UDer Clare Gallager is about to toe the line at this weekend’s Western States Endurance Run. This will be Clare’s second hundo to date, as her first was a 1st place finish at the 2016 Leadville Trail 100. Before the “big dance” commences, we wanted to ask Clare a few questions about her trail running background, and her go-to mantras and methods.
By Justin Simoni
I’m just going to start out by saying it:
I hate birthday challenges.
Although, each year I get myself ramped up to try to do another one, they usually blow up in my face. My greatest-worst birthday challenge was the Arizona Trail Race: 750 miles of bikepacking across Arizona on singletrack from the Mexican to the Utah border. It includes a mandatory portage down through and back up the Grand Canyon on foot – bike carried on your back! Now that’s an birthday adventure! And it started one year right on my birthday. The heavens gave me a sign, I must go!
Written by the Crazy Mother Runners: Marnie, Carsen, and Sherry.
The sunrise from the top of Lewis Peak glows soft pinks and purples. The crisp wind cools our foreheads as we enjoy the little reward after climbing the last 5 miles. We set down our hydration packs and take a picture together to remember this beautiful morning. The morning didn’t quite start as peaceful as this mountain top moment. But that’s how we like it.
An hour earlier, an incoming group text reads, “I’m going to be seven minutes late.” Relieved to get the message, since I’m also running late. Always late. But that’s okay since one or all of us are consistently 7-10 minutes late. Finishing up our classes at the gym, helping our kids and husbands, or just trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep. We’ve made it a habit to multitask. Filing every minute of our day. We might be busy, but finding time for running, with good friends, is a priority.
by: Eric Carter
by Krissy Moehl
I keep my hydration quiver relatively small these days. The Ultra Vesta, the Adventure Vesta and 2 Fast Draw handhelds. Having these options and being able to mix and match is really all I need to choose from on my training runs from the Fishbowl (my condo in Fairhaven). I run out the door to the Interurban trail and within 2 miles I’m on single track accessing Chuckanut Mountain and beyond, depending on which hydration system I chose that morning.
Lake City is the kind of place where kids roam free on bikes and people stop and talk. Where summer is glorious and winter harsh. Where mountains rise dramatically and moose browse on willows in river bottoms. It’s the kind of place you go for hunting, fishing, jeeping, and family time. Lake City, for the Macy Family, is the kind of place where life slows down and values are re-established.
Miles and Miles of AMAZING SINGLE-TRACK TRAILS
Ultimate Direction Dirty 30
Imagine yourself running on single-track trails through aspen groves, lush green meadows, and thick pine forests. After navigating up steep rocky ridges your reward is a majestic view of snow-capped mountains as the Continental Divide is practically within reach. No need to imagine: The Ultimate Direction Dirty 30—and all the sweat, grit, and dirt—can be yours for the taking.
by Brandon Yonke
As the new year approached, I knew I wanted to start the year up in thin air. I had freshly acquired a zero degree sleeping bag that needed to be broken in; my urge to be in the mountains remains regardless of the how minuscule the temperature is. A drive to Breckenridge for a day of skiing doubled as an opportunity to summit Quandary, and I decided to take it. After a day of taking lifts to the top, and skiing down, I drove to the Quandary trailhead to switch it up in the morning; hike up, run down.
I arrived about 7:30pm after finally finding a gas station that hesitantly agreed to let me bum a refill of my 3 gallon water jug- an act which I had received some peculiar looks for. Later, as I stood in the trailhead parking lot, dividing the water up into bottles, I chatted with a couple of skiiers who had just returned from the summit. Conditions sounded to be good, as reported online, though the clear night sky would surely be dropping the temperature.
I laid out a sleeping pad, blanket, and bag across my trunk in anticipation of a cold night, and tried to fall asleep much earlier than normal.
All night long, it was either me sweating, or the water bottles I was sleeping with… but never at the same time. I started off abnormally warm and layered down to get comfortable. Then around midnight, I was too cold and layered back up, while at the same time my water bottles began sweating. Either I kept them to the side in my sleeping bag and tried not to touch them, or I would have no liquid water. It was an uncomfortable night trying to find creative sleeping positions inside of a mummy bag while my breath crystallized to every surface of my vehicle.
Aire Libre’s second great adventure, chronologically named AL-02: Sierra Norte de Oaxaca, took place in the heart of the Sierra Norte (North Sierra) in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Sierra is also home to the Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages), which is a circuit of 8 small towns that live within a shared communal system and also in close political and economic proximity. We passed through 6 of these communities.
On the first day, we departed Benito Juárez heading towards our first destination: La Nevería. We ran on a wide path with a general downward slope and after 12 kilometers or so we were entering the town limits.
We then moved in the direction of the third pueblo, called Latuvi and situated on top of a group of hills blessed with a privileged location right in the middle of the great valley surrounded by the Sierra Norte mountains. The trails we followed between La Nevería and Latuvi were amongst the most beautiful and fascinating we experienced during our whole journey. The variety of sights is hard to believe and is due naturally to the constant altitude change.
From Latuvi we were to depart for San Miguel Amatlán. The trail took us through the Canyon of the Phantom Trees (Cañón de los Árboles Fantasmas), a place that truly does justice to its mystic name. At 18 kilometers and including some steep uphill sections, this was the longest and toughest leg of the day.
Upon arrival at San Miguel Amatlán, we stopped there to spend the night in one of the eco-tourism centers operated by Sierra Norte Expediciones.
We suspected that the second day would be the most difficult, being that it would practically a whole day of running uphill until we reached the highest point of all of our journey. We climbed around 1,300 meters (4,265 ft) as we ran another wide path of around 30 kilometers, all the way to San Isidro Llano Grande, which stands on top of the mountain at roughly 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) above sea level. The forest community greeted us with more rain, fog and cold wind.
On the third day, we started towards our next goal: Cuajimoloyas, which is the most populous Pueblo Mancomunado, with around 800 inhabitants.
We set out once again into the trails, which luckily now took us on a downhill slope, and we then reached a well-known trail known was La Cucharilla. This fascinating section of the forest proved to the most enjoyable single track of our adventure.
After exiting the trailhead, we continued through sunflower fields up the foothills of another nearby mountain, until we again reached the town of Latuvi. We had our last break there, along with our last AL-02 meal.
Our last 15 kilometers would be especially challenging, as we would be closing the adventure with another 600-700 meter ascent (1900-2300 ft) that separated us from the well-known view point where we departed from in Benito Juárez. The same hanging bridge which marked our starting point awaited us for the grand finale of this epic journey.
The Pueblos Mancomunados represented an avalanche of emotions and sensorial stimuli. The people of these communities opened their hearts and their homes to us, genuinely offering the warmest of hospitality. The views around them made our hearts sing and moved our souls with their combination of raw beauty with absolute simplicity. We profoundly and strongly recommend that you visit this circuit the next time you’re in the mood for a holiday mixing Nature with some physical activity.
Check out the trip video to get a better look at the adventure. Click here!