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2018-01-23T17:44:10.906Z
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Back in the summer of 2012, New York Times writer/cartoonist Tim Kreider penned a provocative expose entitled “The Busy Trap”. In it, he lamented the ways in which “busyness” was infiltrating daily life in such a way as to impact collective psychology as well as shape the way in which decisions were made and not made. As he outlined his argument, Kreider suggested that we may be leading busy lives because we’re afraid to face ourselves. We may be leaning toward busyness because somehow, in our world, being busy makes us feel like we are good people.

In the subsequent years since “The Busy Trap,” I have often found myself reflecting on Kreider’s premise while observing myself and those around me. It does seem to me that, at times, the claim of being “so busy” is a kind of humblebrag for being important or valuable or somehow having a purpose in life. While I am not here to judge those who might be truly overwhelmingly busy, what I will say is that I, quite frankly, would prefer to be not busy and I would suggest that being not busy provides a much stronger sense of meaning and purpose in my life than the converse.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life is every bit as complicated and challenging as that of most middle-class Americans with jobs, kids, bills to pay, and more. I battle the urge to succumb to exhaustion and frustration quite regularly. However, I also make a daily...

Earlier this month, my head was all out of sorts. There were things on my mind that I just kept thinking about. Things I seemed unable to straighten out. One day, as I drove from Denver to Colorado Springs, Colorado, I wrestled with my thoughts, prayed out loud (perhaps very loud), and banged on my steering wheel. There was a lot that was said and felt during that drive. By the end of it, things still weren’t sorted out, but I parked my truck at the base of Pikes Peak, crammed some gear into my pack, and headed up the mountain.

Typically, I would just hop on the Barr Trail and take the 6.5 miles of trail to my home in the woods at Barr Camp. But on this particular day, I headed straight for the Manitou Incline. Gaining approximately 2,000 feet of elevation in a roughly one mile via a straight-shot staircase, the ‘incline’ is anything but easy. Leaning into the grade that day, I could certainly feel the weight of my pack. And yet, I also felt smooth, strong, and dare I say, ‘good.’ As I climbed higher, I felt motivated by the things reeling in my head. Maybe I couldn’t fix them, make sense of them, or get rid of them, but I could give a bit more of myself in opposition to that which I could not erase.

For some, this may conjure up an image of extreme aggression. They might picture me with a scowl on...

Clare Gallagher cares deeply about a lot of environmental issues. The 26 year old is concerned with sustainable palm-oil harvesting, and deforestation, and overpopulation, and animal rights, and the health of the ocean’s ecosystem, and climate change, and… Let’s say that she has a lot of concern for the environment. When she speaks about the many environmental topics she cares about, her eyes widen, her face brightens, the rhythm of her voice quickens, and you can feel that her passion is deep and sincere. When you listen to Clare Gallagher speak, you know you are listening to an activist at work:

Gallagher, currently living Boulder, Colorado, secured a course-record win at the 2017 CCC and a second-place finish at the highly competitive 2017 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. She is, by all accounts, a stand-out ultra-distance runner. She is also an environmental activist.

Gallagher grew up in a suburb of Denver, Colorado and she often spent the weekends with her family in the mountains. From an early age, she was connected to her local wild places. At the impressionable age of 18, she went east to Princeton University where she began researching the ocean’s coral health. Then, she took an environmental-ethics course with perhaps the greatest living ethicist, Peter Singer. For his groundbreaking research and thought-provoking views on bioethics, animal welfare, and global poverty, Singer, an Australian citizen, was appointed a...

No matter where you live, weather is always a topic for small talk. Here in Vermont, especially in the winter, the weather seems to come up in every conversation. It’s common practice to grumble about road conditions and icy sidewalks. Cars not starting and those who allow their cars to idle. The cost of heating oil or the price for a cord of wood. Drafty windows and doors that need to be replaced and the talk of energy audits keeps the conversation going. Those who really are having their patience tested have frozen pipes, or even worse, burst pipes. These conditions not only test our patience, but also our hardiness. As we emerge on the other side of these weather obstacles, we have material to reminisce about in later years whether during small talk or storytelling.

As soon as a meteorologist used the phrase “bomb cyclone” recently, I knew that it was going to be the topic of conversation at everywhere from the Korner Quick to my workplace. In all honesty, I had no idea what a bomb cyclone was, my guess was some sort of highly sophisticated terrorist attack, but I learned that a bomb cyclone occurs when everything comes together just right, or in my mind comes together in the wrong way! I wasn’t overly focused on how “bombogenesis” works, but rather my focus was on the weather it was going to deliver. The entire state was slated for a large, rapidly intensifying storm of heavy snow, ice,...

Akin to say food poisoning, when it comes to cramping, especially exercise-associated muscle cramping (EAMC), there are two types of people: those who have cramped and those who have yet to cramp. Exercise-associated muscle cramps are defined as painful spasms and involuntary contractions of the skeletal muscles that occur during or immediately post-exercise (12). This therefore excludes cramps occurring outside of the context of exercise or because of underlying medical conditions such as familial nocturnal cramps, endocrine-metabolic diseases such as hypo/hyperthyroidism, and central and peripheral nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis (20).

To many of you, cramping is not news. It has been a topic of great debate for decades, especially in the endurance community. How do we prevent them? Stop them? Rid ourselves of them for good? Most of us have experienced mild to even debilitating cramps at some point in time, and there is nothing fun about being stuck mid-race trying to decide if crawling is a legitimate option.

In short, cramping sucks and despite our long affair with EAMC, we are not much closer to fully understanding their etiology–where they come from. If anything, our new understanding of EAMC is that they are complicated and likely stem from multiple compounding factors that make any one treatment or preventative technique unlikely to work for everyone, every time.

What has developed in the scientific community over the past five to 10 years is a clear movement away from the original dehydration/electrolyte-imbalance theory and an increased focus on the...

Race-stats geeks, weekend warriors, and everyone in between, welcome to your Monday! This week’s column includes recaps from Hawaii’s HURT 100 Mile, trail and ultrarunners at Texas’s Houston Marathon and Half Marathon, and the ongoing Montane Spine Race in Great Britain, among others.

HURT 100 Mile – Honolulu, Hawai’i

Men

It was close for a while, but Avery Collins really opened it up in the race’s second half. Collins won in 21:44. The time ranks 10th-best ever at the HURT 100 Mile, and was an almost three-hour improvement on Collins’s 2016 race here.

Second for the second-straight year, Guillaume Calmettes finished his five jungle loops in 24:00. Calmettes was just 36 seconds back of a sub-24 hour run, and just minutes ahead of third place.

Second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-place were just 32 minutes apart. Masazumi Fujioka was third in 24:03, also for the second-straight year. Brian Oestrike was fourth in 24:23, and Trevor Fuchs was fifth in 24:32.

Women

Women’s winner Darcy Piceu was similarly hours ahead of second. Piceu was victorious in 25:48, the race’s third-best ever. Piceu trails only Tracy Garneau (2010, 24:06) and Hannah Roberts (2013, 25:41) on the record books.

Second-place Becky Bates ran 27:33, and did it at age 55! Sabrina Stanley was third in 29:45.

Full results.

Houston Marathon and Half Marathon – Houston, Texas

The Houston Marathon and Half Marathon is fast and the fields are world class. It’s a good place for trail and ultrarunners to chase Olympic Trials qualifying marks and personal bests.

Men

Last year’s USATF 50k road champion Tyler Jermann ran 2:16:39...

[Author’s Note: For 2018, I am devoting one of the Taproom articles each month to an ultrarunning history column. This is the first edition.]

It was the last Sunday in June in 2004 and I was standing in the Placer High School cafeteria experiencing what is, to this day, one of the highlights of my ultrarunning career. The day before, I had completed the Western States 100 for the second time and I was in front of the awards-ceremony crowd to receive my buckle. Also in the front of the room on that day (they still held the awards ceremony indoors back then) was then-six-time Western States champion Scott Jurek (who’d win Western States once more the next year, in 2005, to accumulate his storied seven wins) and the race runner-up that year, Dave Mackey, from Colorado.

Dave came to Western States that year after an incredible spring season. Running his first 100-mile race ever, the adventure racer/rock climber turned ultrarunner impressed the locals with a gutsy race from start to finish. In an age of high-mileage training and regular racing, Dave practiced moderation that year, rarely topping 60 miles per week in training, cross-training at least twice a week, and only racing a few times leading up to the race. I even recall running a bit with Dave that year at the Western States Memorial Day Training Camp when he decided to stop his run and walk it in the last three miles, saying simply, “I’ve run enough for one...

The 2018 UTMB events are shaping up to be another competitive year in Chamonix, France and environs.

The race administration has released results of the lottery draw for the 2018 edition of all its events. High-level athletes are generally considered separately, as the race administration holds a certain number of spots for them. As such, the UTMB race administration, a bit ahead of the draw, made public the top runners who have been given entrance into the 2018 races.

Here you can search the full entrants lists for all the UTMB races, which now number as six events spread over about a week. Also on this page are lists of the ‘favorites’ singled out by the race administration.

Keep in mind that the entrants lists are certain to evolve as the year progresses, as elites are allowed late entrance, and, of course, not all who intend to start will be able to.

For as long as this event has been taking place, it’s been the 171-kilometer UTMB race that’s the international-level headliner. The UTMB remains the most competitive event of the festival and probably the most competitive trail ultramarathon that will take place this year, but at this point it looks less competitive than the field looked at this time last year. Now that we have some 20-20 hindsight perspective, it seems like last year’s race might have been the competitive trail ultra of the decade. Don’t get me wrong on this year, though, there’s still plenty of star power in the...

Fifty miles is a long way to run. Even a marathon can be really hard on the body. But I’ve always been amazed at how well we can adapt to these types of stresses. I could barely walk after my first 50-mile race and spent the next several days limping around. But most of the ultras I have run since then (save Hardrock, maybe) have not injured me so badly. Usually I’m tired and achy, but I can walk just fine, and the next day I can usually go for a jog. Which is why I was so perplexed last April to find that I couldn’t run or even hardly walk for several days after the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Every muscle in my legs ached, and any movement was a struggle. Like a true professional, I decided to stretch a little and just sort of hope everything would work out. Bodies heal, right? Sure enough, the aches and pains slowly receded and I regained my normal range of movement. But though the soreness dissipated generally, my right hamstring did not get better. And with something as simple as soreness in my right leg, my 2017 running season was over.

I can hardly explain how frustrating that was. But obviously I’m going to try. In fact, it was very frustrating. I might even go so far as to say it was extremely frustrating. I had spent most of 2015 and part of 2016 with a stress fracture in my foot,...

The degree of overlap between physical medicine and endurance performance is striking. At the root of each is pain management. With running, it is well known that pain is an inevitable part of the process, and with peak performance, pain is a given.

In physical medicine as in running, pain is information. It is neither bad nor good. As noted in one of our previous articles on pain physiology, pain is “a system output based on sensory input the brain perceives as a threat.” In short, pain is a protective output meant to keep us from harm.

Accepting that, pain it isn’t always an accurate indicator of actual danger. Slight issues can hurt a great deal. Major injuries often don’t hurt at all. This is also true for ultramarathon running: we may often feel extreme pain (or fatigue, or malaise) at, say mile 30, only to feel much better by mile 40, only to feel terrible yet again, at mile 50–all without changing anything.

So what gives? Which is correct?

  • “No pain, no gain;” or
  • “If it hurts, don’t do it.”

The answer: neither. It’s more nuanced than that. We need more data!

The two most common groups of patients I see clinically are:

  1. Pain Ignorers. These folks ignore all pain, which often results in real tissue damage. These folks like to brag about their “very high pain-tolerance!”
  2. Pain Freak-Outs. These folks stop in their tracks when they experience any pain at all.

Neither approach is sustainable. To patently ignore all pain is to drive...

Can you believe it? The Bandera 100k marks the annual rebirth of ‘This Week In Running’ and its now third anniversary. Looking back to 2015, it was Aliza Lapierre and David Laney who highlighted that first column with their Bandera 100k wins. We again have a recap of Bandera, and a whole bunch of other regional-level races.

Bandera 100k – Bandera, Texas

The Bandera 100k pulled double duty. Not only was it the 2018 USATF 100k Trail National Championships, but it was also the year’s first Golden Ticket Race. The former distinction brought $4,000 of prize money, and the latter meant that each of the top-two men and women earned an automatic entry to the Western States 100.

Women

Camille Herron is going back to Western States. She won this year’s race in 9:56. Although the time was 27 minutes off her second-place finish from last year, and 48 minutes off of Stephanie Violett‘s 2017 course record, Herron was still way out in front and over an hour better than this year’s second place. Purportedly, the course was both longer and had more climbing this year than last, however.

Camille Herron, 2018 Bandera 100k winner. Photo: Conor Holt

Though Michele Yates earns a Western States Golden Ticket, too, for finishing second, it looks like she doesn’t plan to take it due to ongoing hip issues. She finished Bandera in 11:00.

Anna Hailey took third place in 11:48, and it looks like the Golden Ticket will roll down to her if...

In 2000, one of Mimi Anderson’s running friends came to the gym with a magazine in hand, excitedly announcing she had found their next race. It was an article featuring sand dunes and the blistered feet of those running the Marathon des Sables, the 250-kilometer, seven-day stage race in the Sahara Desert of Morocco.

“It was so far away from my normal life that I knew I had to give it a go,” Mimi said.

“Normal life” for the then-37 year old had included, so far, just one year of running and 15 years of battling and defeating an eating disorder.

Mimi Anderson. Photo: Tim Anderson

At age 29, after spending years thinking about food, lying about meals, and disappearing after dinners, Mimi found her recovery through hypnosis or regression therapy. The only running she’d attempted up until that point was to help her lose even more weight.

At 36, after recovering from her eating disorder and with three children at home, Mimi stepped on the treadmill to run.

“I was told the best way to get nice, shapely legs was to run,” she said, laughing. “So that’s what I did. I taught myself how to run on a treadmill.”

Her first run outside–which occurred a few years later, since she thought runners just ran on the treadmill all the time–was a 10 miler with friends on the roads.

“I loved it! It was absolutely fantastic! It was just so liberating. It was freedom,” she explained. “And so, my first race...

Get out there. Do it. Do it for yourself. Do it for others who might notice. You might just inspire them. Inspiration is infectious. And it’s easy.

There’s no need to climb the highest peak. Nor must you run the furthest. You don’t need to win the big race. Heck, you don’t even need to race at all.

Without a doubt, folks can and do look to the world’s best for inspiration. But for everyone in your town who’s inspired by X or Y famous runner, I’d guess there are 10 who are inspired by those around them: the 74 year old still getting out for a few miles every morning after half a century of running, the mom of three who finds an hour every other day to hit the trails, or the youngster with two jobs who runs every chance she gets. These folks inspire!

What’s it about these folks that inspires? Many things. Familiarity. Relatability. Contact.

In late November, I was back in New Jersey visiting my family. While there, I ran with my sister Gretchen a few times. After one run I recall her proudly relating that one of her girlfriends told my sis that she was a running inspiration. Was it because my sister won a big race? Nope. I don’t think she ran a single race last year. Was it because she ran a crazy amount? Nope. She ran 500 miles last year. So what was it that inspired her friend?

As best I can tell, it’s that...

Over the holidays, I re-read an old favorite from my undergraduate research days at Hamilton College. David Shi’s remarkable book The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture has long been a favorite of cultural historians and those longing for an understanding of what the simple life means and its importance as a profound thread in American intellectual history. Written in 1985 while Shi was an Associate Professor at Davidson College, The Simple Life traces the rich cultural heritage of the movement beginning with the Puritans and Quakers, moving on to the New England Transcendentalists, and ultimately to the modern-day communitarians. Along the way, Shi paints a vivid picture of a life and a lifestyle that has, over decades, provided practitioners with physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance.

I returned to Shi’s work last week for the first time in over 30 years as I have been on my own personal journey toward a more simple life these past 18 months. As daily existence has become increasingly more busy and hectic and my professional and family life more complex, I have found myself striving for what Shi notes is “the recovery of personal autonomy and meaning through the stripping away of faulty desires and extraneous activities and possessions.” Whether by coming to grips with middle age or seeking some sort of deeper purpose in my life, I take solace in Shi’s work and even all these years later I find myself wishing for the simple life.

At...

[Editor’s Note: This essay was written by guest contributor T.J. Hooks.]

You’ve seen it, in unnamed magazines purportedly dedicated to the adventurous lifestyle, yet in reality closer to a Mountain Hardwear/Marmot/Arc’teryx catalog of apparel you could never afford, but will buy none the same. Or perhaps browsing through Instagram, perfect pictures from that perfect blonde, of perfect days in the mountains, with somehow perfectly coiffed hair at 9,000 feet. #vanlife, #livingthedream

Then again, maybe it was that video posted by that Salomon/Patagonia/Outdoor Research athlete, one day skiing impossibly white summits in New Zealand, the next on some deserted beach in British Columbia.

This imagery exists in whole to reinforce a blatant lie that permeates our culture, and lifestyle at large: “Buy me! You need me! Without me, you cannot possibly fulfill your dreams!” Something practically viral has infested what we laughingly call ‘dirtbag culture,’ something incredibly dangerous, perhaps the most pestilent force in our history.

Money, and those who love it.

Long ago, our predecessors in spirit discovered something incredible, leaving their towns, cities, and villages for a time; they found nature! With boots cobbled with nails and polished saplings for support, these blacksmiths, bakers, and carpenters climbed mountains, explored unmapped rivers, and ran through crevassed valleys. They found what Money cannot buy, the gradual mountaintop sunrise, endorphins rushing through mind and body after an exhaustive run, that adrenaline-laden shock from peeking down un-fathomable depths. And in the exploration of the boundaries of nature, and their bodies as well as souls, they created a...

Hey friends, long time no see. It’s 2018 and we’re back after a week off with a recap of the still-in-progress Across the Years event in Arizona, Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong, and a preview of next weekend’s Bandera 100k in Texas, and few other bits of news to get your year started off on the right, heh, foot. Happy New Year!

Across the Years – Phoenix, Arizona

It’s still going! The Across the Years multi-day, multi-year race started on December 28, 2017 at 9 a.m. U.S. Mountain Time and doesn’t stop until the same time on January 3, 2018. There are six-day, three-day, two-day, and one-day races held within the event and, uniquely, all races but the six-day race feature multiple starts, with results for these events tabulated among all the starts. The final standings for each distance will be announced at the completion of all starts of all distances on January 3.

Men

In the six-day race, Dave Proctor (Canada) is getting it done! Targeting 48-hour, 72-hour, and 144-hour (six day) Canadian records, Proctor is on point through halfway. He totaled 223 miles through 48 hours, almost two miles better than the previous record that had stood since 1995. A day later, Proctor split 309.66 miles over 72 hours, just over a mile more than a record that dated to 1981. At the time of this publishing on Monday morning, Proctor was still going with a current total of 362-plus miles.

Ed Ettinghausen was second in the men’s six day at 320-plus...

So… how many times have you come to iRunFar this year to get your fill of trail running and ultrarunning goodness? Not just the website, but think about Twitter and Facebook and, yeah, YouTube, too. There’s a good chance that you’ve spent a whole lotta hours enjoying something… or everything we’ve done this year. That’s awesome!

Behind the scenes, this was a rough year for iRunFar. Despite barely surviving the spring financially, we trust you and the rest of the iRunFar family didn’t notice one bit as we pushed through the season to cover 13 races in great depth, to share 148 on-site video interviews with athletes at those races, and to publish an additional 342 articles—nearly one per day, all year—in 2017. While I had a front-row seat for it all, I’m still blown away with what we were able to share with all of you!

With the year wrapping up, we’re turning to you to help support us as we head into 2018. In just the past five days, our view of 2018 has gone from one of uncertainty to one of growing hope of stability and of dreaming of ways to make iRunFar even better. How? Because of you! Why “in the past five days?” Because that’s when we joined Patreon.

So what is Patreon? In general, it’s a platform built to help people like you support creative endeavors like ours with monthly pledges. More personally, we see it as a way for iRunFar’s biggest fans to interact with...

At the 2016 Hardrock 100, co-winners Jason Schlarb and Kilian Jornet had the fastest split of all 114 finishers for the 9.1-mile section between Cunningham Gulch, the race’s final aid station, and the finish line in Silverton, Colorado. They completed that section in 2 hours and 14 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum that weekend was the slowest of the 114 finishers from Cunningham to Silverton, me, in an excruciating and soul-crushing 6:43. Yep, you read that right, 6 hours and 43 minutes to cover 9.1 miles! It was the most difficult thing I have done in my running life.

I have looked back on that day relentlessly over the intervening 18 months and while I have concluded there were several critical mistakes that I made leading up to the race and on race day, I have chosen not to dwell on those. Rather, I made the decision about a month after the race to chalk the errors up to experience, take away whatever education I could, and look ahead to the next time I get to tackle that piece of trail.

Well, as luck would have it, that day is coming in July of 2018 when I return to run Hardrock again.

This is the time of year when many of us look ahead to the new year and set goals, open ourselves up to dreams, and take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Looking at my life with the fresh perspective only a new year brings allows...

Next year is nearly upon us! At iRunFar’s headquarters, we are busting at the seams with big plans for 2018, and we hope you are readying your own life and running adventures, too. Reflecting on iRunFar’s annual body of work is not only helping us plan for next year, but it also allows us to celebrate how far we’ve come. (Oh yeah, and we also fix typos we missed along the way.) Join us in looking back at iRunFar’s year!

First, I couldn’t be more proud of iRunFar’s editors, columnists, contributors, and volunteers–what iRunFar does is truly a team effort. Thank you so much to each of you. Here are a few stats from this year which exemplify the iRunFar team effort:

  • Together our team will have created 490 articles when it’s all said and done in a couple days. That’s one (or more!) every weekday of the year.
  • We covered 13 of the most globally competitive races from way before their start until way after their finish, and conducted 148 interviews with top runners along the way.
  • We were supported by 77 volunteers who donated hundreds of collective hours to help bring you our live race coverage from remote mountaintops, villages, and other obscure locations all over planet Earth.

With this article, we highlight what we think we did best this year: from our columnists’ thoughtful, courageous, and time-consuming efforts to the most interesting reader-driven discussions, from our race-related interviews and live coverage to our experts’ recommendations for healthy and joyful running, and from our reviews of the...

“I hope to see everything in this world before I die.” — Mary Oliver in the poem, “May.”

Perhaps you too take a favored writer’s phrasings with you when you run; perhaps running’s varied cadences recall lines, both quick and slow, and the way one word becomes the next; perhaps the images that appear and flare before you are like the cloudscape on the ridge you run. For me, that runner’s writer is the poet Mary Oliver.

I don’t, as Oliver has over years, go out at first light before splashing down into my coffee. But I do have a morning seat before a window that looks out and up at white pines, and there I read first a few poems, hers or others. This morning, I chose to begin reading again in White Pine, and a few pages in, I got to the prose poem, “May.” Never mind that we are on the other half of light’s seesaw, there was Oliver’s rendering of a copperhead, snake of substance, and that sighting sent me on my way, as poems will.

In southern Connecticut, where my father-in-law angles on into deep age, nearby his apartment, I often get a couple of hours of running in a small state park (roughly three miles long by one wide) shaped around a little mountain, The Sleeping Giant.

The Giant has its own mythology, as is fitting. We come from the sea. And from the south, from New Haven’s harbor, the west-east traprock ridge some eight miles inland...