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2013 in races

So what have I been up to in 2013? Not much, as it turns out. I’ve run fewer races than in past years, but they were all very satisfying. All in all, it’s been a great year for me – great personal life, great work success, great adventure fun. The year had it’s share of sad news as well though: my stepdad passed away from cancer. He was an inspirational man, in many ways embodied more of what ultra endurance sports is to me than most elithe runners ever will.

1. Iditarod Trail Invitational (~1000m)

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If I could only do one race for the rest of my life, it would be this. Not because it’s the “hardest” (seriously what’s the stupid obsession with that these days?) but because it enriched my life in many different ways, from meeting the most friendly and selflessly helpful people in the villages along the way all the way to at times being reduced to true survival mode (in the actual sense of the word – you might not survive).

2. Quicksilver 50m

It took me a while to bounce back from the ITI, longer than normal for sure. Most of all, I lost my will to push myself – it’s not so much that I felt physically exhausted, it was much more mental. The quicksilver was my litmus test to see if I would ever be able to race again. It turned out pretty well, all things considered, and I was happy. Lots of friends all around really made this one stand out.

3. Bryce 100m


The Bryce looked like too good of a race to pass up, and sure it was. Kudos to the RD for bringing out a fresh small event in an unbelievably spectacular setting. I ran it with two of my best friends and Jill – it was really good fun.

4. Laurel Highlands 70m

I couldn’t pass up a personal invite from the RD for this, even though it was just a week after Bryce. It went well for me, and great times were had enjoying the hospitality of my personal hero and ITI legend Tim Hewitt.

5. RTP Iceland (250km, stage)

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Ah the pleasures of a stage race in a very windy, wet and cold place. Iceland was fun, the landscapes stark, striking and impressive. Met a new best mate: Dan Plane, who I expect I will do some adventures with, though sadly he’s on the other side of the world.

6. PTL (300km, ~80000ft ascent)

 

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This year’s PTL was longer, steeper, more exposed and technical than the last one. Very unfortunately my good friend Daniel could not join me last minute due to an urgent family issue, but Dima provided good company and a competent running mate for this race. It was epic as always, more miserable than ever, and I got to know a host of cool people from Denmark and Sweden.

7. TDG (330km, ~80000ft ascent)

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I started the TDG with some doubts in my mind. The miles went by very slowly at first, and it took me longer than the previous year to hit my stride. But once that happened … it went really well. A personal best so far, one week after the PTL. I love that race, still, even though there’s now no beer at smaller aid stations. One notable sad event is that a chinese runner died due to a head injury sustained during a fall early on in the race.

And well … that’s it! I did six more 50km races during the year to keep the legs moving, but I generally approach them as training runs, and my will to go fast in those has all but disappeared. All in all this adds up to 1953 miles of racing. This may sound much, but I assure you my training mileage is dwarfed by what you are likely doing!


For 2014, I hope I will see the arch in Nome again (though that’s never certain), and PTL and TDG and Bryce are on the program as well, and maybe another 100. Jill has a huge bike year planned, which will be exciting to follow.

P.S. On a side note, people keep asking me how I can manage to do this much traveling and racing. The answer is a mix of luck, hard work, and life choices. For one, no kids – this isn’t a choice I made to be able to do this sort of thing, that would be silly, but that unrelated choice nevertheless allows me a lot more personal freedom. I’m also lucky that I’m good at my job because I like very much what I’m doing, work in a field that’s currently well compensated, and work for one of the best companies to work for in the world (particularly when you’re a software engineer). I perform well, and as a result I get some freedom to take unpaid time off as well as vacations when they suit my race schedule. I also made sure I stick with a great manager who lets me do this. Taking this much time off is not without compromise though, even at a good place – it certainly slows career growth. To me, that’s more than worth what I’m getting. Lastly, we pretty much only spend money on gear and travel. Otherwise (apart from a Whole Foods habit) we live relatively cheaply compared to my colleagues, and we rent a place, keeping ourselves flexible. ┬áThe biggest enabler though is Jill – we’re very much alike in our goals and it’s been exceedingly easy to create a cool life together – things just “fit”.

So ultimately there’s no “trick” to this. But I do know many many people who find their own ways to live really fulfilled lives – but of course sometimes ones circumstances simply don’t allow this (and no, runner Facebook preachers: you really can’t do “anything” and you can’t always succeed if you just try hard enough … otherwise I’d have cured cancer and crated world peace a while back, let’s set the priorities here …). That’s one reason I live this maybe excessive seeming life – I take it while I can, because I know nothing lasts forever.

 

 

 

1 comment to 2013 in races

  • I always enjoy reading about your races through Jill’s blog and Facebook updates. You’ve had a really cool year, and I look forward to following along through 2014. You’re definitely smart to appreciate being with an adventure enabler; it’s a real gift.