Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. It is good to be home and enjoying the cold weather. There is a lot to report this week.

The DecaIron is continuing in Mexico, and each day I can't wait to see how our friends are doing. We are all pulling for Peter, Eileen and Suraya to finish before the Sunday deadline. It looks as though they will all make it, as long as they can keep moving. Just type ultra triathlon in a search engine and you should be able to find information on the race. Also Steve Kirby has a blog where he has daily race reports. Not sure of the address, but a search should get you there.

The Iditarod Trail Invitational has filled to the 50 racer limit. Tim Hewitt and Tom Jarding will be attempting the 1100 mile race again. Just can't keep those two away from the great state of Alaska. I will report on our training as it progresses.

The JFK 50 mile was held last Saturday and there were many folks from the Pittsburgh area competing. I checked the results and here are the local runners that I found:
Chris Gibson 7:47
Andrew Place 8:45
Andrew Karnavas 8:46
Scott Finnell 8:53
Andrew Colburn 8:58
Valerie Kunkle 9:05
Jeff Gleason 9:05
Sabine Kane 9:05
Michelle Ellery 9:08
Kim Marshall 9:10
Stacy Kopchak 9:24
Maria Vargas 9:31
Eric Grol 9:46
Kevin Knaus 9:46
Tony Mauro 9:53
Rich Vrboncic 10:54
John Edleman 10:59
Kim Peterson 11:19
Mike Tatarko 11:43
Kevan Matthews 11:47
Mike Lotze 11:49

Let me know if I missed anyone, and send me your reports if you have a minute. There are quite a few new ultra runners from our area, and many names that I have not seen in a while.

Rich V. e-mailed me to say that he caught up to Leo Lightner from the Cleveland area and ran the last part of the race with him. Leo set a new age group record (He is 80 years old and ran a 12:55) for the JFK50, besting the old record by almost an hour. Perhaps I can get Rich to write a report.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Recover from the Holidays 50k Fun Run on January 3, 2009. You can find more information at, or send me an e-mail. Many folks have contacted me about participating, we should have a great turnout this year. Remember, it is a fun run, no fee, no aid, no shirt, no whining. We will however, try to have some hot soup and snacks at the finish.

Enjoy your Turkey, see you all soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hard Days Night

Wayne finished the quintuple iron race in 111 hours, 40 minutes, 46 seconds. The time is unofficial. Third place overall. Great job!!! I will report tomorrow, as we are both tired.

Quintuple Winner

Andreas has won the quintuple iron race in a time 103 hours, 45 minutes. It is still exciting here as Elke continues at a steady pace, running almost two laps to everyone else´s one. Wayne is working hard and running steady laps. I am almost sad that the race will be over soon. I am enjoying the atmosphere and friendliness of the racers and support crews. Michelle should hang on for second place, if she can keep her current pace. Elke´s surge has put the pressure on Wayne and Michelle, and kept the race exciting. Wayne has twelve laps to go, about fifteen miles. I am hoping that he can finish before midnight tonight. It will be a well deserved sleep. These athlete´s are simply unbelievable!

Running On Empty

It is a little after 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, during the heat of the day. Wayne got an early start, but has not been able to keep a steady pace. He stopped at lunch for a break and hopefully can rebound in the afternoon. Michelle has passed him and continues to add to the gap between them. The brain is willing, but the body is rebelling. He has twenty five laps to go, about a 50K. I will try to get him to eat, but he has been stubborn in that respect. Elke now has her sights on third place. She was upset that her crew did not wake her this morning and is now running two laps to each lap that Wayne is running. If he can keep his lap times under twenty-two minutes, he should be able to hold her off. Andreas has about six laps to go and will get the victory early this evening.
In the deca race, the leaders are at the 1500 kilometer mark. They should finish the bike tomorrow morning and begin the run.
The transition area is an interesting place each morning. We are usually the first to arrive, if we don´t sleep there. Many racers retire for the night and begin arriving around 4:00 a.m. Then the support crews arrive and by 7:00 a.m. the area begins to come alive.
The kitchen is open around the clock and the ladies there continue to amaze me with the many various menu items. I have been able to sample many mexican food items, and am even learning how to pronounce them.

Final Day?

Virgil, back on line (who can guess what movie that line is from?). After a midday rest and four hours of sleep this morning, Wayne is back on the circuit and ready to go. He had a good rally last night before retiring for the evening. With forty-six laps remaining, we hope to finish late today. We do not want to return to the dorm, where there are three flights of steps to the room. Andreas has built a comfortable lead, Wayne and Michelle were tied when Wayne returned to the course. Michelle is still sleeping in her tent, so we may be able to gain a lap or two on her. I will let you know how the day goes. The lead athletes in the deca race are still going strong. Michael G. from Germany suffered his fourth flat of the race. When we returned from the dorm, I found his wheel resting against our supply table. It is a good thing that Wayne brought extra tires, as he has now borrowed his fourth tire from him. Thanks for all of the encouragement, it really helps when we hit down spots during the day.
p.s. - it takes me longer to type this here, as the keyboard for spanish is slightly different, and I keep hitting incorrect keys;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Muy Caliente

It is about 2:30 p.m. and the heat has taken it´s toll. Without much protest, Wayne will sleep for a couple of hours during the midday heat. Hopefully, he can rally, as his lap times have continued to deteriorate. Andreas has taken the lead on the last lap. After the rest it should be much cooler and better for running. I also need to get him to eat more, as his calorie intake has also dwindled. I know how hard it is to get a variety of foods, but I will try to stockpile a few while he sleeps. He has completed forty-five laps so far. This rest may also allow us to shorten the stop tonight. His attitude and demeanor contines to be excellent.

You Can´t Always Get What You Want

We thought that we had the sleep schedule figured out after a noisy Monday night. We asked that the music be turned down after 10 p.m. and the race management obliged. The start finish area was very quiet, so Wayne decided he would sleep in the tent. The plan was for three and a half hours of rest. As soon as he started to sleep, about 1 a.m., the support crews across the street decided it was time to party, and the noise ramped up. We had to move to the room, which is further away and up three flights of steps. If I find out where they sleep, I promised to go and make a racket when they try to rest. We will modify the sleep tonight, as we do not want to waste any more time. This morning began well, and Wayne is at twenty-seven laps so far. The total run is one hundred eleven laps, so a marathon is about twenty-two laps. It is another beautiful day, clear and sunny.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On The Run

The run portion of the quintuple iron race has begun. Wayne was first off the bike, followed by Andreas twenty or so minutes later. After two laps the lead has shrunk to just a few minutes. Wayne will run a few kilometers and then get some sleep.

Tuesday Evening

It is about 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening and Wayne has less than twenty laps left on the bike. A little later than expected, but welcome nonetheless. It looks as though he will be first off the bike. We have decided to run a few miles before he takes a break. The noise around the start/finish area is lower tonight so he should be able to get some much needed sleep. A lot of the athlete's are showing signs of fatigue as they are becoming somewhat silly. I will put some pictures up as soon as I can get the USB from the camera to work again.

Additional Photos

Here is a link to photos that Helmut has on Flickr. He is a professional photographer, so I do not know how many he will actually post to the web. He is here as support crew for Andreas.

Ready for a Transition

Is it really Tuesday already? Time really does fly when you are having fun. The quintuple race is still close at the top. Wayne is slightly ahead of Andreas with with less than eighty laps to go. Michelle is a few laps behind Andreas (Each lap is 1.92 km). They are all riding laps in the four to five minute range most of the time. It will depend on the sleep strategy, but it looks as though all three should be on the run less than an hour apart. I guess things don't change much, as in most races, it still comes down to the run. Ilka is also not too far back, and she is a good runner, she has done well at single and double irn races in the past. As you know, it is hard to tell a good runner by appearance, but Andreas is built like one, he is tall and lean. With one hundred and thirty miles on foot ahead of them, it will be anyones race. The weather is clear and sunny with daytime temps in the seventies and night-time temps in the forties. Last night went much better than the night before. I think we have a good sleep strategy now, which should help for the run portion. In the big kids race, Kerri from Sweden has moved into second place behind Marcel from Germany. Marcel has been leading for most of the bike portion. Michael G. has slipped a few places but likes his chances. With a two hundred and sixty two mile run, you can easily make up a whole day on a slower runner or one who is not one hundred percent. Hopefully, I can report tonight when the run begins.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Few More Pics

Our luxurious dining area.

And here is a shot of the duct tape bento boxes for carrying food. Wayne was keeping stuff in a back jersey pocket, but his arms tightened up and he can not reach behind to get items out of the pockets. If I have time, perhaps I can fabricate a duct tape bike frame and wheels.

Evening of Day Two

Okay, I think I fixed the posting problem. You can all try to post a comment now. We just returned from a short break so that Wayne could eat some caliente food. Wayne passed the halfway point on the bike this evening and caliente food was our small celebration. As many of you ultra folks know, small victories along the way prove to be extremely helpful. With a strong second half he should be off the bike by Tuesday evening. To put it in perspective, when those of you back home sat down to Sunday dinner, Wayne started the bike portion. You went to bed, got up, went to work, will go to bed tonight, get up for work tomorrow and by the time you come home it will be time to start the run.
The deca race has seen a few changes at the top, as the two mexican racers have moved into second and fourth places. The quint has stayed the same all day with Andreas first, Wayne second, Michelle third and Ilka fourth.

Day Two

It is Monday about 1:00 p.m. and the race is going well. Evryone seems to have settled into a routine, riding, resting, eating, sleeping, etc. Last night was a bit of a challenge, but we learned alot and tonight should be better. I seemd to have become the community mechanic, which keeps me busy and makes the time pass quickly. Wayne is almost halfway on the bike portion. Andreas, from Germany, is leading the quintuple by about 40 kilometers. Andreas has only slept for one hour so far, compared to three hours for Wayne. I will check in later as events unfold.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Unexpected Turn

Here is a pretty cool shot while still in the pool.

What race would be complete without a few bumps along the way. The evening is much cooler than expected and many folks are without the proper gear. We tried to warm Wayne's feet by inserting plastic bags, but that only worked for a few laps. I was able to devise a set of duct tape toe warmers for him, now others are asking for them. I may have to get a taxi to Wal-Mart for more duct tape.

It is 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, and he is about 150 kilometers into the bike. We will stop for solid food around midnight and then sleep at 3:00 a.m. He just flew by and said his feet were toasty now.
Michael G. from Germany has just joined the fray as the first of the decairon competitors onto the bike course. I believe his swim time was under fourteen (14) hours.

Race Day

Hello all,
The battle has been joined. Wayne arrived on the bike course at 4:53p.m. local time, disguised as a raisin. He was second out of the water after a brisk morning swim. Michelle from South Africa, via San Fransisco was the first athlete to finish the swim. Andreas from Germany is in third place, each is seperated by about twenty minutes. I am using the computer that the race has provided, I will get organized shortly. Night will fall soon and things should settle down. I am also helping Michelle, as she has no crew, but is very self sufficient. I will add another report once I get some warm clothes and and make sure everyone has what they need. I will add some pictures also.

Show Time

Just a quick note this morning. We are ready to go to the swim venue. Everyone is anxious to go. All of the gear is in place and the athlete´s have their race faces on. It is chilly outside, but should warm up well. I will check in after the swim this evening.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here is a picture of all the athletes. The race director (Jorge) is the man in the suit at the center of the picture. He is very friendly and seems genuinely concerned that all of the participants have a safe and enjoyable experience. One of the local TV stations was on hand to cover the pre-race. Wayne is on the far right with the red shirt. The fellow in the blue shirt, kneeling in front of Wayne is Harn. He is from Singapore, he has done the double iron in Levi, the triple iron in Germany, the double iron in Hungary, the double iron in Virginia and will do the deca iron this week. All of these races have been since June of this year. (I feel pretty humble.)

Here is a picture of Wayne in front of a downtown hotel where we we going to have the pre-race. It turned out that it was the wrong hotel, so our guide had to recall the bus to pick us up and take us to the correct hotel. Our guide is named Carlos, he speaks little english, but is very friendly and is always smiling.

Hello all, here is my first report from sunny Monterrey. Wayne and I had quite a busy day on Friday. We assembled his bike (more on that later) toured the race venue, met the other athlete's from around the world, went to the pre-race meeting, enjoyed a wonderful seafood buffet at a luxury hotel, shopped in a local supermarket and ate a late dinner at a nearby restaurant that would be similar to an Eat-N-Park in Pittsburgh.
We dropped off our gear at the race village which is nicer than we envisioned. It is an entire sports complex with venues for every sport imaginable. We were expecting the loop course to be fairly spartan, like a big asphalt parking lot. Instead, it is a course that winds through the village, passing many buildings, green areas and trees. This is also the only green area that we have seen in the city, as every square inch of real estate has buildings on it. We will set up tents at the start/finish area and my crewing duties will be centered there. There is a small restaurant a few yards away that we pay in advance for and will have carte blanche once the race begins. The swim venue is very nice and is about 3 kilometers from the bike/run course. The racers will exit the pool, get on their bikes and ride with a police escort to the bike/run course where they will start their many, many laps.
I was not pleased with the way Wayne's bike is set up, but he indicated that it was just fine for him. I will try to locate the correct tools today and make sure that it is in top condition for the race. One of the other competitiors should have what I need. I also helped Michelle from the USA assemble her bike last night. I just can not keep my hands off of other folks hardware.
Michael, a civil engineer from Germany, had dinner with us and engaged us with lots of useful information, as he has done this race refore. One of the most entertaining bits of information was that if you begin to get any stomach discomfort during the race, have a cup of coffee made with local water. The after-effects will clear your system almost immediately and you can then begin to refuel adequately.
We are staying at a Hampton Inn until tomorrow, when we will leave for the race site. The hotel offers us quiet rest, unlike the dorm type rooms at the sports village. I hope to post my first report after the swim on sunday. We are hoping for Wayne to complete the swim in under 9 hours, so that should put us around six o'clock sunday afternoon. We are on central standard time here, so we are an hour behind those of you in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's time to go. Wayne and I head for the qunituple ironman triathlon today. Just in case you have not yet found it, the race website is:
I will keep you posted when the race begins.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

As far as training goes, this past week was a bust. I caught a cold and did not run, cycle or lift weights all week. (I did rake a lot of leaves though) I received an e-mail from Wayne and he has been sick also. I feel better knowing that I will not make him sick next week when he does the quintuple ironman race. I have not felt that bad in a few years. I am chalking it up to all of the races that I did this autumn. I guess that my immune system was overtaxed. Once I return from Monterrey, I will be ready to ramp it up for the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI).

I exchanged e-mails with Dave Micklo this week. He was one of the lucky few to get into Western States in 2009. He will be attempting the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Chuck also was accepted to WS100, but declined to enter, as he will probably not be ready after doing the ITI with me. As many of you will probably agree, it takes awhile to get your mental attitude right after a really long race.

Dave also mentioned that he would like to put a 50k fun run together at Mingo Creek County Park. We run that course regularly in the winter, and I agreed that it would be nice to have another long run on the schedule. We will work out the details and add it to the list of local runs. Don't forget that we have the Boyce/Mayview run on January 3, 2009. I have a webpage up, send me an e-mail if you want the address, or post a comment.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This past weekend a few of us from the south hills got together for a run on the newly opened section of the Montour Trail. The new section goes from Hendersonville to the Arrowhead Trail in Peters Township. This section is different than most of the Montour Trail, it has curves, bridges and one tunnel. The weather continues to be mild, so we enjoyed a nice run. Many of the local ultrarunners are starting their winter training routines. There appears to be quite a contingent going to the JFK50 later this month. I will try to get in touch with some of them for a race report.