Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quad Rock 50 - Fort Collins, CO

 I don’t run ultras but several of the guys in my circle do. Goes to show that I hang out with a lot of folks that probably aren’t well. That said, the relative being of their wellness doesn’t appear to impede their ability to get after it. 

My old partner in crime Mr. Bryan Boots – the other half of Team Hobo – ripped it up a couple weeks back at Nick Clark’s new ultra up in the Colorado Front Range, the Quad Rock 50. Old man Botas held it together long enough to notch an 8th place finish with a time of 8hrs 42min. I haven't a clue how fast that is on a relative basis, but a top-ten finish is nothing to shake a stick at particularly on the Front Range which has quickly established itself as one of the epicenters of the country’s rapidly growing ultra running scene. Looks like he got nicked by a few recognized names: Ryan Burch, Jason Koop, and Corey Hanson. Maybe a bit more than nicked but a fine and respectable finish nonetheless. Where the wheels at son? Something to work on I guess. 

Mr. Boots hammering out the miles - courtesy of Rob Erskine
I believe he told me his next race may be up in Silverton or Lake City. Might try to make it up there and pace the guy for a bit. Yeah my toe is half-smashed but running 50mi through the San Juans is no joke either. Sorta have to take one for the team and smooth the edges out later with a cold one. 

New Mexico had some rep up at Quad Rock, local finishers include Bill Geist (Los Alamos) at 26th, 9hrs 54min; Jim Breyfogle (Rio Rancho) at 37th, 10:31; Neil Blake (Rio Rancho) at 42nd, 10:41; and, Paul Yourick (Albuquerque) at 72nd, 11:43.

Updated:  I should note that New Mexico's premier ultra, the Jemez Mountain Trail Runs, were held west of Los Alamos on May 19th. I know that the race organizers (Bill Geist from above) worked a bit of magic to put a trail race together in the Jemez after last year's monster fire. Distances were 13.1mi, 50km, and 50mi.

I'll just point to three solid race reports here:
 - Santa Fe's Jacob Waltz posted notes from the front-pack of the 50mi over at santafetrailrunner
 - Dave Hanenburg has a 50mi report up over at
 - and, Santa Fe's Katie Arnold, 50km champ and newbie, notes what it feels like to train for, run, and win an ultra. Katie also writes to an online column for Outside Magazine - Raising Rippers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cycling on Lake Michigan

bicycle lake Michigan
Cycling the waterbreak - Lake Michigan
Traded in the trails and mountain bike this last weekend for a lakeside ride on a late model Huffy. I was visiting Chicago and places north (Port Washington, WI) with a bunch of the boys from way-back-when.

Riding in sand is ordinarily far-from-possible, particularly on the rig I had at my disposal, but if you ride just along the waterbreak you get a nice firm track and can just cruise along merrily listening to the wind and clearing the mind - until provisions run low.

On the latter, I'm sad to report a somewhat regrettable cycling/ping-pong mishap that's going to sideline any running I had planned for the next couple of weeks. Pretty disgraceful really, easily the worst wipeout I've had on a kid's bike in twenty-five years. The takeaway being that when cycling barefoot, the probability of catching your toes in the spokes becomes much greater than one might imagine.

beach house lake Michigan
Other weekend events included heckling the bejeezus out of the Chicago Cubs in a fine evening of baseball at Wrigley, reeling in a cooler full of salmon out on Lake Michigan, and taking a nap with a park full of aspiring revolutionaries at the NATO counter-protests. Don't have many good action photos to substantiate any of this, but the attached video is a good approximation. Good times.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Mexico's Four Minute Milers

Roger Bannister Iffley Track
The immortal Roger Bannister
The idea of compiling a list of the state's elite milers has been stirring in my head for a few years. The subject is a bit removed from trails, mountains, and marathon majors but it remains a universal running standard worthy of serious respect. At the time, I knew of three New Mexicans that had outrun the magical four-minute barrier and was curious if there had been more. From time-to-time I'd do a little research, and in the end I dug up just one addition - an Olympic medalist no less - and a couple of guys with personal bests that put them right at the standard. One of these runners was Los Alamos' Ryan McNiff who posted a 1500m four-minute-equivalent at a race out at Stanford just last week (update: McNiff ran a 3:59.11 mile in Feb '13 to become the fifth NM runner to break four minutes). As one might expect, the runners in this group share the company of truly rarefied air and elite talent.

Due to the altitude constraints of New Mexico running, all sub-four races run by these men occurred out of state. In fact no one has ever run only at the 2013 US Indoor Championships was the first four minute mile run on New Mexican soil (and the 2nd, and the 3rd). With McNiff's recent effort I figured it was as good a time as any to write-up the list, so here they are in order of performance:

Date under 4minMile PR1500m PR
  George YoungMar 1971 - 3:59.6 3:59.6 n/a
  Chuck AragonFeb 1981 - 3:59.92i    3:51.62 3:38.40 a
  Daniel MaasJun 1993 - 3:58.83 3:57.80 3:39.64 b
  David KrummernackerFeb 1998 - 3:58.62i       3:54:23 3:31:93 c
  Ryan McNiffFeb 2013 - 3:59.113:59.11        3:42.18 d
  Matt GonzalesMay 2003 - 3:42.83 n/a3:42.83
a) standing University of Notre Dame school record
b) standing Adams State College school record
c) eighth all-time US performer
d) four minute mile equivalent = 3:42:22.

The Four Minute Milers
George young runner
George Young (Western High School, Silver City; Univ. of Arizona) - First on the list. Young grew up in Silver City during the 50's. He later competed for the Univ. of Arizona and ran to several national records in the steeplechase and two mile as a contemporary of Schul, Ryun, and Mills. He competed at the '60, '64, '68, and '72 Olympic Games, claiming the steeplechase bronze in Mexico City ('68) in addition to a 16th place finish in the marathon. He ran the 5000m in Munich ('72). He ran his first, and only, sub-four minute mile at 34yrs of age in a time of 3:59.6 in Los Angeles, CA, March 1972. At the time, he was the oldest runner to have accomplished the feat. The guy was a complete badass.

More about George can be found with his profile on the Tough Guy List.

Chuck Aragon runner
Chuck Aragon (Los Lunas High; Univ. of Notre Dame) - Aragon was a champion track and cross country runner for Los Lunas in the 70's before being recruited to run for the Irish. He became the first Notre Dame runner to break the four minute mile with a 3:59.92 indoors effort in Champaign, IL, Feb 1981. Thirty years later he still holds the Notre Dame 1500m record of 3:38.40 (equivalent to a 3:56mile) set the same year. He just missed out on a spot on the '84 Olympic Team, like by half-a-stride missed out, and should have been named to the team afterward when one of the qualifiers had to drop due to injury. Aragon ran a lifetime mile best of 3:51.62 at the Dream Mile in Oslo, July 1984, which ranks him just outside the ten fastest American milers of all-time.

More about Chuck can be found with his profile on the Tough Guy List.

Dan Maas runner

Daniel Maas - (Santa Fe Prep; Adams State College) - Maas was a multiple New Mexico state champion at Santa Fe Preparatory before running for coaching legend Joe Vigil at Adams State. As a collegiate he ran to multiple NAIA titles, captained the team to multiple track and cross country team titles, and still holds the twenty year old Adams State 1500m record of 3:39.64 (equivalent to a 3:57mile). He first broke the four minute mile barrier at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR, with a time of 3:58.83 at the 1992 Prefontaine Classic. Qualified through to the finals of the 1992 Olympic Trials in the 1500m, finishing eighth

More about Dan can be found with his profile on the Tough Guy List.

David Krummernacker New Mexico
David Krummernacker (Las Cruces High; Georgia Tech Univ.) - Krummernacker was a multiple New Mexico state champ in both track and cross-country. As a senior he set the state record in the 800m of 1:51.73, which still stands as the fastest time by a New Mexico prep twenty years later (I was actually in the bleachers to see this). He ran to multiple NCAA championships while at Georgia Tech, multiple US National 800m titles, and was the 2003 indoor World Champ in the event (PR of 1:43.92). He first ran under four minutes in Feb of 1998 with a 3:58.62i effort, and clocked a lifetime mile best of 3:54.23 later that same year. More impressive is his lifetime best over the more commonly raced 1500m of 3:31.93 in 2002 (equivalent to a 3:48.9 mile). This performance stands as the eighth fastest American all-time over the distance.

Ryan McNiff runner
Ryan McNiff (Los Alamos High; Adams State College) - A multiple New Mexico state champion in track and cross country while running for coach Rob Hipwood at Los Alamos. A multiple all-American at Adams State College and part of three NCAA DII National Cross Country Champion teams. Ryan earned a spot on the junior US World Junior Cross team as a college freshman. He powered through the four minute barrier with a 3:59.11i showing at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville in February 2013, becoming the fifth New Mexican under four minutes. Prior to this effort his lifetime best was a 3:42.18 1500m at the 2012 Payton Jordan Invite in Stanford. Ryan is married to Heather McNiff (Wood), NM's lone finisher on the women's side at last year's Olympic Marathon Trials

Deserving of Recognition - 1500m Equivalents
A quirk of the mile is that it's not raced very often. The standard racing distance at meets above the high school level is the 1500m. And while the title of being a Four Minute Miler applies solely to those that have run 3:59.99 and below for the mile, there is a recognized equivalent time for the 1500m distance - 3:42.22. Runners with equivalent performances are recognized as having both the talent and fitness for running under four minutes for the mile had the opportunity been available. From the pool of New Mexico runners there are two is one phenomenal New Mexican that merits attention:

Matt Gonzales runner
Matt Gonzales (Santa Fe High; Univ. of New Mexico) - Gonzales was a multiple New Mexico state champ in both track and cross-country while running for coach Peter Graham at Santa Fe High School (a heavily decorated runner in his own right). An all-American several times over at UNM, he set several university records and finished 2nd overall at the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championship besting names like Tegenkamp, Solinsky, and Hall. Like George Young, Gonzales' strengths were primarily over the longer distances (he was both a 5000m and Marathon Olympic Trials Qualifier), but he ran with remarkable range to come down to the 1500m, winning the 2003 Mountain West Conference Championship his junior year, in a time of 3:42.83. One of only a few performances he ever ran at the distance.

Phil Sakala (Onate High; West Point)
3:38.9 1500m, 7/26/2008

Wes Ashford, (Farmington High; Brigham Young University)
3:41.8 on 5/20/1988

And there you have it. Running immortality. If a few inaccuracies got by me here or if an athlete has been overlooked please send an email or provide a correction in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Mexican Runners Chase the London Olympic Standards

Several notable showings by the crew of local athletes this Spring. The year's first two large national track meets were run at the Mt SAC Relays and Stanford's Payton Jordan Invite toward the end of April. Just about all of the top athletes currently training in the States attended to chase down Olympic time standards as well as Olympic Trials standards. All the top college programs competed to get a feeling for the fast, high-stakes, pre-nats atmosphere.

At Mt SAC, Santa Fe based pro Aron Rono torched a 13min 23sec 5000m, good for fifth place behind a few Olympic caliber collegians. Former UNM all-American Rory Fraser followed close in 13:27 for eighth. Santa Fe based Nike athlete Haron Lagat was just behind in 13:33 for eleventh. In the night's second heat, former New Mexico prep standout and Univ. of Colorado athlete Matt Tebo (Go Buffs!) stopped the clock with a brilliant time of 13:48 good for fifth. Impressive performances.

At the Payton Jordan Invite just about every event was stacked six heats deep. The meet's marquee event was the men's 10,000m which I was lucky enough to catch streaming live after a night out with friends. Half the field was aiming for the Olympic 'A' standard of 27min 45sec, a crazy-quick goal for folks to be aiming for. Santa Fe's Aron Rono had great positioning up front most of the race and was looking strong at the halfway point. He moved to the lead and started pulling the pace at mile four. At that point something happened that you'll seldom see in a race of that caliber - a group of collegians went to the front and proceeded to blow-up the field.

The 10000m field at Payton Jordan. Aron Rono in 4th position wearing yellow
Eight in the lead-group ducked under the standard, including four collegian runners. Southern Utah's Cam Levins earned himself a spot on the Canadian Olympic team as did Northern Arizona's Diego Mercado who will be running for Mexico. Chris Derrick of Stanford finished third but broke the American Collegiate record in the event. Rono fell off and finished in a respectable 28min 6sec, good for 19th place. Don't know what happened to the guy but that's a killer pace and he may have just been cooked. Former Lobo Rory Fraser started but dropped. Another former UNM all-American and Mizuno athlete Keith Gerard ran 28:34, good for 22nd place in the second heat. Albuquerque's Jeremy Johnson dnf'd.

Alvina Begay
In the women's 10,000m Alvina Begay of the Navajo Nation and Univ. of Arizona ran an awesome solo effort to earn herself a spot at the Olympic Trials. The pace at the front of the second heat fell off at mile four so Begay charged out on her own, finishing 2min better than her previous best and 11sec under the Trials standard of 32:45. Begay will be one of the VIP athletes at this September's BuffaloThunder Half Marathon along with '64 Olympic Champ Billy Mills.

In the men's 5,000m, former UNM all-American Chris Barnicle ran a time of 13min 42sec, followed closely by former UNM all-American Ross Millington in 14:11. In heat two Albuquerque's Matt Tebo improved his best to 13:43, and UNM's Nicholas Kipruto ran 13:59.

And lastly in the men's 1500m, (yet another) former UNM all-American David Bishop scorched an elite time of 3min 37sec (3:54mile equivalent) in the top heat. Former Los Alamos standout and Adams State all-American RyanMcNiff ran 3:42.19 for fifth place in heat three - a notable finish time in that it's two tenths faster than the equivalent of a four minute mile. A career milestone if there ever was one.

Related Posts:
  - A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills ('12)
  - Olympic Marathon Trials Showdown ('12)
  - Armijo Runs to an Olympic Trials Qualifier
 - A series of London Olympic Games race summaries can be found here
       - Olympic 10,000m Recap

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cycling Under the Light of a Full Moon

Moon rise over the Santa Fe hills
A great big full moon vaulted through the sky this last weekend. Went for a ride on Saturday and got caught out in the dark (what?, that never happens), but this time with the special purpose of enjoying a pleasant spring evening and a bright beaming moon. It couldn't have been more lovely.

 I had cycling on the brain after reading earlier Saturday that an had American ridden into the leader's jersey in the first stage of the Giro d' Italia, Italy's close cousin to the Tour de France. 21 year old Davis Phinney began stage two wearing pink sons. USA! USA! It was the moon perhaps that gave his legs the extra pop needed to best the field.  

Las Campanas Loop - 33mi, approx 2hrs+

The Sangre de Cristos in the day's last light

Sunset over the Jemez Mountains

Evening riding at its best

The alpenglow arrives for the middle miles

The rising of the moon just south of Glorieta Baldy

Cloud obscures the perigee 'super' moon. The largest full moon of the year

View Las Companas Road Ride - Santa Fe in a larger map

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things Not Seen on Treadmills, III

street art stencil R2D2
Street Art on Canyon Road - R2-D2 rockin the adobe

The wife and I got out last week to enjoy the spring waterflow along the Santa Fe River. Meandered into a few of the galleries along Canyon Rd, the commercial heart of Santa Fe's fine art and southwestern art scenes, and spotted this gem. Exhibited in a small white-washed nicho on one of the adobe facades facing the street, an inspired street artist had put-up this stellar black-and-white R2-D2 stencil. A creative mark both jarringly out of place and precisely situated, at the same time.

 - Not Seen on Treadmills, I (Sep, '11)
 - Not Seen on Treadmills, II (Feb, '12)


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