Wednesday, November 24, 2010

JFK 50 Mile 2010: Simply Getting It Done!

Sometimes you just have to finish what you've started.  Whether it be stubbornness, stupidity or just plain silliness I toed the line for the seventeenth time at this year's JFK 50 Mile.  Needless to say I had some issues, some really inhibiting issues.  I, however, decided to continue forward and promised myself to enjoy the day as it played out.

After all, there were several things that kept me motivated.  I was here with two good friends from Flagstaff, Brian Tinder and Eric Bohn, who I convinced many months ago that this was the race of a lifetime.  I was on my ultrarunning hero's, Eric Clifton, team once again.  The weather was awesome; a perfect day for a stroll in the Maryland woods.  And, of course, this was JFK!

In short, Team Langoliers Returns showed and did quite well.  Eric Bohn lead the way for the Team finishing his first 50 mile in 6:40:56.  Clifton finished second in the 50 and over age category in 7:16:51.  Tinder finished his first east coast ultra in 7:19:32.  I finished my 16th JFK in 8:07:31.  Full race results can be found here.

I'd like to thank Noni Nierenberg for the excellent photo show you are about to witness.

A little blurry, but you get can get a sense of the enormity of this race.  Largest and oldest ultra in North America.

Eric Clifton waltzes into Gathland Gap Aid Station (mile 9).

David James and Matt McDonald roll out of Gathland.

 Eric Bohn works his magic as he rolls along the C&O Canal.

 Clifton enjoys his chocolate milk at the Antietam Aqueduct (mile 27).
 Typical towpath scenery.  Pretty sweet if you ask me.

Brian Tinder leaves Taylor's Landing (or 38 Special, mile 38).

Tinder watches for cows (and cars) along the road to Downsville.

Clifton gets some help from Noni at the Downsville Aid Station (mile 46).

Tinder heads in to re-fuel at the Mile 44 Aid Station.

Another glimpse of Brian on the last eight miles of road.

Clifton finishes his 19th JFK! 

Tinder is attended to after crossing the finish line.

 Tinder, Bohn and Clifton at the finish.

Ultra Heros:  (l to r) Dink Taylor, Dewayne Satterfield, David Horton, Eric Clifton and now David Riddle 

Glad to be done and among friends!

Does it matter if you've aged in the sport ultrarunning?  Eric Clifton and Jack Pilla dispel the myth.

 Team Langoliers Return:  In front (l to r):  Brian Tinder & Eric Bohn.  In the rear:  Eric Clifton and Ian Torrence

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Flagstaff Fall

 Fall in Flagstaff:  The first layer of snow.

November 3rd :  I park in a small dirt lot along Route 180 at the turn off for Forest Service Road 151.  The locals better know the road as the Hart Prairie Road.  I ascend into the forest for four miles and as I near the top of the climb the trees give way to an impressive expanse of open country.  With the ponderosa pines now behind, the Peaks come into view.  Ribbons of white snow plunge from the mountains and are split with ribbons of golden aspens all while backlit by the deep blue Arizona sky.  Further on Fern Mountain casts a long shadow across a meadow of grasses and alders.  Its 70 degrees, my shirt’s off and the ever so slightest breeze quickly reminds me of what the high mountain nights are truly like this time of year once the sun falls below the horizon.  It is during the act doing something so simple, like running through the woods, that I often realize things.  I’m truly lucky to have these forests and network of seldom trodden roads to escape within.

 The Ladies of Team USA Arizona on Woody Mountain Road.

 The View from Behind on Woody Mountain Road.

I’m not alone, however.  There is a sizeable collection of runners in Flagstaff who take advantage of this area’s unique wealth of resources.  One such group is Team USA Arizona:  a group of eighteen dedicated elite athletes with talents that range from the mile to the marathon.

 A1 Mountain Road

 Fluids are ready!

Among other things, I’ve been assisting with Team USA Arizona’s long runs.  Their outings last somewhere between 90 minutes to 22 miles.  Routes with names like 222, A1, and Woody Mountain have all become synonymous with the Team’s Saturday long run.  Each route, like my Hart Prairie run, has it’s own particular set of climbs, descents, meadows and mountain views.  Zoroaster and I chase the team members along these often forgotten dirt roads with water, nutrition and encouragement.  The group usually splits due to different distances and speeds leaving me the challenging task of chasing them all down at the appropriate intervals.  I have found it an excellent way to spend Saturday mornings.  I ride along entertaining myself with my breakfast, camera and tunes.  Then it’s my turn.  When they’re done I’ll retrace the Team’s route, usually not as far and definitely not as quickly, but I’ll still chase their footsteps in the dirt until I’ve had enough.

 A1 Mountain Road

It is within these dimensions that things stay interesting and exciting.  Some folks like music, movies or a special quote to get them focused and psyched for a run.  I’ve got the real-life thing going on every Saturday morning.  It is truly impossible to not go for a run after you’ve trailed a group like this in a place like this.

 The Men of Team USA Arizona on FS Road 222.

Your Moment of Zen
A Room with a View.