk with many other runners- Mike, Evan, Jared, Scott, Bryce, and many others. All very friendly, great guys. We cheered loudly for the last finishers, still moving after a grueling 36+ hours on the course. While the winner and top runners arrive in the dead of night to no fanfare or applause, the final runners receive it in droves. Somehow, this seems fitting. All conquered their demons, all went the distance.

I want to give special thanks to my crew and pacers, David, Cody, and Joe. Thanks, guys, I couldn't have done it without you. You were well organized and followed my directions... except when you knew better. Thanks to you, I only sat down 3 times and averaged less than 2 min per aid station. And thanks to all the FRB-ers for your friendship and encouragement. And to my family, especially for staying up late hitting "refresh" on the race results. And a very special thanks to my wife and kids for all their support and patience with me and my silly running-addiction. I love you, Marci.

Several people have asked me what I will do next. After 2 years of focusing on the 2010 Bear, I honestly do not know. I will rest and heal, dabble in a few East Coast races, spend time with my family, and then do whatever I feel like. I’m in no hurry.


Goal Time

Actual Time


Logan Peak

8:14 AM

8:15 AM


Leatham Hollow

9:36 AM

9:30 AM


Richards Hollow

10:06 AM

9:56 AM


Cowley Canyon

11:36 AM

11:30 AM

6 (lost 15 full minutes on guys ahead of me on this leg)

Right Hand Fork

12:48 AM

12:43 PM

6 (16 min behind Jared)

Temple Fork

2:24 PM

2:15 PM

6 (24 min)

Tony’s Grove

4:09 PM

4:02 PM

6 (36 min)

Franklin Basin

5:59 PM

5:50 PM

5 (27 min)

Logan River

7:44 PM

7:35 PM

5 (32 min)

Beaver Mountain Lodge

9:22 PM

9:12 PM

4 (31 min)

Gibson Basin

10:47 PM

10:36 PM

4 (30 min)

Beaver Creek

11:41 PM

11:27 PM

4 (29 min)

Ranger’s Dip

1:23 AM

1:20 AM

4 33 min (lost 11 min on goal time)


3:00 AM

2:49 AM

4 (12)