Posts Categorized: Race Reports

 

A little background might help. 2018 was pretty much a year off from racing and a significant reduction in training. All the training and racing of the previous 10 years just piled up and it was clear some real rest was in order. So that’s what I did. As the year came to a close I found myself happily fit. I cut an hour off a favorite 26 mile mountain loop, all of the sudden I was running faster on my everyday runs (still at easy effort) and started doing some light workouts. I’d heard great things about Rocky Raccoon 100 and since I really prefer the 100 mile distance I decided it would be a good first race of 2019. 

Failure is a funny term. It means different things to anyone that uses it. It has been sighted that I am someone who happily fails a lot, especially when it comes to attempting FKTs. I have set out on dozens of different attempts on trail and mountain records over the past 15 years, and I have succeeded no more and no less than four times. When people use the word failure to describe all but the four successful attempts well , I get why they use that word. But the reason I am able to come back again and again to the realm of the FKT is that I don’t see missed attempts as failures, for me they are just part of the deal. The main weapon in my athletic arsenal is my ability to shrug off the misses without losing my confidence that most anything is possible. After a failed attempt on the Wonderland in 2016 the trail had woven it’s way into my mind, this year I had to go back and try again.

For the past few years I’ve gravitated towards doing, and putting more emphasis on longer races, primarily 100 milers. I thought that 100s had to be my best event. I mean I am not a sub 2:20 marathoner! I can’t compete with all these fast guys in the “short” distance ultras. I’ve slugged it out with long trails, Euro 100 milers and for the most part I’ve lost the battles. I certainly don’t intend to lose the war, but I needed to start 2018 on a good note. I decided I’d race at Way Too Cool. I’d never run this event before. With it’s long history and runnable course I figured I’d at least be able to maximize my fitness level and really see where I was at.

Summers never seem to last long enough. Not that I dislike winter, on the contrary, I LOVE winter. If I were not a runner, I would be one of those skiers chasing storms from the Northern to Southern Hemisphere searching for powder and steep lines 12 months a year. When I say summer is never long enough I mean as a runner, all the coolest, raddest, most fun trails are high up in the mountains where snow can linger long into July and August. There is a short window of time to tackle what has become a fast growing list of MUST DO mountain running objectives. A person could have worse problems obviously.

Mile 107: Nothing left.

For me being competitive with intentions of placing highly at races has always sat atop the priorities list. Over the past few years I have seen that this may be an error if I hope to ultimately find satisfaction in 100 mile racing experiences. I decided to make finishing the race a priority, not necessarily above competing at the highest level possible, but on the same level. Setting this intention has helped me an enormous amount when during the course of running 100+ miles things go south and being competitive no longer is possible. My finish at the 100 miles of Istria is a story of the intention to finish the race no matter what.

I have been racing ultra marathons for four and a half years now. Up until very recently my life was somewhat uni-dimensional. I raced often, trained more often, and the majority of my waking moments were spent in the pursuit of endurance goals. I ate, slept and breathed my sport, the mountains, and far fetched ideas. And while those things are all still true to some extent, a major life change has taken me and my new growing family by storm this past month. My wife had our son, Laiken Col Ghelfi, on August 30, 2016. It was just 10 days before the running of the 7th annual Pine to Palm 100 mile endurance run.

Mile 106: I’m pretty sleepy, sitting in a metal chair in the doping control office, cotton ball taped to my arm, losing my ability to focus, the smell of blood mixed with alcohol wipes is overwhelming, every sound is amplified to a roar, I mutter something about needing a garbage can, I’m gonna throw up all over the floor. I already feel bad because I know my odor is less than ideal and I can’t focus enough to answer the officials basic health questions.  Everything gets uncontrollably loud and immediately peaceful. I wake up on the floor and have no idea where I am, someone is asking me questions and talking hurriedly into a cell phone, I don’t bother to answer. I put my head back down and immediately go to sleep.

We are writing this as we drive across the desert of the American West. We are very tired, as we just raced 6 times in 6 days. 4 hours of interrupted Motel 6 sleep didn’t really do the trick. We just won the Transrockies stage race in Colorado. For the team competition you have to stay with your partner the whole time and each run the entire course. The winners are crowned by their cumulative time for all 6 stages

Mount Shasta is a peak that dominates the landscape of an entire region. From the central valley California to Southern Oregon views of Mount Shasta’s summit are unavoidable. It is freakin’ massive! The peak stands 10,000 feet above the valley below and over 5,000 feet higher than any other mountain in the vicinity. As a young kid growing up in Redding 60 miles to the south I had a deep desire to climb this mountain. “But it is too dangerous” is what my parents told me. So I never got to climb in my youth, I could only look on in awe from the slopes below. If any mountain has a mystic pull this is one of them.