Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mud, the Blood, and a Good Cause: MS Run the US

It was a glorious way to start the Ultra season in 2012: A worth while cause, some good LPTR friends, and plenty of MUD to stomp around in as we completed a 50K course from Scuppernong to Emma Carlin.

LPTR and other runners were gathered in support of MS Run the US, a non-profit started by Ashley Kumlien to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research. As Ashley related: “43 runners supporting…(and) I'm excited to let you know that through many, many generous donations, we raised $1,750 on Saturday, which is donated in full to the WI-Chapter of the MS Society, designated toward their research programs. Pretty amazing & kind of totally awesome”!

 The day was overcast and perfect for running in the open Scuppernong area as temps never got above 62 or so. Recent rains added to the fun in the low lying areas, providing plenty of chances to swamp stomp in ankle deep water, the aforementioned mud and some slippery bridges that lead to a few falls in transit. As Official Race Director Aaron Schneider put it: “The Ultra season has officially started, Angela’s got a bloody knee”.

Aaron laid out a beautiful course, as runners who completed the whole 50K ran a Scuppernong green loop, then out to Emma Carlin, and returned for a final loop at Scup on the same Ski trails. Aaron provided excellent course markings, as well as two fully stocked Aid stations at the 8 mile and 15.5 mile mark of the course.

Runners chose a variety of distances and course alterations on the day, in true Fat Ass fashion everyone had their own training plans and used the day and support to put some good base miles in, although several runners including LPTR Thomas Schiessl used the day as their Ultra debut! Congrats first timers! 

After some good mud stomping runners were greeted at the shelter by Ashley and her Mom, who contracted MS many years ago, although they departed early because of another MS commitment and fund raiser! What commitment!

 Food and plenty of good beverages were on hand at the Mackie Shelter to close out a great running day. As Ashley said: I want to give big props to our always impressive ultrarunner Martha Stewarts who never cease to amazing our taste-buds!  There is literally nothing better then running a few muddy, wet miles only to come back to a warm shelter stocked full of ah-mazing stews, soups, cookies, and breads...and in fact it is your cooking that is the only thing that wills me to the finish at times!

With any luck and good weather, Aaron and Ashley will make this an annual event, a nice way to kick off the spring Ultra season! Thanks guys!

On a personal note, THANKS to my running Mates Angela B and Logan P and the late comer to our group Mary G, for making it a great 33 mile run!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Race report from LPTRunner Tom Schiessl...

It started a few months ago… my first Wednesday night run with LPTR. The first person I ran into was Mary Gorski -  I knew this was gonna be fun. That first night I came home raving about the cool group I ran with, and Theresa suspected it was only a matter of time before I ran an Ultra.  I was doomed from the start.

I finally did sign up for IA 50K, and jumped at the opportunity to run the MSRuntheUS Fat Ass event this past March 24th. I figured it would be a good training run for the Ice Age, and I wanted to contribute to MSRuntheUS. Not quite a year ago, my wife Theresa , was diagnosed with this crappy disease called Multiple Sclerosis. So there was added motivation.

We started out on a great morning from DJ Mackie picnic area, 43 ultra runners strong. I ended up running the first 8 miles with Mary Gorski, Mary Flaws, Dennis Hanna, and Dawn Chavez. All 8 miles of wisecracking fun. We stopped at the xmas tree in the woods and took a group pic. The conversation turned to the shoe sucking mud, and sure enough Mary Flaws left a shoe ten paces behind in the mud. More laughter. Dawn took a digger, but popped up like the pro she is.

Right after the first aid station, Dennis and the 2 Mary's moved ahead of myself and Dawn. So the two of us settled into a nice pace and chatted up a storm. Occasionally I heard a guffaw up front, someone cracking another joke. I had never run more than 15 miles at a crack, so this was new ground for me, but Dawn turned out to be the perfect partner to run this with.

Soon we saw the faster runners working their way back, Joel, Ashley, everyone had a smile on their face and a word of motivation. At the 2nd aid station, Aaron had some good stuff for us and I dove into the NOW bars. We took off and crossed paths with more LPTR members, Jim and Deb, again with big smiles all around. Tina Heil and her friend Amy (her first 50k as well) stopped us for a pic and high five.

We continued, and chatted some more. It's always interesting to think about what you talk about when you spend 6 or more hours on the trail with someone you just met. I guess that made it easier, neither one of us new the others story, so it was easy to spill it out. Turns out we both grew up in the same area, and went to the same High School (some 12 years apart, though). I started to run out of gas, and we backed off a little. We must have missed a turn, and popped out onto Hwy ZZ a little further south than we should have. We worked our way back to the picnic area with the thought that we must have cut it short by a few miles. Come to learn the course was a tad long at 33miles, so it looks like we hit the 31miles anyway.

My parents were there, and my lovely wife showed up with some wonderful brownies. The potluck was delicious, as only a LPTR potluck can be! I was thrilled to cover twice the distance I ever had before, and looking forward to IA 50K.

Thanks to Ashley and Aaron, all the LPTR members, Dawn for keeping me motivated, and my wonderful wife for all the support, Theresa has shown me what it is to be tough. Ice Age 50, here I come!

Old Pueblo 50 Mile...

Race Report from LPTRunner, Jim Blanchard...

"Your a hard man Conagher"  Conagher-"It's a hard country kid".  Sam Elliot's take on AZ. from the movie Connagher.  I love that line and it pretty much sums up Old Pueblo for me this year.  

It's in the Santa Rita mountains of Southern AZ. About 35 miles and a few mountains from the border.  The run starts after a drive down 7 miles of dirt road at Kentucky camp, which is an old mining camp with some restored buildings serving as a B&B and museum.  The course roams on singletrack,  dirt roads, super gnarly jeep and atv trails and some other scary stuff left over from 100+ year old mining operations. We climb up and down between 4,000' and 6,000' on what is high Sonoran desert.  

Last year we saw some rattlers and Big Horn sheep on the gorgeous climb up Box canyon.  I missed the sheep, need to look around more.  The first half has a few good climbs, some spectacular views, and a 3-4 mile rocky descent that tests the legs after months spent running on snow.  However the first half is significantly faster then what is to come.  Long climbs, endless rocks, these aren't the nice friendly Glaciar polished rocks that we're used to, but nasty razor sharp Az. rocks that can shred a road shoe in 20 miles.  (Kevin, the Altra Lone Peaks held up well. The rock plate worked and they showed little wear).  

My run turned into more of a battle then I expected.  The weather was ideal, calm winds, 60 degrees, plenty of sunshine, but I swear I don't remember that many rocks. Actually it wasn't all in my head, things do change from one year to the next depending on off road traffic and erosion.  

The middle miles between 30 and 44 were brutal.  Things started to come back and then with about 4 miles to go, I ran into Rob Apple of 500+ Ultra finishes fame. He was the only other runner I knew in the race [times are a changing].  We stuck together as the Sun dropped behind the Mountains. Things get real dark and real cold in a hurry.  A strong light and some clothes are real important at this point. To finish before dark is always my goal, but you never know in this sport and after being out in the Sun all day, a sudden drop into the upper 20's or 30's can get pretty ugly even for a Wi. fella.  

So a good finish.  Thanks for all the well wishes. I can't tell you guys how important it is to have positive friends and support in order to keep going.   Jimb

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dances With Dirt – Green Swamp Dade City, Florida:

Dances With Dirt  – Green Swamp Dade City, Florida:  Three LPTR Reports...

Jose Villegas’s Race Report:

Definitely a race for a road marathoner who’s transitioning to trails.  A very fast course for those who like flats!  Oh yeah, lots of sand trails. Those sections reminded me of Keyes Peak.

First half of the race I was very strong and a solid runner. Flew by those aid stations, but I did take showers!  I did eat A fig Newton.  I did not see gators, nor snakes. I do remember a Burnt Hill!  One spot was very spooky, cob webs all over the floor of the woods...this was to run for! 

The last 5 miles! I teamed up with Jodith whom I met at the last aid station.  Asked her to join forces and finish this race! This Pinata was burnt up from Burnt Hill! Really nice to have Good Friends at races!  So the first 3 of these 5 miles were great, got in a trance and a great groove that we were close to being done!  Not, felt like 10 miles!  I started to lose Jodith and I stopped to wait for her. She came around the corner smiling and still marching forward.  I then slowly got back to shuffling my feet again and let Jodith led the last 2 miles!  She rocks, our women in LPTR rock!  Right ladies…My mind just wanted to be done after all that sand and sand, then road, back to sand. Urgh! All this happening, I did not know what the time was or what mile we where on, nothing!

Finally, we get out of the woods and there was the finish! Both Jodith and I lifted our knees to our chins too seal this race and get it behind us! Oh- Jodith also decided that after we passed the finish, to slide in for her fall of the day!  She almost took me out! Hahahaaa…Next Race Chippewa!!!

Cheers to Great Friends…Thanks Marcel and Jodith for Great memories and more…

Food Report:Not very good at all, very disappointed!  Chicken, Coleslaw, and Baked Beans. 

Jodie Taylor’s Race report:

It was an Ultra weekend of Ultra driving, Ultra racing and Ultra fun, what more could I ask for?
At 6:45am, it was still dark with 15min to the start of the race. Without any reason I decided to look up at the sky and in that moment, I saw a shooting star (aka - alien rock burning through earth's atmosphere). It was a magnificent moment to see that - woke me out of my zombie state and got me excited to start the race. 
As usual we lined up near the starting line and "tried" to take pictures of ourselves in the dark. Once it was time to GO, it seemed as if suddenly daylight appeared. 
The first 7 miles were a faster pace than I was planning and we missed a turn because we just kept following the pack instead of paying attention ourselves. Not sure of how much we had to back track, but it wasn't too bad. 
The new sounds in the forest were awesome, I was glad people weren't talking and were just running so I could listen. Once it got brighter and I could see more, I was even more excited by my surroundings and how different everything looked. The trees, the leaves, the shrubs, the flowers, the roots, the ground, the sounds, the smells were all uniquely different and unfamiliar.
Soon Marcel and I slowed our pace and Jose got ahead of us. Then Marcel stopped, but told me to keep going (I later find out that he never caught up because he kept stopping to take tons of pics. Had he not taken all of those pics he probably would have finished before me. But in the end, it was worth it to hang back a little, he captured some excellent images to reminisce.) 
Suddenly my footing was off, I now found myself sliding on a horse trail of deep sand. I at Keyes peak?  This part of the trail lasted a pretty good length. I thought to myself "Jodie, it's just like running in the snow, but hotter and heavier." That wasn't convincing my legs as my muscles started to burn. Luckily, those sandy sections were few and far between. 
We were fortunate to have overcast in the morning, which kept the temperature down. By the time I entered the prairie section was when the sun started to come out. I couldn't wait to get back into the woods. 
There are no rest points in this race, it's flat and fast despite the deep sand. And we ran with the marathoners. I would say this race is one where you should PR (if you're not taking lots of pictures) and even though it was a wonderful experience, I probably wouldn't do this race again. So far out of the DWD series, Devils Lake had the best food (during and after) and Gnaw Bone had the best trails, I have yet to see what Hell, Michigan has to offer.
10 Things I learned:
1) Crossing the finish line and falling on my ass gave me whiplash, now my neck hurts when I laugh, but I can't stop laughing.
2) Running behind a girl with headphones who is singing horribly out loud, should be pushed in the bushes...oops did I say that out loud?
3) Hooters on the coast of Florida actually has really good food, fresh fish and shrimp!
4) Don't watch the TV show House after being attacked by No See - em's (bugs I can't see). Please note: I only received 2 bug bites on my ankle prior to the race and no bug bites during the race. I received the rest of my bug bites out to dinner sitting outside on the decks!!!
5) The swamp was a lot more sandy than I thought it would be.
6) Sitting in a car for over 1,000 miles right before a race isn't the best pre-race exercise.
7) Health food in the southern states means "not fried" (I already knew this from living in NC 15 years ago, but had hoped times would have changed).
8) Florida drivers are worse than Jersey drivers!
9) Thoroughly read the race packet when planning the trip...don't try to pick up your race packet at the running store a day won't be there...
10) Ultra trips are Ultra fun...I already knew that!

10 Remember Whens:
1) Falling on my ass at the finish line.
2) Following the front pack for a 1/4 mile or so and then realizing, we missed the turn...
3) Driving for 24 hours, running for 5 hours 22 min 19 seconds and then driving again for 24 hours
4) Marcel and I obsessively looking for Starbucks on the drive down to Florida.
5) Jose blasting Mexican music on the drive back at 3am in the morning.
6) The waitress in Georgia could not believe we didn't want sausage or bacon with our breakfast.
7) Local weather report "I got pollen on my whip."
8) Delicious scallops and shrimp pre-race dinner.
9) Marcel's step brother running a marathon to meet us for lunch.
10) Awesome times with awesome people.
Marcel Uttech’s Race Report:
Green Swamp, March 24th: This day marked the beginning of the Dances with Dirt series, a 50k in Green Swamp which is located in Dade City, FL. This year Jodie, Jose and I are going after the buckle, so we have to complete the rest of the series that we haven’t done yet. You have 2 years to do all 4…yes the buckle is totally worth it, why would you even ask?
 Jodie and I drove the 23 hours or so down to Orlando, picked up Jose who was there for a trade show, and headed over for packet pickup. We are then informed that packet pickup was the day before…so really we only missed it by a day. This led to conversations where we had to defend why we would drive 23 hours for a race in the swamp anyways… some people just don’t get it, lol. It was good to see palm trees…
That night it stayed in the 60’s. We stayed at a Microtel Inn in Zephyrhills. Decent place, plus you got a discount if you were doing the race-bonus! Also located within 15 minutes of the start-nice. Saturday morning we got up early, watched the weather and dressed as best as we could for the predicted near 90 degree day. 
Adrenaline was kickin’ in (maybe it was the coffee? Probably both) and headed out to the race for packet pickup. It was dark as we navigated our way there, and as you were able to begin to make out shapes the Spanish moss in the trees gave the surrounding woods an eerie look, very cool. As we got our packets we saw the 50milers coming in out of the woods (they started at 5:30) in a line of headlamps…always a nice sight. And yes, I was a little jealous they were already in there…it was like they got to the presents first on Christmas! Not one of them complained of bugs, which was a relief! Something I had not given much thought to until Jodie brought it up. Right around 6:30 the other runners started showing up. The 50k and marathon started at the same time, 7 bells. The Head Goat gave his speech (nice and short- pink first then follow blue) while taking a call (“anyone lost yet?”) and we were off!
I was excited to get into those woods- once I was in there, it was nice and cool, and there was quite a bit of fog everywhere. I couldn’t help but keep staring at the all the palm trees! Lol It was really dry for this time of year down there, so the trails were perfect. Lots of little leaves on the ground, and palm-like vegetation all over, and super green! Huge cypress trees with the Spanish moss hanging all over them…the surroundings were so different than the woods I am used to running in here in the Midwest that I couldn’t help but start taking pictures. 
I wrestled with this thought prerace- on whether I should take my little camera or not, and I was glad I did. I just kept stepping off to the side to snap pics whenever I saw something I thought looked cool. One guy thought I was plotting GPS points (um-what?)After about 20 minutes of run-stop-shoot-run-stop-shoot I had already missed a turn (along with about 12 people I was following) and luckily someone ahead caught it after about a quarter mile since I had no idea! Time to start paying some more attention! So the pictures got put on hold and I decided I’d better start running. 
It was easy to run at a good clip, the course is pretty flat and in the woods the trails were nice and firm. Outside of the woods there were these prairie type areas where the footing turned to mostly sand, tough going in that stuff. Hard on the ankles! This race had a mix of sand, wooded trails, crushed shell roads, and a small road section. Very scenic, and the aid stations were pretty decent. Once you got over how much everything looked like scenes from Jurassic Park the race was like any other, go out too fast and hold on. Most of the first half I was averaging a 9:30 pace,  then started hurting around 19 or so and things slowed down. 
Once it hit 10 it was pretty warm outside, and in those open prairies it was nothing but free sweat. Only one stream crossing, which was still fun to splash through! For the end you come into the finish at 26.2 and then the 50k runners head out for the last 5. This loop was tough, ankles were pretty beat up and hurting from the sand, and I was just ready to be done! Saw a deer fly across the trail, almost stepped on a 4 ft black snake (talk about hitting the brakes) and plenty of little lizards. Coming through the woods I finally heard music- thought “the end already? Sweet!” But it turned out to be 3 old guys playing bluegrass in a park type shelter on a picnic bench. I wanted to stop and listen but the need to be done pushed me on, so later fellas…
I came across a tower that looked so much like our LP tower that first time around I was bummed I didn’t get a pic-then we did the loop again at the finish I was thrilled to see it again and I was able to get a shot of it! I was glad to see Jose and Jodie at the finish, they both ran a terrific race! Coming in together at the end for at time of 5:22! Good enough for Jodie to take first in her age group and 4th woman,( and a PR by 1 minute I believe) and Jose took first in his age group (which is the same one I am in dammit) and 7th overall male. I came in at 5:43 which still earned me a 3rd age group award and a spot at 11 overall male (originally this was posted as 9th, guess there were some errors in paperwork at the race). So I originally thought we all posted in the top 10 overall but I was mistaken.  Jose made it in overall at 10th, Jodie took 11th, and I managed to hang on for 17th
If I were to run this one again I would definitely train differently, and treat it as a marathon type race. This is a FAST race. If you are looking for a change of scenery and a PR, this is a race worth checking out! Sadly I saw no alligators, and the only armadillos were 2 dead ones on the side of the road. Ah well, the palm trees were coolJ
More race pics here:
-Marcel Uttech

Marcel, Jodie and Jose