Michael's fundraising page: http://www2.michaeljfox.org/site/TR?fr_id=1720&pg=personal&px=1980419
Directed, filmed, and edited by Peter Logue (http://peterloguefilms.com)
Additional footage by Dominique Hessert
Postproduction assistant: Carl Ferm
Featuring "Spirit Cold" by Tall Heights, used with permission by the band (http://www.tallheights.com)
Also featuring "Journey Home" by Luke Atencio and "The Great Wonder" by Ryan Taubert, licensed via The Music Bed
Thanks to Gary Allen and Ruth Westphal
Monday, July 27, 2015
Michael's fundraising page: http://www2.michaeljfox.org/site/TR?fr_id=1720&pg=personal&px=1980419
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
As any runner knows this is exceptionally difficult to do, there always some sense of time when it comes to running, so deep down my goal was to finish under 12 hours. I didn't know if that was going to be a good time or a bad time (for me) but I thought it would be a manageable goal.
As this year's Rock the Ridge approached I again tried not to focus on time and tried to prepare as best I could for the early spring Ultra. I quit drinking beer for 3 months and spent a lot of winter mornings on the treadmill burning through my Netflix queue, often coming home to do a double. On the weekends, I did some pretty tough solo training runs and I ran the Traprock 50k just 2 weeks before Rock the Ridge.
I knew that this year I was in much better shape and much more confident, having become very familiar with the course and having a solid run last year, but I still had no real aspirations for a finishing time other than I was pretty determined to better last years effort.
As the date got closer I looked at my previous checkpoint times and realized that I could better my time if I ran the initial 3.5 mile uphill. Last year, I chose to walk the hill, knowing there were another 46.5 miles after it. This year would be different. I would plan run the 3.5 miles of Lenape Lane which would take a chunk out of last year's time.
To avoid any unnecessary travel stress my wife and I rented one of the Clove Cottages, which were just minutes from the Gatehouse Starting Area. It was so simple that my wife did a drive-by of the starting area and dropped me off with my bag in sufficient time to take care of pre-race necessities.
With so many friends around I almost didn't have enough time to use the facilities and check my drop-bag. I was so comfortable and somewhat distracted enough that before I knew it, we were on our way down Gatehouse Road.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The Ridge was lit in the morning sun and the air was crisp and cool. Perfect conditions for that initial climb that was going to set the tone for the rest of my day.
As we started the climb I bumped into another runner I met on a (Taste of) Rock the Ridge training run. Kristen was from PA. We talked quite a bit and managed to keep our minds off the climb and pushed our way through the enduring climb, past the Mohonk Golf course and into the woods.
We twisted our way through the paths of Guyot Hill and as started our descent, my friend Bob Harris caught up to us. A nice addition to the group conversation, together we finished the downhill portion into Spring Farm, the first Aid Station at mile 9.8.
I quickly took a bathroom break that I had been looking forward to for at least a mile maybe more. I came out refueled a bit and saw my wife for a quick hug and we were on our way again.
Heading out on Ceder Road Kristen and I realized Bob was a bit ahead of us. We didn't want to push it too hard, not knowing if Bob was gone or if we would catch up through the course of the run.
Well before long we were climbing up to Skytop Tower and Bob was within sight. We climbed to the tower and caught up to Bob.
We rounded Skytop marveling at the beauty of the day, and descended down to Forest and Oakwood to Rhododendron Bridge Aid Station.
Somewhere Kristen put in a gap between Bob and I and we proceed through Upper Cliff past the mile 20 marker and on to the next segment crossing over 44/55 we started on Trapps Road.
We take Trapps Road into the Minnewaska portion of the run and the path increases from a flat monotonous grade to just a slight uphill into an annoying little climb to the Lyons Road Aide station (mile 25.9). The volunteers here are enthusiastic and willing to get your drop-bag for you if you need it.
I was a little slow out of the station but I didn't spend a lot of time. I wanted to make sure to keep with the plan and hydrated and got something to eat. We continued the climb from Lyons road up to Awosting Falls, simply one of the most beautiful places on the course. We took it in and continued the 400 foot climb to Lake Minnewaska. We worked to keep our heart rates under control, stay hydrated and replenish on gels and chews, because we knew it was long haul out to Castle point.
At the Minnewaska Aide station (mile 26.4) I grabbed a pack of chews and jammed them into an open pocket on my vest. From another pocket I took out a packet of Tailwind and as my sweaty hands fumbled with getting a grip the packet ripped open spraying a cloud of Tailwind into the air that LeBron would have been proud of.
Bob and I exchanged stories keeping our minds off the heat. I kept up with my schedule of taking a salt/caffeine and electrolyte tablet every hour. Bob didn't seem to have any and I had enough to spare so I offered the tablets to Bob as well.
We rounded Castle Point again admiring the stellar views and saw Ian looking as fresh as anyone could at 30 miles into a run. Rounding off the high point at Castle Point we started a slow descent past Lake Awosting and onto the Lower Awosting Carriage Trail.
I was feeling pretty good on Lower Awosting and encouraged Bob and knowingly pulled him along
through this long tough stretch to the Lower Awosting Aide Station (mile 35) where I saw my wife and our dog. We took some pictures, handed off some garbage, talked for a quick bit, got a kiss and were on our way to finish the final 15 miles of the day.
Bob and I relished the cooler temperatures as we descended into the shade and past Awosting falls and back to the Lyons Road Aide Station (mile 37.7). Again being careful to be sure to eat and get enough fluids I topped off my bottles with only water.
I shook it off and Bob and I pushed our way through the remaining miles on Trapps Road and crossed over 44/55 and onto Undercliff Road. Yet another milestone as we silently passed the 40 mile marker in the heat of the day just as the bigger bugs started to come out.
I asked Bob to pull a bug wipe from my bag, I handed him one and whipped myself and tucked the towel under my buff, which seemed to help deter the pest that was immediately at hand. I was feeling pretty gritty at this point but I was still feeling like I had some gas in the tank. I could tell Bob was starting to fade a little and as we pulled into the Rhododendron Bridge aide station (mile 42.2)
Again topping off my bottles I was back on the path rather quickly, Bob was ok to just let me go. I
pushed on and before long I caught up with friends Heidi and Ian. I was pretty proud of myself to be with these two as I respect their abilities quite a bit.
We pushed through as steady as we could but yo-yoed our way across the final ridge-line and down to Duck Pond (mile 48.3) where Ian was clearly feeling better than Heidi and I and jumped out to finish where he could.
Heidi and I encouraged each other as we rounded our way back onto Lenape Road were this long journey began. We pushed downhill past the farm house and back into the terrible climb up to Butterville Rd and onto the seemingly never ending Gatehouse Road.
I saw my friend Dylan cheering me on and high-fived him and Ken Posner as I beat last year’s time by an hour and forty minutes and finished in under ten hours.
Distance - 50 Miles
Time - 9:37:25
Elevation Gain - 4,400ft
|Rock the Ridge 50 Mile Challenge - Course Map|
|Rock the Ridge 50 Mile Challenge - Elevation Profile|
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
On December 6, 2014 the most competitive 50 mile race on US soil took place in the muddy trails of Marin Headlands. Leading up to the event, we chronicle thoughts and training of 5 noteworthy athletes.
From Boulder to Mammoth Lakes, follow athletes Sage Canaday (Hoka One One), Tim Tollefson (Nike Trail), Alex Varner (Nike Trail), Dylan Bowman (The North Face) and Timmy Olson (The North Face) in their quest to stake a spot atop the coveted podium.
Directed & Produced by: Billy Yang
Sage Canaday: @SageCanaday
Alex Varner: @afvarner
Dylan Bowman: @dylanbo
Tim Tollefson: @TimTollefson
Timothy Olson: @timmyolson_run
The 2014 North Face Endurance Challenge Championships
Friday, November 21, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
On June 28, 2014 Nike Trail athlete Sally McRae ran the original and most prestigious 100 mile race, the Western States 100 for the very first time. This short film documents her story and her journey leading up to this event including qualifying at the Montrail Ultra Cup race, the inaugural Sean O'Brien 50 mile earlier in the year.
Although recently garnering a sponsorship, Sally opens up about her personal struggles and self-doubt leading up to the race. Her story also involves the tremendous support of her friends who were with her throughout her journey to and during the race of her life, the Western States 100.
Starring: Sally McRae | www.sallymcrae.com
Film by: Billy Yang | www.billyyangfilms.com
copyright Billy Yang Films 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The sun had just come up and the thermometer in my car said 52 degrees, the overcast-clouds were grey (with even darker bottoms) and the flags was blown straight out from their poles.
I looked around the car and didn't see my "race bag".
I had just realized that under my fleece I was only wearing a short sleeve shirt, the first pules of panic began to circulate through my chest. This could be a very long, cold day.
My race bag, which for some reason I left at home is usually stuffed with couple of different shirt options, arm-warmers, hats, maybe another pair of shoes, nipple bandages, food, gloves, powdered drink-mix, extra socks, you name it, it's ALL in that bag.
Today, the painter's gloves were going to have to do.
I zipped up my fleece got out of the car and walked a few hundred yards over to the starting area to use the porta-potties. As I crossed main street, which was now closed to traffic, the leaves were blowing across my path like tumbleweeds in an old western.
My stomach felt nervous and very unsettled and seemed to be draining the energy from me. It took me and uncomfortably long time to emerge from the blue plastic bathroom, and when I did i felt weaker than when I went in like it was some energy-sucking, phantom toll booth.
I tried to compose myself and started to head-back to the car to try to stay warm till it was race time, which fortunately wouldn't be long.
As I was approaching the parking lot I saw a colleague from work. We spoke a few minutes and he accompanied me back to my car where I ditched the fleece and we headed to the starting area where we huddled between the buildings and other runners shielding ourselves from the wind.
I chatted with a few people I know, and before too long the winds seemed to have calmed and we shared a moment of silence for Carlos Santory, held our hands over our hearts for the National Anthem and we were off.
26.2 here we come!
|Times Herald Record|
Heading down main street I was pretty happy to be warming up, there was a slight head-wind, but nothing as serious as it looked earlier.
We found our respective spots in the pack as we headed down main street onto the first 11.5 mile loop of the figure eight course.
The first loop was beautiful, within a mile we had crested the 1st hill and at just over 8 miles we entered onto the unpaved portion of The Heritage Trail. I had never been here before and really enjoyed the beauty of the woodland trail running alongside a nature preserve.
My colleague caught up with me at just about 10.5 miles and we ran together through the town of Goshen and left town together for the second loop of the figure eight course.
As we passed through town, we saw the race director Kathleen Rifkin who shouted a few words of encouragement to us and almost under hear breath said "Now for the hills", with a smile.
So here we go, the second loop with the majority of the hills. We climb up and over the Victoria Street hill to get out of town again and continued onto the roller-coaster of hills that is Sarah Wells Trail.
As hilly as Sarah Wells is, the vistas are spectacular. The clouds were lifting, it was not nearly as dark, the winds were strong but didn't seem to be really impacting forward progress and the fall foliage was beautiful.
Following Purgatory there's about 3 miles of recovery in which I felt like I was running pretty well along the beautiful Ridge Road and onto Craigville Road. Occasionally a relay runner would pass me, but I was pretty solid into my pace and fairly well distanced from any other runners for the moment.
Turning onto Johnson Road at about mile 19 was another moment to collect myself and prepare for Cow Bell Hill. I stopped at the aid station, had a gel and some water and psyched myself up to take on this final beast.
About 3/4 of the way up I stopped to walk a bit, remembering the trail runner mantra of "If you can't see the top, you should be walking".
I reached Rt 94, crossed over, passed the 20 mile marker and headed on the Meadow Rd which runs
along side the black dirt fields. A tough stretch of road that seems to go on for quite some time while your totally exposed to the winds coming off the fields -- Remarkably, this is one of the few places that I actually felt cold.
I reached 20 miles at just over 3 hours and was hoping I could do the final 10k in under an hour. That would get me in around 4:05 for the marathon.
At mile 21.5, I rounded the final relay transition and onto the paved portion of The Heritage Trail for the final leg back into Goshen. Just over 4.5 miles to go.
My legs waved in and out through the final leg, at times they felt strong and able to hold onto the pace and then like a lapse in concentration they were shuffling along, unable to pick up the pace.
I was struggling more mentally than physically, I wasn't going to do that last 10k in an hour and all I could think of was how much I wanted to be off this bike path and get into town!
And finally there it was... a right-hand turn, up a hill and around a left corner and I would be finishing on the track in Goshen.
I entered the track and was flabbergasted at how big this final loop was. It seemed to take forever to make the final turn and push to the finish.
I looked up and saw 4:13 and pushed hard enough not to see the clock flip to 4:14
I crossed the line, got my medal, wrapped myself in a foil blanket and found my wife.
It so cold and windy on the track, all I wanted to was go home and warm up.
So yeah, although I didn't really prepare too well for this day, I didn't do too badly.
Distance: 26.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,411 ft
Finish line Video:
After running the SRTRun/Hike just the week before I was looking forward to getting back out on the trails. I had lived a week with "my demons" that I picked up on the SRT.
As a photo drone hovered overhead, I mingled with some familiar faces from both Rock the ridge and last weekends SRT. It was a beautiful morning with a crystal clear skies and a "Million Dollar View".
I moved out to the edge of the trail and ran along the edge of the trail where I could see the ground again and waited for the pack to thin.
After a sprint through one field and through a wet meadow, we turned up and into the woods on the Blue Trail.
My eyes quickly adjusted to the shadows as I focused in on the rocks and roots along the trail as we hit the first climb of the day.
Turning right to the yellow Ski Loop Trail I found a moment to catch my breath as the the foot steps from behind were thinning.
A slight down grade and across Table Rock Trail we emerge briefly from the woods back and crossed the Spring Farm fields to a winding climb on The Northwest Trail (part of the SRT).
Turning right, I settled in with a small group of runners as we pushed our way up the 1 mile Spring Farm road climb. The climb finishes at the Mohonk Golf Course and it's just a brief moment to recover before the Guyot Hill climb.
Rock the Ridge and I've done several training runs through this part of the course and I knew there was still some deceptive little hills as we wind our way to the highest point 5 miles into the 10 mile run.
I felt really great, so I picked up the pace as I wound my way along the relatively flat Bonticou Road carriage path and back across the Old Bonticou path which revealed the most amazing view of the Bontcou Crag.
Emerging at the top on Bonticou Road, I skipped the water stop where I finally passed the runners I was trying to catch on the hill and I started the final leg of the run.
I pushed the pace and took advantage of the downhill. Turning right onto Cedar Drive I was still feeling good and was pushing it hard. I passed a few runners and felt like I was really making up some ground.
Being careful to keep the rubber on the road on the downhill finish, I could see the pavilion and the finish line I pushed hard and blew past the finish at full speed.
Distance: 10 Miles
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
|Photo Credit: Tom Bushey|
Passing through the fog and watching the footing we enter into the vast fields of blueberry bushes of the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail. The bushes glowing in the haze were beautiful, but only the foolish would look too long. This trail is pocked with rocks securely lodged and point out of the middle of the trail. A stumble here could certainly break and arm or severely bruise a knee or shin.
The trail to Mud Pond features a rocky scramble and levels out on the backbone of the ridge and reminiscent of a western movie with the expanses of white rock and emerging vistas of the Hudson Valley.
There was a squeeze which I chose to go around and a hand over hand scramble that challenged my still fluttering stomach.
Emerging at the top of the scramble the view is stellar. Looking to the South we could see Sam's Point (where we started), and to the south-west the beautiful Lake Awosting lays out before you like a mirror in a mossy thicket.
I stopped to soak it in knowing that this was the first milestone of the day at only 7.5 miles.
Eventually crossing Upper Awosting carriage road I swiftly shot down a set of stairs and continued through the shaded woods. At just about 10 miles I reached Rainbow Falls. Pretty much the first sign of water, but I wasn’t yet in need – but it was definitely on my mind!
Similar to the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail, Jenny Lane is littered with tripping hazards. At a moment’s notice and fortunately where it was most convenient to go down, I did, and a stick jabbed my knee drawing some blood. Hey, it’s trail run isn't it?
The fall split open her knee cap and sprained her ankle, injuries bad enough to require her to drop out after walking the .6 miles to the Jenny Lane-Route 44/55 checkpoint (just about 13 miles).
Finally getting to Peter's Kill, the first sign of water, I pulled my remaining bottle (I had saved for so long) and sucked it down in virtually one gulp. We went down to the rocks and straddled the flowing water to fill our bottles and bladders. The cold spring water in the bladder felt great on my back. Knowing I was able to refill, one less worry (for now).
The cool descent was strewn with some nasty rocks. It was very tough to keep it together as I tried to collect myself on the descent to the Coxing Kill Check Point (17.5 miles) -- I would later volunteer at this checkpoint on the following day.
I found a rock and took off my backpack and squeezed down a couple of fruit/veggie baby food packets and fig bars. As bad as I felt, the views from here were stunning, looking northwest to the Catskills.
Instead I found myself at the base of yet another rock scramble. I couldn't believe this insult… I’m trying to do this and I can’t believe this climb. Suck it up and get over it. -- Once at the top, running was possible again, the slight downhill helped me run all the way to Old Clove Road and to the Chapel Trail (at just over 22.5 miles).
I knew I was going to have to climb my way up to the Mohonk Golf Course and that if the rest of the day was an indicator, the SRT was n't taking any prisoners and I’d be single-tracking it up and over the ridge.
I had no choice but to find out for myself. I was running on the soft packed trail, granted not very fast, but I was able to move faster than a walk. Eventually It was starting to get darker, the sun hadn't set yet and it seemed like I could see a mile ahead of me and a mile behind me and there was nobody to be seen.
I was stunned. My GPS was telling me I had already run 33 miles. I asked them again “How far”? Two miles, they shouted back.
Elevation Gain: 4,354 ft