Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
                                                                                                                                                                            www.ponyexpress100.org

footWhen I started to run, I had no understanding about shoes or foot care. Somehow I had a strange belief that expensive running shoes was a scam and it really didn’t matter what you ran in as long as they fit well. I would just go to a big box store and choose a pair of cheap shoes off the shelf that seemed to fit well. My struggles were many, as I tried to go longer distances. My feet would get very sore and blisters were frequent. I became very discouraged.

Once I discovered the existence of ultrarunning in 2004, I subscribed to an email listserv named, ultralist (still in existence in 2016). This was the primary gathering place back then on the Internet for ultrarunning discussions. After my first year of ultrarunning, in 2005 I posted a long summary of my running activities and one veteran posted in reply: “After reading your race reports about your first ultra year, I’m amazed that you survived. It seems that you made many poor decisions during the year but still managed to grow and achieve success. You seem to be very determined and quite persistent, but be careful out there. Learning from your mistakes will help you eliminate a lot of the unnecessary pain you’ve been experiencing.” His comments were very true. I was gaining a lot of good experience through failures. I did read carefully the ultralist and learned a ton of knowledge from the experienced runners who shared their experiences and race report.

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horses

The Simpson Mountains are a mountain range in the remote west desert of Utah that rise nearly 4,000 feet above the desert floor.  They are about 13 miles long and ten miles across. These distinctive mountains have been viewed by travelers on the Pony Express and Overland trails since the 1860s. Native American Goshutes inhabited their canyons for centuries.  They have a long history and some of it is disturbing.

Captain Simpson

Captain James H. Simpson

The mountains are named for explorer Captain James H Simpson, topographical engineer, who was stationed at the army camp, Camp Floyd, in today’s Fairfield, Utah.  In 1858 he explored around the mountain range, and in 1859 returned in his work to lay out an overland mail route between Salt Lake City and California. For years I have wanted to explore these mountains more closely and I finally mapped out a course to run completely around them.

On Friday evening, I arrived at the northeast corner of my circuitous route, establishing my starting location at a corral above dry Government Creek. The corral was at a location once called Government Spring and had been visited by Simpson in 1858.

Porter Rockwell

Porter Rockwell

This place was also once the cattle ranch of Orrin Porter Rockwell, famed mountain man, lawman, and pioneer. He had chosen this open location in the 1850s  for a ranch because as he said, “For a cattle ranch you want a place where you can track’em out.” continue reading…

long

What is a long run?  Obviously the answer varies for each runner.  As a boy, I remember my first “long” hike in boy scouts, a five-mile walk from close to my home, to Salt Water State Park on the Puget Sound in Washington.  It seemed like it took all day and was so very far. To me back then, a one-mile run was long. As a teen, as I began to do some regular one-mile runs, three miles seemed long. As I again tried to run regularly in college, a very long run became eight miles.

As I discovered ultrarunning, a long run in my mind was ten miles. A 50K run (31 miles) seemed to be a very long event that took careful planning to do. In 2005 I would look at the race calendar and started to think about traveling to participate in 50K runs which to me back then, was still a mega-distance. But as I gained a longer mileage base, and with more experience, that 50K distance seemed to grow shorter and no longer seemed to be a massive run.  50K eventually turned into my definition of “the long run.”

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Night Running

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afraidAs of 2016, I estimate that I have run at least 15,000 miles during the night or early morning before the sun had risen. Once I started to learn how to run, I quickly discovered the unique experience of running safely during the night on trails.

My first experience was in 2002 on Mount Timpanogos.  My first trip up, that started about an hour before the sun rose.  It seemed like a strange experience going up in the dark but there were so many other hikers doing the same thing so I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I did miss a switchback and made a usual rookie mistake of trying to climb a steep slope near a Scout Falls, but I got myself back on track, feeling quite foolish.  Two weeks later I was more daring and went up again, an hour earlier and went much faster. I began to enjoy the challenge of chasing hiker lights ahead of me and it became a favorite game to push hard up the mountain racing after those ahead.

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range

The Sanpitch Mountain Range is just south of the Wasatch Mountains.  Perhaps you have looked over to these mountains as your drive south on I-15 between Nephi and Scipio.  I’ve looked up there wondering if you could run along the top of them. The Sanpitch Range is about 40 miles long and its highest point is Salt Creek Peak (9,997 feet).  The range was named after an Indian leader, who was the leader of the Sanpits that resided in Sanpete Valley during the mid-1800s.

After an adventure exploring the Sanpitch three weeks earlier, I became determined to attempt to run the mountain range end to end, a run of more than 50 miles.  There wasn’t much information online about the mountain range top, which is mostly just visited by hunters and ATVers. I planned out my route using topographic maps and hoped that the trails and roads still existed. continue reading…

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When I attempted to run my first 100-miler at The Bear in 2004, I ran quite a few miles near the 100-mile legend, Hans-Dieter Weisshaar from Germany who was at that time 64 years old.  That race was Han’s 66th 100-mile finish.  Hans was indeed a legend.  That year in 2004, he finished 13 of them.  He started running 100s at the age of 58.  When I DNFed the race, and was given a ride to the finish line, I was able to watch Hans finish in 32:54 to a chorus of cheers. I was in awe.

I had failed to finish my first 100 mile race and believed that I was in way over my head at age 46.  Here was a man 20 years older than me, finishing 100-milers every month.   If I could only just finish one!  I did get that first finish, a few months later and was hooked on running 100-milers. continue reading…

Squaw-Peak

Somehow years ago I got into my head that it was cool to run repeats of high peaks.  I do recall probably in 2004, seeing a guy run up and down Mount Timpanogos twice in a day. I was very impressed.  But he only went up to the saddle and back twice, not the summit. I convinced myself that this was not quite right, that you needed to go from trailhead to summit and back, then repeat.

My crazy repeats started on Timpanogos, first two, then three, then four, and finally five summits on August 18-19, 2006.  I’m still waiting for someone to break that record, or even tie it, but it still stands nearly ten years later.  It seems like every month I meet someone and the conversation starts, “Are you the guy who…”  I think, “oh no, here it comes again.”   I get embarrassed and reply, “Yes, I’m that guy.”

I like repeats because they are on a consistent trail. You return to your car every few hours to resupply and continue on.  It also is a tough mental exercise that seems to help develop mental strength to continue on in races when I face trials. continue reading…

Salt Flats 100

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I went to run the Salt Flats 100 for the fifth time near Wendover, UT.  I enjoy the course because it has fast sections, fun climbs, and challenging mud flats.  In most years, the weather has been a factor with at least passing thunder storms.  This year the salt flats were under several inches of rain and yes, the weather became a major factor during the race. continue reading…