Posts

Why Virtual Ultras Don't Count

Image
Listen to the dog. I'm gonna piss on a live wire and talk about why Virtual Ultras Don't Count. Preamblin' Prior to 2020 a virtual ultra was a distant-fringe idea, like "running to the moon", kid you not. Then 'Rona exploded in the USA thanks to criminal incompetence, magical thinking, short-term Trumpian graft and corruption, and demonization of actual science that might've gotten a handle on things. All public sporting events died. Suddenly, we entered the age of Virtual Ultras. This was an understandable response by RD's who's events were suddenly cancelled, and by runners who needed to compete in something, anything. Gary Cantrell's The Virtual Great Race Across Tenn essee was a surprise winner in this category with an estimated 19,000 entrants. Pros & Cons  Virtual ultras enable people who might not have done an ultra, to motivate, train, and bond with others looking to find their way out of a black hole. A real positive example is Ja

2020 Hindsight

Image
My virtual buckle is down there, dammit! 2020 was a burning dumpster fire. Ultras got pounded. In the midst of all that, some events were able to safely proceed, and magic happened. Our friends at Ultrarunning Magazine have the stats . They do that way better than I. Predictions... Really?  The following is a tossed salad of the sober and surreal. You decide which. Marquee races like Western States and Hardrock may or may not happen, depending on how fucked up the 'Rona vaccine rollouts are, combined with Avoidable Dumbfuck Super-Spreader Events. Smaller races are also impacted. Currently LA County is on lockdown. Angeles Crest 100 is listed as happening, but we'll see after the winter storms and Bobcat Fire trail-washouts and tree deadfalls have their way. A huge majority of that course was incinerated this past October. The last word from the USFS was that it was closed for the next several years. There's enough trail work for all entrants and more, as the USFS is perenni

Summer '75: Opening Salvo

Image
Detail of mythic Jackalope, 1974. Omnibus Postcard Collection In the summer of 1975 I was an art counselor at the venerable Cimarroncita Ranch Camp for Boys, Ute Park NM. Originally there was the girls camp, and somebody thought that Junior needed to be somewhere if Sis was.  Getting There I rode the Dog from Athens OH thru Columbus, thence southwest through Missouri, OK City, and the vastness of Texas: Amarillo, Dalhart to Raton NM. There I was picked up by the camp in a station wagon with 3 other guys, and thence west on Hwy 64 to Ute Park NM.  "Jacky Blue" was playing on the radio. All the other guys seemed way more knowledgeable about all this, and I got the distinct feeling that my previous summer in Italy didn't count here.  Time The first three weeks were my Ohio sinuses draining in the mountain air. I'd finally come back to a home point on my native geographic axis, that ran from New Mexico up thru the Rockies into Idaho/Montana. Humor me, I was born in Den

Summer '75: Meeting An Aspen Drug Lawyer

Image
At least that's the way I remembered it. One morning, Phil needed my help making a dump run, and drop off a car. I followed him in his then-elderly Land Cruiser out to the Pitkin County dump. We tossed some shit, got a soda, and then drove back into town. He was meeting his pal Woody, a drug lawyer at a slanted-wood paneled fern bar, back when that look was brand new. We’re sitting there on low divan cushions. The waitresses were svelte, slender and cute as fuck. I was acutely aware of my obvious broke-ass status, but managed to keep my mouth shut. Woody appeared, high-fives and back slaps, the waitresses knew him. He took a seat, he and Phil traded opening lines, as one leathery cocaine cowboy after another, with turquoise rings etc sidled up to him, whispered in his ear, and discussing upcoming court dates. Woody launched into the Big Story. He’d just gotten back from Jackson MS, where he’d sprung four unlucky knuckleheads from a major drug bust. Two guys and their respective gir

Summer '75: The Rock & Roll Seamstress

Image
Buy the ticket, take the ride Phil & Gail's temporary rental house on the western flats part of Aspen was an 1890's gingerbread that had seen better days. It wasn't a restored painted lady like in San Francisco. It also didn't have a phone. For some reason this wasn't especially odd. A rock n roll seamstress lived across the street.The street was have been seal coated. She supposedly did work for the Eagles. This wasn’t exactly new; I knew an odd bird named Kent back in Athens who did stage wear for Alice Cooper, or so we were told. Only reason I met her was that she had a phone. So I’d go over to her house, call down to Denver, stall my grandmother, give her some money, and leave. The interior was tidy Victoriana. That style was enjoying a revival in pop culture; but I imagine that high-country junk stores were full of all that, left over from the mining booms and busts. She was in her late 30s, on the plain side, but completely sociable. On another day I met o

Summer '75: The Ducks Unlimited Blind Dinner Date

Image
Aspen CO. Image courtesy of the Omnibus Postcard Collection Gail and Phil had a friend, a woman who was a real estate agent. Some divorced guy from Texas had a crush on her, wanted to meet her. So a dinner was arranged. Gail, Phil, The Texan, Real Estate Gal [who was seriously not interested in Tex], her sister, and yours truly. Full disclosure: the sister was seriously not interested in me either. I remember her as a tall icy brunette with a Dorothy Hamill bob. We’re at Tex’s condo somewhere on Aspen Mountain. Got there while there was still light, saw the lifts out the back day. Again, a world light years from my life. We got situated, the weed circulated. Dinner arrives, a high-dollar chunk of Texas beef with a Bearnaise, and very lush French red wine.  Then Phil and Gail bailed, claiming something. So that left me sitting next to Icy Sister, baked as fuck. I didn't have the wit to duck out.  Tex is trying to establish his Cool Guy bona fides with Real Estate Gal, easily twenty

Bobcat Fire: End of the AC100?

Image
USFS Bobcat Fire Closure Map   As of October 7, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. Mandatory evacuations for the Bobcat fire burning in the Angeles National Forest have been downgraded to warnings, the U.S. Forest Service said. ... The fire has burned 115,769 acres and was 89% contained as of Tuesday, Oct. 6. [ Mercury News ] The course is charred from Chilao thru Chantry, then up and over Mt Wilson [prevented from incinerating the telescope complex] to Idle Hour, and down to Sierra Madre. In short, a shit ton of burn. Winter will bring mudslides and more downed trees on trail washouts. Those familiar with the course know that in many places the trails are 'notional', ie stapled to the side of the slope in the best of times. Now that the manzanita has burned off, be prepared to welcome The Purple Poodle Dog Bush [ Eriodictyon parryi ], which is a native recovery species. For those not familiar with it, it makes poison oak seem like a bad coffee date. T his is the likely end of the Angeles Cre

Check Your Watch!

Image
He's still on his game. I was entered in the Sean O’Brien 50-miler, but a cold hard eye on my sad probable splits suggested I do something else that day. My likely seventeen hour ETA meant a DNF hook at the final Piuma Creek crossing, a mere 2 miles from the finish. Last month’s SOB50k had  several post-DFLs moseying in from here with no urgency, which meant penalty dollars to the race for going over their time limit from the Park Service. Yes, thats a buzz kill. For them. For you its a reminder to make your training count, and not be a dick. More on that in a bit. Why We Serve In that light I decided to volunteer to work at the 13/36mi aid station with Amy Berkin-Chavez and her crew. It beats game-shows and day-drinking. The fast and the furious came in and went out, they’re pretty much OK. Things got interesting when the early mid-packers arrive, and its a swirl to get them fueled up and gone.  Then you start seeing the late DFLs, who are probably going to get pulled