When June rolled around I was excited for my summer gig, a job that had me road tripping around the Western US with the #yourlead van for three months. I was going to run all the trails + pile on the miles. With two big races scheduled for my fall I figured I would have no problem getting in my training. Little did I know how hard it is to fit running in with traveling!
by: Chantal Warriner
18 Women from Ontario, Canada with One Goal
901.5 km / 563 Miles (with detours at time of relay)
The Bruce Trail was built in the year 1960 and is known as Canada’s oldest trail. It also happens to be Canada’s longest marked footpath and provides access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment. It is entirely built and maintained by volunteers who share a dream to secure the continuous conservation corridor that stretches along the escarpment from Tobermory to Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The trail attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year. It’s only logical that these hikers and runners would want to set end to end records. Isn’t that human nature?! There are men’s/women’s solo records, ladies team records and coed team records. Not forgetting the many others who share bragging rights.
On May 5th, 2016, a friend of mine emailed me about this “once in a lifetime opportunity to set a Bruce Trail ladies relay record”. The email was very motivating. It stated things like “YOU could be a Bruce Trail Record holder!; Are you in? Will you break the record with us??” How could anyone say no to that, right?!. Needless to say, the team was built and runners committed very quickly.
The fastest known time (FKT) for the ladies relay we were trying to break was reported at 5 days, 17 hours and 56 minutes. Our team, named Wild Bruce Chase, was hungry to break the record. The organizer of the event, Erin Dasher, Ontario’s 5 Peaks Race Director, had tirelessly planned and meticulously detailed the logistics of the end to end continuous relay event.
With almost 70 legs ranging from 5 to 15 miles, each runner spent hours researching their routes and maps in order to efficiently run the terrain and perform exchanges without a hitch. Team members also ran group and route specific training runs to prepare. This preparation, in addition to fitness and generous resources highly influenced the outcome of this richly rewarding adventure.
Less than two short months later, we began on July 1st, 2016. There’s something to be said about beginning such an epic attempt on our national Canadian holiday Canada Day. We were feeling patriotic, confident but also nervous to see how the long weekend was going to be executed. If you’re picturing a beautiful morning of blue skies, birds tweeting and a big orange sun cresting the horizon, you couldn’t be more wrong. Our relay began at 5 am on July 1st, but the 1st of our 18 courageous ladies started the relay and 400m into the leg, it began to treacherously downpour! We began the 563 Mile Fastest Known Time attempt and our runner couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of her. Great!! It got real, real fast!! Gulp.
Remote on Vancouver Island hides one of Canada’s most incredible treasures. For decades, people from around the world have come to hike the rugged and challenging West Coast Trail, one of 3 parts of the Pacific Rim National Parks System, originally called The Dominion Lifesaving Trail. It was built in 1907 to facilitate the rescue of survivors of shipwrecks along the rugged coastline. Today, the 75km trail stretching between Bamfield and Port Renfrew is maintained by Parks Canada. In order to preserve the balance of visitor use and the environment, a permit to use the trail is required and merely obtaining one is difficult, as reservations sell out fast. Continue reading
3:00am is a pretty early time to wake up for any sort of activity, but today was the Golden Gate Dirty 30! 2016 would be my second running of this race. My first was last year which was also my first sanctioned trail running ultra. That’s a funny sentence to write; I’ve done so many self-supported style FKT challenges, I’m not exactly new to all of this, I’ve just been a little more underground with my events. I’ve found though that the Golden Gate Dirty 30 gave me a great goal to hit for getting into the running form I needed for other challenges later in the year, like Nolans 14.
Except this year, I had injured myself while bouldering. One evening last December, I tried a tricky dyno move to a far-reaching hold. I swung out onto it with a bit too much, let’s say: passion, and found myself swinging right off, and landing a little disorganized and crumpled. Crunch! A bad high ankle sprain, followed by some peroneal issues further down the road really changed my Winter training goals. I didn’t think too much of it when it happened: I even ran the few miles home that very night. But the pain persisted, so running hard was out, but hiking (in time) seemed fine and cycling caused me no pain at all. So, this past Winter I’ve focused a lot of my time outdoors cycling, even doing a few overnighters and a few quick trips to the local Front Range 14ers.
By late Spring, the ankle still wasn’t 100%, but I still wanted to run the Dirty 30, even though my goal of being competitive – and at the very least beat my time from last year by a good margin (I was hoping by 30 minutes) was out. What to do? Why not ride to the event, run at a pace I thought was sustainable given my touchy ankle, then ride home? My cycling fitness seemed pretty good, so let’s make this more interesting: if I was to run a 50k, why not stretch the ride into a complementary 300km – and since I’m sort of in the area, let’s summit a 14er: Mt. Evans! Evans conveniently has a road to the summit that just opened. My kind of trip!
When I was in first grade my family moved to a home next to a greenbelt with a lush canyon and “The Creek” at the bottom. This perennial stream with a small salmon run was the source of my first adventures in creeks and I loved it. It was an escape where hours exploring the canyon felt like minutes. I’ve always enjoyed the flow of water, particularly in the form of waterfalls, but I took a hiatus from exploring creeks for over a decade. In the last couple years I rediscovered this joy in the rugged and mystical canyons of Big Sur.
The Big Sur region has incredible topographical relief spanning over 5,000 vertical feet from the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean to the summits of the Santa Lucia Mountains. It should therefore come as no surprise that the rugged canyons draining the peaks hold many amazing waterfalls. In fact, almost every major stream and drainage contains a waterfall, or in some cases a handful! The falls range from delicate 15 ft falls to towering 200+ ft falls. The setting of the falls is equally varied including coastal falls onto the sand, lush redwood-filled canyons, rocky slopes with endemic Santa Lucia Firs and ephemeral falls in the drier chaparral zones. The waterfalls range from cataracts deep in the most remote and wild corners of the wilderness to the easily accessible falls near the highway. Other intricacies include varying degrees and type of mineral calcification, rock types, and the depth and size of plunge pools. Every waterfall is different!
My fascination with Big Sur waterfalls has evolved into a project to discover, document and catalog as many waterfalls in the Big Sur region as I can. So far, I’ve cataloged over one hundred waterfalls and there are likely several dozen more waterfalls to see (https://pantilat.wordpress.com/big-sur/waterfall-project/). The project only takes into account falls that I’ve subjectively determined to be worthy (there are dozens, if not hundreds, of truly ephemeral falls that only appear immediately after heavy rain, which I generally exclude).
Only a small subset of the falls are accessible by road or trail and the remainder lie in remote reaches of the wilderness, often entailing many miles of trail running followed by off-trail adventures. Many of the falls are within the immense Ventana Wilderness, which covers over 240,000 acres and is one of the greatest unspoiled coastal wilderness areas in existence. The Ventana has a long history pioneering and exploration, but the range has largely been overlooked in recent decades leaving many hidden treasures for the modern day adventurer to discover. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and naming many falls with no prior evidence of visitation by humans, which I call a first known sighting (FKS). I imagine many of the FKSs had been visited by Native Americans and early explorers, but the passage of time and the lack of documentation or evidence makes them modern day discoveries.
In order to find and locate potential falls, I use topographical maps and Google earth satellite imagery and then carefully plan my route to reach the destination as efficiently as possible. As good as the maps and satellite are these days, they only tell a small part of the story and I’m never quite sure what I will find until I’m there on the ground. Sometimes the waterfalls far exceed expectations while other times they are a bust. This is because the maps often do not pick up micro-features of the rugged canyons or the falls are shaded by relief or forest canopy. Off-trail travel in the Ventana is particularly arduous with the primary goal to avoid bushwhacking through dense chaparral that is virtually impenetrable and covers the vast majority of these mountains. In addition, one must contend with the “terrible five” of the Ventana – sharp yucca plants that can slice skin upon contact, biting flies, ticks, poison oak and rattlesnakes. Often times, the most efficient route is by wading in the creeks, but creekwalking can be arduous and technical with high water flow, deep pools, log jams and slick rock.
While many of the falls require quite a bit of effort and planning to reach, the waterfall project has become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable endeavors I’ve pursued. In this in this day and age of sophisticated technology and infrastructure it’s not easy to find places that have not been domesticated or mapped so I treasure the opportunities for true adventure and a sense of pioneering that I’ve found in the canyons of Big Sur. At the same time, I’m also cognizant of preserving the wild and unspoiled nature of these canyons so those that follow can enjoy the same sense of adventure and exploration.
Who are the silent badass athletes in the outdoor arena? Ultimate Direction Ambassador Jared Campbell comes to mind. Most outdoor enthusiasts have never heard of Jared (unless they have watched the new Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix!)
So, who is Jared Campbell, and why has he done more adventures than anyone you’ve never heard of?
UPDATE: On April 4, Jared became the first 3-time Finisher of the infamous Barkley Marathons …
It’s 2016 which means we have new pairs of speedy legs to add to our team. At Ultimate Direction we look for athletes that exude the UD lifestyle, have outstanding personalities, and who of course love the product!
Our new cast and crew includes: Krissy Moehl, Nikki Kimball, Ashley Erba, Jessie Young, Devon Yanko, Kristina Pattison, and Hillary Allen.
Krissy Moehl is a veteran in the ultra scene, running her first ultra back in 1999. Since then she has raced over 100 ultras (winning 55) and has just penned her first book: Running Your First Ultra.