Saturday, May 23, 2009

50 In The High Sierra

Ian "Torrid" Torrence opened his spring ultra campaign several weekends ago at the Bishop High Sierra 50. In conditions which proved to be less than ideal and on a course offering only the shade of sagebrush, Torrence managed to harness the spirit of the desert jackrabbit on his way to a hard fought and strong second place. During a post race interview Torrence mentioned the word "hot" and "sweat" in excess of 25 times...this lead me to believe it was just that, "hot". Results can be found here. Nice work Torrence! Also, check out a great picture of Ian runnin' through the high desert here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tough As Nails

For those who haven't seen them yet; the full write-up and results have been posted for last weekend's Tough As Nails race. See them here.

Photos of the event (taken by Andy Atkinson) have been posted on the Mailtribune's web site; see those here.

This is a sweet event folks! I recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging day on a mountain. The short course loops the mountain on a smooth gravel road, while the long course takes you up and over the summit of Roxy Ann Peak (Medford, Oregon's eastern horizon) on some nice single-track. The views are excellent and the wildflowers are at their peak this time of year. A great change of pace from all that road running.

Monday, May 11, 2009

McDonald Forest 50K - Sweeping with White Russians

(L to R) Neil Olsen, Eric Poole, Hal Koerner and Chris Rennaker chill after an awesome effort.

This past weekend on the outskirts of Corvallis, Oregon the McDonald Forest 50 Kilometer Trail Run took place. A few ultrarunners from the Rogue Valley went up to race; and race they did. With brooms in hand, the Rogue Valley Runners almost swept the top five spots at this year's race. RVR owner Hal Koerner led the charge and won this year's race in 4:01:33. The Valley's newest professor, Chris Rennaker, finished third in 4:27:34. Resident reality specialist, Eric Poole was fourth in 4:30:17. The neighborhood's favorite doctor, Neil Olsen, finished in fifth and crossed the line in 4:31:04. Ashland resident Ben Benjamin finished in 6:30:11.

Eric Poole tries to evade "The Big Lebowski" Crew at the Dimple Hill aid station.

Rennaker takes The Lebowski Crew up on their White Russians offer. He believed the drinks to be a bit weak.

Fourth place 50K finisher Eric Poole had these things to say about his day at Mac Forest:

"This is my first ultra," said John from Bend as we were waiting in the porta pottie line before the race. Chris Rennaker was in line also and we immediately started to give encouragement and that brought other comments from the folks in line around us. "Eat and drink more than you think you should", "take it easy on the downhills", "start out slow and taper" was another good one."

"This comment by John from Bend about his first ultra snapped me into thinking about how Mac Forest was my first ultra in 2002. I was soon to become a father for the first time in 2002 and this was the last hurrah before the reality of being a father set in. I remember many parts of that first ultra like it was yesterday. I remember bonking so hard coming into the last aid station and how it took many minutes for the cola, potato and salt combo that I consumed at the aid station to kick in and for me to get running again. I remember the coaching and friendship and encouragement that Tim Turk provided leading up to and during my first ultra. "

"I did not run another ultra for a few years after my first as I fumbled my way through being a new father, starting a new career, etc. Nine years later to find myself back at Mac Forest, hanging out with some good friends, meeting some new friends, enjoying a PERFECT weather day, soaking up Mother Nature and making memories that will last a lifetime was a fantastic reminder of why doing these events is about the run and so much more. I doubt that John from Bend will be reading this but if he is I hope that he had a great time this past weekend and is looking forward to his next ultra."

"Thanks to all who made the Mac Forest 2009 such a fun event. The course was marked perfectly, the weather was outstanding, the hangout scene after the event was a hoot and I am looking forward to going back again soon!"

Koerner is welcomed to Dimple Hill by Jesus. Donny does a good job in attending to his bottles.

Nice work gentlemen!!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

What Mi-Wok? Mi-Paddle!

Well a few hearty soles braved the elements at the 2009 Miwok 100k. Of those, two Ashlander's finished while one persevered for what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights.

In the end Carly Varner stormed to an 18th place finish for the ladies in 12:05 and Erin Keller squeaked under 13 hours to finish in 12:58! Anne Crispino-Taylor found herself at Rogue Valley Runners the next day inquiring about rain jackets and Gore-tex trail runners. Nice work!

Fellow friend, ultrarunner and esteemed filmmaker JB Benna crewed for Carly and put together these two great pieces for your enjoyment.

Here's Carly's first hand words about the event.

"I had the immeasurable loving support from Hal that was without a
doubt heartwarming and outright amazing. He’s a trooper for sticking it out. The Benna’s were also strong supporters – up at the crack of dawn and laughing and smiling every second thereafter. Those two are super studs! Who no doubt kept me moving from Bolinas Ridge to the finish.

JB is officially my first pacer ever. The mixture of severe winding roads and Hal’s James Bond driving pretty much forced him to jump in impromptu and muscle out the toughest 7 mile section with me – thankfully! After that the ever bubbly Jen Benna cruised me in for a strong finish. Hal too made a cameo pacing appearance with the little miss in tow. I’m definitely a fan of the whole pacing concept!

All and all it was just mind blowing. The weather was the most unique I’ve ever run in. Seriously – it rained on me for 12 of the 12 hours and five minutes it took me to finish. From Bolinas to the turnaround I crossed a whooping 20+ muddy lakes. Who knew mud could come in so many varieties and colors. Two of my favorite textures were swampy kitty litter and pudding. There weren’t any of the typical views you would expect on the course, instead I was finding humor in the many different floating objects that were bouncing along in the fog. My favorite was the bodiless neon hat I was chasing down from Pan Toll to Hwy 1. So regardless of the persistent annoyance the torrential downpour provided, it just made it that more special.

Yes I want another whack at the Miwok 100k. This terrain is fantastic and the race is put on (seemingly) without a hitch.

Yes I’m looking forward to Wasatch 100 this year too. Miwok solidified my confidence in my ability to train well, target attainable time goals and once I’m in it to simply enjoy the ride. But in addition I’m completely freaked out by the idea of adding 27 more miles – at altitude.

And don’t let me forget to mention how awesome it was to have so many wonderful women out there plugging along too; the ever fashionable Jenny Uehisa who also completed her first 100k, fellow Ashlander Erin Keller who was also looking quite amazing in her form fitted hefty trash bag and another Ashlander Anne Crispino-Taylor who has so many of these darn things under her belt she knows when and where she really going to shine.

I’m very proud of myself. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t short, it wasn’t dry but it will be an experience and a memory to last a lifetime. Yea ME!!!"

Nice work Varner!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pancakes, Hotsprings, Bagpipes, a Brewpub and a Little Hill Climb

Startline Set Up.

Set in the mountains east of Eugene, in the small town of Oakridge, the Larison Rock Hill Climb is a hidden gem of a race. Dubbed the "Fastest Little Race in Oregon", it tied in with the town's weekend's festivities; their annual tree planting festival (which includes a parade, craft fair, and vendors.)

The race started at the Greenwaters Park in Oakridge, crossed the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, and after a mile of flat dirt running started to ascend. In a 3.5 miles, the course climbed 2,200 feet up the switch-backing, pine-needle laden Larison Rock Trail to the summit and finish line.

Rogue Valley Runners' Erik Skaggs led the charge up the mountain. Finishing just below the rock strewn summit in 42:45, Erik solidified his lead in the 2009 La Sportiva/USATF-Oregon Mountain Running Series. The Larison Rock Hill Climb is the first race in the six race series. Series creator and Portland resident Richard Bolt finished a solid second in 47:30. RVR's Ian Torrence finished third in 48:09.

Men's winner Erik Skaggs.

The Top Three Men: (L to R) Richard Bolt (2nd), Erik Skaggs (1st), Ian Torrence (3rd)

In the ladies race, Jenn Shelton out distanced herself from Eugene's Susannah Beck to win in 52:50 (fifth overall); roughly two minutes ahead of Beck's second place showing.

Women's winner Jenn Shelton.

Atop Larison Rock enjoying finish line views. (L to R) Susannah Beck, Erik Skaggs (holding Zoroaster), Jenn Shelton.

After jogging back down the mountain (a shuttle was provided if you didn't want to run down), runners were presented with an all-you-could eat pancake breakfast and awards ceremony. Shelton and Skaggs each walked away with $100 in prize money for their efforts.

Pancakes! (L to R) Alan Abbs, Bev Abbs, Erik Skaggs, Jenn Shelton.

Richard Bolt's race report and full results can be found on his blog here.

Though only still a very small event, we can surely see this hometown race reaching great heights in the future. Special thanks to race directors Alan and Bev Abbs and Catrina Davis for their work in organizing a first class show.

The intrepid Rogue Valley Runners, however, did not end their road-trip race weekend there. After awards and breakfast they headed up river to soak in the McCredie Hot Springs. Leaving the pools light headed they continued on to Oakridge's new brewpub, The Brewers Local Union 180. Post race meals were accompanied by several rounds of bagpipe serenades. The food and brews were good!

(L to R) Erik Skaggs and Jenn Shelton follow an unidentified hotspringer as they head into McCredie Hotsprings.