My favorite 100-miler amongst the 4 I have run. Remote, wild, tough, low-key…. one that is worth the 2-day drive from home and that I would definitely do again.
My favorite 100-miler amongst the 4 I have run. Remote, wild, tough, low-key…. one that is worth the 2-day drive from home and that I would definitely do again.
In this part 4 of this series (see Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here), I have listed another set of videos that I have come across those past months. The best one would be the show I have discovered “Rancho Webshow” at 9:29, epic moment !
The Double – Jeff Browning – Western States 100 and Hardrock 100
Longs Peak Triathlon – Fastest Known Time with Anton Krupicka
François D’Haene – Simple Comme Ultra
François D’Haene – Crossing Corsica
As I can’t embed this video like the others, click on this link to watch the impressive GR20 record of François last year
Rancho EP#8 “64 au patin” / “64 under foot”
Because you can’t go wrong with a Salomon video :
Better Trail Running Instructional Video more for cycling but it gives a great understanding of how it affects us
The Psychology of Suffering: How to Handle the Pain
The Crown Traverse
8,000m +E Hell in paradise: 3 men crossing Hawaii island from sea to sea
Mile for Mile: A Film About Trail Running and Conservation in Patagonia
Quechua – A story of Dawa Sherpa
The Lion & The Gazelle
Better Trail Running Instructional Video
La fréquence cardiaque et son utilisation en course à pied et trail (FRENCH) – Training with a heart rate monitor
Last saturday, I raced the second of my 2 A-races of 2016 : Volcanic 50.
When I moved to the Pacific NorthWest back in 2012, I joined the TrailFactor group run. Joking with Todd Janssen (from Go Beyond Racing Team) one night, he offered to open a registration spot just for me to their newly event called Volcanic 50. At the time, this race being only open for 50 people, the spots were long gone when I heard about it. The race would take place 3 days after his offer and even though my training was not consistent at the time, I immediately accepted.
Only 50 people were allowed to run at that time (200+ as of now) and 2 aid stations were present (4 as of now). One particularity of this trail is the different “BoulderRunning” sections. Also very rocky and sandy, some other parts make one feel like walking on the moon.
In 2012, I was happy to finish in 6th place, 2rd Age Group and a time of 7h26min but the most important thing was that it is at that moment that I had the confirmation Mountain Running as my main appeal (my first mountain race being the Kilian’s classic 2011)
When planning my season calendar last winter, I decided to register for the 2016 edition of Volcanic 50. While I typically don’t run anything twice, I knew I would make an exception for my favorite races for their unique course but also to measure my overall improvements. Volcanic 50 would be one of these exceptions.
What I didn’t know was that it would be my last race in the Pacific NW. This being one of the first race I have done after arriving in the PNW and also the one that brought me to Mountain Running, I realize now that this was really the best way to end the season but also to end my “Pacific NW chapter”. As we say in French, “La boucle est bouclée“. This means “to end the loop”. The race circumnavigating a volcano, Volcanic 50 is really a metaphor for my “PNW Chapter” . I actually read recently an article written by Nick Triolo that expresses very well this circumnavigation metaphor.
Coming up to the race, I was aiming to run around the volcano in 6h45 min. Knowing the course well by now, I knew I would not make the mistake again to get lost and was sure to save at least 20 min off my previous time. Combined with all my improvements since then, I was hoping to gain a total of 45 min. That being said, the weather forecasting low temperatures and showers, I knew at the start that I might be able to go below that.
The start being a bottleneck as the trail is pretty narrow, I put myself in the front pack and settled in the Top 10, making sure to follow my race strategy.
Right before reaching the first boulder field, I got attacked by a yellow jacket and it didn’t missed me, OUCH! Yes, bee aware that this race has many of them!
Arriving at Aid Station 2, I was happy to be greeted and refueled by my friend and volunteer Jeremy Long. In 3rd place after having passed a bunch of runners in the long downhill (1,490 ft loss in 1.8 miles, average slope of 16%), I crossed the Toutle River and headed towards the beautiful trail going up the Canyon.
I knew the next section would be pretty flat and I was happy to have passed so many people in the previous downhill as I knew they would perform better than me on the next long and flat section : the blast zone.
This blast zone is unique to run in and I was gladly welcomed by 2 mountain goats standing on the NW side of the Loowit Falls. Having been passed by a train of 3 runners, I was now 6th trying to lose as less ground as possible in this flat section.
Coming up the 3rd Aid Station, I felt even more like walking on the moon when I saw Yassine and other volunteers in NASA costume ! The perfect way to put back my feet on the ground during all this racing rush.
See for yourself !!
Catching up to the 5th runner, I tagged him up Windy Pass, seeing that his flat speed was not translated in the uphills. Was he experiencing some difficulties? I was hoping to pass him near the Aid station 4 as it becomes more hilly and technical afterwards. Sure enough he was running scared as he blasted through the aid station 4 where I had to stop to refuel. More time for me to catch up!
My friend Juliano & Veronica helped me perform a fast pit stop and I immediately focused on getting back to the 5th runner. After almost a mile, he was on my radar and I was hanging along. I proceeded on passing him through one of the last technical descent and knew I would get some ground on the last boulder field until the last descent where I would have to run scared to be sure that he doesn’t catch up.
I realized I had secured my 5th place spot when I was within several hundred feet of the Start/Finish altitude . Not only I was in 5th place but I was within less than 6hrs! Incredible as I had never imagined to be able to run that fast.
Knowing it was going to be my last race here in the PNW, I was planning on giving all my best and achieve my goal to run around Mt St Helens in 6h45 min. With a consistent training, a well executed race plan and good competition, I made it in 5h49min, a time that puts me in top 10 performance of the race, only 28 min shy of the course record and especially 1h37min faster than my 2012 time !
Volcanic 50 being my 2nd A-race after the BeaverHead 55K, I am really happy of both of my results as well as my overall 2016 racing season. The Pacific NW chapter is officially terminated. Time to move on our next adventure, Colorado !!!!
GPS Track available here (32 miles, 7,400 ft )
On July 9th, I raced the first of my 2 A-races of 2016 : the BeaverHead 55K.
I originally heard of this race via Eric Lubell after he ran the 100K in 2014 (first year of the event). Talking with Eric and further research convinced me that it was exactly the type of race that suits me : a Point-to-Point course in the mountains on a remote and technical trail including a 18 mile section on the Continental Divide Trail.
I headed to Salmon, Idaho on Thursday and enjoyed a beautiful drive through the Sawtooth Mountains.
When picking up my race bib, I realized that this year I am drawn to the lucky number 7. The same number than my Smith Rock Ascent race’s place.
As usual for those types of mountains races, I regularly checked the weather forecast during the several days prior to the event. Confirmed by the Race Directors at the briefing, thunderstorms were likely to appear in the afternoon as well as highly possible lightning, snow….etc All the good stuff! What the RD’s told us that a typical weather forecast app would not tell is that the bad weather typically comes from West of the divide.
Multiple times in past races, I have been lucky that the forecast was wrong (2011 Kilian’s Classic 45K, 2015 Standhope 60K) or that I was fast enough to finish before the bad weather kicked in (2015 San Juan Solstice 50M). However, I have always thought my time would come one day and that I would “pay” for all those missed times. I thought that this might be the day and my gear was set up accordingly : jacket, gloves and beanie (extra weight for sure but being in the mountains with such a forecast should be taken seriously).
The start being a long uphill, we were all warmed up in no time! As usual, I made sure to run my race and follow my strategy.
The difficulties I had forecasted were the altitude (most of the race is spent around 9,000ft! Pretty high for me that lives at 300ft. Even though I usually respond to altitude pretty well, I know it affects my speed) and the second part that is reputed to be very technical.
It turned out I was 100% right and there were the main factors that influenced my performance : The altitude slowed me down as well as the scree field. I found it to be as hard as everybody had been describing it (race reports, RD’s briefing…) and it really felt like jogging on knives.
Arriving to the scree field (23.5 miles), my internal compass was set to look out for the West side of the divide and sure enough a storm was moving in. Time to pay my due !!! Once again, I was lucky that it held off and didn’t rage on all of us. I only experienced lower temperatures and a few water drops. Pfeww!!!!
However, the same night would see storms with snow ! Once again I avoid the bad weather but it’s only a matter of time before I experience the forecasted raged weather during a race.
The scree part made me lose quite some time on my estimated split and I knew it was going to be hard to catch up the lost time on the last part. Of course I tried my best and even though I was faster than expected on my last split, I didn’t succeed on making up for the lost time on the scree and fell out of my goal by 15 mins.
In the end, a beautiful and tough mountain race just as I like them on new trails I have never explored before. My race was well executed and though I misjudged the scree section, I am happy to finish in 7th place (YES! The same number as my last race’s place) with a time that puts me in the top 10 performance of the race, only 30 min shy of the course record.
Another weekend in Central Oregon where I chose, as a final long training run for the upcoming Volcanic50, the classic loop around Three Fingered Jack (3FJ).
Starting at the Pacific Crest Trailhead – Santiam Pass, I headed North on the PCT. After several miles, I got off the PCT and started climbing up towards 3FJ. Right before the crawl, I slipped my climbing shoes on as I wanted to go see what the final pitch looks like and maybe go at the top. The crawl was airy and great caution must be made here as well as the sections around it (multiple deaths and accidents have been reported). I arrived at the bottom of the last pitch. The views are terrific from here and while going up it didn’t seem to hard (5.4 climbing grade), I decided to stop here as I didn’t feel like climbing down it without a rope would be safe.
After going down the Crawl and putting back my running shoes, I ran down to go back on the PCT. From there, I ran North to Wasco Lake enjoying beautiful views of Mt Jefferson and 3FJ overlooking Canyon Creek Meadows.
This run offers several opportunities to refill water (Wasco Lake, Canyon Creek, Booth Lake, Square Lake) and I took advantage of it as it was very dry, hot and exposed. From Wasco Lake, I headed to the east saddle of 3FJ via the beautiful and fresh Canyon Creek meadow instead of taking the #4014 heading to Jack Lake as the classic loop does.
My modified loop (Yellow) vs the classic route (Purple)
I quickly arrived to 3FJ East saddle where I encountered Mountain goats that seem to be thriving since they were re-introduced several years ago
From here, people usually hike down the way they came and head back to Jack Lake. As for me, I had found several reports and tracks of hikers going down south following a creek. As a matter of fact, when I arrived at 3FJ saddle, several women were coming up the south side. As they confirmed to me, they mainly followed the creek up. One of her having done this part 5 times, I was confident I would be able to go down this way as well. And I did! But this part was mainly bushwacking though thick brush and a lot of downed trees. I eventually met the #4014 trail, and accelerated to make up for the lost time.
I passed Booth Lake, Square Lake (it’s not square at all!) and arrived back at the trailhead where my wife picked me up in time for some kayak time and swim time at Big Lake before sunset.
if I were to do it again, I would still go up the saddle as the canyon creek meadow and the east saddle were my favorite parts. However, because of the bushwacking part and tree hoping, I would skip going down south and would run back to canyon creek meadow and Jack Lake to join the trail #4014 that the classic loop takes.
GPS Track available here (22.4 miles, 4,300 ft )
The 3 Sisters Circumnavigation had been on my bucket list for a while now. The total course consists of 49 miles and 6,719 ft elevation gain/loss. Made up with several trails, the west side is mainly on the PCT.
The same friends (Jameson & Matthew) with which we ran around Mt Hood last year joined us. I decided to go counter-clockwise as it was easier to find an opportunity for Matthew and Jessica to join us as they wanted to run about 20 miles.
We started the run at the Pole Creek Trailhead after a short but restful night at this quiet trailhead. I’ve stayed there overnight numerous times when climbing the sisters and as it is pretty remote, it generally offers very peaceful nights with great views of the stars and North/Middle sisters (thanks to the 2012 fire).
Jameson and I ran the first 30 miles and met Jessica and Matthew at the Devil’s lake trailhead. While it added about 2-3 miles, it gave Jameson and I the opportunity to resupply in water and food. From there, we would run back to Pole Creek TH (20 miles, 2,706 ft elevation gain/ 2,884ft elevation loss).
A great/must-do run that offers various landscapes (volcanic, forest, sand), stunning views as well as several streams and lakes to get fresh water. The bonus of this loop is that the entire course is runnable as it is never really steep.
GPS Track available here (52 miles, 7,650 ft )
Since the first part of this series (see Part 1 here), I have found, discovered and watched many more videos.
Here is a list of the favorite ones I have gathered :
E-Motion Trail Saison 2 Episode 2 – Sur les sentiers des ours avec Antoine Guillon [FRENCH]. I’ve been following this french trail running TV show since its beginning and most of them are really good. I have chosen this one as Antoine Guillon has been an inspiration and an example for me.
A Mountain Journal Short – Nicky Spinks
Suilven: The Trail Runner
Life on the Fells
Zion National Park FKT
And to finish this Part 2, 2 record attempts of the legend Marco De Gasperi :
During our summer vacation, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time (And for free thanks to Mr Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” program). I immediately planned on climbing the very famous Longs Peak (14,259ft).
I chose the normal route a.k.a The KeyHole. I started around 8am and the forecast was listing the typical summer afternoon thunderstorms. I was ready mentally to have to retreat but was hoping to make it to the top before the weather would turn bad.
After 2 hours of jogging/running on high alpine trails surrounded by marmots, I reached the KeyHole were the “run” turned more into a hike/scramble. In 45 mins, I would reach the top to be greeted one more time by a beautiful marmot.
I then went down as dark clouds were moving fast. After passing the KeyHole, rain and thunder noise made me accelerate. I reached the trailhead in 2 hours from the top and lightning/thunderstorm broke while I was having my lunch.
A beautiful day in the Rocky mountains that will constitute my main playground soon… 😉
GPS Track available here (14.5 miles, 4,480 ft )
**: As my watch seems not to have directly picked up the GPS satellites, the mileage is NOT accurate !
Note : A good inspiration about Longs Peak can be found in the movie “In The High Country“. Though Anton Krupicka climbs Longs via “Alexander’s chimney” and not the normal route, it’s a good inspiration and contains beautiful scenery about Long’s Peak.