Gumby Went Down To Georgia

The Cruel Jewel 100/50 is a UTMB qualifier. This should be warning enough. Ask Karl Meltzer. If you’re looking for an easy 100, keep moving. You might even have your name announced and a podium to vault.

The CJ100/50 is intensely old-school. No timing chips, themed aid stations with costumed volunteers, no noisy sound systems booming Journey or whatever dreck is deemed inspirational. Quiet reigns. Some of you 100s better listen up.

Its the South, and its hot. Being Northern Georgia, a few short miles from Tennessee, N Carolina and S Carolina, even up in the mountains its hot. And steamy. Get used to it. But they put this on in mid-May, before it really gets real.

There's 26,000' of vert in the hundred, and it will kick your ass. Swiftly and repeatedly. Think endless Mt Wilson repeats out of Chantry Flats.

So. I went to CJ for the 50. Pulled the DNF Lever at Mile 8. Disappointed? yes. My right hip was locking up at 7 miles, and crippling dipshit heroics weren't in the c…

Uncle Hal Winton: An Incomplete Memoriam

Ultrarunning lost a giant today. "Uncle" Hal Winton, co-RD of the Angeles Crest 100 since its 1986 founding, died this morning. He had just completed his 35th Avalon Benefit 50 this past January. RIP.

I first met Hal in 1990, at a 35mile fun run around Mt San Jacinto near Idylwild, CA. I was an ultra newbie and he was already a legend in Southern California ultras.

Back in those days, he was instantly recognizable with a cross "bigger than the one Christ came down from" [in the words of my ultra mentor Tom Pontac] and wore a t-shirt saying "Winton 4 Jesus". Over the years the cross got smaller, but it was a mighty diamond of no-bullshit faith. One story I heard was that his church was debating getting new carpet. He reportedly stood up and asked why they were thinking of carpet, when there were hungry people out on the street. But if they wanted carpet, then he'd find another church. The carpet idea died.
Some bio infoOriginally from Indiana…

Backbone Trail 68 & 100 Postscript

The BBT68 is a low-elevation Wasatch, a course that mocks the smugness of "Cali Carpet-Trails" jibes heard periodically.  BBT68 winner Jeff Browning ran it as if it was paved. His 11:36 FKT is refreshing because a disinterested 3rd party was running the timer. Also note that the BBT100 only had 5 finishers, as the cutoffs were mega-serious. RD's Howard Cohen and Mike Epler threw down a challenge, and many weren't up to it. This is a reminder of what a tough 100 has to offer, in a time when many buckle-chasers drawl "I'm gonna do a hun-doe..."

Backbone Trail 68, Plus One

I was well and truly back in UltraLandia when halfway up Sandstone Peak at 53mi, I'm taking a desperation nap on a sandy flat spot, under a full moon. 

Minutes earlier I’d been lurching from side to side, falling asleep on my feet. I had one more cut-off to meet by 0630, and I gambled I’d be better with a nap than to stagger on and lose an ankle in a chuckhole.
SAME AS IT EVER WASThe BBT68 is really a 100 in sheep’s clothing. With over 12,000’ of elevation gain in 68 miles, you won’t go home hungry for vert, and you’ll definitely be running your own race. It was a long day-n-night-n-day; showing that my endurance training was basically correct. After the finish I was walking, rather than stumping. My vain regret was that it took 25hrs. But that beats a DNF. I’ll spend the summer digging a deeper base, and trying for more speed.
THE BACKBONE TRAILThe Backbone Trail 68 runs the entire length of the Backbone Trail—from Will Rogers State Historical Park in Los Angeles west t…

Why Not Buckles for Beer Miles?

Buckles in ultras used to be seen mostly in 100-mile races. Occasionally they’d be seen at the 50-mile events. Here in California they were given out in some capacity at the long-gone San Juan Trail 50-Mile and Nugget 50-Mile. In recent years they’ve surfaced at some 50ks and marathons. Now they’ve appeared at the Austin TX 1/2 marathon.  You’ve gotta be fucking kidding. First, a little history.Finisher buckles in 100-milers originated at the Western States 100, as a direct lineage from the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride. Not all 100s had buckles for the post-24 hour to final cut-off finishers. Angeles Crest didn’t offer them to the 24-33hr finishers until 1996, after 1995’s winner Fred Shuffelbarger leaned on RD Ken Hamada, hard.

Wasatch had at last count three: sub 24hr, 24-30hr, 30-33hr. I am lucky to have earned the latter two. Because Wasatch is fucking difficult.
AWARDS CREEPThe buckle was a compelling marker that the wearer presumably earned it by hard work. When fewer than 1000 peo…

Whole Lotto Love, Again

Lotteries are a reality in100-mile ultras.'s Gary Wang summarized that "The sport has grown more than 10x in last 20 years. In 1996, there were 973 runners finished an 100 miler, and there were only 18 100m events."

In late 2016, Hard Rock 100 was accused by Aaron Denberg; alleging fraud in the raffle system, insider favoritism, and financial hardship by runners who’ve spent $17,000 to get to the starting line. Where he got that $17k number is beyond me. But it seems to fuel a lawsuit animus.

Denberg also alleges misconduct in the trail-work process, scree spillage etc. All this is chickenshit compared to what the USFS deals with on a daily basis; especially in light of a savage incoming Trump Administration and its blazing love for all things logging, mining, fracking and drilling.

Western States has had a lottery since 1981. The draw is public, and you’re welcome to sit in the Placer Co HS auditorium and watch your name not get pulled. There's an abu…

RayMiller 30k: Splits ain't gonna suck themselves

Oh, you must feel betrayed by age
I'm reading from a later page
   You can't hear me at your stage...
Oscar Brown Jr
At the 2016 Ray Miller 30k start  today, I was chicked— yesterday. Waves of fine, talented women surged ahead and I was chill with all of it. Last time I'd done a 30k was probably 1987: the qualifier for the 1988 Catalina Marathon. Things were different then. 

Snapping off a Pro LogBut I was happy—I'd just recovered felony-function in my right arm. Six weeks earlier I'd skidded into an ER with a fractured upper-right humerus. As broken bones go, it was a stage 1 greenstick fracture: no bones sticking out of flesh, no cast or surgery. But it fucked up my life for the next 5 weeks. Hurt like hell, and all the rest. It was a replay of 2014's broken wrist.

The Self-Aggrandizing Dean Karnazes-grade Race Report Bullshit HereI'd originally signed up for the RM50k. When things began to clear somewhat with my arm, I realized that 1] A 50k wasn't like…