Thursday, May 29, 2008

Western States Training Camp

Once again, Pat Perry and I journeyed to California to run in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during Memorial Day weekend at Western States Training Camp. Rick Cook from Texas spent a lot of time with us, too. We had lots of fun, even though it was drizzly for much of our trip.

Here's a video that Pat took. (It takes a while to load). We had 40+ miles on our legs at this point. I was leading, pushing the pace, and feeling good. Rick (in white) was in the middle, and Pat was videoing from the back. I'm surprised Pat didn't fall hard on his face.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free State Trail Run

Free State Trail Run
100-Kilometer, 40-Mile, & Trail Marathon
Clinton State Park, Lawrence, Kansas
April 26, 2008
Bad Ben, Race Director

It was a beautiful April morning and the weather was perfect for a nice long run. A nice long run on single-track trail would be a bonus. Add some really decent aid stations staffed by experienced ultrarunners and their families, and some beautiful finisher's hardware and technical tee-shirts, and you have an event!
Kyle Amos, after finishing 100 Kilometers
Photo by Sophia Spencer

As some of you may know, events don't just happen. They take a lot of work by a lot of volunteers. So...the day prior to the beautiful race day morning, I was at packet pickup all day long in Lawrence, followed by a blast to Kansas City to the storage unit with the U-Haul truck and then a massive loading of the truck by myself. By the time I got back out to Lawrence to the race starting area, it was after 11 p.m. I decided to sleep in the cab of the truck. I got a full 3 hours of "quality sleep," followed by some drifting in and out of consciousness. (I've never been able to sleep well the night before race-directing an ultra event).
The "Red" Trail
Photo by Sophia Spencer

I was fully awake by 4;30 a.m., so I decided to unload the truck, set up the three pop-ups and the registration area. My volunteers started showing up after 6 a.m., so I let them handle packet pickup and late registration. I had a couple of races to start, damnit!
Spring2008 127
Spring2008 130
Volunteers Extraordinaire!

Many aspiring ultrarunners enjoy Free State's offerings of 'tweener ultra distances of 40 miles and 100 kilometers, and it shows. This 2nd-annual version of this race had a substantial increase in attendance, and not just the 87 starters in the non-ultra (marathon) distance. There were 48 starters in the 40-mile, and 34 starters in the 100K. This is a "Kansas City Trail Nerd" event, but we always have some fine help at the "Farside" aid station, staffed by Stacy Sheridan and a few spunky and ultra-enlightened Kansas Ultrarunners' Society members. The "middle of nowhere" Lands End aid station always gets double duty, and was once again staffed by Stacey Amos, Caleb Chatfield, and other spectacular help.
Rich Stigall and Caleb Chatfield at Lands End Aid Station
Photo by Gary Henry

Stacy Amos at Lands End Aid Station
Photo by Gary Henry

The Driftwood Tunnel
Photo by Gary Henry

Ya Gotta be Tough! Sophia and Debbie with another marathoner.

The race started without much fanfare at 7 a.m. sharp. The two-loop 40 mile and three-loop 100K offers a few interesting spectator spots, even though the course is 100% singletrack, and fully wooded. The course had been exquisitely marked by Greg Burger, who elevates course-marking to a fine art. Leading up to the race, we had had over 2 inches of rain earlier in the week, so we knew there would be a few sloppy sections to add to the rocky and root-bound "North Shore Norm."
Muddy Section
Photo by Sophia Spencer

Clark McLemore of Springfield, Missouri didn't seem to notice the mud. He ran an all-out assault on the trail, and blazed to a new 100K course record with a time of 9:23:18. Kyle Amos, last year's 100K winner and Dan Dehlin, last year's marathon winner, finished together and took 2nd place honors. It was Dan Dehlin's first ultra, and he learned a lot from Kyle, our Trail Nerd ultra veteran. Timothy Barnes had a nice sub-10-hour third-place finish. Tammy Stone, last year's 100K female winner (and last year's Leadville 100 female winner), came back to take 1st place again in the 100K. Her sister, (Cindy Stonesmith) took some convincing by the race director (me) to go out for her final 21-mile loop, but she was glad she had; she earned a 2nd place finish.
Kyle Amos & Dan Dehlin are finished.

The 40-mile distance had a very close race going on. Michael Adams of Manhattan Kansas smashed his old course record by 21 minutes and finished in 5:33:45. He had Gregg Buehler nipping at his heels. Gregg finished just 3 seconds behind! David Wakefield slid into third, followed by John Richardson. Lisa Trainor of Maple Grove, Minnesota blew-away the old 40-mile female record by well over 2 hours, with a time of 6:03:02! Just fifteen minutes behind her, Roxanne Zobava took 2nd. Local Trail Nerd, Emily "Mud Doc" Horn finished third, still ahead of last year's heat-zapped winning time.

Everybody had fun in the party-like environment. Trail Nerds like to have fun, and we really enjoy helping others to have fun at our events. Even though there were many successes, there were a few runners that had a not-so-spectacular-day on the course. For the last five 100K competitors, this was the case, indeed. Two of these were eager 100K first-timers. I had to pull them off of the course slightly before 1 a.m, in a driving (and cold) rainstorm. They had mixed feelings about it; they were happy to see me, but were upset they didn't finish the 100K. Next time's a charm, ladies!

Gary Henry adds: "Boy, you think you know a trail. You lavish hundreds, maybe thousands of running hours on it, in all seasons and weathers, flowery to desolate, muddy to snowy, dry to muddy, muddy to muddy. You pick up the trash. You clean it after races. You photograph it. You brag to all your friends how beautiful the trail is. And then, in the big race, in front of the people you most want to impress – ultrarunners from across the nation – your lovely little trail beats the snot out of you."

Andy Weinberg with daughter Gracie...marathon finishers!

Cynical Mud Babe (Coleen), on her way to her first marathon finish!

Kyle (with Dan behind)
Photo by Sophia

Sophia gives the trail a hug (unexpectedly)

The Kearney Klan in a huddle.

Conga Line of Runners
Photo by Gary Henry

Jim Davis Finishes.

More Photos by Gary Henry


Race Results

Monday, May 19, 2008

Three Weeks, Three Events

I've had a busy 3 weeks. I race-directed a major trail race, I ran in the Corporate Challenge 5K, and then did the Berryman Trail Marathon. I'll crank-out some reports in due time.
This weekend, I'm off to Western States Training Camp, for three days of running in the mountains...woo hoo!
Happy trails,

Bad Ben

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fun on America's Highways

I've been driving for many years. Each area of the country has it's own driving style, but there are "trends" and generalities regarding driving styles that are nationwide.

We've all seen the teen and twenty-something drivers' tendency to have the seatback angled so far back, that the B-pillar obscures the driver's side vision, (and they can barely see over the dash). I call this "Hip Hop Driving" posture. It's a driving style that crosses all races and cultures at this point in time, but seems to be a "youth" driving style, only. (Luckily, it's now starting to fade as a fad).

Then you have a whole genre of driver that uses cellphones in traffic, and becomes a completely distracted asshole driver, without even realizing it. There are "leaners" that hold the phone to their ear, and lean their head in the direction of the phone, and actually spill into the lane next to them (that they are leaning toward). Then there are the Bluetooth users, who think they are "driving safely," but are so distracted by their conversation, that they are driving 15 MPH slower than the traffic around them. And then there are the worst of the bunch...people texting while driving. This started as a 16 to 26 year-old driver phenomenon, but I now see it being used across most generations. "Aren't I cool; I'm a 40 year old Soccer Mom, and I'm texting back to my daughter while driving on I-35, during rush hour."

Sometimes there are very apparent signs that you should avoid a driver. You can spot the clueless or uncourteous driver from afar, very much like seeing a porcupine with it's quills out in the wild. Of course, I'm talking about the "too many magnetic ribbons driver," and "too many bumper stickers driver."
You know, one magnetic ribbon to show that you support the troops (or are patriot) is totally cool, but when you have an entire platoon of the damn things stuck to the back of your car; usually means you are trying to over-compensate for something, or your are trying to shove your particular message down the public's throat. (The same holds true for having too many bumper stickers).

In fact, I think that the number of ribbons or bumper stickers is directly proportional to how big of an asshole driver you probably are. Too generalize further, (at least with the mag-ribbon phenomenon), these things are usually stuck to the backs of full-sized Buicks, Ford Taurus', Mini-vans, and American-brand SUVs and Pickup trucks. So, if you see a tope-colored Taurus in front of you with 6 mag-ribbons on the trunk, beware: he or she is about to change lanes (with no notice) and slow down or stop in front of you, for no particular reason.
I'm not a psychologist, so I'm not even going to hazard to guess why there appears to be a relationship with the multi-ribbon and sticker set and their anti-social driving habits, but I'd love to see a study done.
Peace-out, and drive carefully, please!