Viewing entries tagged
running

Ouray 100: A Race For The Ages

Comment

Ouray 100: A Race For The Ages

“I’m signed up to run the Ouray 100 in July. Why don’t you join me?  It’d be great training for Nolan’s 14, and allow us to log some proper mileage together.”

My friend Mercedes is sitting across a small wobbly table from me at Boulder’s Red Rock Coffeehouse. She is looking for a partner to attempt Nolan’s 14, the famed Sawatch peak bagger’s ultra linkup, which only three women have completed since the challenge was conceived by Jim Nolan and Fred Vance in the 1990s.  I know that Nolan’s is an extremely ambitious goal, and I am hesitant to commit - but I am also intrigued. 

Comment

Running Aspen

Comment

Running Aspen

I don’t know if you’re a trail runner; I am. Chances are if you’re reading this blog you’ve got some adventurous gene and either already are a trail - or ultra - runner, or you should give it a try. Because it’s really quite something, and entirely addictive.  

Addictive, yes.  That’s the reason why I am sitting in Aspen as I’m writing these lines, sore and tired and happy after just having run the Adidas Outdoor Aspen Backcountry Marathon off the couch. I may not recommend the off-the-couch approach, but the race itself… man. Here’s a new addition to my list of favorite trail races (which so far was all about Transvulcania, a jewel of a 74km race in the Canary Islands, and the original US 100 miler Western States). I didn't have any expectations for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon other than to get a good workout in, but this little race came out of left field putting a big grin on my face for miles and miles. 

Blissed out at the finish.  Happy to see that I can still bang out a marathon on just four days and ~40 miles of running-specific training.

Blissed out at the finish.  Happy to see that I can still bang out a marathon on just four days and ~40 miles of running-specific training.

It’s hard to decide where to start with the accolades: the beautiful, perfectly smooth single track that characterizes much of the course; the climbing, which is just enough to keep it challenging and interesting but not so much to be torturous; or the wildflowers that were out in full force where forest single track switched off with the occasional mellow dirt road through high mountain meadows… 
My personal favorite was the scenery, which is always a big determinant for how much I enjoy a race; and by scenery in this case I mean not so much expansive mountain vistas - though those are to be had, too - but running through infinite hushed aspen groves as the day’s first rays of sun are just starting to find their way into the forest.  The course is fast, too, thanks to large stretches of wonderful runnable single track at mostly moderate angles. Case in point: the winning times for the marathon this year were meaningfully sub-4h.  

To round things out, the race was smoothly organized and combines the intimate feel of a small field - roughly 350 runners for both the marathon and the half marathon distance - with the fun finish line atmosphere that’s typically reserved for much bigger races.  The trick? The race coincides with the Aspen Ducky Derby, a big charity festival that shares a location with the start/finish.  

Why hello there Ducky!

Why hello there Ducky!

I said it right after I crossed the finish line, and I’ll say it again: if you’re looking for a beautiful, not-quite-ultra-distance trail race to add to your calendar - make it this one.  I know I’m already thinking about coming back next year for a second go at the race (which in 2017 will follow the reverse course) and to see how fast I could actually be on these trails with a bit of training...

Here are the stats: 

  • 2nd Saturday in August
  • Full and half marathon options
  • 4100ft elevation gain for the full marathon
  • 6am race start (8:30am for the half, may be moved up to 8am in 2017)
  • $75 entry for the marathon which this year got you a shirt, a soft cup for the race (since it is cupless) and at the finish line a stainless steel finisher’s pint, free beer and a $10 to use at any of the Ducky Derby food stands
  • $2400 cash prize purse and lots of non-cash prizes sponsored by Adidas Outdoor
  • www.aspenbackcountrymarathon.com
Another bonus: sweet free camping on Independence Pass

Another bonus: sweet free camping on Independence Pass

Comment

Sunny's Story

Hi!  I’m Sunny.  I am 30 years old; I am a climber, mountaineer and ultra runner, and I live on the road full-time in search of sunshine and adventure.   

All that is true, but it’s not really my story.  Up until the end of 2015, I wasn’t Sunny; my colleagues and friends knew me as Suzanne (or Suz if we were close).  I was living and working in Houston, Texas, right in the middle of the take-off of a high-octane strategy consulting career.  I have an MBA from a terribly prestigious school; until a few months ago I used to crush it on all the “right” dimensions: acing those tests, landing that job, working my way up the ladder.  Now my home is ~150cft of space on wheels, stuffed to the brim with sandy, muddy gear; I am constantly thinking twice before I spend $5 on a Starbucks coffee or even $1.50 on a truckstop cup of joe - and then usually end up deciding against it. How did all of this happen?

In a way it all goes back to when I was 12 years old and my parents took me to theGrand Canyon for the first time - but that’s going back way too far. Let’s start in my early twenties instead: they consisted mostly of work, bar nights and being a couch potato.  A dear friend and mentor encouraged me to take time off to go traveling before grad school, so I did; with a budget of $5k I covered ten countries in five months.  Coming back from the trip my appetite for adventure had been awakened. I was still mostly a couch potato but learned to climb at the local rock gym during my first semester in business school and quickly fell in love with it.  Mountaineering and ultra running were the result of another extended backpacking trip right after graduation - my first ultra trail was essentially ‘off the couch’ (not something I would recommend), and I somehow even managed to like it enough to come back for more afterwards. 

Fast forward to the last four years - I was working long hours based out of Houston, and gradually came to realize that my true passion has very little to do with business and a lot with being outside, pushing myself and exploring.  On many Fridays and Mondays you’d find me at the airport in shift dress and high heels, still feverishly typing on my laptop, trad rack and climbing shoes slung over my shoulder; I occasionally pulled up to the Red Rocks campground in business attire with a consultant carry-on spilling out of the car - you get the idea. In 2015 I came to the realization that the main reason for why I needed a big paycheck was that I lived in a big apartment in a big city that I didn’t appreciate, and spent lots of money on plane tickets and rental cars to get into the mountains for rushed getaways: once I was out there, I wasn’t spending very much.  I also knew that I would be in a position to pay off my remaining student loans by December 2015, and with that my path was as clear as a yellow brick road - or rather a red dirt trail: save up as much as I could, dare to quit the promising job, downsize, get rid of the expensive apartment, buy a dirtbag mobile, and instead of spending lots of money on plane tickets to quickly get to the places that I cherish… just never leave them. 

That’s where I am today, it’s who I am.  The big question is what’s up next and for now, the answer is simple: the open road, until it stops being fun or my money runs out.  Judging by my first couple months of vanlife I have a feeling that it’ll be the latter!