So I have been very busy lately after traveling for 2 months straight over the summer and now working my butt off. I have now become a race director. I had never really planned this but now it just kind of fell into my lap. So make sure you check out the Georgia Death Race presented by Mountain High Outfitters.
So what have I been doing? Well I have put it all together in my 2012 so far top 15 runs
I have been globe trotting literally. Racking up the trail miles with my La Sportiva X Country and C lite Trail shoes.
I have not done all of the trails and runs in the world so I can only draw from what I have seen and done so yes this list is biased to what I have seen.
2012 TOP 15 BEST RUNS (That I personally ran)
15. Trans Rockies stage race. Buena Vista, Colorado.
Wow just wow! I have never run a stage race until this. Not running a stage race and then going and running this is like never running before and then going out and running a marathon on zero training. There’s lots of up and down and everything is above 8,000 ft! I can honestly say that I had a BLAST! I was hanging out with my La Sportiva team mates and meeting lots of new people. Everyday you wake up and go run. They bring your stuff from the start to the finish and set up your tent for you. Then there’s all you can eat hot meals that are simply amazing. I can say that I have NEVER had this much fun at a race before. Plus I got to see Leadville, go over Hope Pass, see epic views that you can only see by foot. I got to enjoy the company of the crazy crew of Jason Bryant, Scott Williams, Gina Lucrezi, Mike Huang, Everett, JD, Ian and the rest of the La Sportiva team I highly recommend this to any and everyone! THE GOAT (inside joke)
14. Pikes Peak Marathon. Manitou Springs, Colorado
This was one of those bucket list/DO EPIC SHIT races. Starting at 6,400 ft and running 26.2 miles to the summit of Pikes Peak, 14,100 ft, and back. This race sells out. I will tell you I made a lot of great friends running up the mountain. I also got to run with my friend Sandy for a bit. It’s very odd. You are in a high desert so it’s actually quite hot most times until you get above 11,000 ft. At 12,000 ft you hit tree line and the world opens up. These views are worth the pain. I was smiling the ENTIRE race. It was awesome. I took my time and even summited the mountain (the race has you turn around some 50 ft before the top of the mountain).
13. Bridger Ridge Run 20 mile race. Bozeman, Montana
I remember about 3 years ago I saw a photo/article about this race. The photos looked insane. 20 miles running on a ridge. Well first of all ridge running is literally my favorite type of running. I realized I could make this happen. I signed up and made the drive from Atlanta to Bozeman, Montana. I got to stay and hang out with one of my favs in the world, Wendy W. Super nice lady and super fun runner! Bozeman remains one of my favorite places in the world. The race itself was simply mind blowing. The photos speak for themselves.
12. Ultra Trail du Vercors 54 mile race. Vercors National Park, France.
Needing some redemption from my DNF at mile 45 some 6 days before at UTMB I was more than ready to take on this 30,000 ft of elevation change 54 mile race. I had signed up for this race WAY back when I first made plans to go over to UTMB. I use the trip as an excuse to do a couple races.
The website and everything race related was entirely in French. I posted on their facebook page in English if I could get a ride to the start from town. I knew nothing of the race really. I was winging it. A man picked me up and we became instant friends. The race started with that awesome European grandeur. I took it easy and enjoyed the first climb in the dark. The next thing I knew was we were on top of a ridge adjacent to the Alps and the sun was rising over the back of the Alps. It was breath taking. I was yelling out in english how beautiful it was and I got a lot of people asking me where I was from. People were so nice and welcoming. People were telling me welcome to France and welcome to Vercors. I finished the race after a couple hiccups. It remains one of my FAVORITE races in the world for what it gave me and the views.
10.Rabun Bald via the Flint Knob Trail. Sky Valley, Georgia.
A couple of weeks back during the middle of the fall leaf color explosion I found an old trail that was no longer denoted on maps. I followed it and took it to the summit of Rabun Bald, the 2nd highest point in Georgia. The views were incredible. It has quickly become my favorite place to run in Georgia and we plan to host a race there May 18th, 2013 to showcase its beauty to others. This run was only 5.5 miles and the race will offer a 10 and 18 mile distance.
My favorite view in Georgia!
9.Speed Goat 50k race. Snowbird Resort, Utah
First of all this race is dubbed the hardest 50k in the world. I believe it. I however was un phased by the relentless climbs. I guess this is because the entire 50k race takes place between 7,000 -11,000 ft. It means that I would be hiking A LOT if not all of it. I really got to meet some awesome people, drink some beer mid race(about 4 to be exact), and enjoy the views of the race. Karl Meltzer puts on one insane race and I love it. Then I went on an EPIC run/hike/scramble out of Alta ski resort the next day on the Wasatch 100 course. It was tough flying out and landing in Salt Lake City from Atlanta and then running the race 12 hours later. I would do it again in a heart beat!
8.Appalachian Trail speed record attempt. Appalachian Trail, USA
First of all leading into this race I had 10 months of training and prep. I was in the best hiking and climbing all day shape that I have and probably will EVER be in. I had put in my head so much this thought of speed speed speed record record record. When I got on the trail none of that mattered. I just went and I just enjoyed the trail, the people and the views. Sometimes I saw people every 30 minutes. Other days I would run all day and not see a soul. It was a truly life changing experience. I hope to go back in 2015 and try it again.
7.Marin Headlands fun runs. San Francisco, California
In April I used the Mt. Diablo 50k as an excuse to go see two of my best friends growing up who now live in San Fran. It was to be my last race before the Appalachian Trail. I rented a cheap car and used it everyday while there to go and explore Golden Gate Park, The Marin Headlands, and Muir Woods.
I had three really awesome fun runs and hikes. I loved it so much I went and ran a 20 mile loop with a lot of it on the Miwok 100k course.
6. Parker Ridge fun run. Jasper National Park. Alberta Canada.
It is no secret that Alberta durning the summer is literally my favorite place to run and hike in the world. There are never ending trails and never ending insane adventures as well. So many trails to make various out and backs, loops, lollipops and point to points. I ended up crashing with my good friend Emily in Canmore, Alberta. On the way to meet our buddy Brad for fun run the next day we stopped to play on top of Parker Ridge. Its about a mile hike from the parking lot which is at I think about 7,500 ft. You then climb up and up until on top of the ridge. We go on top and then when off trail a tad to see the amazingly huge Saskatchewan Glacier. We also saw a heard of rocky mountain sheep.At the end of it, or rather the top of it, we decided to jump on our butts and get down the mountain the fast way. Flying down through the snow and yelling with excitement was how this fun run/hike ended. These are some of my favorite photos of all time and taken by Emily.
5. TDS at Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race. Chamonix, France
I have done these races the last 3 years. They remain the HARDEST races I have ever run as well as the most beautiful and unique. Can you say cured meats, cheese and wine at the aid stations. Running through multiple counties during the race. You are offered multiple views of glaciers. You run from small Renaissance town to the next. Fresh mountain water flows from stone fountains that must have been erected hundreds of years ago. The races here are to me what you get when Ultra mountain running meets the Toure de France. Spectators, a couple thousand runners, and an energy level you are not used too. This year I DNF’d the TDS 70 ish miler at mile 45. It started to snow, I had all my gear on and I was still freezing. Last year I finish the same race in just over 20 hours. I will be back next year for redemption. Its only 68 miles with 46,000 ft of elevation change. Easy right?
4. Mt. Assiniboine Lodge and back. Banff National Park. Alberta, Canada.
This is one of those crazy runs you don’t tell your mom about because she would literally have a heart attack. With my friend Emily’s car and a pretty lack of real planning I headed off to run out to Mt. Assiniboine lodge and back from the Mt. Shark parking lot. If you looked on a map of Banff trails you’d see this. I then ran to the Mt Assiniboine Lodge and back. I really didnt know what to expect. I had a can of bear spray. At the trail head there were a couple of GIANT bright red signs that said “WARNING! You are now entering grizzly bear habitat. Hikers, bikers and runners have been seriously injured and or killed when encountering bears. Hike in groups of three or more.”
It was me… SOLO!
The first 10 miles was extremely boring as I was on ATV double track through the woods. Then it opened up. I went up and over a pass and popped out to see Assiniboine in all her glory. I wish I could have stayed over night and enjoyed all the lodge/area had to offer. Next time I will.
3. Run to the Sun. Haleakala. Maui, Hawaii.
Have I told you I have crazy friends? I think by now you should know this. Crazies attract other crazies. Well a while back I met fellow crazy ultra runner Matt Fober. He lives on Maui. This trip I had planned was to be my 2nd time on Maui and was to serve as my training and more or less serve as getting me mentally prepared for the Appalachian Trail. Matt and I had been talking about doing the Run to the Sun, a 37 ish mile run from sea level to the summit of Haleakala (10,000 ft volcano).
It used to be a race but in the past couple of years the Park Service on Haleakala has done pretty much everything it can to stop the race. Its unfortunate because it is truly one of the best runs/bike rides in the world. After arriving at 9 pm and getting 3 hours sleep it was time to go. We met in the K Mart parking lot in Kahului. I met 5 other guys who were to change my life. In the starlight we took off. All running together. The firs 13 miles were actually very easy. However as it was mid week and we were running on the side of the highway cars on their way to work flew by us. We got off the main highway as the sun rose above. Finally after 20 miles or so we hit the park gates at 7,000 ft above the beach.
At that mark there was 11 miles to go. It was every man for themselves as we had 3 cars full of friends and family following and crewing us. It was a free for all. I wanted to really test my limits. I pushed hard until 9,000 ft and thats when I really started to slow down. I was getting a tad dizzy so I slowed the pace. Finally we passed the visitor’s center some 400 ft below the summit. I ran hard to the top and ran up the final 20 stairs. I stopped to look around at what lay below me. Clouds danced in the crater of the volcano. The beach was a small beige line that touched the water. I was on top of it all.
This was life changing.
2. Panorama Ridge. Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
“Its 4 hours round trip if we hustle,” he said to me. Ok sweet this 30k run will be awesome I thought. About an hour into it we encountered snow… like a foot of it…. in late June. Ok no worries right?
I proceeded to follow Graham on what was now a bushwhack in the snow with no trial markings. Why? The snow was so deep (thankfully hard packed mostly) that it was above the trail markings in the trees. Graham knew the way and I followed him. We started to run out of water and I melted snow for water. It was a trick I learned in Montana.
This is it he kept saying for like an hour. It took us close to 4 hours just to get up there. Finally my jaw dropped and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Only pictures can try to come close to describing the view.
I think it is maybe top 3 views I have ever seen in my life EVER.
1. Skyline Trail. 50 ish km in Jasper National Park. Alberta, Canada.
When talking about must do hikes or crazy runs in Alberta. This trail is also top of the list.
I had this on my radar last time I was in Alberta but I did not have the opportunity. We planned this fun run out 2 months in advance. It was my friends Emily and Brad. Brad brought his RV and we stayed in it the night before. We woke up and dropped a car off on the way up as it was a point to point run.
I knew the run would be EPIC but you never really know how epic until you start.
Starting up a hill to get up to about 6,000+ ft for the rest of the run, the trail seemed like any other trail. However we quickly came to a pass and the tress vanished. We were now sitting up in the snow dusted mountain meadows. The trail had lots of late season snow on it. So water in the creeks and snow run offs was overflowing. We filled up and treated water from the streams. There were lots of bear paw prints in the mud and snow. It was awesome. Coming over the 2nd pass we now saw what looked like the end of our day. Our turn around point. There was a crystal blue glacier lake with a climb up and over something called simply “ The Notch”. It was a huge cornice of snow with lots of signs of avalanches at its base. We decided to follow some snow prints and go for it. It was a rush. We made it to the top and were now around 9,000 ft on top of literally the most beautiful ridge I have EVER been on. We were all smiles until the last 8 miles when the trail seemed to NEVER end. We finished and were rewarded with smiles that few will ever know about. This remains THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RUN I HAVE DONE.
HUGE THANKS GOES OUT TO ALL MY FRIEND AND FAMILY WHO HELPED BE PART OF THIS.
ESPECIALLY DENISE MARTIN, WENDY WEAVER, MICHAEL FITZPATRICK, EMILY COMPTON, BRAD PEAVOY, GRAHAM PERKINS, MATT N SASHA FOBER, DYLAN RIST, BAREFOOT ALEX, JON MCGONAGLE, WES MOSLEY, SANDY NYPAVER, GINA LUCREZI, ASHLEY ARNOLD, KATIE CLEGG, KUSAM KLIMB, TRAIL RUNNER CA, LA SPORTIVA, PETZL, BREAK THROUGH NUTRITION, CLIF BAR, MIX 1, CLIFTON DUHON AND MELISSA, AND ALL THE RACE DIRECTORS /OTHER PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE
T MINUS 5 DAYS UNTIL NEW ZEALAND AND THE COOK ISLANDS…
UNTIL THE NEXT RUN
DO EPIC SH*T