“What a great trip! We didn’t get injured or lost!”
While Peter Bakwin enthusiastically agreed with this assessment, I noticed I was defining success not by how fast or far we went, the two usual objectives for runners, but by the fact we didn’t get hurt doing it.
So either I’m getting old, slow, and conservative – which I actually am – or the 5th class scrambling, elaborate route finding, and river crossings on this wilderness route contained enough risk that to have cruised it and enjoy every minute (except for the quicksand) was a worthy enough accomplishment.
Three full days in Canyonlands National Park, traversing all of its four Districts in one 85 mile loop – what’s there not to like?
Andrew Hamilton finished all the Colorado 14’ers (14,000 ft peaks) in a record time of under 10 days! He used a Ultimate Direction Fastpack, slept very little and had to battle with marmots over his trekking poles.
“Climbing Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks (14ers) has been a significant part of my life. I started climbing them with my step dad Henry Siracusan when I was 11 years old (my little brother Joe was only 3 when he started). As a raft guide in Buena Vista in 1996 and 1997 I loved the views of the Sawatch 14ers and tried to get out hiking as much as possible. Finally in 1998 Joe and I took a couple of weeks that summer to finish our remaining 14ers.”
This summer, from mid-April to mid-August, I had a bone stress injury in my right tibia (reaction, fracture, it doesn’t really matter, treatment is the same) that prevented me from not only running, but really, precluded almost any pain-free, bipedal perambulation. Because I was necessarily relegated to biking for those four months, I had a real awakening with regards to the wonders and merits of it as a means of satisfying, continuous movement in the mountains.
Despite a fairly negative attitude towards biking (at least, as anything other than pure commuting) over the past few years, I actually have a bit of experience with the activity from my college days. In my first 10 years of running (1995-2005), I sustained something like 12 stress fractures. In high school, I was young and healed quickly and as a means of coping, I would haphazardly spend some time cross-training on my mom’s stationary bike in our basement. Soon enough I was back out pounding the gravel and dirt.
In college, however, I distinctly remember having a conversation with the school’s athletic trainer, Bruce, asking him why this particular stress fracture was taking longer than the four weeks of downtime I would typically require in high school. His response?
“Tony, your’e not 15 anymore; your body takes longer to heal now.”
This was a depressing thing to hear at a mere 19 years of age.
You may have seen this guy around… maybe at his 10 Hardrock finishes including a win in 2010, finishing all 5 laps at Barkley, finishing Nolans 14, setting canyoneering speed records in Zion … or maybe you haven’t seen him because Jared doesn’t use Facebook, doesn’t talk about himself, doesn’t seek any limelight … and doesn’t run on roads.
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Starting Line. Photo credit: Michel Cottin
The thirteenth running of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc occurred last weekend, bringing roughly 2,500 eager ultrarunners to the quaint mountain town of Chamonix, France. Located at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix serves as the starting and finishing point for this grueling endurance race which spans terrain in France, Italy and Switzerland. A highly respected and immensely challenging course, UTMB has become one of the most desirable races in the ultra running scene, attracting mountain runners from 89 countries. Over the 104-mile course, runners navigate trails in the day and the night, in a multitude of weather conditions, summiting nearly a dozen peaks, and covering over 66,000 combined feet of elevation gain and loss.
UTMB Elevation Profile
This year was the race debut for Ultimate Direction athlete, Sage Canaday, and heading into the event, he was picked as a top favorite. Having spent the four previous weeks training around Mont Blanc, Canaday explains in his irunfar interview that he had scoped out roughly 40 miles of the course, learning the nuances of this steep and technical terrain.
Sage scouting out the UTMB course. Photo credit: Matt Trappe
Boulder’s own Scott Jurek has, after traveling for more than two months, finally returned home. We are thankful to see that he made it through with minimal injuries and that he is making a solid recovery. We are still in awe of his accomplishments and are honored to have been a part of his “masterpiece”. We thank all the supporters, whether you were following remotely, or were one of the many people who directly supported him on the trail. As Scott remarks, it was immeasurably helpful to both him and Jenny to have the support. Scott and Jenny, we look forward to seeing you sometime soon!
Photo: Luis Escobar Scott crosses a river by headlamp, wearing a prototype UD vest. His 2,200 miles worth of input will help make this vest one of our best ones yet in 2016.
Scott powers through the forest, reaching for a UD Body Bottle Plus to rehydrate. Photo: Luis Escobar
As FKTs gain more and more recognition in the sport of trail/mountain/ultra running, bigger, tougher, and faster routes are being established. The sky is the limit for the FKTs we have witnessed recently. The UD Team is proud to have some athletes that are creating and completing incredible routes.
Scott stands within view of Mt. Katahdin, the last climb of the Appalachian Trail.
Scott completed his “masterpiece,” a nearly 2,200 mile quest on the Appalachian trail, spanning from Georgia to Maine in 46 days, eight hours and eight minutes on Sunday, July 12, surpassing the previous record by just over 3 hours. Check out Scott’s Signature Series of UD products, complete with our best-selling Ultra Vest.
UD is excited to support these California trail races!
The Squaw Mountain run takes place on August 1st and is a point-to-point 3.6 mile run with 2000′ feet of elevation gain. Runners start at Squaw Valley and wind up at High Camp, where they are greeted with extensive views of the beautiful California landscape, prizes, raffles, refreshments, and drinks.
The Sierra Crest 30k and 50k runs take place on August 8th. Both are point-to-point runs and traverse through mountains, dirt, rock, and forests. The races have between 3500-4600 feet of gain, enough to make them challenging yet achievable. Finishers receive food and drinks after crossing the line!
Ultimate Direction had another great year at the Hardrock 100. We were glad to share a gathering with the athletes at our house in Silverton a couple of nights before the race. It was well attended by both first time Hardrockers and veteran Hardrockers. The chips, salsa, and drinks were complete with stories of past races, and the Hardrock family catching up about the past year of racing and events. We released our new limited edition Hardrocker Vest and were so excited to see people wearing it out on the course!
The UD HQ for the week.
After the race started on Friday, UD drove over to Grouse Gulch aid station to begin a hike up to Handie’s Peak to do race coverage and photos. The five mile hike was accompanied by about 2,500 feet of gain. To keep things interesting, the weather took quite a turn at the base of Handies. The temperature took a fast drop, and snow and wind rolled in for about half an hour. Luckily, the Fastpack 20 held extra jackets and tights in case we ran in to this scenario.
Legendary ultrarunner Scott Jurek has completed his “masterpiece”. After 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes Scott emerged from the One Hundred Mile Wilderness, and took his final step on the Appalachian Trail, arriving at the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Ultimate Direction joins the rest of the followers of Scott’s remarkable journey in sending him a huge congratulations! Scott’s efforts and resilience were matched by his wife and crew Jenny who worked tirelessly to ensure his success.
Scott tops out Mt. Katahdin, just miles from the end of his journey. Photo: Luis Escobar