Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The 10th ALTAR went down on the shortest Saturday of the year.  I made it up to Camp Daniel Boone after picking up Charlie around 9pm the night before.  We caught up with old friends, chowed down, and clunked out early in anticipation of yet another snowy and icy Art Loeb.  The next morning we were out the door by 5:30am and decided to take the interstate rather than cross the parkway, fearing we might hit ice.  It was still dark, but we were off by 7am.  Snow and ice covered the trail from the very beginning.

(photos: Matt Kirk)

I started slow, recovering from a nasty cold and a 6 month slow down.  Since Tahoe Rim this summer, things have not been the same.  I felt that would change on this day.  I made my way up and down snow covered trails, but thankfully nothing as bad as last year.  My lowest point of the run was the climb up Pilot mountain, as is always the most difficult part every year. After crossing over the parkway and getting up in the balds I felt as if the worst was behind me.  The balds were surprisingly calm, and I drew energy from the sunshine that broke out for the first time all day.

I noticed Stan, Scott, and Liz behind me as I summited Tenant Mountain.  I pushed on ahead knowing that Scott had mentioned earlier he would be taking a shortcut to bypass the narrows.  I clearly could feel the effects of the lack of training and running over the past 6 months, but I was determined to finish the full trail again this year.  The narrowes section was tricky with all the ice, but I managed to push thru and make that sharp left for another 3 miles down hill as the sun was setting.  It was dark when I rolled into the cabin finishing in just under 11 hours.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Clingmans Dome to Davenport Gap - 40 miles on the AT

Clingmans Dome to Davenport Gap
40 miles on the Appalachian Trail 10:49
Great Smokey Mountains National Park

We stood on the summit of Clingmans Dome as the red glow of the morning began to illuminate a new day. I thought about the last time I stood here. It was in the middle of my SCAR run in the summer of 2009.

Dave, Paul, John and I set off for an adventure on the Appalachian Trail. We would run from the highest point in the Smokey Mountains to the Northeastern tip. I had dropped my car off at the Big Creek parking lot, 1.4 miles downhill from Davenport Gap, some 40+ miles away from where I was standing.

The first two miles were chilly, and required a headlamp as the sun took its time to fully come out. But when it did, and the low angle red rays filtered thru the spruce trees and reflected off my breath which I could see clearly at this cold hour of the morning. Here I stopped and pointed out this phenomena to John who was immediately behind me. It is moments like these that bring out the full joy of running in the mountains of Appalachia.

Running from Clingmans to Newfound Gap is mostly downhill, but there are a few climbs. Both John and I made it to Newfound Gap in less than 2 hours, and Paul was maybe 45 seconds behind us. We refilled water, made a few clothing adjustments as the sun was out and about just before 9am. I was headed to Davenport Gap a few miles longer than where everyone else was going, Cosby Campground, and so after a few minutes I told the fellas I would be on my way. I stuck to my plan, hike the hills, and run the flats and downhills. So I took off.

From this point forward I was in a daze. I spilled my mind onto the trail, and danced on the rocks as if I was a mountain goat. My left heel was talking to me, so I took some vitamin I to quiet it down. I talked for a long time before it became quiet. I hung a sharp left just before hitting the Icewater Spring, which is where I refilled my bottles, and kept moving forward at a healthy pace.

Next thing I know I see John right behind me, and we ran together for 2 miles or so when we both reached Pecks Corner. Here John decided to hike down to the shelter to retrieve water, and I went on my way to continue this journey solo. I again put myself in a daze and before I knew it I had passed Tricorners Knob, and was hiking past Mt. Gyuot. Here, I met a man and his son boiling hot water on the trail for some hot coco. "How cool is that!" I thought to myself silently. “Its all downhill from here” the man shouted out at me. I nodded, and kept moving, knowing full well I had a few more climbs before this was all said and done.

I still had 15 miles to go from here, and took full advantage of the downhills, moving at a healthy pace. I wasn’t flying, but moving consistently, which I felt I did the entire day. I zipped past Old Black, passed the Snake Den Trail (where Paul, David, and John planned to turn left to Cosby campground), kept up some speed as I pulled into Camel Gap, passed Cosby Knob, and ran downhill all the way to Low Gap. I then hiked up the hill they call Cammerer, bypassed the tower and turned right for the longest 5 miles of the day. They were all downhill too. I reached the gravel road in 10:49, 12 minutes slower than my 2008 run, and shuffled back to my car at the Big Creek parking lot. I was happy to put another Clingmans to Davenport adventure on the books, and share in what turned out to be the most beautiful fall day so far this year!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hinson Lake 24 hour

This year the Hinson Lake broke several records.  The largest number of runners attended making it the largest 24 hour run in US history.  Temperatures rose to the high 90’s, on some accounts up to 97 degrees.  That is hot as all get out in late September around here, and surly affected the performance of all runners.
I rose from my bed at 4am, and made it to registration an hour before the start and began to mentally prepare myself to run around Hinson Lake for 24 hours.  Ray K knew how to get everyone going, and said that “this is old school running at its best.  From the looks of the crowd, we have easily broken the US record of starters at any 24 hour ultra.”  Hinson Lake drew crowds from all over the east coast.  Runners as far north as Massachusetts and South as Florida joined in on the action.
Personally, I have had a packed summer with adventures on the trail and overseas that have taken a toll on the body.  I knew that coming into Hinson, and planned to take it easy and just enjoy my time.
We took off at 8am and I set into an easy pace from the start pushing about 3.5 laps an hour.  Each lap at Hinson Lake is 1.52 miles.  After the first lap, I had to pull over and change my socks as I was drenched in sweat.  I was averaging 7 laps every two hours and felt ok doing this.  I knew it would get hotter as the day progressed, so I figured I would put some money in the bank.  After my 7th lap, I changed my second pair of socks, and then a third pair.  It was hot, humid, and sticky.  But it was hot all summer.  Hot conditions don’t work very well for me when I push myself hard.  The extreme cold works really well, and I love to bust out some fast trail in the frigid cold.
After my 3rd pair of socks my shoes were also soaking wet and covered in a dust sand concoction.  I thought I would let them dry a bit in the sun and put on my flip flops and gave it a go with a lap on flip flops.  This gave Hazel from the UCRR club a laugh.  The first lap in flip flops was fun, the second lap, not so much, so I put the shoes back on with a fresh pair of socks.  I felt great, and dry again, and moved well.
When the afternoon rolled around and the heat began to crank, I could definitely observe the effect on my body.  I tried to anticipate this and intentionally slow my roll.  I also felt the cumulative effect on my big mountain runs this summer (Bighorn, Tahoe, Wasatch) and how my body was not fully recovered. 
I finished up my 33rd lap in 11:58 and threw in the towel.  Tom G. puts on a great event, and I would highly recommend this run to any beginner and experienced ultra distance runner.  The amazing people you meet along the way is what makes this loop fun to keep running around!

Monday, August 02, 2010

24 Hours of Booty - 205 miles

"Let your booty recover a little, and then go for another hundred" I kept telling myself.

I laid on my sleeping pad amongst a hundred tents all propped up in the middle of the Queens College athletic field and kept telling myself...let your booty recover. My watch read 3:30am. I was in pain, and in area's I usually don’t feel pain, my palms hurt, my neck was stiff, and my booty was not used to this. I faded into a sleep.
At 5:10am I squinted my left eye peeled open my right, and a hint of glow began to illuminate the new day. I knew I would draw energy off of this, as I always had when running thru the night, and hurried back onto my saddle to ride around the booty loop. I had already pounded out a 100 miles, and was on a mission to keep going.

The 24 Hours of Booty is in its 9th year, and has expanded to two other cities other than Charlotte this year; Columbia, MD and Atlanta, GA. The ride starts at 7pm on Friday and ends at 7pm on Saturday. This year, the 24 Hours of Booty collectively raised $1.07 million for cancer research. This makes the event that much more special, an adventure with a cause.

I started at 7pm with Joey Church and Katie Whidden on a brisk ride, trying not to ride out too fast so that we could keep the legs fresh. We rode 6 or so laps (approx 3 miles each) together. "Excuusi" Joey would randomly yell out, forcing me to laugh my booty off, and quoting phrases from movies. "Its nice."

Joey and Katie decide to stomp their bikes, and I pull back and enjoy the slightly cooler weather that we were having compared to the heat wave that has lingered this summer in June and July. I hydrated well, and took in electrolytes. I ate much.

Darkness fell upon me and I rode thru the night. Every so often I would pull into our base camp, and take a break and let the body recover. I later met DC hammering away on his “Cadillac” ride thru the night and he mentioned he was shooting for 300 miles! His strategy was to take a break every 15 miles or so, and let the body recover.

When I hit 100 miles I decided to take a nap. The next hundred miles would prove to be harder than the first. My legs were fine with it, cardiovascularly I was conditioned to push beyond 200, but the booty and the palms were not havin it. They screamed at me! I ignored them and rode as far as I could and then would take long pit stops at base camp to walk off the pain.
Mad A, is that you out there?  Whoa...

I ran into Katie again on the loop at mile 160, and we drafted off of each other. I had a few miles on her because I was stubborn enough to ride more thru the night and sleep less. She was moving faster and better than I, and found myself falling behind on the hills. I just kept telling myself that I would never come back out here again and ride this long, so I better give it the best shot now.

I took a break at 175, 181, 190, and picked up some speed when I hit the loop at mile 190. Its that feeling you get when you see the finish in sight. But no, after one lap I noticed my rear tire went flat.  I was used to this by now with the whole Blood, Sweat, and Gears ride. I had my friends at Bicycle Sport help me with the flat, as I had very little dexterity in my hands, and off I went to finish this ride off. I got into a grove, and moved as fast as I could. Finally, I found myself riding in a line of Mojo’s, some of which dropped me while riding at night, I just couldn't hang! I drafted, and we were going 20+ mph. My thighs pulsated, just like my heart was, as I pushed thru the 200 mile mark. I rode an extra lap for John and Leah, who although were not here, were on the Mojo team. 205 miles in total, I finished this up around 5:30pm, and called it a day.

I rode on a team, Charlotte Runners Bike 2. I would like to recognize the members of the team who have accomplished more than what bargained for, and hope that they too learned something on the personal journey of circular asphalt -- the 24 Hours of Booty.  A special thanks to Bevin for helping get this team up and running!

Charlotte Runners Bike 2 TEAM:

Katie Whidden 200 miles
Bevin Jett 150 miles
Arturo Cardenas 127 miles
Tim Oates 100 miles
Joey Church 100 miles
Kevin Hicks 100 miles
April Wells 100 miles
Alex Ely 100 miles?
Chloe Bomberger ? 
Tara Davis ?
Charmaine Klein ? 
Jennifer Kletter 30 miles
Edgar Rendon ?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

24 hours of booty - Riding with Lance Armstrong

This weekend, I have the honor of riding with my man Lance Armstrong at the charity fundraising ride, the 24 hours of booty. My booty will be in the saddle for the majority of the 24 hours, or at least that is my goal. How many miles can I bust out on the wheels in one day? Who knows. Who cares? Support this cause to figh back against cancer and be part of this adventure, and hang on for the ride! Cancer has touched each of our lives, or of someone we know.   Donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation by clicking here. Already made a donation? Come out and support the riders from Friday 7pm to Saturday 7pm on what should be a party all night Friday and all day Saturday!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tahoe Rim 100m

Tahoe Rim Trail 100.4 miles - 32:57 PR

It starts casually.

My Thursday flight to Reno touches down in the arid lands of Nevada. I find myself in a desert again. I have just returned from Morocco, where I spent a few days in the Sahara Desert, hoping that helps with this run. Mom and Dad join in on this adventure and we make Carson City our home for the night. The next day I check in, drop one bag at Tunnel Creek, and walk around town as my lips and nostrils begin to dry up, and I feel like I am turning into a lizard again. We eat at the Bigwater Grille at Incline Village and try to get as much rest as possible before the 3:45am wake up call.

Dad got up early and dropped me off at Spooner Lake, the start of the Tahoe Rim 100. I had another drop bag which I would leave at the start/50mile/finish area. 5am and we take off. I feel sluggish, sleepy, and not very well rested from the very first mile. It doesn’t get any better until the second aid station, Tunnel Creek. I dropped five pounds. I eat a little and drink a lot. The arid heat will slow you down and knock you out if you don’t manage your hydration and salts properly. I slowed my roll and descend to the Red House, and inferno hotter than 40 hells. I met Gretchen here briefly, and I unsuccessfully tried to start conversation here. I slowed my roll even more.

The Tahoe Rim 100 is one and half figure eights, lets see if I can explain this. It looks like a three leaf clover, the middle leaf is the Red House loop, which is also the lowest elevation of the run, hence the heat. I return to Tunnel Creek, and am weighed again. The doctor’s advise me to keep drinking, which I was doing as much of as possible. I swap out a bottle for a three liter bladder pack, which I stashed in my drop bag, this saved my run. Over the next 12 miles I drink more than 4 liters of water, and manage both my hydration and electrolytes well. This is not easy to do, and is better practiced in advance. I pass the Bull Wheel aid station (mile 20.3) and keep truckin along to Diamond Peak. The last 4 miles before Diamond Peak are some gnarly downhill mountain biking trails. I picked up some speed here, and made it to the lodge by 11:21am.

Not hanging around for too long, I down some calories and take in fluids. I still had not taken a single leak, and this concerned me a little. Temperatures broke 90 degrees high up on Diamond Peak Lodge, and I continued to bake in the alpine sun as I ascended the ridiculous new addition to the race, Crystal Ridge, a sandy ski slop fully exposed with no switchbacks. This couldn’t be happening. No way they would add this new section to the already challenging course. This section added 2,000 feet of gain for each loop, giving the entire 100 mile distance an even 24,000 feet of climbing. I duck walked and side stepped this two mile section in 1:15 and looked back at the most stunning view of Lake Tahoe when I reached the top. The view eased my pain, and gave me strength to push forward as many cussed at the climb. My body had taken a beating by the sun, the exposure made it exponentially harder for me and my stomach began to twist inside, I was zapped. I tried to eat.

Once you reach the top of the ski slop your back at the Bull Wheel aid station (mile 32.3). I grabbed a few pretzels and bumed a few vitamin I’s from Joy who I met on the climb up who was running with Olga at the time. I practiced my Russian with Olga. After Bull Wheel, Joy and I ran together to Tunnel Creek. I had a grilled cheese sandwich here, which was heavily, and the stomach gave me the green light to continue eating. My ears perked up when I heard the word burrito, I have a soft spot for burritos. These guys were fully stocked, and even had cilantro to garnish with, whoa! 5 star service here. The volunteers rocked and made sure every runner had all they needed and some. Thanks guys!

I moved onward slowly, trying to allow my body to digest all the calories all while I was uploading as much fluid as I possibly could. I knew from here to the Hobart aid station would be 5 miles, and I made small talk to Joy. We kept each other motivated and ran the trails together for 20 or so miles, while soaking up amazing views of Marlette Lake. I dreamed to swimming in the lake, and lied to my mind that I would. It was pristine blue, and stunningly beautiful when you contrasted it with Lake Tahoe and the snow capped mountains in the background. Joy was a joker, and managed to make me crack a smile here and there. I observed positive energy, which is something I tent to gravitate towards in life.

Once at Hobart, I had one of their famous Ensure shakes. Basically they take vanilla Ensure and blend it with some fruits and ice to make a milkshake smoothie type of cold drink. I couldn’t resist, but my stomach wasn’t on the same page as my pallet. I downed a few of those and threw back some watermelon, and moved on. From Hobart to Snow Valley Peak is 2.8 miles
of mostly climbing. The last .8 miles can be very windy, and offers full range views of Lake Tahoe and Marlette again. You roast in the fully exposed sun, but enjoy some of the best views on the coarse and the wind is refreshing during the day. Joy takes off here as she anticipates her husband waiting for her at the half way, after which he will pace her for the second loop.

Fortune shines upon me as the rest of the first loop from here was downhill. I finished the first 50 miles in just over 13 hours, and still had not peed once. I was getting worried and wanted to make sure my plumbing system was working properly, so I drank even more. I was also very surprised to see so much sand on the course, 90% by my estimation. This run could be called the Tahoe de Sable! You really do feel like your running in an alpine desert. I strongly recommend trail gaiters on this one. I cleaned out any rocks, sand, and pebbles out of my shoes, refueled, and took off alone for my second loop.

I run alone in the sun, and run back to Hobart. There around mile 55 was the first time my plumbing system began to work. I was thrilled. What was odd was that every sip I took out of my bladder, almost instantly I would pee crystal clear out the exact amount I took in. My system worked like a machine, I would sip in and ounce or so, and pee out the exact same amount perfectly clear. This went on all night. As if the body had retained the maximum amount of water it would tolerate. I have experienced this
before, but not to this extreme, and certainly not like clockwork. Sip in, 5 seconds later, pee out, the exact same amount. I reached the state of hyper-hydration, beyond super-hydration...whoa! I pushed on thru the night, and ran back to Tunnel Creek, and took off to the Red House. I thought I could take advantage of the cooler weather and pick up my pace. My body had been spanked pretty good by the sun, and I couldn’t run at a comfortably faster pace without having my heart rate jump up. I wanted to allow my cardiovascular system to recover, so I kept moving slowly. I ran with various runners, who all seemed to have pacers, until I couldn’t keep up, and they would pass me.

Linda McFadden shows up at the Red House with her pacer, Catra Corbett. Linda and I ran together for miles at my very first 100 miler, the Coyote 2 Moons. Who would have thought we would reconnect once again at mile 65 at the Tahoe Rim 100 in the middle of the night? We exchanged few words, and they were in much better shape than the beat up, hyper hydrated, sleepy Sultan. I kept moving in the night, and struggled to stay awake. I reloop back at the Tunnel Creek aid station at 1:16am. I’m a zombie at this point, and can hardly keep my eyes open, so I down a café, and then another! I try to not spend too much time here, as I know the body is vulnerable, and I didn’t want to get too comfortable. I take off alone again towards Diamond peak, which is 13 miles away.

Its only a half marathon away right? It takes me 4:40 to cross this section, which I would consider my lowest low of the entire journey. I tried to keep up with any runner and pacers, just to chat and stay awake. One offered me caffeine gu’s which I took, but inevitably I wasn’t able to keep up, so I pushed on again alone in the darkness high above in the Sierra Mountains in the Nevadan lands of Lake Tahoe. It was a relief when I reached the left hand turn which indicated the downhill section. I tried to run, but only managed a fast shuffle at this point. My condition wasn’t ideal, but I wanted to finish this beast. My will overcame my pain, and I decided.

That’s what hundreds are all about. You have to want it bad enough. It will always be painful to run this far, and it may get to a point where you are beyond your threshold of pain tolerance, but if you want it bad enough, if you have the will, if you dig deep down when there is nothing left, you will finish. You must decide. Even trick your mind. The ability of the human body will surpass expectations.

I stumbled into the Diamond Peak aid station at 5:54am. The new day began its glow, but the sun was hiding under the mountain range of Lake Tahoe. I was greeted by a volunteer who surprisingly responded back to my Bonjor with fluent French. I often speak to random people in Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Arabic, French, or classical Southern to keep things interesting. Where else can I practice? They usually get a kick out of it, and it keeps me going. Well, needless to say, I couldn't keep up with the perfect French, Je ne parle pa Francais tre bien! Ya know what I mean?

I downed a liter of fluids, had a volunteer podiatrist help me tape my feet, re-loaded on the calories with egg burritos, and I was off. Awesome aid station!! I knew I would not break 30 hours at this point, but wanted to finish bad enough that I would fight the next 20 miles in the blistering sun for a second day. I wanted to get this 2,000 foot climb over with before the sun peaked over the mountains. This time it took me 1:05, a little faster than the first time which I don’t attribute to stronger legs (they now have 50 more miles on them) but to the lack of sun beat down. The sun was fully out when I reached Bull Wheel. I kept a speed hiking pace and shuffled when I could. I was with David Wronski and his girlfriend pacer Dawn. This dude was running the entire distance in 5 fingers. I was jealous in more ways than one. He managed a strong pace, and I was often finding myself trailing. I wanted to keep up with these 20 year olds as much as I could to the finish, it was David’s first 100.

We both crank it out to Hobart together and really wished we had a camera up higher above where the views were again spectacular. The sun did not let up, and baked me again. I lathered up in the sunscreen on day 2 to keep the basil cell carcinoma away. Your dermatologist would bitch you out if they knew you ran the Tahoe Rim. The sun was ridiculously scorching hot. I kept telling myself on the climb up from Hobart to Snow Valley Peak that this was the last climb. The body wanted to shut down, but the mind was driving here. Who's in control yo?

Surprisingly Joy pops out of no where with her husband and brother all jolly, laughing and moving along at a fast pace. High fives and passes me, and let me know she has come back from the dead. She spent 3 hours at Diamond Peak, and was determined to get her buckle! She was in high spirits, and I knew I wasn't about to try and keep her pace. She rocked it out, and finished strong. Awesome work Joy!!

David and Dawn were off in the horizon, and now I get passed by John Machray and pacer. This dude looks soo familiar. I have little energy to make small talk and I knew I was getting closer to a finish, and I wanted to be put out of my misery. David reaches Snow Valley 6 minutes before me, and John reaches Snow Valley 4 minutes before me. I get into the aid station, have a raspberry sorbet, and grab a handful of pretzels and knew it was downhill from here. I didn’t stay long, and took off running. Finally my stride was being put to use. I took off and passed a few including David and John, and told them I would see them at the finish.
After what seemed an eternity, I reached the very last aid station, Spooner Summit. I was home free at this point. John catches me here and passes. I didn’t care, I wanted a finish, but I kept moving. With just over a mile to go, I kept my shuffle and eyed my watch. Could I break 33 hours? Sure, if I just kept this up for a mile.

Dad runs the last half mile with me, we leapfrog John letting him know we were on mission to break 33 and I cross the line at 32:57. I was beat, toasted, roasted, fried, baked, rocked, trashed, whipped out, zapped and totally spanked. Holy crap that was hard. I didn’t run a fast 100 but managed to cross the finish line of yet another journey into the 100 mile distance. What an amazing experience.

To date, this is my fastest 100. I enjoy big mountain 100's and have never finished a flatter, or dare I say, asphalt 100. Coyote 2 Moons was my first, Hardrock second, and TRT finishes off the trifecta!

John finishes 1 minute after 33 hours, David crosses the line at 33:19, Joy runs a 32:19, Olga DNF'ed, and Linda McFadden runs a 32:11. A huge thanks to all the volunteers that make this event possible, especially Tunnel Creek. You guys rock!

various photos by: Catra Corbett, bou, Dr. I, & Gerorge Ruiz.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Canary Islands - Mt. Teide 12,198ft

Summer adventures have taken me across the pond. I spent the last few days of June landing in the city of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria. US Airways flys here, so this was my destination by plane. I then took a ferry to the island of Tenerife. Here I would rent a car and spend the night, resting and planning my adventure to the top of Pico de Teide (12,198 feet), a volcano, and the tallest peak of all seven of the Canary Islands, and taller than Mulhacen Peak (11,414 feet) in the Siera Nevada on the Spanish Peninsula.

I visit the mystical lands of Morocco year after year on a pilgrimage that sends back in time to ancient lands where Sultan's ruled. I could fly into Casablanca, but then again, I’ve done that many times over. So I find interesting routes to get to the lands of the ancient Berbers and Arabs of the far West. This time, the Canary Islands, some 180 miles off the coast of Africa, deep into the Sahara Desert was my approach. No visit to new lands can go without foot exploration and climbing to the tipy tops.

I started my day casually in Santa Cruz, and enjoyed a scenic drive on this magical island they call Tenerife. I made my way to San Cristobal de la Laguna, which is where I pit stopped at a supermarcado and stocked up on some hydration and calories and practiced my Espanol. I bought locally grown fruit, french bread, cheese, water, and a can of tuna.

I took off on the main highway and hung a left of TF21. Tenerife, like Gran Canaria, is very densely populated, about twice is populated as Hawaii. Many of the residents live on the coast, and very few live on the jagged mountains. This explains the miles and miles of high-rises in the major cities of Tenerife, and the 5 lane highway that climbs up to the ridge of the mountains and back to the other side of the coast. The summer time brings out many lobster pink European tourists which only add to the over population. This made me retreat faster to the hills.

The Island itself is less than 2,000 square kilometers, but has several different micro-climates that are evident. The North sees many clouds and keeps the island very gree, and the South is opposite, giving off a desert like arid climate. The West is very mountains, and is home to some Jurassic Parkish like views. Absolutly stunning. More on that below…

I reached the town of La Orotava and began driving up the steep windy roads until Teide was in clear view. The fresh mountain island air brought strength to me. The green quickly turned into black volcanic rock as I was climbing higher and higher. This terrain is harsh, dry, and arid. I parked my car at the trailhead, which is about 2km away from the gondola to the East. Yes, there is a gondola that will take you close to the summit, which is frankly ridiculous.

The Tenerifians have noticed that many want to reach the summit of this massive volcano, and now require you to file for a permit before attempting to climb. This reduces traffic to this delicate landscape, and it is a good idea to plan ahead if you dare to travel to the land of the exotic. My plan was to also stay at the Refugio Altavista, and I had reserved a spot here. Not know what to expect, I figured a place to spend the night high up on the mountain would be called for.

The first 3 miles up this hill was on a dusty double track jeep road that switched back and forth and had a light brown sandy color. I ran and hiked up this section, until I reached the single track volcanic rock, which is where I took my time speed hiking uphill. I passed many, and greeted all with an “hola, Buen-Dia!”

I reached the Refugio faster than I thought, and climbed a bit higher and took a lunch break. The views of the Atlantic Ocean on both sides of this mountain, with La Orotava and the entire North coast of Tenerife from 11,000 feet was absolutely fantastico. I was making good time, so I headed for the summit.

The entire time I was on trail #7, and when I reached high above, near where the gondola would terminate I hung a left onto trail #11 which took me to a gate that was unlocked, and then turned right onto trail #10 which climbed up steeply. Sulfuric steam oozed out of this active volcano which last erupted in 1909, not very long ago. From here there was about 750 feet of climbing to the top. I reached the summit at 6:10pm and spent 15 minutes or so soaking up the views, which again were plentiful on both sides of the Atlantic. I stood on top of Spain, and paid respects to the summit with a loud coyote howl. I did not suffer any altitude issues despite being at sea level for several nights before.

I then ran back down all the way to the car in less than two hours, passing the Refugio and letting them know I would be taking a pass. I was in the car by 8pm, and drove West thru the road that takes you to black volcanic rock all the way to the town of Los Giganties, and as the sun set, I saw the Giants.

Los Giganties, the Giants, are massive Cliffs that rise over 2,500 feet straight out of the Atlantic Ocean. This view is mesmerizing, and as such, a resort town has flourished. German and English speaking pink people swarmed the beaches. So after breakfast I fled to the town of Masca. After passing thru the town of Santiago del Teide I turned left on what appeared to be a one way road up a steep mountain that switchbacked several times. This road was very narrow, and any mistake would take you down a steep cliff and your life would end. The views were again, Jurassic Parkish.

A tour bus raced down this road right at me! My life was going to end, as there was no way the bus would pass. Had I made a wrong turn on a one way road? I slammed my brakes, and reversed to car to a wider patch of asphalt and the bus roared down the mountain. I proceeded with caution, and realized that the road was very narrow, but was intended for two way traffic. I reached the ridge, and enjoyed a café con leche at the top, just looking around in all directions seeing ocean, and steep mountains and cliffs. The village of Masca is home to 150 inhabitants, which is in the Teno Mountains, ranging in heights of 600-800 meters, and extend up to the northwesternmost point of Tenerife. The village in the 1960s was accessed only by paths and was inaccessible by roads. The centre of the village features a small square and a small church.

I planned to hike down the Barranco de Masca (Masca Gorge), and hike back up to the car, a total of 9 miles round trip. It was hot, and dry. Every step my feet took, I could hear lizards dash away, they were everywhere. I took my time running down here, making sure I would be able to find my way back. I passed two Spaniards that were lost. They were clearly unprepared to go down this gorge, one in flip flops, both with no food or water. They asked for directions and water. I gave them an apple to share, and 8 ounces of water, and kept pushing thru the gorge. The streams and bamboo shoots were a change of scenery. I paid attention to my time, ensuring to budget enough of it for my return. The gorge winded around many times over and I saw massive cliffs with layered rocks resembling many sections of the Grand Canyon. I finally reached the Atlantic ocean. I walked over to a small pier and met two local Tenerifians and two German chicas. I asked them if they would take a photo of my jumping in the Atlantic, I needed to cool off.

After drying off, I asked them if they were too going to return up the Barranco de Masca. They thought this idea was crazy, surly they didn’t think they had enough time. They were waiting for a boat to pick them up, and take them to the resort town of the Giants, and offered me a ride. We saw many dolphins along the way. We all had dinner, and then I hitched a ride to Masca, and drove all the way back to Santa Cruz, and catched the ferry to Las Palmas the next morning.

I spent the entire day of July the 4th touring the Island of Gran Canaria and was able to see much of the mountains, and very little of the coast. I sipped on some cafe con leche in the small mountain village of Tejeda, and saw views of Teide on Tenerife in the distance. A smaller island compared to Tenerife, but just as densely populated. Tourist flock to the south...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Blood, Lots of Sweat, Gears & Flats

write up by some dude

100 mile century ride
Vale Crucis, NC

I completed the Blood, Sweat, & Gears 100 mile century ride in 8:25:52. My legs certainly were not fresh having busted out a few miles in Wyoming the weekend before. What really threw me off was 2 flats, one at mile 31, and the other at mile 76.

My second flat almost had me with my hands up and throwing in the towel. I didn't have a second tube, so I took a nap under the shade for 20 minutes until someone offered the tube. The nap felt great!

Making the cut off to mile 82 by literally 3 minutes, I pushed on all the way to the finish. BSG has some nasty elevation gain, and many
hair pin turns on the descents, causing many to crash, or go off road into the trees. Climbing up Snake Mtn forced many to walk the bike, which I did for 5 minutes or so. This was a great ride, and certainly worth checking off the list.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bighorn 100

DNF 76.5m Cow Camp
I met up with Vishal at the Trail Ends Hotel in Sheridan on Thursday. We rolled to the race sign in, completed our medical check, downed some pizza & pasta at Ole’s and tried to get as much shut eye as possible. The next day we were out of the hotel by 8:20am, in Dayton, WY by 9:00am for the race briefing, hitched a ride to the start with Ryan Ravinsky and friends. The logistics of this run can be slightly confusing. It’s a bit like a lopsided out & back, with the return being slightly longer.
Rewind 3 weeks ago for a second. I got sick with a nasty cough, and after 4 days of trying to wait it out I started to treat it with medicine. This hindered some of my training, and the only really long run was the RAM the week before Bighorn. I was still felt weak on the RAM, and put in just over 8 hours on what really is a beast of a trail run. I knew this would be bad news for Bighorn, but heck, I was committed to this run and couldn’t back out. So I flew into the smallest airport I have ever been to, Sheridan, WY.
After the national anthem and a prayer we took off at 11am. The first mile or so is on gravel and flat, so this is where you want to get a little ahead of pack if you don’t want to get into traffic jam heading up to Fence Spring. After a few miles I got into the groove and rhythm of running a comfortable pace. Looking behind me, I noticed Emily Judd, from Bozeman, MT on my tail. “Caccoo, caccoo” she called out…it was the call of a Sparrow her trail name. We chatted it up & checked in and out of the Dry Fork aid station in just under 3 hours. We boogied downhill for 6 miles on a double track dirt road and checked in and out of Cow Camp. Just after leaving Cow Camp I passed Vishal. Vishal is a fast cat, and has thrown down some previous 100’s. He was having some stomach issues. Emily kindly pulled over and offered him some ginger, which he downed. Both of us hoped that he would bounce back fast and zip right by us. I ran the flats and downhill’s, and hiked up the hills and felt great.
We ran for miles and crossed Stock Tank, Bear Camp, and ran a steep downhill into the Footbridge aid station at mile 30. I spent 10 minutes here hydrating and eating food. I grabed some warm cloths and lights and took off. By this time I had been privy to Sparrow’s life story, and the fact that a law school friend of hers was in the lead, Mike Wolfe. Just after checking in and out of the Narrows aid station I see a runner running towards me. “Nice job man” I yell out. Sure enough it was Mike, who later won the race and broke Karl Meltzers previous record!
My pace began to slow a bit after crossing Sprig Marsh, and Elk Camp on the way out as the mud became a nuisance. At first I tried to navigate around it, which was impossible, and inevitably I got mud everywhere. The mud in this part of Wyoming felt mostly like clay. It was heavy and viscous, making for some tricky navigation. This went on for miles as the day began to fade and the night crept in. Sparrow was now out of sight and when I crossed Devil’s Cyn Rd it was pitch black outside and I had all my cloths on with all lights helping me navigate thru all the mud and snow. We were at 9,000 feet or so and temps began to drop to freezing.
I was the 26th runner to reach the Porcupine Aid station (Mile 48) in 12:02:44. I felt a bit tired, but relatively strong all things considered. The volunteers at this aid station were first class, and strived to get the runners anything they needed. The aid station is indoors and was very warm and comfortable. Several runners were in there for what appeared to be a long time. I asked a volunteer to warm me when 5 minutes were up. I ate 1.5 grilled cheese sandwiches and rehydrated as much as I could and left promptly in 5 minutes.
I hiked back up to Devil’s Cyn Road in the snow and followed the blaze of glow sticks. I saw Ronda Sundermeir running down to Porcupine. We seem to cross paths around mile 40+, just as we did at Hardrock. I caught Iodine from Idaho and we ran together for a while. A big toe on my right foot ended up banging a rock while running somewhat fast downhill which ripped off the toe nail while it was alive. Dead toe nails fall off, or rip off easily, but when they are alive it is a different story. This had a profound affect on my ability to run downhill. It was a shooting pain, and slowed my roll big time. When I reached Elk Camp on the inbound I thought about dropping, but hobbled in and out of there in a hurry to stay warm. I was now hiking downhill and began to get passed by several runners. I tried to keep a respectable pace, but both the pain despite vitamin I and the condition of my body wouldn’t allow me to go any faster. Things didn’t get any better when I rolled into Spring Marsh and I thought about dropping here. This was 56 miles into this adventure. How can I give up that easily I asked myself? No, I kept moving onward in a slow hike walk downhill. My body had taken a good beating. Can I keep up trucking along I asked myself.
I reached the Narrows aid station at exactly 4am, exactly 17 hours on my feet into the run, and it was mile 62.5. I knew I wasn’t going to drop here, but I sat down next to the warm campfire and drank as much as I could and ate a little. I thought this would make a little difference. I kept telling myself I could get out of this low, and would get back into a high, when the sun came up. That’s when I had the idea of sleeping for a bit here and waiting for the sun. I rested for 45 minutes at the Narrows and drank some coffee. I scooted at 4:45am when the glow of the morning sun began to emerge.
I was moving downhill, but at a slow pace. I told myself I would drop at the Footbridge aid station, at mile 66. When I got there, I noticed a few runners that were changing shoes and cleaning up. The volunteers were uplifting. I ate 10 pancakes, and had freshly squeezed apple and carrot juice (what service)! Here I dropped some shoes, inov8 212’s. What a bad idea. These shoes are a bit narrow, and are great for blazing a fast 50k, but not such a good idea at a 66 mile drop. Anyhoo, I had to change shoes as the casscadia’s I had one where so covered in mud, both inside and outside of the shoe that it weighed me down and extra 4 lbs, 2 in each shoe. The mud in WY is heavy clay! To my surprise Vishal rolled into Footbridge. I cleaned up a bit, and after an hour or so at this aid station I took off with Steve and Beat, two cool cats from the San Fran area that have thrown down several mountain hundreds. Vishal caught up. We hiked uphill for 3.5 miles and I was able to keep up with them, but my body was screaming at me. I pulled over to download for a moment. Then I reached Bear Camp, re-fueld, rehydrated and took off, and kept fighting the urge to drop.
I tried to run a little fast down the hills, but that made things worse, and slowed my roll to a painful shuffle and passed thru Stock Tank and finally stumbled into Cow Camp. I sat in a chair and squinted into the horizen as the sun was fully out and blasted the Wyoming landscape. We were just under 7,000 feet here and I sat down for 10 minutes hydrating and eating a little. My foot was throbbing, the shoes were too tight, the body was not recovering, and I didn’t see this low spot going away anytime soon. It was six miles to the Dry Fork aid station, where I had another pair of shoes that would have been more comfortable, but the thought of walking and stumbling another 6 miles uphill in the fully exposed sun seemed too daunting at the time. I had 23.5 miles left to go. On a good day, when your feeling great and with fresh legs 23.5 miles is a long distance to cover. I could walk it in at this point I told myself, but I ended up talking myself out of continuing onward. I dropped at Cow Camp, mile 76.5 after 23 hours on the feet.
Renee gave me a ride in a 4 wheeler to Dry Fork, which is where I hitched a ride with Marianne Fitzgerald from Colorado back to the finish. I ate some food, and took a nap. Later the next day we had pancakes at the breakfast and listed to the awards ceremony. I had the opportunity to take a car out to Burgess Junction just West of Dayton, WY. I explored the lands that once were roamed by Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

4th Roan Adventure Marathon - RAM

This years Roan Adventure Marathon brought out friends from three states. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. It was the best weather I have seen thus far. No long horn appeared. We camped out on top of Round Bald the night before, which made for an amazing sunrise glow that you usually only see out West on big mountains, and set the tone for a special run a week before the Bighorn 100.

Sultan, David Petroski, Paul Geist, Jinnie Austin, Stan Austin, David Pryor, Psyche Wimberly, Barbara Babb, Sara Sibley, Kristin W, Bruce Babb, Jeremy Hargroves, Adam Hill, and Michael Jackson

14 runners attempted and completed the RAM.

Finishing Order:

Adam Hill
Jeremy Hargroves
Mike Jackson
Kristen W (half)
Jinnie Austin
Stan Austin
Sara D. Sibley
David Pryor

Psyche Wimberly
Paul Geist

David Petroski
Barbara Babb
Bruce Babb

Gail Leedy put on an aid station this year at 19E. Without her help, many of us would have suffered more. Thank you Gail!

The RAM has over 28 miles of the most beautiful section on the Appalachian Trail. We run it in early June to see the rhododendron bloom. This year Adam Hill broke the record and ran the entire RAM in just over 5 hours, which is frankly redonkulously fast.

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story….