Coming Up – The Marathon du Mont-Blanc & Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon!

Our sweet Maria has been in France for the past couple weeks, alongside husband, coach and photographer, Tad Davis, prepping for the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 42k this Sunday, June 25, in Chamonix; Chamonix is a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy, which hosts Mont-Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. The photos of their adventures are incredible, and can be seen HERE. See below for a description of the feat she’s about to tackle –

42k COURSE DESCRIPTION

“Starting from the centre of Chamonix (1035m) the route climbs steadily towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of ‘les Bois’ and Lavancher to reach Argentière (1250m). Runners will bypass the village of Argentière and reach Le Planet by the ‘Chemin des Rambles’ before going to Montroc using a local road, closed for the event. After going through the village of Montroc you take the trail towards Tré le Champ and from here, you go towards the Col des Montets. The route crosses the ‘Col des Montets’ (1461m) in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges’ Natural Reserve. Then along the ‘chemin des Diligences,’ the old stage-coach route, you arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine (1260 m), nestled at the bottom of a pretty valley at just a stone’s throw from Switzerland. Here begins the progression to the Col des Possettes (1997m) via a trail leaving from the Plan de l’enders. A refreshment post is available at the top of the col before finally climbing up to the Aiguilles des Posettes (2201m) where you will be rewarded by a breathtaking panoroma of the Mont Blanc range. Facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ and the Mont Blanc range, the route follows the ridgeline of the ‘aiguillette’ gradually descending in the direction of Tré le Champ. You will go along a pretty trail that brings you toward le Tour, crosses through the village, and then takes you near to the Tour glacier. Then, you will take a north facing trail (a cooler perspective….) towards Montroc before crossing through the hamlets of the Frasserands and Tré le Champ. At the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, at the opposite of the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). After crossing the magnificent Charlatan comb (1812m) the climb is gentle on a balcony path, with one of the most beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc, to reach Altitude 2000.”

Not as cool as Chamonix, but also a race abroad, Nikki and Courtney will race the Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon in Vancouver, BC on Sunday, June 25, as a nice breakup in their base building training as Nikki preps for a European trip to traverse UTMB with Scarlett, and Courtney lays the foundation for the Bellingham Bay Marathon.

IAU Long Distance World Trail Championships, Sound to Narrows 12k, Portland Track Festival & the Solstice Challenge 12 HR!

On June 10th at 8:00 am (midnight here), the 2017 IAU Trail World Championships were held in Badia Prataglia, Toscani Italia at Trail Sacred Forests. The World Championships course was near 50k and featured 2,990 m. in elevation gains/loss.

Photo by: Richard Bolt

The US Women’s team consisted of our love, Corrine Malcolm, as well as Anita Ortiz, Caitlin Smith, Ladia Albertson-Junkins, Keely Henninger, and Megan Roche. The US Men’s team consisted of Hayden Hawks, Cody Reed, Tyler Sigl, David Roche, Mario Mendoza, and Andy Wacker. For a full review of all participants and country’s featured, see HERE.

In iRunFar’s Women’s preview, Megan Hicks said, “…it looks like it will favor those who can work steep hills well at shorter-distance ultramarathons. The race is competitive in its breadth and depth, truly a world-championship event. Racing together we’ll see some of the best road ultrarunners, trail runners, short mountain-running specialists, long-distance ultramarathon specialists, fell runners, and more–from six different continents–all in one place. The women’s race has 111 entrants, vetted for participation through their country’s qualification process.”

Photo by: Dayle Quigley

Corrine Malcolm – Only returning member of Team USA from the 2016 IAU Trail World Champs, where she finished 28th (and was Team USA’s highest-placing runner); 1st 2016 USATF 50-Mile Trail National Championships; 7th 2017 Chuckanut 50k (behind winner Ladia Albertson-Junkans).”

Ladia would be the first US Female finisher in 13th, followed by Anita Ortiz in 43rd, Corrine Malcolm a minute behind, 3rd US finisher and 44th Female. Caitlin Smith was 4th US and 48th Female. Megan Roche was the final scorer for the US team, 5th US and 72nd overall Female.

Photo by: Dayle Quigley

One the Women’s side, France was 1st, Italy 2nd and Spain 3rd. The US Women’s Team placed 6th overall out of 21 teams. On the Men’s side, Spain was 1st, France 2nd, and the US 3rd.

June 10th was also host to the Sound to Narrows 12k, a hilly west Tacoma race. Hazel Clapp, our certified road queen, took 2 minutes off her previous PR at the race, and was 8th Woman overall.

June 10th was ALSO host to the Portland Track Festival’s Open Women’s 5k, where Rachel Cundy added to the bank of mental toughness and aerobic work, by giving it all she had, celebrating with the very necessary Voodoo Donuts.

June 10th was ALSO ALSO host to Bend Racing’s Solstice 12 HR Multi Sport Challenge, where at 5 pm at Mackenzie Bridge, OR, Scarlett along with Team Quest teammates, set off on a challenge that would consist of Class II/III whitewater rafting, epic single track mountain biking with serious elevation gain, trekking, and serious downhills that would allow for a “blistering fast final dirt descent to the finish line.” Scarlett’s team took 3rd Overall, and this was after she competed in the first ever Mount Baker Ultra Marathon a week before…

S2S, Chuckanut Mountain 1/2 & the Mt. Baker Ultra Marathon!

Ski to Sea 2017 was as it continues to be – incredible and a catalyst towards a summer of ventures both individual and united. Several of our athletes competed on various teams: CorePhysio, Brandon Nelson Partners and SHEroes, in the downhill ski/snowboard leg and the downhill run leg. In the Whatcom County Women Division, CorePhysio, with Scarlett Graham as DH Ski and Hazel Clap as DH Run, took 2nd in the Division/30th Overall. In the same Whatcom County Women’s Division, Brandon Nelson Partners (formerly Kulshan Cycles), with Amber Morrison as DH Ski and Courtney Olsen as DH Run, took 1st in the Division/22nd Overall. Team SHEroes in the Competitive Women’s Division, with Alyson Carlyon as DH Ski and Aly Howisey in the DH Run were 2nd in their Division/33rd Overall.

Photo by: Annie Hewlett

Incredible Female performances spanned the entire day, though coverage of such amazing feats were little to nil. It all started with Kikkan Randall as the very 1st finisher in the XC Ski leg, over a minute ahead of 2nd place/1st Male, with a time of 19:26. Scarlett Graham was Top Gun (which S2S removed honoring a few years back…) in the DH Ski Leg – 1st Female in 25:31. 2nd Female was Amber Morrison in 26:39. Following in 3rd, 4th & 5th were Whatcom County residents as well – Courtney McBean, Katelyn Steen and Alyson Carlyon. Courtney Olsen was Top Gun in the DH Run, finishing in what might be the highest overall place for a Female in that leg – 5th Overall, in 40:05. Megan Northey of SHEroes was Top Gun in the RD Bike Leg, finishing in a time of 1:45:57. Veronica Wisniewski and Gwyn Howat of Brandon Nelson Partners were Top Gun in the Canoe leg in 1:53:44, a personal best for the duo. Kirsten Jensen of Jack’s Bicycle Center was Top Gun in the CX Bike Leg in 42:45, followed by Brandon Nelson Partners’ Kristen Mckenzie in 2nd in 45:08. Jack’s Bicycle Center’s Sally Wallick was 1st Female/Top Gun in the Kayak in 44:38, followed by Brandon Nelson Partners’ Heather Nelson in 2nd in 46:07, both teams of which would go on to win their prospective division titles. There were so many more insanely inspiring Female performances out there; this was just to name a few…!

For FULL RESULTS see HERE!

Last weekend held two kickass races and even more inspiring performances, which all started with the Chuckanut Mountain ½ Marathon run by Bellingham Trail Running Series. Teammate Nikki Vander Wiele, who’s had a kickass Spring of trail racing, raced the ½ amidst several bulky weeks of training. Her beautiful race report is below:

CHUCKANUT MOUNTAIN 1/2 MARATHON By Nikki Vander Wiele
“In most races I go in with a goal – a time, a place, a feeling – something to drive me, something to chase. More often than not what prevails is a lesson. This weekend’s lesson came to me as soon as I started to climb Hemlock trail.

The past few weeks have been full – full of life, full of miles. I like to be busy and usually have a lot of energy, so I pack in work, yard maintenance, power washing, house cleaning, cooking, groceries, laundry – you know the list – it’s life and it needs to be done. I find the time, squeeze it in and try my best to be organized and power through.

Running is what I love and want to do so I always make time for it. Lately the high mileage weeks require a lot of time, but it’s fun and I can, so I keep doing the miles, and the doubles, and try the hills, and the little workouts, and the weekend long runs with my friends. I want to do it all and I think that I can. I like to call it “wonder woman syndrome.” I look around at my friends and teammates and all that they balance: jobs, relationships, yard projects, adventures, training, travel. I see it in Aly’s “what ski to sea legs?” workout attempt, in Scarlett’s marathon-a-month racing schedule and the odd Mt. Baker summits and adventure races just in case that wasn’t crazy enough. I see it in Corrine’s home for 48 hours-altitude training-international racing-camp leading-poster presenting. We all have it – this drive/motivation/dream that inspires us. How we believe in the endless chase, that we have super powers of limitless energy, no need for sleep, and spontaneously regenerating muscle fibers that instantly bounce back from races and workouts.

Which brings us to the start of Saturday’s race. I knew I was coming off a big mileage push in training (over 100miles in 7 days is the most I have run in a week since 2012) and a couple big weekends on the trails with more elevation and climbing than I’m used to, BUT, I took Friday off and went for a walk so I figured my legs were going to be “fresh” and “spunky” for the race, right?! Sure it was an emotional and stressful week, BUT, I’m tough and resilient and I can just compartmentalize and not let it affect my racing, right?

On my warm-up my legs felt a little heavy and my hammy and back were really tight. I ran an extra mile hoping it would loosen me up. I looked around the start line to scout out the comp, noticing that several were missing I’d expected to see there. From the start, the first 4 miles cruises down the Interurban; I felt good, hit sub 7 pace and thought, This could be a good day! The top 2 women were out ahead of me but I knew my strength was in the second half of the course and hoped I could reel them back in then.

…then I made the turn to start climbing through Arroyo and up Hemlock trail and I realized I had no power. This was where I was struck with the lesson of the day: “I am NOT wonder woman.” Turns out I cannot do it all. I can’t run high mileage and workouts and expect to still feel fresh as a daisy. I can’t skimp on sleep and load up on chores and expect not to feel tired. Will power, determination, guts, and never giving up can fix a lot of things, but they can’t fix everything and sometimes just trying harder isn’t enough. So the second lesson of the day became “Grace.” I decided not to be frustrated or worry about whether or not this was going to be my best performance or most fun race ever and just accepted where I was at – 5 miles in to a 13 mile race with tired legs and crampy calves. I decided to do my best with what I had. So I walked more climbs and technical sections than I would have liked and I charged the downhills with all I had to make up time and I kept telling myself, “See how fast your tired legs can go!” I never saw the two female leaders again, in fact I ran most of the rest of the race completely alone. But I stayed engaged and was proud of myself for fighting as best as I could. My Strava splits show where I’ve made improvements over last year as well as the few miles I clearly struggled, but I closed the last 1/2 mile at 6:11 pace chasing that PR with all I had. I finished in 2:07:01 and was 3rd Place Female. It wasn’t what I hoped for but it was all I had that day. In the end the goal isn’t to stop believing that I am wonder woman, it’s to give myself enough grace to know that even when I’m not, I am enough.

Special thanks to Destination Trail for hosting another great race, all the other competitors for making it fun, and to Sierra, Anna, Tad, and Maria for the cheerleading on the course!”
We are fans of Alicia Jenkins, who raced the Chuckanut ½ as well, a mere 6 days post Ski to Sea, where she raced the DH Run Leg. After completing this race, Jenkins took 1st in the 2017 Bellingham Trail Running Series. Our dear dear friend and supporter, Max Antush won the Chuckanut Mountain Marathon, breaking the course record in a time of 3:47:54 (that’s with 4,525 ft. of elevation gain!) For FULL RESULTS see HERE!

Photo by: Mount Baker Ultra Marathon

At midnight on Sunday, June 4th, Scarlett Graham took off with a group of adventurers for the inaugural Mount Baker Ultra Marathon, “a 50 mile out and back foot race from the town of Concrete, Washington to Mount Baker’s Sherman peak at 10,160 ft. (3,097m). The race draws its inspiration from the century old Mount Baker Marathon that lasted for three years from 1911-1913.”

“The idea for the Mount Baker Ultra Marathon was conceived in 2012 by Daniel Probst. 2013 saw the first attempt at the 108 mile route from Bellingham Bay to the summit of Mt. Baker and back without success. All three attempts would end without a return trip; lightning storms, pouring rain and exhaustion delayed success. On the fourth attempt in August of 2014, Beat Jegerlehner, Aaron Poh and Daniel Probst finally made the return trip to Bellingham in 48 hours and 17 minutes. These group runs were repeated in 2015 and 2016 with 12 more runners adding their names to the list. The Mount Baker Ultra Marathon is a Haggard Events LLC event and directed by Daniel Probst.”

Our team was eagerly tracking Scarlett and the other racers all day yesterday, the tracking of which was a little wonky. We heard word back from Scarlett that she had completed the race at 3:10p – about which meant she completed the race in 15 hours and 10 minutes, roughly. Flagging was off on the way back, and four racers went the wrong way, but Scarlett had a buttload of fun. If you haven’t heard, we’d love to break this down for you – this is what Scarlett has done in the last 2 months:

1. Birch Bay 30k (3rd Place) – 4/1/17
2. Krank Adventure Race – 4/5/17
3. Boston Marathon – 4/17/17
4. Sunflower Marathon (3rd Place) – 5/6/17
5. Kulshan Quest 12 HR Adventure Race (2nd Place) – 5/13/17
6. Ski to Sea DH Ski Leg (Top Gun) – 5/28/17
7. Mount Baker Ultra – 6/4/17

Check out more information about the Mount Baker Ultra Marathon HERE!

Transvulcania, Roar & Soar 5k and Kulshan Quest Adventure Race!

Photo by: Martina Valmassoi

In a big, exciting, growing year for teammate, Corrine Malcolm, named to Salomon, and picked up for the Trail World Champs team to be held on June 10th, it was by luck in a dance of balance that she was signed up for Transvulcania (part of the Skyrunner National Series), a race which would take place just weeks before the 2017 Trail World Championships.

Transvulcania hosts routes as hard as they are spectacular. The well-known Ruta del Baston makes you feel like you’re flying over the National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente, “leaving the incredible sea of clouds under your feet during the climb to Roque de los Muchachos.”

The ultramarathon route “begins at Faro de Fuencaliente and continue through the ‘Gran Recorrido’ trail GR 131, also known as ‘Ruta del Baston,’ until Puerto de Tazacorte. From there, it connect with the GR 130, Camino Real de la Costa, until the finish line, located in Plaza de Espana – Los Llanos de Aridane…Transvulcania is one of the toughest trail running races of the world, with a distance of 74.33 kilometers and 4,350 meters of positive cumulative gain and 4,057 meters of negative cumulative gain.”

On May 13th, Corrine made it to the 50k mark of the Ultramarathon before her locking lower back made it impossible to go further. Thankfully, she had the support of a Salomon crew at the aid station, who supported her in making the tough call. The Ultramarathon was won by Timothy Lee Freriks of Flagstaff, AZ (7:02:03), followed by Ludovic Pommeret of France (7:18:15) and Zaid Ait Malek, currently living in Spain (7:26:31). First female was the bloodied Ida Nilsson of Sweden (8:04:17), followed near 30 minutes later by Anne Lise Rousset of France (8:32:15) and Hillary Allen of the US (8:38:46). Full results for the Ultramarathon, as well as the half and marathon can be found HERE.

Up next for Corrine – ITRA’s Trail World Championships in Badia Prataglia, Toscani Italia on June 10th.

On Saturday, May 13th, a world away in Lynden, teammate Hazel, the road circuit queen, also competed, in the Roar & Soar 5k. Hazel took 1st Female, after having PR’d at the distance at last weekend’s Haggen to Haggen 5k…The Roar & Soar 5k is family fun event with all proceeds going towards volunteer teams at Fisher, Isom & Vossbeck Elementary schools to benefit the children. As a team, we not only love to compete, but really value races where proceeds are able to go back into the community, to benefit programs for youth, and to encourage youth in active, healthy lifestyles early on. We are proud of Hazel for participating, winning, and thankful for the organizers of the Roar & Soar. Keep up to date with them HERE!

Saturday, May 13th was also host to Bellingham’s Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, which teammate Scarlett Graham competed in…let’s remind you she raced Boston, and took 3rd at LAST WEEKEND’s Sunflower Marathon…participants of the Kulshan Quest Adventure race are given maps with checkpoints identified, and you and your team have to decide which routes you will take. For those of you new to Adventure Racing, an article called “Get Lost in the Kulshan Quest,” written by Ian Ferguson on 2014 explains it in, “An adventure race combines two or more endurance sports with navigation. Individuals and teams race from point A to point B by any route they choose, usually with a map and compass. Instead of relaying each section, teams must complete the race as a unit. The most extreme adventure races test the limits of human endurance and can last a week or more. Kulshan Quest is more accessible with a six-hour division and a 12-hour division.” Ferguson goes on to explain, “Although the course is kept secret, what is known is that the race will begin in the Fairhaven area. There will be kayaking, trail running and mountain biking sections, though not necessarily in that order. Teams will get lost. Fun will be had.”

Scarlett took 2nd in a double with Mitchell Harter (team name: Quest AR – Right Behind You) with a finishing time of 20:04 and 33 CP’s. I have no idea what this means, but it’s really really cool. Full results HERE!

Up next weekend – Maria Dalzot will race the Sun Mountain 25k in Winthrop, WA! And you’re probably wondering what’s next for Scarlett…well it’s Ski to Sea, and for several years she’s been car-free while doing the cross country ski leg…so…

Haggen to Haggen 5k, Sunflower Trail Marathon and Bloomsday!

This past weekend held the 24th Annual Haggen to Haggen 5k, the 37th Annual Sunflower Trail Marathon, and the 41st Annual Bloomsday! Across these three incredible and well established Washington races, we had four athletes competing. First up was GBRC’s Haggen to Haggen 5k, our local Bellingham race, which is THE quintessential place to nab a PR, and our girl Hazel did just that with a finishing time of 18:49! For full results go HERE!Saturday, May 6th also held the Sunflower Trail Marathon in the Methow Valley in Mazama, where our babes Nikki and Scarlett raced, having camped out the night before in a hostel. The Sunflower Trail Marathon begins at 2,180 ft., and “includes well marked deer trails, single track trails, and gravel roads. Stunning views of the Methow River, North Cascades and Chelan Sawtooths abound from flower carpeted meadows and fields. At two points, racers climb to 2,600 ft. The finish is at about 1,600 ft. in Twisp.” Despite a fall where Nikki was scraped up and covered in blood, she took 1st Female and 4th Overall in 3:42:11, and Scarlett was 3rd Female and 8th Overall in 3:47:29! For the Sunflower Trail Marathon results see HERE!On Sunday, May 7th, Courtney raced Bloomsday in Spokane, WA, her 2nd showing, the first having been back in 2013, with fellow WWU alums Danielle (featured above) and Kyle Lampi and Jordan Welling. Bloomsday features over 50,000 runners on average and honors International, US, Washington State and Masters athletes with an incredible prize purse. Despite a weeklong sickfest, Courtney snot-rocketed her way to a 3rd Washington State Female Finish, and was 26th Female, PR’ing at the race and distance in 44:48. For Bloomsday results go HERE!

April Was INSANE – Now What?

April proved to be quite possibly BDP’s most saturated race month to date! In our previous blog posts, “Alyson Wins Nepali New Year (2074) Race After Hiking the Annapurna Circuit,” “Jam-packed Weekend that Was! First Up – The Wenatchee Marathon!” and, “Jam-packed Weekend that Was Part 2: Deception Pass ½!” we caught you (and ourselves!) up with just a few of these epic races. Then, add on the Boston Marathon (Scarlett), the Tenacious Ten 10k (Hazel), the Yakima Skyline 25k (Maria), 50k (Corrine), the Vancouver Sun Run 10k (Amber & Courtney), the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational 5k (Rachel), and concluding with the Have a Heart Run (Hazel), to say we are tearing at the seams with inspiration, pride, gusto, female power, and on and on, would only cover a smidge…and, then there’s our stacked May and June months, a few of our athletes racing internationally and on the World team, relays and adventure races…it’s INCREDIBLE. Thank God for our health.

On April 22nd Hazel Clapp raced Oiselle’s Tenacious Ten 10k, and though it wasn’t what she wanted, she had an incredible time…and little would she know she’d come back for vengeance just one week later…That same day, Corrine Malcolm took 2nd at the Yakima Skyline 50k in Yakima River Canyon, WA, just outside of Ellensburg. The out and back course takes place in high desert, with nearly 10,000 ft. of elevation gain, with gorgeous views of the canyon, the Yakima river, Mt. Rainier and the Cascades. Alicia Hudelson took 1st Female with a time of 5:51:50, with Corrine 2nd just a few minutes behind in 6:00:05. The following morning, April 23rd, held the Yakima Skyline 25k, were Maria Dalzot took 1st for a second year in a row, finishing in 2:29:36. The 25k course is an out and back as well, with 5,000 ft. in elevation gain.

April 23rd was also host the Vancouver Sun Run 10k in Vancouver, BC, where teammates Amber Morrison and Courtney Olsen placed in the top 25, finishing at the same time, hands linked, despite it not being their best day.Just this past weekend, Rachel Cundy ran a smart race at the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational 5k, finishing in 18:30, itching to tackle the distance again, and hungry for competition. On Sunday, April 29th, Hazel Clapp raced the Have a Heart Run in Mt. Vernon, WA alongside friends and relay teammates, GRRLS. The race benefits Community Action of Skagit County, which was established in 1979, which currently supports near 20 core programs that stabilize and equip people to move out of poverty…and works in collaboration with the community to create ongoing pathways to prosperity. Hazel took 1st, which was the first time a woman had ever won the race.Pfewww…Ok, then there’s the BIG NEWS that Corrine Malcolm was just named to the IAU Trail World Champs Team, set for June 10th in Badia-Prataglia, Italy! This means that two of our athletes, both Corrine and Maria, will be competing internationally in June, with Maria running the Marathon du Mont Blanc 42k in Chamonix, France at the end of June. But…I’m getting ahead of myself a little. Focus. May. MAY!

First up: Scarlett and Nikki will race the Sunflower Trail Marathon in Mazama, WA this Saturday, May 6th! On Sunday, May 7th, Courtney will look to take her own vengeance from a lackluster Sun Run, to the streets of Spokane for Bloomsday. On May 13th we have Scarlett in the Kulshan Quest Adventure Race and Corrine racing Transvulcania in the Canary Islands…Maria will race the Sun Mountain 25k in Winthrop on May 21st as she builds up towards the Marathon du Mont Blanc, and all of this will culminate in a grand May Finale of Ski to Sea, where nearly all teammates will be competing in various legs (running, skiing, biking) over Memorial Day weekend.

I need a beer.

Jam-packed Weekend that Was Part 2: Deception Pass 1/2!

On Saturday, April 15, Aly and Nikki competed in the Deception Pass ½ Marathon, hosted by the Bellingham Trail Running Series, and RD, Candice Burt. The course “explores the coastal trails around the famous Deception Pass Bridge on the North end of Whidbey Island” where there are “stunning water views,” “deep green forests, rocky coastline, and some of the sweetest PNW single track!” This year would be Aly’s 4th year racing, having placed 1st in 2014, 2nd in 2015, 1st in 2016, and concluding with a 2nd place finish in 2017 to her teammate, Nikki.

On Saturday, Nikki took 1st Female and was 2nd overall to Freeland, Washington’s Dan Neumeyer, who completed the race in vibram 5-fingers. Aly came in 2nd, just a few minutes behind. It was an incredible day for a race; the sky opened up in bright blue, the trails were for the most part perfect, save for some pretty slick roots. And the 2,900 ft. in elevation gain (in the ½), felt every bit as lung-plunging, heavy-breathing, and sweat-trickling as could be. We caught up with Aly and Nikki to hear about their prospective races.

From Nikki:
“In running and in life we endure a lot of average days – some hard or miserable – all for the rare days when everything clicks. Those perfect days you hope will never end, you hope to recreate, where you soak in as much joy as you can because the potential for days like it is what keeps you going. Saturday was one of those days, not because of how I placed, how well I ran, or even those prize filled Easter eggs I found in the finishing miles. It’s the sum total of a day well spent.

Here’s my recipe for a perfect day:

1. Start with sunshine, beautiful weather, and gorgeous views. Deception Pass did not disappoint.
2. Add in an EFFORT you can be proud of – it might proffer a PR or a win, but you should focus mostly on a challenge you’re passionate about – a goal to chase, a test to remind you what you are capable of, how strong you are. I went into the race with no expectations, never having seen the course, and with no time goals. I was just hoping to run near Aly and have fun. The course kept surprising me with spectacular views, varying terrain (road, bridge, single track, sand, grass, mud pits, logs to jump, super technical sections, steep climbs) and lots of crisscrossing with the rest of the field which provided ample opportunity to cheer, high five, and encourage the other runners. I handled the hills, felt more confident than expected on the downs and technical sections (proudest of this), and had a ton of fun tracking down the guys to move from 6th to 2nd overall.
3. Follow it up with REST – hanging with your friends on the beach, skipping rocks and soaking in the sun, good conversations, and no time line. No rushing off, no agendas, just enjoying the moment and what you accomplished. It helped that Aly encouraged us all to unplug from our phones and enjoy the moment with one another.
4. Top it all off with wonderful friends to share it with. Court giving up her whole day to keep us company, run with us, cheer for us, photograph, encourage, celebrate – the perfect support crew. Aly invited me to race with her, a race of special tradition, connecting us all together. Aly who is nothing but supportive even when I throw her off starting too hard on the hills, always engaged, positive, and fun. Dani, Mike and the rest of the crew showing us a good time and why this race is worth making into an annual tradition. And Max – the key volunteer on the course – cheering us in the right direction 3x’s during the race.
*Then soak it all in because you never know how long you’ll have to wait for another day like this.”

From Aly:
“I crossed the finish line two minutes slower than last year, bear up and fatigues by the 3k feet of elevation and the mud and the roots, Nikki high fiving me, smiling with her eggs, ready to run 5 more miles. I opted out of the cool down for the beer line, for the friend line, for the maybe a suntan line. I tried to muster a meltdown about regression but I didn’t have anything left in me. Besides, I loved every second of Court pushing me up Good Rock and over the bridge, I soaked up Dani and our annual tradition and my cup filled with Nikki’s wins. I have friends people. Good ones. And unlike my achievements, they consistently show up.”

Results for the Deception Pass ½ and Marathon can be found HERE.

Jam-packed Weekend that Was! First Up – The Wenatchee Marathon!

There’s a whole hell of a lot to catch up on. To get an understanding of what this past weekend held, you can check out our previous blog post – Wenatcheee Marathon, Deception Pass ½ & the Boston Marathon oh my! But, to honor each athlete’s own journey, we’ll start you off with the first from the weekend – the Wenatchee Marathon, where we catch up with Kathryn Merrill.

Kathryn was seeking a foothold in her comeback to the marathon, post the fruits of Life, i.e. children, surgery, chronic plantar that developed months into her last training cycle. She was kind enough to share a little bit about her experience and lessons learned –

“The day of the Marathon was beautiful – sun was shining, 50 deg., hardly any wind. If there was a day to run a PR, this was it. That was my goal – to PR over my last marathon by 10 minutes. Except there was one tiny detail – a ‘bit’ of plantar fasciitis I’d been fighting for 2 mo., and because as much, was feeling a little sorry for myself. ‘How dare this pain show up in the middle of my hard work!’ I’d show it, and LIFE by pushing through until THEY or IT relented. I knew better. But you and I KNOW how runners are. Life isn’t fair –at least the way you think it should be.

I knew this, but when you sign up for a marathon that’s months away, you imaging being lean and running a PR. You don’t imagine a rainy day, a rubber heel cup, or having gained 5 lbs. It’s only as the race nears that you start to realize that Life didn’t get the memo to slow down or ease up because you had a marathon on the horizon. Somehow I continue, to this day, to try and give life ‘the memo.’

I think it’s when we embrace the fact that Life IS uncertain, that we can see the real prize in our goals. That it might not be the actualization of the goal, but the good friend or friends picked up along the way. In that isn’t there real beauty?

The marathon will show you who you are (and aren’t). Every time I run a marathon, I inevitably start thinking near 6 miles in, ‘I’m NOT a marathoner! What am I doing? I’m a 10k or half marathoner! Who am I kidding?’ Of course, this does not help (even if it’s true). I find this so true of life – that there are roles or responsibilities we have, where at the time we think, ‘I can’t do this!’ Or, ‘I’m not capable of this!,’ Or,’ Give me something I’m good at!’ But you want to know something? I’ve never been more proud to finish a ‘mediocre’ time in the marathon, than a ‘stellar’ one in the half, because it took more than I thought I had to give to finish that marathon. Every. Time. No exceptions. I feel proud that I never quit, even when I thought it was too much to bear. And so it is with my responsibilities in Life. There are certain responsibilities I have that I would never have thought I’d be capable of carrying. But they are the ones that have redefined who I am, and of that which I’m capable.

Failing is independent of my self-worth – After a marathon that doesn’t go as planned (this makes 8/9 for me), I start ticking off a mental list of what I should be doing differently, i.e. I need to eat better, I need more sleep, etc. This list is also host to thoughts of, ‘Was it really because my foot hurt, or was it because I’m just mediocre?’ And other affirmations of ‘average me,’ which is a way of thinking that is hard not to get sucked into. These feelings of mediocrity might be my way of trying to cover up the wound of a goal I set and worked so hard to achieve, and did not.

So, I finished my 9th marathon in the same time as my last marathon. No PR. But, I finished with an indescribable feeling of pride in enduring to the end, a smile on my face, and the joy in having my sons rush up to me at the finish, for me to hold. Thus, thank you, Life, for showing me there are bigger lessons than a PR proffers. Running has taught me so much about what’s truly important. Of course, I’ll NEVER give up on the BIG carrot dangling just out of reach (I’ll get you yet PR!), but maybe it’s time for me to have a more grateful attitude.”

For complete results see HERE!

Up next, the Deception Pass ½ Marathon, where Nikki and Aly raced, taking 1-2. And Monday’s Boston Marathon, where Scarlett was just shy of her time goal! Congrats to all those that competed over the weekend! We couldn’t be more inspired!

Alyson wins Nepali New Year (2074) Race After Hiking the Annapurna Circuit

Our teammate Alyson has been in Nepal since March, and has just recently finished hiking the Annapurna Circuit, the length of which varies between 100-145 miles (160-230 km). So, it was no surprise that Alyson hiked 170 miles. “The trek rises to an altitude of 5416m on the Thorung La pass, touching the edge of the Tibetan plateau. This trek crosses two different river valleys and encircles the Annapurna massif, crossing Thorung La (5416m/17,769 ft.), the highest pass on this trek. Practically all trekkers hike the route anticlockwise, as this way the daily altitude gain is slower, and crossing the high Thorong La pass is easier and safer. The mountain scenery, seen at close quarters includes the Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna and Tilicho Peak. Numerous peaks of 6000-8000m in elevation rise from the Annapurna range. The trek begins at Besisahar or Bhulbhule in the Marshyangdi river valley and concludes in the Kali Gandaki Gorge…The trail passes along paddy fields and into subtropical forests, several waterfalls and gigantic cliffs, and various villages…The trek usually takes about 15-20 days, leaving from Kathmandu with a stopover in Pokhara before returning to the capital. The trail is moderate to fairly challenging and makes numerous river crossings over steel and wooden suspension bridges. Tea houses and lodges along the circuit are available for meals and accommodations.”

Alyson, along with her friend and jungle sister, Erin Bean, finished the circuit a day earlier than expected, and have since been touring Pokhara. Alyson has documented her experience on her blog, the recaps of which are thrilling and emotional. You can check them out here: Alyson Runnerland

In Nepal, the New Year starts in the middle of April, following the Bikram Sambat system. This year it will be 2074. In celebration of the New Year, Alyson, after dancing in the crowd as a warmup, hopped into a local race (+/- 1.5 mi). The race was held during the 14th Fewa Nepali New Year Festival in Komagane Park, Pokhara. “The five-day festival…is expected to be attended by around 40,000 people from across the country. Organised with the theme, ‘Tourism, Culture and Food,’ the event, being held on the bank of the Fewa Lake, will feature cultural shops, pop concerts and stalls,” (Kathmandu Post, 4/9/17). And guess what…? Alyson won!! She was showered in incredible gifts for her 1st place finish – a plane ticket, massage, dinner and drinks, a “Token of Love” trophy, and she was interviewed by the local news. And…all of this after hiking 170 miles…Can we say GIRLCRUSH? #BABE

We are so very proud of our teammate and friend Alyson, for this adventure of a lifetime, and the stories and memories she’ll hold dear for the rest of her life. In her travels, we too are able to see parts of the world we may not otherwise. It wouldn’t be a post about Alyson if we didn’t include a beautiful quote of wisdom –

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”
– Rumi.