“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?”
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.
Nice work Eric!!!!! We gotta talk..I’ve always been curious about this type of race, would love to here your thoughts on the whole experience.
Way to go Eric!
Eric was instrumental on helping us develop all of the vests. He was willing to try any design concept and gave us some very diverse input. He was a welcomed tester along with our other athletes and the fact that he works down the hall and was running Hardrock was just inspiring! Thanks for all you’ve done so far Eric! CONGRATS!
Nice work Eric! It’s good to have you out using the product in such a big event like the Hardrock!
Really impressive accomplishment. Congrats.
For the race I was using the “Ultra” vest, which is the pack envisioned by Scott Jurek with contributions from all of the runners involved at UD. Ever since I began trail running 3 years ago, I had used an Ultimate Direction Wasp. With these new packs, I have found the ultralight running vests that I’ve always dreamed of. Over the years my sewing skills have been improving and I had been thinking of designing something lighter than was already on the market, but with these packs, now I can devote my time to better things.
Hardrock was always my goal back when I began running, so it’s been very satisfying to complete the race. In a way, I fear that no other race will compare to this one and I have considered not entering any further races. 4 days after the race, short term memory has taken over and I have forgotten the pain and fatigue that I felt at Hardrock. Instead I can only remember the great views and great feelings of getting my “5th wind”. Although not many races can compare to the “out there” feeling of this race, what with its deep basins hidden behind taller passes littered with game trails that were run on, but I still want to push myself and learn to run the 100 mile distance better. In between Fastest Known Times attempts on established routes, off-trail scrambles, and a run of the Run Rabbit Run 100, I hope to keep active on the trail.
Any specific questions about the race that is Hardrock Tom?
Nice job Eric!! We ran a bit together, from KT to just below Grant-Swamp Pass… you said “You must be friends with Buzz”, since I was also wearing a prototype UD vest. (Speaking of which, I was VERY impressed with it… you guys really hit a home run with these!).
I think I have a few photos of you, I’ll route them over to Buzz, to get to you. Hope to see you in Silverton again!
– Chris Gerber (37:02)
Good to see ya out there, Eric (we were playing leap frog around Cataract Lakes ;)!