Monday, December 21, 2009

USA Track and Field's National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships

Ominous clouds hover over the race course near Reno.

We rarely highlight the impressive talents of southern Oregon's running youth on this blog. Probably about time...

Lela quietly racks up some impressive performances here in our Rogue Valley. This year Lela won the 14 and under age division in the Southern Oregon Runners "Runner of the Year" Race Series. On her way to doing so she placed sixth for women in the Frostbite 5K, fourth for ladies in the Rogue River 5K and finished with a 1:15:31 at this year's Pear Blossom Ten Mile (good enough for 226th out of 1270 total finishers!) All impressive results for a twelve year old.

This past weekend Lela Stemple traveled to Reno, Nevada for the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. Though she personally felt she could of run faster, she still thrilled by finishing 50th out of 228 runners in not so ideal conditions.

Lela Stemple chills, but stays warm before race time.

Walking the course.

So without further ado, here's Lela Stemple, in her own words, as she discusses her race last weekend:

"As far as the race goes it was okay. There was about a foot of packed snow, they tried to clear it, but it was still very snowy. It was super cold. My arms were numb by the end of the race - even with the arm warmers. I started out with sunglasses which really helped me to see where I was going in the snow. But, when the huge flakes of snow started to come down during the race, they were a pain, so I threw them to Dad. I had a lot of fun and it was a great event, but my time and place weren't what I was originally hoping for. My overall time was 12:26 - a bit slower than my PR. I was super nervous, this being my first trip to something as big as Nationals. The winner came in at about 10:57. Next time..."

Racing through the snow...Check out those arm warmers and that jersey!
Congratulations on some fine racing Lela!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Southern Oregon Ultra Party

In stunning fashion the Southern Oregon Ultra Party was held this past weekend in Ashland at Rob Cain's house, located on the fringe of Lithia Park. The masses descended on our host's house, as did the hilarity and booze.

Without further ado, the recipients of this year's awards are as follows:

Best Paula Radcliffe Imitation-Becky Hacker
Annie Sandwich-Annie Crispino-Taylor
Team Check Engine Light-Erik Skaggs
The "WTF" Award-Erik and Rob Cain
Drunken Pacer Award-Ian Torrence
Best 100 Mile Stare-Carly Varner
Keeper of the Oregon Trail-Annie
Derek Zoolander Poster Boy Awards-Chris Rennaker and Hal Koerner
Most Borrowed Clothes-Erin Keller
Mind Over RF-John Price
Will Pace for Aid Station Food-Eric Poole
Fastest Family Man Award-Neil Olsen
Dumbest Injury Ever Part 2-Ben Benjamin
Most Damaged Feet-Jody Waters
Most Damaged Stomach-Clyde Acre
Things That Lean A Lot Award-Rob
Most Damaged Overall-Rob
Most Damaged Period-Erik
Puke Of The Year-Jenn Shelton
Puke Runner Up-Ian
Worst Route Navigation-Ixel Sanchez and Shahid Ali
100 Mile High Club-Renn, Erin, Carly, Annie (officially this year!)
50 Mile High Club-Eric Poole, Darcy Kleiman
Best Crew-Carly
Hall Of Fame Crew-Sally Jones
Best Aid Station-Renn and Eric Poole
Streaker (no, not naked) Awards-Mark Sherbo and Ian
Gold Toes-Hal, Erik, Jenn, Rob, Ian, John

Now onwards to some visions of the night of infamy.

Tim Turk wins the Phoenix Award, rising from the ashes.

Line-up now folks. Skaggs will be cutting a CD before you know lyrics ever!

The Skaggs hydration pack. IV included!

Renn wins the Poster Boy Award (see cover of TrailRunner Magazine).

Neil Olsen wins the Fastest Family Man Award.

Mel wins the Mud Queen Award.

Jody wins the Most Damaged Feet Award.

Jenn Shelton wins Best High School Assistant Coach Role Model Award. We're glad this photo is grainy...can you say incriminating? Phew!

Hal and Carly are gifted the all practical "Wedding Planning for Dummies."

Skaggs wins the WTF? Award. Get in my belly!

Darcy - Saltest Runner Award! Cheers!

Annie shows off her winnings. A newly developed ultra-light and insulated running jacket.

Aaron Brian wins the Fastest Beer of the Beer Mile Award. He didn't even puke.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile

When $10,000 is on the line, you just show up. The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship offered this prize purse to both the first man and woman finisher; the largest single prize purse in trail ultra history. Set in the idyllic setting of the Marin Headlands, across the bridge from San Fransisco, runners would pit themselves against some of the best trail runners in the country in some of the roughest sea-level terrain available in hopes of grabbing a cash prize that would help pad the wallet.

Several southern Oregon runners headed south to test themselves in the 50 mile and 50 kilometer versions of the race. Rogue Valley Runner Chris Rennaker topped the list of southern Oregon finishers in the 50 Mile race. He finished 33rd in 8:37:52. Chris came away with not only an appreciation of rugged seaside terrain, but with a very personalized shoulder to wooden stair collision. Ashland's Eric Poole finished smiling right behind Rennaker in 8:49:45. Rogue Valley Runner Hal Koerner gave the 50 mile race a good go, but after having run his legs out two weeks prior at the JFK 50 Mile, he was more than satisfied with seeing only half the course, calling it a day and then going for breakfast.

The 50 kilometer race saw two locals run very well. Stephen Meador, from Medford, finished 58th in 6:32:50. Ashland's Shahid Ali, a Wednesday store group run regular, finished 79th in 6:59:06.

Full race results can be found here. A unique view of the race can be found on Uli Steidl's blog, the actual winner of the 50 mile race and aforementioned money prize purse.

Renn refreshes his bottle.

Chris Rennaker moves on the downhill.

Koerner descends in the early morning light.

Hal: Grabbing a Gu to go. And, perhaps, already thinking bacon and eggs or french toast?

EP likes the compression! Eric Poole comes into an aid station.

Most photos were taken by Ashland's Brian Mcguire. Congratulations to all runners!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Koerner Signs with The North Face Athlete Team

Verbiage from the Official Press Release:

Hal Koerner Joins The North Face Athlete Team

The North Face reinforces its ultrarunning heritage, welcoming one of the world’s best runners to its team.

SAN LEANDRO, California—December 2, 2009— The North Face, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, today announced ultrarunner Hal Koerner has joined its global athlete team. The North Face has a team of more than 60 professional global athletes which includes runners, snowboarders, skiers, rock climbers and mountaineers.

“Hal embodies the passion of The North Face,” said Aaron Carpenter, Vice President of Marketing for The North Face. “His determination, enthusiasm and fresh take on the ultrarunning scene not only inspires the running community, but the entire family at The North Face. We are excited to work with Hal in accomplishing his goals.”

A world-renowned runner, Koerner has raced in almost 100 ultramarathons (classified as anything longer than 26.2 miles) and has placed in the top three in 75 percent of them. Koerner set the speed record for the Colorado Trail (≈500 miles, topping out at 13,334 feet) in 2003 with a time of 9 days, 10 hours and 19 minutes. Koerner is a two-time champion of the Angeles Crest 100 mile Endurance Run and five time champion of the Bear 100. He set course records at the Whiskeytown 50k Trail Run in 2006 and the World of Hurt 50k in 2007.

Just in 2009 Koerner placed first in the MacDonald Forest 50k Trail Run and the grueling Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (his second win of the race). He took third in the Chuckanut Mountain 50k Race and sixth in the epic Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run. For 2010, Koerner will attempt to win his third consecutive Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, his favorite ultra race, in hopes of completing in less than 16 hours.

“There is a thread in all races where the juxtaposition of dirt and air, camaraderie and solitude, adrenaline and guts, winning and losing all go away, it’s then that you know you love it,” said Koerner. “I’m excited to run for a team that has so much talent, breadth and combined experience.”

Koerner will be making his debut as a team athlete for The North Face this coming weekend, December 5, 2010, at The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships in San Francisco, California, taking a shot at the $10,000 grand prize. The North Face Endurance Challenge is a nationwide series featuring four course lengths - 10K, Half Marathon, 50K and 50-Mile – designed to push people to run farther than they ever have. It will be his second time running the race.

“The North Face has been committed to the ultra scene for some time now and hasn’t backed down. I’m attracted to this characteristic and would love to make trail running a more familiar activity,” said Koerner. “I think that enthusiasm creates motivation. I like to promote ultrarunning as much as one person can and hopefully steer more people into making the uncommon, common.”

Koerner, the owner of a successful running store in Ashland, Oregon, will be working closely with The North Face Research, Design and Development team, especially on footwear. His expertise and experience will add to the rapidly developing collection. When he’s not running or at the store, Koerner can be found hanging out at home or at a concert in Ashland, Oregon, with his fianc├ę, Carly, and their dog, Abbey. He organizes a number of races that help foster running and trail work in the greater Rogue Valley of Oregon.

For more than 40 years The North Face has teamed up with the world's finest ultrarunners, mountaineers, alpinists, climbers, skiers, snowboarders and endurance adventurers who have defined the limits of what is humanly possible. The North Face Ultrarunning Team includes Nikki Kimball, Diane Van Deren, Lizzy Hawker, Kami Semick, Dean Karnazes, Sam Thompson, Tim Twietmeyer, Michael Wardian, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki and S├ębastien Chaigneau. The North Face Athlete team works closely with Research, Design & Development, creating innovative designs that push new technologies and inspire cutting-edge products.

For more information on the The North Face Running Team and The North Face Endurance Challenge, check out

About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.