Thursday, June 30, 2016

AC100: Severe Challenges Ahead


The Angeles Crest, looking east from Mt Wilson
The Angeles Crest 100 is facing serious threats to its continued existence. Both are man-made. 

The AC100 had been given an informal pass though the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness by the USFS since 2011, because of their over-stressed/underfunded assets. Since 1996 the Race has contributed thousands of hours of trail work. This has been extremely important. Hal Winton, co-RD, has been the lead on all this. He's sat through more endless grinding meetings, then driven to remote areas, bucked chainsaws and deadfalls, and introduced hundreds of runners to trail-work.

The 2014 Monument decision merely opened up the whole mess for review.

Yes, the 1984 Granite Chief Wilderness decision affected the Western States 100, and they were able to grandfather the race in. Antonio Rossman was part of the legal team that made that happen. Was a phone-call put in to Reagan from his old friend Wendell Robie? Maybe. That would sure help. Reagan was indifferent to environment at best [see James Watt, Sec of the Interior, Walter Hodel], but was sociable to his friends.

Dominic Grossman’s petition is brave and necessary. Will it succeed? I don’t know.

  • AS OF JANUARY 15, 2013: To cross the first threshold and be searchable within WhiteHouse.gov, a petition must reach 150 signatures within 30 days. To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days.
Those are long odds.

Did AC Race management [ie Ken Hamada] do his homework prior to this? Maybe. In 2011 I put together a full-color map/presentation chart [24x18] that the Race needed to have in Sen Boxer’s office. Originally it was a crappy b&w Xerox w Ken’s handwriting all over it. I got Ken to spend actual money to have this printed out at Kinkos and FedExed to Boxer’s Fresno office. I heard no more after that.

Now It It Gets Worse For The Race.

The Wilderness Act is specific, as Bryon Powell wrote in Running Times December 2009:
"The Wilderness Act severely restricts the use of designated lands, barring "commercial enterprises," permanent roads, and except as needed for the administration of the land, all temporary roads, the use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or mechanical transport, and any structure or installation within the area. It also provides guidance as to how the federal agencies should administer them: "These [wilderness areas] shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, [and] the preservation of their wilderness character.”

The Race is registered as a corporation. It is not a “community event” as named in Dominic’s petition. Yes, it has aspects of that, but no.

Now Lambert Timmermans has alleged that Ken underpaid the USFS by a lot.  Timmerman’s motives are mixed. For a moment he and Jean Ho were the nominated heirs to the AC100. They also had been providing chip-timing services via their company NSR.com. I’d call that a serious conflict-of-interest, but hey! Not my problem.

Early in 2015 Kenny shuffled the deck and fired both of them, elevating Jakob Herrmann up to Ass’t RD. As I had been fired as the Race Book Editor [1998-2014] in Oct 2014, I told them “Ken had me for lunch, then he had you for dinner”.

Prior to his departure Timmermans claims to have seen the books. Whether or not he can make that stick is another story.

There’s more, but its a side-show to the unfolding catastrophe.

Friday, June 24, 2016

AC100: It's A Man's Race, and Less


RD Ken Hamada has made clear that the AC100 is a "man's race". A sufficient number of men and women disagree.
The 2016 AC100 is bearing down on us less than 8 weeks out, and there are interesting scenarios building in three areas: procedural, legal, and 2017 entries.

The Procedural DIY

The Race was recently looking for qualified medical team. This used to be handled by Nick Nudell’s Ultra-Medical Team. Nick had begun to retool his business model to move in a different direction earlier this year. 

The timing of Nudell's withdrawal, notification were not known to me at the time of writing. The well-regarded John Emmons stepped up, and that problem has been solved

When Hamada fired Lambert Timmermans and Jean Ho as Assistant RDs [Oct 2015], he evidently deleted Negative Split Running’s timing service as well. The Race will supposedly be timed from Kenny’s phone w a scanner that will read the chip on the bib. 

It's a flying start already.

Oh Dear, Legal Drama! Which is the Official Facebook Page?

In 2009 I'd set up the original AC100 Facebook page. I was the Racebook editor, and it seemed like a good idea. The training runs/trail work dates could now be looked at directly, even if Race Mgmt didn't have it together to actually work with Facebook. You still had to email the beloved co-RD "Uncle" Hal Winton, who was wedded to his creaking Juno.com mail account.

October 2014: Hamada fired me as RaceBook Editor/Social Media.The termination agreement stipulated Hamada was not to use any of my photos etc in the 2015 Racebook, which he ignored. He also slept thru the following 8 months until he realized that I was still their social-media editor, playing it straight. 

May 2015:
Hamada wrote me an angry email, demanding that I hand over the group. I didn’t want to give away what I’d built. I informed him that:
  • He could start his own group, which he did
  •  I’d changed the name of the Facebook group page to “Angeles Crest Runners Forum, later Angeles Crest UltraLandia”; and
  • specified that the group had no official ties to the AC100. Right up front. 
Angeles Crest UltraLandia Facebook cover art: Dead Man's Bench, 2015

UltraLandia group description, for those who bother to read these things.

The 2015 race book appeared, with many of my photos and maps still being used. I sent Hamada an invoice for the map usage ($500). He fired back with a demand for $1500--alleging improper use of the AC100 name without his permission 'all those years’, i.e. from 2009-2014.

In my reply I reminded him that: 

  • I'd set up the Facebook group because nobody else had the bright idea; and that I posted news, events and doings of the AC100 as the RaceBook editor
  • "Angeles Crest Runners Forum" is a generic name, not specifically referencing AC100
  • that an independent comment forum was desperately needed after his "catastrophically inept management decisions of the last year"
I then ran it past a lawyer and a paralegal, who cheerfully agreed with my points. In closing, told Hamada I didn't owe a nickel, and to pay up. Dead silence.

Kenny Shuffles The Deck

Autumn 2015: Ken surprises both Lambert and Jean Ho, presumptive RD heirs to the AC100, with news that they were fired. Jakob Herrmann had been promoted up from the web-guy to Asst RD. Parts is parts, evidently. In any case, its straight out of Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, the presumably official AC100 page steamed on, under the nominal guidance of Timmermans et alia. Following revelations that alleges fiscal irregularities, Hamada is now suing Lambert Timmermans in Small Claims Court [Alhambra CA], for allegedly violating intellectual copyright by using the name “Angeles Crest 100” on the Facebook page that Timmermans started [as Ass’t RD] after I'd told Hamada where to step off. 


The successor page, May 2015.
Now there is a third iteration: AC100 (official) Angeles Crest 100 presence. Characteristically, it’s a closed group, so the public cannot peer into the cryptic murky workings of the race. 
No, this is the real one!
In the midst of all this, there are rumors that Hamada has never registered “Angeles Crest 100” under any trademark or copyright.  So theoretically ANYONE could start up a 100 using that very name. There may be some weight of prior use here, so let’s not hold our breath. The Small Claims ruling may shed some light. More likely it will put a swift kick for somebody to hire a good intellectual-property [IP] lawyer. Who, remains to be seen.

Yes, You May Already Be A Winner

The latest development coming out of the Hamada Skunkworks is the Three-peat Lottery Bypass Strategy: every Aid Station captain can give away one spot to one of his volunteers, to bypass the lottery. Also, runners who’ve finished AC100 3x consecutively can bypass the lottery to support their efforts for the 10x consecutive finish.

The Lottery is as yet a vague, undefined process. There is no stated process of entry, verification, when and where the Lottery is drawn, accountability. Nothing. It’s chimerical.

By contrast,  the WSER100 process is:

  • Pre-qualified entrants, from a specific list of demanding races
  • a public Drawing, on a weekend, in front of a live audience.
Yes, only 8% of the 1400+ applicants will be drawn. Nobody’s gonna be happy. But goddamn, the WSER100 tries like hell to make it honest and accountable, however complicated and convoluted. All of which are lacking at the AC100.

In conclusion, for anyone who claims that all this is somehow “Drama”, I ask “why are you rushing to defend a process that is transparently dishonest?”