Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Final Synchroblog Questions

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I'm new to the sport and have been watching any relevant ultramarathon movie and reading every popular ultrarunning magazine article and blog that I come across. Rather than winning lots of high profile races every year, it has become clear to me that the quickest path to stardom and sponsorship is developing a top notch training gimmick. Heroic feats of endurance, competitive eating, barefoot running, and sexy, high mileage training logs are already taken. Can you recommend a gimmick for a budding young ultra star? I am confident that given an appropriate publicity stunt, I can easily handle the second requirement -- criticizing other gimmicks as such.

Otto Indulgence

This one is really close to my heart. There have been many conversations at RVR about the viability of burgeoning, young ultra running stars and their place in this world.  When they start to wonder about such existential ideas I always threaten them with the old, " If it gets any slower around here I'm going to put you in a shoe suit and set you out on the highway to direct traffic to this forsaken place. "  Then the idea hit me, this is exactly the place for burgeoning, young ultra running stars.  When you are in a mascot suit, or what have you, it doesn't matter how bad you smell (it's a requirement,) how bad your feet look,  how dreaded your hair are (that's correct grammar,) or your general disgust with the everyday human.  After the initial shock, it dawned on me, you can run your next race in the said suit (of shame.)   It wasn't that long ago that I too ran around the streets of SLC in a salmon suit to promote the conservation alliance, pro bono of course, and found it to be an amazing attention grabber and late night show stopper.    

Then again, and if all else fails, I would suggest working it with a headband and a band-aid on your left cheekbone like Grammy nominee and 2005 song of the year artist Nelly.  Cloaked, an ode to Western States 2010.

I recently read Douglas McChristopher's "Freedom to Run Free Like You Really Should Run." What an awesome book! In this Homeric tale, McChristopher recounts how he traveled to Chico to run in the footsteps of the Sierra Nevada Pale Feet, a reclusive group of runners descended from an ancient warrior tribe whose existence revolved around running.
The Sierras don't just run, they ran backwards. They drink massive amounts of malted beverages, fuel themselves with pumpkin seeds and fashion their own "toe shoes" out of pumpkin vines. After reading McChristopher's operatic ode to running, I decided to follow the author's lead and adopt the Sierra's methods. Amazingly, ever since I started running backwards, I've been completely free of injuries. I've finished five ultras, running them all backwards and using pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie as my only fuel. My times are slower than they used to be, but I feel better than ever! I'm wondering what you think of McChristopher's book. Have you read it? Have you tried running backwards? Any plans to attempt a backwards Western States?


Ass Backwards

Seriously, this book sounds like a rip off.  I mean I know the guy that reinvented long distance backwards running and his ass is from Gunnison or Crusted Butt,  can't remember because whenever I saw him running backwards on highway 135 it always screwed up my sense of direction.  Here's an excerpt from another blog about Ben Wyatt.  

And another Ben routine that I didn’t know about…common to witness Ben running up to Crested Butte, a thirty mile run, only to run home backwards, “It balances the muscles,” he said.
“Thanks to Ben Gunnison is a better place,” Renee Brown of Gunnison County Human Services added.
I didn’t know Ben Wynn, and I never talked to him even once. I don’t know if I could have communicated to him how he represented Gunnison, and freedom and individuality to me. I think the fact that I didn’t know him made me idealize who he was.

I would've thought a crazy man like that would be from the Butt though, or the Yooj for that matter.   And, from what I remember it's called retro running.  By the looks of it, you have to pretty darn good at forward running to get sucked into retro running, so good on ya. 

I would try to run Western States backwards if it guaranteed me just as much publicity as perhaps say, winning it.  On second thought I have now answered question #1 and will proceed directly to question #3.   

Dear Ask An Ultrarunner,

I am so excited about the field this year.  Seems like each year Western States has the best field ever and this year is no exception.  You guys all being students of the race (and one of you the two-time defending
champion) who are your top five picks for the men and women?


Jimmy The Greek

If the top 5 aren't replaced by any number of able bodied runners and are in any semblance of this order then I've done my job.  

1. Hal Koerner
2. Anton Krupika
3. Geoff Roes
4. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
5. Killian Jornet

1. Nikki Kimball
2. Tracy Garneau
3. Meghan Arbogast
4. Devon Crosby-Helms
5. Caren Spore 

And the honor roll continues;

Andy Jones Wilkins
Craig Thornley
Meghan Arbogast

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Live! with Regis and Kelly

Ok, so it was Jerry and Kelly, but Todd did get a mention for his barefoot running record.   

Minute 17!  

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Anti-Sponsor


The following blog features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals.   Accordingly RVR, and its entities must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any stunt featured in this blog. 

When I met Todd, way back in 2006, he was running the Mt Ashland Hillclimb in a pair of Bodyglide aqua socks and traversing the Siskiyou's at the S.O.B. 50k in a pair of Nike Free 3.0's.  So it would seem the barefoot running craze has finally caught up with him or perhaps opened a door to showcase the idiosyncratic talents of one longtime runner and would-be author

Today, at South Medford High, Todd will go for the 24 hour barefoot record.  It only seems right, and if you read the excerpt below it just might seem easy.    

Todd Ragsdale has an unusual foot fetish.
He stands, marches and jogs with his feet in a gravel-filled bucket while relaxing in front of his living-room television. Barefoot. Each small step prepares him for a journey to run 100 miles. Barefoot.

Jackson County Relay for Life event to be held this weekend

More than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities gather at tracks and trails each year to run in support of the American Cancer Society.
The event is structured as a 24-hour relay, continuing all night "because cancer never sleeps." Participants find sponsors who donate an amount per lap completed during a 24-hour period.
The event is designed to be more than a fundraiser, however. Relay for Life also "represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated."
The Jackson County event for 2010 will be held from 10 a.m. Saturday, June 5, to 8 a.m. Sunday, June 6. at Spiegelburg Stadium at South Medford High School. For more information, call Jenn Hedgepeth at 541-301-5084 or e-mail Brandis Havener at Brandis.Havener@cityofmedford.org. To learn more about Relay For Life, visit http://www.relayforlife.org/relay.
Although Ragsdale has flirted with barefoot running for years, he didn't start this specialized training to toughen his feet until January.
"I eased into it, marching in the gravel bucket, going to the gym and doing the stair climber on my toes or side-footed or pigeon-toed, getting all the muscles strengthened in my feet and ankles," says Ragsdale, a 41-year-old Talent resident and former winner of the Crater Lake Marathon.
He completes most of his barefoot training on trails, though the treadmill and asphalt also have their place.
"You have to be careful. You have to dance over the terrain or else you're going to get nailed "… The worst I've had is a couple of blisters and some goathead thorns I've had to pluck out, and once a chunk of gravel got embedded up in my foot, and I had to get the tweezers," Ragsdale says.

Over time, Ragsdale has observed a change in his stride, one that has been observed repeatedly in world-class African runners who grew up shoeless.
"I'm (now) a lot lighter, shorter on the stride. I can definitely feel myself landing more on the outside of my forefoot, like the outside two toes. Definitely not heel-striking," Ragsdale says.
Running shoes, especially the heavily cushioned ones, moderate the landing forces that are typically two to three times our body weight. For runners who land heel-first, this is especially important. Running barefoot forces us to land on our forefeet, where the many bones and muscles allow us to naturally change our stride to mitigate these forces. Land on your inflexible heel and you'll quickly get out of that rut.
Much of the recent interest in barefoot running stems from the 2009 nonfiction, best-selling book, "Born to Run," by Christopher McDougall. The book chronicles the running prowess of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who run barefoot or in thin, rubber-soled sandals. The much-studied Tarahumara are thought to be the world's top endurance runners.
Many top running coaches, including University of Oregon's Vin Lannana, use regular barefoot running for their athletes as a tool to strengthen the feet and lower legs. Top runners Alan Webb and Deena Kastor both used regular barefoot running en route to setting American records.

Ragsdale ran his first race barefoot at the April 24 Bridge The Gap run, a 10-kilometer jaunt on the paved Bear Creek Greenway.
"It was a little rough: it felt like the toes were heating up like pre-blister. But the further the race went on, the more it just felt like a race and I wasn't thinking about my feet so much because I was thinking 'there's (runner) number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and I'm 6th,' " Ragsdale explains.
He eventually reeled in and passed all but one runner. His second-place time of 37:11 was only 38 seconds slower than his shoe-clad time in the same race last year.
Medical studies conclude that both barefoot running and running shoes are better for your feet than other types of athletic shoes, so you can pick and choose depending on which side of the question you're predisposed to believe. The case against running shoes goes like this: by cushioning the impact, shoes make your feet weaker, so they don't adjust for the forces the way they've evolved to do over the past million years. The more expensive shoes usually provide more cushioning. It's clear where the running shoe companies stand on the issue of barefoot running.
Even so, several shoe companies have introduced minimalist models intended to cater to the national interest in barefoot running. Nike sells the "Free," a lean-and-mean racing shoe worn by many top athletes. Vibram sells the "Fivefingers," a creation that resembles thin rubber foot-mittens. Both models retail for $89, a price that is not so minimalist.
Clayton Gillette is sold on the Fivefingers.

"They're a step up from being barefoot. I'll use them on those trails that have more rocks," says the 54-year-old Griffin Creek School teacher.
Gillette has been running barefoot on grass and sand for many years and has started on trails in the past year. Unlike Ragsdale, Gillette still plans to race in his shoes.
"I can't see running on asphalt," says the diehard trail runner who stays shoeless year-round. "Even in the winter, it feels fun to have mud squishing between your toes."
For those intent on cultivating their inner Neanderthal, Gillette advises running not more than half a mile the first few times.
"You've got to ease into it. Just take your shoes off and try it, but start on grass or sand," he adds.

With one successful barefoot race behind him,

Ragsdale is now stepping it up a notch. On Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, he'll take a crack at the 24-hour world barefoot running record. He will make his attempt on the South Medford High School track as a participant in the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
In September, Ragsdale faces his ultimate goal: to run the Williams-to-Ashland "Pine 2 Palm 100-mile" trail race sans footwear. That race features more than 20,000 feet of climbs and descents, with several hours run in the dark of night.
Now that's something for his bucket list.
Daniel Newberry is a runner and freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Get Fit With Mizuno

The Mizuno "Run With Us Program" will be making a stop at Rogue Valley Runners from 4:30 to 7:00 on Wednesday June 2nd.  For what to expect check out the following excerpt from the programs press release.

"The “Run With Us” grassroots campaign is a mobile running tech lab designed to provide expert analysis and recommendation for runners of all skill levels.  It features a grand scale technical van which houses two of Mizuno’s state-of-the-art Precision Fit® terminals.  There, consumers are provided an innovative and thorough biomechanical analysis of their foot type and running needs.  The Precision Fit® procedure determines which type of Mizuno running shoe best suits the runner’s foot type, running style, and running goals."

Sound like fun to me!  So come on down to Rogue Valley Runners, get a personalized biomechanical analysis, try some great Mizuno shoes on and then join us for our Wednesday Group Run at 5:30.