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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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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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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In the High Country Movie

“In the High Country” will be a new kind of mountain film featuring Anton Krupicka. Filmed and Produced by Joel Wolpert with the support of Ultimate Direction, this won’t be the usual running film – no “loneliness of the long distance runner” – “High Country” will take you where you’ve never been before.

 

Anton Krupicka’s running has evolved from roads to trails to mountains and now free-soloing. Filmed over one season, “In the High Country” is about living and running light and free.  The raw footage is terrific, is being edited now, and the film will be released in the Summer of 2013, with an approximate running time of 30 minutes.

Watch the Trailer Now –> 

 

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Schemin’ and Dreamin’

I was fortunate enough to achieve many of my adventure running ambitions in 2012 (including three outings that were so good that I am determined to repeat them in 2013: the Ten Mile Range Traverse, the Glacier Gorge Traverse in Rocky Mt. Nat’l Park, and Gannet Peak IAD (in-a-day) in Wyoming), though I was just beginning to realize the potential for fun that exists when one combines running and moderate technical climbing; in 2013 I am excited to further explore this hybridization of activities and tackle some even bigger and more committing objectives.

Encountering some tech on the Ten Mile Traverse last spring. Photo: Joe Grant.

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Hot Tip: Coming This Spring!

In one month the Signature Series will be released. This unique series of three hydration vests is being really well received.  And why not?  It was designed by three of the best ultrarunners in the world!  Retailers ordered the entire initial production run before manufacturing was finished.

Working with these Athletes was great.  Other company’s should do this as well: just ask the best athletes in the sport what they want, and then just do it!

It was a great plan. So we decided to do it again.

Here’s a sneak preview of the upcoming “Jurek Collection”.

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Hardrock Preview

The tribe has gathered; the race starts at 6 am tomorrow.  Considering only 140 entrants are allowed (by Forest Service Permit), this event is remarkably impactfull on the sport of ultrarunning.  Here are some stray thoughts.

I walked up to Karl Meltzer, one of the best 100 milers ever, and who has the course record in one direction (Hardrock is a loop, which alternates direction).  He saw me coming, and before I could even say Hi, he put on a big grin and simply said, “I’m back”.

I knew what he meant.  100 miles (102 with a recent course change), with 33,992′ of elevation gain, and an average elevation of 11,186′ … well, is this “fun” … or what is it?  Karl has done it all … he doesn’t need to keep doing it … yet here he is, ready to go 24 non-stop hours in the high mountains … he completely bypassed any question I could possibly ask, about motivation, predictions, or anything, and just said, “I’m back”.

Here we are; let’s do it.

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Hardrock 2012

THE MEN’S COURSE RECORD …

Kyle Skaggs left his indelible print on the event in 2008, when he blew away the course record by over 2 1/2 hours. Just four years previous, the race was won in 30:39 – Kyle did it more than 7 hours faster, and remains the only person to go under 24 hours.

So how did he do that?

Kyle was extremely dialed that day – he spent way less than a minute at nearly every aid station. I was there. I was supposed to pace him, but about 10 days out from the race I developed an angry neuroma in my foot, so was reduced to crewing, along with Nate and Petra McDowell.

That was the third summer in a row he lived in Silverton and trained on the course. That year he moved to Silverton on April 23rd -I remember the date, because we had been roommates since January and had been trail-bumming in northern Arizona. On that day he got fed up with the Grand Canyon’s heat, booted me from his Toyota Corolla station wagon (the “Deerslayer”) in Flagstaff, and drove off for the high country. Two and a half months of acclimation allowed him to move faster on Hardrock’s alpine course – and allowed him to keep his stomach solid at those altitudes on race day, eating nothing but gels and one PB&J.

But none of this is why Kyle crushed the course with a 23:23:30.

Instead, it was simply that Kyle went in with no preconceptions on what a reasonable pace was. He ran off of effort. And he kept his mind steady.

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Hardrock Dreams

The Hardrock 100 mile race was started to honor the hard rock miners of the San Juans and the extraodinary mountains in which they lived and worked. The course is incredible – 33,992′ of of elevation gain, with an average altitude of 11,186′, including climbing over a 14,000′ mountain – which is often done in the middle of the night, sometimes during a lightning storm. The only comparable event in the world is the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, with a similar course profile but at a lower elevation.

Only 140 people can enter each year – compared with 35,000 for the Chicago or New York City Marathons – but Hardrock is iconic, with an impact on the sport far greater than it’s size. Hardrock is a gathering of the tribe. It’s not exactly a a race; It’s where you come to pay homage to the sport of ultrarunning.

Peter Bakwin and Anton Krupicka are uniqulely qualified to give you the insider scoop!

First, Peter shares his thoughts on doing the Double – he is the only person to run the course twice in a row – 200 miles in one shot.  (He is probably the only person to even consider doing it!) Then tomorrow Anton will share insider info on Kyle Skaggs incredible course record, as well as how he sees the race shaping up for this year.

PETER:

“Hardrock. It is difficult for someone who has not been there or spent a lot of time in the high mountains to comprehend Hardrock. The climbs are steeper, the descents are longer, the footing is worse. Hardrock is truly relentless. Excellent runners drop out because they are afraid of falling off a cliff, or being hit by lightning. Others are simply worn down. To finish Hardrock you have to look deep within yourself and find something powerful that motivates you. You need to find a true connection with the mountains, the thin air, the rushing streams, the icy cold nights with their crystal, star-lit skies. You need to touch the softness that hides in those dark cliffs and deep chasms.”

I wrote those lines in July 2006, shortly after finishing a Double Hardrock. For me, they express the heart of what Hardrock is about. It is more than a foot race. Hardrock is an expression of the love of being in the mountains, of being in nature, of being part of nature. It is a competition, yes, but it is more. Hardrock is a perspective on life and living.

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