Free Race Entry Giveaway for the Bruneau Beast Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K

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“I will argue until I die that this is the toughest marathon on the planet.” –Wayne Ebenroth, Race Director

Race Date: May 3, 2014

Race Location:

27608 Sand Dunes Road
Mountain Home, ID US 83647

Ever try running on sand dunes? It is both incredibly hard and crazy fun. This race was filmed last year for the television show Outdoor Idaho.

Choose your distance (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) for a sandy run!

More race info at: http://bruneaubeast.com/register/

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to conquer this challenge. If you share on social media or your blog, you get an extra entry for each share. Be sure to tell me where you shared!

The winner will be chosen at random on March 24, 2014 and contacted directly.

Good luck!

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My New Podcast Co-Hosting Gig

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A year ago when Caity of The Caity McCardell Show (also the sultry voice behind The Summit Seeker’s audiobook) suggested I get into podcasting, I told her it wasn’t really my thing. I had always been the tortured writer–surely nobody wanted to hear my whiny voice. However, these last few months I have been a heavy podcast consumer–listening to anything of quality and everything I could find about running–and I realized that I actually have a lot to add.

My perspective is representative of runners you don’t normally hear from on podcasts: female + trail + ultra + nomadic running bum + middle/back of pack + younger generation.

I don’t have the race wins or stats under my belt (yet?) but I think this only strengthens my viewpoint. I know and love the spirit of running and I’m passionate about the outdoors. I’m mesmerized by the history as well as the growth of trail and ultrarunning. As a newer generation, I want to adopt and preserve the sport as well as improve on it.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Coach Richard Diaz of the Natural Running Network was looking for a co-host. I sent him an email introducing myself and yada yada yada… I’m the new co-host for the Natural Running Network podcast. We are live every Friday!

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to jump on board this already-successful broadcast. It basically means I get to gab without all the technical logistics of podcasting or audience-building.

Here are my first three episodes:

Running Obsession with Charlie Engle and Dr. Michelle Cleere

Are you obsessed with running? What constitutes a running obsession? Is it healthy?

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How to Run 100 Miles… or More with Marshall Ulrich

What does it take to go long? How much time and training is required? Learn about hydration, nutrition, and mental endurance.

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How to Run Faster

How can proper running form improve your speed without any additional conditioning? Dissect the mechanics of running with a scientific approach.

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Follow the Natural Running Network on Blog Talk Radio.

Be sure to check out the archived episodes as well–some great stuff there for running nerds like me!

Remember, you can call in to each show with your live questions or comments.

LISTEN MORE! Other Podcasts I’ve Been On:

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Trail Runner Nation: Vanessa Runs – Everywhere

Tri Swim Coach: Interview with Vanessa Runs

Supercharge Your Life: Stanley Bronstein Interviews Vanessa Runs

Barefoot Bushcraft Radio: Featuring Vanessa Runs

The Partnerunning Show: Vanessa Runs

Run Barefoot Girl: Micah True and Volunteerism

The Labyrinth: Vanessa Rodriguez

Happy listening!

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Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

Spartan Race Entry Giveaway

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This giveaway is to celebrate the upcoming December 7th airing of the World Championship Spartan Race on NBC Sports.

In this 90-minute special, NBC follows eight professional athletes and four everyday Spartans at the Spartan Race World Championships in Killington, Vermont.

WIN A FREE SPARTAN RACE ENTRY

This race entry is valid for any open heat in any 2013-2104 Spartan Race in the Continental US. Check out the Spartan schedule for a race near you.

To win, simply leave a comment on this post answering the question:

“What personal or athletic advances have you made in the past 12 months?”

If you share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of social media, you get an additional entry. For example, if you share on Facebook AND Twitter, that’s two extra entries. (Leave a separate comment telling me where you shared.)

You can also use this URL to generate a 15% off code for any Spartan race: http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior

The winner will be chosen randomly on November 25th, 2013 and contacted directly.

Don’t forget to watch on December 7th and good luck!

SPARTAN RACE VIDEO

Direct YouTube link HERE

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Black Canyon Trail 100K Race Entry Giveaway

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Aravaipa Running is launching the inaugural Black Canyon 100K this winter, a trail point-to-point ultra from Spring Valley to New River, Arizona. They have generously offered up a free entry for a giveaway ($110 value).

The Coury brothers behind Aravaipa Running are well-known for organizing a series of exceptional races such as Across the Years and Javelina Jundred. Their events are must-dos for anyone who has not yet experienced some Coury magic (and for those who know it well!)

RACE STATS

Date: February 15, 2014
Terrain: Single track, non-motorized jeep trail, old stagecoach route
Start Location: Mayer High School, 17300 East Mule Deer Drive, Mayer, AZ
Finish Location: Emery Henderson Trailhead,  New River Road, 3.0 miles west of I-17

Perks:

  • Well-stocked aid stations every four to eight miles
  • Post-race food (soup, fresh fruit) & socializing

More Info
UltraSignUp Registration Link
Facebook Event Page

TO ENTER

Simply leave a comment below answering the following question:

“What mental trick(s) do you use to dig deep

when you are struggling on a run?”

For additional entries, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or anywhere else online. Each additional share = one extra entry. For example, if you comment below as well as share on Facebook and Twitter, that’s 3 entries. Remember to mention where you shared in the comments below.

The winner will be chosen at random on September 30th and contacted directly.

Good luck!
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Spartan Race Entry Giveaway

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Spartan Race has partnered with NBC Sports to bring obstacle racing to television, and to celebrate we are offering a free race entry valid for any open heat in any 2013-2104 Spartan Race in the Continental US.

NBC will be filming eight professional athletes and four everyday Spartans at the Spartan Race World Championships in Killington, Vermont next month on September 21st for a 90-minute TV special. Registration for this race is still open.

Spartan has also launched a Get On TV campaign in which you can submit a story about how training and racing in a Spartan Race has transformed your life for a chance to be featured on this special.

Click here for more info.

WIN A FREE ENTRY

This entry is valid for ANY open Spartan race in the Continental USA. Check out the Spartan schedule for a race near you.

To win, simply leave a comment on this post answering the question: “What is one obstacle in your life that you are proud to have overcome?”

If you share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of social media, you get an additional entry. For example, if you share on Facebook AND Twitter, that’s two extra entries. (Leave a separate comment telling me where you shared.)

You can also use this URL to generate a 15% off code for any Spartan race.

The winner will be chosen randomly on August 18, 2013 and contacted directly.

Good luck!

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Silverton 1000 Race Entry Giveaway

Silverton-1000-Website-HeaderI am honored and excited to offer one free entry to the Silverton 1000 in Colorado at the end of August.

The winner will receive a free entry to the race option of their choice. Choose from: 24 Hours, 48 Hours, 72 Hours, or 6-Day Challenge. Value = $145 to $400.

This race takes place at Kendall Mountain Lodge in Silverton, Colorado where race director Mark Hellenthal is doing an amazing job at drumming up excitement for things to come.

Some perks include:

  • Quality shirts & beanies
  • Free Hokas to the winners
  • Trail Runner magazine subscriptions up for raffle
  • Mind-blowing 400- and 500-mile belt buckles for the truly insane!
  • … and don’t forget the automatic entry to the 1000 Mile Challenge for all 6-day runners (you’ll have 18 days to cover 1000 miles)!

Learn more on the UltraSignUp Registration page HERE.

Visit the race website HERE.

Visit the race Facebook page HERE.

TO ENTER

Simply leave a comment below answering the following question:

“What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a race?” 

For additional entries, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or anywhere else online. Each additional share = one extra entry. For example, if you comment below as well as share on Facebook and Twitter, that’s 3 entries. Remember to mention where you shared in the comments below.

The winner will be chosen at random on July 19th and contacted directly.

Happy Trails!

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Unfair Advantages in Trail Racing and Don’t Be a Douche

In elementary school, I had a teacher who gave the same response to every child who opened their mouth to complain. “Life’s not fair,” she would chirp with a grin, thrilled to be the first to inform us of this great life truth. The offending child would roll his eyes, and know his argument would fall on deaf ears. I can still hear that teacher’s voice in my head whenever I encounter complaints.

I heard her voice again when I read this month’s Trail Runner Symposium topic:

What constitutes an “unfair advantage” in a trail race, and what—if anything—should be done to even the playing field?

It’s not a topic I had previously considered, and frankly I was surprised at its origin. Associate Editor Yitka Winn wrote that the topic was “inspired by a recent letter to the editor we received complaining about the ‘unfair advantage’ of using a pacer in ultras.”

Huh?? Someone got their panties in a knot about pacers?

But when I started looking, I realized that “unfair advantages” were everywhere. Let’s explore this, shall we?

First, it’s important to consider that while there are advantages, not all advantages are unfair. For example, if one runner takes caffeine and another runner does not, the caffeinated runner may have an advantage. However, it’s not fair because: a) It is not against the race rules b) anyone can do it.

Here is a simple flow chart to determine whether or not an advantage is unfair:

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Now here is where it gets tricky. Once you’ve determined that you have an unfair advantage on your hands, that does not necessarily mean that you have a good case.

Here is a simple flow chart to determine whether or not you should take your unfair advantage argument to the authorities.

ToProtestOrNot(*meaningful)

Sidenote: You may want to consider that the closer you are to the back-of-the-pack, the douchier you sound when complaining about unfair advantages.

Here is a graph for reference:

UnfairAdvantageGraphSidenote 2: There are some cases where a runner will complain about the “unfair advantages” given to runners with disabilities. These may include things like hiking poles, pacers, guide dogs, or “bouncy” prosthetics. (Yes, this really happens.) If you complain about these perceived unfair “advantages,” you risk a higher likelihood of being placed in the special category of “Extreme Asshat.” Sightings are rare, but not as rare as you’d like.

The bottom line is that there will always be someone who has an advantage over you in a trail race, and if you’re the type of person who spends time trying to figure out which details are unfair, I fear you may be in for some needless mental agony and resentment.

The solution for me has been to compete with a past version of myself. I hope to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow I will push myself even further. That’s fair enough.

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This post is part of the TrailRunner Blog Symposium.

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Spartan Race Entry Giveaway

I first got excited about obstacle racing when I finished my first Spartan race, then again when I helped edit Margaret Schlachter’s soon-to-be-released book about obstacle racing.

Although I enjoy the diversity of obstacle racing, the target audience always intimidated me—big, burly guys with shaved heads who wanted to crush me. I didn’t want to crush anyone. I mostly just wanted to run a lot.

To my relief, I discovered at my first Spartan race that this was very much a trail runner’s world. I ran circles around the bigger guys, slipped under and over the obstacles, and finished strong despite my lack of veiny muscles. My confidence was restored.

Now the 2013-2014 Spartan season is kicking off all over the country, and I’m honored to offer one free race entry to a lucky reader.

This entry will get you into ANY open Spartan race in the Continental USA. There are events of varying distances all over the country. Check out the Spartan schedule HERE.

You can also use this URL to generate a 15% off code for any Spartan race.

If you’ve never tried an obstacle race before, I’d strongly recommend entering.

HOW TO ENTER

To win the free entry, simply leave a comment on this post answering the question: “What makes you a warrior?”

If you share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of social media, you get an additional entry for each time you share. For example, if you share on Facebook AND Twitter, that’s two extra entries. (Leave a separate comment telling me where you shared.)

The winner will be chosen randomly on May 31, 2013.

Good luck!

SPARTAN RACE VIDEO

Direct YouTube Link HERE

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Zion 100 Race Report: Miserable is Memorable

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Badwater’s youngest finisher and recent Barkley camp Nickademus Hollon once said: “Miserable is memorable.”

His quote became a mantra for Shacky and me as we neared mile 50 on the Zion 100 course last Friday, but it wasn’t until a couple of days later that I realized just how memorable this race had actually been, how much I had learned, and what a rich experience I had come to know at Zion.

Shacky and I didn’t finish the race. We both dropped at mile 52, though I accused him of having sympathy pains. He argued that he had complained about his knee long before I had, so maybe mine were the sympathy pains?

Either way, I came into the mile 52 aid station limping and leaning on a stick for support. I had tweaked my knee on some slick rock back at mile 30, and the pain kept getting worse until it seemed unbearable at mile 50.

Judging from my recovery after the race, I have no doubt that I would have seriously injured my knee had I chosen to continue. The limping was causing my good knee to slowly give out as I overcompensated.

For the first time in my life, I learned what “bad” pain felt like—the kind of injury that it would take weeks or months to recover from. I wasn’t willing to put in that kind of recovery time. We were headed to Sequoia National Park, Yellowstone, and the Redwoods after Zion. I had to be healthy enough to run among those trees.

The pain I felt in my knee after mile 30 confused me. The course led us down a very runnable, downhill dirt road. I kept trying to break into a run, only to be forced to walk after about five steps due to pain. When I walked, I felt no pain. Finally, I resorted to a speed walk and figured I would just power hike the rest of the way.

At around mile 40, even the hiking started to hurt, and the downhills started to kill. The pain only stopped when I stopped moving.

I wondered if I was just being a wuss, and decided to try an all-out sprinting pace to see what that did. I felt a sharp pain shot up through my knee that made my leg buckle under me. I hopped on my good leg to avoid falling.

People who passed me changed their comments from “Great job!” to “Way to tough it out…”

And at the bottom of Grafton Mesa, the third climb of the race, I sat down on a rock and cried. Why did it hurt this bad? I had never hurt this bad before.

Determined to get to my pacer who was waiting at mile 52, I told myself to pull it together and started climbing Grafton Mesa. On fresh legs, this climb is mostly runnable. Instead, I was inching my way along, limping and grabbing on to rocks to keep the weight off my bad leg. It was pretty miserable, and Shacky gently suggested that I consider dropping at the next aid station—a thought that had already occurred to me.

The idea of dropping felt strange. Other than my knee, I felt fabulous. My other leg felt strong, my nutrition was perfect, and mentally I was ready for many more hours on the trail. I was also, despite the pain, genuinely enjoying the day. The weather was perfect, the course was fabulous, and the race was so well marked.

Inching my way to the aid station, I wondered how dropping would make me feel. I tried to push myself to continue by appealing to my ego. I tried to tell myself that everyone was watching and that I would fail myself and fail my pacers… but I just couldn’t believe that.

I felt—whether I finished or not—like an awesome runner. I had run 100s before, and I would run many more after this. Deep down, I felt strong even though I was limping.

I thought of the Boston batons that the race director had sent out on the course. There was a gold and a blue baton being passed on from runner to runner throughout the course. The batons had the names of the Boston victims, those who would never run again, and would be sent to the families of the victims after they had been carried through the Zion 100.

I tried to motivate myself by thinking about how the Boston victims couldn’t run, so I should run for them. But instead it occurred to me that the greater honor would be to make a decision that would allow me to run again in a couple of days—and for the rest of my life—instead of pushing myself into an injury that would take months to recover from, and then re-occur at every race in the future. How would hurting myself honor anyone?

I thought about how funny perspective is. If this had been a 50 miler, I would be finishing victoriously. But because it’s a 100 miler, I would end the day in failure. And yet the distance is the same. I just ran 50 miles. 50 MILES! Should I really be ashamed?

I felt a distinct shift in my perception of the race. In previous races, I would think of it as: ME vs the TRAIL. But in Zion, the trails feel like my home. We had been here for three weeks, running all these same trails and doing all these same climbs. I knew I could summit and I knew the course would still be there tomorrow. The views were spectacular but familiar, and I just couldn’t see this event as a do-or-die.

When you wake up in the morning, do you race to see how fast you can make coffee? How long you can take to prepare dinner? Of course not—because those are your daily activities. They are your routine. That’s what the trails have become for me. They are my routine and my home. They are there when I fall asleep and there when I wake up. If I can’t run 100 miles today, maybe I can run 50 miles today. Maybe I can run 100 miles tomorrow.

Somewhere along the line, I have managed to detach my ego from my running, looking instead to the journey ahead and knowing that there are so many more trails to run, and an endless amount of miles to cover. I want to run today so I can run tomorrow.

I knew that by dropping at mile 52, I could rest for a couple of days and be back on my feet by the time we got to the next National Park. The other option was to push hard for this buckle, and be out of running for weeks. In my mind, I could imagine the towering trees of the West coast and I pictured them waiting for me. I could smell the moist dirt under my feet, and the soft leaves at my fingertips. It was a no-brainer. I must stay healthy so I could run more—not today, but tomorrow.

The next morning, we drove to the mile 83 aid station, also the home of George and Melissa Walsh. Their aid station theme was “Whiskey Town” complete with limitless drinks and jello shots. Shacky had whiskey for breakfast, and we shared some San Diego IPA.

The Walshes ran such a memorable aid station that the front runners were finishing the course, then driving back to Whiskey Town to party for the rest of the night. Amazingly, they only had one drop there.

Well into the next day, the festivities continued. Matt Gunn had organized a big screen showing of the Western States movie Unbreakable at the local movie theater, followed by a live Q&A with UltrAspire’s elite athletes. After that, it was free burgers and drinks at a local restaurant, and just in case you weren’t exhausted enough, there was also free river rafting.

The running community and volunteers were so warm and inviting that we ended up spending the next day at Tracy and Robin’s house. We talked about aquaponics, checked out their Air Stream trailer converted into a garden, saw some solar LED lights they had made out of Pabst beer cans, and played with their dog and cats.

Memorable is an understatement for what RD Matt Gunn put together this year at the Zion 100. I have no doubt the entries next year will soar. The course is brutally challenging yet still mostly runnable. There was a low-key, small town feel, the marking was flawless, the weather was perfect, and every single finisher’s buckle was handmade.

As we continue to travel the country, I will look back fondly on these memories and do my best to stay healthy enough to run another day in Zion.

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Why I Run 100 Milers

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It has been two months since I released my first book, and although I have an entire chapter in there about how silly the “Why do we run?” questions is, it ironically has become the most common question I’ve been asked since then in interviews and podcasts. And so I have been forced to formulate a rough answer.

That, combined with the fact that I am now five days away from running my fifth 100-mile race (the Zion 100 in Springdale, Utah), I find myself in an introspective mood, and very much wishing to answer that question for myself.

Why run 100 miles?

There has been some debate going on in the blogosphere as to the value of racing. Why not just enjoy trail “training” runs, without the pressure of a goal race? Why bother with the entry fee, the crowds, the packet pickup? And I can certainly see some validity to those arguments.

I think of my friends like Jason Robillard or Ashley Walsh, who have questioned the sanity of running 100-mile races and have more or less given them up (for now). On a rational level, their arguments make sense. Yet the 100-mile distance still calls to me, whispering my name through sandy canyon walls and from the top of rocky summits.

Over the months, I have seen friends enter ultras and drop out because it was “boring.” This, I don’t understand. A race can be many things for me, but boring is never one of them. When I was a kid, if I ever complained about being bored, my dad would make me do pushups or clean the toilet, so that may explain my aversion to the state of boredom. Plus I can’t shake my father’s voice ringing in my ears: “Only boring people get bored!”

No, I am never bored on the trail.

I think of my friend Christian Peterson who is forever encouraging me to balance my training with Crossfit-ish supplementation, a detour that I have embraced for Zion 100. My mileage decreased in favor of strength work, core work, plyometrics, and even yoga. Though I enjoy when a workout change leaves me expectantly sore, I can’t help but also think of my friend Nathaniel Wolfe who wisely advises: “Stop trying to get in shape. Just do what you love and let your body take whatever shape is best suited.”

What I love is running more miles. Maybe “balance” isn’t the best thing to strive for when training for a 100? Maybe balanced people don’t run 100 milers.

So why run 100s?

I’ve spent the last couple of days of digging through my brain for a list of reasons. I was hoping for a Top 5, or a Top 10 list, but I could only come up with one thing.

Quite simply, I run 100 miles because it’s the only thing I do that demands my all.

Every.

Last.

Ounce.

Of.

Me.

This distance takes from me all that I have, and the thrill of surrendering myself to the trail—to that extreme—is unparalleled.

I was inspired this week by the music of Joe Pug, who seemed to speak to my 100-mile aspirations in his Hymn #76:

“To love me is to sit upon the mountain.

Every step is harder than the last.

But to find a step above it, is to triumph—is to summit.

Taste the frigid water from the tap.”

I need some things in my life to be hard. I need some things to demand more of me—to insist on everything.

Every so often, I need more than a training run. I need to pour all my heart out… in a race like this.

WELCOME TO ZION

Direct YouTube link HERE

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