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  • 03 Oct 2018 4:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I first met Jennifer Pharr Davis, her husband, Brew, and baby girl, Charley, when I had the good fortune to host them during their Becoming Odyssa Saratoga Springs book tour, which recounts Jennifer’s first Appalachian Trail thru-hike where she adopted the trail name Odyssa.  She has since written Called Again, an account of her record-breaking FKT (fastest known time), Families on Foot, numerous guide books and now, The Pursuit of Endurance.  One might expect that with all of her adventures, founding her own Blue Ridge Hiking Company and raising two small children, she would be justifiably forgiven for turning out several of those “written by Jennifer Pharr Davis with”…. fill in the name of a well-known author.
        But this is not the case.  Her observations are honestly hers: thoroughly researched, sincere and seamlessly executed.  She comes across as one of us, an everyday person striving to do her best, make sense of her accomplishments, and deal with the “what-ifs” that go hand-in- hand with even the most extraordinary exploits.
        In The Pursuit of Endurance Jennifer probes the psyches of many of the great Appalachian Trail heroes like Warren Doyle, David Horton, Heather Anderson and Scott Jurek.  Throughout, the acronym HYOH, or “Hike Your Own Hike” applies.  Jennifer acknowledges that there are many ways any one individual can enjoy hiking and speed is a goal only if you choose to make it so.  As Owen Allen reflects on his 1960 record hike, “I’m glad I did it, but I don’t ever want to do it that way again!”  And now in this current phase of her life, Jennifer is almost content to focus on her growing family, her hiking company and her writing and speaking commitments.
       She was however, left with a desire to explore “…what it is that allows someone to continue through insufferable pain and push through staggering odds.”  While Jennifer’s husband, Brew, continues to follow all the latest FKT attempts, she claims she is done with that, preferring to follow parallel paths.
        What is truly humbling is how much all the FKT record holders are willing to help their “rivals.”  Warren Doyle and David Horton offered advice and showed up on the trail at crucial points to crew for Jennifer.  And while mentoring is a given in all sports, how many mentors would cheerfully help you break their record?  And for that matter, how many have at one time held FTKs on the Appalachian trail?  This exclusive group is a small band of brothers, always ready for new members.
        I was impressed by how much research went into this project.  Whenever possible, Jennifer not only flew cross country to hike with these record holders, but she also stayed in their homes and explored their towns, all to get a sense of what made each person tick.  She discovered that what drew everyone, including herself, to this sport was the fact that being amateur, underground and somewhat disorganized, it was open to everyone.  The sense that, as Jennifer so aptly puts it, “physical and mental barriers are your greatest adversaries.”
        And so what did Jennifer learn and what can we take away from the experience of these extraordinary athletes?  Jennifer learned that with all the possibilities of defining a record attempt: northbound or southbound, summer or winter, assisted or unassisted, male or female, etc. what truly matters is the effort of each individual participant. As a seventy-one year-old runner this is a lesson I embrace.  While I regret that I am no longer as fast as I once was, I have learned that if I focus on the joy of being in the woods and mentally lighten my body, I can still achieve that glorious feeling that I am skimming over rocks and flying over the terrain—whatever my pace might happen to be.  And that delight is truly all that matters

    Reviewed by laura clark

  • 25 Jul 2018 7:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Even if you have been hiking for years and have acquired considerable gear and trail savvy, hiking with kids is an entirely different ball game.  Here to guide you through the process with an endless array of tips, tools and techniques are Jennifer Pharr Davis, the former record holder of the fastest thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail and her husband Brew, her crew and a hiker and ultramarathoner in his own right.  Their insights were shaped by their preschooler Charley, photogenically featured throughout, and now their young son Gus.     
        But this is not just a book for parents of the younger set since, as founder of the Blue Ridge Hiking Company, Jennifer has led many school groups and as a high school teacher, Brew is totally familiar with the teen mindset.  Even with such credentials, the couple emphasizes that the mainstay of their game plan is to remain flexible and expect the unexpected, planning your adventure around the youngest hiker.  “Hike your own hike,” emphasizes that the “best” hiker is not necessarily the fastest, but the group who gets the most enjoyment out of their foray.  It is not imperative to reach the top of the mountain, but it is important to have fun on the way.
        To this end, the book is chock full of games to play along the way (remember those car games we played before electronics took over?).  Older kids can sketch, collect materials for an art project and help identify birdsongs, cloud formations, tree bark and leaves, etc.  To lighten your backpack, the book is repleat with iphone apps that not only help with identification but can pinpoint invasive species sightings. 
        For older kids, the authors encourage you to give them ownership of the process by helping choose the route, packing their own pack, helping prepare the food and participating in camp chores along the way.  As my husband and I discovered after several whiney journeys it helps if each kid can bring a special friend along.  I just wish we had this book so it didn’t take us so painfully long to hit upon that solution!  And something we didn’t have back in the dark ages—geocaching and letterboxing---can keep a group enthusiastically moving along.
        The couple also urges families with special needs children to modify their hikes and equipment to take these requirements into account.  Hiking stimulates cognitive function, vocabulary, motor skills and has a calming effect on those with ADHD. 

  • 09 Jul 2018 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

         Once I finished reading When Running Made History, I immediately wanted to do an about-face and begin the process all over again. It was difficult to say which was more compelling, the story line of each running event described or Robinson’s insights into the resulting historical implications. I felt the need to re-read and re-define.

    Roger Robinson, literary scholar, elite runner, sports commentator and journalist, crisscrossed continents recording sixty years of seminal racing moments that he observed in one or more of these roles.  Leading off as a schoolboy in drab, postwar London, he cheered Emil Zatopek’s 10,000 meter Olympic record victory.  Robinson cautions that all episodes described—the 1960 drama of the stunning emergence of African dominance in the Rome Olympic Marathon, Paula Radcliffe’s London victory, the Boston bombing—do not represent the totality of events during this time period, but rather snapshotted the ones he bore witness to. 
        Still, these are by no means just play-by-play descriptions, but taking off points as Robinson explores how individual events “had a significance beyond the result of who won and who lost.”  Thus, he transcends the act of placing one foot ahead of the other to offer a sense of how running, by its very place as a global phenomenon, has defined and affected history itself.
        Each episode has its own chapter and while it is tempting to skip ahead to events that hold personal significance, Robinson’s exploration of historical details can best be experienced by an initial cover-to-cover read.  For me, as a United States citizen and New York State resident, a military wife who has lived in Europe and the Pacific and a now aging woman, certain events stand out and make me proud to define myself as a runner.
        For example, the Boilermaker 15K weekend struck a personal chord as my brother-in-law has a farm near Utica, New York.  The Boilermaker literally rejuvenated a sagging community, much in the way the Leadville 100 redefined Leadville.  Ownership of this race truly belongs to the residents, who host thousands of elite and everyday runners during Boilermaker week. But that is just the beginning.  Profits are used to fund a gradual revival of city districts along the route and the cadre of volunteers stand ready to accomplish a wide variety of community projects whenever there is an emergency.  As the emphasis on charity increased, the ranks of women runners swelled since they could now feel that training was not “selfish” time taken from their families. 
        Robinson has also noted how mass running celebrations have served as an affirmation in the wake of cataclysmic events.  Witness the Berlin Marathon that breached The Wall, the NYC Marathon after the 9/11 disaster and Meb Keflezighi’s run of redemption after the Boston bombing.  Such occasions furnish a constructive means of demonstrating grief and beginning the healing process, all on a world-wide stage.  Noteworthy, too, is the fact that our Meb is in fact one of the many immigrants who has been welcomed into the running community, fulfilling the American Dream for all of us.  Hopefully, this inclusion will be allowed to continue.
        Many races discover themselves at the forefront of their country’s green initiatives and this is due, no doubt in part, to the fact that runners are eager to spend large chunks of their day outside.  Another area of society in which running has been influential is in the acknowledgement of aging as an opportunity to celebrate potential.  With age group categories now extending into the 80’s and beyond, runners are encouraged to overcome the rocker-on-the- porch stereotype, leading the way for social acceptance in all areas of life.
        So yes, while you will discover much about our recent history by reading Robinson’s book, his account is so much more than that.  It is an opportunity to explore how running continues to shape history and an involved answer to the next time someone queries, “Why do you run?”

    By laura clark

    Postscript:  Embracing Robinson’s line of thinking, a new exhibit has just opened at the National September 11 Memorial Museum detailing the impact of sports, including the NYC Marathon and the 2002 Olympics, after the tragic attacks.  The exhibit runs through the summer of 2019 and is worthy of a visit and at least a partial re-read.


  • 17 Apr 2018 4:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Folks who set out to hike the 2,189 mile Appalachian Trail are most likely on a quest to discover their inner selves.  If they have no compelling reason to be there, they will be among those hanging up their hiking boots on some forsaken tree.  But after a career spanning twenty years, what would Scott Jurek need to prove?  Arguably one of the top ultrarunners and a larger-than-life character in Christopher McDougall’s epic Born to Run, and himself the author of Eat and Run, Jurek had seemingly done it all.
        But that was the problem.  Before he retired to reinvent himself he wanted to recapture the uncertainty and excitement that comes with laying yourself bare in the face of extreme challenge.  More than that, however, he and his wife Jenny were also mentally and physically drained by her second miscarriage.  They, like many trekkers before them, needed to escape to reconnect with themselves.
        Admittedly, Jurek was woefully underprepared.  Unlike like many previous FKT hopefuls, the Jureks had never hiked any sections of the Appalachian Trail and had never even visited half of the fourteen states it traverses. But, as Jenny writes, “this wasn’t a race or an event, it was more of a multiweek vision quest and much more complicated than anything either of us had done before.”  They came to refer to the trail as a “green tunnel,” crammed with towering tree branches, rocks, and roots, totally lacking the high elevation, and open vistas they were familiar with out West.  It was almost as if they had been dropped off in another country entirely.  But then they would have expected difference; this time they were nearly overcome.
        Reading North is rather like watching the film Titanic. Ultimately, you know the outcome.  Jurek overcomes initial injuries and deprivations, eventually breaking the record. But that is the script line.  What sucks you in is the fact that the Jureks’ daily struggles matter.  Their candid sharing of each day’s minutia places you on the trail alongside them. 
        The sense of immediacy is further heightened by the narrative form itself; each section retraces the same ground, but alternates between Jenny’s and Scott’s point of view.  There are no neatly delineated chapters, with Jenny’s retake of the ground Scott had previously covered, appearing abruptly almost as if she is interrupting him.  While initially confusing, once you learn to expect these turnabouts it is almost as if you are experiencing the trail from two separate points of view: runner and crew.  You picture Scott worrying about his wife, alone and exposed as well as Jenny’s anxiety when Scott is behind schedule. Their takes are completely candid and uncensored. Initially, I was wondering how their marriage would survive as Jenny chafes at Scott’s lack of planning.
        It is enlightening and satisfying to see how their focus shifts from “I” to “Us.” At the end, Scott puts himself completely in the hands of his constantly changing pace team while Jenny abandons her “what ifs” and focuses on the task at hand.  The documentary is enhanced by the accompanying photo sets, helpfully labeled by day and section.  Not only did I enjoy thumbing through, a temptation I succumbed to way before the appropriate placement, but I found myself referring back repeatedly when my reading finally caught up.  It was then I discovered that they were not the usual random photos but key “you-are-there” snapshots.
        When the compass needle finally pointed 10 miles true north toward Katahdin and the record was assured, Jurek told his triumphant team, “I’m going for a birthday hike with my wife and our best friends.”   Jurek rekindled the fire he thought he had lost and best of all he and Jenny were a fulfilled family once more, whatever lay ahead.  It was as if he and his wife had been on a vacation, however arduous, from themselves and their past lives, and had returned newborn, eager to adjust their mindset toward a new set of expectations.

    Reviewed by laura clark

  • 19 Mar 2018 5:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Recalling those “When I was your age…” legends about blinding snowstorms and waist-high drifts, the 2018 Dion Nationals in Woodford, Vermont lent credibility to what we had assumed were tall tales invented around a roaring fireplace.  Blessed with 44” of snow (and still actively falling), the challenging routes recalled WMAC days of legend with everyone racing in train formation to break the path, taking turns at point. 
        But what a journey to get there!  December brought three feet of promising “base” and in a burst of early season enthusiasm Nationals mastermind Tim Van Orden committed to a race directing ultra—spearheading six separate events over the span of two days:  Saturday’s 5k, 10K and Kids’ Kilo and Sunday’s Team Relay, Half and Full Marathon.  Not to mention course previews, separate awards ceremonies and get togethers.  To heighten the challenge he designed five separate courses.  As the countdown relentlessly continued, he found himself putting in first 40, then 60 and ultimately 100 hour weeks.  And as the snow fell and melted, reconfiguring the trails, he designed multiple courses depending seemingly on the time of day and the weather predictions.  He has enough trail designs in reserve to host a race-of-the week!
        As the February thaw gradually released its hold, winter dominated once more, frosting Prospect Mountain with an incredible amount of powder, enough to last well through April.  To achieve his goal to make “absolutely the most beautiful snowshoe course ever,” he carved narrow, twisty singletrack through the Black Forest-like landscape.  And naturally the majority of the narrow route was inaccessible to motorized devices, leaving Tim tunneling through in fisherman-style waders, achieving lactate threshold with every step.  Through it all, he remained relentlessly smiling despite repeatedly setting multiple SKTs (Slowest Known Times) for his routes.  And then there was the no small matter of making the site approachable.  Visit Tim’s Facebook page and you can view the cavern-like parking area, the porta-potties barricaded by snow and the daunting roof clearing operations.
        Normally in back-to-back events there are two, or at most, three choices.  But here we were confronted with the same dilemma faced by Willy Wonka’s Veruca “I want it all…I want it now.”  Saturday’s options were clear-cut for those pursuing Nationals status, but Sunday’s were murky:  an intense 2.5 mile relay loop or a half or a full.  While the first appears a no-brainer, after trying to get my sore body parts in gear Sunday morning, I was actually looking forward to the more leisurely paced half with no worries about letting teammates down.
        I should, however, have stated my plan more concisely.  I had started many races with twelve year-old Solitaire Niles, now in her first year of serious snowshoeing.  Because she knew I was targeting the half, she assumed I would be, like her, a 5K candidate.  She was on the verge of bagging it, but fortunately managed to hook up with Theresa Apple who finished ahead of her last week.  It was inspiring to see her cross the finish line, smiling from the accomplishment and praising the beauty of the final mile.  She had gained so much confidence from overcoming her doubts and forging ahead. 
        We all should have had those doubts as we lined up for the 10 K Championship, undoubtedly one of the most challenging and scenic 10Ks ever.  While there were some wide XC ski trails, they mostly seemed to be going up. Most memorable was the out of control, arm-flailing ziggurat-style descent from the top of the mountain.  We enjoyed multiple wild rides down the extremely narrow single track, bordered by waist-high snow.  It took some getting used to as your eyes were automatically pulled to either side when they really needed to be focused on foot placement.  I’m not sure if this was an optical illusion because of the tunnel-like path and the extreme whiteness, but it took a while to become acclimated to the different perspective.  At one point I stepped off to the side to allow a faster runner to pass and plunged waist-deep toward a hidden stream.  At another, while careening around a corner, the backs of my snowshoes locked and I was unable to move.  Luckily, after some frantic jiggling, all was well and I avoided having someone else crash into me.  Not sure exactly what happened, but I suspect a partially buried twig was to blame.  By that time all the twisting had begun to take a toll on my back—rather like I had pushed my body into an endless clothes dryer cycle. 
        The following day, I felt less pressure at the half marathon since I had no expectations, especially on such a difficult course.  Mercifully, Tim was not able to completely clear the marathon course, so we were treated to multiple loops of the 5K route.  Everyone breathed an audible sigh of relief. If I had had to attack two loops of the previous day’s 10K I never would have made it. 
        I know some dread multiple loops, feeling it lends itself to a “Where have I come from?  Where am I going?” mentality.  In a taxing event, however, I savor the reassurance that comes from the familiar: recognizing the route, spotting certain landmarks once more, and finally thinking “This is the last time I will have to pass this bridge or tunnel.”  At one open area we were treated to an expansive vista and while pausing to savor it, I spotted a tall white house, way down in the valley below that I knew marked the lowermost trail.  I must admit that was a bit discouraging, but it was still satisfying to focus on where I eventually had to travel.  While I realize that the 10K was way more technical, I wonder if part of that difficulty came from the fact that we had no concrete idea exactly how much more was left.  There is a lot to be said for mental preparedness.
        I know some folks plan special birthday weekends centered around their favorite sport, but I was doubly lucky in that Nationals Sunday fell on my birthday without any preplanning on my part.  I was amazed at how quickly word got around and by my second loop I was serenaded by aid station volunteers and bystanders alike.  I was especially touched that my buddy Solitaire and her Mom and Dad made a special trip out just to cheer me on.  Better than champagne, Jen Ferriss de-iced my frozen water bottle and presented me with a squeezy applesauce to fuel my final loop. 
        And that is the best thing about doing something like this—the warm fuzzies from old and new friends and the “we are all in this together” feeling of belonging and accomplishment.  I hope that next year, free from Nationals requirements, we will have the opportunity to tackle the half or the full without having to compete the day before as well!

        By laura clark
       

  • 07 Mar 2018 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have you ever gone skiing on a frigid Northeast winter day, popped some toe warmers on your ski sock underfoot, put on your boots, and headed out on the mountain, confident your feet will stay warm after hours riding a chilly lift? Many of us have, with nary a thought as to just how these products work and whether or not we need to worry about them. These packets contain iron powder, activated charcoal, and vermiculite, and they create warmth by a process called oxidation, whereby oxygen in the surrounding air reacts with this iron powder to create heat, with temperatures up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit reported. This heat can last up to 6-8 hours, plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors!
    When one looks at the instructions on the back of the packet, it clearly states that one should not put the warmer in direct contact with the skin and remove them immediately if they become too hot. It doesn’t state, however, that one should not wear these in shoes that are ventilated, like running shoes or cycling shoes, which allow oxygen to continue to interact with the iron powder, creating dangerous levels of heat! Unfortunately, this is what happened to an elite runner at an 8K snowshoe race in Wilton, NY, in mid-February. The use of toe warmers by this woman led to second degree burns on the bottoms of both of her feet, requiring a visit to the local emergency room, and many weeks of pain and crutches afterwards!

    In fact, online research shows that second degree burns have been reported by other winter athletes, both cyclists and winter runners. In fact, when one goes to the home page of a very popular brand, Little Hotties, there is a Precautions page which clearly states,”Little Hotties Warmers should not be used under the following conditions: do not apply directly to the skin, do not use in shoes during vigorous activities, such as running, do not use in shoes that have air ventilation holes, do not use in oxygen-rich environments.”

    So what does one do if the toes are cold heading out for a winter run or snowshoe run? You are better off wearing a wicking sock liner and a good pair of wool socks, then changing out of them into fresh wool socks when the run is over. If you do wear toe warmers, put them on top of your foot (on top of the wool sock) rather than under the ball of the foot. If you begin to feel any discomfort or excess heat, stop and remove them right away.

    The toe warmers work best in a stiff, solid encased boot, like a ski boot, or heavy winter boots used in ice-fishing, etc. Don’t go and throw them all away after reading this, but be judicious in choosing when to use them!

    Happy Trails!

  • 06 Mar 2018 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Four of us--Jessica and Brian Northan, Matt Miczek and I--regarded this doubleheader weekend (3/3-3/4) as a prime opportunity to test how we would persevere on back-to-back shifts of Nationals snowshoe races.  Rather like those Regents practice exams your teachers would throw at you in June in anticipation of school glory.  While that didn’t always work, sparking more anxiety than deep-seated confidence, the four of us were still willing to take a practice run.  Jessica and Brian impressively tagged a few extra hours of low-impact cross training by utilizing the free Garnet Hill ski pass all registrants got with their entry fee.  The rest of us were simply too tired.
        Saturday’s race at Garnet Hill presented the 10kers with a three loop challenge and others with a 3.5K or 7K option.  Since this was possibly Garnet’s first time on the snowshoe circuit most of us had no idea what to expect and indeed many of us had never visited this cross-country ski area.  I say possibly because I have vague memories of Tony Mangano organizing a race there in the mid-90’s utilizing newly opened wooded trails, but I could be mistaken.  That’s one of the shortfalls of having been at this for so long, way before internet documentation. 
        At any rate, we were presented with the usual advantages/disadvantages of any loop course.  First, you could only get lost once.  Which in this case wouldn’t have happened anyway as the course was that well-marked.  This format also enables you to regard the first go-through as a test case, scouting out places to speed up and sections that would require a more judicious approach.  So, theoretically, the final round could be your fastest.  I had a less ambitious goal: not to get lapped by the mid-packers.  And, to complete my victory I only got lapped once by Brian and Tim Van Orden.  Truthfully, Tim lapped me twice, once going and once after winning, when he ran the route backwards.  But that doesn’t count, at least not in my personal rule book.   
        The course, a wide corduroyed groomed trail, furnished a scenic view of the Adirondack Forest, freshly dressed in newly fallen snow.  As with most cross-country venues, there were plenty of ups and downs to keep the skiers happy, as well as a deceptive uphill near the end of the loop that never seemed to end.  But after the first go-round, you almost looked forward to tackling it as a hopeful sign that yet another loop would soon be completed.                 

    It was touch and go with snow cover up until the big storm the day before.  But this is March after all and the next day mild temperatures prevailed, softening some spring-runoff sections and causing some of us to post hole. I found that rather odd, as even the haphazard collection of trails out my back door has homemade admonitions warning those without skis or snowshoes to stick to the non-groomed sections to avoid this very factor.  I had never seen snowshoes post holing before! The folks at Garnet Hill were gracious and most enthusiastic about hosting more races in the future.  It will be exciting to have more opportunities to venture farther into those tempting woods!
        On Sunday, we traveled to Capital Hills Golf Course, the new home of the Capital Region Northern Alliance (CRNA) whose mission it is to promote the Nordic sports of cross country skiing, biathlon, orienteering and snowshoeing.  Previously, they had hosted snowshoeing events for us at Hilltop Orchards.  What you may not know about this group is that they have also dedicated themselves to training Paralympic athletes, including many veterans who sacrificed their health in defense of their country.  Some of these very same athletes will be competing in the Paralympics in Korea next week. Active in their group is our own Curt Schreiner, Olympic Biathlete, who participates every year in our Camp Saratoga Trail Race series along with his family members.
        Despite the recent snow, just two days later, much had melted, leaving us with sloppy conditions that still managed to hold up nicely. We traced a challenging circle up, over, around and through the golf course’s hills with views of happy kids on sleds to cheer us on.  Afterwards, we enjoyed hot chocolate and shared stories. 
        And what about our intrepid future half marathoners?  The Northans won first place beers and a large dose of future Nationals confidence.  As for Matt and I, while we initially felt pretty good, we struggled during the final mile and as a result hatched a workable half marathon plan:  we would hike all inclines and save our energy for the flats and downhills.  Hope that works!

    By laura clark



  • 28 Feb 2018 6:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a runner, you understand the importance of making sure drivers can see you when you go out for a run near traffic. You must do everything that you can to make sure you stand out so you will be noticed by drivers as you are running near vehicles or alongside traffic. Making sure you are visible to drivers is essential to ensuring your safety. There are several different things you can to do be proactive and to make sure you are noticed by drivers. Here are some of the leading tips for staying visible when you are out running:

    Dress to be Seen - Making sure you wear fluorescent colors that stand out and won't just blend in with the landscaping will help you be noticed. Black, green, brown, and blue just blend into your surroundings. Wearing hot pink, lime green, bright yellow, hot pink, or orange will help you stand out. Wearing a fluorescent jersey, vest, or jacket is the key to staying safe

    Run Toward Traffic - Never run with traffic because you cannot see what is happening behind you. Instead, follow traffic laws and run toward traffic. This way, if you do see a vehicle coming toward you there is an ample opportunity for you to jump out of the way.

    Run on The Sidewalk - When it is permitted, you should run on the sidewalk. This keeps you farther from the vehicles and keeps you safer. Use the sidewalk as a buffer between you and vehicles.

    Run with A Running Buddy - It is much safer to run with someone. After all, two people are much easier to see than just one person. With both of you wearing fluorescent clothes, you will get much more attention. Also, if you have a medical emergency you have a friend who can call for help. It is always better to have someone along.

    When Out After Dark - If you are running before dawn or after dark, make sure you are visible and stand out. Get reflective tape to place on your clothing, particularly across your back and your chest. Put some on your shoes as well. Wear reflective bands on your ankles and wrists. A brightly colored safety vest with reflectors on it could be helpful. Running with a flashlight in front of you pointed down will help you stand out. A flashing LED light can be worn on a string around your neck or pinned on your clothing for additional attention.

    Obey Traffic Laws - You must know the traffic laws and obey them. That means you should not run too close to parked cars or zip in and out of traffic. Don't jaywalk and always obey all the traffic signals. Be responsible for your own safety.

    Always Stay Alert - Watch for any vehicles, and this will help you be much more noticed. Watching your surroundings and doing what you can to stay visible so you are less likely to be struck by a vehicle.

    Choose Well-Lit Areas - If you are out running while it is dark, choose areas where there is proper lighting. You shouldn't run through communities where you aren't familiar with the streets. The lighting enables drivers to see you and you to see your surroundings as well.

    Watch Out for Vehicles - You want to keep a distance between you and vehicles when you are running. Consider the distance to be a safety barrier. By staying alert so you can get out of the way if you need to, you are protecting yourself. Don't run too close to cars or in between vehicles because you are putting yourself in the driver's blind spot and increasing your chances of being hit. Running too close to parked vehicles can cause you to be doored.

    Never let your guard down and always assume that drivers won't notice you. If you enjoy running, you are well aware of the importance of being proactive about your own safety. Improving your visibility is detrimental to your safety. By dressing in bright colors, adhering to traffic laws, running with a buddy, and by staying alert, you can significantly decrease your chances of being in an accident. Stay alert of your surroundings, so you can stay away from cars that could cause you harm. By staying visible, you can significantly decrease the likelihood of a driver not seeing you and you being hit by a vehicle while you are out for a run. With the proper safety precautions, you can enjoy many more years of running free from accidents.

    This article was provided by www.personalinjury-law.com, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only.

  • 28 Feb 2018 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Not all ultrarunners are humans. Meet Gobi, a sturdy, sandy-colored mutt with Chihuahua-style ears, a flagship tail and the focused stare of a runner determined to put in the miles however difficult they might prove. Incredibly, this resolute dog materialized somewhere in the middle of China’s Gobi Desert, scanned the competitors in a 155 mile stage ultra and selected Australian runner Dion Leonard as his companion for the next 80 odd miles of adventure.

    At first, I thought that as an enterprising stray he simply showed up for a free handout. Perhaps, but that cannot be the entire story. Running 80 miles is not exactly an easy meal ticket and most likely would barely replace the incurred calorie deficit. Moreover, competitors were required to pack their own food, so any sharing would become a considered sacrifice. And even if he thrived on the adventure component, hanging out with the tent crew would have been a far easier solution. My theory is that as a would-be therapy dog, Gobi scanned the available runners and instinctively selected Dion Leonard, a distrustful, habitual loner with a troubled past.

    Leonard, a practiced competitor, was in the race for the win, a last-chance opportunity to prove to the world that he could still be competitive. Early-on he makes it clear that, “I’m not here for fun.” For him, fun and competing were mutually exclusive. Enter Gobi, who paced Leonard to a second-place finish and a new perspective on life. Inspired by Gobi’s therapy dog appeal, Leonard began interacting with his fellow athletes and even risked his standings to carry the canine across tough stretches.

    Even though Gobi had no idea what a therapy dog was, she fit the profile. As Leonard states, “The race across the Gobi Desert was different…The experience had changed my life. So it was only right that in return I should do everything I could to help change Gobi’s.” And so begins the second part of their journey: Leonard’s struggle to bring Gobi home to Edinburgh with him. The journey would make an incredible movie plot, but it is totally factual, involving fundraising, immigration laws, media sites, kidnapping and the amazing warmth of a group of Chinese friends who devoted days to searching for the missing dog who had captured the hearts of the planet.

    There is an adult version of Finding Gobi, a kids ‘version, and, you guessed it; Twentieth Century Fox has now bought the movie rights. So now it is up to you. Confronted by the chicken and egg dilemma, is it best to read the book prior to seeing the movie, or view the film before reading the details in the book? As for me, I have read the book and can’t wait to see the movie!

    by laura clark

  • 28 Feb 2018 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the ARE’s Brave the Blizzard update puts it, “We have been trying to put on a snowshoe race in a blizzard for 14 years now. We're 0% on that. 50% on having snow. 100% on fun.”  And so it goes….

    But if you have to run a snowshoe race on mud, this is the place to do it, offering a mix of terrain every bit as challenging as on snowshoes.  In fact, two years ago when BTB was also a non-snowshoe event in Tawesentha Park, I ran the 5.5 miler in 1:05.  This year I clocked in at 1:18, with the intervening snowshoe year a solid 1:34.  This year at Camp Saratoga, in an 8K (4.97 miles), in 15” of snow, I managed 1:21.What do all these statistics mean?  I wish I knew. Perhaps it means either that in the course of two years I lost 13 minutes of speed or that the first Tawesentha was significantly easier than the third.  It also might mean that snowshoes make things considerably easier, at least for me. I would appreciate any and all interpretations you have to offer.

    At any rate, this year’s BTB might go down in history as the only trail race that was actually tougher than a snowshoe race in deep snow.  In 2016 I smugly wore my faithful Ice Spikes and proceeded slippage-free.  This year was the first time ever that my Ice Spikes came up short, and not in length.  The unavoidable remnants of snow were slushy and sticky and clumped to my soles like snowballs, which, of course, they were.  Around me, others were reaching similar conclusions.  Jamie Howard soon jettisoned his microspikes and after his first fall, wished he had gone with his screws.  He felt much better afterwards (mentally, not physically) when I enlightened him with my experience.

    About the only person satisfied with his choice of footwear was Matt Miczek, who wore his brand-new Asics Gel Fuji Runnegade 2. (Disclaimer: This is by no means a product endorsement, but notice how I went to such great pains to get the spelling correct).  He wore these sneakers stark naked (the sneakers, not him) with no traction devices whatsoever.  Matt ran ahead of me throughout the race and while I couldn’t see him, the Asics’ geometrically laid-out triangle pattern was clearly visible, crisp and not listing from side to side like my feet seemed to be doing.  Eventually, I gave up thinking and just followed in his unfaltering footsteps.
    The 2018 trail was also different from the 2016 trail in that instead of ice sheets which perform well with traction, the course was basically some snow with soggy grass plastered with mud.  Think of those greasy, slicked-down Elvis hair styles.  Except for the very steep climbs, where the terrain quit fooling around and dished out pure mud.                     

    Either way, mud or snow, there is literally no way to train properly for this race unless you set your treadmill at a 70 degree angle sloping to the left.  And who runs like that?  This sloping occurs twice on the golf course area.  Going out it is merely amusing, but on the downhill return it is a different matter entirely.  As I write this I am icing (brrr!) my ankle, sore from twisting my right foot inward. 
    The only consolation was that we weren’t the only ones having difficulty.  After the award pies and cookies were distributed and all the pancakes were consumed, the ambulance decided it was time to make a retreat.  Except it couldn’t .  Mired in mud, it threatened to become a permanent part of the landscape.  Fueled by all those pancakes, some macho runners managed to push it back on the road, only to find themselves wishing for yet another pair of clean clothes.  Lucky thing there were no actual emergencies.

    And so the curtain closes on yet another Brave the Mud.  Tune in next year for a possible blizzard—one can only hope!

    By laura clark

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