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!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bel Monte Endurance Run – 50 Mile

results photos

50.9 miles - 9:49:07 - Sherando Lake Recreation Area, VA

Photos: By Steve Pero

Mason and I rolled up to Waynesboro, VA and I had a chance to pick his brain for the 5 hour drive up. I was excited to be up in the mountains and go for a run. Last week I was sick in bed sweating bullets.

When we arrived we met up with the Rock and went out to dinner with a few new friends: Michelle Roy, Deb and Steve Pero (Hardrocker!), and Bogie. I scarfed up some chicken and shrimp spaghetti.

The next morning we woke up at 4:30am and made our way to the start to send off our drop bags. I was planning on carrying everything on my own without a drop bag, but knew it would get warmer as the day progressed, and would want to drop my gloves, and Houdini. It was 24 degrees at the start, and I was cold for the first two hours of the run with all my cloths on. My two water bottle nipples froze, but not enough to malfunction (Mitchell Challenge).

It warmed up, and the views up on the mountains were inspirational. I had been lazy on this run, and did not study the map, or profile enough, but did know it was going to be an ass-kicking 11,000 feet of ga

in. The 50 mile course is an out and back, loop, with a spur at the front end.

I cruised by the first aid station, Camp Marty at mile 7.3, with only filling up my bottles and taking off. Many of the runners I was running with turned off on another trail here, they were running the 50k, and I pushed forward onto the 50 mile course. I would revisit Camp Marty again at mile 27, and 43.

The next 6 miles was in total cruise control downhill and I felt the urge to bust out some speed, but knew I needed to hold back as it was still early in

the run. In no time, I was at the Kennedy Ridge aid station, mile 13.1. Here I put down some pretzels, M&M’s and hydrated. I noticed a runner that I was running with, took off, and so I wanted to keep up, but couldn’t catch him on this gravel road section (4+ miles). Later I learned this person was Robert Nolan from Charlotte. He disappeared in the distance, and I kept a comfortable pace as I still knew it was early in the day.

I pulled into the Turkey Pen aid station at mile 17.4, refueled, and took off towards Torrey Mt. Furnace. On my hike up a hill I saw the top 5 runners cruise by, all within 30 seconds apart from each other equidistantly.

Jason Bryant was in the lead. Mason was in 5th, and took a small slip here, but got up and continued to run an awesome run. I ran the 2+ miles to the unmanned aid station and punched a hole in my bib to prove I had been there, and ran back to Turkey Pen, it was now mile 22.2. Here I saw Bedford, who was not feeling it and decided to drop down to the 50k run. We all have a bad run every now and then.

I was feeling good, and kept drawing positive energy from the amazing runners that were out there. I was now on my way back to Camp Marty, up the back side of a steep mountain. There were some steep switchback which forced me to speed hike. I saw Mason again, now up in 4th place. I feasted at Camp Marty (mile 27.2). I took off downhill and dropped the hammer back to Turkey Pen (mile 32.2) flying at the fastest pace of the day for me. I was wearing my Muzino racing flats which felt great coming down this trail, and helped me pick up some speed. I made sure to call out to runners coming my way so they knew I was coming, the trail was very narrow. From Turkey Pen and ran/walked back to Kennedy Ridge (mile 37.1) on that gravel road section. I remember eating half a turkey sandwich here, and feeling trashed. I did not have the energy to run uphill for the next 6 miles, so I was speed hiking.

Half way up the hill Robert snuck up on me while I was jamming to some tunes. We hiked up the hill together, and found out we were both from Charlotte. Robert has put down a few Ironmans but this was his first ultra run. We finally made it to Camp Marty (mile 42.9). I downed a soup which was nice and salty, refueled and took off with Robert. We helped each other get up that hill, and kept pushing up hill until we reached a dead end at a camp site. I knew we had missed a turn, and backtracked to notice where we made our small mistake. We may have lost 2 or 3 minutes only, but quickly got back on course for some downhill action.

Coming down my feet were a little upset with me that I had racing flats on. They screamed at me! I could definitely feel the feet getting punished, and it slowed me down a little but was happy to have had the flats on most of the run. I ran downhill at a comfortable pace with Robert keeping up. I was impressed with Roberts ability to run on very rocky, technical trail, and this was his first ultra. Awesome work man!

Then one of those songs came on, and the sun filtered thru the trees at the right angle, and the stage was set for some fast downhill action. Euphoria, I cant describe it any other way. I blasted it to the finish. 9:49:07 was my finish time. They told me I was in 9th place. I immediately injected a pound of lasagna into my system and sat down by the fireplace to get warm. Amazing adventure in the hill of the Shenandoah.

My finish time at this 50.9 mile event was less than 5 minutes slower than my 50 mile PR at Umstead in 2007. Bel Monte had 11,000 feet of gain vs. very little gain at Umstead, relatively speaking. Mason came in 4th place, Steve Pero was first man above 50, and Jason Bryant took home the $500 and set a new course record. Awesome work to all the runners, and a huge thanks to all the volunteers and organizers whom without none of this would be possible!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crowders 50k Weekend

I downed a large bowl of oatmeal and took off for the Linwood access of Crowder’s Mountain State Park. I got to the parking lot just before 8am and was ready to rock and roll. We hung around for a while and got a good review from RD Aaron Ligon of what to expect. Aaron and DC dropped aid at both the main ranger station and the Boulder access ranger station with water, Gatorade, chips, and M&M’s. Guys, thanks for doing that, we owe you!

We took off at 8:45 am and immediately started running uphill all the way to the Rocky Top trail. From there we hung a left, a few of the front runners kept going to the summit of Crowder’s, but the rest of us made a left here. Me and Greg cruised on down all the way to the Main Ranger Station and waited to make sure the front runners made it down the correct way, they did! Then we were off to the summit of Pinnacle. Most of this section is a steep uphill. I climbed to the top of the summit, alone, and yelt out a coyote howl. When I climbed down the summit I suggested to Brian and Richard to yell out a howl. I drew energy from this.

I retraced my steps down to the Ridgeline Trail and hung a right. I would be on this trail the rest of this out and back run. The Ridgeline Trail is blazed in red, and although it makes a few turns, and has a few road crossings, it’s fairly easy to follow as it is well marked. A few miles into this section I saw a CHOA hiking group and high-fived Mr. T. I ran solo all the way to the Boulder Ranger Station and immediately refilled my bottles and downed a bag of chips. I looked at my watch when I left the aid station and it read 2:00 hours exactly. I couldn’t help but notice that no one had touched the water or food prior to me. I wondered if the two runners ahead of me had stopped here for aid? They may have gotten water out of the water fountain, or just skipped the aid all together.

I retraced my steps back to the Ridgeline Trail (a ¼ of a mile) and hung a left. I then ran another 3 miles or so to the large sign which directed you to Kings Mountain State Park. A mile before reaching this sign I saw the two front runners who looked fresh and were moving just as fast as they were at the start. I tagged the sign and turned around, my watch read 2:34. Brian and Richard were not far behind me and I knew if I slowed my roll they would catch up quickly.

My body began to feel it when I passed the Boulder Ranger Station for the second time, I kept trucking along. Earlier I remember it being much warmer than the last few days, and I was sweating bullets. I downed a GU, and didn’t think anything of it. After another few miles I started run-walking and knew that it would be a bad day at the office. I made a novice mistake, maybe I was too cocky at the start, but I didn’t carry very much food with me, and my body hit a wall. The warmer weather definitely had something to do with it as well. I was making forward progress, but slowed down significantly. Brian passed and was looking strong. 20 minutes later Richard caught up to me and offered two gummy bears. Richard thanks for the calories. They gave me that little boost which was needed. I finally climbed back up to Pinnacle and pushed my pace hard downhill. At this point the trail was congested with many Saturday hikers. I was bobbing and weaving, calling out “on your left” as I ran fast downhill negotiating rocks and roots all the way to the Main Ranger Station. I knew I would feast here and try to feed my system with whatever calories I could get my hands on. Richard had been at this aid station for two minutes and we hung out for at least 10 minutes. I ate two small bags of chips, ate a handful of peanut M&M’s and drank a liter of water/Gatorade, filled up my bottles and took off with Richard. We quickly caught up to Stan, who was running his second 50k. He was being crewed by his wife, and we all ran to the top of Crowder’s and back to Linwood. We finished up this adventure in 5:59:20. My watch read 7,000 feet of elevation gain which is barometrically measured, which means this can be off due to weather.

A few of us gathered at the finish and waited for a bit, and then it started raining. I retreated to my car and decided to head for a post-run burrito which was much needed. Aaron and DC, thanks for the aid and thanks to anyone else that helped out!

My body had been rocked and depleted. The next day I woke up feeling like new again after a large breakfast and some serious hydration I went for a ride with Jack and company from the UCRR crew for a casual 42 miles. Post ride I went out to Reedy Creek for a 5.5 mile trail run to test out the legs. They were heavy for a half a mile or so, and then I set them into cruise control. I felt great and put down 78 miles this week, the highest mileage per week this year.

Want to follow training? Check out Sultan on dailymile.com

Sunday, March 07, 2010


This weekend I put down my fastest half marathon finish to date, a 1:32:16. I ran 7 minute miles on the head every mile, until I hit Morehead which is when I slowed my role a bit to finish with a 7:02 pace average. I'm not into short and fast runs, but the corporate cup was my very first half marathon ever, and wanted to run it again.

The next day I hung out with a few new cycling friends for a 64 mile ride. I'm still learning how to become a stronger rider as cross training for my running.

Next week I plan to run the Crowders 50k and follow that up with a ride as I plan to keep cross training on the bike.

2010 will bring a few cycling adventures onto my Calendar. Some of which include the Assault on the Carolina's, Assault on Mt. Mitchell, Fletcher Flyer, and Blood, Sweat, and Gears!