Posts Tagged: Trails and Tarmac

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.

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

“For a lot of collegiate athletes, the end of the eligibility clock represents an unspeakable evil, the sudden snatching away of the thing that for four to five years has provided their life shape, meaning, and a tight group of friends. For me, although I’d cut off one of my toes for another cross season, it feels more like opportunity. In school and work, I have more control of my schedule. In life in general, I have more time. And athletically, I can train however and as much as I want.” – Eric Ghelfi

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Trails and Tarmac runners, Cole Watson and Eric Ghelfi, post Rock and Roll Phoenix.

“For the last 10 years I feel like I’ve been falling short of goals, goals I’ve set for myself and lofty goals other people have set for me.  Today it was… Yeah, it was awesome. In my first race over 8 miles I was happy to be able to PR at 8k and 10k its hard to get one PR.  Its awesome to get PR’s at every distance en route to a half marathon.” -Cole Watson

TNF 50 Mile 2015

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As the sun rose to the East and the Pacific broke to the West, I was caught in between running up the ridge dividing these two worlds.

Every year for the last four I have raced The North Face 50 mile in the Marin Headlands, CA. It has become an ultrarunning proving ground for me, and a lot of other guys and gals. The course is somewhat smooth, but consistently hilly making the race tough enough to be considered a solid trail race, at least by American standards. The trend of younger runners trying their hand at the 50 mile distance at TNF was more true in 2015 than ever. It’s the norm for 21-24 year olds to be out in force.

The Trails and Tarmac Story

Trails and Tarmac was an idea born five years ago during our time at Southern Oregon University. As captains of the cross country team our job was to get the best out of ourselves, and our teammates. Our ability to do this culminated with a national cross country title in 2010. Between all the running we actually spent some time in the classroom. For our senior capstone projects we wrote business plans that mirrored our role as runners and leaders. We hoped to one day have the resources and experience to execute those plans. Today we do, and that business is Trails and Tarmac.

After graduating college and escaping the endless cycle of 5k’s and 10k’s every weekend we were let loose. The freedom to run and race whenever, wherever, and as far as we wanted was too much to resist.

Laney:

I immediately packed my car and headed to Michigan to join the Hansons Brooks Olympic Development Project in hopes of nailing a fall marathon. Ryan headed into the alpine, running trails, guiding climbers on Mount Shasta, and winning his first 50 miler. Hearing all about the mountains being explored out west I had to get home. A few weeks after returning to Ashland, Ghelfi with his unbridled enthusiasm talked me into running the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon. The race hosted by Rogue Valley Runners, the  shop where we were both working. That November morning we lined up for our first trail race together.

Ghelfi:

I spent the winter of 2013 backcountry ski guiding in Eastern Oregon, still running, on icy roads after long days in the mountains. I came back to Ashland and that summer flew to the US Mountain Running Championships in New Hampshire with David. There we realized that 12k was pretty short and we both immediately signed up for 100k trail races. David won and set the course record at the Waldo 100k. I spent a month living out of my car, training at altitude in Colorado. It paid off with a 5th place finish at the Sky Running World Final.

With consistent performances under our belts both David and I were signed to the new Nike Trail Team in the winter of 2014. That spring we went a bit overboard. David got 2nd and I got 4th at the Chuckanut 50k. One month later I was 6th at the Lake Sonoma 50 miler one minute behind David in 5th. One more month and we flew, boated, bused and hitched our way to Transvulcania in the Canary Islands of Spain. Excessive racing had taken its toll and we both blew up. But we’d gotten our first taste of big stage European mountain competition. It was a different world.

David ran his first Western States 100 mile that summer, fizzling to 20th place. I was there to crew and pace. It was a learning experience for us both. At the end of that summer I finished my first 100 miler at Run Rabbit Run with lots of highs and lows, 4th place at the end.

Fall is a glorious time in Ashland. David made good use of it in 2014 training for the California International Marathon. There he punched his Olympic Trials Qualifier in 2:17:02! I was on hand to see a lifes’ dream accomplished.

Laney:

Our overzealous attitudes in previous years taught us some great lessons.  While we both raced a good amount in 2015 we prioritized our year and made the Ultra Trail Du Mount Blanc a central focus. After placing 8th at Western States I prepared by living in my car and finding the biggest mountains on the West coast to mimic the UTMB course. Ryan prepared by guiding on Mount Shasta, guiding trail running trips, and training harder and smarter than ever. After two weeks of great preparation in Chamonix we were both ready for battle. At mile 76 Ghelfi was forced out of the race with a knee injury. I went on to place 3rd. The roles could have easily been reversed.

Since college we each spent time working with other runners. I coached cross country at Southern Oregon University and Newport high school. Ryan taught a trail running class for the outdoor adventure leadership department at Southern Oregon University and coached many runners looking to run their first ultra or trail race. We both worked at Rogue Valley Runners and had the opportunity to help runners with more than just footwear.

We are starting this business because we love what we do and we want to share our excitement. Our excitement is not only about times, places, and adventures but about helping you get the best out of yourself now and in the long run.