Ian Sharman Hangs Out with Elevation Trail

Ian Sharman and Mike Aish. The rivalry lives.

Ian Sharman and Mike Aish. The rivalry lives. Photo: Nicole Aish

Ian Sharman joins Elevation Trail for a wide ranging, no punches pulled conversation. Gary (in his slutty ways) is now the number 1 fan of Ian. You won’t want to miss that. We talk Skyrunning, coaching, smart training, hill running, race strategy, living in the USA, Elvis, new running gadgets, his records, and a lot more. Hope you enjoy it.

Music by LCW. Song “Take Back”

https://lcwmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

Ian Sharman Interview

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How to Travel to an Ultrarunning Race

Why limit the excitement and enjoyment to the activity of running the race?  Finding a way to the start line can be part of the thrill and danger of ultrarunning.

People are getting soft.  Don’t believe me?  Look how much you Ooo and Aah at video and pics of normal little runs [hikes] up mountains by skinny, dirty runners with no jobs or homes, sleeping in the back of a 1978 Vega.  You drool over these images in your grey cubicle, nearly sweating through your Dockers chinos, and then burn the mental image into your brain, replacing the main character with yourself, as you bound up the 100 ft mound in the neighborhood park (that used to be a garbage dump).  Jumping up and down like Rocky among the scent of old oil drums buried deep beneath your dancing sneakers.

Sad.  You could be sharing the same giardia filled streams with any of these guys but quickly justify your grassy toxic dump GPS’d hill run with the fact that you actually have a life and, thus, some semblance of responsibility.  But I digress.

Gain back some of that adventurous youthful ability in the travels and accommodations to your next race.  Fly by the seat of your khakis and wing that shit.

You’ll want to keep your “plans” to yourself or at least somewhat vague.  I mean, no reason to bother your family with silly details like driving 110 mph through the desert half asleep with one index finger on the wheel or spending the night behind a gas station in East Los Angeles.

“Can you fellas point me to the nearest ATM?”

Transportation.  In the true spirit of adventure, leave that 7-year financed SUV in the garage and find some freestyle mode of transportation.  If you don’t have any friends dumb enough to be involved with ultrarunning and can’t sucker anyone into believing this will be “just like a vacation” to drive you to the race, then post some carpooling posts on local running club boards or on Facebook.  Make sure to be clear about the “NEED RIDE” detail.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with two idiots meeting at a coffee shop with all their luggage and gear and neither will have a car, thinking the other was supposed to drive.  Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it.

“You must be here off Craigslist for the ride to that place in the woods?”

Craigslist is an option too.  They have this “ride share” section (at least all the cool dirtbagging-type towns do, anyway).  You’re either going to be riding with a business sales guy chugging pepto bismol and listening to conservative talk radio loudly, or you’ll be in the back of a windowless van that smells like urine and has what appears to be dried blood on the ceiling.  If you make it to the race with all your orifices intact, then anywhere you end up sleeping won’t seem nearly as bad.

Accommodations.  Race Directors will often write on the race website IN BOLD AND ALL CAPS (AND SOMETIMES DIFFERENT COLORS) that you can’t camp here or park there, blah, blah.  It’s dark at night and no one will see you.  Besides, the parks’ budget is smaller than an Arkansas teenager’s weekly allowance, so there’s like one park ranger covering 5 million square miles of land and the chances he’ll catch you (or even be in the same area code) are nil.

Once, when I travelled to a certain race in Pennsylvania, I found an open (or, rather, unlocked) window in a ski hut cabin, so I crawled in and spent the night there before the race.  Some might call this breaking and entering.  I didn’t break shit.  I call it a warm sofa.  Oddly enough, that experience ended up as an article on minimalism in Trail Runner Magazine (last time I talk about my travel experiences on a run with an Editor).

Anton slept on a park’s bathroom floor the night before a race a few years ago.  That’s roughing it.  I’d rather sleep naked on an open boulder field at 13,000 ft in January than be snuggling up with moldy feces.  Geoff Roes had the “roughing it” when traveling to races down to a science.  He’s got all the camping gear shit and he’s a cook that can turn Ramen Noodles into spaghetti con le vongole (I italicized it to make it look fancier), so he’s living it up in the woods while the rest of you soft, 300 series BMW driving, $200 multi-colored hydration vest wearing yuppies are trying to figure out how to open that child-sized piece of soap in your hotel bathroom.

You’re better than this.

If you live to make it to the start of the event, it’ll seem like one of the easiest races you’ve ever run after the hell you put yourself through to get there.

UTMB, Prize Money, Media Coverage, Denali, Single Life

P1470139We cover too many topics to list here. Just listen to the show. And thanks.

Check out our YouTube channel videos. https://www.youtube.com/user/footfeathers

Direct .mp3 file: UTMB, Prize Money, Denali, Single Life

Mike Aish – Dealing with DNF and Lots More

aish climbMichael Aish joins us today on Elevation Trail to discuss a world of topics. He’s fresh off his DNF at Leadville 100 over the weekend and has a lot of interesting perspectives on racing and ultrarunning in general, delivered in a way only Mike can do it. Very fun show! Hope you enjoy it.

Mike Aish Interview

Nick Clark Interview

ncNick Clark returns to Elevation Trail for an interesting conversation on his evolving race career, race directing, sponsorships in ultrarunning, and pacing duties at Leadville 100 coming up next week with Mike Aish. Hope you enjoy the show.

Nick’s trail and ultra race events: www.gnarrunners.com

Don’t forget to check out the Silverton Alpine 50k: http://www.silvertonalpinerunning.com/events/silverton-alpine-marathon-50k/

Direct .mp3 file: Nick Clark Interview

Summer Catch Up Show

Tim and RD Phil after finishing Grand Mesa 50 miler

Tim and RD Phil after finishing Grand Mesa 50 miler

Gary gets his motorcycle and hides it from his mother. Tim returns as an ultrarunning fanboy. We talk about everything and nothing.

Races mentioned on the show to check out:

Grand Mesa 100

Silverton Alpine 50k / Marathon

Summer Catch Up

How to Run the Leadville 100 Part 3: Choice, Buckle or Death?

Go on and get caught up with Part 1 and Part 2 of How to Run the Leadville 100.  My patience is shallow as a puddle, so take your time.

So, now you’ve made it through the training and have finally arrived in Leadville the week of the race.  Gasping for air while walking to the car concerns you a bit but you hope to acclimatize before race day.  Funny enough, the percentage of oxygen in the air (21%) remains the same up to 70,000 feet.  Interesting…(if you have no friends and thus too much time on your hands and can concern yourself with useless facts).  However, it’s the density (or lack thereof) of the air that makes some people feel like they’re suffocating.  If panting like a porn star isn’t enough of an indication that you’re having a tough time with higher altitude, here’s a list of pleasant symptoms (nabbed off some wiki-crap page)…

  • Lack of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Insomnia
  • Pins and needles
  • Shortness of breath upon exertion
  • Nosebleed
  • Persistent rapid pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • General malaise
  • Peripheral edema (swelling of hands, feet, and face).

Sounds like side effects of Levitra, “We’ll help you get a chubby but your eyes may start bleeding.”  Those symptoms above will emerge just from standing in line at the one decent coffee shop in Leadville (hint: it’s not the dumb ass yuppie coffee shop you’re thinking of).  Mix in a little 24 hours of nonstop running and you’re in for more suffering than bumping into your insurance salesman neighbor at a bagpipe conference.

The race starts early, like “get your ass out of bed, sailor, you’re in the navy” early.  The 4am start means you have to get up around midnight to fiddle with your gear for the 80th time, eat whatever won’t make your nervous stomach barf, rub Body Glide on every surface of your body until you feel like a glazed doughnut, and pray that your bowels will release before the start instead of halfway down 6th Street.  It’s so early that you’re probably better off just staying up all night drinking.  Any lingering sleepiness at the start will be exploded out of your head by the 12 gauge shotgun blast that Ken Chlouber uses to start the race (and wake up half the state).  Now you’re off and running at a pace more suited to a 5k.  The start heads down 6th St, which is downhill for about a mile until you’re dumped off onto “the boulevard”, a rumbling dirt road that lasts for about 2.5 miles and seems more like 25 miles long when returning to the finish some 20-30 hours later.

You can pretty much predict how people are going to do in the race based on what time they reach Mayqueen aid station at mile 13.  If you see a friend reach that point in, say, 1 hr 45 mins, you yell, “Man, you’re killing this shit!” But really you’re thinking, “That poor bastard will be a salt caked zombie with diarrhea by the time he hits 70 miles.”  “Great job, dude!”

By the time you finally wake up and are conscious by 8 or 9am, you’ve already covered about the distance of a marathon and think, “just three more marathons to go…”  As mentioned, much of the course is mostly open and runnable and, with over a 1,000 people running, you’re never really out there in the wilderness alone like some 100s where you feel like you could be on the wrong end of a snuff movie in the woods at any given time.  In fact, most of the first 40 miles of the course are, well, boring.  Once you reach Twin Lakes at mile 40, that changes.  There are a lot of people, both locals and race related, hanging out, cheering, enjoying the day, and likely thanking God they aren’t moronic enough to attempt something as dumb as what you’re doing.  If you glance up, you see Hope Pass looming tall in the distance and realize you’ll have to get over that thing, twice.  Suddenly, the race has a new meaning and seems much bigger than the 40 miles you’ve been enjoying so far.

All of a sudden, this doesn’t seem like such a great idea.  photo stolen.

To make the climb over Hope Pass (12,600 ft) just a little more interesting, you have to cross Lake Creek (which feeds the twin lakes and is the only point at which you get wet feet, unless you piss on yourself – been there, done that), so you have soaking wet feet before the climb up to one of the weirdest aid stations in ultras.  After about an hour of climbing up a trail that would be beautiful if you weren’t brain dead from being asphyxiated, you pop out onto this beautiful meadow and suddenly feel as though you’re in some cool dream with flowers, soft music, and girls in light sundresses.  Then you see a fairly large animal that looks vaguely like a camel, then another, then several of them.  Just before you’re almost ready to swear off anymore cheap LSD sheets from your SoCal friend, you realize you’re at the Hopeless aid station on Hope Pass and those weird animals fucking up your cool dream are llamas.

WTF.  Looks like a humpless camel with a Bob Marley wig.

photo, yep, stolen.

They use the llamas to haul all the aid station gear up the mountain.  You’re so messed up from lack of oxygen that you can barely make small talk with the “interesting” folks who manage the aid station, so you just sip the soup broth placed in your hands, wave weakly to no one in particular, and wander off to complete Hope Pass and make your way down to Winfield, the 50 mile halfway point.

If you’re lucky enough to have tricked one of your (soon to be ex) friends to pace you, Winfield is where the pacing begins (refer to my pacing guide here).  If you turn around and get started out of Winfield quickly enough, you have a chance of not coming to your senses and just ending the suffering and quitting right there.  Dropping isn’t so bad.  It only wears on your mind every day for the rest of your life.  No biggie.  To avoid the guilt a blind Jewish mother would be proud of, you continue on.  By the time you get back to Twin Lakes, the party is pretty much over and you waddle through the aid station, get weighed in, find that you’re down about 10 pounds since starting the race, even though you’re hands are swollen like you got stung on each finger by killer African bees.  Now that it’s night time and cold out, your appetite for certain food changes.  A grilled cheese sandwich cut into four cute triangle shapes and Gold Fish crackers are the best things you’ve ever tasted in your life, even though normally you consider both of them fit for a four year old child.  In fact, I just realized that aid station volunteers treat you more and more like a child as the race progresses.  Says a lot about the mental state required to sign up for one of these things.

The rest of the run is a painful blur until you get to Mayqueen at mile 87.  Depending on your condition (likely shitty), this last 13 miles can take you anywhere from 2 to 16 hours.  If you hit Mayqueen 20 hours into the race, you have a great shot at finishing under 25 hours and getting the big buckle (the entire point of the race and the last six months of wasted life).  The big buckle is, well, big and, as Americans, we always want big.

Here’s my Leadville buckle.  That’s right, ladies, the big one.

The smaller buckle isn’t worth showing a picture of in this post.  It’s like the size of a quarter and comes with a Hello Kitty pink cotton belt.  You get the smaller buckle for finishing in 25-30 hours.  If you finish after 30 hours, you should find another hobby because if you have the 60,000 hours per year of time to spend on a hobby, you could be a kick ass quilt knitter.

Now that you have the big buckle, go back to that holiday party this year and be the center of attention. You will surely lure another idiot who can’t talk to women into wanting to run Leadville for the sole purpose of impressing girls with a shiny buckle.  And, really, do we want a girl who is impressed by a shiny belt buckle?  (yes).