Monday, December 29, 2008


While preparing Christmas eve dinner, the hound from hell (our terrier) crossed under my feet. In an effort to avoid squashing him like a bug (not sure I still support that decision) I caught my toe on the cabinet door. CRACK! So, now just coming off my calf injury and with some really challenging events planned, I am hobbled with a broken toe and bruised foot. Oh well, got to tape it up and hit the roads and trails.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I just learned that I have been unlucky enough to have been selected for the 2009 edition of the Barkley marathons. This is a 100 mile running event that is considered the hardest event of that distance. It takes place in Frozen Head state park in Tennessee. From Matt Mahoney's website:

The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 52,900 feet of climb (and 52,900 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race, more than the 33,000 ft. of climb at Hardrock, and more than the 45,000 ft. at Nolan's 14. Since the race began in 1986, only 7 runners out of about 650 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff. The race consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile "fun run" has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.

Click here for an interesting Washington Post article.

Well, I guess I need to start training! Below is my predicted race photo somewhere within the first 2 loops:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


A bunch of us Ultraholics tend to "tag" each others blogs with a list of questions. Since we are nearing the end of 2008, I thought I'd get the game started. The questions I posed to each Ultraholic is listed below, along with my answers. I am tagging Rajeev Patel, Michael Kanning, Peter Lubbers, Chihping Fu, Clara and Lisa Bliss (even though she hasn't joined our Ultraholics group.....yet).

1. What was your 2008 running highlight and running low?
For me, my highlight had to be my Badwater 135 run. Keys 100 was a close second as it was my P.R. 100 and I was first male overall (small race so don't be impressed), but Badwater was just perfect. The challenge, my crew, the support, the race, the other runners, everything. Hands down, my lowest running moment in 2008 (and all years) was my first and only DNF ever at mile 80 of Rocky Raccoon 100 thanks to piriformis.

2. What race are you secretly planning on doing (or contemplating) for 2009 but haven't made it known to the public....until now.
For me, that would be the Barkley. I always saw that as a never-will-I-do-that event. But that was exactly the way I felt about Badwater. I am definitely going to try and enter that baby for 2009.

3. Where would you like create and direct an ultra that (to your knowledge) none exists?
My choice would probably be the Markleville Death Ride course. I have semi-joked that I would run this bike ride in 2009. The climbs, the scenery, the altitude and the miles (200km) all add up to a heck of a challenge and event.

4. What is your "primary" race for 2009?
I want to go back to Badwater and try to run it as fast and as hard as I can.

5. What is the most exciting thing about your upcoming race schedule?
Well, if I get into Barkley or Spartathlon or, of course, Badwater I would be stoked. But for me it is the fact my fiance Cori has stated that she will be doing her first ever ultra in 2009!!!!

6. List your planned races for 2009:
Me: H.U.R.T 100 (but because my injury slowed my training will probably give a waitlister a gift and instead do Rocky Raccoon 100); Old Pueblo 50; (here I would add Ruth Anderson 100km - but think I will be honeymooning in Italy at the time - sorry Raj); Keys 100; Badwater 135; Spartathlon; Vineman Triathlon; Cactus Rose 100; Fear & Loathing 100km; Sunmart 50.

OK - tag!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This is outside my office (I shot it through my window so images aren't great). Shows a feeding frenzy of cormorants, pelicans and some egrets feasting on a school of anchovie.


The movie that really got me interested in doing Badwater was Running on the Sun. After watching it the first time I said "Never will I do that race." Well, I did end up doing it this year.

Now there is a new movie out about Badwater. This is The Distance of Truth. It centers mostly on the race of Canadian ultrarunner Ferg Hawke. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The starting scene was very powerful and kind of set the tone for the movie (Death Valley is a very hot place). At times it was a bit melodramatic, but not to the point it bothered me.

The race, like Running on the Sun, centered mostly on two runners. Here it was Ferg and ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek. However, Running on the Sun had more elements of the women's race and non-elites in it.

This movie shows Badwater as the race exists today (multiple waves, smaller crews, etc.) It does seem to really drive home the fact that people can die - but it has never happened at Badwater, so there's that bit of melodrama.

Anyway, great ultra flick. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I started running ultramarathons about 2 years ago with the goal of doing Western States 100 (considered by most to be the granddaddy of all U.S. ultramarathons). There were others races I wanted to do such as Leadville, but Western States was my main goal - similar to Kona being my Ironman goal.

So I entered the SF One Day and did my first ultra running 53 miles in about eight and a half hours. This qualified me for the lottery to get into Western States. I wasn't drawn. Then I qualified the following year - and wasn't drawn. That made me a "two time loser" which meant that I was automatic if I qualified for the 3rd straight year. I did. Then they changed the rule and did away with the 2 time loser lottery. But, for those, like me, that would have been automatic entry, we were given our own lottery for 2009 that would give each a 1 in 2 shot of being drawn. Those not drawn there (or the general lottery) would be automatic for 2010.

But.....this year Western States was cancelled due to wildfires (first time in its history). So all 2008 runners were given the spots to 2009 - but for a small lottery of about 50 spots. I wasn't drawn.

So....they had a separate lottery for the remaining two time losers for 2010. I wasn't drawn. But was given an automatic entry (once I qualify in 2010) for the 2011 race.

So.......I have finally made it to the big dance. Sure I have to wait a few years, but I am "in". In the meantime, I will enter the general lottery for 2010 and hope I am drawn meaning I will be in both for 2010 and 2011.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This year, instead of running the F&L 50km/50 mile run put on by our great friends Don and Gillian from ZombieRunner, I volunteered at the race. This gave me a chance to rest my leg today and drink heavily last night.

I was given Mile 14 aid station - considered by all to be the most vital of all aid stations and was always entrusted to the most devoted and trusted support volunteers (although when I ran through this spot where the station was supposed to be last year, ZombieRunner Don hadn't quite got there yet....the line was long at Starbucks I suppose. Consensus was this year's Mile 14 aid station made the race).

Rare for San Francisco, it was a cold, foggy, slightly rainy start, with fog blankets whipping around the top of Twin Peaks.

Mark Tanaka readies himself for the race.

This year's crop of Fear and Lothers line up:

Don and Gillian bark out orders....oh, OK, they politely explained the course and wished everyone good luck :)

Then the fast and furious start was on:

On the top of Twin Peaks, there are coyotes to go along with the road runners:

Runners had to follow these signs throughout the city (for laughes some of us snuck out last night and flipped them in randon directions):

Down below Twin Peaks runners were just visible through the fog:

The highly organized and top-of-the-line Mile 14 aid station:

Front runner Mark Tanaka flies into Mile 14:

There Mark quickly empties the trunk of all food and drinks leaving nothing for the other runners ("You snooze you loose" he stated):

Next, in second place, is Pacific Coast Trail Run co-RD/Owner/Guru Wendell Doman ("What?! Where are all the supplies.....that darned Tanaka!"):

Next comes in KapnKirk who would have been there sooner but got sidetracked at a Trekkie Convention downtown:

This group of fun loving runners show up and re-fuel. This group consists of (in no particular order and probably with wrong names anyway....I wasn't really paying attention as I was eyeing a sushi resturant across the street): Fred, Gavin, Rick, and Steve.

Here comes the first woman - Ellen is actually an employee at ZombieRunner who I think was sent to make sure I wasn't pocketing any of the ZombieRunner supplied supplies. This was her first ultra and she trained well with some tough 5K's in college:

Then flying down the hill Mariza and Penny lead the way for Steve. The three of them stop for a bit and comment how much nicer it is to have an aid station actually in existence at Mile 14 this year compared to last.

Mariza and Penny found my stash of Thunderbird in the trunk and helped themselves:

They chose not to share the fine wine with Steve who was making breakfast crepes on the wall in the background:

One can see the strong effects of a fine vintage of Thunderbird as Steve wonders why the ladies were going so fast:

As all the runners went through my station (except those who took short-cuts or got lost), I headed over to Coit Tower at mile 17. There it was a big party (these shots were taken right before everyone donned togas and the keg was delivered):

Instead of helping these runners at Mile 17, I was taking photos of the beautiful city skyline (hey - I was volunteering....maybe ZombieRunner can actually pay us next year):

I left from Coit Tower, passing by the runners as if I were in a car and they were on foot:

I was always keeping a close eye on our runners to make that a sushi restaurant?

The toga runners enter the 20 mile aid station (guess they left their togas hanging from the rafters at Coit Tower along with an empty keg, 3 cases of empty whipped cream cans and a trapeeze):

Here comes Chief Toga Runner with Ellen (who quickly ran over to snitch to Don and Gillian that I was keeping all the supplies to myself. Despite the empty energy bar wrapper in my hand, I quickly "explained" that Tanaka took them all and everything worked out well):

End of the race - back on top of Twin Peaks (surprise....fog). First place overall was Mark Tanaka who even beat Gillian and I back to the starting line (we are reviewing all videotapes of taxi cabs and buses in the city):

Mark is awarded his first place bottle of high quality wine made from Kazakhstanian prunes and bottled in the finest Mongolian wineries:

Here is Mark and Gillian with Mark showing of his wine and finisher's mug (I did note that when Gillian went to get the mug, Mark grabbed a couple cases of salt tablets, gels, and energy bars from her trunk....really Gillian, it was Mark...not me)

Here comes second place 50kmer Kap'n Kirk doing warpspeed 7 up 7th avenue towards the finish line:

I would have stayed longer but like I mentioned, I wasn't being I had a trunkfull of supplies to empty.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I wanted to do a nice long run in prep for Mother Road 100. So I mapped an out and back that would keep me mostly on the roads to the Golden Gate Bridge and back home, while running past some nice San Francisco landmarks. In the end, I ended up really straining or tearing my left calf muscle, so not sure about Mother Road but here are the sights I saw along the way. I was to be around 25 miles, but thanks to some detours and last minute changes, think it ended up being a full marathon.

Sight of one of California's last duels (near Lake Merced on SF border).

Lake Merced (site of the Ruth Anderson Endurance runs):

Pacific Ocean:

Views from the Cliff House:

The old Sutro Baths:

The Thinker at the Legion of Honor:

Legion of Honor:

Large cargo ship off Baker Beach:

Baker Beach Waves:

The infamous Sand Ladder from the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon:

Golden Gate Bridge:

View from Land's End:

Cool sand art at Ocean Beach:

Only about 3 miles to go, passing the home of the Ultraholics:

Home at last: