Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not Seen on Treadmills

My man Komarnitsky was in Taiwan recently and snapped this sweet image of the Busch beer stock at the local market. Apparently the secrets of Busch as an athletic performance enhancer are not entirely unknown even in the Far East. Nice get Komar.

Busch Beer Taiwan
Cold Taiwanese-sourced Busca

Busch was a widely used recovery beverage in Boulder, CO back in the day, or any place really that the old Boulder Hardman Adventure Club used to map out impossibly unrealistic endurance challenges and assorted suffer-bunny epics. Busch was prized among other recovery options due to its unique combination of favored properties:
  1. It is cold and delicious
  2. It has a colossal glaciated peak on the label that is an instant conversation starter regarding how it should be reconnoitered and climbed
  3. It is more-likely-than-not fortified with loads of anti-oxidants and trace minerals
  4. It is inexpensive
Busca for the win.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills

Billy Mills Steve Gachupin
Old adversaries - Billy Mills and Steve Gachupin
Had the chance to meet and talk with Billy Mills this weekend. The guy is an American running icon primarily for his come-from-nowhere victory at the Tokyo Olympics back in 1964. Mills was the VIP guest at this weekend's Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon along with Jemez Pueblo's Steve Gachupin who was with us as well, and double Olympic Trials qualifier Alvina Begay who wasn't there because she was storming up Old Taos Highway with the rest of the race field.

As for meeting Mills, I mostly just wanted to shake the guy's hand and tell him that it was an honor to have him visit Santa Fe, but with Steve standing there I mentioned that the two of them had some history since they raced each other in the 1968 Olympic Marathon Trials in Alamosa. This was the correct thing to say and it started Mr. Mills off on a story about how he had run the Trials only to pace George Young to victory. Knowing that Young was from New Mexico I found this story more than a little compelling. Apparently it was Young's first marathon and he kept wanting to press the pace. As Mills tells it, he repeatedly advised George to hold back then sent him on his way at mile 20. George won the race and competed later that summer in Mexico City running 16th. Mills mailed in the rest of his Trials race, abandoning soon after 20mi, Gachupin claimed bragger's rights with a 15th place showing.

1968 Olympic Marathon Trials
1968 Marathon Trials - Gachupin at left, Kenny Moore of Oregon, George 
Young of Silver City (10), Billy Mills at right
Mills went on to say that he never ran another marathon, the distance was too grueling especially since he had a hypoglycemic condition that made things difficult. I noted that he had pretty good credentials for a guy that couldn't run a marathon, running to 14th place at the Tokyo Games in '64. He answered that it was just as grueling then even though he had been in the shape of his life, by his estimations he was in 3:56 mile shape at the time. He continued his story saying that there were no water stations along the route in Tokyo. Runners were allowed to set one bottle out on the course and his had only water in it. He had asked the other runners what he should be adding to his bottle (sugar, salt) and apparently they wouldn't give him the time of day, even the Americans. Not because of strategy or gamesmanship, but rather as Mills explained, because it was 'a different time'. Kinda like how the color of the Olympic medal Mills wore around his neck on the flight home was a bit 'different', I'd imagine. Golden rays of Olympic immortality different.

Here's some video of Mills wrecking dudes on a cinder track in Tokyo. Olympic and American record, a PR by 50 seconds, and the making of an American legend. 

Related Posts:
  - Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon, 2011
  - Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon, 2013

View Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon in a larger map

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

La Tierra Trails - Trail 34

Frenchys field Santa Fe
Sunflowers and the Sangre de Cristos at Frenchy's Field
If you make it a point to get out to La Tierra from time-to-time and cruise a few miles of singletrack (on foot or bike), you've no doubt noticed that it has become fairly awesome. This is the work of a few local groups most notably the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society - our resident mountain bike club - and the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe. With the support of dozens of volunteers and the financial support of REI, IMBA, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, and now the City of Santa Fe, these groups have slowly transformed the trails from meandering jeep-track to a jewel of a recreational trail network. The work being done out there has been considerable, to the point that the folks with SFFTS landed this year's IMBA World Mountain Bike Summit (the other finalist was Tahoe, CA). A stunning development actually, and the basis for this.

Trail 34 - up top and exit right
Aside from improving and building new track, the good folks with SFFTS also helped to map out the existing network and to add signage at trail intersections to help navigate this map. Taken together this an enormous plus to those who love running out there but dislike getting lost and tacking on an extra three or four miles every time out (that would be me - and my sense of direction is actually quite good). Alright, now with this new map I noticed immediately that there was a line that ran right off the page!, traveling east from the cell phone tower on Camino de los Montoyas, clear out to Ridgetop Rd. I had explored some of this trail a few times before only to get hopelessly lost, but now it appeared I had the upper-hand.

The trail is marked as 34. To be precise, it begins as trail 31 and then becomes trail 34 for most of its eastward travel. What makes this trail so magnificent, sublime even, is that it fills a missing link to circumnavigate Santa Fe almost entirely by trail. And piecing that together is what I've been doing with my free time over the last couple weeks.

Townie (Super) Loop - Distance: ~21 miles
Duration: approx. 2hrs by bike
Good For:  Mtn biking from your doorstep/marathon long runs
Trail Quotient: 90% traffic free

River Trail

Folk Art
Frenchys Field sunflowers
Flowers and morning moon

Santa Fe acequia mural
Acequia Trail mural

Santa Fe river mural
River Trail mural

La Tierra and Unity Church

Big blue at Trail 34

Route Description: Rail Trail north -> Acequia Trail west -> north at Camino de Chelley bridge -> Frenchy's Field -> River Trail east -> Mesa Vista Rd north -> Ortiz dog park east -> Camino de los Montoyas north -> La Tierra Trails at Unity Church -> find your way in any fashion to the Cell Tower (northeast) -> Trail 34 to Ridgetop Rd -> Tano Rd east over Hwy 285 -> Old Taos Highway or Arroyo Barranca -> SF Plaza -> Don Gaspar -> Montezuma Rd west -> Rail Trail south. 

View Super Loop - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

What's more, is that the Townie Loop has a twin... (*head exploding*)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Tesuque Trail Run is on the Horizon

A few of the iconic area trail runs passed me by in the month of August. Both the La Luz Trail Run and the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent seemed to scream right by when I wasn't looking. Taos' growing trail event, the Up & Over Trail Run passed as well. Imogene Pass is tomorrow.

All of this means that Santa Fe's premiere trail run - The Big Tesuque Trail Run - is just four weeks away. Saturday Oct. 6th to be precise. This year will be the 28th iteration of the venerable event. Race director Peter Fant has all the mechanics of organizing in motion, and expects another beautiful Fall morning with coffee, breakfast burritos, prizes and raffle, as well as a field of the finest high altitude trail runners in the area. So if you haven't registered just yet, mark it on your calendar and start running laps on Atalaya to bring those climbing legs into form.

Results from past events are slowly being compiled and presented on the new Big T webpage. Similarly the page includes links to registration, a course map, details of the race's gracious sponsors, and links to past photo albums. Yes, I may have had a hand in all of this. Twenty-eight years of history add substantial value to an event, and when gathered up in one place, the weight of it all carries a bit of glory to all of the runners who have challenged themselves on the course through the years. 

big tesuque run aspens
An overcast morning on Big Tesuque in 2008 - photo by Max Mujynya

View Aspen Vista Trail (Big Tesuque Trail), Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Olympic Marathon Recap

flanagan goucher marathon london
Goucher and Flanagan at right in the early miles
Continuing a short series of posts - A quick look back at the Olympic Marathons:

A few weeks have passed obviously since the conclusion of the men's and women's marathons, but the drama was top notch and the re-match isn't scheduled for another four years so we're going to go through it just the same. The women's marathon properly set off the second week of the Games on an early Sunday morning (led by Rupp's silver medal performance the evening before) . The Americans brought a strong team with Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and upstart Desi Devila. Flanagan was the one runner with truly elite talent and possible dark-horse aspirations. Devila was rumored to be injured, and she substantiated this by starting the race and dropping by 5K. Team Kenya were the heavy favorites (all three athletes), as was Russia's Liliya Shobukhova. But this was a marathon, and the London course was winding, narrow, and slicked with rain.

Flanagan Goucher london marathon
Goucher and Flanagan spent at the finish
Team Kenya moved first, breaking the race open just past the half-way mark. Shobukhova dropped due to injury soon thereafter. Flanagan and Goucher led the chase pack and Flanagan would eventually bridge only to be dropped at the next surge in pace. She would drift behind for some time then fade from the front over the last few miles ending up almost within reach of Goucher at the finish (Flanagan at 2:25:51 for 10th, Goucher at 2:26:07 for 11th). Hard to believe, but Joan Benoit's winning time of 2:24:52 from the '84 Games will remain the American Olympic record for at least another four years.

Up front the battle for medals was down to five women, Kiplagat (the reigning world champ) was dropped over the last 7K, and then the gold medal favorite Mary Keitany of Kenya cracked in the final mile after a move by unheralded but eventual champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopa. Gelana finished in a new Olympic record time of 2:23:07, and was followed across the line by Jeptoo of Kenya and Arkhipova of Russia. It's an amazing thing to see the pressure build in a championship race of this caliber and then everyone throws down their cards and things get real over those last couple minutes. Full women's results here. Watch the full replay of the women's marathon here.

The two Americans walk-off with eleventh and tenth place finishes at the Olympic Games, Flanagan beaten and disappointed

The men's Olympic podium, Kiprotich at left
The men's race set off one week later, nearly the last competition of the Games. Heavy favorites once again were the entire Kenyan team - so good they left world record holder Patrick Makau, and Geoffrey Mutai, last year's Boston and NYC champion (who ran to course records at each race!) at home. Team Ethiopia arrived with a strong but less deep team, and the Americans brought American record holder Ryan Hall, Athens silver medalist and all around badass Meb Keflezighi, and three time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman. A runner who was not a favorite was anyone from Uganda.

A first for the flag of Uganda, Kiprotich at the finish
Unlike the women's race, the weather for the men was hot and in the 70's most of the morning. This lead to an easy early pace after which race favorite Wilson Kipsang of Kenya made a move to clinch it from a looong way out, laying down a series of 4:30 miles after the 10k mark. This surge destroyed the field and caused two of the Americans, Abdi and Hall to abandon after just 10 miles (weak). Even with this huge move, Kipsang had built himself only a 60m lead over the front pack, which chipped away at it for the next 20k. When the pack finally bridged there were only two men remaining plus Kipsang. It was two-time Kenyan World Champion Abel Kirui and Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, naturally. The Ugandan struggled after 30k, and was actually dropped for a while lingering several meters back. Kipsang remarkably tried to go once again but couldn't reach escape velocity. At 35k Kiprotich regained his strength and countered with an incredibly gutsy move of his own, a vaguely known Olympic underdog, all alone, attacking the might of team Kenya. The move was well timed, and ultimately golden. The first Olympic medal won by his nation of Uganda (2:08:01). Kirui held on gamely for silver, Kipsang finished bronze - his astonishing bid for gold at 10k was ultimately too much even for himself.

Meb Keflezighi mid race...
Behind all of this drama, Keflezighi of the US ('Meb') ran a super smart race as always - reaching halfway in a group with places 13-20 - he began to stomp everyone down in the second half. By the last 2k he had moved all the way up to 4th (2:11:06), and ran the last few hundred meters with an American flag held above his head and a fiercely pissed off Brazilian watching him trot on in ahead of him. With that, Meb solidly claimed his position as the greatest in American marathoner besides Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. Just an absolutely brilliant career. The guy is a champ and he's going to be missed when he exits the sport and hangs up the flats. Love me some Meb. Men's full results here.  Watch the full replay of the men's marathon here

...and Keflezighi finishing like a boss with the Stars and Stripes at 42K

Spyros-Breal Silver Cup
The Spyros-Breal Silver Cup
Thought I'd make mention of the news surrounding one of the most revered pieces of Olympic memorabilia - the Breal's Silver Cup - awarded to the very first men's marathon winner, Spyridon 'Spyros' Louis of Greece for his victory in 1896. It was of course the very first race over the marathon distance, commemorating the ancient plight of Pheidippides from Marathon. Well, Spyridon is a Greek icon for winning that first race, and his Cup recently went to auction and was purchased for an incredible sum ($860K) by a Greek businessman who wants to put it on permanent display as a symbol to the Greek people not to give up in these desperate economic times. Quite the story. I'd never even known about the cup until having read of it just recently.

2012 London Olympics
 - Olympic 800m Recap
 - Olympic 1500m Recap
 - Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Recap
 - Olympic 5000m Recap
 - Olympic 10,000m Recap
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Week One: The Olympic Vortex


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