The Cleanest Line

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    Time On His Feet – A Former Runner Looks Back

    By Craig Holloway

    Sp05_Craig Holloway_3

    I ran my last ultra on a warm, spring day in Wisconsin five years ago.  The course was surprisingly tough – small roller coaster hills come at you like black flies. Crossing the finish line I didn’t feel the exhilaration that I normally do after a race. I chalked it up to burnout and decided to take the rest of the year off. I didn’t run the following year either and eventually packed all my running gear in a box and put it in the garage.

    [The serene one, Craig Holloway, trots the Timberline Trail toward Mount Hood, Oregon. From his 2005 field report "Lost on Adrenaline." Photo: Scott Jurek]

    Two years went by and I still hadn’t laced up my running shoes. I knew it wasn’t going to happen and decided to stop running – after twenty-six years. It felt like the right thing to do. Now I crew for friends and it’s satisfying to be a part of their race day experience. But I do miss pacing and the responsibilities that come with that role. I’d like to share a few stories about the experiences I had with runners on their 100-mile journeys.

    Continue reading "Time On His Feet – A Former Runner Looks Back" »

    Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew

    Mike_12

    Mike Colpo, associate editor of this blog and frequent contributor (as “localcrew”), died suddenly on December 7 while trail running on his lunch hour near the Patagonia Distribution Center in Reno. He was 36.

    [Above: Mike and Skeena share some love. East Humboldt Range, Nevada. Photo: Old School]

    All of us who worked with him are in shock: Mike was young, fit and apparently healthy, his loss unexpected. And Mike was so modest about his talents and accomplishments that, now that he has gone, we’re coming to realize how much he took with him. He was a graceful writer and fine editor and a Zen-like master of the 140-character Tweet. He was a committed, and knowledgeable environmentalist who had a special love for Nevada’s wild places. He was a monster on his mountain bike and his beloved Xtracycle, an excellent backcountry navigator, telemarker, fly fisherman and alpinist who took a month out every summer to guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Wyoming.

    Guys like Mike never just disappear though. He’ll pull away and maintain a pace you can’t quite match. You see him cresting the hill way ahead and dig deep to catch him. He’ll drop in on the pow stash and you’ll just see him, a speck on the horizon until you’re not sure he’s still there at all. But like all adventure hounds, he’s there somewhere, among the trees and tall grass, his nose to the ground, thinking and looking for something fun. –Team Bacon Strip from “R.I.P. Mike Colpo

    Continue reading "Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew" »

    Mother's Milk - A Runner's Story

    - by Kevin Alldredge

    I arrived in Knoxville early afternoon on Wednesday to spend some time with my mother before the Rock Creek Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga on Saturday (Oct. 1st). I picked up the rental car and drove to Manorhouse, her assisted living home. Mom has severe dementia and is physically frail, no longer capable of performing even the most basic tasks necessary to sustain herself.  She smiled when she saw me.

    KA_photo1Nice…she still recognizes me. No doubt my brother Greg had reminded her several times that I would be here today. But for Mom to process and store that information for recall later might be, I fear, like explaining the Three Laws of Thermodynamics to Muriel, my five-year-old, and then expecting her to write an analysis of my lecture.

    I pushed Mom in her wheelchair around the building and grounds, and then fed her dinner. It had been a good afternoon and evening; Mom was smiling and seemed content. Her verbal skills these days consist mainly of a cascade of sounds, with an occasional string of two or three identifiable words, almost expressing a half thought.  Not too long ago, these sounds had been intelligible speech. Now, though, only her tone and facial expression suggest contentment, frustration or anger, statement or question. I always answer Mom with a smile and some response that most likely bears no relationship to what she attempted to say or ask.  Nonetheless, she usually seems satisfied with my “Oh yes, I think so, Mom”, or “No, no, we’d better not do that, Mom.”  Greg, who lives nearby, and sees her daily is Mom’s primary family link and caregiver. (He is scheduled for knee surgery this afternoon, thus probably putting all of his running days in his rearview mirror. So sorry, dude.) He always helps coach and prepare me on what to expect for my upcoming visits with Mom.

    [The author's mother in 2006, with her grandchildren, Muriel and Ansel. Photo: Kevin Alldredge.]

    Continue reading "Mother's Milk - A Runner's Story" »

    The Great Salmon Run - running the route of one of nature's great migrations

    Ty Draney, a member of the Patagonia Ultrarunning Team, and friend Luke Nelson recently completed the Great Salmon Run in partnership with Save our Wild Salmon. The pair were inspired to trace over 120 miles of the Snake River sockeye's migration route, motivated by facts like these:

    • Thirteen populations of salmon and steelhead are officially in danger of extinction. The four remaining Snake River stocks are either threatened or endangered.

    • The Columbia Basin was once home to the largest salmon fishery in the world — supporting tens of thousands of jobs, providing a nutritious food, and generating billions of dollars in economic activity each year.

    • Up to 30 million wild salmon and steelhead once returned to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Today, it is less than one percent of the number.

    Snake River sockeye salmon migrate higher than any salmon in the world: Adults swim 900 miles and climb 6,500 feet in elevation — from the Pacific Ocean to Redfish Lake in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho.

    • With more than 200 dams, the Columbia Basin today is among the world’s most dammed landscapes. Removing four costly dams will restore salmon, create jobs, save money, and establish a clean energy blueprint for the future.

    Here’s Ty’s report:

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    [Bighorn Crags, deep in the heart of the Columbia Basin. Central Idaho. All photos: Matthew Irving]


    "I think we're taking this whole salmon metaphor way too far...." 

    That's all I could think at the time. We had been wandering off course for hours, trying to get up to the Bighorn Crags. As it turns out the 78 miles we ran along the river was the easy part. We had left Boundry Creek at first light, hoping to make good time while the weather was cool. The trail was very runnable and we were in high spirits.

    Continue reading "The Great Salmon Run - running the route of one of nature's great migrations" »

    Czech Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself - The secrets of one man’s running endurance

    Maybe we're all getting old, or maybe just obsessed with trying not to, but Kelly Cordes' ongoing series about Fighting Forty makes today's post - from runner and guest-contributor, Liz Mosco - particularly appropriate. As a friend of patagonia, Liz has come to know some of the folks around here. She's a fan of those who keep a low profile, which helps explain how she became interested in this particular patagonia employee, a gentleman whose ultra-running career didn't even get started until he was close to 40. Liz will tell you the rest.  - Ed
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    Milan v
    On my morning runs, I occasionally see an older gentleman also out for his morning jaunt. He must be in his 70s and although he is clearly running, his style resembles more of a bouncy shuffle. When we passed one summer morning, he did not give me the standard runner’s tight smile or nod. Instead, he gave me a huge “hello!” and a vigorous double-armed wave. This man looks, and appears to feel, great.

    I often think about my running future and how I still want to be lacing up in my 70s, spreading my joy to passersby. I love running. I am impressed by all kinds of runners, but I have a special awe and respect for older runners whose endurance has truly passed the test of time. One day I plan to stop this man and tell him that he is an inspiration- much like another inspirational runner I recently met who brought a new spring to my step.

    As a friend and fan of Patagonia, I often hear about the incredible athletic feats accomplished by many of the company’s employees. So I was not surprised to hear that one such employee is an endurance runner; that is, until I learned that this particular athlete is 65 years old and that he has run over 40 ultra marathons in the past 20 years, including 7 Western States Endurance Runs. This man took my vision of being an older runner, leisurely meandering around the neighborhood, and blew it away. Not only is this man running, but he is running really frickin’ long trail races at 65. This smiling and humble gentleman, Milan Varga, graciously agreed to talk with me about running one afternoon.

    [Milan crosses the line at the end of one run on his long list of successful finishes. Photo courtesy Ultra Signup.com.]

    Continue reading "Czech Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself - The secrets of one man’s running endurance" »

    Patagonia Ambassadors Create Running Tradition with Japan's Shinetsu 5 Mountains Race

    Shinetsu Patagonia Running Ambassador Krissy Moehl took top honors at the recently held Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail 110K in Japan's Shinetsu Highlands. This year marks the second running of the race, a labor of love born from the vision of another Patagonia Running Ambassador, Hiroki Ishikawa. Takayuki Kakihara, of Patagonia Japan, offers this introduction to the Shinetsu race. Krissy's own introduction and race reports follow after the jump: 

    The "Shinetsu Gogaku Trail Running Race 2010 ~ Art Sports x Patagonia Cup," produced by Patagonia Ambassador Hiroki Ishikawa was held in the Shinetsu highlands that spread across the Niigata and Nagano prefectural borders from September 18th (Saturday) to 20th (Monday). The "Shinetsu Gogaku," used in the title of the event, points to the 5 mountains that exist in the Shinetsu highlands. These mountains have long been deeply intertwined with the lives of the people residing at the base of these mountains and have attracted worshipers as a sacred place.

    Krissy aid The race which welcomed its 2nd year had a course of 110km, the longest course amongst
    domestic trail running races in Japan. This race also included many features that Hiroki Ishikawa had experienced in the various trail running races that he had participated in (mainly in North America), such as Japan's first-ever trail running event with aid stations. These allowed the family members and friends to provide support for the runners and set-up areas where pacers were allowed in to provide safety for the runners during the night hours. The race this year had a total of 542 runners (460 men and 82 women) who entered and 384 runners (225 men and 59 women) completed the race. Shinetsu Gogaku:http://www.sfmt100.com/

    [Top - photo courtesy Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail 110K. Bottom - Krissy Moehl takes off from an aid station, with a gentle push and a mountain of encouragement from race organizer Hiroki Ishikawa. Photo: Sho Fujimaki]

    Continue reading "Patagonia Ambassadors Create Running Tradition with Japan's Shinetsu 5 Mountains Race" »

    Tracing the Edge - Episode 10 with Krissy Moehl, plus a Look Behind the Scenes

    This is it. Tracing the Edge concludes today with our final episode featuring ultrarunner Krissy Moehl. Kick back and enjoy. You can catch all 10 episodes of Tracing the Edge at patagonia.com/tracingtheedge or on YouTube via the Tracing the Edge playlist.

    A lot of hard work happens behind the scenes of a series like this. And just like the athletes, who opened up and shared their lives on camera, co-creator Fitz Cahall kindly shared this story about filming a particularly tricky scene with Krissy.

    “Headlamps would have been a good idea,” said Bryan in the darkness. We hugged the tinder-dry pine needle slope to our right and did our best to make light of the 200-foot drop to our left. We were in a gorge, canopied by old growth on the darkest night of the month. It was like being shut in a closet.

    It had been a long time since I’d last forgotten a headlamp. It was a group a decision. Four hours earlier, Bryan Smith, my wife Becca and I stood around the car, bags loaded with the skeleton of a mechanical creature, 1600 feet of rope and two granola bars. We were ready to descend into the Lewis River Gorge in Southwest Washington. We would be 15, maybe 20 minutes tops, away from the car. Do we need a headlamp?

    Continue reading "Tracing the Edge - Episode 10 with Krissy Moehl, plus a Look Behind the Scenes" »

    Just a Five-Minute Run

    Kc - glacier run P1030365(LR) You won’t run again.

    I don’t really set concrete goals. In fact, I find it best to have no goals whatsoever; that way I won’t be disappointed if I don’t reach them.

    Hopefully some hiking by mid-summer, and some easy climbs by fall.

    Seriously, for me the goals are more of a process than an end point. Cliché, I know. But it’s weird how I can have certain ambitions or goals, and once I reach them I’ll allow a moment of satisfaction and enjoy a marg, but mostly I want to move on.

    I want to run again. Even just a little.

    The long grind of recovery. Mental, physical, emotional. Sometimes it’s like the mind games I play with myself in training, when I’m trying to push myself to become better. The little voice that’s always there, sometimes taunting, sometimes encouraging, that helps drive me.

    [Kelly trail running in Glacier National Park, MT. Photo: Cordes collection]

    Continue reading "Just a Five-Minute Run" »

    Tracing the Edge - Episode 7 with Krissy Moehl

    Is it possible to live an entire life in a single day? Ultrarunner Krissy Moehl has while racing. Massive 100-mile courses contain a lifetime of joy, tedium and wonder concentrated into 24 hours. For Krissy, her biggest races are touchstones in her life, a moment to process life's ups and downs.

    The next episode of Tracing the Edge revists Gerry and Alex Lopez and will air on September 15. To catch up on the series, visit patagonia.com/tracingtheedge.

    [With thanks to Bryan Smith and Fitz Cahall.]

    Ultra Tough

    Kc - TR start_2417(LR) There’s a great saying that goes, “If you don’t travel, you stagnate.” I think the idea also applies to engaging ourselves with people beyond our usual crowd. We can so easily get stuck in our own little circles, which also breeds stagnation and ignorance.

    And so two weekends ago I went with my ultraunner friends Krissy Moehl and Ellen Parker to Buena Vista, Colorado, where they were competing in a six-day mountain-running stage race called the TransRockies Run. It’s a team race, and Krissy ran in the Open Mixed division with Bryan Dayton, and Ellen in the Open Women’s division with Melody Fairchild. I’d asked them how they thought they’d do. Might they win? Did they have expectations? Did it matter if they placed? Coming from a climbing background, I readied for the spraydown, but both women pretty much just said that they wanted to do their best. Boooooring.

    The famous Leadville 100 (Krissy took second in the women’s division in 2005 – yeah, running 100 miles…what is wrong with these people?) was the same weekend, starting the day before TransRockies, so we figured we’d watch some of it. Sure, watching people run rivals only climbing on the excitement scale, but it’s real and anyone who can run 100 miles, or even give it an honest go, is a superstar in my book. Makes me wonder, what makes someone a badass? Anybody can coast by on natural talent – it’s easy to do well when things go your way. But what about when they don’t? Can anyone feel good for 100 miles of running? No freakin’ way.

    The ultra crowd fascinates me; I’m a big fan. Their attention to training, nutrition and hydration gets me thinking.

    [Starting gun at the TransRockies Run. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Ultra Tough" »

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