Friday, August 29, 2008

Colorado Intense!

Team Saab/Salomon keeps applying the pressure on Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners. Though Max and Erik won today's stage (Day Five), the winning margin was only 24 seconds. Think about it; run 24 miles over the hairiest terrain you can imagine to only come across the line 24 seconds before the chasing team. That's intense!

Tomorrow is the final day of the Transrockies Run. Skaggs and King have about a four minute overall lead on Team Saab/Salomon. Tomorrow, Day Six, has 21 mountain miles in store. Anything can happen...

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nike/Rogue Valley Runners Continue to Roll in Colorado

So far so good! At the end of day three King and Skaggs continued to build their lead by winning the third leg of the Transrockies Run.

Here is today's Mail Tribune article on Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners' progress.

Stay tuned for more info and updates...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trans Rockies Heats Up

The start on Day One. (Photo taken from the Transrockies website.)

As this blog post goes to "press" our intrepid duo (Erik Skaggs and Max King) are in the midst of a 24-mile running leg from Leadville, CO to Camp Hale, CO. This is Day Three of six. They will pass over altitudes of 11,000 feet and accrue a net gain of nearly 3,000 feet by the end of the day.

On Day One they ran quickly on a relatively flat course and placed second overall to Team Salomon. Results are here.

Yesterday, Day Two, entailed a gut wrenching 10-mile climb and descent over Hope Pass (12,538'). Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners placed second yet again, but to a different team, but still placing them in the overall lead.

Controversy, however, arose at the end of Day Two's leg. The winning team, Britian's Team Saab/Salomon, was witnessed cutting the course on switchbacks as they ascended and descended Hope Pass. Penalties were not accessed even though the race's official rules and pre-race briefings strictly prohibit such behavior. Let's hope bad boys can change their ways.

View other accounts of the race on these blog sites:
Sean Meissner's, Matt Hart's and Bryon Powell's.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oregon goes to Colorado: Trans-Rockies Run

Rogue Valley Runner and store employee Erik Skaggs (Ashland, OR) and Olympic Trials Steeplechase qualifier Max King (Bend, OR) head to the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the second annual Gor-tex TransRockies Run. But unlike their head to head duel at the Siskiyou Out Back 50K Trail Run back in July, the boys will be running and working together as the Nike/Rogue Valley Runners Team at this race starting Monday morning.

Max King at the 8K USATF Championships. (photo courtesy of the New York Road Runners)

Last year's Trans-Rockies winners (r to l) Erik Skaggs with his brother and then partner, Kyle. (photo courtesy of

Together with King's experience at the World Championship level and Skaggs' experience as the defending champion from last year's race; these two put together one of the fiercest resumes at this year's TransRockies Run. Their expertise will come in handy over the six-day stage race that pits the duo against some of the best mountain runners in the world. Race legs vary from 12 to 24 miles in length and the teams will spend the majority of their time between 9,000 and 12,000 feet. Daily course descriptions and elevation profiles can be found here. Teams must run together and finish side by side if they wish to be counted in the day's results. The Team with the fastest cumulative time at the end of the six days will be crowned winner.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention another Oregon runner participating in this year's race; Sean Meissner (Bend, OR) on Team Montrail.

Last year, the TransRockies Run web site did a good job of posting daily updates at the end of each leg. Check back Monday night for the first leg's results!

Good luck fellas!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Anatomy of a National Championship Win: Told by Neil Olsen

Neil after 62 miles of hard racing.

The cool thing about the trail ultramarathon is that the race unfolds over a long period of time, over varying terrain, and is littered with unforseen obstacles. Lots can happen. A story unfolds.

Leaders switch position more often; the runner at the front of the pack at mile 30 might not be in the lead after mile 55. The runner in fifth place, 10 minutes down with 10 miles to go, might be your winner when it's all said and done. Often the race can become a race against yourself and not against the runner in front of you or behind you. The uncertainties add up, as does the anxeity and unknown.

Here's Neil Olsen's story about his day at the USATF 100K National Trail Championships.

"This year I toed the Where's Waldo starting line ready to try it again with fresher legs and a determination not to make any wrong turns.

I was more prepared in some ways, and less sure in others. It had been 3 long months since my previous race instead of the 3 weeks I tried the year before. I had done more long training runs earlier in the year but in the previous 2 weeks my longest run was a 4 hour 23 mile hill run that wore me out. In the wake of the Western States 100 Mile cancelation my motivation had lagged a bit. I hadn't done any timed intervals nor have I made it to any of the cross-country series. I did some cross-training including a bike-paddle-mountain bike-hike-bike from here to the coast with some friends from church the week before (during which I was able to spend about 1.5 seconds of quality time with David as he was running the other direction in some event at the north end of Grants Pass), and I'd spent a week hiking with my son and some scouts in the Trinity Alps.

My hope was to take it easy and make it past half way without hurting, then pick it up from there. I dropped that plan, in favor of running a little harder early, because I figured I'd have to slow down once it warmed up. It did get hot, and drinking enough was an issue, but there was a breeze, and it clouded up a bit, and most of the course is in the shade, so it was manageable. From the start Hal Koerner, Nate McDowell, Sean Andrish and some others went out fast. (Nate is the guy with the time for the slightly short SOB course that converts to just 1 minute slower than Max's this year). My splits through the 1st 4 aid stations were about the same as last year but I quickly fell more than 10 minutes behind the leaders. Other than a calf that got very sore, and some tightness in the hamstrings (in-door soccer is not a good way to taper) I felt fine.

I got caught by Jason Bryant while I was checking my map a couple of miles past 4290. I stayed close enough to him to watch him catch Sean, but I couldn't match their pace on the uphill. I got by them both on a down-hill, and later got caught and almost passed by a very strong Joe Grant who paced himself well throughout the race. Somehow they didn't pass me on the long hike up the last super-tall climb to Maiden Peak. I was still 10 minutes behind Nate. I didn't feel all that fresh, as I had been having trouble keeping liquids down. The only solids I had tried were some pretzels at Charlton. I kept urping them up and spitting them out for the next 2 hours. I stuck mainly to the Gu-2O downing 20+ oz every 45 min. After the aid station that only had water (but thankfully had ice!!) I swallowed an s-cap and tried to down an extra Gu.

At the last aid station Joe was on my tail, which usually would have concerned me, but I was thinking forward, as they told me I was now only 7 minutes behind Nate. Sean inexplicably dropped out at this aid station. Hal at least had the good sense that if he was going to drop out, to do so early. My calf wasn't any worse, my quads weren't entirely thrashed, and I had yet to cramp, so I maintained hope and tore out of the aid station moving quickly. I thought it was going to take the entire last 7.5 miles to catch him, so I was surprised and thrilled when less than 3 miles later I spotted, then passed him. I had burned a lot of energy, had forgotten to grab any Clif shots, and now had to avoid bonking for almost 5 more miles. I slowed a bit, thinking I just needed to cruise, but a mile later on a switch-back I realized Nate was still only 40 yards behind me. So I picked it back up, and ran in fear, hoping to get a cushion but never knowing how close he was until the finish. Last year I was in tears at the finish, in relief that the agony was over. This year the agony was much less intense, and mainly limited to the last part. But for the 2nd time in my running career I got emotional at the end of the race, this time with happiness.

I'm not sure why the course was so fast this year, with 7 of us under the 2007 course record. I know without Nate, Jason, and Sean pulling me along, Joe and others pushing, I wouldn't have chosen to go that speed. I am 42.&;quot;

Neil Olsen is congratulated by Craig Thornley, the RD for the Where's Waldo 100K Ultramarathon.

Neil continues, "The race directors put on a great event. These trails would be fabulous to run on if I wasn't so preoccupied the whole time with my racing. The aid station people were extremely attentive to my needs and so up-beat. I asked for some vasoline, and in a flash the volunteer had an open container with a gob of it on her fingers asking, with a straight face, where to put it. The logistics of marking the trails, communicating, having people at intersections were so well done that I didn't have a chance to get lost. The sponsors were generous. I was overwhelmed by the awards. Stop reading here if you struggle with jealousy. John Ticer made stained glass plaques for the overall mens and womens that are works of art. I don't know if he did the sewing, but John also provided quilts for the masters winners. I got a jacket and a shirt that my kids quickly laid claim to. The USATF medals are nice, and the checks were very cool too. Now maybe Emily can go to college after all.

My sisters and their families and my parents camped together at Waldo lake in part for this. They came to the Charlton lake aid station, and it was awesome having them there as my crew. But I got ahead of schedule, so they missed the finish by less than 10 minutes. My daughter Emily offered to go on a long cool-down with me, but I opted for a much needed massage instead."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where's Waldo 100 Kilometer Ultramarathon - USA Track and Field's 100K National Trail Championships

Rogue Valley Runner Neil Olsen wins Waldo!

Last year he took a wrong turn. This year he didn't. Bound and determined to rectify last year's misfortune, Neil Olsen ran like the wind and captured both the overall and masters titles at the 2008 USA Track and Field 100 Kilometer National Trail Championships.

Runners line up for a dark start.

Set in the idyllic central Cascade mountains of central Oregon, the Where's Waldo 100 Kilometer Ultramarathon hosted the USATF Championships. More than 110 runners toed the line at the start/finish area at Willamette Pass. 83 would finish on a day that brought very warm, mid-80 degree temperatures. Over the course of those miles runners would gain a total of 11,000 feet.

The view from the start/finish line.

In dramatic fashion, with roughly two miles to go, Central Point's Neil Olsen passed then race leader Nate McDowell (from Los Alamos, NM). Olsen finished in a course record time of 10 hours, 6 minutes and 54 seconds; roughly four minutes ahead of McDowell. He was a man full of emotion at the finish line; he won a difficult, but well deserved National Championship. Congratulations Neil!

Bend's Prudence L'Heureux won the women's title in a time of 11:12:36, 11th overall.

Runners were racing for not only the title of "National Champion" but for a pot of prize money that stood at $3,000.
The loot.

A week after her Crater Lake Marathon win, Jenn Shelton travelled to Waldo to pace and not race. She helped her good friend Tonya Olson (Bend, OR) to the finish line by keeping her company over the last 31 miles of the race.

Ashland's Rob Cain not only finished 33rd in 13:35:46, but he also took home the coveted "Show Us Your Waldo Award" for his perfect Waldo impersonation.

Rogue Valley Runner Ian Torrence finished 8th overall in a time of 10:51:30.

Full race results can be found here.

Special thanks to Richard Bolt, Oregon's USATF Mountain, Ultra and Trail Coordinator, for providing the photography.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Crater Lake Marathon

She's been recently quoted as saying something along these lines, "I'm outta shape. I'm not as fast as I used to be." Though these self-proclaimed accusations may be true to some degree in her own mind; she's still got spunk, talent, speed and desire. This past weekend Ashland, Oregon's Jenn Shelton rocked the Crater Lake Marathon. She won the woman's race, placed 6th overall and set a new ladies course record. She blazed the course in 3:15:01, more than three minutes faster than any other woman has before. Not too shabby for an "outta shape and slow" runner. Congratulations on some awesome running Jenn! Want to know more about Jenn? Pick up the September 2008 issue of Runner's World. She's featured in a short profile along with a couple of good pictures.

In the men's race Talent, Oregon's Todd Ragsdale (2006's Crater Lake Marathon winner and 2007's runner-up) was the bride's maid for the second year in a row. Running a 2:57:06, faster than any of his pervious years, Todd placed second to Bend's Sean Meissner. Meissner won the race in 2:55:47.

A full article and results can be found here at the Mailtribune.

The racers with smiles. (left to right) Todd Ragsdale, Jenn Shelton, Sean Meissner

Friday, August 08, 2008

Introducing the New Ladies Group Run

Hey Ladies,

This is the real deal! This THURSDAY will be the first ever women's only group run!

Meet at Rogue Valley Runners in Downtown Ashland, Thursday August 14th at 5:30pm.

Plan for a one hour run at a fairly relaxed pace (about 10 minutes per mile) on some of Ashland's finest trails and back roads. No need to RSVP, but feel free to bring other lady friends (or at least tell them about it). Our hope is to make this an on-going affair.

Ladies attending this first ever event will receive a 15% discount on any merchandise purchased at the store on this special evening.

If you have any questions, call Maria at (928) 380-2615 or email her at Or call the store at (541) 201-0014.

Hope we see you here!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mt. Ashland Hill Climb-Oh, the glorious pain!

Relentless. A great one-word description for the Mount Ashland Hill Climb (AHC). Start in downtown Ashland at 1,900 feet. End atop Mt. Ashland 13.3 miles later at 7,533 feet. 5,600 vertical feet, more than a mile. Making the AHC one of the toughest hill climbs in the country. 250 folks registered and 147 runners made it to the summit marking the 32nd year of the event. Erik Skaggs, from Ashland, OR wins the men's race in 1:53:01, the second fastest time ever run on the course. Evelyn Dong, from Bend, OR, sets a new women's course record in 2:08:40.

Congratulations to the Rogue Valley Runners crew! Erik Skaggs (1st), John Leuthold (5th), Hal Koerner (6th), Ian Torrence (8th), Todd Ragsdale (14th), Chris Rennaker (20th), Jenn Shelton (2nd woman), Ixel Sanchez (4th woman), Aria Hemphill (5th woman), and Katy Stienmetz (who vows to enter the competitive division next year).

Also, congratulations and a hearty "nice work" goes out to all of our Rogue Valley fellow runners and volunteers! Full results can be found here.

Let's look at some photos!!! Thanks to Aaron Brian (from Bull Gap) and Carly Varner (from the Lodge and the finish line) for their photos.

Without all the volunteers this awesome event would never happen! Here Eric Poole helps a runner at the Bull Gap Aid Station.

Erik Skaggs blazes through Bull Gap (mile 11.3) on his way to the win in 1:53:01! The second fastest time ever run!

Bridge the Gap race director, Chuck Whitely, speeds through Bull Gap.

Ixel Sanchez gets help from Poole at the Bull Gap Aid Station.

Jenn Shelton, the second women's finisher, works hard to catch early starter Bob Holtel.

Chris Rennaker puts his side stitch to rest and runs through Bull Gap.

Hal Koerner, 2006's AHC winner and 2007's runner-up, looks up from "The Lodge" to see how far ahead his Pear Blossom rival, John Leuthold, is.

Knocking six minutes off last year's time, Ian Torrence moves past the last aid station enroute to the summit and finish circle.

A good idea of what it looks like as you leave the last aid station and begin the final grueling ascent of the Mt. Ashland summit cone. Here, Torrence watches as Koerner slips away.

The crazy lot of 'em. (l to r) Aaron Reed, Erik Skaggs, Jenn Shelton, Hal Koerner, Todd Ragsdale, Ian Torrence, and Joe Griffin enjoy post race festivities.