December 31, 2016

2017. First Time I Ever [........]

Find new routes everyday. I mean everyday. Take them!

Ride life's waves...

Reach for something a little more in life, something real, not material...

Ok, sure, I wrote these words. And, yes, they sound pretty grandiose. But, to be honest, right now? They're making me feel little. As in small. Like I've been standing in the Emerald City behind a curtain, pulling levers and blowing smoke like the Wizard of Oz (fraud).

I've been thinking a lot about this. About how I can stay true to the words I've written. Doing something new. Riding new waves. Reaching for something more. Different. Running a few ultra's every year ain't cut'n it for me anymore. It did a few years ago. But now, I need more. Will I keep running? Sure. Racing? Why not. I'm not going to give up my hobby, which I still enjoy. But, like anything in life, sometimes you have to spice things up a little.

So, beginning in 2017, I'm going to do something I've never done before in my life. I'm going to do this not once. Not twice. I'm going to do it every week. Big. Small. Difficult. Easy. Running. Non Running. Doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that I've never done it. That's it!

Happy New Year Everyone!

December 24, 2016

Character Revealed

from left Mike F, Dave B, Cracker, Mona G, Larry R, Will C. Photo Rob M. 

Every year, around this time, a group of So Cal runners gather for a run that has become a 13 year tradition. This year, not sure why, they did it in reverse. It was a horrible day of slip in sludge. Dave B captured the event in embarrassing detail. Read about it here.

Every year, without fail, someone shows up to "Saltwater" out of shape, but runs anyway. It's just that kind of thing. Some don't finish (some don't even start). But someone always guts it out all the way to the end. This year was no exception. Great work Mike F.

December 11, 2016

Riding Life's Waves

They rise up. Sometimes it seems from nowhere. They are hard to see, until they are right upon you. Rising higher. Looming over you, making you feel so small. Then comes the decision. Do you turn to catch one? Do you take the risk of getting pummeled on the jagged rocks below? But something’s triggered you. A bad experience, boredom, the need for change. Whatever it is, it’s helped you overcome your fear. Your anxiety. Your apathy.

So you turn. And paddle into the wave. You feel your body rising up, on top of this force that seems limitless in its power. You feel the energy as it carries you forward. Faster. There is no turning around now. The power surrounds you and you let yourself go with it. It’s at that moment when you realize there is nothing better than to ride this wave. To see how far it will take you. To accept its risk, because with it comes opportunity. 

I was a “surfer” when I was younger, riding the ocean’s waves – to my heart's delight. Now that I’m a little older, I try to ride life’s waves – to my soul’s delight.

I hope you all catch some good waves in the new year.

December 3, 2016

Western States Lottery - I'm not Bitter

  Western States Lottery Stats:

4,246 applicants 

369 runners “permitted” by US Forest Service

less 119 “automatic” entries “granted” by WS board of trustees

=          250 slots available
=          2.5% chance of being selected (based on ticket system)
=          Genius marketing. But what are the motives?

I’m not bitter. Just a little frustrated. Submitting my application to the Western States lottery, anymore, is getting a bit futile. Outside of the “automatic” selections, which includes a list of categories that would make any politician blush, the remnants are getting kind of skimpy. And the “automatic” list, frankly, seems to be multiplying like cancer cells, gobbling up spaces the average hard working trail runner would otherwise have. What are the “automatic” entries you ask? Here’s the latest menu:

30 spaces for “Race Admin.” Trail crew etc.
24 spaces for “Golden Ticket Races”
20 “sponsor” slots
19 Top Ten Runner Slots
10 “raffle” winners
6 UTWT “elite” foreign athletes
3 “special considerations”
2 runners going for 10th finish
1 “trustee”
1 “silver legend”
1 entry for Gordy

Again, I’m not bitter. But I’m wondering if the direction this is going is away from the culture of the sport. Ultra running is about hard work, suffering, paying your dues, putting you time in on trail, sacrificing time with family, etc. In this light, does putting your time in mean elbowing your way into an aid station for three years? Does sacrifice mean locking in every “raffle” date in your outlook calendar? Shit, I’m beginning to feel like I should dress up like an Oompa Loompa so I can have the inside track to a “golden ticket.”

What the hell is a “Golden Ticket” race anyway? Well it’s a list of races, sponsored by the Western States “Presenting” sponsor, that provide entry to the top finishers in those races. Not a bad idea, but it gets a bit grey when I look at the motives here – attract more runners to races sponsored by the “presenting sponsor” so said sponsor can reap more marketing juice from their sponsorship of said races in a build up to Western States. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for profit motivated enterprises, but Western States is a non-profit organization entrusted by the Forest Service to administer a fair event per the course's legislative mandate.

Why, then, do sponsors – presumably profit motivated sponsors – control 12% of the entries to Western States? Is it because the event needs capital? From what I can find the race organization does not need money. It’s sitting on $149,209 in cash, after bringing in $382,587 in revenue and spending $425,228 in expenses in 2014 (the latest year I could find on record).

So, what…then…am…I…saying? I’m not saying as much as I’m starting to question the cozy relationship between the board of trustees and sponsors looking to maximize brand. All at the expense of the hard working runner who just wants a chance to “toe the line” at an event that bills itself as “the world’s preeminent 100-mile trail run”.

So I leave you with this. Why do I feel like I need to dress up as an oompa loompa when I know I’m going to be dressed down by a shoe company?

Really, I’m not bitter.