Monday, October 31, 2011

A Little Lithia Preamble

We are now on the precipice of the 2011 edition of the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon.  Many of you have decided that, NOW, is the time to enter.  I can't help but imagine how fit our participants are compared to any "old" marathon.  I mean how is it that 25% of the entrant base signs up in the last week, this is a 26.2 mile race people!    

All I'm saying is, it add up to our best turn out yet.  I hope we can entice a few more to leap in come Saturday.  Speaking of which, yes it is a Saturday marathon, how RUDE.  Never mind that the Oregon State Cross Country meet is this weekend in Eugene, the USATF Trail Marathon Championships are in Ashland for the third year in a row.

Max King, the reigning World Mountain Running Champion, is back to defend his title against a bevy of challengers.  Erik Skaggs will finally race the course after years of training on the infamous loop and John Tribbia, 3rd place in 2010, contends from Colorado once again.  There are at least a handful of other qualified runners that will be gunning for the top spot come race day.

On the ladies side, Jenn Shelton has finally found it within herself to compete for the title as have a number of local superstars including Bree Ray and, well, Bend citizen and 50k national champ Stephanie Howe.  Megan Lund, a 2:41 marathoner from Basalt ,Colorado is fit and ready to capture the title as Titan of the Trail as well. Surely the first 8 miles and 3000 feet of gain will give her little to no hesitation come Saturday morning.

Stay tuned for more info, but be prepared for any weather condition although it looks like it will be perfect for running at 2,000 and 5,000 feet.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 Pine to Palm Wrap Up

I wanted to send over a hearty THANK YOU to everyone involved in making Pine to Palm a success.  This was my first 100 mile race and I was so impressed with the quality of the aid stations, course markings, and above all the folks out on the course running the stations and directing runners.  Overall this was one of the best race experience I have ever had.  I continue to enjoy running in Southern Oregon and look forward to more events put on by Rogue Valley Runners.  Compliments to you, your staff, and all the volunteers.  You nailed it!  Premiere event in my book.

Special thanks to the folks working the aid station at mile 90 on Sunday AM.  They were chipper and encouraging…

All the best,  Stephen

Finally! I made amends with my 2010 DynaBuckle order and have now sent the remainder of the brass ovals to finishers that may or may not make it onto a belt.  One thing is clear however, for those 45 folks that brought home either substance they did it the old fashioned way, they EARRNED it.

The 2011 edition of the The Pine to Palm 100 Mile Endurance Run was marked with consistency and the word for the opposite of consistency.  The most welcome change had to be the weather, for how could it not  be, it was the most talked about element of our race last year.  There was a return to normalcy on race day as nary a cloud could be found and temps topped out in the low 70's.   It was chilly at night and on the peaks but that just made runners move faster over the ground and through the aid stations.

As it pertained to logistics we continued the theme by removing a few miles of pavement at the start of the race and we relocated our pre-race meeting to the Provolt Community Center while adding camping along the East Fork of Williams Creek.  All editions that will stand for years to come.   

Derek Schultz cruises the early miles, he stopped running for 18 miles but finished 3rd in the end.
Many things remained the same and continue to be the glue of the P2P100. 

Runners came far and wide to test themselves in the lesser know mountains of Southern Oregon. They weren't threatened when their race director didn't make back to the pre-race meeting (he was out marking the first  10 miles of the course and if you've run the first 10 miles then that's that) and didn't miss beat when his wife fielded questions that either quelled or quickened peoples fears.    

Ashlander's taunting the Palm at mile 21.

Not quite sure what happened to Craig, much the same could be said of him in the 70's too.

One point I harp on with all our events is my unending gratitude towards our volunteers.  Some come out because they need service hours, many just to be in the woods, most to partake in the spectacle, and others because I make them.  That said, our aid stations are captained by no less than 8 current or former race directors.  The remainder easily match in service and professionalism although you might not know it by looking at most of these pictures.

I made a point to a friend the week before the race when I wore a rather scandalous Nicky Minaje shirt to a party and mentioned that I was thinking of wearing it at P2P.

OK so my Mom didn't like it much either.
"I don't think people will take you seriously, " she hastened to tell me.  I replied that I would wear something out of the ordinary like that to take folks minds off the seriousness of running 100 miles and hopefully interject some humor into the event, but to be assured that underneath, the team and I were every bit as serious with every one's safety and the ultimate goal of getting them to the finish.  Again, our finisher rate suggests that although hearty, racers beat the 50% attrition rate that I feel sets the bar for 100 milers.        

Along the Stein Butte trail

and along.

Squaw Lakes

Pristine single - track.

Hanley Gap AS, positive vibrations.
I followed the course most of the day, satellite phone in hand with drop bags in the rear.  I love making my way across the mountainside, mostly because I'm doing it in a car (yeah right), taking in the course and all that it has to offer; crews, volunteers, wildlife, anticipation.  I enjoy watching the frontrunners scamper over the terrain like they're on a a training run while I admire the rest of the pack for their determination and never say die attitude. I wish I was out there with them but then I remember that this is one of those days that I get to  give back to the sport that has given me so much. My hope is to build this into a legacy run, one for the Siskiyous.

So I revel in the race that begins to develop. Defending Champion Timothy Olson, whom had developed an ultra running highlight reel in 2011, was gunning for the word go.  Fellow Oregonian, Yassine Diboun, was a pre race favorite and set the early pace with Timothy over Greyback where a chase ensued down the expansive draws to Applegate Lake.  TAO's intensive training and knowledge of the course really shined over the next hours as he distanced himself from the rest of the field.  Chris Downie from BC Canada would close the gap to nearly 20 minutes at the half way point but that was when Tim finally found his grove and began to chip away at the course record.  

On the ladies side, first time 100 miler Liz Koop looked strong all day.  She ran a very even paced run, over routes that were unfamiliar, but with the keen sense of a veteran.  The miles and the elevation took a toll in the end but persevering is what champions do best.   All the champions can be found here, and hopefully back in Ashland for 2012!    

Leaving Hanley Gap with Squaw Peak in the background.

Dutchman Peak (mile62)

Tim finds a way not to waste the daylight.

Jeff Kozak takes in the views along Siskiyou Crest, and looks to be moving rather well still.

Mount Shasta from Jackson Gap.

This is the 2060 (mile90) AS, ripe with attentive volunteers; Carly Koerner, JB Benna and Jen Benna (l to r.)

I don't know why one would need to take off the FF after 100 miles, they're just an extension of the foot.

Lovely Pioneer Hall, perhaps the last time we stage out of here.  Help us grow!  

Your 2011 champions; Liz Koop and Timothy Olson

Over and over again I must thank everyone who made this event possible and for putting Ashland on the map as a one of a kind destination for a 100 miler.  To Carly, Mom, Dad, and Medical Director Kelly Lange they know what it takes to put on a first rate event.   To all my volunteers,  this is your event too and how can we do it without all two hundred of you!  To my sponsors; GU, The North Face, Succeed,  and everyone at RVR thank you for trusting in ultra trail racing and supporting grass roots events like ours.

See you in 2012!