Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Once a Year Efforts!

Maybe it's because I am injured and likely not to race again until the Spring or perhaps I am pulling for the older guys lately but two race performances over the past five weeks have suggested to me that perhaps focusing on one key, intense, all-out performance per year is the best way to extend an ultrarunning career.

Certainly, as the sport has grown, so has the prevalence of multiple fine perfomances in a given year. However, it seems that to truly "over-acheive" focusing on one race seems to work. Take Matt Carpenter and Mike Morton. Matt has raced one ultra race a year for the last three years (Pikes Peak Marathon, I say it counts as an ultra because it's 26.3 miles and climbs over 7000 feet up a 14'er) and won it each time. The rest of his races and efforts have been good, of course, but nothing compared to his Pikes' results. He, quite simply, owns that race even in his late-forties.

Then there's Mike Morton who set the Course Record at the 1997 WS100 in 15:40 and, along the way, ran a 2:18 split to the River. It was a truly badass run and there are some who say it is still the single best performance at WS (or at least right up there with King, Howard, Trason, Jurek and Roes). Shortly following that extraordinary race, he promptly fell off the map and years later, after grappling with injuries, etc..., he re-emerged at the 2010 Hinson Lake 24 Hour to run 153 miles. Then, he disappeared again until this past Saturday when he went back to Hinson Lake and ran, I believe, over 160 miles. Along the way, he hit the 100 mile split in 13 hours. This, mind you, on a hilly course in 90+ degrees and high humidity.

I don't know about the rest of you but once I shake this pf I'll be focusing all my energy on the last Saturday in June, 2012. If it's good enough for Matt and Mike it's good enough for me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


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...


UROC Videos

Had a really fun day yesterday up on the Blue Ridge for the Ultra Race of Champions 100K race. I'll write a more thorough report later today but, for now, check out some of the video coverage here. I'd be curious to hear what some of you think about this experiment with same-day video of an ultra race>

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Limits

If you haven't been over to check out this blog do so now. Good stuff.

I'll have my review of women's blogs after the weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I am really excited about this weekend's race here in Virginia. While I cannot run it due to this nagging case of pf I am dealing with I will be there and it should be alot of fun. In addition to the great field of runners assembled my good friend Bryon Powell is coming out from Utah to cover the race for irunfar.com and I am going to tag along with him (and also give him a tour of the three local craft breweries, Devil's Backbone, Starr Hill and Blue Mountain). I'll probably do a few Tweets along the way and perhaps Bryon will let me jump in to some of his pre-race interviews.

Gill and Frannie have also asked me to be part of the video coverage for the race. We'll be doing irreverent Red Carpet interviews at Wintergreen on Friday afternoon and then I'll be part of the panel discussing the race that evening from 7-8pm. Then, on race day, I'll be providing voice-over commentary for the video that will be shot. That's going to be really fun as I think it's the first time that almost live video will be posted (at least within a couple hours of it being shot) with real time commentary as an accompaniment. And, it will give me ample opportunity to wax poetic about the various athletes punishing themselves into the ground on the Blue Ridge. Here is the press release describing the video coverage:

Should be a fun weekend!


Monday, September 19, 2011


This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for a little getaway vacation with my wife Shelly. While there we happened upon a wonderful museum called "Newseum." It is essentially a museum of news. One of the most compelling exhibits in the museum is one which depicts the rise of radio and TV and the eventual transition to the communication revolution we are currently experiencing. In a fascinating series of exhibits it does a particularly good job of describing the transition from controlled news to, essentially, open source news. That got me thinking about what's going on in the ultrarunning blogoshpere lately.

Since coming to the sport in 1995 I have been struck by the general tech savvy nature of this particular community. From Stan Jensen's website which he began over 19 years ago to the infamous "Ultralist" which was the virtual town commons for all things ultra around the turn of the century to the emergence of blogs and then the growth of social media, this sport has always drawn a particularly interesting and interested group. Anybody else remember Matt Mahoney discussing the merits of barefoot running more than 15 years ago? Or how about Karl King's extensive commentaries on electrolytes as he was in the process of inventing S! Caps? Or the inimitable Lazarus Lake's ability to make Barkley a "viral phenomenon" long before we even knew what the term meant? In short, the sort of banter and online rumination that we've been seeing over the past year or so is really nothing new. What is new, however, is the seemingly massive growth and expansion of the sources of information. And that is where I am going with all this.

At this point there seem to be two basically different types of blog sources out there; One, which is where this started, is the personal running blog. These personal ruminations are the core of the content and often provide great insight into remarkable people. On occasion these personal bloggers spill over into analysis but for the most part they are just that, personal. The second type of blog is more journalistic. While these can be personal they are, more often than not, intended to provide news and information about the sport. It is in this area where the content seems to be expanding exponentially and where occasionally the chatter devolves into personal namecalling and potentially insulting accusations. Don't get me wrong, I think the conversation is good, but when the lines are drawn between the personal and the journalistic problems emerge (as I learned with my dnf post a couple years ago).

So, for all of you reading out there, I would like to pose a three-part challenge,

One, what kind of blogger are you, personal or journalistic? You can, of course, be both but understand that your audience may have blurry vision when it comes to your content.

Two, what kind of blogs do you prefer? "AJW's Blog" will always be a personal blog with the occasional foray into amateur journalism while "iRunfar.com" will likely remain a journalistic blog with the occasional spillover into the personal (who can forget Bryon's heart wrenching should I or shouldn't I debate about running WS this year?).

And three, remember, as my good friend Lord Balls always says, the best parts of blogging are not the posts but the comments!

That's all for now!


Sunday, September 18, 2011


Cast your vote on the sidebar to the right. Seems to me it's time to take stock of the ultrarunning blogosphere. If you wish, after casting a vote, tell us why in a comment. And, if you'd like to cast a vote for a blog not on the list, let me know.

UROC thoughts on Wednesday...


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Been busy so I haven't been able to analyze the UROY men's poll. Not surprisingly, looks to be a two-horse race between Dave and Nick. Interesting to compare the two seasons. Dave seemingly gets the nod with impressive wins at sub-100 mile distances including at least one win head-to-head with Nick (AR, there might be others). But Nick had two incredible 100 mile performances over 13 days to accompany his stellar Spring in a series of other races and did beat Dave soundly at WS100 (their only head-to-head 100). To be honest, I am not sure yet how I would vote. Perhaps they'll both show up for the NF50 in San Francisco and settle the score there. Also, the race here in Charlottesville on the 24th of September could shake things up a bit, as well.

On the women's side, it's awfully hard for me to vote for anyone other than Meghan Arbogast. But, Ellie's WS100 was faster than anyone ever not named Ann. Also, Kami had some great races. Need to see how the rest of the year plays out, of course, but that's the way I see it now.

And, for individual performance of the year on the men's side (given that Ellie gets POY on the women's side) I've gotta go with Ian Sharman's Rocky Raccoon. But, if he doesn't count because he's not American (not sure about that) Mackey's CR run at Waldo is a close second.


Monday, September 5, 2011

20 Days!

I just saw that it's official! This year will be one of those one in seven years times when the gap between the WS100 and the HRH is three weeks instead of two. I thought back in 2009 how nice it would be to do the Double in those circumstances.

Dale/Blake, please, pretty please, pick my name!

Vacation of a lifetime; run my 9th WS100, drive from Auburn to Silverton, spend 17 days exploring the San Juans, run my 2nd Hardrock. Wow, I'm having trouble breathing already.

Happy Labor Day everyone!