Friday, February 27, 2009

It is time to go

It is Friday morning and we are ready to get the show on the road. I received an e-mail from Bill Merchant stating that Mt. Redoubt is steaming again, after being quiet for a while. The volcano is not too much of a threat to the race, but we will take dust masks with us just in case. Bill also said that on the bright side, if there is ash in the air, the sunsets get even more spectacular.

Thanks to everyone who has called or e-mailed to wish us luck during the Iditarod Trail Invitational. I learned a lot last year, and hope to learn even more this time around. You never know what the trail has in store, and this year should be no exception. Of course, Chuck and I will take as many pictures as possible.

I will talk to everyone in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Racing season begins soon.

I have a lot of ground to cover in this report. The first annual Mingo Mingle was held on February 14th. Dave Micklo hosted the run at Mingo Creek county Park. Approximately 35 runners showed up on a cold and cloudy morning to run a couple of loops on the trails in the park. Dave's wife Sarah and John Buckwalter staffed the aid station at the start finish area. The support was excellent, it was set up just like an actual aid station, with many food choices. John even entertained us with magic tricks, balloon animals and unicycling. I will post the runners names and the distances they ran when Dave gets it all deciphered. I got a chance to talk with many of the runners, asking what their racing plans are for the upcoming season. Dave has an interesting decision to make. He was accepted into the Hardrock 100, considered by many to be the toughest 100 miler there is. He also plans on completing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, which consists of the Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100, and Wasatch Front 100. Hardrock would be sandwiched in between two of those races, which are plenty tough already. He is going to have a busy summer. The picture above is of one of the creek crossings at Mingo. The temps where in the middle 20's most of the day, there was plenty of ice in the creek, and the trail was crunchy. A perfect day for a run.

Don't forget about the J.C. Stone 50k in a few weeks. The race will be held in North Park and is entirely on roads, those of you looking for a fast 50k should check this race out. The website is The course is fast and the aid stations are first rate.

I heard from Jeff Gleason earlier this week, he is going to do the Badwater 135 this summer. I will try to keep you posted on his training as the event approaches. I will talk with him while volunteering at the JC Stone race, and will update you on his plans.

Jason D. will be competing in the MMT 100 in May, that is one tough race. It is presented by the VHTRC and is probably the toughest 100 mile race east of the Mississippi River.

Only one week to go before Chuck, Tim, Tom and I get started at the Iditarod Trail Invitational. I completed my sled and can not wait to get underway. Here is a picture of the blank sheet of plastic, and the finished product. Pretty cool, eh. I can take out the fasteners, roll it up and put in my duffle bag for the plane ride. The airlines are getting pretty tough on the size of items you check. Chuck had an article about the race in the Post Gazette this week. Tim and I were interviewed by the Tribune Review. You can find either article by going to the website for each paper and entering Iditarod in the search bar.

We leave on Friday and the race begins on March 1st. It is the only race I have been to where everyone is eating right up until the start. We will be in the Knik bar having a burger and fries before the race. I will tray to post one last report before leaving.

Lastly, Wayne has informed me that he will be hosting a 6 hour fun run at his house in August. It will be a trail loop format with an aid station at his house. His wife Jan has promised a tasty feast afterwards for all of the runners. Also, I have heard that Steve Miller may be putting together a fun run at North Park, I will let you know when I get official word.

Take care and run strong. Spring will be here soon.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Six more weeks of winter

It's Groundhog Day and Phil determined that there will be six more weeks of winter. That is great news! Our training for the Iditarod is going well, and the more cold weather we have, the better. A couple of weeks ago, Chuck, Tim, Loreen, Rick B. and myself did a training run in the Laurel Highlands. The snow machine trails were in great shape and we were able to pull our sleds for about five hours that night. Afterwards, we camped out in the woods, where night-time temps dropped well below zero. It was really good training for Alaska. Chuck mentioned that he learned a lot on that trip. The next day we traveled to the Cleveland area for the Buckeye Trail 50k. They had a lot of new snow, which made the trail fairly slippery the entire day. We chalked it up as a good training run.

We got a good run in at Mingo Park on Sunday in preparation for the fun run coming up in a couple of weeks. The trails were snow covered and tough to run on. The weather is going to warm up for a few days, so the trails should be better by the end of the week. At least they are not muddy, which is the case much of the year. Don't forget to join us for the Mingo Mingle on February 14th. You can view details on the webpage, which can be found here:
I added links to a couple of images of the trail that Bob Fargo sent to me.

Steeler nation is fired up, as our favorite team won it's Sixth Super Bowl last night. What a game, as the lead changed hands three times in the final minutes. Many of the South Hills area ultra-runners watched the game at Don's house.

I am still waiting for the new plastic to arrive so that I can complete work on my sled. I am guessing that the bad weather across the country slowed the delivery, and hope that it arrives this week. I will put a couple of pictures up when I get it finished. I also plan on switching from a synthetic sleeping bag to a down bag so that I can shed a few pounds on my sled. We will be sending our food drops to Alaska shortly, which the race will take by plane to the two drop points along the Iditarod course. I am beginning to get excited again, and can not wait to get started.