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by Endurance Team Member Geoff Burns

The Background:

Last weekend, I walked into the wild. I made my debut at the 100k distance (62 miles), racing the USATF 100k National Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. This undertaking was no less than 50 kilometers further than I had ever run (having run a couple 50 km races, I had dipped my toes in the ultra running waters, but was by no means initiated). Thrilling, brutal, and overarchingly long, the experience was singular. Luckily, I walked out (or hobbled), and I walked out a champion.

This race had been a long time coming for me – I was pushed to start racing ultras last year by my running co-pilot and 50km national champ, Zach Ornelas; it was pretty apparent through all of high school, college, and beyond that I had an engine and recovery capacity that suited the longer and longer and longer training and racing. So, going into the race, I had the confidence that this distance might capture my abilities in a way previous racing endeavors hadn’t.

My primary goal was to qualify for the World Championship team, which would require either a victory or at a very good performance and time. I figured if I at least came close to the course record, regardless of victory I might stand a chance to get a team selection. That time was 6 hours and 44 minutes (6:29/mile). Weeks leading out from the race, this pace had been on my mind quite a bit, and I had this sneaking suspicion that I could handle that pretty well. I even had a little voice in my head suggesting I could scare the American record someday (6 hours and 27 minutes – 6:15/mile). My rational, analytical side would brush these quiet ambitions off, as it seemed a little arrogant to think I could do something like that with literally no supporting data, no experience in anything even close to that race distance.

In terms of potential failure mechanisms, my nervousness/apprehension/terror was two-fold. First, the fuel depletion – not knowing where this bankruptcy would occur (35 miles, 45 miles, 55 miles?) and for how many minutes or perhaps hours I’d still have to produce forward movement after going broke. Second: the mechanical destruction – just the thought of running for 6 or 7 hours on hilly pavement will make most individuals cringe, and the effect it would have on my performance was totally unknown and not at all something I could prepare for. What both of these boiled down to was the fact that, unlike all shorter running events (and most athletics in general) you really just cannot completely simulate these conditions before the competition. Unknown territory, or simply, the wild.

The Course:
A ten-kilometer loop repeated ten times. The symmetry would be beautiful if it weren’t for the fact that this 10 km loop was like a strip of bacon. The first 3 miles rolled uphill, the next 1.5 rolled back down (so the descent was a little steeper), and then the last 1.5 were flat but garnished with a cheeky headwind. Now, these aren’t elevation changes anywhere near the scale of what you see in trail ultramarathons (i.e. mountains), but constant ascent and descent over asphalt, not matter the grade, becomes pretty troublesome when the mileage totals are in the double digits. Last year, I ran the 50k race at MadCity, so I had some familiarity with the course. Last year, I bonked and broke down on the final downhill in the 50k race at MadCity, so I had some Pavlovian-esque terror associations with the course. To round out the experience, the temperature was a über-brisk 22 degrees at the start, and barely broke above freezing by the race’s end.

The Competition:
I knew it was going to be a tough go with the other men in the race. There were three characters I was expecting to contend: Mike Bialick, the reigning champ; Nick Accardo, a former champ; and Patrick Reagan, a debutante like myself who, unlike myself, boasted credentials of a 2:18 marathon and a 1:04-low half-marathon. In the weeks leading up to the race, I figured it was going to be a ten-round title fight, and I thought I maybe had an outside chance to win, and if I did, it would come late in the game.

The Race, Part 1:

The things about which I had spent weeks fretting: fueling, the course, the competition, the temperature, etc. were all absent from my mind as I popped out of bed on the morning of the race. I zipped over to the start, and decided to jog a mile to warm-up (I refrained from doing any strides or drills, deeming those warm-up staples relatively inconsequential for the task I was about to undertake). After I started moving, I was pretty surprised at how easy I was running. Normal runs take me quite a few miles to get rolling, let alone ones at 6 am, so to be moving so fluidly so easily felt kind of exciting.

The race started, and immediately the guys packed up with 6 or 8 of us bouncing along in the pre-dawn. The pace felt pretty soft, but my plan was to stay really comfortable and un-taxed for the first loop or two and just work into it, planning on running even a few minutes slower than the goal pace of 40-41 minutes per lap. Up the first hill, I was surprised to find myself drifting away from everybody despite trying to hold back, and by the first mile I was probably 50 meters clear of the group. I really did not want to lead the race at this point, as I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew the rhythm I was on felt just about right, so I committed to what was going to be a potentially very long and very lonely day.

Keeping this pace going, I put a lot of ground on the field in the first loop, and coming into its finish, I couldn’t hear or sense them at all, as I think they were now several minutes behind. Not having looked at my watch through the first loop at all, I was blown away when I saw 38:xx on the clock. This was what I had imagined, in an ideal world, trying to run over my final loop, after having run 9 of the of them significantly slower. So, I backed off, and tried to keep a very relaxed rhythm. I figured I might have an outside shot at running low 6:30s if I slowed a bit and maintained. Wonderful realization! So, the next loop went by (again, trying to back off a little and stay relaxed) and it was 36:45. I really felt like I was holding back (which maybe is what it’s supposed to feel like and I was just ignorant to this key detail), but running any slower was going to feel uncomfortable. At this point, I was kinda grinning for awhile while running, and all that was running my mind was, “Que sera sera… game on.”

So, I popped along and remained oblivious to splits (I hate checking splits in races, as my number-crunching mind starts to go crazy and turns vicious). I actually had to stop on the third lap to download a brownload, but I figured it was a necessary evil of 6-7 hour race, and that earlier was favorable to later. I must have been rolling pretty good, because even with that stop I still knocked out a 36:25. By the time I came through 50k, I saw 3:04 on the clock. Now, I had been refraining from calculating exactly what I was running, but the math couldn’t be ignored here. The world record is 6:10, and it is the oldest world record in running. I literally laughed out loud (an actual lol) when I saw this. My mind jumped to my friends, who I knew were following it back home. I knew they saw it, and I knew they were probably staring at their freshly-refreshed web browsers with a big “What The Francis?” expression.

As I realized where I was at in the race and the context of what I was doing, the magnitude sunk in a little bit. I didn’t want to be self-limiting, but it was admittedly pretty absurd. And I, fortunately, or unfortunately, told myself that. However, I had no intention of making a conscious effort to back off (though perhaps my subconscious was plotting otherwise). Going into the second half, my sentiment was, “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m not backing off.”

First half 10k splits: 38:27 – 36:45 – 36:25 – 36:25 – 36:17
Course Record pace: 40:20 per 10k
American Record pace: 38:45 per 10k
World Record pace: 37:00 per 10k

geoff_burns_national_champs

The Race, Part 2:

The second half of the race is pretty hard to re-imagine, as much of it was spent in a pretty awful place mentally. However, the sixth and seventh laps were still feeling very smooth, and I semi-merrily rolled along. I could feel an augmentation in the effort required to move forward, and for the first time on the seventh lap, I could really feel my legs loose fluidity. This was likely their way of requesting that I cease the ridiculous adventure of which they were forced to drive. Also, I hadn’t warmed up yet, as my fingers had been rendered free of blood and nearly immobile from the first lap onward, and I still had goosebumps on the legs. These factors started to frustrate me (as 4+ hours into a 6+ hour race, you apparently relish the opportunity to mad at things, and probably understandably so), though retrospectively, being too cold is likely less disastrous in an ultra marathon than being too hot (but can’t we have it just right!). Literally from the first lap, I dreaded each time I came around the loop to grab a water bottle, as this meant exposing my crippled fingers to the cruel air in an attempt to open and consume a gel that had taken on the viscosity of silly putty. Not to mention the water that would inevitably spill on my hands and sleeve, which after a couple laps, had frozen into a nice ice-cuff.

So, by the eighth lap (less than 20 miles to go!), all these factors, coupled with the increasingly difficult uphills and really painful downhills, and just the general fatigue brought on by running an absurd and arguably suicidal pace up to that point, really started to snowball. On the eighth lap, I was thinking I could push through the discomfort and try and nab a good 50-mile time (I was on pace to run well under 5 hours, which until a few hours prior, had been a pipe dream of a goal). However, gastric distress struck again, and I had to stop for the second time at about 75k to download another file. While this brought relief, I had markedly less determination once I started again, and I settled into what felt like a protective pace. Now, I honestly was not sure if I was going to crush the American record, run over 7 hours, or crush my body and not even finish. I’d say until that point in the day, my racing and pacing was Golden State Warriors offense, and then after that for the last two loops, I was running gloves-up defense, just hoping to finish.

Through the ninth lap, it was all about just continuing forward progress. I knew if I ran, no matter the pace, I’d still actually wind up with a respectable time (though I had no idea and no capacity or interest to figure out what that time might be). On the tenth lap, I didn’t take my gel or water, as my stomach’s and head’s sentiment towards food and drink was pretty much exactly the same as it has been following an evening of too much merriment and ethanol. Vomit would surely ensue. So, the last lap became a farewell shuffle. I actually blew kisses goodbye to several of the mile markers Psychosis may have been setting in.

As I rounded the final turn to the finish line and task completion became a feasible outcome and victory likely, I felt like someone hit me with fourteen epi-pens. It was the most potent stimulant I have ever felt in my life: an overwhelming and overflowing cocktail of pride for the work had I put in, relief for the suffering that was over, and joy for the success that came of it.

Second half 50k splits: 36:54 – 38:21 – 41:57 – 44:54 – 44:07
Final Time: 6 hours 30 minutes 37 seconds
Championship Record and Course Record
3rd Fastest American Performance All-time (fastest on US soil)

The Denouement:

After the race finished, I was bouncing around (or had the perception that I was bouncing around – I was probably disjointedly and semi-frighteningly stumbling), talking to the officials and volunteers. Timo Yanachek, the race director, puts on such an incredible event and The MadCity Ultras are truly the best races I’ve ever run. There are no big sponsors, no annoying coupons in your packets, and no nauseating expos. It’s truly an ultra marathon for the passionate by the passionate. And the excellent conversations and kind words from all the incredible individuals at the finish line affirmed this.

While I was buzzing with excitement, I was still freezing cold, so I bundled my body up, packed my equipment up, and took off for what would certainly be a shower to empty the water heater. The stairs at my lodging were a formidable opponent, but I was not to be deterred. Cleaned up, I went and capped the morning/early afternoon in the most proper of post-run fashions: massive brunch. Despite still having some lingering food aversion, I made quick work of some eggs benedict (having had hollandaise on my mind for laps 4 through 6), and then some extra bacon, and then some extra bacon-and-cheddar grits.

Reflecting back on the race, it was a surreal experience of the highest order. I felt an electricity the whole way, even in the darker parts, generated from the realization that I found a calling. Moreover, for the first time in my running career, I ran truly uninhibited and unrestrained; I was irrational. Going out into the wild, into a physical state void of certainty or survival, was not something I ever do. I’m really glad I did.

 

Because the best trophies require white gloves to hold them!

Because the best trophies require white gloves to hold them!

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Want to win some of Altra’s new apparel? Of course you do. We’re holding an Instagram contest to see how and where our fans like to go running and to win some Altra gear!

It’s simple. From today until next Thursday (4/28), snap a picture of you running, or of some of your favorite places and trails to run (we love the outdoors), post it to Instagram, tag us (@altrarunning), and use the hashtag #AltraGiveaway to be entered to win! It’s that easy!

We’ll be choosing 4 winners next week who will win a pair of Altra shoes, the new Altra Performance Half Zip, an Altra racing singlet, Altra running shorts, Altra running hat and some compression socks!

‘Gram a photo. Get some gear. #ZeroLimits


Altra Apparel Instagram Giveaway Official Rules

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS SPONSORED BY ICON HEALTH & FITNESS, INC. IT IS NOT SPONSORED, ENDORSED OR ADMINISTERED BY, OR ASSOCIATED WITH INSTAGRAM.

1. Eligibility
Altra Apparel Instagram Giveaway (the “Giveaway”) is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (and the District of Columbia) who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry and have a valid Instagram. Void and where prohibited. Proof of residency and age may be required. Employees and directors of ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. and is subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, and advertising or promotional agencies or individuals involved with the design, production, execution or distribution of the Giveaway and the immediate family and household members of such individuals, are not eligible to enter or win. “Immediate family members” shall mean parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, siblings, stepsiblings, or spouses, regardless of where they live. “Household members” shall mean people who share the same residence at least three months a year, whether related or not. In order to enter the Giveaway or receive the prize, you must fully comply with the Official Rules and, by entering, you represent and warrant that you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, whose decisions shall be binding and final in all respects relating to this Giveaway.

2. Sponsor
ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 1500 South 1000 West, Logan, UT 84321.

3. Timing
Giveaway begins April 21, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time and ends April 28, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (“Giveaway Entry Period”). Sponsor is the official time keeper for this Giveaway. The Giveaway is governed by these Official Rules and is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.

4. How to Enter: 1) snap your best photo or video of you running, or the scenery in which you like to run (the “Submission”); and 2) upload the Submission on Instagram with the hashtag #AltraGiveaway and tag @altrarunning in the post.

You must have your Instagram profile settings as PUBLIC to enter your Submission. To participate in the Giveaway, if you do not already have an Instagram account, download the free Instagram application (compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android) and create an account as instructed. Getting an Instagram account is free. Submission entries must comply with Instagram’s Terms of Use, which can be found at https://instagram.com/about/legal/terms/#. Use of multiple Instagram accounts to enter by the same individual is prohibited and may result in disqualification. Submissions will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the Instagram account from which the Submission is uploaded at the time of the entry, as identified by the primary email address associated with that account. Submissions will not be acknowledged or returned.

5. Submission Requirements
The Submission must comply with the following requirements: (i) the Submission may not feature any person other than entrant unless entrant has obtained all necessary written permissions and releases from such persons prior to submission and such persons are over the age of majority in his/her state of legal residence; (ii) other than the Sponsor, its products, brands and/or logos, the Submission may not show, contain, mention, depict, refer or otherwise allude to the name, logo or product of any other retailer, manufacturer, brand, product, store, place of business, person, company or character in such a way or manner as to imply an affiliation with, or endorsement of, the Sponsor, its products, brands and/or this Giveaway; (iii) the Submission must be entrant’s own original work (or the entrant must have the rights from the photographer / videographer to make the submission), created solely by entrant and not created professionally; must not have won any award; and must not infringe the copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other personal or proprietary rights of any person or entity; (iv) the Submission may not materially contain, mention, refer or otherwise allude to any material that is violent, lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous, racially or morally offensive or otherwise contain inappropriate content or objectionable material; (v) the Submission cannot promote alcohol, illegal drugs or tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing), any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous, or any political agenda or message; (vi) the Submission cannot in any manner defame, misrepresent, contain disparaging remarks or reflect negatively about Sponsor, its products, or other people, products or companies or their products, or in any way reflect negatively upon such parties or explicitly or implicitly communicate messages or images inconsistent with the positive images and/or goodwill with which Sponsor wishes to be associated, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion; (vii) the Submission cannot contain any personal identification, such as personal names, email addresses or street addresses, without express permission; (viii) the Submission cannot itself be in violation of any law; and (ix) the Submission must otherwise be in compliance with these Official Rules. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any Submission that Sponsor believes, in its sole discretion, does not comply with or is in violation of these Official Rules or that otherwise contains prohibited or inappropriate content.

6. Grant of Rights
By submitting a Submission, the entrant represents and warrants that he/she has all rights, title and interest necessary to grant the Sponsor the worldwide, irrevocable and unrestricted right and license to adapt, publish, use, edit, and/or modify such Submission in any way and post the Submission on the internet or use the Submission in any other way and agrees to indemnify and hold Sponsor harmless from any claims to the contrary.

7. Representations and Warranties/Indemnification
Each person who enters this Giveaway represents and warrants as follows: (i) entrant has obtained any and all necessary permissions required to submit the Submission and for Sponsor’s right to use the Submission for any purpose, including the consent of any identifiable third person(s) appearing in the Submission, and entrant can and will make written copies of such permissions available to Sponsor upon request; (ii) the Submission is owned by entrant and has not been previously published, distributed or otherwise exploited; (iii) the Submission is wholly original with entrant and, as of the date of submission, the Submission is not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation or claim; (iv) the Submission does not and will not violate or infringe upon the intellectual property rights or other rights of any other person or entity, including, but not limited to, rights of privacy and publicity; and (v) the Submission does not and will not violate any applicable laws, and is not and will not be considered defamatory or libelous. Each entrant hereby agrees to indemnify and hold the Sponsor and its subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors harmless from and against any and all third party claims, actions or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs and expenses relating to or arising out of any breach or alleged breach of any of the warranties, representations or agreements of entrant hereunder.

8. Winner Determination [note from legal – please confirm this is how potential winners will be notified]
On or about April 29, 2016, Sponsor will select four (4) entries for the grand prize based on which entrants have the best Submission determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received during the Giveaway Entry Period and the quality of the entries. POTENTIAL WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED BY DIRECT MESSAGE ON INSTAGRAM FROM @ALTRARUNNING AND WILL BE REQUIRED TO RESPOND WITHIN 48 HOURS OF NOTIFICATION VIA EMAIL. Potential winners must follow the initial prize claim instructions and any subsequent claim instructions, or the prize will be forfeited in its entirety. It is recommended that you confirm your Instagram notification settings are turned on. Sponsor’s decisions as to the administration and operation of the Giveaway and the selection of the potential winner is final and binding in all matters related to the Giveaway. Failure to respond to an initial notification within 48 hours will result in disqualification. Limit of one prize per person per household.

9. POTENTIAL GIVEAWAY WINNERS ARE SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION BY SPONSOR. SPONSOR DECISIONS ARE FINAL AND BINDING IN ALL MATTERS RELATED TO THE ADMINISTRATION, OPERATION, SELECTION OF THE WINNER AND OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO THE GIVEAWAY.

10. Verification of Potential Winners
Potential winners may be required to complete and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Release of Liability and Publicity Release (where permitted by law) (collectively, the “Affidavit”) by the date specified by Sponsor, or an alternate potential winner may be selected. In the event: (a) a potential winner cannot be reached for whatever reason after a reasonable effort has been exerted or the potential winner notification or Affidavit is returned as undeliverable; (b) a potential winner declines or cannot accept, receive or use the prize for any reason; (c) of noncompliance with the above or within any of the aforesaid time periods, (d) a potential winner is found to be ineligible to enter the Giveaway or receive the prize, (e) a potential winner cannot or does not comply with the Official Rules, or (f) a potential winner fails to fulfill the Affidavit-related obligations, the potential winner shall be disqualified from the Giveaway and an alternate potential winner may be selected, at Sponsor’s sole discretion, from among the other eligible entries received using the same method described above. Sponsor reserves the right to modify the notification and Affidavit procedures in connection with the selection of alternate potential winner, if any.

11. Grand Prizes
Four (4) grand prizes will be awarded. Each grand prize winner will receive a pair of Altra shoes (winner’s choice), Altra Performance Half Zip, Altra Running Shorts, and Altra Racing Singlet. No cash equivalent for the prize, prize is non-transferable and no substitution will be made except as provided herein at the Sponsor’s sole discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute the listed prize for one of equal or greater value for any reason. Winner is responsible for all taxes and fees associated with prize receipt and/or use. All federal, state, and local tax liabilities, as well as any other costs and expenses not specified herein as being awarded are the sole responsibility of the Winner. Winner may be required to complete and return an IRS W-9 form (i.e. Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification). Prize will be awarded only if the potential prize winner fully complies with these Official Rules. Approximate Retail Value of all each grand prize is $350.

12. Entry Conditions and Release
Each entrant agrees to: (a) comply with and be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor which are binding and final in all matters relating to this Giveaway; (b) defend, indemnify, release and hold harmless the Sponsor and its respective parent, subsidiary, and affiliated companies, celebrities, and any other person and organization responsible for sponsoring, fulfilling, administering, advertising or promoting the Giveaway, and all of their respective past and present officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liability, including but not limited to negligence and damages of any kind to persons and property, including but not limited to invasion of privacy (under appropriation, intrusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light in the public eye or other legal theory), defamation, slander, libel, violation of right of publicity, infringement of trademark, copyright or other intellectual property rights, property damage, or death or personal injury arising out of or relating to a participant’s entry, creation of an entry or submission of an entry, participation in the Giveaway, acceptance, possession, attendance at, defect in, delivery of, inability to use, use or misuse of prize (including any travel or activity related thereto) and/or the broadcast, exploitation or use of entry. Winner acknowledge that all prizes are awarded as-is without warranty of any kind.

13. Publicity
Except where prohibited or restricted by law, winner’s acceptance of prize constitutes the winner’s agreement and consent for Sponsor and any of its designees to use and/or publish winner’s full name, city and state of residence, photographs or other likenesses, pictures, portraits, video, voice, testimonials, biographical information (in whole or in part), and/or statements made by winner regarding the Giveaway or Sponsor, worldwide and in perpetuity for any and all purposes, including, but not limited to, advertising, trade and/or promotion on behalf of Sponsor, in any and all forms of media, now known or hereafter devised, including, but not limited to, print, TV, radio, electronic, cable, or World Wide Web, without further limitation, restriction, compensation, notice, review, or approval.

14. General Conditions
Sponsor and its subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors shall not have any obligation or responsibility, including any responsibility to award any prize to entrants, with regard to: (a) entries that contain inaccurate information or do not comply with or violate the Official Rules; (b) entries, prize claims or notifications that are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient, in whole or in part, due to computer, human or technical error of any kind; (c) entrants who have committed fraud or deception in entering or participating in the Giveaway or claiming the prize; (d) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet or computer malfunctions, failures or difficulties; (e) any inability of the winner to accept the prize for any reason; (f) if a prize cannot be awarded due to delays or interruptions due to Acts of God, natural disasters, terrorism, weather or any other similar event beyond Sponsor’s reasonable control; or (g) any damages, injuries or losses of any kind caused by any prize or resulting from awarding, acceptance, possession, use, misuse, loss or misdirection of any prize or resulting from participating in this Giveaway or any promotion or prize related activities. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds to be (a) tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Giveaway, or with any Website promoting the Giveaway; (b) acting in violation of the Official Rules; or (c) entering or attempting to enter the Giveaway multiple times through the use of multiple email addresses or the use of any robotic or automated devices to submit entries. If Sponsor determines, in its sole discretion, that technical difficulties or unforeseen events compromise the integrity or viability of the Giveaway, Sponsor reserves the right to void the entries at issue, and/or terminate the relevant portion of the Giveaway, including the entire Giveaway, and/or modify the Giveaway and/or award the prize from all eligible entries received as of the termination date.

15. Limitations of Liability
The Released Parties are not responsible for: (a) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Giveaway; (b) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (c) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Giveaway; (d) technical or human error in the administration of the Giveaway or the processing of registrations; or (e) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Giveaway or receipt or use or misuse of any prize. If for any reason an entrant’s registration is confirmed to have been erroneously deleted, lost, or otherwise destroyed or corrupted, entrant’s sole remedy is another entry in the Giveaway. No more than the stated number of each prize will be awarded.

16. Disputes
Entrant agrees that: (a) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Giveaway shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; (b) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Giveaway, or any prizes awarded, shall be resolved exclusively by the United States District Court or the appropriate Utah State Court located in Cache County, Utah; (c) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Giveaway, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (d) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Giveaway, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Utah, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of Utah or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Utah.

17. Giveaway Results
For Giveaway results send a hand-printed, self-addressed, stamped envelope to Winners List – Altra Apparel Instagram Giveaway c/o ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 1500 South 1000 West, Logan, UT 84321. Requests for the winners list must be received within 60 days after the winner selection.

This Giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram. Any and all questions, comments or complaints regarding the Giveaway must be directed only to Sponsor and not Instagram.

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by Ambassador Erik Storheim

“Two things are worth remembering: 1) you will never achieve great things with small goals; and 2) there is no guarantee you will have another chance tomorrow.” –Lazarus Lake

The Barkley Marathons. The stuff of legends and where dreams are put to rest. I’ve been dreaming about Barkley since 2005 when Jim Nelson told me about his successful 5 loop finish the previous year and 2016 would be my chance to turn dreams into reality. I prepared the best I could. I logged endless hours up and down some of the iconic peaks visible on the Salt Lake Skyline during winter. Mt Wire, Grandeur Peak, Mt Olympus. I got up early to hit the gym for total body fitness, I stayed up late to do night runs testing my body, mind and equipment. I went through a LOT of shoes. Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s and especially the Lone Peak Neoshell’s which kept my feet the most comfortable they have ever been during long, cold, wet winter runs.

I arrived at Frozen Head State Park ready to give it all I had and ready to enjoy myself doing it. I enjoyed the pre-race traditions of handing in my entry fee ( a license plate from my home state), copying down the Master Map while trying to glean as much information from veterans as possible, eating the infamous Barkley BBQ chicken and meeting the various runners -past and present- who were gathered in little groups throughout the campground swapping tales of Barkley’s past and speculating on what the outcome would be this year.

“The Cigarette” lit at 10:42 a.m. We relaxed into a good pace up Bird Mountain, and by the time we got to the top of the first climb, I had settled in with Ty Draney (fellow virgin), Jason Poole (veteran) and George Kunzfeld (veteran). With a few others adding and subtracting over the next few hours, our group stayed together and made a good, functional team. Jason is a National Orienteering Champion, George had participated the year before and Ty was excellent at picking out landmarks and committing them to memory for future laps. I felt wildly fortunate to “be along for the ride.”

PC: Leon Lutz

PC: Leon Lutz

We descended nasty ridges; crossed creeks and swampy areas, trying unsuccessfully to keep our feet dry; climbed interminable hills; and then did it, again and again,…and again. Names I’d read over and over in race reports and Frozen Ed’s book came to life. Rat Jaw, The Garden Spot, Leonard’s Butt Slide, Big Hell, Chimney Top… We got turned around a couple times. I took off after John Fegyveresi, descending off Fyke’s Peak and promptly got scraped, spending the next thirty-minutes thrashing down to New River through the wrong drainage, luckily discovering myself reunited with Jason, Ty, and George. Though I felt strong on the last big climb of Loop One, towards Chimney Top, an occasional stab on my left knee’s medial side had already begun. “No biggie,” I thought, as many of us do. “Aches always come and go and I’ll have many more in the hours ahead.”

We made a smooth, and swift twenty-minute transition into Loop Two, with my brother attending to a nasty laceration on my backside. I caught up with Ty and Jason, who had left camp a few minutes before me and made good time back up Bird Mountain. The thrash down to Book One was indeed a thrash as I realized just how different it was navigating in the dark. Over the next two climbs and descents, while still feeling strong with good energy, the stabbing in my knee became more and more severe, changing from an occasional twinge to a constant, acute, throbbing pain. By the time we got to the top of Bald Knob, I was slowing Ty and Jason down and putting most of my weight on my right leg and two trekking poles. I took some ibuprofen and told myself I’d decide what to do when I got to The Garden Spot.

Well, the ibuprofen took care every other little ache I had, but did nothing to diminish the pain in my knee. Having had debilitating ankle surgery two-years ago, the thought of permanent damage to my knee and starting down that same path was convincing. I decided my time on the Barkley was over. True to form, the Barkley ate its young.

I told Ty and Jason I was done and while expressing sympathy and concern, they didn’t try and talk me into continuing, for which I am grateful. It was hard enough as it was. Standing in the middle of the trail, I waged my internal battle of disappointment and watched their lights fade over the next ridge. An intense emotional war raged, playing over and over in my mind as I stood in the trail, immobilized while trying to decide if I’d made the right decision. “Screw it!!!” I screamed to myself and started running after Ty and Jason, only to be brought to a stumbling halt by the unseen icepick stabbing my knee. I sat slowly in the middle of the trail and cursed my knee, cursed Barkley.

Two a.m. and after ten-minutes of self-pity I pulled myself up, put on a pair of pants and jacket, and spent the next hour with map and compass riddling how to get myself to Quitters Road, the infamous path that most Barkers take for “our” long walk down. Three and a half hours later, Laz greeted my arrival at the Yellow Gate (Barkley starting point and where many dreams have been put to rest). With a genuine air of concern, he asked what had happened. He commented on how surprised he was to see me since I had looked so strong and positive leaving for Loop Two. He then said, “The bugler’s asleep, so I’ll have to tap you out.” Laughing, I asked if I could play my own taps and we both enjoyed a brief chuckle. As instructed, I turned towards camp and played myself the worst rendition of Taps I think the Barkley has ever heard. Much like my attempt at Barkley, my attempt at Taps quickly began to sputter, until I let loose a final, feeble note to pitter out over the sleeping camp. My Barkley was over.

Am I disappointed? Yes- and no. More like frustrated. I prepared myself as best I could, in all aspects required for a successful attempt, and still my body didn’t hold out. This is what the Barkley does. It brings everyone to their knees. However, I am profoundly grateful for my experience and for the beauty tucked among the saw briars, everywhere I looked. It’s good for the soul to be humbled now and again.

“Two things are worth remembering: 1) you will never achieve great things with small goals; and 2) there is no guarantee you will have another chance tomorrow.”

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by Athlete Heather "Anish" Anderson

I arrived at the Barkley calmer than ever before. This being my third time “out there” I didn’t have the fears of getting lost that had previously haunted me. I also wasn’t worried about sleeping through the conch, so I racked up a lot of hours in my sleeping bag the two days prior. I was happy to have slept all the way until the conch sounded race morning at 9:43am.

PC: Leon Lutz

PC: Leon Lutz

The first loop was stellar. Conditions were pleasant and I navigated nearly flawlessly. I felt strong and was enjoying the course. The new changes and book placements were enjoyable diversions from the prior years route. I also appreciated the new cairn to honor those Barkers who have passed away at one of the book locations. I carried a rock with me to place on it in honor of Chip Tuthill, who passed this last year. Chip was a Barkley “old timer” and my first year he was the veteran I clung to on my first lap. Here’s to you Chip, thank you.

There was a good cheering crowd on top of Rat Jaw as always and I enjoyed the steep grind up to the tower. Unfortunately, by the time I reached Rat Jaw for the second time I would be quitting my race.

PC: Joe Kowalski

PC: Joe Kowalski

I had an amazing crew this year who had me in and out of camp in a matter of 15 minutes and I happily started my second loop not long before 11pm. I met another runner at the first book and we spent the majority of the second loop together.

Unfortunately, about ⅓ of the way through the second loop I knew I was probably not going to be able to finish. My stomach had gone south and I was either nauseous or ravenous at all times. Eating made me so sick I could barely move. Not eating sapped all my strength so that my pace was sluglike. For once Laz’s race prediction was right: “Heather weeps like a small child when a box turtle passes her.”

PC: Keith Dunn

PC: Keith Dunn

About ⅔ of the way through the second loop I encouraged my partner to leave me and forge her own way through the rest of the route. She was feeling strong and I knew she’d be able to finish in time to start a 3rd loop, which she did. It was interesting to me that I was in almost the exact same position last year, although the roles were reversed. The veteran I’d been with for 2 loops was sick and sent me on ahead from almost the same exact location. I’d started my 3rd loop with seconds to spare. This year the runner I sent ahead of me did exactly the same thing. It was one of those beautiful ironies of the Barkley.

I enjoyed time in camp reflecting on my experiences of three years at the race and cheering on the runners who continued. It was quite interesting to me to be there for Jared’s finish since he’d also finished the race my first year there.

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Photo by Jason Bryant/USATF

At mile 20 I felt like running was the easiest thing ever and maybe the course record would go down. Five miles later I realized this wouldn’t happen since my legs were already sore, even though my heart rate and effort were low. And so it goes with 100 milers – big highs and crappy lows.

Rocky Raccoon is known for being a flat and fast trail 100 miler, but the normal course still has 5,500ft of vertical gain and lots of roots to trip up unwary or tired legs. This year there was construction work on the dam and that altered the course to include more jeep roads, more climbing (somewhere around 1,500ft per 20-mile loop or 7,500ft in total) and a little more distance (around 0.3 miles/loop or 1.5 miles in total). So there are definitely faster trail 100s out there, but none that have attracted the same level of talent as this Huntsville, Texas, race (Eric Clifton, Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer and Scott Jurek…just on the men’s side).

I’ve had good and bad years at RR100, which were predictable in hindsight. A DNF for my first ever 100 miler (right after an injury and almost zero running for two months), a course record (I was in great marathon shape), another DNF (too focused on going for the record even with really muddy, stormy conditions), then three more runs in the mid-to-high 13hr range with two of them as wins and a second place.

This one ranks on the predictably imperfect end of the scale. I entered it 12 days pre-race on a whim, after fully planning on focusing on a marathon instead. In the five months pre-race I had one long hike and a handful of long runs, all but one under three hours. However, I was in good shape and had some quality speed work in the past couple of months. So that resulted in 20 miles feeling very easy then the lack of endurance rearing its painful head soon after. After two loops I felt like I’d run four and was hanging on for dear life. Luckily I’ve leant a few things from previous 100s about how to manage things when the original plan is derailed, so I settled into grinding mode and acknowledged that every bad patch (of which there were many more than there should have been) would only last a few miles.

Photo by Jason Bryant/USATF

Photo by Jason Bryant/USATF

So lesson learnt, only enter short races at the last moment and respect the 100 mile distance. However, the upside of a tough run is it’s that much sweeter afterwards to know that there were many opportunities to quit and I didn’t take them. Some of the most satisfying races of my life have been the harder days where it didn’t go perfectly. In contrast, the course record year at RR100 in 2011 was anti-climactic since it felt ridiculously easy (hence why I don’t slow down). I’ll keep striving to have another perfect day like that but realize that so many factors have to come together that it’s more about managing inevitable problems mid-race than expecting none to occur.

In terms of results, I held on for the win in 13:45:03, followed by Paul Terranova who repeated his USATF 100 mile Championship title win after being first American at RR100 last year too. Even more impressively, Sabrina Little ran in third all day (or with Paul for 25 miles) and finished in 14:55, the second fastest time ever at RR100 on a day that the course added a little time to her run. Mind you, the weather was absolutely perfect for fast times, never hot or humid.

In addition, two legends of ultra running ground out great finishes – Gordy Ainsleigh qualified for Western States 100 at the last chance he had (he automatically has an entry due to being the founder, but still needs a qualifying race); plus 71-year old Gunhild Swanson of the famous 2015 ‘seconds to spare’ WS100 finish was strong and steady for a 28:22 finish.

Congrats to everyone who ran and the loops and out-and-back sections mean that I saw all of them many times through the day to mutually support each other. Full results are here.

Shoe Choice (first time without any blisters or foot chaffing – see photos):

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

IanSharmanFeet

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A new 100-mile American record was set this weekend by Altra’s Zach Bitter with a total time of 11:40:55. He averaged a 7-minute mile on just over 400 laps around the track at the Desert Solstice Invitational in Phoenix, Arizona (Central High School). Zach broke his previous 2013 record by over 7 minutes! The 100-mile circular venture went well for Zach, only complaining of some hamstring and shoulder pain after the race.

We’re stoked for Zach and hope to see him continue to fight towards owning the world 100-mile record.

You can see more about the race from Aravaipa Running’s video of Zach’s accomplishment.

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The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is proud to announce a 3-year partnership
with Altra Footwear.

Silverton, Colorado / Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

With the announcement, Altra Footwear becomes a Diamond Level Partner and the exclusive footwear partner of the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run.

“We are thrilled to welcome Altra Footwear to the Hardrock family,” said Dale Garland, Race
Director of the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. “We are excited for the long term
commitment of Altra to Hardrock – we share similar values and ideals including the traditions that
the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run were built upon.”

The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is looking forward to working together with Altra to
create a mutually beneficial partnership that collectively will work towards providing value to
Altra and enhancing the overall experience of the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run for all
of the competitors.

“Altra Running is psyched to announce this partnership with the Hardrock 100 because it dovetails
perfectly with our ‘Zero Limits’ mantra,” said Brian Beckstead, Altra co-founder and VP of sales
and a 10-time 100-mile finisher, including completion of UTMB and Wasatch 100 in 2015. “Altra
shoes are designed by runners, for runners who seek deep challenges with zero limits. The
Hardrock 100 course has the difficulties to test the limits of elite athletes from around the world,
and that’s what Altra is all about.”

Read the full story here: www.hardrock100.com.

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Altra – Lone Peak NeoShell Trail Runner

“A waterproof exterior and plenty of cushioning make this ultralight trail runner comfortable for 20-plus-mile winter runs and hikes.”

Most waterproof shoes feature a membrane bootie inside the foam and fabric of the upper. But the Lone Peak’s upper places Polartec’s waterproof/breathable NeoShell (used mostly in jackets) on the outside. The result: Water never gets the chance to penetrate the materials, so the shoes stay lighter, warmer, and dryer. Our feet felt immune during 12-hour days of trekking through bogs and snowfields in Sweden, and after 70 miles, the shoes remain waterproof.

See the full review at: www.backpacker.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Craig Thornley, WS 100 race director, rd@wser.org. and
Colleen Logan, VP Marketing,
clogan@iconfitness.com

ALTRA NAMED EXCLUSIVE FOOTWEAR

SPONSOR OF WESTERN STATES 100

The world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race announces partnership with Altra Footwear

AUBURN, Calif. – Altra Footwear has been named the exclusive footwear sponsor of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Western States 100 President John Medinger announced today. Altra is also the sponsor of the Altra 6K Uphill Challenge, beginning at the Western States start line and ending at High Camp. The Challenge takes place at 10 am on Friday, June 24 and is free and open to all.

“Over the course of the past several months, we talked to several footwear companies about their vision for a partnership with our Run,” Medinger said. “It became increasingly apparent, in our discussions with Altra Footwear Co-Founders Jeremy Howlett and Brian Beckstead, that Altra has a compelling vision for a partnership that we feel will immensely benefit our Run, the runners who come from across the globe to run our race, and the Western States community of friends and volunteers who have an incredible personal investment in what we do.

“Altra is a company that is clearly on a rapid and exciting trajectory. They are a company of high ethical grounding that appeals to all ability levels. And, they have a keen eye for where the sport is headed. They really do ‘get’ what we stand for as an organization, and they’ve made it very clear that our partnership will not only benefit our Run, but the sport in general.

“We are incredibly pleased to announce this partnership.”

Altra, which is located in Utah, traces its roots back to the work of founder Golden Harper, Beckstead and Howlett, who began experimenting with a better performing shoe which they named “ZeroDrop™” – the name refers to the lack of differential between the shoe’s heel and forefoot area. The shoe is also known for its distinctive FootShape™ toebox instead of the constrictive V-shaped toe box of virtually every other brand of running shoes.

“Altra Running and Western States Endurance Run are a natural combination, because we are both true pioneers in our respective fields,” said Brian Beckstead, Altra co-founder and VP of sales. “Western States invented the ultra-running race with the first ever 100-mile race in 1974. Altra pioneered running shoe design with a roomy foot-shaped toe box and a zero drop platform.”

Altra’s first – and only – product in their first line of shoes won “Best Debut” by Runner’s World in March 2012 and “Editor’s Pick for Most Innovative” by Competitor magazine in September 2011

When the line expanded to trail running shoes, the Altra Lone Peak was named “Editor’s Choice” by Runner’s World. Most recently, in Spring 2015, the Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe won Editor’s Choice from both Runner’s World and Trail Runner.  In Fall 2015, Altra Lone Peak Neoshell won “Best Weatherproof” from Competitor magazine, “Best Trail Running Shoes of 2015” from Men’s Journal and was selected for the Summer Gear Guide by Outside magazine.

The shoe’s unique foot-shaped toe box was an immediate hit with the ultra-running community, who necessarily spend continuous hours on their feet.

At the 2015 Western States 100, Altra shot to third place in the official shoe count at 16% of all finishers and 16% of all sub-24 finishers. In just a little more than 4 years, Altra has catapulted to the third largest trail shoe brand in the Run Specialty channel and now has 3 of the top 10 selling shoes in the industry, according to research from NPD.

“Ultra runners really appreciate Altra’s FootShape Toebox.  It allows your toes to spread out which provides a relaxing comfortable place for your feet to be and provides a stable base over rocky terrain.  At Mile 87 it’s particularly effective!” said Beckstead, who completed UTMB, Ultra Trail Mount Blanc in August in Chamonix, then two weeks later ran the Wasatch 100 in less than 30 hours.

The Western States 100-Mile Endurance run, first held in 1974, is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail run. Held on the last weekend in June in Squaw Valley, Calif., Western States brings together runners from around the globe and from all 50 states for what is considered the world’s most competitive 100-mile race.

 

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May 2nd of this year, I found myself (once again) in the boot heel of New Mexico, a literal stone’s throw from the simple barbed wire fence that separates North America from Mexico. No tourists venture to the area. There is a monument. It’s not much to look at, and few people ever even see the thing. The dirt road leading to it is accessible only via 4×4 vehicle…but it’s a one-way trip for the folks who get dropped off there. This monument marks the southern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail, and most of the people visiting it hope to see its northern counterpart at the Canadian border by the end of the hiking season. I was one of those hopefuls this year, but unlike many, it wasn’t my first (or second) time standing alone in the desert sun, surrounded by endless vistas of sand and cacti. This would be my third experience on the CDT, which—if successful—would be the final journey of my “triple triple crown”.

There are currently a couple hundred folks who have completed a single triple crown—end to end (“thru”) hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails, each within a single hiking season. That feat entails over 7,500 cumulative miles of hiking. I completed my first triple crown in 2007, and in 2012 became one of a few to have thru hiked all of the “big three” twice.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually hike the triple crown for a third time, and make for that awkward sounding title of “triple triple crowner.” Three thru hikes on the Appalachian Trail, three thru hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, and three thru hikes on the Continental Divide Trail. Ironically enough, I would be the third person to complete a “triple triple,” which makes me not only obsessive in my desire to hike ridiculously long distances across the continent, but also strangely connected to the numeral 3. I’ll leave the deciphering of that numerical symbolism to the mystics.

Lint2

On August 26th 2015, after nearly four months of traversing the backbone of our continent on foot, I reached my destination and touched the monument marking the Canadian border. My legs had carried me up and over mountains, across scorching desert basins, and through countless river crossings. I was able to watch spring unfold into summer, and by the time I finished my journey, the crisp evening air signaled an approaching autumn. My path took me from that dusty border monument across the enchanted state of New Mexico and into the blooming wildflower gardens of Colorado. After crossing the halfway point, I entered wild and wonderful Wyoming, briefly crisscrossed the border of Idaho, and then was immersed in the rugged state of Montana. 5 states, roughly 2800 miles, and nearly four months of mobile meditation as I hauled my pack across the geological divide of this country.

If, back in 2003—when I first sauntered off into the woods for a long distance hike—you’d have asked me what strange path my lifestyle would lead to, I never would have imagined I would have covered the miles that I have. After tallying the other shorter trails I’ve thru hiked, these feet have carried me somewhere in the vicinity of 28,000 miles. That may seem like a ludicrous number, but as I sit here reflecting on the experiences and lessons those miles have taught me about life, all I can think is…I can’t wait to get out there again.