Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hardrock 100

A few of you know I have volunteered to be the aid station captain for the Engineer Aid Station for the Hardrock 100 this year.  I am really excited about the chance to participate in the race although I must admit, I would certainly prefer to be running in the race.

Engineer AS is located along Bear Creek, Ouray (there are 3 Bear Creeks in the Silverton, Ouray, Telluride area) just at timberline (11,800 ft).  This is one of the more interesting aid stations because it is a hike-to aid station.  The trip up to Engineer begins in Silverton, where you drive up County Rd 2 for 18 miles to it's end.  Trouble is, the end of CO Rd 2 is located on top of Engineer Pass at 12,500 ft. and that 18 miles will take between 1.5 and 2 hours to cover.

The road, also known as the Animas Fork Rd, is a 4WD road only, meaning very slow going all the way up, especially in the higher sections.  And I will have to make it in a rental SUV.  Sounds like fun.  I have driven over Ophir Pass several times (between Telluride and Silverton) and it is supposed to be the worst "real road" in the area.  Here is a link to a pretty good video someone took going up to Engineer Pass.

Once we get to the top of the pass we have a 1.8 mile hike dropping 1,200 feet to the location of the aid station at timberline.  We will have to haul everything we have a the aid station down to the location and back up after the race.  We will have, at least, one Coleman stove, two Coleman lanterns, several bottles of Coleman fuel, several collapsible water jugs, several buckets to settle impurities out of the creek water before filtering, two or three water filters, one two person, one three person, aid station shelter and poles, cutting board, food, lots of food, a pot or two, a skillet, at least two sleeping bags, folding chairs, what we will eat and drink and a lot of warm clothing and rain gear.

This is a picture taken near the top of Engineer Pass looking back down to the aid station location, down in he trees at timberline.

This year is supposed to be the fastest field of runners ever for Hardrock so the the lead runners will probably reach Engineer as early as 4:30 or 5:00 PM Friday.  (The race starts at 6:00 AM Friday morning.)  Runners will arrive all night and the last should be through by 7:00AM Saturday morning.  Then we pack everything up and start hauling it back up to the truck.  It will take several trips.

Here is a link to some of the best race pictures I have seen by Ted Mahon on his blog "Stuck in the Rockies."  His blog is pretty interesting.  Running is just one of his and his wife's interests.  He climbed Everest in 2003, in 2008 he and his wife finished skiing all of Colorado's 14ers, also in 2008 Ted and his wife Christy climbed Ama Dablam in the Himalayas.  You will notice in the last picture from Hardrock he is eating with his wife Christy and Neil Beidleman. (Did you read "Into Thin Air" - you should.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why we created the Run for Kids Challenge

Ruth Vanzandt, Run for Kids Competitor in the 12 Hour Race sent me this picture of her Grand Nephew last week and I asked permission to post it.  Here is her answer.

"Please do use the picture of Auston.  It was taken at the Relay for Life held here in Arab last weekend.  His name is Auston Cagle and you can surely put I am his great aunt and PROUD  of it!!  He and his family are actually going to Camp SAM this weekend!"

Thank you Ruth for sharing the picture of Auston and his friend Justice.  This will inspire us all.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Run for Kids Challenge – A Run of Love

This is the article I submitted to Ultrarunning Magazine.  Maybe they will use some of it.  The first of the article is about the same as the last post so if it sounds familiar, just skip that part.

In 2007 I rode in the Ride of Love, a fundraiser for Camp Smile-A-Mile, Alabama's camp for kids with cancer. The 150 mile ride ends at Children's Harbor (the location of Camp SAM) on Lake Martin, in central Alabama. Sixty riders rode as a group, escorted by two Tuscaloosa motorcycles Policemen. The ride took 12 very long hours. That is a long time to sit on a bicycle seat. The ride was tough, but nothing compared to arriving at the camp. Seeing all those kids in the midst of a battle for their lives, realizing the suffering they and their families have been through made us realize just how insignificant our inconsequential and momentary discomfort had been. I could not help but look around and know a few of theses kids would not be back next year. That was what hurt.

In 2011 I started the Run for Kids Challenge here in Birmingham, Alabama as a fundraiser for Camp SAM. The run was small but we raised about $4,000 for the camp. For 2012 we changed the date and location to Oak Mountain State Park and apparently everyone liked the change. We sold out the run with105 total runners and 71 in the 12 Hour and 50K. The 50-K runners circled this “long” (3.4 mile) course nine times, then ran a “short” 0.7 mile final loop. The 12 hour runners ran the same “long” loop and could use the short loop during the final hour.

We promoted our race as the perfect beginner ultra. The course is a on a beginner mountain bike trail with gently rolling hills and beautiful views of Double Oak Lake. The trails are very runnable, even in road shoes.  Most runners complete the long loop in less than an hour so runners are never very far from the aid station and their drop bags or coolers. Our aid station was very well stocked with a variety of bean, turkey breast and cheese & hummus roll-ups. (I read the article in the April issue of Ultrarunner) In addition, we had boiled eggs and the usual cookies, oranges, bananas, M&Ms, PBJ sandwiches, chips and so on.

At the start, the temperature was 65 deg. and mist had settled over the lake giving the park a surreal appearance. After the start, the fog burned off and, as the sky cleared, the temperature rose quickly, eventually reaching 88 by mid afternoon. Most of the run is shaded by trees with the only a couple of long exposed stretches, across the beach area and the 400 yard section across the dam. And, of course, the Alabama humidity was about average at 99.999%. At least that is what it felt like.

We had a great field of runners in both the 12 Hour and 50K races. In the 50K, the 2011 overall winner, Rebecca Massie of Robertsdale, Alabama returned to defend her title. Lisa Ievers from Auburn gave Rebecca a real run for the money. Rebecca stayed within seconds of Roy Wells, the overall race leader, for two laps before dropping back a little. Lisa was within one minute of Rebecca at the end of the first lap but slowly dropped back to about 10 minutes behind. By the end of the final 3.4 mile lap, Lisa had closed back up to within 4 minutes but Rebecca maintained her pace and held on to win by just over 4 minutes in 4:50:30. Lisa finished with a time of 4:54:40 for second. Tiffany Greene of Brandon, MS finished third.

On the men's side, Roy Wells of Brentwood, TN, national account manager for Swiftwick and former pitcher for the Seattle Mariner's, totally dominated the men's race start to finish. For a while it appeared Rebecca would stay with him but his pace was just too much. Roy finished in 4:43:20 for first place overall. Scott Weisberg finished second and 4th overall, with a time of 5:42:50. Matthew Farrar from Fort Rucker, Alabama came in third . Thirty three of the forty four starters finished the 50K.

The 12 Hour race had some pretty dramatic moments. John Brower of Jackson, Mississippi lead the first lap by about 3 1/2 minutes over Wayne Phillips of Jacksonville, Alabama and Josh Merry from Dawsonville, Georgia. John held the lead until mile 24 when Wayne took over and Josh pulled into second. At the end of lap 11 (37.4 miles) Wayne had what appeared to be a commanding 21 minute lead. On lap 12 Josh began to close, cutting Wayne's lead to 11 minutes. Wayne held on to the lead until lap 16 (54.2 miles) where he decided he had had enough and stopped. Josh continued for two laps on the “short loop” for a total of 55.76 miles to take the win. Wayne finished second and Isaac Espy of Norhtport, Alabama ran a steady race all day and finished 50.81 miles to take third.

The women's race was really close. Seven competitors were within striking distance of the lead in the early laps. By lap four Mary Valdez of Crestview, Florida had pulled well ahead of the rest of the field. By lap 6, Kellie Smirnoff of Jacksonville Beach Florida had taken over the lead and by lap 10 (34 miles) had Kelly had pulled ahead of the second place woman, Molly Freeman of Atlanta by 21 minutes. As the runners came through to finish lap14, Molly had taken over the lead and the next 4 women were within 15 minutes of each other and three of the four only 3 minutes apart.

Molly stopped at that point at 47.42 miles, leaving Kelly, Mary, Helen Summerford of Ridgeland Mississippi and Beverly Brower (wife of John Brower, early leader of the men's 12 hour) to fight it out for the top four places. Kelly completed one more long lap for a total of 50.81 miles and still in the lead but decided to stop. Helen, Beverly and Mary shifted to the short loop and continued battling for the the top spot. After three short laps all three women were within three minutes of each other. Mary Valdez stopped after the third short lap at 53.1 miles total. Helen and Beverly took off for one more lap. When they came within sight of the finish on the fourth loop both women were running almost side by side. The finish line was the scoring table (actually a trash can next to the table) and Helen edged out Beverly by three feet. Both women had covered 53.85 miles, but it was not over yet. Beverly, not wanting to give up, took off on another lap with just 6 minutes, 58 seconds to go. She had run the previous lap in 6 minutes so it was going to be close. As the clock ticked down to 12 hours Beverly was not yet in sight and missed the cutoff by just 90 seconds. A pretty amazing finish after 12 hours of running.

David Tosch
RD Run for Kids Challenge

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Run of Love - The 2012 Run for Kids Challenge

In 2007 I rode in the Ride of Love, a fundraiser for Camp Smile-A-Mile, Alabama's camp for kids with cancer.  The 150 mile ride ends at Children's Harbor (the location of Camp SAM) on Lake Martin, in central Alabama.  Sixty riders rode as a group, escorted by two Tuscaloosa Policemen on motorcycles.  The ride took 12 very long hours.  That is a long time to sit on a bicycle seat.  The ride was tough, but nothing compared to arriving at the camp and seeing all those kids in the midst of a battle for their lives.  Then, when you consider our inconsequential discomfort compared to the suffering every one of these kids and their families have been through, and you know a few will not be there next year, that hurts.

I have not been able to do the ride again, (we raised over $98,000 in 2007, and in 2010 the ride raised $182,000) so I decided to do something else to help.  In 2011 we held the first Run for Kids Challenge.  The run was small, with 32 finishers in the 50K and 12 hours but we were able to raise over $4,000.  We had all the usual first year mistakes and miscalculations, not to mention 100 deg. heat on Memorial Day, but all-in-all the event was OK and everyone seemed to enjoy the run.  The run was held at Veteran's Park, a Hoover city park, and the use of the park cost over $800 and that was only for 4 hours and did not include a pavilion.  We decided to move the race.

For 2012, we selected Oak Mountain State Park, just south of Birmingham in Pelham, Alabama as the site for The Run for Kids .  This beautiful 10,000 acre park proved to be a huge hit with everyone.  The race was held on the new Lake Trail, built by BUMP (Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers) who maintain all the mountain bike trials at Oak Mountain.  The race started at the southwest end of Double Oak Lake, the swimming and canoeing lake, followed a rather circuitous route along the front of the lake, including crossing the beach area, before heading around the back side on a single track trail.  A few of the male runners mentioned they enjoying the scenery along the beach later in the day.  This picture was taken last fall, not race day.

Everyone love the course and the park.  There is lots to do in the park, especially for family member with kids.  The single track trail is in great shape and very runnable, and shady, except for the section that crosses the dam and a few sections along the front side of the lake.

We did a lot better this year, although we still made a few mistakes, like leaving the run numbers at my house Saturday Morning.  Will, my son, made a quick trip back to retrieve them and we did have to delayed the start about 15 minutes.  Mid afternoon, we ran out of boiled potatoes and my wife, Marye Jo, made another quick trip back home and boiled more potatoes and rushed them back to the race.  We had 105 total registered runners this year, with 71 entered in the 50K and 12 Hour races.  We had set a limit of 100 runners figuring that was about all we could handle this year, but we were not going to turn anyone away race day.  I think we had better find a few more volunteers before next year.

Next I will have the race report itself.  We did have a race, too!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Run for Kids Pictures and Results

I have posted the pictures I took during the race Saturday, on the Run for Kids website.  Here is a link to the pictures.  2012 Run for Kids Pictures.  I hoped to take a lot more, but!  Also, Suman Silwal has put together a very good video from the race.  It is on his website Thank you Silwal for an outstanding job on the video and for sharing it with us.

I think these results are now correct.  Here is a link to the results page on the Run for Kids Challenge website.  PFD Results

I want to thank all our sponsoring restaurants that provided the gift certificates we raffled off Saturday.  If you live in Birmingham, please go by these establishments and thank them for their generous contribution to the race.  You might have dinner while you are there.  They are all really good and some of Marye Jo and my favorites.

Cantina Tortilla Grill,  Bistro V,  Carrabba's Italian Grill,  Brio Tuscan Grill, Edgar's Bakery,  Brava Rotisserie Grill,  Crazy Cajuns Boiling Pot & Nabeel's Cafe and Market.  

I listed Nabeel's last for two reasons.  First, Nabeel's not only donated two $50 gift certificates, the certificates came in a Nabeel's Cooler containing a bottle of Nabeel's Famous Salad Dressing and a Nabeel's T-Shirt. Second, Anthony Krontiras, Owner of Nabeel's, ran the 12 Hour Run. He was #33, wearing the fluorescent Green Gnome shirt.  Thank you so much Anthony and great job.  By the way, Nabeel's is located in Homewood, right across from Homewood Park.

And please don't forget Paul Champion.  He was the man passing out all that wonderful Sorbets and Ices from the truck beside the pavilion.  He also kept a team running in the 50K.  His store is located behind The Olive Branch in Cahaba Heights, on Cahaba Heights Rd. and across the street from the Vestavia Police and Fire Department.

Sometime in the afternoon Melissa Allphin, the representative from Camp SAM, did the honors and drew 5 winning names in the raffle.  Here are the results.
1.  Stan Mackin, Birmingham:  Nabeel's & Brio
2.  Dan Ripple, Birmingham:  Brio & Nabeel's
3.  Linda Scavarda, Toney, AL:  Bistro V & The Cantina
4.  Mohammad Givi, Birmingham:  Carrabba's, Brava & Crazy Cajuns
5.  Neal Gerhart, Montevallo, AL:  Edgar's, Carrabba's and Brava

Thanks to all of you for making the 2012 Run for Kids such a huge success.  We are already planning next years race.  We are determined to make it even better.  And, I promise to bring the run numbers to the race next year.  The date will be May 4, 2013 at  Oak Mountain State Park.  Go ahead and put it on your calendar right now.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Preliminary Results - Run for Kids Challenge

What an incredible day with amazing performances from everyone.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for making this years run such a success.  It will be a while before I have time to determine how much we made for Camp Smile-A-Mile but as soon as I know, I will let you know.

The "preliminary" results are posted on  (Top Right corner of the page) There  are still several errors with the posted results and quite a few, mostly late registering runners are not in the results at all.  Check the "Splits" and "Results."  In some cases they are different.  Please let me know if your results are not correct.  I am aware of most of the problems but there may be some I do not know about.  Mark, at Ultrasignup is doing his best to get everything straightened out, hopefully, today.

I have been asked about the person taking all the pictures Saturday.  Here is a link to his website
As soon as possible I will add my pictures to the Run for Kids website.  I have about 200.