Sunday, October 20, 2019

Condor 25K

The Start

I think we are starting out slower than UTMB...seriously, people go out like crazy.  Nice to be back on my home trails with the usual crowd around.

Mile 1

This is fun just cruising along...but there's 4 guys in front of me...who are actually pulling away.  I guess I'd better get rolling...these things are so short there's no time to ease into it.

Mile 3

Up to second, I didn't have to work too hard to catch up to there, but where's the guy in first?  Maybe I'll catch sight of him on one of the straightaways with a longer sightline.  Hopefully I can make up some time going up Peavy Peak.
Just a few miles in

One step further
Mile 5

Ugh, that climb was tough.  I think I lost some ground.  I just don't have any uphill legs today.  That's okay, maybe I can catch up on the downhills.

Mile 6

"10 seconds back!"  Yeah...I wish.  I know its at least 20 or 30 because I can see that far ahead.  Still, that's encouraging because it could be a minute or more and I'd be none the wiser.  Dave's trail is a little easier grade, maybe I'll feel better on this climb.

Mile 7

51 seconds, I took that split so its spot on.  Hopefully I can make up some time by the time I can get another split.  Maybe on the switchbacks up ahead.  I should be able to see him up there.

Mile 7.5

There's Dad, why's he stopped, does he want to give me a split?  He's smart enough to know a split isn't worth squat if he's still running.  Seems silly to stop.

"Just keep going, it's okay, just keep going."  Who's down...that's...Eb!  That's not good.  That's not good at all.  Dad said its okay, keep going.  Still, laying down on the trail...but there was already a few people there, not much more I could add.

Mile 8

"Eb's down! Eb's down...about a half mile back on Dave's!"  Gaby's already on her phone, maybe she already heard.  Regardless, she's the RD so I'm sure she's got contact with CMRU (Corvallis Mountain Rescue Unit).  If no one is coming up from the saddle by the time I get there, I'll tell them they need to get up there.  Not sure what's up with Eb but I don't think it was good.

Mile 9

A motorcycle.  That's got to be CMRU...that's good.  They should be able to sort things out.  Oh, there's a car too, good.

Mile 10

Gotta keep pushing, this is the last real climb on the course, just a short climb up Vineyard.  I can't get rolling.  It's a pretty easy grade, but my legs just won't go.  Hang in there, maybe on the downhills.

Mile 12

Eb's still there, but there's a group there too.  Looks like some guys from CMRU.  Dad's still there too.  Not sure what happened.  Keep rolling, keep pushing hard.  There's no time to let off the gas, just give it all I got.

Mile 13

No sign of him.  I'm flying down Dave's so I'm sure I'm making up some time, but maybe he's just too far out.  If I could just catch sight of him.  Some idea how much time I need to make up.

Mile 14

Ugh, this last little pitch up Powderhouse felt so much better last year.  I feel like I'm crawling.  Maybe that last downhill, but I'm sure I'm losing ground here.  Go hard, there's nothing to save it for.


Phew....."any news on Eb?"  It feel good to stop, but I hope Eb's doing okay.  I wonder what happened.  1:50, a minute faster than last year....2nd place...I'm happy with that.

Hanging out at the finish

So, what did happen to Eb and who is he?

Well, Eb is local legend.  He's 77 years old and still running trail races.  This spring Eb ran the Mac 50K at age 77.  If that's not impressive enough, Eb's 2019 finish meant that Eb has finished 21 Macs!  He also holds the 70+ course record at the Mac in 6:43.  Eb's done a few other ultras as well.  He's done 220 ultras and has 92 marathon finishes as well.  And most importantly, Eb's a great person.  Eb is a very positive presence out on the trails and is very supportive of other runners.  He truly embodies the spirit of trail running.

At the Condor, Eb suffered a heart attack out on the trail.  He was taken to the Corvallis hospital and kept there for a few days.  He is now making a speedy recovery.  Thank goodness!

Monday, September 9, 2019


Chamonix, August 30th, 6pm

I focus on staying calm, although the blaring music and excitement around me is almost overwhelming.  Yet, I feel calm.  It's almost too easy to stay calm, as if there's no excitement, no adrenaline inside me.  And then we're running through the streets of Chamonix.  I focus on my breathing to help me meter out a reasonable effort.  No need to go flying through the first 8k to Les Houches.

Les Houches, 6:33pm

I've checked my watch a few times along the road to Les Houches, but with no landmarks I have no clue how fast I'm going.  I shouldn't really care how long it takes me to get to Les Houches as its barely even the start of the race, but having competitive intentions I don't want to fall too far back early on.  The pace felt quite manageable, I was never breathing hard, and I even hiked a very short uphill section where the road got a little crowded.  35 minutes would be solid.  I'll probably be 37 or 38.  I really don't want to be over 40.


Around me trekking poles clack along as I alternate between hiking and running.  The pitch of the first climb is in between a good hiking grade and a good running grade.  I don't want to work too hard so I alternate between hiking and running.  Neither feels very good.  I wish it was steeper, or gentler, then I could settle in to a better gear.

Le Deleveret, 7:30pm

I can barely run downhill because a stitch in my side.  What's going on, the race has barely started.  Deep breaths, solve my problems.  Its low in my stomach so maybe my waist-light is bothersome.  I didn't train with the waist-light much although it was fine at Cruel Jewel and Angeles Crest.  I can't take off the light, I'll need it soon, but I can shift it to my chest.  Wedge it between the clips on my pack to keep if from falling down.  Walk a few steps, I think I'm good.  Start running, my stomach still hurts but its a little better.

Saint-Gervais, 7:55pm

I want to drop.  I'm ready to be done.  I haven't felt good.  I haven't had fun.  I can't stop, gotta keep going.  I won't even see my parents for another hour.  I can't stop before that.  Just keep moving, get some energy from the crowds.  It feels like an annoying circus around me.  Kristi Pote...a familiar face from Corvallis...funny I even saw her at all.  Stay positive.


I have to get around someone on nearly every up or down.  Then I get passed on the flats.  I want the race to spread out.  There's no rhythm.  I want to run without all these people around.

Les Contamines Montjoie, 8:57pm

There's Dad.  The aid station is crazy, so many people.  No more Tailwind, its too salty.  Give me on package of Shot Bloks to replace each bottle of Tailwind...next time, in Courmayeur.  How do I get out of here?  Oh, that way...thanks Dad.  Back into the dark.


Water.  There's a water spout pouring into a trough of water.  Best to fill up that bottle that had Tailwind.  It could be a little while until La Balme.  Good move.  It's finally starting to space out.  I'm on my own...I prefer it this way.  I'm a little tired of all the road running.  I'm ready for some steep terrain where I can do some hiking.  Something were I can settle into a steady uphill gear.  It's just felt hectic so far.

La Balme, 9:57pm

Hiking, finally.  It feels good.  I'm faster than the other runners around me.  No poles for me, and it seems fine.  Certainly not slowing me down at all.  Here's the aid station.  Make sure to fill both bottles.  And, I'll get a drink of water in the aid station too.  My stomach is still bothersome, that side stitch.  But as always its better on the uphills.  I think the water if helping.  Keep drinking, maybe I have too much salt from the Tailwind and the water will dilute it.  Just get is sorted out by the downhill to Les Chapieux.


More running that I thought.  I was expecting the climbs to be mostly hiking.  That's okay, my running legs feel pretty good.  It's easy to settle into a solid gear and grind away on the uphills.  Plus some hiking too, when its steeper or just to change it up.  Lights up ahead on the mountain.  I wonder how many people are ahead of me.  I wonder where the leader is...and who it is.  Is his light in sight?

Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, 11:00pm

My downhill legs feel good.  The descent to Les Chapieux shouldn't take long.  Ooo, its a little technical and a bit tough to follow the rutted, braided single-track.  Flag to flag, but shoot, it feels like I'm not taking the best path.  Sometimes my track gets really rough or take the long way.  Keep moving.  Shoot!  I can feel that side stitch again, gotta slow down.  I can barely run, deep breaths.  Keep moving, maybe it will be a blessing.  It might save my quads for the final downs.  But they feel so strong now, I wish I could just run.

Les Chapieux, 11:27pm

Feeling fair, just keep moving.  Frustrating to not be able to run downhill.  Get water, try some baguette, I'm already tired of gels and they make my stomach hurt more.  Long uphill ahead, keep moving.


Why am I here?  Why am I running?  I haven't felt good all day.  It hasn't felt easy at all.  I haven't really cared at all.  Frankly, I wouldn't care if I just stopped right now.  Gotta keep moving though.  Think about my friends in Corvallis, it'll be good to run with them when I get home.  Smile.  Think about every one in detail.  The Thursday night hike, friends, stories, smiles...keep moving.  Stay positive, smile, I will feel better.  Focus on the positive, my friends...keep moving.

Col de la Seigne, 1:00am

Another pass down.  I'm just ticking off the miles so quickly.  It seems like they are just passing by, never feeling like much from one to the next.  But I don't really care.  I just not in it.  Maybe the night is making me tired, but I've not been feeling it all day.  Keep moving, there's so much race left.

Lac Combal, 1:52am

Less of a side stitch on that downhill.  Probably because the trail was so technical by the Pyramids its was hard to go very fast at all.  My stomach does feel better.  Eat a little less frequently, that seems to help, but make sure to get enough.  I shouldn't think this, but I've never had a side stitch to away during a run.  But this will be the time I fix that.  I'll figure it out.  With so much time and miles ahead, I'll get it sorted.

Arete du Mont-Favre, 2:37am

Not feeling as strong uphill.  It feels like I need to pee, but I can't.  I stopped a couple times on the uphill to try because my bladder feels full, but I can't really pee at all.

Gentle downhill, my side still hurts so I've got to go slow.  I wish I could run a little more freely downhill.  Keep at it, things will get better.

Col Checrouit Maison Vieille, 3:04am

Oof, my side stitch is especially bad right now, walk a few steeps, keep moving.  There's the lights of Courmayeur.  Pretty.  The downhill is supposed to be steeper here so that usually better for my side stitch.

Steeper and not too technical.  Running down feels good.  My quads feel great and the descent is going by quickly.  A little choppy with some steps and tight turns.  Deep breaths, breath through my nose.  Maybe my side will be good to go in a while.  If I get it sorted out by Col Ferret, I should be good.  Pretty much all up til there.  But the downhill off Col Ferret will make or break the race.  I will need to be able to run...we'll see.  I think I'll be good.

Courmayeur, 3:30am

Winding through street, more streets, more streets, where's the aid station?  Oh, here into the gym, that's why I couldn't see it.  Mom yells at me coming into the aid station.  I can't see her, but I know its her above on the bridge.  Dad's in the aid station, he's got bottles and gels.  29 minutes, is that the leader?  No, Xavier Thevenard, Pau Capell is going to smash it.  A quick transition and I'm heading out.  Wait, I need to put a tracker in my pack, I'm now in the top 10.  Okay.  I leave with Andrew Symonds, he's says we're 6 and 7.  Whoa, I'm actually doing pretty well.

Refuge Bertone, 4:31am

There's the aid station, it just a little hut...I guess a Refuge.  Dang, no bread.  I was hoping to have some for change from gels.  The last climb felt good, but I could feel my side stitch a bit.  Fill my bottles, keep going.


Lights from behind.  Just do the best I can.  My side has been bothersome, but I can keep moving.  Not as fast as I'd like, but better than walking.  I might get passed now, but I'll have a chance to catch up later.  The last 3 climbs should be good for me.  Hiking uphills and steep downhills.  My side should be good enough for that.  I just need to be good to go for The descent to La Fouly and on to the base of the climb to Champex-Lac.  Is that Andrew Symonds, no, someone else.  Maybe Andrew Symonds isn't far behind either.  Keep moving, I don't want to drop too many spots.  It seems like my side is worse after a hard uphill, not sure what to do about that since the uphills are the only place I can go fast.

Refuge Bonatti, 5:31am

Coke?  No, no really, but I'll humor him and give it a try.  He seems insistent.  Thanks.  Actually, it's pretty good.  Much better than gels, maybe I can keep fueling with coke.  I'll grab a banana too, that actually tastes good.

Arnouvaz, 6:11am

I ran that downhill.  Not super fast, but a bit better than I have been.  My stomach didn't hurt so much. Maybe the banana helped.  Its seemed easy on my stomach.  No more gels.  Maybe banana, bread, and some coke.  That might keep me going.  I grab a few bananas in the aid station and get a bottle filled with coke.  Shoot the coke's getting all shaken up and fizzy so I'd best drink it right now.  I'm feeling okay.  Maybe things will turn around.


Wrrrrrrr!  Whoa, a helicopter.  Must be filming the lead men and women.  This top men must be over the pass and heading down the backside.  Turn off my headlight, no more use for that.  Finally a view.  Big mountains in every direction.  Truly beautiful.

Col Ferret, 7:08am

I have to stop and pee.  Finally.  Pull over after the Col and take a pit stop.  I'm breathing pretty hard, must be the elevation.  Time to get going, it's pretty smooth trail.  Just can't get rolling.  My side is okay, just winded, must be the elevation.


Moving a bit better on the downhill.  I guess I needed to get down from the high elevation.  My side isn't prefect, but its pretty good.  Keep moving.  Just down to La Fouly.  I can't see where it is but its got to be down in the valley somewhere.

La Fouly, 8:08am

Just keep breathing, deep breaths.  I can't run the rollers.  I just get winded running anything uphill.  Stay positive.

There's Mom and Dad.  No crewing but they can see me.  I'm doing okay...just okay.  "I just can't catch my breath on any of the ups.  I don't know what's up."   I grab a bunch of food in the aid station.  Maybe that will help.


Time to run again.  The 10 minute walking break is done.  Really struggling, but time to run again.  Downhill, but I'm getting winded.  Keep moving, just 10 minutes of running.  Deep breaths.  I'm barely moving.  Keep breathing, deep breaths.


All uphill to Champex-Lac.  Keep hiking.  Keep breathing.  Not sure what I can do.  Unbuckle my pack, maybe I'll be able to get a deeper breath.  Just out of breath.  I'm barely moving.  Gels?  Water? I don't think they'll help, but I'll try.  I'm just out of breath, not sure what's going on.

Champex-Lac, 11:12am

There's Mom.  I guess she walked down from the aid station.  Hopefully it isn't far.  "I think I'm done"

Thursday, August 22, 2019

UTMB Tracking

I will be running UTMB starting next Friday, August 30th, at 6pm local time in France.  That'd be Friday at 9 am PST, for those on the west coast and Friday at 12 pm EST for those on the east coast.

Here's a link to the tracking: https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb

Almost every year the course is a little different, as in, another climb was added, so the course has gotten a little bit longer of the years.  Regardless, here's a link to previous year's results: https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/page/349/results.html

2017 and 2018 had a very similar course to 2019, but they skipped the climb up the Pyramids Calcaires around kilometer 65 and the climb up Tete aux Vent at kilometer 160.  These section of the course were eliminated due to bad weather which could happen again in 2019, but I hope not.  The Pyramids climbs looks like it'd add about 25-30 minutes and the Tete aux Vent climbs less than that.  The 2017 and 2018 courses are probably 30-45 minutes faster than the proposed 2019 course, but that just my guess.

Here's the elevation profile for 2017/2018 and 2019 if you really want to dive into the course.

2017/2018 course

2019 course (weather permitting)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Fourth of July Backpacking Trip

This year we returned to the Three Sisters area for a backpacking trip over Fourth of July weekend.  The past few years there has been progressively less snow, so we haven’t even thought about bringing skis.  This year we heard reports of more snowpack, so we debated bringing the skis.  After all, it’s a pain to hike through suncupped snow so the skis would certainly help with that.  However, we opted not to bring the skis which turned out to be the right decision. There wasn’t much more snow than the last few years.

As we took off from Devil’s Lake trailhead, we started the climb through the big trees below the plains.  It didn’t take us long to find the snow, but it took even less time for the mosquitoes to find us.  In hindsight I probably should have worn pants from the start, but I prefer to hike in shorts.  I got a few mosquitoes bites, but likely far less than I will get at the Waldo Trailwork in a couple weekends.

Outside of the bugs, the climb was pretty uneventful and soon we reached the plateau and began the traverse down to Moraine Lake. There was a little bit of snow on the lake, but the majority of the lake was completely free of snow or ice. After crossing the creek leaving Moraine Lake, we began climbing up a ridge leading toward South Sister.  We like to camp fairly high on this ridge as it gives us easy access to Green Lakes and Broken Top, or South Sister summit. Plus, the ridge is a little breezy, so we don’t have to worry about bugs.

A big tree down in the first couple miles

South Sister

Mom on the traverse to Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake with South Sister in the background

Moraine Lake with ice and snow.  Two days later there was no ice or snow on the lake.

The climb up to our campsite is typically pretty slow since the ridge is pretty steep and loose.  This year we had a little extra excitement as we got to see a helicopter rescue on South Sister.  As we climbed, we got to watch the helicopter circle a few times before dropping behind a nearby ridge.  I don’t think the helicopter set down the first time because a few minutes later it lifted off, circled again then disappeared behind the same ridge.  This time the helicopter was out of sight for quite a while and we were unable to hear the engine so we figured it must have put down to make the rescue.  It took quite a while, but eventually we saw the helicopter lift off and head toward Bend (the nearest town).  It was pretty cool to see.

At this point we had reached the campsite, so we dropped our packs and had a quick snack before setting up the tent.  After pitching the tent, we made dinner and headed in for an early night.  We played a few games before heading to bed.  It’s always easy to go to bed early when backpacking.

Mt. Bachelor behind the trees

Broken Top

Climbing up to the grey mound on South Sister

Looking back down on Moraine Lake

Mt. Bachelor

Dad with Mt. Bachelor in the background

South Sister

Dad climbing up the ridge

South Sister

A little red bug

Broken Top with a layer of clouds

Friday morning we ate breakfast and packed up daypacks to head toward Broken Top.  We descended down snowfields into Green Lakes which was fairly quick going.  We were a little worried that the snow might be hard, but it was already getting soft when we started.  The descent down to Green Lakes is pretty fun and I got a chance to do some glissading on the steeper pitches where the snow was still firm enough.

Upon reaching Green Lakes we filled up our bottles at one of the many springs around the lake and began contouring around the lake. Green Lakes still had a bit of snow on them, but there was also a lot of open water too.  We made our way around Green Lakes and soon found the climber’s trail that leads up to Broken Top.

Friday morning

A butterfly moth on the snow

Beginning the descent down to Green Lakes - a little uphill section here to set up a glissade

Broken Top

One of the many springs around Green Lakes

Green Lakes with Mt. Bachelor in the background

A couple paintbrush

Traversing around Green Lakes

Looking back toward South Sister

The first part of the trail climbs through the trees where there were patches of snow and lots of mosquitoes.  Fortunately, it didn’t take long to get out of the trees and into a bit more snow where there were fewer mosquitoes.  The snow was getting pretty soft and had lots of suncups so the going was a little slow as we were slipping around quite a bit.

After slipping through suncups for a while, we got onto some dusty loose terrain leading up to the ridge.  This section is pretty short and soon we were on the ridge leading to Broken Top.  The ridge is rocky, so we found a spot with some good sitting rocks and took a quick break. We had a snack, drank some water, and took in the views of the Three Sister and the surrounding terrain.

Now atop the ridge, we continued the climb up Broken Top.  The ridge is pretty steep but has relatively stable footing so it’s really not so bad. I thought that we made pretty good time on the climb and soon we reached the crux, just a couple hundred feet below the top.  The crux is a short pitch that you have to climb up.  The actual climbing is pretty easy, but if you goof up, it wouldn’t be good.  Dad, Jacob, and I decided to climb the crux and reach the summit while Mom waited for a short while for us to return.

Climbing up through the trees toward Broken Top

Mom and Jacob below Broken Top

Looking up at Broken Top

Mom and Dad making the climb to the ridge

White Flowers

Dad with Middle Sister and North Sister in the background

South Sister poking out over the ridge

Dad climbing up toward Broken Top with Mom, Jacob, and the Three Sisters in the background

Mom and Jacob

Mt. Bachelor from the top of Broken Top

Jacob on top of Broken Top

Dad and Jacob on top

Little ladybugs on top of Broken Top

Dad on top of Broken Top

Dad and Jacob beginning the descent

After tagging the top and taking a few quick pictures we began the descent back down the ridge.  Going down was a lot faster than going up and soon we were back at the saddle in the ridge.  This year we opted to continue along the ridge instead of following the climber’s trail back to Green Lakes.  A couple years ago we had hiked this ridge to the high point but had not descended down to the saddle, so we were not sure if we’d be able to do this section.  Fortunately, the terrain was not as rough as it appeared and there was even a slight trail for most of the way.  We quickly reached the high point on the ridge and soon were making our way down gentle slopes.

We followed the ridge until we reached the main trail leading into Green Lakes and then followed the trail down to the lakes. Upon reaching the lakes we traversed around the lakes back to the spring where we filled up in the morning.  Again, we filled our bottles and then set out for the final climb back to the tent.  This last uphill is almost all on snow, but always seems to be a bit faster than we expect.  We made pretty good time up the snowfield although Dad was getting a little bit tired at the top.  After leaving the snow it was just a short walk to the tent.

I think it was close to 7 when we got back to the tent, so we started making dinner immediately.  This evening was pretty windy, so we had to hunker down behind some trees to get the stove going.  After a quick dinner we headed into the tent, played a few games, then went to bed.

Dad, Mom, and Jacob on the ridge below

Dad beating the heat

Middle and North Sister

Mom with South Sister in the background

Mom and Dad

Green Lakes

A couple paintbrush.  There weren't many this trip.

North Sister

A weird collection of pine needles on the snow

Looking across Green Lakes

Mom traversing around Green Lakes

Broken Top

The snowfield leading back to the tent

Tumalo Mountain

An Injinji sock tree

Saturday was our last day on the mountain so in the morning we packed up the tent and headed toward South Sister.  We had to traverse a couple small snowfields and then climb a little bit before we reached the main South Sister trail.  Upon reaching the trail, we dropped our packs in exchange for small daypacks with a little water and food, plus some warm clothes for the top.

After dropping the packs, hiking seemed pretty easy, so we quickly reached Mirage Lake about 1 mile below South Sister.  From the lake it’s an uphill grind to the top. The first half of the climb isn’t too bad, but the second half is much looser so there a lot of sliding back when you’re trying to move forward.  Fortunately, the snow had just melted, and this section was much less loose than usual due to the extra moisture in the soil.  I though we made pretty good time in this section and soon we reached the rim of South Sister.  Upon reaching the rim, there’s just a short level walk to the far side where the true summit is.

We hiked over to the true summit but didn’t stay long because the wind was really picking up on top.  We had planned to eat a snack on top, but no one was too hungry, and the wind was blowing pretty hard, so we headed down.  We then planned to take a break at Mirage Lake to eat, but we were moving so quickly downhill that we decided to just continue to the packs before we stopped to eat.

After a brief snack at the packs we headed down the mountain, this time loaded up with all our gear.  The descent down to the plains was mostly on snow which actually made the downhill pretty fast.  The snow was getting really heavy, so we were able to tromp straight down the snowfields on the descent.  I had hoped the snow would be a bit harder, so I’d be able to glissade the steep pitches, but that wasn’t the case.

Broken Top

Looking down on Broken Top from South Sister

Middle Sister and North Sister

Looking back up at South Sister
Soon enough we reached the flat section and left the snow behind us.  It was quick walking along the flat and it didn’t take us long to reach the junction to Moraine Lake.  We all took a big drink of water here since none of us wanted to be stopping in the last couple miles because of the mosquitoes.

The last downhill was pretty fast, and I was surprised how much snow had melted since we came in two days earlier.  There was significantly less snow than coming up.  We didn’t have too many mosquitoes to deal with and soon we were at the car packing our gear into the trunk.  I thought this was one of the coolest trips we've done over Fourth of July since we covered a little bit more terrain than usual.  Plus, this was probably the best weather we’ve had too. It was sunny every day but never got too hot.

Mt. Bachelor

Broken Top and Moraine Lake