FKT Grants Awarded!

Fastest Known Times have become really popular – as we found out when Ultimate Direction, along with partners La Sportiva and GU Energy Labs, announced the intention to award four Grants to people attempting FKT projects – and we received 315 Applications!  After screening those 79 projects were still left – and each one was totally worthy and really interesting.  I planned to crush that down to 20 projects our Award Panel could vote on – but I just couldn’t do it – they were too good!

I could only get it down to 39 Applications, then turned it over to our Panel to decide.  Here’s what they said:  “I want to do this one!!!”.  “An iconic trail that’s incredibly challenging”. “This is one of my pipe-dream projects.”  “OH MY GOSH!”.

So enough spray, these four athletes will be awarded $1,000 plus all the partners gear they want (from East to West):

Hut to Hut – Samuel Jurek – New Hampshire – June 30-July 1

Samuel wrote:

“The White Mountains Hut Traverse is an extremely rocky and rugged route connecting the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.”

“FKTs bring you to territory rarely frequented.  They are unlike experiences on a race course, yet access that same competitive spirit.  There are no spectators, yellow ribbons lighting the way, aid stations, or a crowd to cheer you down the homestretch.  You have to continue on under your own volition.  Digging into the soul, these attempts are raw, authentic experiences that force an examination of vulnerabilities and access of true grit.”

Award Panel comments:

“Lots of history!” “East coast trails are different than California – very burly.”  “It’s going to be hard.”

Hut-Hut

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The Grand Traverse

maxtaamWritten by MAX TAAM

Living in Aspen it’s hard to not know about the Grand Traverse. I race the biggest skimo races in the world in Europe but when I am at home everyone is always asking about the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. It’s a one of kind race and on many Colorado (and beyond) residents bucket lists.

The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry ski race that starts at midnight and crosses the 40 miles from Crested Butte to Aspen.  There has always been a friendly rivalry between the two mountain towns and a team from Aspen hasn’t won the race since its very first running 20 years ago.

GT Start

Photo Jacob Wearsch

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Rim to Rim LCR in the Grand Canyon

On April 10, Peter Bakwin and I ran from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. “R2R” of course is now quite normal; a bucket-list route for many. But this took us 11.5 hours. Why so long? Because we started on the North Rim of the Little Colorado River, descended the fabled Hopi Salt Trail, ran and thrashed down the LCR for 10 miles to the Confluence with the Colorado River, traversed along the Beamer Trail for another 9.5 miles, then cranked up to the South Rim on the old Tanner Trail. It’s an interesting route; a worthy addition to our “R2R2R.alt” of a few years ago.

HST PB

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IOC Announces Ultrarunning to become Olympic Sport

April 1, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lausanne, Switzerland –

In a press conference April 1, International Olympic Committee President Baron Le Chiffre announced that a 100 mile trail race would be the next Olympic Sport, starting in 2024.

“Ultrarunning clearly meets all the necessary Criteria”, stated Le Chiffre.  “There’s no reward while there is a great deal of suffering, it’s completely pointless, and yet thousands of people are absolutely passionate adherents”.

The news brought rejoicing throughout the close-knit ultra community.  

“People ride horses, shoot arrows, and throw spears for Olympic medals; we’re just as primitive as they are,” enthused Dot Matrix, longtime ultrarunner and computer programmer.  “Climbing even made it in and they’re even crazier than we are; why not ultrarunning?”

“I quit my job and dropped out of college so I could  ‘pursue my ultrarunning career’” exclaimed Manny Yong Malles.  “Also, my beautiful and smart girlfriend got sick of living out of the back of the pickup truck and left me; this is just the opportunity I’ve been counting on”.

Top ultra runners welcomed the news.  Timmy Olsen said he would lead a meditation retreat, Scott Jurek volunteered to be featured in a book on the subject, Anton Krupicka would offer attire and style pointers, and Peter Bakwin would list everyone’s previous times.  No one said they would actually run, because everyone knew Jim Walmsley would trounce everyone no matter what.  If he was able to follow the course.

Kilian Journet could not be contacted for comment on this news, as he had quit Facebook, Twitter, and all social media, and was now living off the grid somewhere in Norway, running 100 miles per day in the mountains eating nothing but home-grown vegetables and fresh picked wildflowers.

It is widely believed that Berzerkistan will be chosen as the site of the 2024 Games.  

“It possesses all the key criteria we are always looking for”, stated Ly In Focker, Chairman of the Selection Committee. “In July Berzerkistan is stinking hot, close to 90% humidity, infested with mosquitos, and they have zero infrastructure or ability to pull this off.  However, they have amassed a massive war chest of $100 Million dollars to purchase every member of this Committee a villa on the French Riviera, so unless Russia’s economy improves enough for them to get back in the game, we think Berzerkistan is an ideal Olympic Venue”.

When asked for comment, Berzerkistan’s President-For-Life, Khal Drogo, would only say, “We welcome the Olympic community to our humble country.  We promise to uphold the Olympic Ideals, by ignoring our own people, pouring our vast oil riches into huge concrete stadiums, abandoning them immediately on completion of the Games, and bankrupting our own economy, all for a brief moment of personal glory for myself.”

With the Announcement, the full backstory of this amazing news finally emerged.  

The main point of contention, as expected, was whether pacers should be allowed or not.

Representatives from the US Olympic Committee insisted pacers be allowed.  “We invented this stupid sport, we’ve always had pacers, so they must be allowed in the Olympics” they reasoned.  The Euros – and indeed the entire rest of the world – argued vehemently that pacers should not be allowed, because either you can run the course or you can’t, plus they were eager to gang up and get revenge on the US for not supporting climate change treaties.  “You Americans, you are … how you say it? … complete wimps!” shouted René Belloq, in one heated exchange, while lighting another cigarette.

After weeks of the usual heated and senseless debate, the Aussie delegation finally resolved the issue with their convincing argument of, “Who gives a crap anyway?  No worries mate; let’s crack a few beers”.

The key for Inclusion was ensuring top-notch media coverage.

NBC, CBS, and ESPN all declined to pay the billions of dollars they usually shell out for Olympic TV coverage, saying, “Watching ultrarunning is like watching paint dry”.

That’s when media giant iRunFar.com stepped in, offering to pay the unprecedented sum of $76.39 for exclusive coverage.

Media mogul Bryon Powell reportedly saved the day, making repeated trips from his Moab mountain-top retreat to IOC meetings in his 10-year old Prius, ensuring there would be enough support for ultrarunning to be included.

“This is so important, I was willing to invest a large portion of my personal fortune to make sure this happened”, stated Powell, supposedly off the record, after a few beers at Eddie McStiff’s.  “I didn’t quit my lucrative law practice in DC and sell my private jet just to see this opportunity wasted”.

With the crucial element of cryptic Twitter feeds coming anonymously from unpronounceable places on a course no one understands from a country no one even knew existed finally in place, the rest of the key components quickly fell into place.

Rickey Gates agreed to supply the beverage at the aid stations.  Anna Frost agreed to host the after-race party.  Krissy Moehl agreed to be the designated nice person in hopes of fooling other people into thinking all ultra runners aren’t complete lunatics. Nathan Hydration will be the hydration sponsor, which is easy because all they have to do is copy what everyone has done before.  Salomon signed on to furnish the one-piece white spandex uniforms everyone must wear, including the men, although only the French will.  The North Face will pay a shit-ton of sponsorship money to furnish shoes no one will wear.

“Ultrarunning’s time has finally come”, intoned Buzz Burrell, noted for having never done anything but is so old no one can remember that far back.  “Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana”.

The Buzz Guide To Aotearoa

by: Buzz Burrell

NEW ZEALAND (“Aotearoa” in Maori) is a fabled recreation destination.  Everyone you know has been there or wants to go.  Including you.

One week into our 3 1/2 week trip to New Zealand this January, my companion said, “I can see why people want to move here.”  Indeed: great beaches, mountains, lakes, food, wine, and people – what’s there not to like?

Well, maybe hoards of Sandflies, but everything else is top-notch.  So where to go and how to do it?  Here’s a few hints from my third trip to the land of the Long White Cloud – –

Grant Pointing

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Outdoor Retailer Trade Shows To Move

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) recently recommended that the Outdoor Retailer Shows, the two major events (for Summer and Winter) showcasing outdoor recreation gear, be moved from their location in Salt Lake City to a new city. This was in response to the governor of Utah’s policy that some public lands be sold off to private interests, and that the recent designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument be rescinded. The OIA and key outdoor company’s requested in a phone meeting with the Governor that the State of Utah be more supportive of public land, which he declined to do. A decision was then made to hold the 2017 Shows as scheduled, then look for a new location for the Outdoor Retailer Shows for 2018.

The Moonhouse

The Moonhouse

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FKT of the Year!

What was the coolest Fastest Known Time of 2016??

We compiled a list of nominees, recruited 21 experienced people to figure it all out, they voted, and the results are in!  Results with more info are also up at Ultrarunning.com, and all award photos are courtesy Ultrarunning Magazine.

Appropriately, there was no run-away winner – instead, the voting was close, as the voters valued different traits and qualities. Their comments were as perceptive and interesting as the FKT’s were amazing and laudable, so let’s see what runners did and also what the voters thought – – –

FEMALE FKTOY

#5 Joelle Vaught – Trans Zion, May 20

JoelleThis sweet set of trails totals 48 miles crossing beautiful Zion National Park, border to border. Joelle’s time of 8:26:09 bettered that of Krissy Moehl as well as Bethany Lewis before her.

Voters’ comments:

“Great time on a classic route, but only 6 minutes faster than previous FKT.”

“She put down a solid time besting Krissy’s stout time, and made my final vote because this route is more competitive than many others.”

“Joelle and Gina (Mt. Whitney FKT) did marvelously speedy routes on treasured paths, but those are too short to reward as the top picks.”

#4 Sue Johnston – 4,000ers Calendar Grid, January 1–December 26

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What is the best Fastest Known Time of 2016?

The “FKT” has arrived!  Runners all over the world now understand and use the term, and may expend more effort going for a Fastest Known Time than in a regular race.

So the time has come for a “Fastest Known Time of The Year” Award!  Following the long-standing Ultra Runner of the Year (“UROY”) awards that have recognized and celebrated the sport’s best since 1981, the FKTOY award will recognize the top FKT by a Female and by a Male. The purpose is to learn, appreciate, and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. No one actually wins anything – just the respect of their peers.

So a list of top candidates was created by Peter Bakwin from his FKT site, then a group of 21 experienced runners were recruited to vote … and after much deliberation, their votes decided it!  It was an amazing process.  The winners will be announced next week in Ultrarunning Magazine and on this blog, along with brief comments from the Voters as to why each was valued (Hint: they ALL were incredible, but two more so than the others :-)

So here is the list of candidates and what they did.  What do YOU think about these routes?  Which do YOU think should be the inaugural FKTOY?  Please post your Comments below.

FEMALE (all in chronological order)

Joelle Vaught – 5/20; Trans Zion; 48 mi; 8h, 26m, 9s – Sweet route crossing Zion NP on trails; previous FKT’s by Krissy Moehl and Bethany Lewis.

Amber Monforte – 7/22-26; John Muir Trail Unsupported; 222 mi; 4d, 1h, 13m – One of the mostly hotly-contested long trail routes. Only 5h 13m slower than Sue J’s 2007 Supported record.

Gina Lucrezi – 8/10; Mt Whitney (car-car); 22 mi; 5h, 29m, 22s – 6,000′ vert in 11mi to highest point in lower 48 states; first known attempt by a Woman.

Heather Anderson – 10/7-27; Arizona Trail Self-Supported; 800 mi; 19d, 17h, 9m – “Anish” now holds the Overall Self-Supported records for the AT, PCT, and the AZT.

Meghan Hicks – 9/9-11; Nolan’s 14; 100 mi; 59h, 36m – Open Course tagging 14 14ers; few trails, lots of navigation, tons of vert. Supported.

Sue Johnston – 1/1-12/26; 4000ers Calendar Grid; 3,159 mi; one year – All 48 New Hampshire 4,000′ summits every month for a year. Reported 3,159 mi, 993,970′ vert for the project (1,001,830′ for the year!), and hiking 205 days.
Yikes!  Stout stuff!  What about the guys?

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The Longs Peak Project (LPP)

By Peter Bakwin

Living in Boulder, as I have for most of my life, can be strange. Nearly everyone here, young and old alike, is insanely fit. Everyone has set some outlandish running or climbing goal for themselves, something to keep the sense of adventure alive and to expand their skills and experience. I myself have set many, and even achieved some, and this has been a lot of fun and very satisfying. These days, now that I’m receiving mailings from the AARP, I don’t go in all that much for goals or “projects”, preferring just to enjoy time out in mountains and on the trails without any particular aim. But, once in a while something still resonates inside my soul, a spark of an idea will come and I feel compelled to follow. This is intensely personal – I don’t care about setting marks, only about doing things that ignite my flame of curiosity and enthusiasm. Such has been the Longs Peak Project (LPP).

May-KC-1

Photo Courtesy: Kendrick Callaway

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Happy Mothers Day!

Mothers Day is May 8!  
Since there are now more female runners in the US than male – 21.8 vs 20.2 million – and 57% of race entries are women (!) – Mothers Day is more noteworthy than ever.  Obviously, mothers comprise only a percentage of these overall numbers, but we wondered:  What are the challenges?  Can you raise children and lower your race times at the same time?
For this very non-comprehensive survey, we asked Pam Smith and Sarah Lavender Smith (no relation!) their esteemed thoughts – – –
Now that's what I'm talkin' about ...

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about …

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