2014 Long Trails FKT Summary

The JMT, PCT, TRT, and lastly the AT … what happened on the big trails in 2014?

JOHN MUIR TRAIL (JMT)

The JMT is one of the premier backpacking trails in the world, running 223 miles through California’s Sierra Nevada from Mt Whitney to Yosemite Valley. It is a fabulous route: remote, rugged, committing, but yet with generally good weather, excellent (though rocky) trails and easy navigation. The JMT has become one of the key targets for FKT activity in the western US, and 2014 was definitely a banner year, with several new FKTs being set, both supported and unsupported, along with some spectacular “failures”.  Here’s the full recap, in chronological order – - -

Peter Bakwin, JMT record 2000.

Peter Bakwin, JMT record 2000.

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Pregnancy Expedition – Ultra Runner Soon To Be Mom Michele Yates Reflects

Pregnancy is no joke! I don’t care how many Ultra Marathons you have run, or how close together they were… pregnancy will suck the life and energy out of you like nothing ever before.  Regardless of how tough I try to be, it still slaps me upside the head and knocks me right out (in bed for days at times!).  Your energy level is limited, but the catch is…you don’t ever know what that day will bring.  You may be able to have a full day of energy, a few hours of productivity, or none at all as you lay in bed all day! As challenging as it has been, it also has been going by incredibly fast.  Partly, because I planned on keeping myself busy with still continuing to train, “run” races, and attain some family time.

Michele Yates hiking Taylor Park - 6 Months Pregnant

Taylor Park – 6 Months Pregnant

I think one could comfortably compare pregnancy with running an Ultra Marathon Stage race.   Despite how fast you want to go and get it over with, you still must endure the daily pain of it all, to attain the prize.

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UTMB 2014

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I didn’t commit to running UTMB this year until two weeks before race day. During the second week of July my historically-troublesome right shin became a worry once again, and I was able to do very little true running for all of July and August. In early August, in hopes of keeping my Hardrock Qualifier chances alive, but wanting to buy myself a little more time, I had even signed up for the Bear 100 and given up on racing UTMB altogether. However, my shin unexpectedly experienced a turnaround a couple weeks before the race, which made the opportunity to head back to Chamonix too appealing to pass up.  Continue reading

Hold the Chicken & Beware of Bears!

Summer 2014 Mountain Madness

Summer has wound down, and it was a hot one for FKT action in the mountains. Some people REALLY like climbing mountains … LOTS of mountains! Let’s take a look …

Andrew Hamilton on Capital Peak - photo Stefan Griebel

Andrew Hamilton on Capital Peak – photo Stefan Griebel

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Wind River High Route

The Wind River High Route is possibly one of the best backpacking routes in the world. It runs along the spine of the Wind River Range in northern Wyoming, probably the most wild and remote range in the Lower 48, is modeled after the famed Sierra High Route, and thus is mostly off-trail and above timberline.  I put together the great team of Andrew Skurka and Peter Bakwin, and July 29-Aug 3 we gave it a go. It still has never been done … Alpine Pass

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Who Are You???

We were wondering, so we asked:  two weeks ago we sent a survey to everyone on our email list – the results are really helpful – thank you to the 1,798 people who responded! The answers you gave will help us design and build the gear you want.

To be included in our next survey, definitely get on our email list – there is zero spam, we only send twice a month, you can opt out anytime, and we announce special deals: http://ultimatedirection.com - at the bottom right – “Sign up for our newsletter …”

HR

OK, let’s cut to the chase – who are you?  Here are some Results from the survey ….

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100 Miles is a Long Way to Run…and Even Longer to Race

Ambassador Post Written By: Ethan Veneklasen

 I have run 100 mile races, but I have never truly “raced” one. I thought I had, but no. What I did was something entirely different.

This past weekend, I had the distinct honor and privilege of pacing fellow Ultimate Direction athlete Vajin Armstrong of New Zealand at the Western States 100 Endurance Run. His time of 17:50 was good enough for 17th place in the deepest field ever to toe the line at this most iconic of ultramarathons.

Completing a 100 mile race is truly a grand accomplishment at any pace. Most will never race a 100 to win (far fewer still at this granddaddy of them all). We run simply to finish or satisfy time goals. I feel tremendously fortunate to have had the opportunity to witness first-hand what it means to run with the big guns and really race a 100 miler.

100 Mile Ultra Racers at Western States

Western States 100 Mile Ultra Race

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Hardrock 100: The Race

island_lakeWhile Hardrock is generally referred to as an “Endurance Run”, and while it is very much that, each year there is unavoidably a competitive component to the event as well. Having been a part of the event five of the last seven years as crew/pacer, I definitely appreciate the community-oriented vibe that the Hardrock Board has so assiduously cultivated over the years; it’s a huge part of what makes Hardrock so special. However, to anyone who wants to dispute the fact that there is at least a small bit of competitiveness going on down in the San Juans, I say, ok, then stop timing finishers and publishing the results (and basically every possible permutation of the finishers’ splits).

There’s nothing wrong with caring about one’s performance. I submit that doing so is even at least a small part of what makes running in the mountains so instructive—we try to be the best versions of ourselves, and in the mountains that means, of course, physically, but also mentally and emotionally. But that’s a discussion for a different time and place.

There is basically no debate that at the pointy end of the field, this year’s men’s entrants represent the highest quality and depth ever assembled. It all happens literally by the luck of  the draw, so, as a fan of the sport, I feel pretty damn lucky this year.

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Hardrock 100: “Wild and Tough”

“Hardrock”.  The name evokes the unique aura of this challenging event.  The 21st running of Hardrock is July 11-13; let’s consider what makes it so special, mysterious, and, indeed, legendary.

(NOTE:  The Author of this post is Peter Bakwin, who in 2006 began 48 hours before the race, ran the entire course, then did the regular race with the rest of the runners, finishing that as well.  No one has attempted the 200 mile Double Hardrock since.  This starts a full week of Hardrock coverage – stay tuned for Anton Krupicka’s Race Preview!)

HR Flowers

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Lavaredo Ultra Trail 119K

lava_rocks2After taking six of the previous eight months off, I finally started daily running again on April 23rd, the day I got back from a trip to Japan. The first week I began with 35-60min flat jogs, but only a month on I did my first race of the year—the Jemez 50mi—and after that knew that I wanted to find some kind of focus event for the first half of the summer. Ever since I DNFed in Trient, Switzerland (140km) last year, UTMB was always going to be the goal race for the second half of the 2014 summer.

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