Ultra Running Updates (WS100 & RAM)

If you have read the book of Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man, you would know that on the last Saturday of June of every year, the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley, California near Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California is being conducted and lots of ultra trail running enthusiasts and runners are glued on the webcast and latest running news sources just to be able to know the activities before, during and after the run.

WS 100 Logo

A final count of 415 participants will be at the starting line as the race would start at 5:00 AM of Saturday. These participants had been picked up/selected through lottery as applicants should be qualified from their past ultra trail races in 100K, 50-mile, and 100-mile races. To give you an example of one of the qualifying standards to apply in this race, you must be able to finish a 50-mile trail run in less than 11 hours! However, if you are qualified in one of the qualifying races, it does not mean that you will be accepted as you have to go through the selection process which is called lottery.

The race has an international flavor and coverage as 52 of the runners are represented from 25 countries. It is worthy to note that there are 2 from China; 2 from Japan; 1 from South Korea and another 1 from Singapore. I would say that in two to three years, a local Filipino ultra runner would be able to qualify and participate in this prestigious 100-mile ultra trail race.

The race’s prestige goes with the price of joining it. The registration fee is $ 375.00 which is paid up front when you apply. However, if you are not selected in the lottery, your payment will not be charged in your credit card. Coming from the Philippines to join this race will entail a lot of fortune! I just hope that one of the outdoor brands or sports stores in the country would be able to sponsor one runner to represent the country in this prestigious trail running event.

So, if you browse the internet on the different blogs of ultra runners and other ultra running resources online, you would feel the hype and concentrated interest on this race. Foremost topic now is to who will win the men’s and/or women’s race. The 2010 edition of the race is still the “most talked” about event in the ultra trail running history as three of the top ultra trail runners in the world (Kilian Jornet of Spain, Anton Krupicka, and Geoff Roes) battled it out for the top finisher in the race. The race resulted in the breaking of the previous record time by Geoff Roes (Champion) and Anton Krupicka with a time of 15:07:04 hours and 15:13:52 hours, respectively.

My prediction is that Geoff Roes will get the top honors, followed by Kilian Jornet of Spain, Ian Sharman of Great Britain, Nick Clark of Great Britain, Hal Koerner (WS 2009 & 2007 Champion), Dave Mackey, and Mike Wolfe, in that order.

As for the ladies, I am predicting Ellie Greenwood for the Lady Champion, followed by Nikki Kimball, Anita Ortiz, Aliza Lapierre, Pam Smith (2011 Miwok 100 Champion), and the following lady runners—Tracy Garneau, Amy Sproston, Meghan Arbogast, and ARC’s Maggie Beach.

As for most of the runners, their aim is to get the Western States 100-Mile  Silver Belt Buckle for finishing in 24 hours or less. And the rest would aim to finish the race within the cut-off time of 30 hours and bring home the Bronze Belt Buckle.

WS 100 Silver Buckle

You can google the names of the above elite runners to find out their training, strategy, and expectations on the said race. If you want to know more about the activities in this race, you can visit the event’s website at http://ws100.com

In a related ultra running event, there is a multi-day stage “Run Across America Race” that started last Sunday, June 19, 2011 in Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, California and it will end in New York in 70 days, covering a distance of 3,200+ miles. There are 16 participants in this race and I am reading the blog of one of the participants, James Adams from Great Britain, about his daily experiences along the route and the race. If you are interested to read his blog, you can click Running And Stuff (RAM) on my Blogroll.

I am surprised that this Race is very organized and well-planned. There is a Race Organizer Group that really administer and supervise the runners as they progress through the race. I am going to attach this year’s LA-NY Roadbook to prove that a registration fee of $ 6,500 is worth the experience if you are interested in this kind of road race. However, the race’s Racebook compilation of detailed directions and maps is already a treasure to keep! I hope my Pinoy Ultra Runners who have plans of doing their Run Across America would be happy to have a copy of this Roadbook as their reference.

If ever some of the Pinoys who pronounced and relayed to us that they ran across America (in the past) would read this post, I would ask them (again!) to show us their detailed directions, maps of route they have taken, and their daily stories and experiences on the road. If you happen to know them, please relay this information.


Brian Stark: USA Transcontinental Trail Runner

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I’ve been reading the book, “Getting To The Point: In A Dozen Pairs of Shoes” by Brian Stark who did his 5,000-mile solo trail run for 238 days from March to November 2008 along the newly designed American Discovery Trail from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Point Reyes, California.

Since the activity was a solo run, he did not have any support crew or pacer during the run. He just carried with him a 10-pound pack which included his water hydration system, making sure to run along the trails across America.

What I admire with this guy was that he really prepared for the said run. It took him one year to coordinate with the organizations that maintain the American Discovery Trail; compile at least 500 maps; arranged for logistics drop-off point in selected Post Offices of towns & cities along the way; created his personal website for the event; and saved $ 10,000 cash to finance his trip. He even arranged for his shoe sponsor making sure that a brand-new shoes as replacement would be picked-up in a pre-designated Post Office along the way. Even media outlets (newspapers, radio and TV) were coordinated and informed about his running event.

Brian Stark, in his daily runs along the trails, would be able to finish at least 30-40 miles and then look for a decent place to stay if a trail is located near a town or city at the end of the day. Sometimes, he would sleep in parks, Fire Stations, churches, schools, and in the homes of strangers who are willing to offer dinner & breakfast, bed and shower.

To update his website and reply to messages in his e-mail address, he would go to Public Libraries along the way to use their computer. The following excerpts was taken from a post from the Internet describing the feats of Brian Stark:

After driving back from the Boston Marathon, where his dad had run, Brian Stark, then 7, got out to use the bathroom during a stop for gas somewhere in Pennsylvania. No one took note, not even when Stark ran up and banged on the family van as it pulled away. “When my parents stopped for breakfast 300 miles away, they noticed I was missing,” he says. These days, Stark could have just kept running until he caught up with them. In 1998, he ran 4,800 miles across the country on the American Discovery Trail, which runs along America’s trails and back roads. It began in a sleet storm in Delaware and ended 238 days later at the Golden Gate Bridge — followed by a drive to L.A. and an appearance on “The Price Is Right.” “I won eight stuffed teddy bears and two trips, one to Hawaii, one to Canada,” says Stark, 36, who frequently pulls experiences from his trek while teaching gifted language arts at Corona Foothills Middle School in the Vail School District. And yes, he sometimes jogs to school, all 35 miles. “I have to get up at 1:30 a.m.,” says Stark, who is married and a father to two little girls, ages 2 and 3. He kept a journal while on his run and afterward wrote a book about the experience, “Getting to the Point: In a Dozen Pairs of Shoes.” “I picked out 12 pairs of running shoes and mailed them to 12 post offices 400 miles apart,” says Stark. When he arrived at each post office — each about three weeks apart — a new pair of shoes would be there to replace his worn-out ones. Along the way, local newspapers and TV stations chronicled his trek through their towns and CBS “Sunday Morning” broadcast a brief telephone interview. Sometimes he slept in motels. Other times he slept under bridges, in barns, even in outhouses. More than once, he’d just knock on a door. More often than not, he’d be invited in for a meal, and maybe a bed. Not once, he says, did anyone slam a door in his face. “No one ever threw anything at me, or tried to run me off the road.” Eight policemen, however, did inquire as to what he was doing, the first in Kansas. “I was sitting on a guardrail looking at a map and he pulled up in his squad car. He asked me what I was doing in the middle of Kansas without a car. I said, ‘I’m running to California.’ ” Even though he handed the cop a card explaining his circumstances, “He still checked me out.” Born in Indiana, Stark ran cross-country in middle school, continuing through high school and then at Hanover College in southern Indiana. After graduating in 1995, he rewarded himself with a five-month, 2,000-mile hike from Maine to Georgia along the Appalachian Trail. In Massachusetts, he met a man who hiked nude every Tuesday. Naturally, it was a Tuesday. Even so, Stark continued on. For the next three years, he lived as a caretaker in a primitive cabin in southern Indiana. “There was no running water and the only heat came from a fireplace,” he says. “After that, I thought I needed a break.” The “break,” of course, would be running across the country. “I’d never been west,” he says. A brother dropped him off at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the morning of March 8, 1998. It was 43 degrees and sleeting. Stark was carrying a 10-pound backpack filled with a sleeping bag, jacket, water bottle, cheese crackers, credit card, maps and “one Band-Aid, just in case.” As his brother rolled away, he cracked the window and told him to call if he wanted to quit. Stark never did, aiming to get to the Rocky Mountains after most of the snow had melted. He mostly ran and sometimes walked about 10 hours a day, trying to space it about 25 to 35 miles between towns. That proved impossible in Nevada, where the towns were more than 100 miles apart and he had 37 mountain ranges to cross.

In 2001, Stark did the Arizona Trail between Mexico and Utah in 39 days. In 2004, he ran across Iowa.

While reading this book, the following thoughts came to my mind:

1) Did Cesar Guarin of BOTAK come up with a book or a written account of his Run Across America in the 80s? I knew that he is one of the consultants of Joy Rojas and Mat Macabe during their planning preparation for the Takbong Pangarap Run Across America. A running experience as big as Running the Continental USA is worth to be printed in a book.

2) I thought of Joy Rojas and I tried to find out from the Internet if there is any word about the progress of her Takbong Pangarap. Since I could not see any information after she started her run in Eagle Rock, California almost 60 days ago, I posted the question in my Twitter as to where she is right now. Ben Gaetos had the initiative to answer my question by sending an e-mail to Joy Rojas and it led to Mat Macabe’s call to him.

3) Why did Joy Rojas thought of not creating a blog or website on her own instead of relying to the website of www.thepoc.net? After leaving Eagle Rock, California, POC had never updated her running activities. Being a news editor and news writer, she would have known the importance of the Internet in order to “journalize” her daily runs and let her readers know where she is and her daily experiences. In the book, Brian Stark would update his running journal in his website at the end of the day if he had an access to the Internet, if not, he would write his journal in a notebook and later wrote his updates whenever he had an access to the Internet. As compared now and the time when Brian Stark did his run across America’s trails, every town or city has its own public library with a computer, if not, there are so many Internet Cafes in every commercial establishment, even Motels now have Wi-Fi connections in every room with a very minimal additional cost. Access to the Internet right now is very common, cheap, and accessible. I am sure that every house in every big town or city has an Internet connection. Even cellphones nowadays have access to the Internet to include social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

4) One of my readers made a comment in my post about Joy Rojas and he/she has doubts about her running adventure to the point that she is suspected to be riding and running along the way. There goes the another “controversy” again! The following is the comment from cutierunner about Joy Rojas’ run from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denver, Colorado:

i too wondered where she was after she reached las vegas on may 23 and then silence until she pops out in denver for the western union shindig on june 23/ is she running or riding part of the way? google maps say that from las vegas to denver is a good 844 miles / from reports she says she takes a break every six days that leaves her with only 25 running days going from the desert to the state with the highest mean elevation in my country/ that’s uphill all the way to Colorado (during a season when flash thunderstorms occur), at 30 miles a day which is more than a marathon a day, she would still be short by 94 miles, so she must do something like 20% more to be statistically in denver by the date/ To set records, it would have been better if she wore one of these tracker gps items available here so that we do not have to rely on the word of her trainer who i hear is her boyfriend anyway and guess whether she is actually running or riding part of the way – also strange is having a crew of one

(Note: In my previous post on the pictures of Joy Rojas, I did not notice if she is wearing a Garmin watch, have you?)

I strongly believe that Joy Rojas could also do ala-Brian Stark running adventure across America if she has the necessary preparations, contacts along the way, and updated information about her daily activities.

5) In one of the Ultrarunning Magazines that Rick Gaston gave me, I read about Dean Karnazes plan to run across America using the American Discovery Trail from San Francisco to the East Coast and it is presently on the “drawing boards”. I guess, this will be fully supported by sponsors, marketing stuffs, and good PR support. What I like about Brian Stark is that he did it on his own without any “gimmicks” or marketing stuffs and even without any crew or support and pacer along the way, most especially while he was running the winding roads and trails of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level.

6) Brian Stark did not set a deadline for him to finish his run and he did not pressure himself to reach a designated place. He had to take a lot of rest for his body to recover during the early part of his run and as the days and weeks have passed, he became stronger. He would find time to visit museums, tourist attractions, historical places and even enjoy the food distinct to every place he stayed while recovering from his rigorous runs. This a good example of a running adventure where you have enough time to explore the places you are passing through by visiting their tourist attractions, museums, and other historical places. Hence, he was able to write a book with all the pictures and clippings of newspaper accounts on his run.

If you have plans of running a multi-stage/multi-day running adventure, Brian Stark and his book is a good inspiration and source of experiences and a guide to a successful running adventure. I am highly recommending every runner to read this book.