Thursday, December 31, 2009


...or most folks call it Flagstaff.  Located in northern Arizona and, contrary to popular belief, it snows here...a lot!!!

I arrived in Flagstaff yesterday evening in blizzard conditions, but today the sky is crystal blue and the temperatures are warmer.

Temporary housing:  McMillan Elite's "Mountain House." I became very intimate with that U-Haul parked there.

Typical training grounds for now,  or until the sun melts the trails out in several months.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Last Trail Run...

The setting for the Last Trail Run:  Ashland, Oregon's Watershed

Move as much as I have and you'd of seen a lot of country.  Run as much as I've run and you'd of seen a lot of that same country up close and personal.  So personal, in fact, that you would have become just as much attached to it as I've become. 

You have your favorite running routes.  You know every twist, turn, rock, root, tree and mailbox.  But what if you knew this would be the last time you might run this route of yours again?  The run would take on another meaning entirely.  It'd be like saying good-bye to an old friend, one that's always been there without question...just waiting for you.

When you run by that big tree at the top of the hill, have you ever touched it?  Ever made that connection?  Would you miss that tree?  How about the view?  Will you miss that view, the one of the mountain across the valley or of the city far below?  That hill you climb on this run has always been an obstacle, perhaps something to curse, dread, or simply something to power over.  Today, on this final run, you succumb without complaint and let the legs fill with the burn of effort.  In essence you let your old friend have its way...

  Descending the BTI Trail

Today was one of those days for me.   From my house on Iowa Street the ascent starts immediately, as I weave my way through Ashland's back streets.  Up the paved, steep and snaking Toleman Creek Road, past the driveway of Jenn, Erik and Leland's house on the hill.  At five and a half miles I finally reach the dirt and single-track.  The Toothpick Trail ascends to the steeper Cat Walk Trail and the crux occurs when I reach the final push up Stump Jumper.  At eight miles I've reached the highest point (roughly 4,500') on my run; the infamous Four Corners (aid station location for the Mt Ashland Hill Climb and Lithia Loop Trail Marathon.)  After my pulse quiets I start moving again.

Upper White Rabbit Trail Head

Much quicker is the decent moving back down Cat Walk, returning to Toothpick, hanging a left and traversing to Lamb's Gap at ten miles.  The views of Ashland and distant Mt. McLaughlin are easier to see now that my head isn't turned down to the ground.  The descent continues across the switchbacks on the Caterpillar Trail, through the Upper White Rabbit Trail Head parking area and onto Alice In Wonderland.  The final mile of single track on the BTI Trail steepens, twits and turns.  Mile thirteen arrives as I reach the dirt road above Lithia Park.  Two and half miles of dirt road and alley way return me to home...

Snow covered Mt. McLaughlin

Hopefully that's not it and I'll return to test myself on my favorite loop in Ashland's Watershed once again.  But for now, the memory is ingrained and it'll stay with me forever.

As I leave you with some of my other "last trail runs," I'll say this:  None of them have ever been final (that'd be a sad day), in fact, for most, I've returned to visit them in subsequent years only to re-live that one time I thought would be my last.

 2007- Before moving from to Flagstaff, AZ to Ashland, OR:  Mars Hill and A-1 Mountain Loop

 2006 - Before moving from Boulder City, NV to Flagstaff, AZ:   Bootleg Canyon

 2004- Before moving from Moab, UT back to Boulder City, NV:  Amasa Back Trail

 2001- Before moving from Seattle, WA to Moab, UT:  Discovery Park

2000 - Before moving from Boulder City, NV to Seattle, WA:  Red Rock Canyon

Monday, December 14, 2009


Our lives are marked by change: continually adapting, altering, and refocusing. I have come to a crossroads, a point where my life is undergoing dramatic change.

I am not a stranger to change. I’ve jumped from career to career. I’ve seen the wilds of Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wyoming with the National Park Service, discovered the big city lights of Seattle with Montrail, and ogled the natural wonders of the Colorado Plateau with a non-profit in Arizona; new skills, new people and new places. Most recently I discovered the diverse natural wonders that surround southern Oregon’s small town of Ashland, but more importantly, while there, became immersed in a network of friends, very good friends. That is why my next step is probably one of the most difficult of my life.

The small town of Ashland, Oregon.

I am taking much with me from my two and a half years at Rogue Valley Runners:  the ambiguities of managing a busy retail shop and its employees, co-race directing four different, successful events, including a national championship and learning the ins and outs of the running retail world.  It was impressively amazing to see the store grow both as a business and in popularity.  I was continually stupefied by the prowess and energy of its employees and continual stream of notable visitors the store attracted.  It served as a gathering place for the inspiring as well as the inspired.  I was glad to be a part of it all.

I must now turn my attention to a man who deserves my thanks and gratitude.  Mr. Hal Koerner, Rogue Valley Runners’ owner and visionary.  In June 2007, after I had a rather dreadful display at Western States, I called upon my best friend Hal.  I needed change and he offered me that opportunity.  He trusted me enough to come to Ashland, with no prior retail experience, to help manage his store.  The rest is history and, in short, Hal enabled me to rekindle my own love of running and express it in a community that welcomed it.  I thank my friend for that chance.

 Snow covered Mt. Humphey's looms over downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.

I am returning to Flagstaff, Arizona.  I am returning to the American southwest, a place that, upon discovering it fifteen years ago, has grown to become a part of me.  The vast expanses in which to get lost, the rock formations and majestic mountains that riddle the landscape, the summer monsoons and its harsh diversity that make it unique in character pull me back again.  However, I return not only for this reason.

I have been offered a position I cannot refuse.  Another opportunity to grow, meet new people, learn new skills, foster those I already have and experiment with the thought that I can do more, both for myself and for a sport I am truly passionate about.

My voyage will land me in Flagstaff under the tutelage of Greg McMillan.  Greg is the founder and intelligence behind both McMillan Running and McMillan Elite; both of which are on the forefront of today’s modern running world.  McMillan Running is one of today’s most successful on-line training programs. Originally oriented toward and successful with runners training for distances between the half-mile and the marathon, I plan to help Greg expand by adding an ultra-component to the company.  This will come in various ways; coaching, race directing, presentations and writing to name a few.  I will also assist with the team called McMillan Elite.  McMillan Elite’s mission is to develop post-collegiate athletes capable of competing successfully at the national and international level in long distance running.

The prospects are exciting and the possibilities endless, and as with any life altering decision come that mixed bag of emotions:  apprehension, exhilaration, anxiety and optimism.  I’ve wrestled with them all:  both the dreams and the nightmares.  Then I remind myself, without any of this, it truly wouldn’t be change.