Ultimate Direction and Carmichael Training Systems Form Exclusive Partnership

Ultimate Direction’s new Signature Series 4.0 trail running vests and Adventure Collection Fastpacks will be used exclusively by Carmichael Training Systems’ (CTS) coaches during the organization’s ultrarunning training camps and “Bucket List” events this year.

Kelly Wolf (center) with CTS Executive Director Jason Koop (left) on the podium at UTMB's CCC.

Kelly Wolf with CTS Director of Coaching Jason Koop (left) on the podium at UTMB’s CCC.

CTS is one of the premier endurance sports coaching companies in the world and this partnership deepens the connection between both brands, as several UD-sponsored athletes, including 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon winner Kelly Wolf, Skyrunning champion Hillary Allen, and Adidas professional Abby Mitchell are coached by CTS.

I am extremely picky about running gear. Ultimate Direction vests meet my every need as a mountain runner so I’m really excited to share UD at our training camps and through testimonials we’ll give to our international community.

–Jason Koop, CTS Director of Coaching and author of Training Essentials for Ultrarunning.

CTS training camps gives attendees the opportunity to eat, sleep, and train like a full-time athlete under the guidance of a professional coaching staff. Ultimate Direction will team up with CTS at camps in Lake Tahoe, Colorado Springs, Pisgah National Forest, Mont Blanc and more.

Kelly Wolf, 2018 Tarawera Ultra winner is a CTS-coached athlete

Kelly Wolf, 2018 Tarawera Ultra winner, is a CTS-coached athlete

Father and Son Summits: How to Have a Big Adventure with Your Kids

Do you share your passion for adventure with your children? Longtime Ultimate Direction Ambassador Thomas Reiss is recently back from summiting Mount Kilimanjaro with his 12-year-old son, Luke. In this interview we ask both father and son how to prepare for and execute a big adventure together. What does training consist of? What are some tips for getting along together through adversity? Read it all here.

Leave a comment if you have additional advice for parents and their kids.

You recently summited  Mount Kilimanjaro; what was the genesis of this project? 

Thomas: I got into mountains (besides running ultras) with backcountry hiking a few years ago to have another thing to share with my kids (Dylan, 14 and Luke, 12). After several multi-day backcountry trips in California we got more into bigger mountains. Luke is fascinated with the 7 summits, so we thought it would be fun to do one of them and see what we think.

Luke: I always loved running on trails/track and running in general and anything to do with the outdoors and when my dad introduced backpacking to me a few years ago I loved it. I always wanted to accomplish more and so I started to broaden my horizon and in 2017 we went to Mount Everest Base Camp. I loved the diversity of a new country and decided I wanted more and so we decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as my first of the 7 summits.

Thomas Reiss

Thomas (left) and son Luke (12 years old) bivouac

What was involved in the preparation; what was the most challenging detail our audience could learn from? 

Thomas: We kept up our usual running training. Luke runs about 15-20 miles per week during the season and runs track and cross country at his middle school. The most challenging aspect was coordinating it with our family Christmas plans and school; we already had all the needed immunizations from our Everest Base Camp trip in Nepal earlier in the year.

Luke: For me the most challenging part was to coordinate the trip with my school, I missed one week of school and had a lot of work that I had to make up before and after the trip.  

what was it like bringINg someone that young along on a high altitude objective?

Thomas: It was amazing to accomplish this together. He has done many things like this before (like Mount Baker, Everest Base Camp, multi-day backpacking trips in the Sierras) but you never know with high altitude. This was the highest either one of us has been but his oxygen levels where great even better than mine almost every day. We never had less than 88/89% even at base camp at 15,300 feet the night of the summit climb. Adults tend to overthink things; kids don’t really do that. 

Luke: This is the highest I have ever been but I am very active and run a lot so I felt I was well prepared fitness wise but with elevation you can never know how you will react.  

Thomas Reiss

Were people skeptical that he would be able to accomplish it with you?  

Thomas: I don’t think so. Our friends and family have learned by now that if he wants to do it he will. I got a little nervous during the summit attempt since we had way more snow than usual and it was a complete white out with 30 mile winds and temps down in the low teens. But he never doubted us making it to the summit. 

Luke: Nobody was skeptical of me making it. Afterwards on the way down our guide told us that our porters were very skeptical of me making it but they were very happy when they found out I did make it. 

How is it for you, a dad, to be adventuring with someone less strong or experienced than you in high mountains? Is it frustrating at times? 

Thomas: Very seldom is it frustrating. As far as experience level we are roughly the same, of course I am stronger physically, but sometimes I think his naivety helps mentally. On this trip I had plenty of times where I was thinking the weather (rain/hail/snow) sucks and he would be just, “whatever, no big deal, it’s raining.” 

Luke: Kids are stronger than people think. I believe that just because someone is older and maybe physically more fit than you that doesn’t mean they want it more, and that is what matters most. 

Thomas Reiss


Thomas: I learned from both of my kids that they are more able to do things than we give them credit. As long as it is safe–and they have the desire to do it–the sky is the limit. 

Luke: As a kid climbing these mountains, I believe that it has most to do with you wanting it. A lot of parents push kids too far to do things that they do not want to accomplish. 


Thomas: Mount Elbrus. We just started planning our trip for this summer. The cool thing about my son Luke is that he really enjoys the cultural aspect of meeting locals and immersing himself in the local culture. He always makes friends with the guides and porters and stays in touch with some afterwards.


Editor’s note:

Here is a list of Thomas and Luke’s impressive mountain resume.

  • Multi-day trip on the Tahoe Rim Trail (age 9) 
  • Multi-day trip in Yosemite with summit before sunrise of Half Dome (age 10) 
  • Multi-day trip in Yosemite with summit of Half Dome (age 11) 
  • Multi-day trip on the Tahoe Rim Trail (age 11) 
  • Multi-day trip in the Sierra Nevada High Country with 12k/13k passes
  • Mt. Whitney (14,508) summit (age 11)
  • 3 week Nepal trek with 2 nights at Mt. Everest Base camp at 17,500 feet; highest point on the trek was about 18k (age 12)
  • Multi day trip at Mt. Baker (10,781 feet) in Washington with a 10 hour summit climb, 10 hours in Crampons, rope and ice axe over the Easton Glacier. (age 12) 
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, (19,341 feet) (age 12)

Mountain Running Icon Anna Frost Joins Ultimate Direction Team

We are VERY excited to announce that mountain running icon Anna Frost has joined the Ultimate Direction ambassador team. She needs little introduction, but just in case: Anna is one of the world’s most accomplished mountain and ultra trail runners who has, in the past few years, transitioned into a yoga and meditation practice to complement her passion for exploring and racing in the mountains.


She carved a place with prior sponsors as a contributor to product design and development and she will offer the same to us. Anna will be using a variety of our vests and packs, including the new Signature Series 4.0 Vestas and Fastpacks.

“My greatest joy has been to make a life in the big mountains of the world. Sharing this passion with people, especially women and young girls, while developing other healthful practices has become my calling.”

For more information on Anna’s global retreats, racing plans and product insights, please visit www.trailrunadventures.com.


OCR Champion Amelia Boone Joins Ultimate Direction

Did you see the January/February 2018 cover of Outside magazine? If so, you’ll recognize our newest ambassador; it’s Spartan Race World Champion and World’s Toughest Mudder winner Amelia Boone!

Amelia Boone

Amelia is known for a commanding string of wins and podium finishes in obstacle course races (OCR) and ultramarathons and she joins our team with a full 2018 racing calendar ahead of her and a few to-be-named adventures. She has proven her mettle on fast, flat courses but where Boone shines the most is in races where suffering over long distances is paramount. “I always tell people, ‘the more gnarly and hard the race is, the better suited I am to succeed.'”

After a couple seasons set back by injury, Amelia is fully recovered and healthy and ready to shine in races where suffering over long distances is paramount.

“I always tell people, ‘the more gnarly and hard the race is, the better suited I am to succeed.'”

Amelia Boone

Amelia will bring incredible knowledge to our designs as we launch new products specifically for obstacle course racing–an OCR vest and an OCR belt–in Fall 2018.

For more on Amelia Boone’s racing, training and product insights visit ameliabooneracing.com.


Watch: Fastest Known Time of the Year Q&A

Buzz Burrell and Peter Bakwin sit down to discuss some key themes that emerged in the 2017 Fastest Known Time voting process. Learn about some issues that affected voters’ decision-making along with some personal anecdotes from these two FKT legends.

Click over to Buzz’s FKT of the Year Announcement to see which man and woman came away with the title.

1. What is the FKT of the Year Award?

2. Where in the country are some FKT hidden gems?

3. Which 2017 FKT of the Year nominations do you think will remain unbeaten for the longest time?

4. Is there a single theme you can pick out from this year’s nominations?

5. Which nominated route would be most challenging for each of you personally?

6. What is the most contentious theme since the FKT nominees were announced?

7. What does FKT of the Year represent to you?

Hillary Allen Talks Recovery and Plans for 2018

Hillary AllenTrail runners around the world hold a special affection for Colorado born-and-raised Hillary Allen. Her infectious smile and world-class skill in the most difficult skyraces launched a career that was set-back by a severe fall this summer. Hillary stopped by #UDHQ to fill us in on her recovery and how the injuries have impacted her physically, mentally and emotionally. Leave a comment if you can relate to recovering from injury and battling the mental and physical trials along the way…


My specialty is skyrunning. I really enjoy the technicality of this type of running, often using my hands to scramble and navigate ridges. It’s the steep terrain and technical trails that keep skyrunning interesting and challenging. I was competing in an extreme skyrace in Tromso, Norway (they call it “extreme” due to its demanding terrain, ridges and elevation profile…it’s STEEP).

This was my last race of the season (in Europe) before coming home to focus on a personal project (the Sierra High Route FKT, the RUT and potentially traveling back to Europe to claim my World Sky Running title).

That all changed on August 5th.

At the halfway point, I was on Hamperokken ridge (the very technical bit) and I fell off of the ridge, at the worst point possible, falling 150 feet, 50 of which were a free fall. This was followed by a succession of impacts down the mountain until I finally came to a halt.

I don’t remember the fall at all; what I remember is a dream-like state of floating through the air and coming to with Killian Jornet, Ian Corless, Martina Valmassoi and a racer (Manu Parr) all around me.

It wasn’t until 3 days later that I realized the accident and the fall happened to ME. It was like a rug had gotten pulled out from under me and I was airborne with my brain telling me that I was going to die and I should brace myself for impact. That repeated itself until I was knocked out and came to with the doctors, helicopter and hospital. I was told (by Ian Corless and Martina Valmassoi, both photographers who witnessed my fall) that there was rock fall that moved as I crossed over the ridge, causing me to fall.

My injuries were extensive yet I was extremely lucky. I broke both wrists and arms, I broke two ribs, bruised a lung, I broke two vertebrae (L4 and L5), had a concussion, broke four bones in my right foot, popped a ligament in my right foot and severely sprained my other ankle.


The recovery process has been extensive. I wasn’t able to use crutches since I had two broken wrists. I wasn’t able to walk well on my severely sprained ankle so I had a scooter. I’m off of the scooter now and easing back into activity on my own two feet. It’s about four months post-accident. The hardest part is my feet. The ligament fracture in my right foot is a lisfranc fracture (like an ACL in your knee); it’s essential to proper foot function, so healing is very important for a return to running.

My “supposedly” good foot is actually not good at all. I sprained the ankle so severely, that its mobility is very limited, even four months post-accident, and this is limiting my movement even more than my operated foot. But, I am not paralyzed, which I could’ve been given my L4 and L5 fractures.

I am able to hike and jog downhill although I have to be careful with jumping and stability since both of my feet are unstable. I hike with poles to help with that. I can go up almost just as fast as running (especially when it’s steep) but the actual running will take a while since I don’t want to force it and cause compensation issues. I can ski (carefully downhill), but I’m happy to get out and do some touring. I’m also doing PT diligently every day at Revo Physical Therapy. Oh and cross training…I might break the stair climber machine at the rec center :).

I still have another surgery to do in February where they will remove the screws in my foot. This will help me to return to running and training. After the recovery period of course.


My primary motivator is just to get back to enjoying the outdoors; to not take running for granted and to explore with my own two feet.

Also to not let myself down.


Showering. Being completely reliant on other people. Not being able to drive for 10 weeks and still having to get to work and do my PT and the grocery store and do normal every day things.

Every daily task initially was a challenge, from getting dressed to cooking to figuring out if I could eat dinner at a restaurant with friends.

Going up and down stairs on my butt was a fun challenge. To be in the middle of my season, winning the Skyrunning World Series, to then being completely immobile and incapacitated, that was intense, emotionally draining, depressing, and at times impossible.

I still struggle with this helpless feeling from time to time.

DO you think you’ll be back to full strength & racing in 2018?

I’m not setting any racing goals in 2018. What appeals to me is my FKT attempt on the Sierra High Route (SHR). I was supposed to do this back in August, but with the accident, that was impossible. I think doing the SHR would be a good challenge for me, a year out from my accident, it would give me a chance to train and given the nature of the SHR, it might suit me well, since it’s more of a fast packing/trekking route than an all-out run.

But I’m keeping it relaxed. I will see how training goes after I’m cleared to run after my second surgery in February. I would like to do some later season races (fall) if I’m feeling ready. My main goal in 2018 is to get back to enjoying training outside and getting as strong as I can.


I have most definitely evolved as a trail runner and athlete. I’m fortunate to be a part of brands (like UD and TNF and Skratch) that allow me to dream and to explore. It’s about running fast during races, but more so now, it’s about challenging myself and others to push themselves to places they never thought they could go.

The other side of things is evolving as an athlete. I want to combine running and climbing routes, to become a better mountain athlete as a whole, not just a trail runner.

What’s new with Ultimate Direction in 2018?

Insta_12.6.17_AllieSpotlight (1)We know you’re eager to hear what’s coming in 2018 from Ultimate Direction so we sat down with our icicle-haired designer Ally Juhasz (…don’t worry, it has fully melted) to find out what’s coming in the new year and what inspires UD product. Ally is a super talented designer with experience at sportswear brands Under Armour and Obermeyer. She’s motivated to design the finest products for self-propelled athletes. Let’s meet Ally…


how do you define your position at Ultimate Direction?

I am a designer/developer at UD.  I work mainly on our wearable gear category which we are significantly expanding for spring 2019.

What drew you to ud?

A lot of what drew me to Ultimate Direction was that I felt it was a brand that would truly allow me to design exceptional product. We have a small but passionate team with great energy.

We have a never-ending flow of ideas and enough resources to implement them. At the same time we’re small enough to not wind up a “design by committee” when it comes to product decision-making.

What can customers expect from the brand in 2018?

In 2018, we will be expanding our Adventure category and have added a very innovative trekking pole and gaiter.

We will be offering the lightest trekking pole on the market as well as a super-fitted, stretch Cordura gaiter with a replaceable strap.

What challenges do your designs solve?

Two factors that I always keep in mind when working on product for UD are comfort and weight. The biggest challenge we face here is maximizing the comfort-to-weight ratio.

Many of our customers will be wearing UD products over long distances and for extended periods of time so everything we make needs to have a customizable, chafe-free fit, done in as minimal a package as possible.

What is your goal for our product in 2018?

My goal for 2018 is to see the brand become more approachable for people who are involved in other “self propelled” activities outside of, or in addition to ultrarunning. In 2018 we have broadened our range of products to help athletes with a wide variety of outdoor pursuits and have also started to offer more multi-use product.

Ultrarunning will always be at the core of UD product but we want to give our customers even more reasons to interact with the brand.