Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drugs and Running

The latest drug bust in big time marathoning has got me thinking about drugs in ultramarathon running. As much as I want to believe our sport is totally clean, I think the time has come for us to prove it.  There are simply too many examples of Performance Enhancing Drugs being used in running and by amateurs in other sports to ignore.  I do not, in any way, have evidence to suggest there is doping in ultrarunning but as a long time participant and fan of the sport I think it's time we figure out a way to institute testing in our sport not as a means to catch the bad guys but rather to prove we're clean.  I hate to say it but the rumblings about drug use in trail running continue to get louder.

Now, of course, the problem is the cost of a testing program.  I am pretty sure that the large events like Western States and UTMB cannot afford to implement a full-scale testing program and the racer confederations (SkyRunning and UTWT, for example) may not have the resources for a testing program either.  Therefore, I suggest we turn to the sponsors and companies that are currently investing in ultra trail running.  Could some of the larger shoe companies work together to create a testing program?  Could they partner with Garmin, Strava, figure out a way to bring the drug issue to the forefront? The whispering about drugs has been around for a while now and I think such a program could go a long way toward either quieting to critics or exposing the cheats.

From my perspective the time for change is now.  What do you think?

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 -- The Year of Failure

In this time of looking back on the year that's ending and the new year on the horizon I always like to find trends going on in the sport.  And, I must admit, scanning the reports from 2013 makes one thing clear to me, 2013 was the "Year of Failure."  Sure, I bet that there have been other years with as many failures but have there been any other years like this one where so many people have written so eloquently, and often exhaustively, about those failures?  I don't think so.

So, here is a short annotated list of some of the failure reports from 2013 in ultrarunning and here's hoping all these athletes turn these failures into purposeful successes in 2014:

Dakota Jones report from Japan

Adam Campbell hanging it up as a professional runner

Anton Krupicka succumbing to injury at UTMB

Anton Krupicka calling it a day in his record attempt at Nolans

Jen Benna at Western States

Jacob Rydman at Western States

Joe Uhan at Western States

Jeremy Humphrey at Western States (and anything in the spring and early summer)

Rod Bien at the San Diego 100

Ian Sharman at the Javelina 100

Anna Frost

Happy New Year everyone!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ultra Performance of the Year

Thanks everyone for voting in last week's poll.  In case you're wondering, I am using this as a test case for potentially launching a sort of People's Choice Awards type thing some time in the future so I am gathering data and then comparing it to the UR Mags awards over time.

This last poll was interesting as Rob Krar won the mens UROY in a landslide while Michele Yates and Rory Bosio had a very close vote on the women's side.  Of course, on the last day of the poll Pam Smith set a track 100 mile world record so that changed things.

Anyway, here are the POY polls.  Voting open through Monday morning.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ultrarunner of the Year Voting

The votes have now been cast for Ultrarunning Magazine's year end awards and we should know the results in the next couple weeks. In that context, I have opened two new polls as kind of a people's choice awards type thing.  Please vote!

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Western States Qualifying Standards

I am thrilled to see the Western States Board and Craig Thornley take the bold step to amend their qualifying standards.  And, while they fell just short of my long-held conviction that a 100 mile requirement is appropriate, they have moved the event in a direction that it needed to go.  By requiring at least a 100K finish in under 16 hours in a small pool of races that meet their collective approval they have raised the bar and maintained their long-term commitment to producing an egalitarian event.

This decision should be applauded and celebrated.  Over the past decade interest in Western States has exploded and in response to that growth the organizers have struggled to maintain the event's character, remain true to their roots, adhere to the ethical and environmental standards that are dear to them, and provide fair and open access to the event. These new standards do all those things and more.

In my opinion, a related consequence of this action will be to enhance the entire sport of ultra running, not just Western States.  By providing a short-list of races in which to qualify that have incentivized Race Director's to produce quality events in a broad geographical areas which I can only imagine will be good for the sport.  And, not surprisingly, they have immediately added a certain appeal to the 63 races on their list.

Bravo Craig and Western States!  Great job.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Injury Update

A few readers have asked, offline, what kind of injury I am grappling with and what kind of rehab I am doing so, here's the scoop:

After all the soreness from WS wore off I had a severe stabbing pain that was lingering on my left hamstring.  The pain was high up the back of my leg and often radiated up into my glutes and groin.  It also was kind of a clenching pain that hurt more as I extended my leg or attempted to run fast downhill.  Most of the time the pain was centered at the attachment point of my hamstring and butt muscle.

In late July I finally went the doctor and he took an x-ray which showed, in his words, "A very impressive bone spur" in my left hip.  Turns out the degeneration in my left hip over two decades has caused me to put an extraordinary load on my hamstring/glute and after WS it just said, "Enough!"

So, first thing I did after going to physical therapy was to buy one of those big, heavy thick rubber bands.  The stretch I do daily is intended to pull my hip backward and free up the damaged tissues.  Over time, they should heal.  Also, I have been getting weekly massage treatments on my leg from a licensed orthopedic massage therapist (her name is Kim Coslett and she is amazing).  Those treatments, combined with the rubber band stretches and some snake oil have enabled me to get back to running 30-40 miles a week.

Time will tell when/if I can go longer.

I love getting old!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Slow Road back

I went to my doctor yesterday for a follow-up on my hip/hamstring injury and he told me, "Now you know what we mean when we say 'hamstrung'"

In short, I jacked myself up pretty good at WS back in June and have developed pretty extensive tissue damage caused by years of bad form, over-doing it in training, and general stubbornness.  Now, I am working to get back at it in time to get ready for my WS build-up which typically begins in January. Like last year, it's gonna be close.  But, 35 miles per week at 8:45 pace never felt so good!

What 18 years of running ultras has taught me is that we really only have so many hard miles in our legs so we need to use them sparingly.  I used to run 4 100s a year without blinking an eye.  Now, just a few years later, one 100 a year is about all I can do.  But, at least I can do one!  I wouldn't trade running WS for just about anything in the world and my experience at WS 2013 was by best one yet.  With patience, fortitude, and a bit of stubborn resolve I look forward to making it back to Squaw for one last go at it next June.  I can tell you right now that if I do make it to that line it will be the highlight of my year.

You can follow that journey here!