R2R2R is a world-class route, staring on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, running 5,000′ down to the Colorado River, across a bridge, then 6,000” up to the North Rim. Then back again – “Rim to Rim to Rim”. I first ran it sometime in the 80’s, and it was quite the thing back then, but in the last few years this route has become extremely popular, particularly the R2R version, which has created conflict, controversy, and even caused the Park Service to institute Day-Use Permits for Groups of over 7 people.
We wanted nothing of that churn-fest, but did want to explore the millions of great things to do in the 1,900 square miles of the Grand Canyon besides getting in line, so we decided to run Rim to Rim to Rim – by a different route. It was a great plan. Super fun. No one had ever done it. That’s because there is no bridge – you have to swim across the River.
It’s not called the “PB Adventure Vest” for nothing!
UD Ambassador Ethan Veneklasen Shares:
Ummm, duh! Everybody knows that. It’s one of the most oft-repeated maxims in running.
But did you ever stop to think about why we all know this useful little nugget? One can only assume that it’s because most of us continue to do stupid things and thus, its repetition is warranted.
As athletes, we like to think that our experience will protect us, that we won’t continue to make the same mistakes time and time again. I, for example, have an ongoing discussion with myself about starting races too fast. Yet I continue to do so…and I continue pay the price.This year at the Cascade Crest 100, my “new thing” was giant stuffed green olives.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 …
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 …”
OK, let’s cut to the chase – who are you? Here are some Results from the survey ….
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.
Western States 100 Mile Ultra Race
While 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.