Archive for the 'Environment' Category

2014 Hop Brook Dam MTB Race

I made yesterday’s Hop Brook Dam MTB Race muddier than it should have been. My muddy-faced Facebook photo even drew comments (through my Dad) from my Mom. She thinks I’m nuts. At least she didn’t have to do my post-race laundry like the old days.

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Hop Brook was the first Root 66 Race Series event of the year. It was a blast, but it was hard. Four laps of the five-mile course was a rude awakening for my legs after a long winter. It was on the fateful second lap that I poorly judged a sharp left hand turn on the upper part of the course, launched over my handlebars, and plowed left arm/head first into the deepest mud puddle on the course. It would have made for an awesome video. Alas, I was the only one who saw it. A few other riders saw me covered head to toe in muck, and a few spectators noticed the aftermath, but the actual fall was witnessed by no one else.

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For the most part, the course was dry. I don’t ride on muddy trails. It just isn’t right. This course had a few wet spots, including the one I mentioned. Hop Brook is rugged and has a fair amount of up and down. I rode my Seven Sola SL singlespeed. The belt drive was perfect for the course and conditions, though on laps three and four, I walked more than I would have liked. Thankfully, my in-law’s (the Schieffer’s) live 10 minutes from the Middlebury course, so I was able to get to a shower and hose shortly after finishing.

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Chris and Jill Logan do a great job with Root 66 and the series looks bigger and better than ever. I’ll race again in two weeks at Winding Trails, and then maybe once more later in the year. I would do more of these, but with trail running and triathlon to juggle, you can only fit so much in the schedule. I saw a lot of friends yesterday and pretty much everyone  looked to be enjoying themselves. It was a bit chilly in the morning, but by early afternoon, the sun warmed up the air and it turned out to be a beautiful early spring day.

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My teammate, Arthur Roti, brought his family to the race. The kids did the Easter Egg Hunt and then raced on their own. Art got to test his legs and his Seven, just like me. Hop Brook Lake has become one of my favorite venues. I was last there for the cyclocross race back in November. I’ve been there twice/year for the past few years between CX and MTBing. It was good to string together a few workouts this past weekend. On Saturday, I got to run 1.5 laps of the Traprock 50K course with Debbie and our friend, Cheryl Jackson. We had fun on the trails. Two days in a row was twice as nice.

Race Results

2014 Bimbler’s Bash

Today, we returned to the Bimbler’s Bash for the first time since 2011. We also ran the race in 2009 and Debbie ran it solo in 2010. This year, the 7 +/- mile Bash was the first race in the inaugural Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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The course is a rugged loop through Westwoods in Guilford.  All proceeds from the event are donated to the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. Debbie, David Merkt, and I represented the Shenipsit Striders. I know there were other Striders in the crowd. The Bash is one of the largest trail running races around.

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We had brilliant sunshine, though it was still cold. The temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit when we started. It warmed up a bit more by the finish. With all of the recent snow/rain, the course was quite wet and muddy. That likely slowed the times a bit. There was a lot of ground cover (leaves, twigs, etc.) but no larger branches. This race is known for rocks, which it has plenty of.

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Thanks to the son of a friend of a friend, we had on-site childcare. Both Debbie and I got to run. This is our version of a “hot date.” We didn’t get to spend much time on the trail together, but we each got a chance to enjoy the woods. We saw many other running friends today.

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The Bimbler’s Sound running club, led by Race Director Jerry Turk, did a fine job with the course. I remembered a lot of volunteers from past years. Neither Debbie or I are up to speed yet, but we both enjoyed the hard effort. I ran in a group of three for much of the race, then it was a group of two. Then, I was dropped and was in a group of one. I was stronger on the ups and weaker on the downs.

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David had a strong run for 5th place. He and I were both rewarded with the traditional Bimbler’s chocolate bunnies. I was a candidate for the “Best Blood” competition, but I opted not to enter because it wasn’t “liquid” enough. Jerry prefers real gore and my injury was minor compared to some of the others I saw. I didn’t even fall. I was taking a sharp left and didn’t negotiate the corner in time. There was a sharp stick jutting out and I caught it with my back, which is pretty scraped up. Ouch! Still, it hurt so good.

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With 1/2 mile to go, it was great to hear the “piper” again. I love that sound calling you back to the finish line. Debbie and I had a piper at our wedding in 2001. Every wedding and every race should have a piper! Congratulations to race winners, Todd Bennett and Darcy Lucas; plus all of the age group winners. More than 200 people finished the race.

Brunch was once again, at the Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave. We enjoyed the meal like we always do.

Several of my Team Horst Sports mates were racing elsewhere this weekend. I missed the Tour of the Battenkill again this year. I’m not in that kind of cycling shape. Maybe 2015.

Next up in the Series: Traprock 50K. From talking to Debbie, I know that folks are already registering for the 30th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. Hopefully we see a lot of Bash finishers coming north (we came south) to double the distance and run our 24 kilometer classic.

Race Results

Pittsfield, Vermont

Last weekend, Debbie and I had the opportunity to spend some time in the south-central Vermont town of Pittsfield. The kind folks at Perfect Vermont and the Amee Farm Lodge invited Debbie to experience Pittsfield as part of a group. The invitees were fellow yoga instructors and travel industry bloggers.

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We already knew Pittsfield from prior Vermont trips, but it was great to revisit the town and get to know it a whole lot better. The small town has seen much investment during the past 10 years. It all started at the Riverside Farm, a sister property to the Amee Farm, that is also owned by Joe and Courtney Desena.

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The Desena’s and their various partners have been a driving force behind the growth of Pittsfield as a destination for outdoor activity. The activity has gone global through other Desena venture, including Peak Races and the Spartan Race, but it all started back in 2007 at the inaugural Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge and Death Race.

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Debbie ran that first Peak ultra. It was 55 miles +/- and rugged. I crewed for her with our nine month old son. It was a grand adventure. The little town of Pittsfield left an impression on us. Debbie returned to run Pittsfield again in 2008, but other than passing through on various Vermont trips, we hadn’t spent any time in town until this past weekend.

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Our experience last weekend proves that they have some good stuff happening. In addition to the wedding business and races, they are looking to maximize utilization at the various properties. A tight-knit network of entrepreneurs, spurred by Desena’s own entrepreneurial spirit, have banded together to create something bigger.

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Various businesses have cropped up to make Pittsfield a more central destination for outdoor oriented visitors. We toured the various properties, experiencing the wonderful vision that has transformed old farms and barns into interesting venues. The architecture and interior decoration are wonderful. The venues would be excellent for yoga retreats, business meetings, and other events.  The Green Mountains setting makes the location special. There are trails right out the front door of both Riverside and Amee.

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On Saturday night, we shared a dinner with the group on the first floor of the Amee Farm Lodge. The fabulous dinner was catered by Vermont Farms Catering, the same team that operates the food services at the Vermonts Original General Store. We were entertained by a guitarist and a trumpeter.

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On Sunday morning, Debbie and I ran a 10 mile loop on roads and dirt roads. Most of the uphill came on South Hill Road. Then we returned to the lodge, grabbed our snowshoes, ran back through town. From there, we wandered through the woods and trails behind the Riverside Farm. You could get lost back there (and we did). Our run was in steady cold rain, though once we got above 1,500 feet on the north side of the mountain we were climbing, the rain turned to snow and sleet. The road was icy, but it was beautiful.

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In the woods, the snow was still very deep, but it was like mashed potatoes. We had our running snowshoes and they weren’t very good for the conditions. We needed our longer/wider backcountry shoes, but we still scrambled about looking for the famous “Shrek’s Cabin” which we never found. Many of the trails are part of a network known as Green Mountain Trails. It seems like the organizers are taking a page from Kingdom Trails in order to attract mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other outdoors people.

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After our run/hike, we got a tour of Sweet Georgia P’s, an organic farm operating out of the Amee Farm. The family operation is across the street from the Amee Farm Lodge. The family running the show moved to Pittsfield in 2013 to take over the operation. They have chickens, goats, and lots of vegetables. We really enjoyed talking to the farmers and sharing their passion for good food and sustainable agriculture. It made us want to be farmers. We weren’t even dissuaded by all of the mud!

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We stopped at the General Store for lunch before leaving town. It took us just under three hours to get home and longer to dry out our gear. We love Vermont and Pittsfield is as nice a community as any. For us, access to trails is the key. It looks like we are going to be back there this summer. Debbie was inspired to alter her pre-Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 game-plan to include the 50+ mile version of the 2014 Peak Ultra.

 

 

2014 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series

I’ll be writing much more about this during 2014, but the inaugural edition of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is officially launched. There will also be more marketing, including a dedicated Facebook page.

Debbie, the Shenipsit Striders, the series Race Directors, the CFPA team, and I; have all been involved with the creation of this new series. We view this series as a compliment to the venerable New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series, and three of the races (Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, People’s Forest Trail Race, and NipMuck Trail Marathon) are in both series. NipMuck is the oldest Grand Tree race. 2014 will mark it’s 31st year. Soapstone, another Shenipsit Striders event (Debbie is RD), will be 30 this year!

The series kicks off in two weeks with the Bimbler’s Bash. See you there! Click here for the series page.

While I’m promoting 2014 series, if you are local, be sure to also check out our hometown cross-country series, the Bolton Summer XC Series. It’s run on a rugged and beautiful course that is fun for all ages. There is a 50 yard dash for the toddlers, a 1 mile race for the kids, and the 2.6 mile main event for kids and adults.

2014 Stone Age Rock Gym

This afternoon, we had a short, but fun trip to Stone Age Rock Gym. I was compelled to put together a quick blurb because it was a great experience. We were supposed to go to public skate at Bolton Ice Palace, but they had a group book the entire session.

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The family was bumming, so we rallied and headed to the gym in neighboring Manchester. Debbie and I watched and spotted while the kids scrambled all over the place. Jennifer was on duty and she was fantastic. She outfit both kids with climbing shoes (tiny ones!) and chalk bags. They were outfitted like rockstar climbers.

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We practically had the place to ourselves. There was one other couple there. It was an old running friend, Steve Henry, and his friend, Jill. They were roped up and enjoying themselves. It was also fun to watch one other “gym rat” attempt some more advanced moves.

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Debbie and I aren’t big climbers. She is more advanced, having done an outdoor educator course with NOLS back in 2001. She spent a month in the Arizona wilderness with the trip split between backpacking and rock climbing. I did some in the Boy Scouts and also in R.O.T.C., but haven’t done much since.

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The kids didn’t rope up. They just did “bouldering,” which itself was a blast. Stone Age has a strong connection with the Ragged Mountain Foundation. We have been long time Ragged members, mainly in support of their conservation efforts, particularly with Connecticut’s traprock ridges.

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The staff really was great with the kids and we are sure to return, maybe for a birthday party or Cub Scout den meeting. I might even give it a go myself. I know Debbie wants to get back into climbing. Last month, she went with a friend to another local gym and she has been working on her pull-ups. I don’t think she is going to give up running, but if we have another winter like this, then Stone Age seems like the perfect place to pass some time.

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Sabino Canyon Recreation Area & Tucson

Every time I pass through Tucson, Arizona, I appreciate the city more and more. It is a true Mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts. The climate is fantastic and the trails are spectacular. I had a little time before my flight home on Friday morning, so I was able to steal away for a little trail run.

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I started at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and took a series of trails to Cathedral Rock and back. It was a 15 mile round trip in a about three hours and 30 minutes. The weather was perfect. It was actually a little cool when I started, but the sun was warm. My original plan was to run in the eastern sector of Saguaro National Park, where I’ve never been, but I took the advice of a friend and tried Sabino instead.

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It was a great choice. Once I got off the access road and away from the morning walkers, I was on my own. I saw a few people on my way back down, but I had the trails to myself. I crossed through Bird Canyon and climbed more than 4,000 feet. I would have kept going, but I had a flight to catch so I turned back just before Cathedral Rock. The top was in sight, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

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This was my longest workout in a long time, so my legs were feeling it by the time I returned to the parking lot. I  didn’t realize that I had a long delay-filled trip ahead of me, so it was smart for me to get outside and move my body after last Thursday’s six-hour drive back from Guaymas.

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I’m looking forward to a future trip when Debbie joins me to run on some of Tucson’s glorious trails. There is so much more to see.

Guaymas & San Carlos, Sonora

Earlier this week, I had a short trip to Horst Engineering de Mexico in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. It’s actually a long trip, but it was packed into a short amount of time. I left last Sunday afternoon and I returned early Saturday morning. There is no easy way to get to Guaymas. I flew to Tucson via Atlanta, spent one night there, and then drove to the plant. My return trip brought me back to Tucson for a night and then a flight home via Minneapolis.

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It’s six hours of driving from southern Tucson on a good day. Thankfully, we had easy drives both to Guaymas and back. The line at the border during our return trip, was very short, which is what we hope for. The main road between Nogales and Guaymas is Route 15. It has been under major construction for several years. They are making a divided highway and much progress has been made. Every time I return, there are fewer crossovers and the pavement is getting smoother, which is welcome.

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Business has been much better. Ever since 2010, when the manufacturing economy hit its big slump, we have made steady progress with our operation. We have added several new machines in the past year, and it was great to see them running on new jobs. Our little EDM hole popper was a highlight for me. We have an excellent management team and they are preparing for the growth ahead.

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Since 2008, San Carlos has suffered from a lack of activity. The combination of economic recession and the violence that gripped Mexico was too much for the tourist economy to sustain. I remember trips when I was the only one in a restaurant. It was like that for several years. That is why the uptick in business is noticeable. There was both more business activity and more tourist activity. I saw a lot more “snowbirds” both on the drive (with their RV’s)  and in San Carlos.

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Guaymas itself was buzzing as usual, but is driven much more by the success of the maquiladoras and the growth of Mexican business. Guaymas is a growing port and as better jobs drive a stronger Mexican middle class, the city will continue to grow. My hope is that a wave of environmentalism will eventually sweep through Mexico. There is still way too much waste. Sonora has always struggled with litter and trash, but it seems like it is getting worse, not better. It’s unsightly and bad for the environment.

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There is also little regard for energy savings. With monopolistic utilities, there is little incentive to conserve electricity and other critical resources. This coupled with a still lagging infrastructure (e.g. reliable Internet) keeps Sonora a step behind. Even still, it’s a fun place to visit and to witness the impact of economic progress.

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After a long New England winter, it was nice to run at sunrise in shorts and shirtsleeves. I also swam three days in a row in the Sea of Cortez, which is always nice. No Sonoran would swim in the water in March, but I loved it.

YPO-WPO Global EDGE

I’ve been a member of YPO for 11 years and I’ve attended 10 Global Leadership Conferences. YPO has been a fantastic peer network. I’ve made great friends and learned a lot.  It has been an amazing resource for my role as the steward of the Horst Engineering Family of Companies and the leader of our business family. We simply wouldn’t be where we are today, a successful 68-year old high precision manufacturer, without the benefits of my involvement in YPO. My volunteerism within the organization has yielded great benefits.

A hallmark of YPO is that it is a member driven organization of 21,000+ chief executives. By giving back to our local chapter, to the YPO-WPO Family Business Network, and to the 55+ other Networks, I’ve been able to get the most of my commitments. Debbie has been a partner in all of this, as there is a strong spouse/partner, youth, and family aspect to the organization.

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Together, we have been to GLC’s in London, Washington D.C., Cape Town, Toronto, Sydney, Miami, Denver, Singapore, Istanbul, and Los Angeles. Each has been wonderful for their own reasons. This year’s event in L.A. was simply amazing. The EDGE portion of the event was the best line up of resources/speakers/education that I’ve experienced. I’ve had the benefit of great education over the years and nothing will compare to my three sessions of the Harvard Business School OPM program, but my last session was 10 years ago. YPO has kept me current. During the two days at EDGE, we learned about amazing technologies, overcoming challenges, philanthropy, exploration, entertainment, relationships, politics, and leadership development.

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YPO’s long time mantra is, “Better leaders through education and idea exchange.”

Never before in the 60+ year history of YPO has there been an event quite like the EDGE. The confluence of entertainment, technology, and industry in greater Los Angeles presented the member-led committee with a lot of opportunities. They made the most of the opportunity by tapping their own vast networks and they delivered a fantastic event that I’m grateful to have attended. No doubt that years from now, members will refer back to the 2014 EDGE..

I’m a student of public speaking, so this lineup was a real treat. I studied their styles, approach, and execution.

Jim Collins - I’ve heard Collins speak before, but this time I was more tuned in. He spoke at the closing of the GLC portion of the event, which was the perfect capstone to two days of learning. His business books are some of the best of all time, though his leadership lessons are applicable to all aspects of life.

Robert Wuhl - he was our master of ceremonies for the two-day EDGE. His humor was mostly “on” and his enthusiasm kept things moving along. He handled some of the moderating duties and did that well.

Eric Garcetti – the Mayor of Los Angeles, and a former YPOer, delivered a bullish presentation on the progress of his city. You couldn’t ignore his excitement for the city and all that it has to offer. It was a big welcome and didn’t cover any of the challenges that the metropolis faces (e.g. homelessness, poverty, history of crime and corruption, high cost of doing business, etc.), but it did get us pumped to be part of the city’s growth.

Peter Diamandis – I’ve heard Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize and Singularity University speak and I’m always fascinated by his incentive based approach to technological progress. It was cool to hear that X-Prize is expanding into a number of different areas, including health care. His efforts to drive entrepreneurial leadership are notable. I was particularly interested in his comments regarding robotics and 3D printing. He said, “Unless you are disrupting yourself, someone else will.”

David Agus – a professor for the University of Southern California, he had some interesting insights into cancer and genetics. He noted that sitting more than five hours a day is really bad for your health. I’ve been focused on my own sitting and now have a UpDesk, so this resonated with me. His comments about supplements were also interesting. He thinks they are a waste. 

Richard Lovett – I loved the story of how he became the head of Creative Artists Agency, one of the most powerful entertainment and sports businesses in the world. His firm represents some of the most famous actors and athletes on the globe. His comment, “Let the stars be stars,” was telling. He likes to work behind the scenes and has worked hard to build a teamwork based culture at CAA. 

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson – he was one of my favorite speakers. The Cornell University professor’s unbridled joy for science is contagious. I didn’t know much about him before the event. He has made his name through the television medium, and truthfully, I miss a bit not owning one. I’ll miss his launch of the new version of COSMOS, but my son and I will check it out on the National Geographic Channel via our iPad. His answer to a question of God was revealing and interesting. He has a way of describing complex concepts in simple terms. I’m still trying to get my head around the concept of the “multiverse.”

Susie Wolff – I’m a huge motorsports fan, and she is a rising star in the world of Formula 1. She is on track to be the first ever female to compete in a Grand Prix. I’m rooting for her, especially after hearing her speak about her upbringing and passion for racing cars. The technology in F1 plays a huge part in the sport, but the drivers are both athletes and personalities.

Neal Goldman – he is a YPOer and CEO of Relationship Science, a firm pioneering a cool new online networking platform that makes LinkedIn look pedestrian. He walked us through a demo. 

Diana Nyad – I was really looking forward to her talk, and she didn’t disappoint. I followed her quest to be the first person to swim unaided and without a shark cage, from Cuba to Florida, but I didn’t get swept up in the drama. Swimming is a sport that I’ve become much more interested in since rekindling my triathlon career in 2009. I’ve never been a fan of endurance sports that require sleep deprivation, but I was enthralled with her first hand description of the challenges. Clearly, she has a powerful inner passion that I identify with, but I felt overwhelmed by her dramatic delivery which was storybook. Her intensity was serious and nearly over the top. The talk was geared towards the general audience, but I would have loved to hear more about the controversy surrounding the accreditation of her swim. Much has been written, particularly in the hard-core swimming press, about her years of conflicts with her competitors, peers, and helpers. I chose to set all of that aside and just enjoyed an entertaining personal account of failure and triumph.

Jerry Weintraub – he was hilarious. I don’t spend much time following the entertainment industry. I appreciate film, but I’m no buff. I do appreciate good business and the legendary producer has combined art and business for decades. His life story is amazing. He didn’t avoid some of the more sordid details of his story, but merely hinted at relationships (particularly with his children) that have been damaged during his quest for even greater success and wealth.

Brandon Beck – I am not a gamer, but after hearing Beck speak for the second time about the meteoric growth of his YPO firm, Riot Games, I’m amazed by the success of their game, League of Legends. Again, there is no TV in our house, and limited screen time permitted for our two kids. Video games are a huge industry and they aren’t going away. In my opinion, Beck’s description of the professional gaming community as “athletes” is a stretch. I’ve already tuned out the Olympics (both winter and summer) and I’ll tune them out more when video gaming becomes an official sport. Even still, I learned a lot from him.

Edward Norton – his explanation of CrowdRise, of which he is a co-founder and partner, was adequate, but I wasn’t impressed with his presentation. The philanthropic tool is something that Debbie and I will research for the many non-profits that we are involved with, but his talk was just a big commercial for the website and we really didn’t learn anything about his own rise to acting stardom and how he is translating his public persona and fame into the global charitable community.

Magic Johnson – I’ve heard Magic speak before and even met him at a book signing in Boston many years ago. I love him. He is the real deal. The passion and love for everything he is invested in (e.g. basketball, baseball, community, business) is insane. He is a wonderful speaker. It’s amazing how he has built his business by building great partnerships. I could have listened to him speak all night. I would still root for Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics every time, but Magic’s competitive fire is legendary and it has served him and so many others well.

Larry King – the longtime journalist was our moderator on day two. He handled Q&A duty for several speakers, including President Bill Clinton. One of the best exchanges of the EDGE was his discussion with Robert Redford. A member of the audience asked King to comment on each of the POTUS’ that he interviewed going back to Richard Nixon. He had something interesting to say about all of them: Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. 

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong – he was one of the best speakers. He appeared three times. Once on his own, then on a panel, and then with Bill Clinton. He is pioneering some amazing technologies. He is a very smart man, and it was evident. He demonstrated some amazing technology that can be run on an iPhone or other mobile device. He showed us next generation robots that have “augmented cognition” or feelings. This so-called, “next sense” is wild stuff. One robot is dubbed an “empathetic humanoid.” The use of the cloud for real-time research is speeding the advance of many technologies. He is working on projects that will revolutionize science. He plans to restore eyesight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.

James Cameron – I loved hearing from Cameron. I have read a lot about him in National Geographic magazine. I’ve shown our son videos of his recent dive to the deepest part of the ocean. His interview was all about his film directing career, which is legendary. He directed The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, True Lies, Titanic, and Avatar. Those last two films are the only films that have grossed more than $2 billion each. He said that Arnold Schwarzenegger taught him that “doubt make you good” and that preparation is critical to any outcome. 

Bill Clinton – I had never heard Clinton speak live before, but I’ve watched a lot of video. He is one of the best orators I’ve seen. His talk was casual and seated. It wasn’t a speech. He was relaxed and interesting. He spoke at length about the work that his foundation is doing, particularly in the cancer arena. He spoke of “lifestyle choices” being important to the prevention of chronic disease. I wish he said more about this topic and commented on vegetarianism/veganism as examples of good habits. He is working with Dr. Soon-Shiong on several initiatives including a low-cost hearing aid project. 

Francis Frei/Troubador Theater Company – the Harvard Business School professor was joined by an acting troupe to play out some of the concepts she was discussing. It was hit or miss, but mostly hit. I enjoyed her insight into some of the best service oriented companies around, including Commerce Bank and Southwest Airlines. I was interested in learning about her concept that companies have to have the “courage to be bad” in terms of doing what they are good at and not focusing on the things that they are not good at. She said, “Leadership is about making others better in your presence, but making it last in your absence.” 

John Gray – Debbie and I heard the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus author at a breakout session. I first read his book as assigned reading in my senior year capstone course at Boston College in 1994. He was hilarious, and he makes sense. 

Adam Bain and Adam Lashinsky – the President of Global Revenue at Twitter was interviewed by Lashinsky, Senior Editor at Large for Fortune magazine. It was an inside look at Twitter, which I use from time to time. I’m no expert, so this talk offered some insight. It’s an amazing business concept and these two are on the cutting edge. 

Sheryl Sandberg – The Facebook COO and author of Lean In, appeared on video link up. She was fantastic. I enjoyed hearing directly from her. Her rise in Silicon Valley is amazing and the work she is doing for women is noble. She is also a member of YPO and working closely with the Women’s YPO Network, which I also support through my oversight of YPO’s four Global Business Networks. 

Robert Redford – the legendary actor was interviewed by King. I recently saw his movie, All Is Lost, on a flight. The interview covered a wide range of topics, from film to politics, and the environment. I am a big Redford fan, so this was a real treat. 

Melissa Etheridge – the Oscar and Grammy winner spoke first, about her long career and all of the challenges along the way. She is a cancer survivor and she is well-known as a gay artist. She was genuine and funny. She followed her talk with a short acoustic set to end the EDGE. Later that night, at the closing show, she played an hour-long set with her band. It rocked. 

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The EDGE was everything I hoped it would be and more. 

Los Angeles & Santa Monica

Part two of last month’s trip to Los Angeles for the YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference and Global EDGE was in Santa Monica. After four days in Laguna Beach, we moved to the fantastic boutique hotel Shutters on the Beach. I had two-day board meeting there. While I was in meetings, Debbie and the kids explored Santa Monica.

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Our location couldn’t be better. We did early morning runs on the beachside trail. There was a very cool “adult playground” with pull-up bars, rings, and a host of other exercise related obstacles. By mid-morning, the walkway was teeming with walkers, runners, cyclists…and tourists. There was a kids playground too. Santa Monica High School was less than a mile from the hotel, so one afternoon, I was able to get in a good track workout while dodging lacrosse balls.

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We were within site of the Santa Monica Pier, which falls into the Disneyland category, but still worth a visit. The Promenade shops and restaurants were fun. My sister, Stacie, lived in L.A. for a few years and worked in Santa Monica, so I had been on a few occasions. Again, the vegan food options are abundant and we had a few meals at Real Food Daily, a great spot.

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We got childcare help from the daughter of a friend who lives in Santa Monica, and were able to get out for a couple of dinners. We even went bowling with my board friends, which is a very “non-Livingston” thing to do. Someone noted that I was “competitive.” That drew a chuckle. We had a blast.

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The Santa Monica visit was a short three days, but we packed it in. I had another YPO board meeting to cover before the main Global Leadership Conference started on a Sunday afternoon. I caught a ride downtown and checked us into our Hilton room. Debbie and the kids enjoyed the Ocean Front Walk and playgrounds one more time, and caught a taxi downtown later in the day. Debbie’s mother, Barbara, flew out to meet us that afternoon and she spent the second week of our trip watching the kids while we attended the conference.

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The conference was fantastic. Mrs. Schieffer and the kids did their “homework” at the large public library strategically located across the street from the hotel. They did a double-decker bus tour that took them all over Hollywood. They went to three museums. They explored the town. We had one day together after the conference ended, but storm Titan had already made landfall.

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The storm brought heavy rain and wind, but we still took the Metro to Universal Studios for an interesting day of tours, rides, and rain. It was the last day of a long trip and everyone was ready to get home (to the snow, ice, and cold), but we made the best of it and had a good time. Our original hope was that it would be spring when we returned to New England, but our hopes were dashed. Winter still had its grip on Connecticut. Regardless, our SoCal sojourn was worth it.

Laguna Beach & Disneyland

Last month, our family spent a few weeks in southern California. We were headed to Los Angeles for the YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference and Global EDGE, so we expand the trip to include some Horst Engineering customer visits and a little downtime.

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The first part of our California stay was in the Orange County city of Laguna Beach. This coastal town about an hour south of L.A. is neat place. I hadn’t previously spent any time there. We rented a little two-room cottage about 1/2 mile from Main Beach, which was near many of the restaurants and shops. This part of California has a lot of vegan eating options. The healthy food is bountiful. We had a small kitchen in our cottage, so we made good use of the small Whole Foods that was a short walk from our front door.

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The Main Beach had a fantastic playground that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. I swam in the surf once (with my wetsuit) and the kids played in the waves for as long as they could stand the cold water. During our stay, Debbie and I each got in a few good runs. There was an awesome outdoor municipal pool 100 meters from our little cottage, so I got up early one morning and swam laps for the $2.00 guest fee. You have to love California for this sort of thing. It was a low-key visit to an artsy and sporty town.

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One day, we drove to Anaheim and Disneyland. It was a surprise for the kids…and for me too. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in 15 years. The park is quite a contrast from Laguna Beach. Anaheim, where I have been several times on business trips, is a concrete jungle. It was school vacation, so the park was overcrowded. It was a cool day with intermittent sunshine, but that didn’t mean the lines were short. It was an interesting experience. The crowds were a bit overwhelming for them, and by the end of 10 hours, they had their fill too. Check the box on that one.

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Thankfully, we followed our Disney day with a trip to Crystal Cove State Park, which is between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. After my morning visit to a customer in Costa Mesa, we were joined by my cousin, Dan Roy, who currently makes his home in Los Angeles. He is used to Livingston Family adventures, having done a handful of ultramarathon trail races with us. He has crewed for Debbie and spent time with the kids, so he knows how we roll.

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We had a fun and easy hike around the lower half of the park. We had some awesome views. We watched the sunset from the beach and then retreated back to our cottage for some dinner. The next morning, I shuttled the family to our Santa  Monica hotel and Dan helped me return the rental car to Orange County. Our short stay in Laguna Beach was fun.

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Mt. Greylock Father/Son Adventure

Yesterday, my son and I had an excellent father/son adventure. I’ve been writing about adventure in this blog for many years. I’ve had solo adventures, team adventures, adventures with friends, mis-adventures; and of course, adventures with Debbie.

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It’s kind of cool that my son is growing up and we can now have father/son adventures. On a family trip to the White Mountains last summer, he and I made a pact to climb all of the  New England 4000 Footers…in winter. Debbie and I have done them all, but not in winter. She has no interest in dealing with all of that cold weather hiking.

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This winter, rather than jumping into a 4,000 footer without preparation, and preferring a shorter drive, we decided to start with a 3,000 footer. Mt. Greylock, the high point (3,491 feet) in Massachusetts is a hill I know well, so it was a logical choice. I’ve run it in summer many times and hiked it in winter a few times. We were last there for the 2013 Mt. Greylock Trail Race.

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It wasn’t all easy for him. He had his low points like everyone does on a long hike. We used snowshoes the entire time, which added to the effort required. It was an eight mile round trip in just under six hours with a fair amount of elevation gain/loss. Several times, he wished that he was “at home playing with his LEGO.” He also asked for “Momma” on multiple occasions, threatened to stop, and claimed “this isn’t worth it.” I chuckled each time without offending, and applied CGP (constant gentle pressure). He did the whole hike on his own power and he also carried his own pack most of the way.

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We parked on Mountain Road and took the Gould Trail to the Appalachian Trail up to the summit. On the descent, we took the Thunderbolt Ski Trail to Bellows Pipe Trail South and then wound our way on various side trails/snowmobile trails until we found our way back to Gould and the car.

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It was a really nice route. We had Gould all to ourselves, though the trail was tramped on earlier in the week. It was cold, in the high single digits (Fahrenheit) when we started at 8:00 A.M. and warmed up a bit. The sun was brilliant, which felt great. The snow was perfect depth and consistency for a nice snowshoe climb. When we crossed the access road at the AT intersection, we saw a runner coming down the snow-covered road from the summit. We paused to see him and we were surprised to see that it was our long time trail running friend, Will Danecki. He was out for a training run on his Dion Snowshoes. It was fun to chat with Will, who was in the area to visit his mother.

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There was no wind on the summit, so we were able to take in the great views, chat with other hikers who came up different routes, take photos, and enjoy a snack. We met some backcountry skiers and learned about their gear, including the “skins” they use to go uphill on skis. It was fun to watch the skiers and snowboarders barrel down the Thunderbolt. That was thrilling.

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On the way down, we ran into another acquaintance. Don Boire and his friend, Tricia, were hiking up so they too could ski/snowboard down. We also ran into another father with his young daughter. She was a firecracker. She asked my son how old he was. When he said, “Seven,” she proclaimed that she was “four and a half.” She was going up…on skis. She had a slick little chest harness and her Dad was offering assistance by pulling her. It was cool.

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We had some good trail time together so I told him stories about past trips and stuff. It as a day filled with lessons and learning. I told him about the time back in 2000 or 2001 when I first visited Greylock with his mother. It was a rainy June day and the Thunderbolt was all mud. That year, the Greylock Trail Race was run down the Thunderbolt, which they no longer do. I walked to the summit in sandals and watched her free-fall down that hill with reckless abandon. It was amazing. I’ve never seen someone descend like she did that day. It’s an awesome trail, but I have no interest in running down it. She would go back tomorrow.

A day in the woods with my boy was sheer joy. When I tucked him into his bed last night, and I told him how proud I was, he said, “Dad, it really was worth it.”

2013 Appalachian Mountain Club Photo Contest

I’m proud to say that I had a winning image in the 2013 Appalachian Mountain Club Photo Contest. I also had winning photos in 2011 and 2009. Each time you win, you have to sit out a year, so that is the only downside to having a photo selected. I’ll be on the sidelines for 2014, but that won’t stop me from hiking and shooting pictures.

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My photo of our daughter at Mizpah Spring Hut took first place in the “AMC in Action” category. Our July 2013 trip to the White Mountains was full of good images, but the “Packboard Banjo” shot was my favorite, and it’s never been posted until now.

It’s captioned: “This image of our daughter is from a post-Jackson pit-stop, our son’s first all self-powered 4000 footer. I’ve gotten great afternoon light through the windows of Mizpah on many occasions. I love the contrast of youth and history in this photo, and envision our kids wearing that packboard, years from now, when they are Croo.”

If you know the AMC and its history, there is a lot of symbolism in this image. 2013 was the 125th anniversary of our club’s hut system and we had a year-long celebration, so I’m even happier that my image was from a hut. I took the photo with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M, 1:1.4/35mm ASPH lens. ISO 320 was set and shutter speed was 1/60th. The M9 hasn’t been recording aperture (I think it should, though my early model is struggling with recording it), but it was probably F2.8 or F4.0. It’s not relevant.

Congratulations to all of the winners. I enjoy seeing everyone else’s work. I’m happy to say that my vote for the “People’s Choice Award Winner” was selected. What a cool rime ice photo. Check all of the great photos out.

2014 Shenipsit Striders 6-Hour Run

Rabbit, rabbit. Today was a day of firsts. First run of the year. First photo of the year. First twisted ankle of the year. First wrong turn of the year. First blister of the year. Let the fun begin!

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More than 50 Shenipsit Striders and friends came out to Crandall Park in Tolland, Connecticut for our annual 6-hour run. It was a great way to kick off 2014. Our club is strong and getting stronger. It was great to catch up with folks after this long holiday stretch and hear about some of their 2014 athletic objectives.

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Debbie and I are excited about the year ahead with some awesome races on the calendar. Things certainly aren’t final yet, but as events are scheduled, we are adding them to our plans. It’s nice to have the focus and clarity that January 1st brings.

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Thanks to Clinton Morse for spearheading the 6-hour run, setting up the aid station with lots of goodies, and marking the course. Thanks to Hector Morera for sweeping the course and picking up the flags. Thanks to everyone who came out to run on a cold, but sunny day.

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Debbie went early and did four laps of the three-mile loop in a few hours. I met her there with our kids. I did a lap with our son while she hiked with our daughter. She returned home and I did a few more laps including a special one with multiple wrong turns that tacked on a few extra miles.

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Folks came out and did as many or as few laps as they desired. It was a great low-key start to 2014.

2013 Hellgate

Hellgate was a wonderful and unique race to end the sporting year. I have full faith that my coverage won’t turn it into the next big thing on any already fast-growing ultra scene. With a gatekeeper Race Director like David Horton, it is bound to stay special. This is a lengthy report because it doubles as a year-end review for the 2013 Livingston Family ultrarunning season. Debbie did all of the running this  year and I did all of the crewing (with support from family and friends), but we view it as a team effort.

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The Newtown Cyclocross (Connecticut Series finale) is next weekend and Scrooge Scramble is Christmas Day, but Hellgate was the last BIG one, and closes the book on Debbie’s 2013 campaign. What is Hellgate? Well, it’s officially the Hellgate 100K, an ultramarathon trail running race in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. It is the final race in The Beast Series and Lynchburg Ultra Series and is really more like 66 miles with approximately 13,000 feet of elevation gain/loss on a point-to-point course. The hilly terrain is a challenging series of trails and dirt roads.

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Hellgate was dark, cold, and wet…perfect running conditions according to Horton! He has referred to sunnier editions of Hellgate as “Sissygate,” but this year, he wasn’t complaining. We have known David Horton for a long time, and a lot has been written about him by others. He is a wonderful character who cares deeply about ultrarunning and trails. Running Hellgate is a privilege. One of the things he is famous for is inaccurate race distances. In trail running, distances are approximate anyway, but the term “Horton Miles” is used to refer to distances that are longer than reported. So, the Hellgate 100K++ was really 66 (give or take a few) miles. Debbie’s Suunto died after 15 hours, so we don’t have our own total. Click here for course info and background on the event, and here for a  good 2012 recap.

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Horton only lets in 140 runners and you have to apply for entry. After some late drops, there were 132 official starters at 12:01 A.M. on Saturday night. He decides who “gets to race.”  So, even if the secret gets out about Hellgate (it’s been around for 11 years, so nothing really to worry about), you still have to get your entry past the race director.

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It’s been a long year of ultrarunning for Debbie. She would readily admit that she has fallen short of her performance goals. After her awesome race at the 2012 Laurel Highlands Ultra, her strength has been sapped and her results have been varied. Each race since then has presented its own challenges: fatigue, nausea, aches and pains, etc.

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The most serious challenge has been the fatigue and particularly when associated with gastrointestinal issues during the races. She and her support team at Pursuit Athletic Performance (Coach Al Lyman and Dr. Kurt Strecker) have been methodically working on the issues and Hellgate was a modest step forward. She bonked just as badly as in most of her 2013 ultras, but this time, she bounced back and got to the finish. She has gotten a lot of support and advice from friends in the running community who have also faced periods of rough results. Prior to Hellgate, Debbie was already on track to finding some solutions, but these fixes often take months to take effect. She is a busy mother of two, who still squeezes in her work as a yoga instructor/fitness trainer, and community service, but she is also strong and balanced. So, the proverbial “burn out” question remains, but in my opinion, is unlikely the sole factor, but rather a contributing factor.

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Over the past 24 months, she has trained with a lot of focus, so it has been frustrating (for all of us) to see her suffer in some big spots. For someone who has been at the “sharp end of the race” for so long, the decline in speed has been surprising, but she has been steadfast in her efforts to return to form. I’ve had my own lengthy stretches where the form was lacking, so I know that with the right combination of rest, recovery, and nutrition, she will once again run an ultra where (most) everything goes right.

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A year ago, she closed out the season with the Pinhoti 100, but her gut was really bad. That was one of the first times she really had in-race nutrition issues. Those issues continued this year. She had OK runs at the Traprock 50K, and Wapack and Back 50 mile trail race, but neither times were up to her previous standards. The Cayuga Trails 50 mile trail race was an ugly one. She had no juice and suffered through it with a myriad of issues. Even our White Mountain Hut Traverse was a rough experience. She was well prepared for her “A race,” the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 miler, but failed to finish, dropping out after 68 miles.

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Heat and altitude were additional factors in Lake Tahoe, but we all felt that she was prepared. That DNF was hard for her. She hadn’t dropped from an ultra in six years since the 2007 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Her Tahoe disappointment was real and she hopes to get back for another attempt in 2014, but the added challenge of a new lottery entry system has kept her waiting. It was after Tahoe that we chose  Hellgate as a way to end the year with an ultra, so when Horton accepted her entry, she was happy.

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It’s interesting that the last time she DNF’d, she chose another Horton race, the Mountain Masochist Trail Run (50 miles) , as her “comeback” to end the year on a positive note. So, we knew many of the local Virginia ultrarunning clan from MMTR and the 2011 Grindstone 100, which is directed by Horton’s colleague, Clark Zealand.

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After TRT100, Debbie took a long break before building back up to the Vermont 50 Mile Run and the Cape Cod Marathon (road for a change), but they were rough races for her. It was on the way to Cape Cod that our 7 year-old son inquired about Hellgate. He asked how long it was and when Debbie told him it was 100 kilometers plus, he asked, “How far is that?” She said 62 miles and then he replied, “That’s a short one.” After Vermont, she took another break before running a bit more leading up to Hellgate. She set low expectations (just get to the finish) and didn’t train with any focus. The plan was to experiment with her nutrition and persevere, regardless of how poorly she felt. Heat and altitude wouldn’t be an issue in Virginia in December. She would rest again after Hellgate.

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My parents, Stan and Lynn, were all-stars. They took our kids from Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening, so that Debbie and I could travel to Fincastle for the race. We drove part way on Thursday night after work, and finished the drive to Camp Bethel on Friday morning. We got there during the pre-race meal held at the camp dining hall. After dinner, the group moved to a building filled with bunk rooms.

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The pre-race meeting was a lot of fun and I immediately realized that the entrants were all part of the Hellgate community whether they were a 10 time (soon to be 11) finisher like our friend, Jerry Turk, or a rookie like Debbie. The meeting had its fair share of healthy wise-cracking. Horton throws a lot of good-natured barbs.

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After the meeting, runners scattered about the building. Some took naps. Others sorted their drop bags. Just before 11:00 P.M., we formed a convoy and drove to the start near Hellgate Creek. I drove Debbie and North Carolina runner, Shawn Pope. This convoy could be more accurately described as a “Cannonball Run.” We joked that we were racing to the start. I had to drive like a maniac  just to keep up.

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I don’t know who was leading the train, but I suspect it was Horton and his chauffeur. Driving was a challenge all weekend. With the dirt roads, dust, mud, snow, ice, switchbacks, precipitation, and potholes; I’m glad we brought our Subaru Outback and left our Volkswagen Eurovan at home. By the end of the weekend, we had gone through nearly piece of gear that we packed. The car was loaded with a messy pile of muddy boots, shoes, gloves, hats, packs, bags, and clothing.

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After we sang the national anthem as a group, the runners were off and the chase began. I saw Debbie at aid stations 2, 4, 7, and 8. The aid stations were stocked with good options and the volunteers were fantastic. The drive from Hellgate Creek to Petites Gap was fun with some wild switchbacks and a crazy amount of dust. She looked good coming through, but it was only 7.5 miles. There was an early stream crossing that you couldn’t get around, so she made the conscious decision to change her shoes and socks right away. She wore the 2nd pair all of the way to the finish. She returned to her tried and true Vasque shoes after experimenting with other brands over the past 18 months.

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Eric Grossman, who went on to win, was already leading the men, and women’s winner, Kathleen Cusick, was already leading the women. Despite being 1:30 A.M., the mood was festive. We were required to wait for the last runner to pass before again traveling in a convoy to aid station #5, Jennings Creek at about mile 28. Aid stations #3 and #4 were off-limits to crew.

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On the way up to Jennings Creek,  it started to snow, which was good because those dirt roads needed to see some moisture. The dust was crazy. When I got there, I climbed into the back seat and took a 90 minute cat nap. I set my iPhone alarm for 4:20 A.M., so I could get up and shoot photos of the lead men. It snowed on and off for a while, though the temperature wasn’t as cold as expected. Debbie came through at 6:30 A.M. and she was third woman, not far out of second. She was running well within her limits, so I actually had high hopes for a nice result.  Despite some struggles, she was less than 30  minutes behind Kathleen at last year’s Vermont 100, which saw an awesome battle among the top women. That was right around the time when her fitness started to slip. Interestingly, another woman in that battle was Larisa Dannis, who has had a spectacular 2013 and is poised to be one of the next great female ultrarunners. Larisa just broke the course record on the way to a win at the Lookout Mountain 50 miler, a race that Debbie and I did two years ago. It’s kind of weird that Debbie and Larisa’s fortunes have been on opposite trajectories since Vermont. Both women are fantastic runners, though Debbie has 16 years of ultrarunning miles on her body.

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During the lead up to Hellgate, Jay Avitable and Carrie Lombardo, both in the Bimbler’s Sound running club, were very helpful with tips. Jay helped me lay out the crewing plan. The runners had a long stretch between Jennings Creek and aid station #7, Bearwallow, at 43 +/- miles. I found Bearwallow on my own after driving up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was horrendous with a mix of snow, freezing rain, sleet, fog, and rain. It seemed to change with every twist in the road. It was a bit cooler at Bearwallow. I projected that she would come through at 9:45 A.M. I made some lukewarm tea (I ran out of fuel) and waited. I chatted with other crews and volunteers. I took a lot of photos. When it snowed, it was pretty. When it rained, it was ugly.

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The wait at Bearwallow was terrible. It was during this section of the race that she fell apart. Several dozen runners passed Debbie during that 15 or so mile stretch. It took her nearly five hours and she lost nearly two hours. She will tell her own story, but evidently, it was a horrible bonk. I waited and waited. It was agonizing. When it got to the point where I was concerned, I checked back at the aid station to see if she had gone through Little Cove Mountain aid station. She had. So, she was either lost (which would be hard to believe since the course was very well-marked) or she fell way off the pace.

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It was the latter. I eventually walked down the trail a 1/4 mile or so and waited again. Finally, she came walking up the trail, very slowly. She was out of gas. I jogged in to the aid station with her and sat her down. She begged for hot solid food, so we gave her as much as she could eat. Then, she changed her socks, jacket, hat, and mitts. She said that she just lost all of her energy and there were moments when she said she was literally asleep on her feet, staggering around each turn. I suspected it was food/fueling related and that it was just something she had to work on. Her old formula just hasn’t been working. She took more solid food with her and recommitted to the finish line. She has been mostly vegan (like me) for more than five years and she has been vegetarian for 20 years. We have always felt that our diet has been a strength for us. Yet, there could be a deficiency that never showed up until age, time, and distance added up to where she is today.

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She headed up the trail toward Bobblets Gap. It was a long stretch without aid and with a lot of climbing back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I packed up, restocked her second pack, and headed to Bobblets. Driving the Parkway was an adventure! It made for even more fun. I was really bummed out about her bonk, but I was glad that she was headed for the finish. I thought she could revive herself and have a good final push.

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I set up her stuff and a chair at the aid station, which was under a bridge on the Parkway. I filled my own pack and ran a few miles down the trail until I intercepted her. She had perked up a bit and was in better spirits. She ran quite a ways uphill before she had to walk the final pitches to the aid station. She didn’t stay long at all, which was a sign of the old Debbie when she was very efficient at aid stations. She wanted to push ahead and see if she could recover some of the ground that she lost earlier in the day.

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Just as she was leaving Bobblets, it started sleeting heavily. I had a long drive back to Camp Bethel. The road was treacherous. I decided to skip the final aid station at Day Creek. I went straight to the finish, changed, and ran back until I intercepted her. I saw Jerry Turk and many other runners along the way. Most were all smiles, but even the grim-looking runners managed a “hello” as I passed.  It was pouring rain at this point, which just added to the misery. I thought I could get to Day Creek before she did, but that didn’t work out.

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I thought I was running fast enough to get to the aid station in time, but she was running faster! I bumped into her on the climb back up to the Parkway at Blackhorse Gap. It was a little more than 3.5 miles downhill from the Parkway to the finish,and she ran it in a remarkable 28 minutes. She was pushing hard. She had re-passed many of the runners who had gone by her during her bonk, but she had lost way too much time to catch up to her goal time. I was really proud of how she finished up. She was tearing down the slippery descent like the old Debbie, and letting out grunts with each step of the way. She even passed a few more guys on the final stretch of road, which is something that she couldn’t do at either Cayuga or Vermont 50. That last stretch is really what made this race a success.

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A top result was ruled out after her bad stretch, but she finished strong, in 16:03:29, which is what will give her confidence going into the off-season.  I was out there in the elements all day long and I was darn proud of all of the runners, crews, and volunteers. Despite the foul weather, the true spirit of ultrarunning was on display, and I witnessed a lot of grit. Everyone was friendly, which is what I remembered from Grindstone.

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It was great to see Jordan Chang, Matt Bugin, Holly Bugin, Greg Loomis, Diane Behm, and so many other running friends. Maybe we can get some other Shenipsit Striders in to Hellgate in the future. Heck, I might even consider running it. It would be the farthest I’ve gone on foot in one day. Of course, I’ll have to get my entry past Horton!

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It was also great to see David Goggins racing. We first met him at the 2007 Pittsfield Peaks Ultra. I don’t know how much balance is in his life, but regardless, his physical efforts impress and inspire me. There were some awesome performances. Kathleen Cusick was way out in front for the women and ran a strong 13:20:42. She was followed by Jennifer Edwards and Amy Albu. I wish I knew more about how those women did, but I was consumed with my other duties. The men’s race needs more explanation, so I need to find out more. Evidently, it was a close finish. Eric Grossman crossed the line in 11:25:48 and Rudy Rutemiller was only 7 seconds back. That’s a close finish that I wish I saw! Frank Gonzalez was third.

The quote of the day was from the men’s showers. Old New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series friend, Greg Loomis, asked someone about the water temperature. His reply was that it was just like “warm snow.”

Something tells me that like the TRT100, we will return to Hellgate.

Race Results

Printroom Photos

2013 NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross

The Verge New England Cyclocross finals were this weekend in Warwick, Rhode Island. I did my final “double” of the year, racing both Day 1 and Day 2 at the beautiful Goddard Memorial State Park on Narragansett Bay.

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On Saturday, we had classic New England cross weather. It was cold, but warmer than expected. Friday’s rain cleared the sky, but it made the course wet and muddy in spots. The sandy soil absorbed some of the moisture,  but it was still slick, and there were puddles on the asphalt sections.

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The wind was blowing fierce along the bay and that slowed us on that section of the course. This course is famous for its long beach runs. The sand is unrideable (for most of us). I ran the whole way. My legs were pretty dead after a long week. I was a little underdressed. I opted for shorts, which was OK, but my gloves and socks were too thin. I made an adjustment and added layers for today’s race. The weekend was just crazy hectic with this line up: Cub Scouts Pack meeting/cross race/LEGO Fest/holiday party/cross race/Christmas tree hunting/recovery.

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My first few laps on Day 1 of the 35+/Junior 15-18 race were fraught with bobbles and miscues. I righted the ship, but was in no-man’s land for a long time before a few more guys blew by me. I couldn’t keep up. Then, Daniel Coady caught me. I was able to hang on, but had a death-defying dismount going into the stone steps coming off of the asphalt.

2013_NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross 2

Thanks to the sand and my careless decision to not unclip prior to the dismount, my left cleat didn’t release from the pedal and I slammed into the stairs, dragging my bike behind me with one foot still attached. I smacked my arm, knee, and tweaked my hamstring. My bike was fine with the exception of a few scratches and some damaged handlebar tape. The adrenaline saved me from feeling any pain yesterday. It wasn’t until I woke up this morning when I realized how hard the fall hurt. At first I thought I hurt myself dancing at the party…but then I remembered the cross race!

2013_NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross 9

I recovered, closed the gap to Daniel, but was never able to get on his wheel and he dusted me in the final few turns before the sprint finish. I was well back in the field, which was stacked with masters and juniors talent like all Verge Series races. My teammate, Arthur Roti, had a good ride and was about a minute in front of me. Our other mates, Paul Nyberg, Wade Summers, and Matt Domnarksi did well in the 45+ race. The five of us have competed in most of the New England Series races.

2013_LEGOFest & YPO Holiday Party 7

Yesterday, I went to the race on my own, but today, Debbie and the kids joined me. It was much colder  and the course was changed a bit. They removed a few asphalt sections that got icy overnight. They lengthened the beach run and added some sections in the woods that required more sprinting. This course is also known for its numerous roots. It’s a bumpy one.

2013_LEGOFest & YPO Holiday Party 14

I was a little slower today and really couldn’t hold any wheels for long. Once again Daniel Coady caught me, but this time I was able to stick with him for a while before he faded ever so slightly, just like I did yesterday. I felt better on the last two laps, but couldn’t close the gap to my little nemesis, 14 year-old Philip Hempstead. I was gaining on him with one lap to go, but he just powered away from me. I was dying trying, but never really had a chance despite the cheers (and jeers) from some fans on the course. Go Philip!

2013_CX Race & Xmas Tree 19

This weekend was my 15th and 16th cyclocross races of the year. That’s the most in like 10 years. I wish I had better form, but I’m still having a blast doing battle with these guys. I’m a little cooked after a long year of athletics. I’ve done 44 total races when you add in all of the triathlons, trail running, road running, and mountain biking. I’ve only got one more cross race on tap, December 21st in Newtown for the Connecticut Series finals.

2013_CX Race & Xmas Tree 39

It had been several years since I raced in Warwick, so it was fun to visit Goddard again. The park is historic and thankfully, the carousel building was heated. We saw a lot of friends, but it was so darn cold, that there was little mingling. We did see Bekkie Wright from the Silk City Striders/Shenipsit Striders, and Bob Sharkey, one of our long time trail running friends from Newport. He was scouting the cross races. I encouraged him to join in. I propose a New England cyclocross banquet/party so we can see all of these folks again without 10 layers of clothing on. The Verge Series is over until 2014, but I plan to be back. I want to finish these races in the top half, or at least finish in the top half of the 35-44 year olds. I hate to say it but I’m looking forward to 45+ so we don’t have the super-fast juniors in our field. Top half is my 2014 cross goal.

The drive to Warwick from Bolton is a nice one, but two races in two days meant another six hours in the car. It was a crazy cross kind of weekend. I would love to be at either (or both) DAS Beaver Cross and Ice Weasels next weekend, but I’m supporting Debbie at Hellgate in Virginia. I need a break anyway. See you in Newtown.

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2


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