Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Matt Carpenter Profile in Today's New York Times

There's a great piece by Michael Brick on ultrarunner Matt Carpenter in today's New York Times (story with video). With quotes from Uli Steidl, details of his souped up treadmill that can pitch up to 27 degrees and do sub 4 minute miles, and a review of his racing palmares, it's a must read.

Quote from the accompanying video: "I get my head wrapped around something, and I want to keep going after it and after it and after it until I get it right."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009 Race to Robie Creek Fills in 43 Minutes

Though not without its frustrations, registration for the Race to Robie Creek trail half marathon went much more smoothly than the previous two years (previous posts). As predicted, the 2200 spots filled quickly -- in just 43 minutes -- and they likely would have gone even quicker if the Active.com servers could have fully handled the huge volume of would-be runners. Most registrants needed to befriend the F5 key if they wanted any chance of breaking through the crush of traffic.

Pitched, with slight hyperbole, as "the toughest half marathon in the Northwest" the Race to Robie Creek is largely run on jeep trails and climbs 2,000 feet over the first 8.5 miles, followed by a blazing fast 1,700 foot decent to the finish.

See all Race to Robie Creek posts (Robie Creek posts).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Results: Mackey, Ortiz Win 2009 Red Hot 50k+

Despite dire weather forecasts calling for rain and snow and highs in the 30's, the Red Hot 50k+ went off without a hitch yesterday under largely clear skies and temperatures in the mid-40's, with Dave Mackey coming up first in 3:58:50, followed by Tim Parr less than a minute behind. Karl Meltzer crossed third. Anita Ortiz won the women's race in 4:48:27. Full results.

Top Overall
1. Dave Mackey 3:58:50
2. Tim Parr 3:59:33
3. Karl Meltzer 4:13:14

Top Masters
1. Kevin Shilling 4:38:51
2. Hank Dart 5:21:48
3. Morgan Murri 5:23:27

Top Overall
1. Anita Ortiz 4:48:27
2. Samantha Sigle 5:07:40
3. Helen Cospolich 5:10:12

Top Masters
1. Marie-Helene Faurie 6:17:26
2. Tammy Stone 6:17:59
3. Cindy Stonesmith 6:17:59

With abundant loose-dirt trail and long sections of off-camber slab rock, the Red Hot 50k+ (actual distance approx. 34 miles) is a challenging course set in some spectacular red desert scenery.

Friday, February 6, 2009

RJ Review: Nathan HPL #020 Hydration Pack

With a number of early season races already in the books for some runners and many nigh for the rest of us, it's certainly time - if not past time - to start testing new race equipment. So it was with some urgency that I loaded up my new Nathan HPL #020 hydration pack and headed out the door for a 21 mile test run this morning. And overall, it performed very well, especially for a first time test on a three hour run.

I have to admit to some early morning trepidation when I first tried on the pack in the comforts of my kitchen. It just didn't seem to fit that well, no matter how I fiddled with the straps. The pack sat lower on my back than I was used to, and without adjustable shoulder straps there was no real way to change the fit. While the literature that came with the vest said it should fit loose and feel like a "soft hug," this didn't really assuage my concern. Having run the past number of seasons with a more traditional pack from Gregory, I was used to the secure, locked-and-loaded fit it provided. But with time short and the kids needing to get to school, I left my worries on the stoop and headed out the door.

And what I found was that after just a few strides the loose fitting, largely nonadjustable, HPL #020 with its "3-way propulsion harness" felt very natural and largely unnoticeable, even filled to 1.5 liters of its 2.0 liter capacity.

Aside from its natural feel, the #020 has some other nice features as well. The nozzle locks closed, so you won't get as many inadvertent drips as you would with a regular bite valve. The height of the sternum strap is adjustable to accommodate different body types and to allow tweaking of the fit mid run; it also has a pressure clip so you can easily lock down the hose and keep it from flapping with every stride. The three front pockets are nice as well - two holsters, one zippered - each big enough for a handful of gels, half a peanut butter sandwich, or a digital camera.

The biggest drawbacks of the HPL #020 are the size of its pockets and the aforementioned lack of adjustability. The three front pockets are fairly big, but it would be nice for at least one of them to be at least 50 percent larger, so you could keep handy even more calories or a flashlight. An earlier version of the vest had just such a pocket, and it's unclear why it was dropped from the design. That the vest lacks supreme adjustability is more of a quibble, but given how many hours ultrarunners spend with their packs, it'd be nice to be able to make more adjustments as hot spots develop, as the weight of the pack changes, or as bored minds look for something (anything) entertaining to do.

Everything taken together, though, the Nathan HPL #020 is a very good hydration pack. It is full featured, lightweight, and comfortable, and would more than meet the needs of anyone going long in the backcountry.

More gear reviews on Run Junkie (RJ Reviews)

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Race to Robie Creek Registration Set for High Noon February 16

The directors of the very popular Boise trail half marathon, Race to Robie Creek, have officially set registration for the 2009 event for high noon on February 16, the same time of day the starter's pistol fires on April 18. As expected, active.com will be the new registration provider for the race after well known server meltdowns at athleteslounge.com in 2007 and 2008 left many a would-be runner maddeningly frustrated on registration day as screens and keyboards seized (previous post). A link to the registration page will go live on the race site on registration day.

Active.com has great experience in dealing with high volume, quick filling races. This past December alone, they hosted registration for the Way Too Cool 50k, which filled in just under nine minutes (previous post). Expect Robie Creek to go in minutes as well.

See all Race to Robie Creek posts (Robie Creek posts).