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WIN your way in - Red Bull Divide & Conquer - June 8th - North Vancouver

The second annual Red Bull Divide and Conquer will be taking place on Vancouver's North Shore next Saturday, June 8th. We had an absolute blast in year one and we're stoked to bring this top notch international event back to North Van again in 2013! Check out how much fun we had in the rain and mud last year.

Divide and Conquer is a relay styled event that begins with a mountain run, follows up with a mountain bike, and concludes with a white water kayak down Capilano Canyon, finishing just below the iconic Lion's Gate Bridge in West Vancouver. It's a wild ride for each participant and true mountain race in every sense of the word.

We currently have a few out of country kayakers who are heading this way to participate but they're shy a few teammates, predominantly a mountain runner, but also a mountain biker.

This contest is open for any runner OR biker to claim the free entry and join an established kayaker in helping to form a team of three.

The free entry can be used however you chose though, if you have your own team of three than you can use your individual free entry towards the team entry price. Even better, if you have a run-bike combo in place than you'll complete your team with our visiting kayaker (they might even be famous in the kayaking world)

We'll also be drawing for a 2nd place prize of $50 off an individual entry, and a 3rd place prize of $25 off an individual entry.

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this blog posting prior to Sunday, June 2nd at 6pm. Winners will be drawn on Sunday night. Good luck!

1st - FREE individual entry
2nd - $50 off individual entry
3rd - $25 off individual entry

Full Info




Musings From The Sidelines - Weekend Ultra Story Lines

A couple of big races took place this past weekend and as always there were many story lines that emerged. A couple that stood out to me

(Hope Pass)
Ryan Sandes's 100 Mile Debut

South African Ryan Sandes won the Leadville 100 miler with the 3rd fastest time in the race's 28 year history. Yeah, that little race in Colorado that attracts one of the largest fields of any North American 100 miler. The race with a low point of 9,600 feet, and a high point of 12,620 while cresting Hope Pass...twice. That little race where the two fastest times ahead of this 100 mile rookie's performance are Matt "The Lung" Carpenter and Anton "My Bones Heal Faster Than Yours" Krupicka.

It's not like Sandes is inexperienced by any stretch of the imagination though, as he's the only person to ever sweep the Racing The Planet stage racing series. That does little to diminish the shocking caliber of his 100 mile debut however. And, if you happen to be keeping tabs, yes that another Salomon victory this year, and yes that's the 4th major US race to be won by an 'out of towner' since December.

NF 50 Champs - Heras
WS 100 - Jornet
Hardrock - Chorier
Leadville - Sandes

Can a U.S. runner finally snag victory at the most competitive race of the year, starting in France on Friday evening? (and yes my heart bleeds just a little bit every time I think about missing out on that starting line)

Dave Mackey Back Atop UROY 2011 Voting?

Dave Mackey got back to form again on the weekend by breaking yet another course record. This time at the Waldo 100k in Oregon. This one is summed up nicely right on their homepage: It is not a beginner-level ultra and participation in the race should not be taken lightly.

Dave shaved just over four minutes off of Erik Skagg's 2009 effort, in which you may recall he ran himself straight into the hospital, which thankfully he eventually fully recovered from.

After Mackey finished 8th at Western States he seemed to fall out of favor with the UROY chatter, even though his 8th place finish was a pretty damn solid 16h36m effort.
It will be interested to see what the voters think come year’s end, though there is still a lot of racing to go. I'm curious if we'll see similar to past years, where there seems to be a weighted voting process associated with the distance of the runs upon one's resume. Though it's pretty hard to argue the stats:
-1st CR Bandera 100k
-1st Amercan River 50m
-1st Miwok 100k
-8th Western States 100m
-1st CR Waldo 100k

Canadian Back In The Mix

Canadian runner Chris Downie broke onto the scene a few years back with some impressive results, before seeming to disappear for about a year. Well it appears the BC native is back with a vengeance as he pulled off a very impressive 4th place finish at the above mentioned Waldo 100k on the weekend. Downie finished just ahead of Oregon's own Yassine Diboun, who is a highly regarded ultra runner, and all around great guy period.

I believe Chris's next race will be another Oregon gem, the Pine to Palm 100 miler in mid September, and I'll say right now that I'm picking him for a podium finish. Chris has shown nothing but success over longer distance runs while winning his first 100mile and 146km races.


So whatdaya think? Is Ryan Sandes poised to become the next great 100 mile runner? Is Dave Mackey your pick for UROY through 2/3 of the year? Have you ever raced against Chris Downie and come away shocked that a man who looks like a football player can be so damn fast?




Chuckin Nuts Race Report

This will be a bit of an abbreviated race report since I gave most of the plot away a few days ago! (This ended up being, in no way shape or form, an abbreviated race report, sorry!) Todd and I headed down to Bellingham on Friday night for Saturday's Chuckanut 50km running event. As I have blogged endlessly about, I am coming off of a serious calf injury (it was actually both calves) that pretty much kept me completely off of my feet for a full month. I was able to sustain my fitness through biking and some gym work, but overall I was very uncertain as to if I would even be able to complete this distance after coming off of just five days of 'pain free', well 'serious' pain free running.

Todd was going into his first ever ultra race! I was highly confident that Todd would do amazingly well for himself as he is an athlete with endless potential, having only really gotten started with all of this a few years ago. His best attribute heading into a distance like this is how level headed he is. It sounds so simple to be able to run your own race, but in the four years I have personally been running I have met many a seasoned runner who have never, EVER figured out how to do this successfully! Todd had a game plan and I knew he'd stick to it. That and that alone would ensure a certain level of success for him going into his first ultra.

We were fortunate enough to have stayed with fellow ultra runner Daniel Probst who lives all of ten minutes away from the start of the event. We were up at 6am and in the end thankful that the race started ten minutes late at 8:10am.

The first 9-10km of this race are almost completely flat, on a hard packed forest service road...a road runner's dream...a trail runner's nightmare! I knew that I would really have to ease into this race as the last thing I wanted on the day was to end up with a D.N.F. next to my name. About thirty minutes in and I really wasn't feeling very good at all. The hard pack was beating up my calves, and even though we were hanging back and taking it easy, I was still breathing hard and struggling to find a rhythm to my step. Todd even commented at one point that I didn't seem comfortable at all. He was right, so I dropped back even further and just tried to limit my losses over the first 10k.

Shortly before the race finally headed into the single track trails there was a turn around where you could see the runner's ahead of you. Two guys were absolutely blazing a trail at the front and I found it hard to believe that they were running 50 on the day! They were already close to six minutes ahead of me and even the second group of runner's had put over 3.5 min into me. I was sitting back somewhere in the 30's positionally and was starting to get pissed off about how my race was unfolding. My mind was playing tricks on me but I kept telling myself that there was still a very long 40km until that finish line. I decided that as soon as we reached the climbs I was gone, calf pain or not, if I was going down with a DNF on the day I was at least gonna enjoy some actual running before that happened!

We had to squeeze through a few trail posts to initiate our climb up Chuckanut Mtn, and the instant that I cleared those sticks I went to work. I have managed to develop a pretty fast power hike over the years, which really comes in handy during steep ultra running events. I was hiking faster than most people could run and went about making short work of the first climb. One thing I definitely noticed was that my body was feeling much leaner than ever before. I initially learned to power hike because it was the only way I could be effective, but I was easily running terrain that I would have been unable to tackle at those speeds in years prior. It felt amazing! The great part about it all is that not one single person that I passed even attempted to go with me. I was killing it, and loving it!

Within approximately thirty five minutes of climbing I had made up the entire 3.5 min gap on second pack of runner's. We hit a huge switch back descent and I unleashed into it with a huge smile upon my face...God I love, and missed, downhill running and racing in general. Within a few switchbacks I peered back to see that the three runner's I had just passed were already nowhere in sight.

At the bottom of this descent the race filtered us into a 5km forest service road ascent. As I popped out I heard someone yell my name! One of the most enjoyable things that Todd and I have encountered over the last few years of doing the occasional event in Washington State is that we have gotten to know a whole other group of racer's, and of course, incredible people!

I started off power hiking the climb as I was unsure as to exactly how long it went on for at the time. As I did this one of the runner's I bombed past on the descent caught up to me and looked at me in dismay,

"How? How? How do you do that! I've never seen anyone run downhill like that before!!"

I laughed and simply replied that I lived in Squamish and it was all I really knew how to do! He slowly pulled away, but I was sustaining myself against the other runner's who were in sight, all of whom were of course attempting to run the hill. After a few minutes of power hiking and then chatting with a fellow competitor to determine what lay ahead, I realized that I could indeed run out this hill and hence drop a few more people. I went to work, quickly caught the guy I had traded spots with, and picked up another three spots. By the time we departed this climb in favor or more single track running I had managed to work my way back up to 15th place! I had gained somewhere in the vicinity of twenty positions in just under one hour of focused running! I WAS LOVING IT, and was definitely back in race mode, counting positions and shooting for the highest placing I could still salvage.

This mid section of the run was along a ridge line and then up and over the steepest climb of the entire 50km. We ended up in the fog a little, but you could really tell that this would be an incredibly scenic area on a clear day. Worth mentioning is that it was absolutely hammering down rain as we drove to the starting line. The race started, the rains seized and we got away with a completely dry...well dry from above, day of racing!

The field was obviously more spread out as I continued to gain position, and I ended up running quite a portion of this section in 'no man's land' (no one to chase, no one to run from). I slowly picked off a few more people and was surprised that not a single runner attempted to come with me. Usually when you pass someone in a race, at the very least, they come along with you for some period of time.

There was a ton of mud on the course, especially in this section, but none of it was really that deep, and certainly did not even compare to Knee Knacker 2005 'The Year Of The Mud', or anything you would encounter upon the West Coast Trail or The Juan De Fuca Trail. I was surprised to hear some people complaining about it's a trail race, we love mud!!

As this middle section of the run flattened out a bit my calves once again flared up on me. I was starting to slow a bit and told myself that I had ten minutes. If the pain got worse, I was done. If it subsided, I'd continue...but either way, I had to pick up the pace and continue trying to track people down. As soon as this flat section led into another climb my calves shut the hell up on me and I was able to forget about them. I came across a volley who informed me that there was another runner just thirty seconds ahead, AND that the leader's were just eight minutes in front of me! It was a huge boost to my confidence as I had effectively limited my losses since we departed the initial flat section of the course. I looked at my watch, we were now 2h45min in. Even if I did have to drop before the finish I would be taking a lot of positives away from this race. I went to work tracking down the next few runner's.

Again as the climbs became steeper I continued to reel in a few more positions. As we were spit back out onto the 5km F.S.R. that we initially ran up...which we would now be running down, I was ecstatic to learn that I was in 10th position, and 9th was all of thirty meters ahead! This downhill was an absolute killer! It was so hard packed, without any reprieve at all, that it truly felt like it was ripping the quads apart. I was right on the heels of the 9th place runner, and then he just stopped running. I was surprised at how strong he was looking, and not three seconds after I had that thought he just gave up. He ended up coming back strong, but it always amazes me how you can often believe that you are suffering more than the next guy, when in reality, everyone is dying by that point in time and it all comes down to who is mentally tougher and able to ignore every single thing that your brain keeps throwing at you,

'If you stop...right now...I'll grow all of your hair back for you...I swear it to you man c'mon, you'll have an Afro by the end of the week if you want one...and all you have to do is stop bout now....NOW...just STOP RUNNING GOD DAMMIT!!'

As I came through the final aid station, at the bottom of the descent I was indeed told that I was currently in 9th place, and that 8th was thirty five seconds ahead of me. I started to dream of a seventh, or sixth placing if I could just finish off strong. This lasted all of about four seconds as the last two runner's I had passed, obviously road runner's, came blazing past me! I tried to hang on but my body was pretty shattered. During the descent I could feel muscle pain where I usually do not in ultra runs. Everything from my lower back to my abs, to of course my quads were screaming at me and it became very evident to me that I had indeed missed out on a full month of running. I just tried to sustain my position from there on in, which was now 11th overall.

As if this flat, 10k hard pack surface was not a torturous enough way to end an event, there was a collage running team out training on the exact terrain. I kept hearing footsteps, would then try to respond, before realizing that I just didn't have it in me and in my head simply tack on another placing to my day. 'Looks like I'm 12th now'. Then some young speedster would come blazing past and yell out,

"Nice work man, almost home!"

This repeated itself four times before I could actually determine if these guys were in the race or not before trying to punish myself further by going with them! The guy who was just 35sec ahead after the last aid station had increased his lead over me, although just slightly, and I realized that we were both in the exact same boat. Who had more left in the tank? With just one mile to go, 1.6k, I decided that 10th sounded a hell of a lot better than 11th. There was one minimal climb with two switchbacks. He exited the climb as I entered it. A nice family cheered us on, and I put my head down and bargained with my legs,

"Here's what I'm offering. Give me this, and I promise you I WILL NOT even attempt to stretch you after this race."


I started to close the gap and he shoulder checked. I was hoping he would have waited longer to do so, but this was enough to tell me that he was mine. He was checking because he was scared. The guy responded well however, and I remember thinking to myself, 'C'mon, I'm faster than you, just give this to me. I don't wanna fight for this!'

I consistently narrowed his lead until with just 400 meters to go I surpassed him. I tried to gap him right away and was successful, however I heard him respond...this guy just would not die! I upped the pace, so did he, and with about 300 to go I wanted this race over with. I pretty much sprinted it across the line and ended up putting 45sec into him as I finished in a time of 4hr28m57s (chip timing). I had snagged 10th place. I was amazed and so damn satisfied with my day!! The best part is that I was very confident that I did not mess myself up in the process of pushing through the pain. I knew that outside of the usual pain associated with recovery after an event like this, that I'd be back and running within a few days!

(I love this pic. This is in the first 10k of the race and these are the 3rd-8th runner's. Scott Jurek is wearing the red shoes and Brian Morrison the white visor. The other three runner's are currently running someone else's race plan and I caught all of them during the climbs. Number 274 is who I duked it out with at the line, while the other two are the the runner's who passed me back on the final 10k home stretch. I was back around 35th when this pic was taken!)

Now for Todd. I knew he would not be far behind, and at 4h40m28s and 16th overall, I was super happy for him! He too suffered on the final stretch of the race and had managed to pair off with the lead female runner in the event for the final 15k or so and they both helped each other keep a solid pace. They crossed the line together, but Todd's chip must've started just after hers. So not only did Todd have a solid race, but in just his first ultra run, he managed to not get 'chicked' or 'skirted', and that is with the utmost respect to all the female runner's out there because they are all pushing the guys to their limits in events such as these. In fact the gaps between the top female and male ultra runner's are surprisingly small and it's not uncommon to see a strong woman standing atop the podium, having chicked the entire field of competitors!

With the race chip timing they were able to give exact split times, and after reviewing it I was elated to see that I had the 4th fastest time in the entire field over the middle section of the race. I was just 4min slower that the top guy and but 2.5min behind world class and famous in our circles, runner Scott Jurek! As if I needed any more positives to walk away with, this was the first event of this length, in that 4hr-5hr range, which would include all MOMAR races and sprint adventure races in general, that I did not suffer from a single leg cramp throughout! AND, I took in far less while racing as well!! This was the first event I did with Thermolytes electrolyte tablets and I will never attempt another race without them!

My total nutrition on the day:

-1 Bottle of Carbo-Pro 1200
-6 Thermolyte Tablets
-1 Package of Cliff Shot Blocks


-My brand new, super hot Montrail Hardrock 08 shoes. Love em!
-Helly Hansen Lifa long sleeve, with a Lifa short sleeve over top.
-I was even able to carry my Helly Hansen Mars jacket along with me for the first half of the run, just in case, and not even notice that it was in my pocket!

That was it, that was all, not a single cramp for the very first time! I have yet to do an event where I did not learn something about my body. Hopefully this will all help me when I hit the starting line for the Miwok 100k in just six weeks time. In the mean time, thanks to Ean Jackson's broken rib, I was able to scoop myself an entry into the 50k Diez Vista on April 5th. This will be a tune up race leading up to Miwok, with a full week of training going into it. I have done this race once before, in 2006, and it was the absolute worst performance of my life. I 'blew up' (bonked) big time and crawled home to a 13th place finish. So at the very least, I am hoping to vindicate myself upon this course. Until then, I just damn happy to be back running, and competing, once again!!


(4/5's of the crew that ran the Howe Sound Crest Trail together in Sept)



Another 100k On The Bike, and I Attempt To Run...

On my return drive from The Callahan after Thursday's skate ski, I could focus on but one thought, the road is completely clear of snow and ice! It's about 105-110km of riding from Squamish to The Callahan and back, and I decided that Saturday would be the perfect day to give it a go. I managed to grab another local rider and good buddy Dwayne Kress for the ride and at 9am we were off. The local weather forecast said there was a chance of flurries for the afternoon, but after deducing that it was too warm for that to occur, and that our local weatherman is on crack, sorry Russ, we departed in minimal rains. The rain seized shortly thereafter and we ended up with a perfect overcast day of about eight degrees or so. The elevation difference between Squamish and The Callahan is about 3,000 feet, but with numerous ascents and descents thrown in I'm sure total climbing on the day would exceed 5,000 feet.

Riding with Dwayne is great because his slowest speed is equal to most people's fastest...actually let me rephrase that, riding with Dwayne sucks because his slowest speed is equal to most people's fastest! By the time we had crested our first significant climb out of Squamish it felt like someone had punched me right in the I.T. Bands (glute area of butt). I knew I was in for a pretty intense ride and simply tried not to 'blow up' out there. We reached the turnoff for The Callahan in 1h45m and I believe our climb to the parking area was about another 25-30min. I was having difficulty with my shifter and ended up changing gears by simply hauling on the cable itself. Too much road gunk over the previous few days and not enough T.L.C. on my part. When we pulled into the parking area for the Nordic Venue we were greeted with some rather intriguing looks. As if timed we walked right into our buddy Munny and after a twenty minute chat and refuel we were off again.
(I find this pic hilarious because we all stuck out our tongues for some reason and I didn't even realize it until I downloaded it!)

As we were cresting the final climb of our ride the sun shot through the clouds and the temp quickly jumped up to 10-12 degrees! We quickly stopped for a photo at The Tantalus Range pullout and then bombed down the descent into town. After one final climb up into 'The Highlands' area of Squamish we stopped the clock at exactly 4hr of riding.

I remember just last year hearing some competitive riders talk about how many 100k days of riding they were logging in the month of March. It seemed insane to me to ride that far, that early in the season. In fact I vividly remember in the summer of 2005 that I commuted to Whistler for work on my bike a few times. The distance is 65km with about 4,000 feet of climbing and would take almost exactly 2hr. That 2hr ride used to absolutely destroy me! To even think about doing a 4hr ride was out of the question, my body could not handle it. So to sit here in Feb 08 having logged 2x 100k days in the last eight days alone, is to really put in perspective for me how far I have come in terms of training. Now if only I could run I might actually feel fit again...

I refueled again at home and stared out at what was now a flawless afternoon where the temp was up around 13 degrees. I had already rode 105km and was done with biking for the day, there was no way in hell I was going into a gym, and I could not run...or could I?

I figured it was time. I am potentially racing the Dirty Duo Duathlon on March 1st, a race consisting of a 25k trail run and a 30k mtn bike. I want to win it, period. Justin Mark has a three year win streak going, and Wendy Simms is always right on his heels. I managed to squeak out my first ever win in the 50k ultra run last year and there's no way in hell that I can pull of a 50 while still recovering from my injuries, so the Duo it is.

I asked Roxy if she wanted to go for a run, she had not done much of anything all day and after but ten seconds of excitement she simply rolled over and tried to go back to sleep! I asked a second time and again the same response. She had not had a big week, at least not in terms of what she normally covers, and I was wondering what was up? She answered my query immediately after I grabbed my running shoes,

"OH...YOU MEAN AN ACTUAL RUN, WITH YOU ON YOUR FEET! I thought you meant yet another sprint session of me chasing your bike for ninety minutes. A run, following you, that's easy, I'm totally down with that!"

I guess all the biking was taking it's toll on her! She was rearing to go and we were off. I told myself to not exceed thirty minutes. This was just a quick test to hopefully start getting back on my feet again.

Here were my thoughts as they happened:

-Oh God I miss this! Man I love running!
-Oh bit of foot pain, not too bad, seems to be gone.
-Huh, things are jiggling a bit more then I remember from a few weeks ago, that ain't good.
-This is nice, I'm loving this. I want to run for 3hr.

After thirty minutes I was feeling great and told myself that an hour should be alright. I'd need to be able to run at least an hour now to even contemplate racing 25k on my feet in a week! The afternoon was simply amazing, I brought my camera along and without any pressure of a pace, distance, or time, I stopped a few times to take it all in, snap some pics, and realize how much running really means to me. I would be lost without running, it's my first love in the endurance world. In fact when I first got into biking I wondered if I'd ever really 'love' biking at all! I was on the verge of selling my bike and focusing 100% on running at the end of the 2005 season. I had a string of bad races and realized that I either had to take the biking as seriously as the running, or simply give up on pursuing adventure racing competitively. Then came the Primal Quest phone call in mid September and the rest in history. Biking falls only minimally behind running as my absolute favorite thing in the world to do. It took some time to get there, but I could no longer imagine being a one sport guy.

After 1hr15min of an easy paced run, and absolutely no calf pain, I very reluctantly headed home. No need pushing things now, the day was already a success and to push now could do nothing but potentially set me back again, and besides Hockey Night In Canada, the couch and some beers had my name all over them!

Sunday, man are we totally getting spoiled with this weather, another perfect day, it's unbelievable! There must be some catastrophic weather system building out over the Pacific because the last ten days have been better than most of last summer. The forecast for tomorrow is 15 degrees, I might wear shorts to work! Anyways, I grabbed the bike and a reluctant dog and headed out for an easy paced 2.5hr ride. It was a mix of incredible riding on completely clear trails, and reviewing my knowledge of four letter words while hiking my bike through heavily snow covered routes. At least I now know where to and not to go for the next few weeks.
I managed to drag my ass to the gym, as the sun was setting, and put in a solid workout that will leave no doubt in my legs that tomorrow is indeed a rest day!

I have a friend visiting from Banff all week, should be fun. She asked me to repeat myself when I gave her the list of gear to bring along,
-Downhill skis
-Touring gear
-Trail runners
-Road bike
-Sun block
-Bathing suit...I threw that one in there for the hell of it! Who knows, my former racing partner and best bud Mark Fearman (now living in OZ) and I jumped into Alice Lake after a trail run in March of 05. We regretted it for about six hours, but we did it!

In all seriousness though, just one more reason why I love Squamish is that during my ride today I witnessed people partaking in the following sports,
-Rock Climbing
-Returning from skiing
-Kayaking and
-Kite Boarding (look it up if you are not familiar, it involves water and wind!)
That's just what I witnessed, and I know there were snowshoers and x-country skiers out there as well today!

This place is like no other. Squamish Rocks!