Zola the Gypsy’s Gift Guide

Buying a holiday present is a total pain in the derriere, right?  It’s probably why the suicide rate goes up during the holidays.  So what to do?

UD ZOLA SPEAKS - Holiday Gift GuideYou could buy that special him, her, or yourself (let’s not kid ourselves about who’s really special) a bottle of wine, but since you understand wine about as well as you understand the Higgs boson particle, that won’t work. Fortunately, you are a runner; this makes it easy. Zola has you covered; here’s what you do:

Gerber

Is that special someone of the female persuasion?

VestaThe Ultra Vesta is the ticket. Can’t go wrong – it’s indigo (make sure you don’t say it’s “purple” – very déclassé), which is a very cool color, and ensures you won’t borrow it from her and get it all dirty. Plus it won’t fit you, because it was carefully designed specifically to fit ladies. There are pockets everywhere for all those things women like to carry and guys can’t fathom, and it’s really comfortable. The Ultra Vesta was designed by Jenny Jurek, Scott’s wife, so it really is that combination of technical and stylistic perfection, and it gets rave reviews (“Gear of the Year”), so with the Vesta you can relax, knowing you aren’t totally screwing up the present – like you did last year (the Skil Saw was a bad idea).

For that special guy (like for example, YOU)

AKThe SJ Ultra Vest can’t be beat. It’s the best-selling hydration pack in the US, and possibly the known universe. It’s really light, has features and hidden features that will keep you occupied discovering them for hours, and oh, it works really well. Scott Jurek designed it, and you know the 7-time winner of the Western States 100 doesn’t mess around. It’s companion piece is the AK Race Vest, which the hunky Jesus himself designed, and this Vest is so easy and comfortable people are wearing it mountain biking, skiing, and running, starting at anything over 2 hours. Then there’s the PB Adventure Vest for when you want to get gone, like, “Forget this; I’m outta here.”  You know what I mean.

Every hydration company in the world is now copying the Signature Series, but Zola did them first, so don’t you go foolin’ ’round with anything else now, ya hear me?

Vests

For that someone who likes to have a really good time

Ultimate Direction has their  20 oz Kicker Cap Water Bottles.  You can buy a few dozen, fill them with beer, and have an amazing Christmas party.  The Kicker Valve is very cool, and nobody can spill their drink – think of it as an adult sippy cup.

For the non-runner

Your best option here is to convert them to running. Get them going with the Fastdraw handhelds, which come in the best colors. Everyone can use these – There’s a Fastdraw with the 20 oz bottle, one with the 10 oz bottle, and especially good for this time of year, especially if you’re unlucky enough to live in some freezing-cold, Godforsaken place like Buffalo, the Fastdraw Extreme, which has a comfy and insulative covering. Since the Extreme is also good for keeping your water cool in the heat of the summer, this is actually a very nifty item that too few runners have figured out, so you should figure it out for them.

Fastdraw

For that someone you wish was special, but so far isn’t, despite your best efforts

FP30The Fastpack 20.  Yeah!  You say you don’t go fast-packing? Exactly; that’s the point. Get them this, and take him or her to Cozumel instead, using the FP20 as the most stylish and effective carry-on bag ever. This is a way better plan than sleeping on the cold hard ground and eating freeze-dried whatever that tastes like packing styrofoam; if that’s what you’ve been trying, no wonder you’re still lonely and single. Get with it dude or dudette; the FP20 is perfect for a quick weekend in the Sierras or a quickie quick weekend in Sayulita.

 

Still have no friggin’ idea what to do?

You’re sort of hopeless; is that it?  So get a hat.  Hats are super simple, super cheap, and you can’t go wrong. A Visor, which comes in purple indigo or blue cyan, or the Ultralight Hat which is made of white wicking mesh with a really long bill for shading, or the Midcap beanie to keep the chill off on those pre-dawn starts, or to wear 24/7 if you live in Minnesota.

Hat

Don’t be shy. You can do this; an easy decision is just a few clicks away on the BLUE highlights above, and you got ‘er done.  And if you already have this gear and can Comment on it, or just want to tell Zola to piss off, please Post your Comment below!

R2R2R.alt

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!

PB Vest

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Don’t try something new on race day!

UD Ambassador Ethan Veneklasen Shares:

Ummm, duh! Everybody knows that. It’s one of the most oft-repeated maxims in running.

Cascade4 - EthanBut 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.

 

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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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