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 …”

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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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Tenmile Range Traverse

June 21, 2014 – - -

The “Tenmile Traverse” is a classic long mountaineering route near Breckenridge, Colorado, which links ten summits uncreatively named Peaks 1 through 10. But, the route covers only half of the Tenmile Range, and the lower, easier half at that. The true Tenmile Range Traverse” (TRT) is simply the entire range, which adds six high 13ers and some really gnarly terrain to boot. Buzz and I were looking for a long training day, he won’t do anything that isn’t both classic and interesting, and I happen to be probably the world’s foremost expert on traverses of the Tenmile Range (for what that’s worth :-)… so let’s get on it!

TRT Ridge

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The Count Down to Western States 100

UD ambassador Ethan Veneklasen sheds light on the upcoming Western States 100 Race.

It is just 3 days until the big dance. This annual pilgrimage to Squaw Valley brings together the top trail runners from around the globe. WS100 has been called the “Tour de France of ultrarunning”.  For most, the goal is simply to finish within the 30 hour time limit. For others, the coveted silver buckle (given to those who complete the course in under 24 hours) beckons like the siren’s call. But what happens when the world’s best ultra runners go for it on one big stage? Carnage…pure carnage … every year!

WS-Finish-Feet

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