Posts Tagged: Trails and Tarmac

Wildfire and wildfire smoke seem to be the biggest reason races are cancelled in the Western US right now. Smoke used to roll through the small towns bordering wild lands, now smoke blankets major metropolitan areas for weeks cancelling events from 5k’s to ultramarathons. A cancelled race pales in comparison to the devastation experienced by people and land that suffer directly from these huge fires. It is still a big bummer to have apocalyptic conditions become the norm, and have something you worked hard and trained for, cancelled. This has been a reality for me every summer since 2013 when smoke over took the Rogue Valley for weeks. Events were cancelled and running moved indoors to the dreaded treadmill. This week the North Face Endurance Challenge events, for very good reason, were cancelled, leaving many runners wondering what to do. Zach Miller wisely advises runners on twitter to make lemonade out of lemons! I could not agree more, so lets dive a little deeper into what your options are, and how to make the best out of possible future cancellations.

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