It was a pretty BIG week for Dirtbags around the world including races at the Tromso SkyRace, a trail classic in New Mexico and a newer event on traditional Navajo lands. We’ve also got another installation of the Ambassador “Get-to-Know” featuring our Scottish Ambassador.
Quick update out of Arkansas with a couple group runs around Mt. Kessler and Lake Fayetteville. Another great connection from the DBR community as they gained a new member (Amy Hearting) after she moved from Kansas City. Gotta love this Dirtbag community!
Direct from Ambassador Erik Buzzard, he recounts his experience running one of the classics: The La Luz Trail Race.
Sunday, August 7th I was able to finish my 10th run up the La Luz trail in Albuquerque, N.M. This awesome mountain run consists of 1.8 miles of paved road and 7.2 miles of dirt single track with a 12% grade. The 2001 fall issue of Trail Runner Magazine selected La Luz as one of the “12 most grueling trail runs in North America”. There is a lottery system in place as the forest service only permits 400 runners per year.
I love this race for many reasons: 1) It is all uphill so not very sore afterwards 2) great views as there are lots of switchbacks and 4,400 feet vertical gain 3) after the run you have the option of strolling along the crest and taking the tram down, hitching a ride down, or running back down 4) trip to new mexico offers great food, visits to REI, Trader Joes etc. 5) the organizers, participants, and volunteers are very cool
La Luz (the light) is a tough but rewarding race. You only get your shirt when you cross the finish line at 10,600 feet! The numerous scree crossings and rocks on the trail are what trail running is all about. Chit chatting with your fellow runners makes the time fly and leads to new friendships and experiences. Another unique thing about this run is that there is a staircase you climb less than a ¼ mile from the top. It is unique to see this “stairway to heaven”, after you have been concentrating on your footing and you are already dizzy from the altitude. Kind of a cruel joke but I love it every time!
This year I spent a lot of time running/hiking up with fellow Dirtbag Eric Bailey who did the Taos “Up and Over” the day before. Eric talks, takes pictures during the race, and is an all around cool cat. We cheered each other on as at many switchbacks we would shout, “Way to go Eric” or “Nice work Erik” I’m sure the people stuck around us wondered why these crazies kept yelling at each other! At the top we took a picture with another lady sporting a pink Dirtbag hat and she tried to convince me she was a Dirtbag poser and I assured her she was the real deal! As I was heading to the car, my youngest son Ryan was there to pick me up, I ran into Eric with a group of Dirtbags who were pounding some beers. We visited a bit and talked about upcoming events and basked in the glow of another perfect day!
Next up, get to know Ambassador Graham Kelly!
Name: Graham Kelly
DBR Ambassador: Scotland
Favorite Trail: Forest trails around Rothiemurchus in the Scottish Cairngorm Mountains
Favorite Race: Ben Nevis Hill Race – heading for my 11th consecutive finish first weekend in September 2016
Favorite Running Fuel: Tailwind
Favorite Post-run/race Food: Large Veggie Pizza
Favorite Shoes: Inov-8 X-Talon 212 (stick to trails like shit to a blanket)
Bucket List Race: Bog Graham Round (66 mile, 27,000 ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lake District) … a race of sorts since to have the round acknowledged you need to complete in under 24 hours
Fastest Beer Mile Time: Born to Run 2014 but don’t think Pat Sweeney was recording finish times!
How many miles per week do you run: Varies hugely – but the average for this year is sitting at 28 miles a week
Trail Music (yes/no) (if yes, favorite song): Sometimes aye, sometimes naw – if aye, then a mix tape (okay on an iPod) of bands like Lucero, Frank Turner, Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Earle, Virgin Marys, Against me …
You know you’re a Dirtbag when: You look down at your feet at see a “Luna” tan line …either for real caused by the sun or temporary caused by trail dirt.
Favorite type of Dirtbag home – Tent, Van, Hammock: First choice will be ma VW Transporter but love Scottish Bothies – basic mountain huts that are open to anyone and free to use.
Famous runner crush: Ma girl Katie – the Blonde half of the “Blondie and Beardy” running outfit!
Famous runner you’d want to run with: Anna Frost
When was your last shower: This morning due to being in that down time between adventures i.e. at work
If forced to use one: Treadmill or ElliptiGO? Och …both have a place so either.
I felt most like a badass runner when: Standing on a mountain summit with the wind in ma beard.
Piece of gear you can’t live without: GoPro – I have a fear of getting old and forgetting all the braw times. The GoPro allows me to record things as they happen and look back on. Recently discovered the “Touchnote” app which I use to make postcards to send folks back home to remind them that even though I might not be with them physically, I still keep them close in my heart and mind.
What is a quirky habit you have while running: I have a bad habit of chewing on ma beard …apparently !
Three words that describe your running: Fun, soothing, feeling
Your go-to running outfit is: Old pair of Patagonia trail shorts that I wore running in the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco 2013 and numerous hill races here in Scotland, whatever base layer and cap is closest to hand at the time
Anything else you’d like the DBR community to know about you: Just back from running the Tromso Skyrace out in Norway – a perfect blend of beautiful trails, technical terrain a high mountain summits. With Kilian Jornet and Emilie Fosberg as race directors it was always going to be tasty. Shared the experience with folks from fifteen different countries and loved every step of the 58km and 4693m of climbing. Couple of special moments were having Kilian shouting encouragement on the Hamperokken ridge section and Emilie shouting “Beardy” as I crossed the line – aye, #brawtimes indeed !
Another amazing adventure for our badass Ambassador out of the Southwest, Miguel Moreno took on the Rainbow Bridge 50k. Hear about it straight from Miguel as no one tells a story like him:
“Rainbow Bridge…it was straight up the most difficult 30 mile race I have done to date. Don’t ask about elevation gain/loss, just trust me on this. You had to be self-sufficient and know what you’re physically capable of. The race was delayed due to rain…shirtless and anxious I just wanted to take off and race. Huddled in a small room with my new dog Jose, I waited. I was joined by the likes of Maria Walton and the Millers (Narawuas). It was a hub of super influential ultra runners. Finally, it was time!
We did a traditional Navajo Prayer, everyone was quiet, but you could feel the energy taking off. On your mark set go! We sprinted off. I had my old trusty Garmin with me to remind me to slow down… Running towards Najavo Mountain while it sprinkled was the stuff adventures are made of. Climbing the access road was boring and then it began: the mountain started to expose its slick red rock. It reminded me of red curry powder. Mmmm chicken…
Eventually, we had completely run around Navajo Mountain. Then the trail dropped. Three miles into a canyon. The most technical part of the section and the most desolate. Screw it I’m bombing down. Water or no water….not recommended. I relied on my old ass Garmin and sense of direction, the cairns were far and in between. Finally, leveling off I hit a stream…thats were it got a bit sketchy. Crap was I following a game trail or the ancient navajo trail? So I went to the highest cliff and yelled out! Kakaaw! Hellllooooo! And sure as shit one person answered: David!! I was battling it out with David and this fool ran down the canyon too! Yes! It was now a full blown race.
He lead us out to complete the first 15 miles and I lead back out….as soon as we hit the big climb I said it’s time to race…I climbed out of that mountain not looking back, my heart rate was jacked, temples were blown. I hope I wouldn’t burn out. After finally climbing out no one was behind me. I’m in the clear…as I took off I forgot about the other two canyons we have to nose dive in and climb out…f*€k!
There he was on my ass. Freaking David! I thought we were friends! Nope he picked me off…the last 3 miles were hell. I had to dig deep to hold my 9 minute pace. Finally, there it was, the rodeo camp ground. There were horse races going on, tons of navajo people enjoying the festival, the announcer blasting through the speakers: “we have a runner coming in, make way!” The people clapping and cheering me on was epic! A 1/2 marathoner pulled me in “lets go, lets go!” Damn, it was finally over. I gave David a big ass hug…”
As always, check back next week for more Dirtbag adventures! Enjoy your weekend!