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Running a Remote Aid Station at One of the Toughest Ultra-Marathons: Hardrock 100.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

This post comes from Shaun Nauman, a blogger ( and Boulder, CO resident. When Shaun isn’t studying snow hydrology and forecasting avalanches, the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Instructor is finding new adventures in the backcountry on his splitboard. Watch for more adventures, gear reviews and fun reading from Shaun and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

1 Hardrock100

The Hardock 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world. The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra-marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

2 Hardrock100
The San Juan mountains are home to some of the most rugged mountains in Colorado. The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Runners must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations are located in the towns and a few remote aid stations throughout the course. The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

For the past five years, I have been part of a team who runs a remote aid station at roughly 12,200’ elevation just below Engineer Pass, known properly as Engineer Aid Station. The logistics and planning that go in to running a remote aid station begin several weeks, if not months, before we even arrive in Silverton, CO. To start, last year the design and engineering of new lightweight canopy shelters would replace the tarp shelter we have used for many years, it was enough to make even the most weight consciences backpacker jealous. Several boxes of gear are inventoried and packed away for the trip to Silverton. Once in Silverton we draw even more equipment from Hardrock 100 (food, beverages, emergency bags, and all the fill-in items that complete an aid station). We then attend general, medical, and radio communication briefings. Once the briefings are complete, equipment is loaded and the last few things are gathered to fill empty spots, and the pilgrimage to Engineer Pass begins.

4 Hardrock100

We typically arrive at the top of Engineer Pass via a four-wheel drive road late Thursday afternoon the night prior to the race start. From there we load up packs and descend in to the Bear Creek valley right at tree line below Engineer Pass. Wildflowers and snowfields fill this valley, and when the light is right, it is a natural spectacle beyond words.

5 Hardrock100

It takes a full day to get the aid station setup. The Hardrock 100 begins the next morning (Friday) at 6 a.m., at the same time we are setting up our station. Engineer Aid Station is right at about the 50 mile mark. Each year the race is run in a reverse direction, but since we are in the middle, it has little bearing on us. The logistics of bringing in food, beverages, tables, and cooking supplies are calculated almost to the pound. Water has to be filtered from a nearby stream, roughly 75 gallons of it. 15 gallons of broth will be prepared, and over 200 pounds of food and beverages will be packed in. Two large wing canopies, four ultra-light tables, lights, a stove, fuel, and emergency supplies are also packed in. All of this is just for the runners and their pacers. Volunteers at the aid station are responsible for packing in their own food and supplies beyond what they are hauling on behalf of the aid station.

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The canopies were made using aerodynamic wing designs reminiscent of that seen in MSR Wing or Kelty Noah Tarps and designed from lightweight Tyvek, shock cord, and high tensile strength aluminum. They proved to stand up to all the elements this year, which in a 24 hour period included rain, snow, lightning, wind, sunshine…you name it. While the wing canopies each cover an area of 24’ x 30’, they weigh less than 8lbs apiece!

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Once the amenities of the aid station are set up, a radio base station is established between aid stations and with Silverton headquarters some 15 miles away over mountainous terrain. The radio communications are critical, and the use HAM radios and creative uses of radio equipment are employed. Often times we can hit a radio repeater on Engineer Mountain at 13,200’, but not always. At times it is a matter of aiming a lightweight yagi antenna at a cliff wall and bouncing the signal down Bear Creek Canyon to Ouray. Other times it might include a cross-band repeater set up in a vehicle parked several miles away on Engineer Pass. In many instances, our communications have to be intermittently shut down due to electric storms. We stay busy, to say the least.

In actuality, the radio network to cover the 100-mile race is quite a marvel. A diagram of the radio schematic from various aid stations would look like a spider web to some. But it all falls in to place. With all the challenges, we make contact and track every single runner and pacer that comes through our station. Our first runner usually comes through at around 4pm on Friday. For the next 16 hours runners will continue to pour in to our station. Our busiest time is between 10pm and 2am, but we will see them well in to the morning hours.

We have seen just about everything imaginable come through our station. Some runners appear as if they are taking a casual stroll through the park, in high spirits. But, with Hardrock, and the elements of the mountains, a pass that is sunny and still one moment can be a whiteout of graupel, rain, and lightning the next. The runners reflect the experiences they encounter on the course. Even though we only see the runners briefly at our aid station, their experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.

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After all runners are accounted for to the next aid station, we get the all-clear to pack up our station. We practice Leave No Trace ethics. In essence, the aid station and any clue of its existence vanish upon our departure. The long hike out of Engineer begins, hopefully getting to the top of Engineer Pass to our vehicles before the afternoon storms hit. This year we encountered a blinding white mix of rain, graupel, and snow ascending to the top of the pass.

In all, it is a tremendous amount of work running this station. But we love doing it and have returned for many years, as a group we have run this station since 2010. The runners in Hardrock are quite honestly some of the most genuine people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Hardrock is a race like no other, and from a runner’s perspective is a mental challenge as well as a physical one. All of the runners have stories of Hardrock 100 and how they persevered both the external and internal challenges. It’s the inspiration of the runners, and the genuine human spirit that keeps us coming back.

Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
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Sierra Crest 30K/50K – Course Preview

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

This post comes from two Donner Party Mountain Runner members, Lorenzo Wimmer and Jon Murchinson. Both are avid runners and in preparation for the Aug. 8th Sierra Crest 30K/50K Ultra Run, they took to the trails to give us a course preview!

Register TODAY and enjoy these scenic views:

Donner Panorama-600

Donner Ridge (Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer)

Jon Murchinson’s Sierra Crest Preview:

Distance: Approximately 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2k+ feet


Ph: Jon Murchinson

The Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center is the starting point for the 30k. Runners pass through the corals and head west into the extensive Tahoe Donner trail system. This first section of the course is largely on horse trails (roots and manure are the obstacles to beware of) which winds through the trees. It is largely flat until the course turns up Boot Hill and starts a slight climb on a broad and exposed trail at Marker 37.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners continue on Dogs in Space past Marker 38 and onto Marker 38a. At this point the course turns right and starts up a series of switchbacks. This is the first significant climb of this section of the course. It is exposed so runners will benefit from having a visor, hat or bandana and sunglasses. As the course climbs it provides views of the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area, Prosser Creek Reservoir, Martis Valley and Northstar. The climb ends at Marker 17b,and runners turn right onto Crazy Horse. This section is rather flat although it is somewhat rocky.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Crazy Horse leads down to Marker 17 at which point the course turns left and starts a long climb up Andromeda towards Hawk’s Peak. This is the longest climb in this part of the course although runners will enjoy additional views of Martis Valley and Northstar. Runners will pass the Hawk’s Peak Loop Trail, at approximately 7,600’ the high point of this section, and continue on towards the Drifter Hut and some of the most stunning vistas of this part of the course.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

At Marker 36 the Euer Valley is off to runners’ right and Castle Peak comes into view for the first time. After a brief singletrack uphill, the course continues on towards the Drifter Hut, turns left and starts a welcome downhill towards Marker 18a.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners start the final uphill of this section at Marker 19, which is the bottom of Sunrise Bowl. The climb is undulating and steep in sections, although not as long or taxing as the Andromeda Hill, it could present challenges due to some loose and rocky terrain. Once again views of the Tahoe Donner Ski Area are abundant. At the crest of the hill there is a stand of trees that provides welcome shade. Runners will enjoy a mild downhill that starts at Marker 19.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

The ridge behind Donner Lake is directly ahead and Tinker’s Knob and Mount Judah can be seen off to the right. At Marker 20, the course turns left and runners do an out-and-back section to the Glacier Way Aid Station.

Lorenzo Wimmer’s Sierra Crest Preview:

I began the run from the Glacier Way aid station number two. I bypassed the starting line to Aid Station #1. The Glacier Way Picnic area was quite a beautiful setting!

The course starts off flat, with a series of gentle rollers following the winter cross country ski trails. (It probably would have been more understandable if I had skied or gone out on snowshoes these runs in the wintertime) I didn’t know any of the names or side trails, therefore I was a little uncertain at some trail junctions. I’m confident with trail markers the ambiguity will disappear.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The trail is in pristine condition, especially from Glacier Way to just below the Donner Ridge, dropping down into Negro Canyon. No obstacles that I could recall, very few tree roots or loose footing to worry about. Only a few areas of vegetation growing over the trail but not enough to make a difference.

One confusing sign was that of the Negro Canyon Overlook near the picnic table, that said the trail was a dead-end, when in fact it was not. Fortunately for me a mountain biker came by and I watched him fade into the distance, asserting that it was not a dead-end. With the mountain bike traffic, one would think that trail may have been torn up a little, but it was fine.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The switchbacks started down the hill, all footing in good shape. Only slippery areas were under the pine trees that had lost a considerable amount of needles from the recent strong winds, and the green needles over the dry, made for a couple of loose steps. It was a warm day in spite of the wind, and the shade now and then under the pine trees was quite welcome. I was the only runner on the trail, so it felt like Disneyland, and I had it all to myself. Only four mountain bikers total that day, two going up and two going down.

The trail junction for Wendin Way Access Trail splits off to the northeast (left) at the creek with decent flow enough to refill water bottles (with a filter) This was the only water source along the route. (No problem as the Aid Station was close by) There is the possibility of someone turning to the right, but I’m sure with trail markers, everyone will be fine.

Not far after that split, a large sign indicating the new Wendin Way Access Trail goes to the left. It is well marked and in good shape, however more stones to navigate around than the earlier part of the trail. This rerouted trail does have a more convoluted route than the trail indicated on trail maps on iPhone applications.

One different turn I took it would seem, was about 100 meters from the Second waypoint. The route on the website indicates that that the trail turns southeast to join the service road… but I didn’t see any obvious trail showing that direction. As you can see from my tracks, my route was a bit more direct to the open area near the Aid Station.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

That’s about it, it was over too soon for me, I wanted to keep going as I had just finally warmed up enough to run. I was waiting for a girlfriend to come pick me up, so unfortunately that was the end of the line for me today. My friend wants to do this segment with me again sometime, as it is quite easy and with such beautiful views, you can’t pass up an opportunity to see it all again! (Follow Lorenzo at

On Aug. 8, the Auburn Ski Club will host the Inaugural Sierra Crest 30K / 50K which is an exciting point-to-point trail run that takes advantage of some of the Truckee/Donner Summit region’s best single track. The Sierra Crest begins at 6650ft, on trails heading out from Tahoe Donner’s new Adventure Center, joining up with the Donner Lake Rim Trail, and finally ending on the trails at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center at 7200ft. For those new to trail running, the 30K (just 18 miles), is an excellent opportunity to join the sport and push themselves in a beautiful environment!

This unique race offers spectacular views of the Sierra Crest and some of the Northern Sierras most spectacular mountain peaks (including, Euer Valley, Frog Lake Cliffs, Donner Lake, Summit Lake, Castle Peak and the many other mountain peaks along the Sierra Crest). Fully stocked aid stations along both courses will be in place to keep runners well fueled, 5 stations for the 50k, and 3 stations for the 30K.

The Sierra Crest Trail Run is organized by the Auburn Ski Club as fundraisers to help support the work the Club does in the Truckee, Tahoe & Foothill regions. Hundreds of local children and teens benefit from the Club’s low cost cross country ski trails, their support of High school skiing and its own quality Nordic, Alpine & Snowboard Teams.

Tahoe 200 Endurance Race Footwear Surprise w/ Mark Cangemi

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Mark Cangemi of Pennsylvania placed 16th in last weekend’s Tahoe 200 endurance run, the premiere 202-mile footrace around Lake Tahoe. When he dropped by the shop two days later, he had quite the story for us. He started in a pair of Hoka shoes, then moved into the Altra Olympus, before finishing in a pair of ___________! After hearing his surprising confession, I grabbed a camera and asked him to repeat himself. Thanks for the cool story, Mark. And thanks for letting us gear you up for your big adventure!

Overnight Trail Running Lake Tahoe – Across Desolation Wilderness

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big race or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on foot or bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

As I touched on in “Philosophy and Preparation“, this was to be my most ambitious outing to date: a 29-35 mile run (depending on which map/GPS/hearsay you choose to believe), an overnight at Lake Aloha, a summit of two of the highest peaks in Desolation Wilderness (Mt. Price and Pyramid Peak), and an 18-22 mile run to return to the real world. Per usual, I sat down with my maps (the Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Map and the National Geographic 803) and plotted my days (and night), planning every step before I set out. As a good friend once detailed to me: failure to prepare is preparing to fail.


Chris Cloyd, Trail Runner.

I chose to set out from the Meeks Bay Trailhead (the northernmost entry point into Desolation Wilderness), and was thrilled with the trail from the outset. The Meeks Bay Trailhead gains you access to the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail – a continuous single track from Meeks Bay to Yosemite National Park. Every bit living up to its billing, the trail was in immaculate condition. At the trailhead, you can procure a day permit into Desolation, but I had to obtain an overnight permit from their website (or I could have gone to the Meeks Bay campground). If I may stand on my pedestal for a moment and preach: obtain a permit before overnighting in Desolation. I’m sure you can avoid getting “caught” (you are meandering through the wilderness, after all), but the funds go to supporting trail stewardship and other amenities that we all enjoy, so swallow the $5. Our support goes a long way toward maintaining and providing access to the Wilderness that we all enjoy.

The Tahoe-Yosemite Trail progresses steeply beginning from close to the trailhead all the way up to Lake Genevieve, gaining almost 1,500 in those initial miles. Lake Genevieve is the first of no less than seven lakes that you’ll encounter in your first eight or so miles, and kicks off a beautiful section of scenic running. Of these lakes, I found Stony Ridge Lake to be the most engaging – I was very tempted to pull off the trail and dive in for a swim. That being said, I was on a mission, and had my sights set for Phipps Peak before I stopping for a break. The running continued along these alpine lakes before starting the ascent to Phipp’s Pass. In my planning, I noted that my first day included two very notable mountain passes – Phipp’s Pass and Dick’s Pass – and was prepared for a slog up a number of single track switchbacks. Although not too steep or unrelenting, Phipp’s Pass is indeed worthy of respect and is sure to sap the leg strength of all who choose to ascend it. Upon reaching the pass proper, it’s a short and quick scramble to the top of Phipp’s Peak, and is well worth the effort. I enjoyed some rest and a sandwich at the summit, and admired the expanse of Desolation in a stunning 360 degrees.

“I geared down and buried myself for what seemed like an hour – it was indeed much less, but time has teeth under such scenarios”

Continuing on, I was treated to a blissful descent from Phipp’s Pass toward Middle Velma Lake. I enjoyed this section of running very much, and found a comfortable tempo that helped quiet the mind and brought considerable joy. I chose to stay on the Pacific Crest Trail in order to catch a glimpse of Fontanillis Lake, and that decision was validated in spades. My overnight destination on this day wins the award for my “favorite” lake on this route, but Fontanillis Lake is gorgeous and has a very unique alpine feel to it, framed defiantly by Dick’s Peak and its equally proud neighbors. I stopped here to filter some water and take in the ambiance, gearing up for the next push. Fontanillis has earned an earmark for a future overnight destination, for sure.

Fontanillis precedes the second big climb of the day, Dick’s Lake to Dick’s Pass. Perhaps it was my tempo (maybe a bit too full of ambition for my legs to accommodate), or perhaps it was the miles themselves that preceded it, but this climb hurt my feelings. I geared down and buried myself for what seemed like an hour – it was indeed much less, but time has teeth under such scenarios – and with much labor and more than a little self-deprecation I took the pass with much relief. As though it was placed there with intention, a perfect sitting-stone is perched at the Pass and it concedes a spectacular panorama of much of the Wilderness.


Chris didn’t take this photo of Desolation. His editor had to pull it from a free image site after accidentally using the original in Round 1.

Descending from Dick’s Pass requires technical running, and was a true test of my reflexes this deep into the day. Cascading down toward Gilmore Lake, I was treated to glimpses of Mt. Tallac and my day’s destination of Lake Aloha, and my spirits were buoyed. Nerves and light were fading, and a reassurance that I was nearing my “finish line” for the day was greatly appreciated.  (more…)

TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbut Is Ready To Race Western States 100

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

This weekend, TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbutt will compete in the Western States 100. With over 18,000 feet of vertical climbing and 23,000 feet of descent, the 100-mile race from Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA, is one of the top endurance tests worldwide. We wish Mike the utmost power, grace and perseverance this weekend. We’ll be rooting for ya, bud!


Mike enjoys some time on the summit of Mt. Tallac, Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Mountain Sports was fortunate enough to tie Mike down for a moment during his little downtime preceding this weekend. Literally. With his shoelaces, nonetheless. Mike, you’re really going to have to strengthen up more by Saturday!

Alright, Mr. Tebbutt, we’re really excited to have you on as a TMS Ambassador and representing TMS at the Western States 100. We have some questions regarding how you’ve prepared and your expectations for this weekend’s gnarly endurance race.

TMS: Have you run the WS100 in years past? How many times?

Mike: I have not run Western States, but in 2008 I ran the Bear 100 in Utah that travels across the Wasatch Mountains from Logan, Utah and ends in the Bear Mountains at Bear Lake, Idaho. western-states-100-catering-thank-you-cardInteresting side note: I was introduced to the WS folks in 2008 when the race was cancelled due to fires. My catering company, Twin Peaks Catering, received a phone call to cater a cancellation BBQ for them. We ended up serving 375 people with only about 24 hours to prepare for it. They were very gracious and gave me a WS Mountain Hardwear jacket and coffee mug and told me that I would make a good 100-mile runner. I had always known about the WS and wondered if I could actually run that distance myself. When they handed me those gifts of appreciation, I knew right then and there that I would one day run the race. I have since sold the the catering business and I feel that chapter of my life is coming around full circle, finally being able to run this race after three years of entering my name in the lottery and six years of building my running endurance.

TMS: What are your expectations of the course this year? Of yourself this Saturday?

Mike: It is going to be tough, and hot, though not nearly as hot as last year. There is also a lot more exposure due to a large section of the Canyons (hardest part of the course during the hottest part of the day) that burned in the American Fire last summer. We do, however, get an extra river crossing to cool us down this year since the historic Swinging Bridge burned down. I expect to run a smart and steady race, focusing on not running too hard during the first 62 miles so I can save my legs for some good running miles once I pick up my pacer, Frank Aldana, in Foresthill. My “A” goal is to finish in around 20 hours and if I don’t make this, I hope to at least finish in under 24 hours. The bottom line is that I plan to go out and have a fun time soaking in this iconic race!

TMS: Briefly outline your training schedule.

Mike: Since my work and life schedule vary greatly, so does my training schedule. I mostly train by feel and enjoy lots of steep power hiking and off-trail exploration on my backyard trails here in Kings Beach, in addition to plenty of running miles. My weekly mileage tends to be between 50 and 75, which is much less than a lot of ultra runners, but this works well for me. I have done more formal training and speed workouts this year than all of my running years combined, as some friends and I started a running club this past winter called the Donner Party Mountain Runners. Our Thursday Morning Speed Sessions have definitely brought my fitness to a new level that I wished I had during my first 100-mile race. My final five weeks of training before I tapered was my strongest training block ever and started with the Meow Marathons on May 3. This was a 55-ish mile-race with about 17-18K feet of vertical gain and lots of off-trail navigation through an unmarked course.


We love this shot of Mike battling an uphill during the Me-Ow Marathon.

TMS: What have been your largest hurdles in preparing for the WS100?

Mike: My largest hurdle was dealing with some intestinal parasites towards the end of winter that crippled my energy and training for about a month. Fortunately, I have an amazing Chiropractor/healer, Dr. Nathan Cohen, that I have seen for two decades. As always, he got me through it and helped me on my way to being stronger than ever.


@ Folsom International Triathlon, Thanks for the Great Race!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big race or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on foot or bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.


Chris crosses the finish line to take First Place.

It’s always a treat to start off the season with a great result. It’s a much greater pleasure, however, to race in perfect conditions, in a great town, supported by an unbelievable race organization and volunteer team. Fortunately for me, I was able to do both this past weekend at the Folsom International Triathlon down in Granite Bay.

This was my first year entering the Folsom race and my first event with Total Body Fitness (TBF), who host the race, and I look forward to coming back next year. Mark and his team did a phenomenal job putting together all of the logistics, coordinating the volunteers, and managing all of the raceday chaos. It’s often lost in all of the speed and excitement of a race like this, but I try to remember that NONE of our sport can exist without the support of all of the guys and girls who put these events on and the volunteers who offer their time and energy on raceday (and, many times, the day before setting up the course and the day after taking down all the pomp and circumstance). I’d like to offer a BIG HIGH-FIVE to everyone who helped make it possible for us to measure ourselves against a great course this past Saturday – thank you!

Waking up at the entirely rational hour of 5:45 on raceday was a pleasant touch – the “late” 8 a.m. start afforded us all a chance to sleep in some ahead of all of the mayhem. I love triathlon, but sometimes the early-up starts are a little much to bear. I understand the rationale behind starting events (especially Iron-distance races) at 6:30 a.m., but that doesn’t change the fact that it was very pleasant to get started at 8 a.m. at Folsom. By then, the sun was out in force, the lake was appealing, and the temps were already rising.

Our swim was extremely well marked, and the start was well controlled. It didn’t take long for racing to begin once the gun went off, and within minutes we were split into more than a few pace-lines and were fighting for position in the water. Unfortunately, I missed the split for the front group and, after a failed bridge effort on my part, I slowed up and made contact with the second group in the water. We worked together to hold a good pace to the last buoy, but at that time myself and another competitor decided to go out on our own and opened up a gap. Our pace wasn’t much faster than our original group’s, but it was enough to get us into T1 (Transition 1) in 3rd and 4th position.


The Race Kit

I had been looking forward to this race for a number of reasons, but the bike leg had to have topped my list. Some rollers and punchy climbs dictated the first 2/3 of the course, but the back end of the ride was almost all downhill or negotiably flat. This is a rare occurrence in our sport, and I was excited about the idea of a short and aggressive section on the bike followed by an all-out speedway effort back to the transition area. I knew that if I could put in a hero effort on that first 2/3 of the course and build a lead, I had a chance to stay away on the drag race back to T2. I was able to catch the two athletes ahead of me by mile ten, and put a big dig in on the last few hills of the course to gain some real time. I don’t think I even shifted out of 53×11 from mile 17 to the end of the bike leg, and hit T2 with enough time to feel good about my chances of staying ahead during the run.

The run started out benignly enough, but there were certainly plenty of teeth on the course! Mark and the TBF team couldn’t have done better finding a world-class run course if they tried – every stride was paired with gorgeous views of Folsom Lake and the park around it. That buoyed my spirits and helped me keep the pace high through the turnaround, and I started to catch other racers on their way out as I dug through the second half of the run. After negotiating some serious hills on the way back (I almost considered using my hands to help scale one of the climbs!), I finally saw the finishing chute and the kite marking the line. After two plus hours of racing, I was proud to be able to cross the line first.

I’ve stolen this idea from Scott Jurek, the world’s best ultra marathoner (in my opinion): If I’m able to bring home the win, I try to stay at the finish line and high-five the other competitors as they finish. Everybody is out there suffering, and everyone deserves the same amount of enthusiasm as they cross the line. Moreover, I love sharing the finishing moment with everyone who competes – it’s a rare opportunity to embrace real accomplishment with fellow athletes as they complete such outstanding efforts and realize such great goals.

The beauty of sport is overcoming, as is watching others overcome. That pursuit – the allure of chances to define our best self – is a huge reason I race. I fully believe everyone should measure themselves from time to time; if not against others, against ourselves. Racing provides that opportunity – whether you’re aiming for a course record, a personal best, or a first finish.

Here’s to the season!


First Place Feels Oh…So…Good!


2XU Compression Calf Guards
2XU Compression Calf Guards
MSRP: $44.95


Vibram Shoes – Comfortable Enough You Could Outrun A Gazelle

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Stan Powers, from Washington, was kind enough to contribute this review to Tahoe Mountain Sports. Stan swears by his Vibram Five Fingers and hopes to persuade more runners to fall in line.

Vibram shoesI was actually turned on to Vibram Shoes by my eye doctor who runs in them almost daily. He has run half-marathons and will be doing a marathon in them soon. They seem to come from the philosophy that the native Africans and Australians had to run miles and miles to run down their prey. Gazelles, as well as other animals, tend to overheat when they run too much because they have no means of sweating. It’s amazing, really – these natives have no arch supports or Salomon running shoes! By running on the toes of your feet and letting your them absorb the shock, versus landing with all that impact on your heels, you don’t send the shocks directly up your leg.  This helps to prevent knee and hip pain both now and in the future.

Converting to Vibram Shoes is not easy, but totally worth it! I had some pretty nasty foot pain develop when I first started trail running in my Vibrams, but in time the pain went away. The only thing I must recommend, as you’ve probably heard from others, is to break your finger shoes in slowly. Our foot muscles, tendons and ligaments tend to degenerate over years of non-use. I got a bit too aggressive because the shoes felt so liberating and seemed to provide infinite energy, so I ran further than I likely should have on my third time out. The result – a small fracture in one of the top bones coming from my fourth toe. I stayed away from running for a month or so. That was difficult, but worth it, and I have been more than happy with my new shoes ever since.

I ran my first 10K in them at the ocean in July. It was fun watching all those footprints deep in the sand in front of me, but looking behind me I noticed I hardly left a trail at all. I was able to run a 10K in under one hour comfortably, which was a first for me. I suggest these Vibram shoes to anyone who runs! Why fight what we are naturally made to do?





True Love: Trail Running The Sierra

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Guest: Ryan
Running in the Sierra is a treat when it comes to trail running. The awesome views and developed trails are both reasons why I love running here.

My Story:

I wasn’t really a trail runner to begin with, or a runner for that matter,  in fact, I hated running especially on pavement in cities. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I was exposed to trail running. A group of friends and I were finishing up a scramble mission in the Mt Whitney Zone and upon reaching the summit we preceded to run the Mt Whitney Trail. After summiting three peaks and traveling an unknown amount of miles we found our selves with beer and Portal Burgers in hand, a glorious end to a long day in the mountains. After this trail running experience I was hooked.

From that moment on I make it a yearly goal to make it above 14,000 feet. This pilgrimage started my love of trail running and living in Tahoe leaves endless miles of trails to run. The graded trails, especially the more popular trails like the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for example, are graded so much that it can be done riding a mule. Sections of the PCT that run through Desolation Wilderness are some of my favorite. In some cases on the PCT you will encounter large stone stairs, yes a lovely stone staircase in woods. This type of human development is what makes these types of high traffic trails perfect for trail running. Long gradual down hills and up hills, swooping around the contours of the Sierra make up most of the development in the Northern Trails system. While there are many sections that do not fit this description and have much steeper up hill and down hill sections, these are mostly avoidable due to the remoteness of the section of trail.

Everyone I know who runs, has their own little circuit that they run on a regular basis. These circuits are great for a quick run before work, or a beautiful sunset run in the evening, but after running a trail a couple of times I find those circuits to be a little monotonous. A case of tree vision usually sets in and my motivation to run fades. That’s why I like running with a general goal in mind, like running to a summit or lake for example. Setting a goal like this can really help motivate you when on a trail run, especially a longer run. Sometimes I’ll even bring a small fly rod to check out new water and add a little variety to the days run. Catching fish and a work out is a win-win.

A rewarding aspect of trail running is the distance covered, as well as the elevation gain and loss, one experiences when running in the Sierras. I love looking down ridge lines and seeing the trail snake it’s way around the contours of the mountains. Approaching the tops of passes is also exciting, especially if you are unfamiliar with what features lay beyond it. The amount of elevation gain and loss gives a sense of the work put in for those spectacular views. Being able to see the lower elevation start of a run from the high point gives you a sense of the vertical attained, no place makes this more apparent than the Eastern Sierra mountains along the 395 corridor. The amount of vertical relief is astounding down in this section of the Sierra as well.

Running in the Sierra is also a bit of a game. There is a saying in the Sierra “If you don’t like the weather wait an hour.” This couldn’t be truer during the later summer and fall months in the Sierra. Thunderclouds can build rapidly and cause a down pour when, in the first half of the day, the sun was shining. These types of weather changes give a natural time clock for your run. Trying to bag a peak? Better make sure you beat the thunderclouds there first! Racing thunderstorms can be  fun, or terrifying, in the High Sierra especially above tree line. In most cases you can see the storms coming, but if your unlucky they can build in no time and really catch you by surprise.  Finding yourself above tree line during such events would fall under the terrifying category, but running just bellow tree line can be quite fun. Personally, I love running in the rain, the thunder and lighting shows can be spectacular!

What ever your motivation is to trail run, take it and run with it!


Salomon XR Sensibelt
Salomon XR Sensibelt
MSRP: $39.95
Gu Energy Gel
Gu Energy Gel
MSRP: $89.95

IRONMAN Lake Tahoe Set for September 2013

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

IRONMAN is coming to Lake Tahoe in September 2013, marking the first full-distance IRONMAN event in California since 2001. The endurance race will include a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run, all along the shoreline of North Lake Tahoe. Here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, we’ll be cheering the athletes on as they dive into Tahoe’s waters across the street from our shop in downtown Kings Beach. And after the brisk swim, when the athletes transition to bikes, we’ll watch them whizz by on Highway 28, passing right in front of our porch.

Word got out fast for IRONMAN Lake Tahoe, and registration sold out in a mere 19 hours after it opened on Monday. There are still a limited number of IRONMAN Foundation slots, going at $1,350. IRONMAN Lake Tahoe will be a P-2000 race with a $75,000 USD professional prize.

“Lake Tahoe’s natural beauty and experience in hosting world-class endurance events have made it one of the world’s most appealing sports destinations,” said Steve Meckfessel, Managing Director of Global Race Operations for WTC. “The launch of a full-distance IRONMAN event in California has been a long time coming. We’re confident this race will develop into a cornerstone of the global IRONMAN Series.”

The race will start with a two-loop, 2.4-mile swim out from the Kings Beach State Recreation Area. Athletes will transition to a two-loop 112-mile bike course, which heads from Kings Beach to Tahoe City, wraps north on Highway 89 to Truckee and back to the shore of Lake Tahoe on Highway 267. After a descent back to Kings Beach, athletes will complete a second loop and then a final, flat 17 miles to finish the bike course at Squaw Valley. With a final transition at Squaw, runners will proceed along the Truckee River bike path into Tahoe City, and continue south to a turnaround in Homewood.

The iconic IRONMAN Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Even thought it’s more than a year out, we’re still getting excited for this global event to hit our small, beautiful town. In the meantime, keep swimming, biking, and running! For more information about IRONMAN Lake Tahoe, go to

Zoic Ether Bike Short
Zoic Ether Bike Short
MSRP: $73.95
Lole Movement Short
Lole Movement Short
MSRP: $59.95



From the Bay (Almost) to the Breakers

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Who: Tom Cruise Wannabes

What: San Francisco Bay to Breakers

When: May 20, 2012

Gear: Running Shoes, Sunglasses, Backpacks, and Costumes

I’m definitely not the first person to run around San Francisco without my pants on. But it was still one of those rites of passage that needed to happen. And the San Francisco Bay to Breakers was the perfect place to check this item off my bucket list.

The party started at 7 a.m. when we woke up to someone ready to go and yelling outside our window. There are many who take the Zazzle Bay to Breakers seriously and actually run the 12K race from the Embarcadero at the San Fancisco Bay to Highway 101, where the waves break onto Ocean Beach. But most of us wander the course in costume with beverage in hand. Make no mistake — running or wandering, this event gets started early.

Our group decided on a theme of Whiskey Business, which was perfect for my goal of walking the streets of SF without a pair of pants. Paying homage to The Man (aka Tom Cruise), we popped our collars and wore tube socks and shades.

The streets of San Francisco were quiet, until we crested the hill above Hayes Street. A river of people who were dressed to the occasion meandered down the hill. DJs played from the apartments above. The sun blessed San Francisco with its presence that morning and everyone was in good spirits. Rainbows, gnomes, astronauts, Twister players, naked men (obviously), feathers and fur and face paint, even Kermit the Frog made an appearance.

The cross-city race began in 1912 as an event to lift the spirits in San Francisco after the city was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The race was dubbed Bay to Breakers in 1965, and in 1986 became the world’s largest footrace with 110,000 participants. It’s no longer the largest race, but it still attracts thousands of runners and unregistered “bandits.” This year, Sammy Kitwara from Kenya won the race with a time of 34:41, and Mamitu Daska from Ethiopia took first place among women with a time of 39:03.

I have no idea how long it took me to reach the finish line. But I do know that I made it to Golden Gate Park and found a sunny patch of grass to rest my feet and head. The San Francisco Bay to Breakers is definitely still lifting the spirits of its residents and visitors.

Deuter Race X
Deuter Race X
MSRP: $68.95



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