Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend

In the midst of struggling to recover from a nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis and coming to grips with the fact that I am officially in my mid-forties (I am celebrating my 44th birthday today) I had the pleasure of heading up to the Wintergreen Resort this weekend for the UROC 100K Championship. I have to say, as disappointed as I was to not be running, I had a blast.

On Friday afternoon I was able to do some interviews for the race website and that evening I had the chance to moderate the elite athlete panel. Squeezed in between, I enjoyed dinner and a few brews with my good friend Bryon Powell at the Devil's Backbone Brewery and we waxed on for hours about all of our brilliant ideas:) We were staying at the elite athletes house so after Dave, Geoff, Matt, Devon, Dave and the others went to bed we got into the serious business of discussing the current state of ultrarunning with a great group of people including the top brass at Trail Runner Magazine and Geoff Roes' parents. It was a wonderfully refreshing and far reaching conversation and one that reminded me what a truly great sport this can be.

On race day I split time between running around with Bryon doing the irunfar.com race coverage and recording commentary for the video clips the race organizers were producing. Both of those activities gave me a glimpse into running ultras from the spectator's side and it was a new and exciting perspective for me. I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. In particular, spending time with Bryon as he tweeted the race, sent pictures and comments out to the masses, and sought to provide an instant, inside look at the sport while battling spotty cell coverage and tricky travel logistics, was truly eye-opening. The guy is a pro and we should all feel thankful he's committed his life to our sport.

Following the event the usual post-mortem discussions ensued about the course, missed turns and the entire idea of championship ultramarathon running. I, for one, as both a runner and as a fan, was grateful for this wonderful first effort. Frannie and Gill worked tirelessly to create a truly elite event and I know all of the runners felt well taken care of. In addition, throughout the weekend, I felt the inescapable cameraderie of ultramarathoning oozing out of the entire experience. From newcomers to grizzled veterans this was clearly "next step" event. None of us are quite sure how big that step will be nor in what direction it will ultimately take us but the fact that we were moving was good, very good. And, to bring it full circle, it did not go unnoticed that Scott McCoubrey and David Horton were on hand to be part of the festivities. For those of us who've been around for awhile these two guys epitomize the "old school." Yet, there they were, in the midst of the inflatable finish line, the video crews and the prize money to simply be part of the sport they, and I, love so much. Until next time...

AJW

12 comments:

C.J. Hitz said...

AJW,

You did a fantastic job with all the commentary and moderating of interviews. Hopefully, you'll get more of those opportunities in the future. Cool to see your passion and personality shine through.

Footfeathers said...

Thanks for the insight and happy bday. I didn't get a chance to follow along this weekend but look forward to catching up on your and Bryon's efforts on the race.
Tim

Rod Bien said...

Good coverage of the event on all fronts. irunfar has ben a great addition to race coverage.
dang, i got cut from your blog list and i didn't even DNF :) Just kidding. i better get more "on it" in the future. i hope your 2011 race resume is strong enough not to get you cut! ;)

FastED said...

I thought you were looking a bit aged next to the ageless Horton in that iRunFar pic... You are now in the elusive "forty something" age bracket. Now go drink a skunky beer. HBD!

sharmanian said...

Nice work with the chat and commentary, AJW. It was a great social event and certainly felt a bit different as a race too, in a good way. I also thought the course was great and the dynamic of trail and road frequently switching was unique and extremely hard. Kind of different to AR50 or JFK since it was only ever a few miles of each type of terrain at a time and very little was close to flat.

Hqppy birthday too!

Jon Allen said...

Happy Birthday, AJW!

Thanks for the good work this weekend- my family said they really enjoyed the interviews, panel, and videos. The whole race went extremely well, I thought. Hopefully this race just grows and grows.

Dave Mackey said...

AJW.. thanks for the support of UROC. You were the man for the job. I agree on your points. UROC, although imperfect, has loads of potential and new energy. Funny though how UR magazine kind of dissed the race on it's news blurb about it. Didn't some other (overly?)loved race in CA start with only one runner?

Matt said...

Thanks, Andy. I hope you can share some of those late night conversations with us all. Great to see Geoff do so well. And I agree about Bryon. Hard to ignore that effort. Thanks again.

Brett said...

I participated in the Hinson Lake 24 Hour run this weekend where the ageless Mike Morton (previous WS100 winner) nearly broke Scott Jurek's American Record. Mike as at 156 miles with 1 hour left (I left before the finish), but once the results are up I'm sure he'll be around 163-164 miles. Amazing considering this was trail (not pavement), not flat, and the heat index was 90F during the day. (And he had to continually pass 250+ other slow joggers and walkers were on the course.)

Anyways, quite a few times I stopped, picked up my phone, and read some of iRunFar's tweets and updates from UROC. Amazing to think about all the personal effort and technology that allows that to happen.

I am thankful for the immense passion in the running community.

momroes said...

Thanks to all who were responsible for this race - it was a great time - it was really cool to meet all the people we met and to spend time discussing a lot of aspects of ultra running. Friday night was an evening to always remember while the athletes were sleeping and we were having many different discussions (some serious and some not so serious)- thanks AJW for doing all you did to make this an awesome event. Bryon Powell sure is an asset to this sport - he gets the job done in remarkable time. Without him no one in the outside world would know what was going on. We were glad to have been able to provide him transportation from point to point during the race.

For a first time event this was truly a great race and one that we hope grows and grows. The course had something for everyone - next time hope the fog is a little less - it didn't provide very good mountain viewing for spectators who have never been on the Blue Ridge Parkway before - oh well, we had a wonderful time and look forward to being there whenever Geoff runs there.

Thanks to all involved with this race again.

Sharon & Don Roes

Troy Shellhamer said...

Hey Andy,
Thanks for adding to the great vibe out there at UROC. What a great weekend... It's good to hear that although some of the runners races didn't go according to plan we're all still happy with the way it was run! Gill and Francesca did a great job running the event. Thanks to all.

FastED said...

I am going to apply for the WS RD. When I get the job my first order of business is to move WS to Silverton. BOOM!