Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New La Sportiva Trail Shoes at MEC

With the recent growth of trail and ultra running, it's great to see more stores offering a wider selection of trail running shoes.

Mountain Equipment Co-op just updated their website and now offers what I believe to be the largest selection of La Sportiva trail shoes in Canada. They currently have 5 different La Sportiva models in stock including the Raptor (new for 2010), Wildcat, Wildcat GTX (Goretex), Imogene and my beloved Crosslites.

For more information please visit the La Sportiva or MEC websites. If you have any specific questions about any of the models, feel free to leave a comment below.

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 22-28: Umstead and World XC

Another great weekend for Canadians on the North American and World running scene.

Umstead 100:
Canadian Glen Redpath started off 2010 the same way he finished 2009...running well!

Glen finished 3rd at the Umstead 100 this past weekend in a smoking fast time of 14:23. Umstead is a remarkably fast course that features very little elevation change or technical footing making it the perfect race to aim for a fast time. The race was won by Zach Gingrich, followed by Serge Arbone in second. Gingrich's time of 13:23 was a new course record.

Glen was the 2009 Trail Runner Trophy Series Ultra running Champion as a result of his great season of racing last year which included setting a new course record at Haliburton 100.

World Cross Country Championships:
Canadian Simon Bairu was the top North American at the World Cross Country Championships this past weekend finishing in 13th place. The World XC Championships are widely recognized as being the world's most competitive distance running race annually as you have runners who specialize at all distances from 1500m to the marathon all competing in one race.

This result certainly bodes very well for Bairu who is looking to make his marathon debut in 2010. If all goes well, you would think that he has a very legitamate shot at breaking Jerome Drayton's Canadian record.

Training Summary:
Things continue to go well with my training. My daily volume was quite high for the week and I felt like I could continue to run 2-2.5 hrs per day endlessly now. The real test for the week proved to be how I'd feel on a longer run. I had the chance to see on Sunday with a 4:12 run at Frontenac Park. I ran the north end of the Park and enjoyed everything about the run, other than the fact that I certainly was struggling a bit on the uphills. I felt that if I had run this on a flat course that I wouldn't have had any problems at all, but the hills were a real challenge. In all fairness, I was a little tired going into the weekend with having had such a big week, but I know my body well enough to realize that I am still a ways off of racing fitness. I'm ok with that though as it will all come together. I am just thrilled that I am back out there doing some pretty substantial runs daily and doing the training that I enjoy. I still haven't decided when I will look at racing, but there's certainly no rush.

Total # of hours this week – 16:38
Total # of hours this year – 109:40
Streak – 7,398 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Canadian Running Magazine Trail Issue

The latest issue of Canadian Running Magazine (trail special) is on the newstands now and features my article on the top 10 trail races in Canada.

Also included in this issue is my interview with BC ultra runner Gary Robbins.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 15-21: Chucky Canadians and Bowling

Cuckanut 50km:
A big congratulations to all the Canadians who ran the Chuckanut 50km on Saturday. The race had a very deep field and it was great to see so many Canadians run well there.

The top Canadian was Adam Campbell in his ultra running debut. Adam went head-to-head with some of the big guns and I expect surprised a number of them by finishing in 3rd place. Americans Andy Martin and Erik Skaggs finished 1st and 2nd.

Other strong Canadian finishes in the mens race included Gary Robbins 11th, Chris Downie 12th, Darin Bentley 19th and Ryne Melcher 20th. In the women's race, the top Canadian was Ellie Greenwood in 2nd, only 13 seconds behind race winner Susannah Beck. Fellow Canadian Nicola Gildersleeve finished 4th.

Very exciting to see so many Canadians running so well. It looks like it's going to be an awesome year.

Yes, bowling! Inspired somewhat by Fred Flintstone and Leslie's blog, we decided to hit the lanes and thrash some pins.

Brennan 'Freddy' Spafford, Heather 'Quigley' Spafford, Sara 'La Bowling Sneaker' Montgomery and Derrick 'Yabba Dabba Doo' Spafford were all in fine form and did not look at all out of place amongst some of the finer 'athletes' in the city of Kingston.

We had fun. Freddy shone at times with a couple of strikes in a row. Quigley cried foul as the advice she was getting in the first game didn't help her game at all...poor gullable child taking bowling advice from Yabba Dabba Doo, who was firmly planted in last place in the first game.

Action at the alley was intense, especially during one of La Bowling Sneaker's wild throws as everyone seated behind her took immediate cover to avoid being smoked by a wayward ball.

I took a little bit of heat in my training log for admitting that I went bowling and possibly tweaking my hamstring a little in the process due to my near perfect form. Nothing serious, just a little bit of stiffness.

Good fun, however I doubt that we will be making this a weekly venture any time in the near future.

Training Summary:
My training continued to go well this week with my daily volume during the week being quite high and including some good quality days. By the weekend I was ready for a few down days for recovery. Structurally I felt very good with my knee continuing to get stronger.

Total # of hours this week – 12:41
Total # of hours this year – 93:02
Streak – 7,391 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I grew up listening to punk as a kid, but fell in love with the Pogues when I heard them one St. Patrick's Day at the Toucan in Kingston. They were being played all night (no not live). I loved the way that they meshed the energy of punk with traditional Irish music, especially in their early recordings.

Shane MacGowan is one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time...period! Just listen to the words in some of his brilliant songs like A pair of brown eyes, Rainy night in Soho and Lullaby of London . Pure Poetry! And then there's the best Christmas song of all time, Fairytale of New York.

When the Pogues first came out there were many traditional Irish musicians who were not impressed by their style. Their original name was 'Pogue Mahone', which is gaelic for 'Kiss my Arse'. I think that what many of these people didn't realize though was that the Pogues bridged the gap between different types of music.

Take me for instance...I never would have listened to an Irish song as a kid, but did just that through the Pogues. They opened up a whole new type of music for me to appreciate and enjoy. It was through the Pogues that I began listening to more traditional Irish musicians too such as the Cheiftains, the Dubliners, Christy Moore and even some of my Dad's old Clancy Brothers records. I even tought myself to play tin whistle, mandolin and fiddle, though not very well, and never in public, all because of the Pogues.

My appreciation of music now mostly comes from songs that tell a story, are told with passion and not just what the record companies think will sell today. While the music scene is a bit depressing these days, there are still some other great artists like Steve Earle (not Irish, but I think learned a lot from Shane MacGowan when they worked together on a few recordings) and Christy Moore who put out worthwhile music that I enjoy. Not surprising that another band that influenced my early taste in music, the Sex Pistols is fronted by an Irishman Johnny Rotten (Lydon). The Pistols were of course who influenced Shane MacGowan to form the Pogues, which seems very fitting.

So, Happy St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy a Guinness and some great music. And if your record/cd collection doesn't include the masterpiece album If I Should Fall From Grace With God.... go buy it today!

Here is my favourite version of the beautifully haunting traditional song Spancil Hill performed by Shane MacGowan and Christy Moore...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week of March 8 - 14: Snow Porcupines

This was a great week and actually felt like training again. I'm continuing to feel stronger. I opted to take last Tuesday pretty light instead of doing the uphill treadmill workouts that I've been doing recently, and was rewarded with the rest of the week being very solid. I'm pleased that my volume is back up to almost 2hrs a day average, but will continue to take some very light days when I feel I need them.

The week was highlighted by a great long run on Sunday at Frontenac Provincial Park. Right now we have absolutely no snow on the ground at home, so I was very surprised to see how much snow was still in the park in places. I thoroughly enjoyed my run and being on trails that looked like nobody had been on in weeks, or possibly months. With all of the snow I was post-holing pretty deep in places. Throw in some mud, water and ice and it was a slow loop of Big Salmon Lake.

The other thing that I found surprising was how difficult it was to find the trail at times. I feel like I probably know these trails better than anyone out there (except Sara), but found myself going off trail a couple of times because the it wasn't so obvious with there being no foot prints on the snow. Adding to the mix that I had to go around a few big bodies of water that were blocking the trail, made things that much more challenging.

I had one interesting incident where I was trying to get around a large flooded area. I finally found my way around it and and got back on the trail only to discover another set of foot prints going in the opposite direction. Strange I thought? Even stranger when I noticed the tread pattern in the snow. 'What are the chances that someone else is wearing a pair of Crosslites out here today?' Yup, you guess it...I found myself having done a 180, and heading back in the wrong direction. Silly me. Good thing there was snow on the ground or I might have kept going back to where I started. In reality, it wouldn't have been a big deal as I was about halfway around the loop anyhow, but I would much prefer to complete the loop instead of backtracking.

The only individuals that I saw on the trail were either adventure racers or ultra runners or porcupines.

Andrew Cameron, James Galipeau and Andrew's girlfriend Kim, had camped at campsite #4 on a very nasty night. They came down from Ottawa for the weekend. Andrew and James had just gotten back from doing well at an Adventure Race in Patagonia. The last time I saw Andrew was almost a year ago at Rock and Ice in Yellowknife.

I also bumped into Heather McNie from Trailhead Kingston, and Grant, who were just finishing up their run as well. Another highlight was stumbling upon a very sleepy porcupine who looked like he had just woken up and was just standing in the middle of the trail. Funny, he was only about 5 feet from me, but didn't seem too concerned. We talked for a moment, but I think I was boring him, so I continued on my way.

I really have missed doing longer runs over these past few (five!!!) months due to the knee injury and am so glad to be back enjoying some longer runs in the park again. I'm already just dying to get out for my next one.

Total # of hours this week – 13:10
Total # of hours this year – 80:21
Streak – 7,384 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

Monday, March 8, 2010

Week of March 1 - 7: Snowshoes and Dogsleds

Some great races this past weekend...

Pittsfield Snowshoe Challenge (Marathon, Half Marathon and 10.5km): A huge congrats to David and Kimberly who competed at the Pittsfield Snowshoe Challenge yesterday in Vermont. David finished 5th overall in the marathon on the killer course that climbs up and down a mountain four times in 5:42. Kimberly finished 4th female in the 10.5km one loop course in 1:33. The weather was mild, but sounds like conditions were challenging with very soft slushy snow. Congrats guys! Look forward to hearing more details. Race info and results (eventually) can be found at .
Can Am Crown Dogsled Races: My friend Duane Ramsay of Inverary competed in the 6 dog - 30 mile race at the Can-Am Crown Dogsled Race in Fort Kent Maine on the weekend. He had a great race and finished in 16th place. Duane is one of the most recognized and respected mushers in the area. His knowledge and care for his dogs is unparallelled. I've had the good fortune of learning first hand from Duane and even raced his 'B' team on many occasions, including twice at Can-Am in the past. Two of our dogs, Willy and Jesse (and Cody before), came to us from Duane's kennel, and are enjoying their retirement from racing with our pack. Duane's passion for the sport of dogsledding is very inspiring as evident by the fact that now in his 70's, he is still out there training with his dogs daily.

U.S. Snowshoe Running Championships: Sara and I have run the U.S. Snowshoe Running Championships twice in the past and always had to travel quite a distance to the event. Too bad that we were both injured or coming off injuries as with the race being held in Syracuse, NY it would have been a nice short drive to get there. We had even considered going down just to watch, but decided that a relaxing weekend at home was more appealing. I still haven't seen results posted from the race, but conditions looked good and Dave Dunham has a race video posted here .
Training Summary:
Things continue to go well with my training. I was very pleased with how I've felt with the continued increases in volume. I'm still splitting up most of my runs into two runs per day most days. My long run was up to over 2 hours yesterday at Frontenac Park and felt great, even though much of the run was done on snow that was ankle deep in places. I've also kept up with two quality uphill workouts per week on the treadmill, even though I really don't enjoy this. The uphill sessions have already jump started my fitness level and I feel that I've made pretty good gains in a short period of time with minimal strain on my knee. Structurally, my body feels very good and I'm pleased with how my knee seems to be getting stronger each week. I've even found myself getting excited with looking through the race calendar and thinking of upcoming races. I do think that I'm a ways off of racing right now though. Racing for me is usually secondary...I'm just so happy to be back out putting in some decent length runs again.
Total # of hours this week – 11:51
Total # of hours this year – 67:11
Streak – 7,377 days of running in a row

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bugs Bunny

Okay, everyone knows that all of the great lessons in life can be learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

It's funny, we don't own a TV, and I don't think I really watched that much TV when I was younger, but I can still quote Bugs Bunny-isms with the best of them.

Often at our place, one of us will bring up a topic, and Brennan, Heather or I will immediately answer with a 'You wouldn't hit a bat with glasses now, would you?' or 'Abracapocus, Pocuscadabra, ...Walla, Walla, Washington'. By the way, Sara thinks we're all 'Looney'!

It seems as though the above video of Bugs Bunny in Transalvania 6-5000 has been awarded the #1 Bugs Bunny episode of all time in our house. Though, my personal favourite is probably still Hillbilly Hare, featuring this great squaredance.

So many great cartoons...thank Bugs for Youtube.

Friday, March 5, 2010

100 Fastest 100 mile races in 2009

Thanks to EJ for bringing this to my attention. I hadn't noticed that Ultrarunning Magazine had listed the 100 fastest 100 mile times in 2009 in North America. It's sort of fun going through the list, seeing what times were run on what courses and how your time compares to others.

My time at Haliburton 100 was listed as the 42nd fastest time, which is kind of cool. My friend Keith's time at Haliburton also made the top 100.

Of course with 100 mile trail races, there is a huge difference in times and how the different courses stack up compared to how technical the trail is and how much elevation change there is. There were people who probably ran slower times on more difficult courses than Haliburton, but also people who ran faster on easier courses. That's the beauty of trail and ultra running is that you never really know exactly how a specific race is going to play out and how you compare until race day.

Judging by the list, if you want to run a fast 100miler, the races to run seem to be Javelina Jundred, Umstead, Kettle Moraine and Rocky Raccoon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

La Sportiva Mountain Cup

La Sportiva has announced the dates for the 2010 La Sportiva Mountain Cup.

Race Schedule:
4/3/10 Mt. Penn Mudfest 15 km Reading, PA
5/22/10 Jemez Mountain Half Marathon 13.1 mi Los Alamos, NM
5/28/10 Rock2Rock Run 10 km Asheville, NC
6/5/10 RothRock Challenge 30km State College, PA
07/18/10 Barr Trail Mountain Race 12 mi Manitou Springs, CO
08/07/10 Squaw Valley Mountain Run 3.6 mi Squaw Valley, CA
08/07/10 Jupiter Peak Steeplechase 16 mi Park City, UT
08/08/10 La Sportiva Eldora Trail Race 11 km Nederland, CO
8/7/10 Mt. Ashland Hill Climb 13.3 mi Ashland. OR
8/21/10 Up and Over 10 km Taos, NM

For more information, please visit