Monthly Archives: December 2018

61 Days

December 30, 2018

65.  Arin Kritzmire

I met Arin years ago through the hash, but in 2011, I convinced her to do an ultra with me.  This was a month or so after I ran the disastrous Rio Del Lago 100K (where markers were stolen and results were not posted for months), after which the idea for A Better World Running was sparked.  Rocket Racing (aka ABW) staged their first two races in October 2011, a 5K on Saturday, and a 50K/50M on Sunday.  Arin had previously run one marathon and one 50K, so she said she might be in, IF we started early.  We basically ran together on multiple loops on the LB Peninsula, to the Queen Mary and back, and to the 50K turnaround at Warner and PCH.  I continued on to Newport Beach (and back).  Probably the last road ultra I will do, and the last time I will win an ultra (only finisher) and run with the female winner (only female finisher).

64.  Sarah Lavender Smith

Can’t exactly put my finger on when we first met, but I think it must have been at a Piedmont Turkey Trot.  It’s hard to miss an ultrarunner that lives in your hometown (especially one as small as Piedmont).  Looking at Ultrasignup results, looks like in August 2012, we ran similar times at Skyline 50K (but I’m guessing she must have been feeling poorly that day).  Besides the hometown connection (but she’s moving to Colorado soon), lately, I’ve appreciated Sarah’s storytelling ability, as well as eliciting interesting tidbits on URP podcasts.  If people could see the beauty of the courses and the interesting people that run them, I bet a few ultrarunning skeptics could be turned.

63 Days to 100

December 28, 2018

68.  Xy Weiss

Although I have been acquainted with Xy for several years (and wear her Dirty Girl Gaiters), my special encounter occurred at the 2014 Avalon 50M.  This particular year, I took the 2AM early start with a dozen or so people.  About midway up the initial hill, I caught her, bedecked in her usual leopard print top, skirt, and gaiters.  I said, “Hi, Xy, I’m…”  She interrupted, “Emmett, yeah, I know.  Good morning.”  I guess you can always pick both of us out of a crowd (but I haven’t seen her around much lately).

67.  Martin Sengo

At Way Too Cool in 2010, there was a large contingent of Golden Valley Harriers runners, most wearing the signature yellow tank top.  (I have it, but chafes me too much in an ultra.)  I introduced myself to a few of them, and even a few that I didn’t really know knew me at the “So Cal GVH representative.”  One of these was a tall guy, about 10 years younger than me, Martin Sengo.  One month later, I saw him again, at American River 50M in his first 50.  (Back then, I beat him by over an hour.  He’s since gotten faster.)  Over the years, we alternatively see one another at Cool or volunteering in the Sacramento or Bay Area.  I’ll look for him at a So Cal ultra one of these days.

66.  Errol “Rocket” Jones

In 2015, I volunteered at the Santa Barbara 100M and became acquainted with Errol.  We met again a month or so later when I was running the Skyline 50K and he was volunteering at the Skyline Gate Aid Station.  And the past two years at Skyline 50K, we have both been running, so we get a chance to chat at the start (or finish, if he hasn’t left by then).  He’s a charming fellow (and a good writer, too), and one of these days, I want to run his Quad Dipsea (when it’s not the weekend before Ridgecrest 50K).



66 to Go

December 25, 2018

71.  Anthony Fagundes

I met this guy just prior to him running his first marathon (Surf City, which he won), and found out he’s just a normal low-key guy (albeit FAST).  In 2016, he tried out his first ultra at Way Too Cool (my first also in 2002) which is close to his hometown.  Prior to the race, I got to meet his parents who cheered me on also.  He finished a mere 4:10 (that’s hours) ahead of me.  In 2019, after a year of nursing an injury, he’ll be kicking my butt at Cool again.  Glad I’m friends with this down-to-earth speedster.

70.  Lynnor Matheney

In 2011, I ran and completed my first 100 mile race at Rocky Raccoon.  I had all sorts of issues with my feet.  I managed to hobble in just 18 minutes under the total cutoff, but immediately needed foot care.  Lynnor was volunteering at the finish line and MacGyver’ed my feet to something bearable (with contact lens solution and gauze).  She said something to the effect of “Holy Sh*t, look at his feet!” but got a ‘prizewinning’ photo that I could treasure always.

69.  Catra Corbett

Catra and I are pretty much opposites in terms of appearance.  I don’t have tattoos, piercings, I’m super-tall, and only wear ‘costumes’ running on special occasions (and I usually half-ass it).  At Javelina Jundred (close to “Jalloween”), lots of runners dress up.  I think Catra was dressed as some kind of Pixie Elf (then again, she may have just been wearing her usual colorful outfit).  The JJ course does loops one way and then the reverse, so as the day wears on, you have runners coming towards you (either ahead or behind) constantly.  When Catra (ahead) was coming towards me, I said, dryly, “Ohmigod, it’s Catra Corbett.”  And she replied, “Ohmigod, it’s Emmett Rahl.”  Wait, how does she know me?  Kind of cool to be part of this small community, where everybody knows your name.

68 to Go

December 23, 2018

74.  Jukka Valkonen

Wa-ay back in 2003, when I was doing my 2nd Skyline 50K (did my 11th this year), I struck up a conversation pre-race with another runner.  Turned out we had a few things in common:  we went to the same high school (but he graduated the year before I started), we both were involved in music in high school, neither of did sports in high school, and his kids sang with Piedmont Choirs (which my mom founded).  Strangely enough, we had not met prior to this (hometown is small enough that I know loads of people I was never in school with), but yet we met through ultras, and ran together for part of this great local race.

73.  Jesus Rodriguez

I first met Jesus at a Boston Strong event in Long Beach, and soon after I started to see him running everywhere and trying every kind of race.  And at the 2014 Ridgecrest High Desert 50K, he tried to meet everyone at the packet pick-up.  So, if you know Jesus Rodriguez, you know that he is always trying to get everyone together for a picture (well, friends plus anyone standing around).  That night, he somehow corralled a bunch of random runners to take a picture together and get them excited about the race the next day.  And that’s his inherent charm – his endlessly positive nature and encouragement to try new and challenging things.

72.  Clement Choy

In 2010, I ran Dick Collins Firetrails 50M, my 10th 50 mile race.  I had a bit of an adventure.  All day I was up against cutoffs, and I thought I came into the last aid station 38 seconds too slow, but turned out to be 59:22 AHEAD.  I spent the first 3 of the last 6 miles with an extremely talkative runner, which encouraged me to pick up the pace, and catch up with two older male runners.  We introduced ourselves to each other (Emmett, 39; Cyril, 59; Clement; 63) and compared a few races we had in common.  And, then… no talking, just staying together, and finishing up the last 3 miles.  We came in within 20 seconds of each other.  I continue to see Clement at Skyline 50K almost every year.

69 Days and Counting

December 22, 2018

79.  Nickademus Hollon

In 2013, Laura and I ran Rohring Around the Clock, a 12 hour run put on by our friend, Jim Tello.  I don’t really like short loops, and I got bored after 15 miles, so I pulled out my book and I walked and read (and ended my race when my book ended).  On a few occasions, other competitors would slow and walk (and talk) with me for a bit.  One of these was this crazy 22 year-old (who I think won the 24 hour event) who was preparing to do the Barkley Marathon (100+ miles and NOT a marathon) and wanted to be the youngest finisher.  While I have no desire to do Barkley, I appreciate that there are crazier folks out there attempting and achieving insane goals (He did go on to be one of 15 runners to finish in the event’s 20+ year history).

78.  Maria Walton

At Javelina Jundred (sic) 100M in 2011, I came across Maria.  She was listening to headphones and didn’t really strike up any conversation with me.  However, when we got to one of the aid stations, they were playing Frank Sinatra songs (and naturally, I had to sing along) and that got her to remove the headphones for a bit and we got to run together until I slowed to a walk on an uphill.  About six months later, I saw a FB post that her boyfriend had passed away, and the sort of irony was it was Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) who had been featured in the Born to Run book to which we listened to and from the race… but at the race, it was just Maria and Emmett, two people that appreciated Frank Sinatra and ultras.

77.  Dick Beardsley

Marathon historians will no doubt recognize the name Dick Beardsley from the 1982 Boston Marathon (Duel in the Sun), but I first encountered him in 2003, when I reviewed his book Staying the Course for the AREC newsletter.  I gave the book a somewhat negative review because I was annoyed that he had forged prescriptions for pain medication and whined about his running “slowly” (ie. 6 minute miles).  We had a short back-and-forth e-mail exchange.  Then, in 2010, when I helped Laura to run her first 50 miler at American River 50M, I met Dick again.  He (fortunately) didn’t really remember our initial encounter and we had a nice talk, and he said that he would cheer for me.  And on the next day, about 2 miles in, he cheered for me.  Not “Go Tall Guy!” but “Go, Emmett.”

76.  Joe Schieffer

I’ve known Joe Schieffer most of my life because he was a lawyer and then a partner in my dad’s law firm.  My dad started walking to and from work every day (about 3 miles) in the 1980s until his retirement in the mid 90s, but Joe ran to work (a bit farther and probably during lunch, too).  I can remember hearing about some of the races Joe ran (like 50 miles!).  He may have been my earliest memory about ultras, even if I couldn’t comprehend the distances (since I did a few 5Ks in middle school and hated it).  A few years ago, Joe surpassed 100,000 lifetime miles, which is just crazy (I might be around 30,000).

75.  Karen Tallman

I have known Karen for many years through the Los Angeles Hash House Harriers, but she has also run several ultras.  In 2006, she was up running Way Too Cool.  2006 was a particularly muddy year.  My personal memory of the race was stepping into a puddle and feeling a terrible pull on my shoe (tied tight, though).  When Karen finished, it was particularly memorable as the mud along the finish straight sucked her shoe right off and she finished with one shoe on and one shoe off.

70 Days to Go

December 21, 2018

Getting caught up in the Holiday Season and not getting caught up in my dedication posts, but here are a few more.

84.  Karin Usko

I first met Karin at Ridgecrest in 2016.  I don’t know how we got into conversation but she speaks German, Spanish, and English (three of the languages I studied, though she doesn’t know Mandarin).  I always seem to see her in the central Californian ultras, but also never passing up an opportunity to sell her Happy Gaiters.    I always enjoy running into her.

83. Mark Hirsh

I ran a considerable distance with Mark and his pacer Kathy at the 2008 Mt. Disappointment 50 miler.  They really helped me get through the miles after I had DNF’ed the prior year.  Of note was the fact that they ditched me (to run) the final 5 miles, but I ended up passing them after they overdid it.  Still, I think having the company during that tough stretch really made the difference.

82.  Lambert Timmermans (“LT”)

I don’t have a distinct memory of exactly when I met LT, but in 2015, when I did the Soboba 50K in Hemet, I helped convince him that the race should have a 10 hour time limit in order to get my friends to run (none did).  Thank goodness for that, because it took ME most of that time limit to finish.

Of course, I know LT because of Negative Split Running who are out at a lot of ultra events providing chip timing and up-to-the-minute results, which in this modern age, everybody wants.

81. Charlie Alewine

In 2009, Laura convinced me to do a “Charlie” race in Coto de Caza, a loop course trail race.  I ended up being too slow (not for Charlie, for Laura) and had to drop back to the marathon.  A few years later, I came back and did run a 50K here in 6:09 (when I was faster).  Probably ultra-wise, my best memory is a few weeks after my only 100 mile finish, I volunteered for Charlie’s 100 mile race, the Rocky Road, and took the midnight to 7am shift, because I felt that the runners could use someone enthusiastic for those middle-of-the-night times (after having great volunteers during those hours at mine).  Loop courses are my least favorite but I appreciate someone providing local trail ultras that are relatively inexpensive.

80. Patsy Dorsey

Patsy was the RD for Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35M back in 2003.  She is also a Santa Barbara Hasher (“Long and Hard” is her name, I believe.).  I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but this was a brutal race that took me over 14 hours (the longest race I had ever done by a lot at that point), a time I did not surpass until I ran my first 100K.  She was excited to have a Hasher run her race, even if I set the second worst (3-way tie) time ever, and she greeted me at the finish line in a unique way (ask me about it sometime).  A pretty course but the 10% average grade got to me after a while.

La Palma 4th of July 10K – 2018

July 4, 2018

Pretty overcast day.  Hope that means good running weather and not muggy running weather.

I keep coming back to this race because it’s smaller than most 4th of July runs available.  It’s also close, has a pancake breakfast, a tech shirt (don’t really need any more of those), and lots of the same people run it every year.

I keep getting slower, too, and they still have the strange event where the 10K starts a couple of tenths of a mile down the road and have to lean in to hear the start and the National Anthem.

Overcast = Muggy, not great conditions for me to run in.  Did OK first half, but didn’t record the time.

Second half is mostly passing walkers and seeing no one else.  I did record a 42:35 5 mile split, but finished in 53:15.  And not close to getting an award, but Dona McBride did the 5K and won her age group and we enjoyed the pancakes and the holiday.

Bishop 50M – 2018

June 2, 2018

Back in 2012, I ran a race in Bishop as a replacement ultra when I failed to finish the Miwok 100K earlier that month.  Fortunately, Martin Santos and Rafael Covarrubias were going up and we made a camping trip (of sorts) of it.  That year, I had planned on doing the 100K but struggled making cutoffs the whole way and dropped down to the 50 miler.

In 2013, I returned and simply did the 50M, but in 2014, I made a concerted effort to complete the 100K, and once again, I ended up doing the 50 miler.  By the way, I definitely know that completing a 50 miler is nothing to scoff at.

After 2014, there were some issues with the race continuing.  Inside Trail Racing which took over the event in 2014, had problems with permitting, and so, the race disappeared, with occasional promises to return, but usually leading to naught.

When I saw that it would return in 2018, I was cautiously optimistic, because I longed to try the 100K once more, and even contacted the new RD a number of times because I didn’t want to put down money for a race that might not happen.  He assured me that it was happening.

I tried (in vain) to get my same compadres from Wild Wild West to join me once again.  Up until a few days before, Alan was still thinking it might be a possibility, but he wasn’t able to dump all his young kids on his wife for another long weekend away.  I can’t remember at this point if Darrell running was a possibility or not, but it ended up being not.

So, I drove up on my own somewhat early on Friday.  It’s about 5 hours’ drive, fairly non-descript, and I got into Bishop a little before check-in (in town) started.  Since I had time to kill, I chatted it up with the check-in ladies, including Jolie who had recently moved to Bishop (and I think was running the 50K).  I also chatted with some of the people checking in (most were running shorter distances than me) and I had a nice talk with John Williams (74, not the composer) who was doing the 50K.

There was an informal talk over at the start/finish, so eventually I headed over there, with the hope of just parking in the dirt lot, hanging out (maybe helping), and then sleeping in my car.  I saw several people that I knew and also met various people trying out their first ultramarathon (including Eleanor from the Bay Area – my age, too).

I chatted quite a bit with the gal doing check-in named Jenny.  We talked extensively about the Wild Wild West race, which both of us, and have some similar issues with – like funny information on the website, confusing pre-race talk, and zilch at the finish line, food-wise (yep, even after running 50 miles!).  She said she was considering maybe working her in to maybe taking over as RD (or providing additional assistance with eventual take-over in the future as the current RD has been at it for 30+ years).

Jenny was only supposed to do check-in until a certain hour and she had other plans, so I said that I would do it until the closing time (and maybe a bit past it since I would still be here), and a few more people showed up at the last minute.

I ended up not being totally alone in the parking lot.  My good friend, Linda Dewees and her husband were in their camper, so we said we’d watch out for one another.  It wasn’t the best night.  I did my usual thing of lying in the back seat behind the driver seat and putting my feet over the reclined front passenger seat (for maximum leg room).

The nice thing is a bathroom nearby and the wake-up call is when people start driving in and parking for their races.

It was moderately chilly when we started and headed out on the paved road, up by the campground and through, through the gate onto the dirt road and up and up and up.  I hardly stopped at the first aid station (1.5 miles), because I know I’ll be up against cutoffs all day.

I won’t bore you with blow-by-blow details of the course (you can re-read my other three posts for that information, but for me, the real beginning of the race is when you get up to McGee.  It’s when you finally leave the desert-y fire roads behind and get into the High Sierra and the 8000′ elevation that you don’t descend from until Mile 43.

McGee is also where the 50K turns around and where you (delicately) cross a raging creek on a wood board and then head up (and down) an extremely rocky road.  At the bottom is a marshy, almost muddy road, and then a gentle ascent up to Edison Aid Station.

I had been around the same folk throughout this section (mostly older ladies since that’s who I am similar in speed to), and when we left Edison for the first loop up to the Overlook (the highest point at about 9300′), I ended up striking up a conversation with one of these ladies.

Barbara Ashe, 69, from Lotus, California, up by Placerville, by Cool.  We had been in a number of races together (and also done a hell of a lot more than I have).  Her pace was slightly faster than my brisk walking pace, so it gave us the ability to mostly stay together on and off all day.

From the top of the Overlook, it’s a steady downhill back to Edison and some of my best pace (16 minutes per mile!), and then heading towards Bishop Creek Lodge for the turnaround.  Missing from the course this year was the giant iron pipe climb to the main road.  There was still a steep climb but I missed the familiarity of the hot corrugated pipe.

As I headed up towards the high point here, I came across David Binder coming back from the turnaround (like 10 miles ahead of me at this point!).  I had also seen Rafael earlier, but MUCH earlier and I think he dropped down to the 20 mile fun run.  (Bummer.)  I had also heard that legendary Ann Trason was walking the 50K and Dean Karnazes was somewhere ahead in the 100K.  (We probably passed each other but I didn’t notice him.)

I was mostly by myself in this section (Barbara a bit ahead), but finally got to Intake 2 (first pass) in 8:04.  Basically, I just did an 8-hour marathon (and almost another marathon to go).

I gutted out the next section, lots of up and down, and some paved (but mostly of the gritty paved variety), AND a single-track paralleling the road, and I was having to duck and also not lose my balance through this section.

At the Bishop Creek Lodge, I refilled my water bottles, grabbed some fresh fruit (mostly all I ate on course), and started to head out.  One volunteer noted that I was less than 90 seconds in and out (impressed because it was so fast).  I saw my friend Chris Harrison (mostly only see her running aid stations not running) lazing away in a chair.  I cajoled her to join me, to keep moving, no sitting!

About 2 minutes out, she caught me and ended up passing me.  At least I got her moving!  There are cutoffs, you know.

Back to by myself for most of the trek back to Edison.  When we get there, they are starting to pack up.  Here’s the interesting dichotomy of this race:  We have 15 hours to make the cutoff  at Mile 48.5, and then we have 4 hours for the final 1.5 miles.  This is because the cutoffs for 50 miles and 100K are the same, but the interim cutoffs are not applied equally for the 50 milers, so it is a little stressful.

Same situation at McGee.  Barbara, Chris, and I all leave together.  Barbara kicks ass on the downhills and leaves us in the dust.  Chris and I are back and forth.  Down to Buttermilk (packing up).

From Bishop Creek Lodge to this point, we have been traversing the course in reverse (excluding a return trip to the Overlook), but at this point, we turn off and are on a nice wide fire road with few pointy rocks piercing our feet.  I notice that there is a dune buggy following us but never seems to want to pass.  It’s our escort (sweep of a sort) and stays far enough back to not stir up dust.

At the Highway 168 Aid station, I know that we’re gonna be good to go, because we are at 14:15 and it’s only 2 miles to the 15 hour cutoff.  Relatively certain I can do 2 miles in 45 minutes (and they won’t pull us at this point anyway).

I don’t really spend much time at the last aid station but am gutting it out to the end.  Chris Harrison, too, has left me in the dust, but I end up slogging in most of it with Raffaele Gustamacchia (her last name is longer than my entire name) through the sandy waste, through the gate, through the campground, and back to the start/finish.  We finish within 15 seconds of each other (hmm… similar to 2014 but no hard feelings that I came in first).

Got a little food at the finish, chatted with a teenage girl volunteer (who kept me away from the black widow spider under the table), celebrated a couple of 100K finishers (who came in one to three hours after us), and then retired to my car to get some rest before my drive back tomorrow.

Wondered how well Dave Binder did, and it turned out that he dropped out (at his pace I could have walked in the last 15 miles and finished in about 12 hours).

Didn’t sleep very well and the drive back sucked, but you know what?  I love the terrain here and the challenge and if the date works out, I will be back for a fifth time in 2019.

Boeing 5K (4) – 2018

May 14, 2018

After a tough Wild Wild West 50M, I took a full week off to recover (meaning I walked a bunch but did not run).  Today, is essentially my first run back… and of course, Boeing (117 in a row), so want to do well.

It was extremely windy outbound.  Thought Alan was coming to run and he was a little late due to the fact that he ran from home (in Anaheim!).

I ran pretty well outbound (before I realized I went out too fast) in 13:00 and returned in 14:30.  Nowadays, I am pretty psyched anything under a 9:00 pace (especially a week after a 50 miler).