“Where did you find those people!?”

Peter Bakwin asked me that in amazement at this year’s Hardrock 100.

We had been standing outside Registration, as runners marveled at the Signature Series prototypes – “You guys absolutely crushed it!” was a common comment – while Peter himself was marveling at the incredible team that had converted his, Scott, and Anton’s ideas into actual products. “It seems everyone working on this is a real runner and actually use the gear themselves”, he said, adding, “And that really shows”.

Eric Payne is one of the Team. If you call Ultimate Direction (800.426.7229) you will be routed to him.  He ran the Hardrock 100 this year, finishing his first try with both a fine 59th place and a smile on his face.  We asked Eric what was up.

WHY DID YOU DO HARDROCK?

It’s the most beautiful and wild race out there. Or at least in the States. I didn’t do it because of the difficulty, but because it’s so out there.

WHAT IS “OUT THERE”?

Away from roads, busy trails, popular hiking areas. A lot of “half-track” – not singletrack, but not quite cross-country. It feels like a backcountry route rather than a cute little loop like most races.

HOW DID IT GO?

I’m still trying to figure that out. Everyone gives me congrats on finishing … I was hoping to be faster (finished in 40 hrs 23 mins, well under the cut-off of 48 hours) … that was the bare minimum I wanted to do. I just started serious training 4 months ago, so am happy to finish. It went well … I was happy the whole race … my crew said I was smiling the whole time … I took photos during the whole race.

Ultimately that’s it: it was beautiful and I had a good time. That should be how you define success, really.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AT THE COMPANY?

Since October. I’m a Customer Service Rep, and am the UD Specialist – any calls concerning Ultimate Direction get routed to me.

DO YOU LIKE IT? 

Fantastic. Best job I ever had. Definitely hard to beat the work environment here.

I help people with gear that I really believe in … I can answer questions from personal experience, and give ideas to the designers. And I get to test cool new products!

SPEAKING OF WHICH, HOW DID THE ULTRA VEST GO?

Perfect. Bottles up front is key for refilling at aid stations – I didn’t have to mess with a bladder. I could focus on food and more important things. It fits so well you kind of forget your’e wearing it, so that’s key.

Other runners kept asking me, “What is that?” “Is it as lightweight as it looks?” “Where can I buy one?”

WHATS NEXT?

I’m trying to figure that out myself. Might do Run Rabbit Run – but it’s expensive ($275). I may focus on some Fastest Known Times rather than races.

 

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