Sunday, June 27, 2010


Here are 3 videos I took during my failed Western States attempt this year. It includes the start climb, the climb through the snow to escarpment and a run in the snow and much.

The climb was actually not too bad and I enjoyed joking with fellow runners Christian Griffith and Jeff Genova. The views were beautiful.

The run down through the snow and mud and slush and water are barely represented in the videos. It was a very unique and at times challenging experience.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Aloha John of UltraRunning mag just published his play list to be played repeatedly at the Western States 100 finish line. Here it is:

Against the Wind – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

All the Way Home - Bruce Springsteen

Beautiful Day - U2

Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen

Can't Keep A Good Man Down - Tommy Castro

Can't Run But - Paul Simon

Come Running - Van Morrison

Coyote - Mark Knopfler

Crashing Down - Heather Combs

Days Go By - Keith Urban

Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson

Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line - Paul Thorn

Everybody Ona Move - Michael Franti & Spearhead

Fill It Up Again - Indigo Girls

Friend of the Devil (Live At the Filmore East, May 15, 1970) - Grateful Dead

Further On (Up The Road) - Bruce Springsteen

Get To Me - Train

Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen

Good to Be Me - Uncle Kracker

Got Me Runnin' - Brother Cat

Headed Home - Donavon Frankenreiter

Hey Now Now - Michael Franti & Spearhead

Hit the Ground Runnin' - Brother Cat

Hit the Ground Running - Donavon Frankenreiter

How Long - The Eagles

How Many Miles Must We March - Ben Harper

I Ran (So Far Away) - A Flock of Seagulls

I Run for Life - Melissa Etheridge

I Will Not Be Broken - Bonnie Raitt

(I'm A) Road Runner - James Taylor

It Keeps You Runnin' - The Doobie Brothers

Life Is a Highway - Rascal Flatts

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Iron Maiden

Long May You Run - Neil Young

Long Road to Ruin - Foo Fighters

The Long Run – The Eagles

Long Walk Home - Bruce Springsteen

The Long Way Around - Dixie Chicks

Many the Miles - Sara Bareilles

Miles Away - Marc Cohn

Million Miles Away - Ingram Hill

No One to Run With - The Allman Brothers Band

Off and Running - Lucy Kaplansky

Run - Indigo Girls

Run for the Hills - Sister Hazel

Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd

Run Little One - The Subdudes

Run On For A Long Time - The Blind Boys Of Alabama

Run Through the Jungle - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Run-Around - Blues Traveler

Run, Baby, Run - Sheryl Crow

Run, Run, Run - Patti Scialfa

Run, Run, Run - The Velvet Underground & Nico

Runaway - Bon Jovi

Runaway - Del Shannon

Runnin' Away - Eliza Gilkyson

Runnin' Down a Dream - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Runnin' with the Devil - Van Halen

Running on Empty - Jackson Browne

Running on Faith - Eric Clapton

Running Up That Hill - Placebo

Same Ol' River - Sam Bush

See How I Run - Jessie Baylin

Shine On - Eric Bibb

Take It On the Run - REO Speedwagon

Take It To The Limit - The Eagles

Take the Money and Run - Steve Miller

These Are Days - 10,000 Maniacs

Thorn In My Side - Eurythmics

Walk Don't Run - The Ventures

Walk On - U2

Walk This Way (Live) - Aerosmith

Winding Road - Bonnie Somerville

You Got Me Runnin' - Fastway

Your Life Is Now - John Mellencamp

3 A.M. - Matchbox Twenty

25 Miles - Edwin Starr

Seymour Rifkind Responds

Earlier I posted a review of "135 Days to Badwater" Today, I received a note from the movie's creator and star. With his permission, I am posting that here. I want this to be a a fair and open review:


I wanted to drop you a note on what I thought was a very fair review of my film. 135Days to Badwater was not produced professionally and as you stated in your review much of the footage was simply spliced with editing and voice over later done in a professional studio. The film has no comparison to the two other professional films you reviewed. (which I enjoyed very much) I ran that course to help raise awareness and funds for two charities in Chicago that help abused/homeless children. The film was an after thought since I didn't raise as much money as I had hoped (too busy training and not promoting) and this was and continues to be a way to help those charities.

As you stated, my intent was to showcase the solo and perhaps go into a little more depth on the training one athlete did to prepare. As a member of the list, training seems to be a question that comes up often so I was hoping to distinguish my film from the others by going into more detail on the importance of the crew and at least my training regimen. I certainly respect your opinion both on the film review and many of the posts you've made on the list, but "my philosophy" is certainly more than meditation and if you got the impression it was new age I probably didn't do as good a job as I had hoped since I've been practicing (living within the pyramid) daily for over 40 years long before there was even a term "new age".

Lastly, I need to clarify your main point of my father's concentration camp experience and the Badwater run. There is no way I would ever try and compare the death marches that so many jewish citizens perished in to a voluntary run in Death Valley. As you stated so well there is simply no comparison. My father has been a tremendous influence in my life and I love him deeply. He shared his horrifying experience with me as a child on a regular basis. In my imagination I often wondered what it was like and if I would have been able to survive the death marches. As you know, Ultra runners often go through very deep despair, pain, hallucinations etc. during a run. During those times my mind often wandered off to my father and the pain he must have experienced. Obviously, I could never actually experience what my father went through nor would I want to, but I did think and imagine what it must have been like and that helped push me through a number of difficult periods. So more than anything I used my fathers experience and being his son as motivation to push through the pain every runner goes through. That's what I was trying to convey. I didn't realize it at the time but I suffered a stress fracture to my pelvis at mile 90. Again, I respect your opinions and thought most of your critique was right on. I hope I helped clarify the role my father and his holocaust experience provided.


seymour rifkind

Sunday, June 20, 2010

MY WESTERN STATES 100 PREDICTIONS is holding a prediction contest for the upcoming Western States 100. Here are my picks (notice my name is glaringly absent):

Men Top 8:
Geoff Roes
Hal Koerner
Gary Robbins
Anton Krupicka
Kilian Jornet
Erik Skaden
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
Leigh Schmitt

Masters Men: Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Women Top 8:
Nikki Kimball
Suzanna Bon
Tracy Garneau
Caren Spore
Devon Crosby-Helms
Meghan Arbogast
Jill Perry
Beverley Anderson-Abbs

Masters Women: Beverly Anderson-Abbs

Saturday, June 19, 2010


A couple years ago, I reviewed and compared two Badwater movies - Running on the Sun and The Distance of Truth. Below is that review again - after that I will add my review of the latest movie - 135 Days To Badwater.

"Running on the Sun is 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. But then the idea started growing on me and I became more and more intrigued.

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!"

I learned of another movie about Badwater called: 135 Days to Badwater. This one is unique in that instead of a movie about the official Badwater race, it is about a solo attempt. The movie centers around Seymour Rifkind's 2008 solo attempt. Rifkin attempted this run only a couple months after his first ever ultramarathon (a 50 mile finish).

The movie is quite short - less than an hour. Rifkind infuses the movie with a bit of what I will call his "new age" philosophies. It includes meditation, and reflects upon his other accomplishments and endeavors. At times, I felt it ventured into a bit of "self-promotion" by Rifkin.

The filming was mostly made up (in my opinion anyway) by splicing hand-held video camera of lower quality (not even Flip HD quality) together with photo stills. The narration bounced back and forth between a studio voice and his crew members.

I did like viewing a film about a solo attempt. It is something I want to do some day so this gave me some background. At times, like A Distance of Truth, it is too melodramatic ("shoes are melted off the feet of the runners".....I actually have never heard that actually happening). But, overall while I enjoyed the film, it was almost like trying to "research" a foreign country visit by watching a friend's vacation movies.

One personal "nitpick" I have is his attempt to compare/liken the Badwater experience to his relatives' Nazi concentration camp/march experiences. In it he seems to question "I wonder if I could have survived the Nazi death walks" and then uses his Badwater attempt to see if he could (I could be wrong, but I did read that message in the film). To me, if that was in part his message or motivation, I think it belittles the horror and reality of what the Nazi's forced upon the Jewish prisoners. Badwater is a choice, a challenge over in hours, something one can withdraw from any second, and one that is backed by plenty of food, water and crew support. I do not see any likeness nor comparison to the horrors of the holocaust. Now, unlike Rifkin, my family members did not suffer or die in the Nazi terror, so perhaps he has more right to make such comparison. But, this is what I felt when viewing those parts.

The concept was interesting, Rifkin's family history, his personal story, and his thoughts were also interesting. But overall, the other two films give a more comprehensive picture of Badwater to me. This is just my opinion - other my think it is much better than the other two flicks.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today I was running on San Bruno Mountain. As I rounded a corner I saw this little guy staring at me. He vanished into some bushes. I waited and soon he came back out. He looked at me and darted back in. Later he came back out and took a few steps nearer to me. Then he darted back in. Then he came out and came a few feet closer to me. Then stopped. This continued until he was sniffing my shoes with his front paws on my La Sportiva. I didn't have any good camera with me, but here are my Blackberry phone shots:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Today Cori and went down to Golden Gate Park to run an evening 5k run (Cori and Juan decided to do the 2 mile walk....I think she was the first pregnant lady to finish).

I have run this one a few times in the past and have done quite well, but my legs were still very tired from the Diablo 50k and with only 3 days between the two races I wasn't expecting too much. Cori and I got there and registered for the race.

I lined up and waited for the starting gun. Soon we were off and running. The race starts with a lap around the polo fields. Then we went off on a bike path and running. I was somewhere around 12th place I believe.

I approached the first mile and the time was 6:50. Not bad considering my legs felt like crap and we were running up hill.

Soon, the course changed to a trail that went downhill. I started to pick up the pace here and passed a few people. The trail continued down past the boat pond and then past the buffalo pastures. Then we turned right and entered a sandy trail that wound through trees and around ponds.

Finally we went up hill back to the Polo fields and across the finish line. I crossed in 20:39.....a 6:39 minute mile average.
Certainly not my fastest, but considering how my legs felt I was quite happy. I grabbed some post-race goodies.

Then I waited for Cori, Gabriella and Juan to come across the finish line.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I decided to do one last race before the Western States 100 mile Endurance run. I was trying to decide between Auburn Trail 34 miler or the Mt. Diablo 50k. I asked around and most people suggested the Diablo run so I would get more hills and heat. So I decided to do that one.

Saturday morning started hot and it got even warmer as the day progressed.

I got to the race start and checked in. Sarah Spelt from PCTR was there and we exchanged a hello. Then I got my gear together. As I was placing my gear in my waist belt, it slipped down the trunk lid of my car. I didn't notice this and tried and to close the trunk, slamming it on the waist pack. Later I discovered that my camera, stored in the waist pack, was caught in the pack and the trunk lid cracked the screen. So I had no idea if it was still working but decided to bring it and just aim in the general direction and snap photos. The photos here are the results.

Soon we gathered at the starting line for last minutes instructions.

Then we were off.

The run started with a common theme of the day......a climb up in the heat.

In the beginning I ran/jogged when I could but often find myself in a power hike. Five minutes in the sweat was already pouring down my forehead. I was using this a testing grounds for certain possibilities to use such as a new Ultimate Direction two bottle waist pack (that fits oh so nicely between the trunk lid and the trunk) and two sets of shoes - Asics and La Sportiva

As we went on, we went higher up the mountain. This gave us views of the east bay....and soon the San Francisco skyline and the south bay.

I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was trying to maintain a strong hike without pushing too hard. The sun was really beating down though. I was drinking plenty (water and Clip) and downing a S! Cap per hour.

After awhile, the uphill climb became a downhill. This felt good. I love downhills and went tearing down. This felt good and was a nice change from the uphills.

I was definitely getting the heat training I wanted. Soon the downhills leveled off and became uphills again. The sun was high overhead and the temps were increasing.

Soon I reached the aid station. It was in a camping ground parking lot. The aid station workers were very nice and helpful, filling up my bottles. Then we were off again - the trails wrapped around the mountain, heading up to the peak of Mt. Diablo. Soon, the lead runners from the 25km and Chikara leading the 50km came tearing down the mountain.

Suddenly the visitor center at the top of Diablo came into view - the turn around was just past the last trail section. As I approached it, Mountain Man Steve Ansell came racing down the mountain and we exchanged high fives. I went up through the trail and reached the turn-around - this sign:
The views from the top were unbelievable.

Then it was back down. And I mean down. This race had uphills....but it had an equal amount of downhills. As I went down, I was tearing down a trail and, like at Quad Dipsea, I was concentrating so much on my footing in front of me, I missed the trail juncture to the right. Not knowing this, I kept running down the wrong trail. After about a quarter mile things did not look right. I stopped and looked around. No trail marker ribbons could be seen. I saw some hikers coming up the trail and asked if they had seen any runners. They said "Yes" so I felt relieved. Then they said "We saw two, but they seemed lost and confused." No I didn't feel relieved any more. I turned around and started trudging back up the hill.

I found the trail again and got back on track. I tore back down the mountain. But now my lower back was acting up. Each footstep downhill caused pain in my lumbar region and then down my legs. But I continued and reached the turn-around point. Time was 3:35.

I changed shoes (into my La Sportiva) and switched into hand held bottles. Then it was back up the trail. I was feeling pretty good and moving pretty strong. The trail did have some nice scenes such as waterfalls, trees and flowers.

Soon however, my back started throbbing and my pace slowed down. My stomach wasn't feeling so great either. But I kept climbing and soon went through the aid station again. Then it was up on to the summit again. Soon the summit sign came into view.

Then it was at the summit again.

My return trip down was slow. My back hurting and my legs feeling empty. But eventually I finished. My time was unbelievably slow - 8:54 (I have done 50 milers faster). But with the high temps and almost 9000 feet of climb over 31 miles (by comparison, Vermont 100 has 14,600 feet over 100 miles!) I am thankful my last WS100 training gave me what I was looking for: heat, hills and time on my feet.

Sarah and PCTR put on a great race and as I relaxed and looked at the Mt. Diablo dust on my legs, I looked forward to Western States 100 in a few weeks.