When it comes to sponsorships/ambassadorships/partnerships in trail and ultrarunning, there are a lot of companies offering up products. The well-known, big company deals only go to those who are really the professionals of our sport. Most of us aren’t fast enough to run for the Salomon or The North Face teams and get all the perks that come with it. However, if you’re like me, you probably couldn’t really give a shit! I’d personally rather support a local company, a brand where I actually know the owner.
With that being said, I’m very excited to announce that the Boise Dirtbag Runners have started a great partnership with an amazing family-owned and operated business: Meriwether Cider Company. The Leadbetter family produces the finest hard ciders in Idaho (and you’d be hard pressed to find anything better in the Pacific Northwest). From semi-dry ciders to ones including adjuncts like blackberry, ginger root or peach tree tea to a nicely hopped cider, Meriwether Cider Company has something for everyone to enjoy.
If you happen to see one of the Boise Dirtbags at a race out West, there’s a good chance we’ll be carrying a bottle or two. Just ask for a sip, we’ll be happy to share (like I did at The Rut)! Or if you’re in the Boise area, stop by the Cidery & grab a pint!
“The Glen Coe Skyline race was the third and final in the Skyrace Extreme race series and set here in Bonny Scotland. Having already ran the first in the series over at Tromso, Norway I was looking forward to revisiting many of the mountain summits and ridge that I have spent the last 30 odd years exploring and playing in. Like Tromso, the Coe also hosted a Vertical Kilometre and shorter event on the Saturday with the Ring of Steall race which is still a tasty 29km with 2,500m of vertical ascent taking in some stunning ridges and mountain summits.
The fully skyline was a scary 55.06km / 4,746m with two technical sections. Entrants were vetted to ensure they had sufficient mountain running and technical climbing experience before being allowed to toe the start line. Based on my Tromso race performance, making the mid route cut off times was going to be challenging …very challenging indeed. I started the race running with my club mate James which helped ensure my pace was quicker than I’d normally start with (James is usually at the pointy end of the race) and was happy to make the first cut with almost 90 minutes to spare. The next section was an ascent of the mighty Buachaille Etive Mor via Curved Ridge. With the route being flagged, it was simply ascend as quick as you could and in unison with other folks around you. Previous ascent times for this during training had been around the 1 hour 28 minute mark …race day gave a time of 38 minutes !
Over the summit and it was time to settle back into run mode heading over Stob na Doire before the sharp descent into the Lairg Gartain, over the bealach on Buachaille Etive Beag before another descent to the second timing point. It was good to confirm I had made up additional time and now had a good buffer for the final cut at the road crossing. However, I paid the price for the early pace during the traverse of the Bidean mam Bian section feeling light headed and generally grim (food and drink sorted that). Lost count of how many tumbles on the way down from Stob Coire nam Beith thanks to wet rock but arrive at the road crossing to cheers from my girlfriend and her family (better than any gel) – they even wore beards to help raise spirits.
Safely through the critical cut off, I began the long ascent to the second technical stage going over the Aonach Eagach Ridge. I knew this section well but only from the opposite direction – it was amazing how different some of the short scrambling problems change. Simple when climbing “up” less simple when climbing “down” and vice versa. Unfortunately, the weather had crapped out by this time and in addition to the terrain had to deal with low visibility, rain and an increasing wind. Being truthful, I was scared out ma buff on a few occasions and glad to reach the end of the technical ground at Am Bodach. Once on the grassy ground, it was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the last bit of running down onto the West Highland Way track.
My initial plan had simply been to stay ahead of the cuts and finish between 13 hours and 14 hours so was super happy to actually cross the line in 11 hours, 53 minutes and 27 seconds. What had made me race hard, a few things – Katie had probably the best run of her life the day before on the Ring of Steall and I didn’t want her to feel bad if I DNF’d, I also know some of the race organising team and having been given the opportunity to race, I didn’t want to let them down. A few more reasons …but maybe share them fireside at Born to Run next year. Huge shout out to all who organised, ran and supported the three events ..nae doubts, it’s braw tae run. Slainte Mhath !”
It might technically be Autumn, but the DBR’s in Arkansas are still feeling the heat, even in their early morning runs around Mt. Sequoyah:
Onto another race report! This one from our Ambassador Chad Hinkle out in California:
“I’m not too photogenic and I don’t run so fast” was the warning I gave Luis. He didn’t care, would probably fix it in editing and just needed some folks to be present looking like runners in the middle of the week. The inaugural Wild Cherry Canyon Ultramarathon was a year out and race director Samantha Pruitt needed some promo shots for the race.
A year later, in the fog I’m toeing the line for my first 50 mile race.
Medals, I have plenty… race shirts are packed in a drawer so full I have made a deal with myself to donate one before a new shirt is allowed in. I wanted a jacket. A new North Face jacket is a pretty enticing piece of swag for a race. Only available to the 50-mile runners, so I signed up.
“The steep and the deep” is what Samantha promised a few moments before the start. The course delivered. Up and up, the first miles was a bunch of climbing in the fog. Headlamps bouncing. I hiked it with fellow Dirtbag Runner, Kymba, and Santa Maria Valley Trail Runner, Edder. Edder said he had packed a beer on ice in his drop bag. I offered to drink it for him if I got there first.
“Uh oh… I’ve seen that stride before… see you on the back half…”, Edder called out. The course had made it to a rare level section and I had to stretch my legs.
The sun illuminated the course, but the coastal fog was all around. The markings were excellent, and there were volunteers at key points on the course to make sure the runners were headed the right way. I was a bit concerned after looking at the course map and seeing several out and back sections bristling off of the main loop. I didn’t want to short the course, or run too far. On the course that was not a concern. And the out and backs let you see who was running nearby.
Eventually we were above the fog. The Santa Lucia Range off to the east, and the Pacific to the west and Port San Luis to the south buried under the marine layer. I had caught up with Melissa and we chatted about race stuff, plans, did I train enough, other adventures, and generally just chugged down the trail. She was well prepared and moving right along.
I was feeling pretty well, and had settled in to an easy pace. Put a little space between Melissa and myself so I could do my own thing. Life had gotten in the way of all the training I wanted to do, and I was still worried about the back half…
Up up up, down down down. Then came the deep. Running down a section of trail in the bottom of a canyon, little bits of light filtering through the tunnel of leaves. If an elf happened to be on the side of the trail, I would have felt out of place. It may have been my favorite spot.
More little out and back sections, then the course started a climb along some pasture land. Past 20 miles now, I hiked up the hill, and turned a corner and up. The trail arched away and up. Then I realized I was back where a group of us had been a year before for the photographs. Oaks and gold grass, rocks, and the ocean barely visible in the distance.
At the top of the climb were the drop bags and pacers. Gregorio was there waiting to pace Kymba for the next section. The road sloping down to finish line was calling after a couple miles of climbing. But there was another lap yet to run. Only 25 miles down. Left and up, and it was steep. The half marathoners were shuffling down the steep double track. I forgot to drink Edders beer, what an awful friend. Up I went.
The half marathon was marked with blue tape. It made me twitch as I climbed past the ribbons. Blue is bad. 1200′ of elevation later it was time to run. Hey, there is Luis… is he looking for pokemon? Oh, he just discovered facebook live.
The second lap was almost familiar. But the sun was up, the fog was gone, and my brain wasn’t putting much effort into anything… is that a sewing machine in a tree? High up on a ridge I spotted my rock climbing friend Julie. She was traveling by motorcycle and taking photos during the race. She had been out ahead of the event volunteering. It was good to see a familiar face.
I kept on, up down out back. Don’t forget to drink, and eat. PB&J? Yes please. Salty potatoes? Uh huh. Gel? Uhm, that works. Water? Fluid? Put that ice in my bandito… aw yeah. It’s an eating and drinking contest with some running thrown in. The aid stations were good, the volunteers were great. The miles ticked by. I traded places back and forth with the few runners around me. Checked in with others as we passed on the out and backs. It was going as good as could be expected.
Melissa and her pacer Ian caught up to me around mile 35. I was walking downhill. There was nowhere to pull off the side of the trail without tumbling to my death. So I was walking, looking for an appropriate spot to take care of some paperwork. Ian and Melissa nodded in understanding and pulled ahead. It wasn’t too long before a spot was found, and the paperwork complete.
It was good to be running again. The back half wasn’t so bad. I was running where I could. Hiking fast when it made sense. I was so hungry. Snacks and gels from the aid stations kept my energy up, but I could tell I was running a calorie deficit. And nothing felt great in my stomach but I kept on because I knew I had to.
I passed 40 miles, my previous longest run, and knew I had it. Kept on, through the green tunnel, out onto the cow pasture climb. I passed a guy who got around me while I was in the bushes, and kept pushing up the hill. Chatted with he volunteers on horseback asking pointed questions about my wellbeing. Talked to the marathoners hiking their race. No left turn where the blue tape was this time. Just down hill for a mile or so to the finish.
The steepest part I shuffled. My quads were pretty toasted after 10 hours of the steep. Then a quick descent to the finish line. I could hear the Mother Corn Shuckers delivering some central coast beergrass music just ahead. Gregorio and Joanie were at Luis’ camper. Greg held up a bottle of fireball between me and his camera. I figured I would be instagram famous, but he was offering the fireball and looking for Pokémon or something. I couldn’t stop yet. That other guy wasn’t too far back.
The Mother Corn Shuckers were cheering me on as I made it through the chute and across the finish line.
11,000+ of climbing and descent.
Annalisa had finished her marathon and took a dip in the Pacific and was back at the finish line with my band mates Allan and Allison. A beer was in my hand and quickly emptied while Che cheered from the Shuckers stage. I stumbled around and took pictures and recounted the best and worst moments of the run.
Melissa had made it under 10 hours, but was a bit dissapointed she didn’t make the podium overall (I think she did for her AG). Kymba wasnt too far behind clenching first in her age group! A bit later Edder came in, and we cheered him across the finish line.
I made it home to devour 3/4 of a large pizza and would have ate more because I was still hungry, but painfully full.
Better training. Make time for the runs, and make up the ones I may have to skip.
Better nutrition. Find something a bit more appetizing I can carry.
Pacer. I know near the end I could have pushed a bit more, run when I walked. It’s easy to let the little things go when you are by yourself.
Samantha Pruitt for putting on an awesome event.
Annalisa, Allan, Allison, Joanie, Greg and Che and the Mother Corn Shuckers for cheering and welcoming me across the finish line. The Santa Maria Valley Trail Runners for giving me another reason to keep training.
To the Dirtbag Runners for the community and the stoke that keeps me coming back for this stuff.
It was fun. Type II fun. And like most runners I’m looking forward to the next one.
Our final story for the week comes from Boise Team Member Israel Shirk who completed his first 100 miler last weekend. He didn’t signup for an easy one either as the IMTUF is notoriously difficult! Apparently Israel is also a very detailed story teller. He also filmed a bunch of the race so be sure to check out the different YouTube clips!
This has been my first year starting to take running seriously since college. Up to this point I’ve done several races in the 20-40 mile range making a lot of mistakes, learning hard and fast, and all of that mostly aimed at running IMTUF. A lot of people think it’s maybe a little nuts to do IMTUF as your first 100 and skip doing everything in between. This is true.
Maybe my reasons are a bit different. I lived McCall for my first several years post college – and most of IMTUF’s trails are my favorite trails in the world. So I don’t necessarily care that it’s a hundred miler, or that it’s got debatably 107 miles and 30k elevation or 97 miles and 23k elevation.
I’m just good with hammering up Snowslide and Fall Creek and across Crestline because they’re awesome – and connecting them? Heaven. Back when I was really dirtbagging it out of my truck in McCall for a year, these trails were my home, my escape from normal society, from my failing business, from my off-and-on ex-fiancee.
About a week out RD Jeremy sends out this e-mail saying “Hey, if you have any medical issues please let me know so we can be prepared”. Which is pretty funny because I just got back from getting beat up by a bunch of mountain bikers. So I wrote him a couple page e-mail back regarding contingencies, then cut it down to about three sentences. Basically, “I have PTSD which went badly at my last race; more or less broken ribs; and a mildly torn diaphragm. So I’m going to be happy to make it to the first crew station and call it good”. The three days before the race I spent lying down on the couch trying to move as little as possible – every time I’d move I could feel my ribs dislocate and pop back. I knew I could run like this because I did as soon as I left the ER, and got cleared by 3 different doctors just to make sure. But it hurt a little bit – just some mild screaming pain, nothing really serious.
So things looked pretty good in my mind – lots of drivers equal a good chance for success, right?
I went out pretty chill. We always camp with the kids at Ruby Meadows so I just went ahead from the lead group out into the dark, got a while ahead, and turned off my light and jumped behind a tree. And of course the lead pack took off hunting me – perfect for carnage in the last 25 miles of the race. After that, my work was done for the next 50 – I just needed to sit and wait.
I just fell into a pace for a while. Tailwind at fifteensies regardless of temperature, stayed nice and aerobic and efficient through the flats, and ran into an old college friend at an aid station, and generally didn’t have any of the issues I was concerned about for about 25 miles.
Then my meds wore off. This happened at Standhope too. PTSD is an interesting condition. For me, it’s some part of my brain replaying traumatic life-and-death scenes over and over and over until as if they’re happening again right there and then – super fun to say the least. About 5 minutes after this really hit I got some meds down and started to get back into things. Then along came a guy named Jayk who brought me back to earth… with various types of profanity that my wife does not approve of – but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see another person in my life.
IMTUF – climbing Victor Creek to Diamond with Jayk – https://youtu.be/ToT6Rlitwyk
Only a few minutes down (and still in the top 20), we just trucked along some fantastic ups and downs and hit the second crew station an hour and a half earlier than I’d scheduled – and in great shape.
IMTUF – crew station mania – https://youtu.be/gFd0-TED_WQ
The next 20 miles literally flew by. Jayk and I bonded as if we’d been running together for years, our pace went fast even through the normal ups and downs, and I really feel like I learned more about running in those few miles than in the twenty years before. So thank you Jake for that. And for not leaving me a crumpled mess on the side of the trail!
IMTUF – running up lick creek road – https://www.youtube.com/
Snowslide aid/crew, mile 47ish. This guy is kind of famous – it’s something like 1717 feet in 2 miles, about half of which is flat. The rest is mixed small boulders, scree, and unbelievable views. Apparently we’d made good time to here because my crew was still asleep in the car and I caused a pretty big scene running down the road screaming “MATT!!!! BRADY!!! WHERE ARE YOU???” – apparently I was around 2 and a half hours early and had no idea what their car looked like. Oops. Sorry guys.
IMTUF – Snowslide First Climb – https://youtu.be/Tsa1ROTkG2o
IMTUF – Snowslide Lake – https://youtu.be/kpRGjhIBRh8
IMTUF – Snowslide steep climb – https://youtu.be/SpYpNL98v8Q
IMTUF – Saucing the RD because Snowslide was just not steep enough – https://youtu.be/zub9AjNqUa4
IMTUF – Snowslide descent – https://youtu.be/MlKMe7xAtOo
Matt hopped on as my pacer and we just started working it. Cleared snowslide without a lot of effort, it just felt like home after being in the Sawtooths all summer and started picking off carnage – 7 on the first climb, then a long relaxed descent to the next crew station at mile 59.
IMTUF – Snowslide Intervention – https://youtu.be/zub9AjNqUa4
Had another med crash on the way out to Lake Fork Campground but felt it coming early enough to take care of it before dropping my pace too much – thanks to Matt for making me go ahead and get it done rather than wait for caffeine to accompany it.
Lake Fork crew station – earlier again. I think at this point we were 3 hours up from my planned schedule. The schedule was based on my ribs not working. Apart from some pain and being able to feel the hole in my diaphragm everything worked, and actually felt a lot more comfortable running than stopping/sitting/laying down (congrats to the doc at ISMI – he actually called this beforehand).
We made a quick stop, swapped shoes and socks, and joked up Fall Creek like it was a playground – feeling great and running fast. What I hadn’t anticipated in any of this was the effect of racing this hard, this far was that it would actually make a huge difference in an injury I’d had year ago – a pneumothorax caused by a mountain bike accident. Long story short, at the top of Fall Creek I started coughing up scar tissue that I’d felt for almost a decade and got a bunch of capacity back in my right lung. Heck yes. After that I managed to get into a niced 3-3 rhythm, for the first time since about a decade ago.
IMTUF – Fall Creek Climb – https://youtu.be/hE9faZTMTKM
From the top of the Fall Creek climb we turned into a pack of wolves. Along crestline I knew the trail like the back of my hand; and Matt was in top shape, so we just started cruising fast into the darkness. Every time we would see a headlamp a hill or two ahead, we’d just gently reel a little while, rest during the catch, and pick up the pace to keep them from hanging on. There’s nothing quite like running fast in your home territory, feeling like a machine, and just picking a dozen people off in 15 miles. We finally got our aid station stops dialed in – in and out in under a minute. We caught a lot of people this way – we’d just sit behind them taking it easy, be ready to just add water, and be gone as fast as the spigots allowed.
Towards the end of North Crestline things started to get dangerous – not just for us, but for everyone. Temperatures dropped rapidly from a balmy 45 and dry to around 25-30 degrees, melting snowfall, and a brisk crosswind. Up to that point we’d been thermally regulating our pace – T-shirts and shorts with speed to keep warm. Once the temps dropped that translated directly into blood sugar hitting the floor. I felt my body temp drop rapidly the last mile coming into North Crestline aid station (mile 80); and we had to take some time to get warmed back up as much as possible – knowing that descending would get us better temps along with the crew access and warm clothing waiting for us at mile 88 at the lake.
It all falls apart
Eventually we got down low enough to start to warm up but the cold was still in my bones when we hit a technical section called Terrible Terrance at around mile 84. My left IT (at the knee) gave out completely for a moment and then my TFL and IT seized hard, locking my knee straight and not allowing me to put any weight on it. We were in fifth place, feeling fresh and strong, holding back, and ready to rally for (hopefully) a place finish – if not sub-23. That all ended in one step on a hidden rock at 1:30AM.
The next 4.8 miles to the crew station took a bit over 3 hours – I was in a full hobble, and we were very lucky to have enough food/water on us to make it there. By the point we reached the crew station, we were past 22 hours – just one hour short of my best-case finish time.
Naturally, everything changed. Instead of a quick clothing/shoe/sock change and disappearing into the night, we shut everything down. We tried to get my knee to unlock – no luck. So we just checked how much time we had until the cutoff (plenty), got meds stable for a reboot, and slept for a couple hours with the heat in the car pumped up to 90 degrees. I jolted awake at some point and had my drive and the tiniest amount of flexibility back, so I just KT’d the heck out of my knee and did hurdle drills until it worked again. I can’t say enough about Brady and Matt here – being so flexible with having to run support totally unprepared for me to run so fast, and then have everything fall apart, and not say a word about calling it – that takes someone who really has their head in the game and is really ready to do whatever it takes. It seemed like there were a lot of pacers who were really out there for themselves as much as anything else – these guys were 100% focused on me and what they could do to put me in a better spot. I’m seriously humbled by how they handled all this without complaining – even when Brady got kicked out of his own car to sleep in a camping chair for 3 hours, he just shook it off, got his game face on and said “Let’s do this.”
At that point Matt had been going 40 miles and it was Brady’s turn. We headed out at around 6AM – still feeling like a wolf but with a !@#$!@# bum knee that was only tracking straight due to the KT on it. At that point it was really just about finishing, skipping out on long-term injury, and enjoying the view. Taped up and dressed warm we headed out.
Leaving Upper Payette Lake – https://youtu.be/cQmz_OH4WiY
I think we made it around a mile of jogging 10-minute pace on easy flat ground before my knee gave again. From that point I was just having none of it so I tried a bunch of different ways of walking, did a few root-cause-analyses, and identified the primary issue as a tight groin. Then figured out how to power-hike through it.
We cleared Bear Pete in decent time and hit the finish in 31:43:00 – 8 hours lost to my IT band, a lot of time honey badgering it and had Brady drag me along at 15 minute pace to keep from running out of water.
Finish – https://youtu.be/1KXsyM3KOX0
It’s funny to say that I’m 33, I’ve been running for 20 years of that, and I learned more from this race (especially from Jayk and being injured) than the last 20 years – but it’s an incredibly tough race and has an incredibly steep learning curve. A lot of people dropped out for a lot of reasons, and I’m proud to have finished regardless of not putting in the sub-elite level time I’d trained for. But I think I’m ready to take things to that next level – three days later I’m feeling energized, my knee is almost healed up, and I’m looking forwards to next season.
And I think I’ve answered one of the more important questions I’ve had in life – Matt and I both realized it out on Crestline chasing headlights in the dark. Most of my life I spend making money, taking care of some things that matter, some things that don’t, and a lot of my life is really centered around my family – which is such a great thing. But I’m made for this. I’m made to run. I’m made to compete. I’m made to hammer away at mountains and hunt down competition like a wolf on Crestline Trail.
Thanks for reading Dirtbags & enjoy the trails this weekend!