Saturday, January 14, 2012

Olympic Marathon Trials Showdown

Lots of drama ready to unfold in today's mens and womens Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. The races start at 7am MT but won't be broadcast live anywhere, not even streaming. NBC is airing a tape-delayed broadcast at 1pm MT. I'm going to miss it all since I'll be en route to Chama. Can't have it all I guess.

The fields are fairly deep on both sides although the talent up top may be hard to unseat. Ryan Hall is a virtual lock. Desi Davila and Shalane Flanagan may be unshakable. I'll be rooting for the entire New Mexican contingent - Heather McNiff, Magdalena Donahue, Jesse Armijo, and Mbarak Hussein. New Mexico in the house!! Up front, I'd love to see the all-timers Meb Keflezghi and Deena Kastor hold their own. If Joan Benoit-Samuelson lines up she'd be my favorite runner all over again out of general principle. Other than all of that, I'd really like to see a darkhorse or two on either side make it a race. Someone to get out there and get after it in a brilliant run to glory. Ok, well best of luck to all the qualifiers.

There's been quite a lot of coverage and race previews pieced together about today's races. I'll list a few I've read through below.

 - Jesse Armijo Interview -
 - Women's Preview -
 - Men's Preview -
 - Houston's Wild Cards -
 - All Olympic Trials, All the Time -
 - Men's Olympic Trials Preview -
 - Women's Olympic Trials Preview -
 - 10 Long Shots for Trials Glory -

Update and Results:  Los Alamos' Heather McNiff finished 92nd in the women's race in a time of 2:46:23. Albuquerque's Jesse Armijo finished 69th in the men's race finishing in 2:22:25. Mbarak Hussein and Magdalena Donahue did not finish. Joan Benoit-Samuelson did not start even though she would've beat 20-30 runners in the field.

Olympic berths went to Meb Keflezighi (2:09:08), Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman on the men's side. Shalane Flanagan (2:25:38), Desiree Devilla, and Kara Goucher on the women's side. Both races were historically very fast and very deep.

The following Trials statistics are courtesy of Debbie Fetterman of the Dallas Morning News: The top four women finishers surpassed the previous Trial's record of 2:28:25 set by Colleen De Reuck in the 2004 race. The top four men's times were the second through fifth fastest Trials finishes of all-time. Nineteen personal bests were set in the men's field including the winner, thirty-five personal bests were set in the women's field. Prize purses for the winner's was $50,000 including a $20,000 bonus for each qualifier who makes it to the start of the London Summer Games this Fall.

Related Posts:
  - A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills
  - New Mexican Runners Chase the London Olympic Standards

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Upcoming Cross Country Events - January

Chama chile ski classic
One on skis, and the other on foot. This weekend, Jan. 14-15, is the 39th Annual Chama Chile Ski Classic. All kinds of fun up in the Chama valley including freestyle and classic xc-ski events, snowshoe combined events, folks in costume, folks on vintage gear, folks getting their skiing-on with babies strapped to their backs, folks in skin-tight racing onesies and top line boards and race bindings (I'm looking at you Los Alamos). Did I mention the beer sampling, live music, telemark and avalanche clinics? This event is sweet. I attended last year and wrote-up a few of the happenings. You can find me and Schroeder at The High Country Saloon this Saturday night with pints in hand.

Corrida de los Locos
The other upcoming event is the annual Corrida de los Locos, scheduled for Sat. January 28th out near the Caja del Rio here in Santa Fe. 5.7mi of cross-country style running over hardpack, snow, surface gravel - lots of fun. I didn't compete last year but lent a hand to the race directors and wrote-up a recap of the racing in addition to a few photos. One of the many area races last year that featured a local professional that showed up to get in a workout. Pretty stacked race. I've got the inside scoop that race prizes this year will be cowbells which ought to make all subsequent races in 2012 a whole lot louder.

Several other upcoming ski and snowshoe events are profiled over at by Santa Fe writer and swift-of-foot runner Whitney Dreier. We'll see if I can't update the Events Tab up there for the 2012 year before long.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trail Running in Truckee, CA

Wooden path through the marsh
I was out in the Truckee/Tahoe area just before New Years. Out for a bit of business and to visit my sister and the family. My awesome little nephew taught me how to make proper engine-revving noises as you push a toy car/truck/motorcycle/train around. I showed him how to dress up in clean running clothes and return a while later half covered in mud.

Out the backdoor one evening I ran alongside a creek bed that lead directly to the infamous Donner Party Campsite. Sort of the last unfortunate stop for a wagon train of pioneers in the 1840's. The party of 87 men, women, and children (lots of children actually), traveled all the way from Illinois on their way to the coast, but were halted at this point by un-navigable snow pack and cold. Almost all eventually succumbed to exposure, starvation, and other sordid and horrific means of death. I found the conditions to be quite a bit better during my visit so I sort of strode on down the interpretive path and tried to be respectful of history and man's mortality.

Donner Camp Site marker - difficult to read, but the last line says 'They came west seeking a new life and found misery and death'
I exited the Donner Trail and headed out along another cool Sierra creekbed. The footing turned to marsh and mud and then to frozen marsh. Pretty neat but kind of eerie and graveyard like if you catch my drift. Soon I was running along a giant dug-in creek that probably sees some serious cfs during the Spring season. My cross-country adventure soon cast me into the Prosser Lake reservoir catchment. I was running through what would've been several feet underwater only a few months ago (70 feet of snowpack last year, no joke). Ominous yet again.

Frozen graveyard marsh trail
What was left of the lake I finally caught up with was frozen over - even though there was almost no snow to be seen. In fact, this apparently was the first December since the late 1800's where snow has not fallen in the Tahoe Valley. My hosts were not amused by the many NM skiing stories I'd brought with me. Across the frozen lake I saw a group of guys playing hockey which gave me the idea to get out on the ice a few feet and skate along for a bit. Fun, but also kind of freaky and near-death like actually.

Hockey players on the far bank of ice

Imminent death and the ghostly whiteness of my knee

Finding more trail on the south side of the lake I ran home through winding trail beneath giant pines and a darkening night. Recovered later with beer and sake, a wistful toast to those who traveled so far just not far enough.

The haunted and apparition-y visage of an ice-walking trail-roamer

View Donner Camp Trail, Truckee, CA in a larger map

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Ultimate Gift for a Trail Enthusiast

Cerro Tierra de Desierto y my tracks out-and-back
Had a great Christmas. One would have thought I was training for a cookie eating contest the way I was getting after the sweets, but I did make some time for a small bit of running and skiing. Lots of good family time, farolitos, posole, y todo.

I received a lot of nice gifts, but perhaps none as nice as this one - my own $1.8M bike trail that starts at the end of the block and travels nearly to the front door of my office (the new Gail Ryba Trail). From all appearances I'm the only current user so I'm going to assume it's mine. They're still working on the pedestrian underpass at St. Francis Dr. - which is thoughtful - though somewhat unnecessary since there's a perfectly good arroyo 50m up the way. You've outdone yourself Santa (Fe)! Cookies and eggnog para siempre.

View Gail Ryba Trail in a larger map


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