UTMB – from the crew point of view… 


UTMB from my point of view as a crew-few extra photos and details about the race. Hope you can enjoy my sense of humour …


Day before the race: I think if there was such a thing as Oscars in trail running, this year’s UTMB would have been it. We are off to pick up Majo’s bib and everywhere you look there is someone well known in ultra-running walking around, people asking to take photos with them, line at Hokka booth is miles long just for people to see their favorite runner. We pass Jim Walmsley on the way to pick up J Race pick up is over few days, only runners are allowed in. You have to bring in your pack with all the required gear and they will tag it for you so that will be the only pack allowed for you to carry. You also get a tag on your hand. During the race they will spot check few times, Majo got stopped 2 times for the mandatory check. (they chose 1-2 items at each check, you have to stop otherwise there is a penalty)Mandatory gear consisted of: mobile phone, portable cup, 1 litter water reservoir, 2 head lamps, survival blanket, whistle, self-adhesive bandage, food reserve, jacket with hood, long running pants, cap, additional warm midlayer top, warm hat, warm and waterproof gloves, waterproof over pants and ID.

 It’s pouring rain at this point so I am glad we went early as runners are lined up outside now waiting to get in to get their bib in rain. Elite runners have to give blood for testing. Thank goodness Majo did not have to do that or we would still be at the race pick up. Rest of the races have started and the crowds are already filling the center of Chamonix to cheer on TDS and OCC.

 Energy is incredible. We got to hang out with Alissa and David who will be crewing her and who just finished top Canadian in TDS. Majo and Alissa go for a shakeout run; legs feel good as they say. She takes us to the final aid station location and I cannot wait to be there in 2 days cheering Majo to the finish line.

The race is usually 171 km long with a 10 000 m ascent and a cut of 46.5 hours. Because of the snow and rain and really bad weather we are watching for announcements whether the officials will change the race. Race start is supposed to be 6 pm. We are fortunate to be 50 meters from the start line. Majo is excited about the late start as he is not a morning person. As I learn for the first time from him at this trip, he has been jet legged for the last 15 years since we moved from Europe so that is why he is not a morning personJ He gets a good breakfast and we eat amazing pasta for lunch and he spends an afternoon with his feet up, getting ready!

Crewing UTMB: I am starting to freak out every time he tells me what I must bring to him to the first aid station so he is ok for the next 80 km. I have crewed him several times but this is very different race for the crew. From the beginning as he was successful in the lottery and had his profile created, he gets one other person as his accompanying person which was me. I got to register and received all updates and everything needed for the crew. In their race bag they get tickets for each location for their support and I got to buy the bus tickets. 

Technically if there were 2 of us, we could be at a different aids waiting. I have been hearing stories about crew not getting in to see their runners on time all week, it even happened to Alissa last year as they did not let her crew in on time for her to meet them. Race has all together 16 aid stations out of which 5 are water only and 5 are where crew is allowed. Because of 2500+ runners they have a system in place where you are only allowed to see your runner 10 minutes before he comes in. there are guys at the gate who will check your ticket and tell you when you can go in. (I swear if I could speak French or Italian I would have been able to get in earlier as I watched locals get in nicely  ) Each aid station is set up differently, you get a little map on your ticket whether runner gets to grab food first and then comes see you or in few other ones you can go in and get food for the runner. There are buses to take people around, 30 Euros for a day pass. Anyone who wants to cheer can get on the buses. Well organized and so easy to use. Amazing how well the race was organized. Imagine that you are going through 3 different countries and even a Mount Blanc tunnel to get to these aid stations and thousands of support people and it went flawlessly. Highly recommend it if you ever are crewing UTMB, take the bus.

We get an update at 3 pm that start is pushed to 6:30 pm and race is being cut by 5 km because of bad weather. If you ever seen a promo video of UTMB, the section where they climb up peak with chains, that got cut out. They still went up that peak just no chains.

I go to check the start line at around 5 pm and there are so many people already lined up to secure their spot at the start line. Elite runners are allowed in the front 10 minutes before start rest has to line up. 2000 people. I tell Majo he should go to get a good starting point. So he lines up with all his gear and waits for 1.5 hours to the start just so he can be in the first 300 people starting the race. (He had to pee so bad he said, so after they started and run out of town he had to go and 100 people passed him J )


There are TV projector screens everywhere and I try to go and see the start but there has been people lining up the streets of Chamonix for hours to be close to the gates lining up so I got to watch the screen and see his head pass me as they started. The energy at the start is something that you have to experience as it is so hard to describe. The lady who did the English announcing usually announces Olympic events for France, gets the crowd doing the hand clamping just like the Iceland soccer team and when they start playing the Conquest of Paradise I can feel goose bumps! Majo`s sister is crying next to me so proud of her brother! (Some of the Elite runners were telling us that they were listening to this music for months so they would not get adrenalin rush during the start) 3,2,1 and off they go!!

Most aid stations of UTMB spectators can get to, some are 2 hour hikes just to get there but the first 2 are quite easy. So for runners the energy is amazing! When I get to see Majo at Les Contamines, he is in awe of the crowds!

Les Contamines (31.2 km) first aid for crew. It is pouring rain and there is so many people trying to get to the aid station. I am so thankful for a poncho my sister gave me as otherwise my pack that weight at least 35 lb with all of Majo`s things would be soaking wet. As I take buses I have all of his things with me pretty much all day, cans of Starbucks coffee, red bull, pelegrino, coconut water, extra fruit bars and the new fuel he uses. Extra shoes, socks, jackets. Runners have to decide whether they will use poles or not as the rule of the race is if you start with poles you have to finish with poles. Cannot pick them up during the race. I finally get in and Majo comes in within 5 minutes. He is in a great mood, so excited. We refill his bottles with new food Maurten and get him a jacket as they are about to start a long climb up and it is so cold and wet now. He goes off and I am so relieved. I know we will be ok now J

Courmayeur( 80 km) We are in Italy now!! He has been running through the night in the pouring rain and it is very cold. I am so happy to get to Courmayeur and see that the sky is clearing here and I sure hope he gets to see some sun just to get his motivation going. This is the aid where runners can leave a drop bag. Now imagine thousands of drop bags. As they run in they have to call their number and organizers look for their bags. It was insane as we got to watch people scrambling for their bags. I get to see the top 2 runners Killian and Jim run through, it is amazing to watch. Being a crew you get to meet so many people along the race and it really just shows you how amazing this race is and how hard people work and trying to finish it. I meet a Finish girl who we get to talk and spend some time on the bus; her friend is trying to finish for the second time and trained all year to get to this point. He goes through the aid ahead of Majo, later I find out he DNF again at the next aid. He will have to come back again.

I am tracking Majo every second, thank god for roam like home or I would not survive my cell phone bill. I get to meet a wife of Canadian runner Brian from Red Deer, she helps me cheer Alissa in, so exciting to see other Canadians (we did cheer another lady in first that looked like Alissa who turned out to be Swedish, but who would not want to get some extra cheering right J I got to spend some time with David who was crewing Alissa and it was so exciting to see how she was progressing.

Before they hit this aid station they get to climb one of the highest peaks on the course, I can see Majo tracking fast then slowing down. We get to learn at the aid station that they are hit by a snow at the top.


Finally he comes in! Cold, freezing. I have new vivobarefoot shoes ready but he keeps old ones on. He does not change shoes the entire race. He gets some soup but does not want to change clothes. Sally comes up to him returning his WAA waterproof jacket thanking him for saving her. A lot of runners are DNF at this point, cold wet, with more than 80 km to go! Majo seems little tired but I feel it is from the cold and wet. Really happy with the soup. We go over what next legs look like and when I will see him again. This is the point where he started running with Kaci and Magda. I really did not know very well who those ladies were. Just to show you how faster he run the second half, one Slovakian guy that was a head of him at this point by 45 minutes and the Canadian Brian who also left 40 minutes a head would finish only 10 minutes a ahead of Majo at the end. Of he goes and I pray for sunshine for him to the next aid.

Champex-Lac (125 km) Switzerland The rain is so bad, the aid station tent is shaking from the wind and rain. I like this aid as it has a covered area where crew can wait before being let in to the actual area where you can meet your runner they even had a grill with food for purchase for crew and live music here. I know I have to motivate him and get him dry here so he can finish strong. He comes in the middle of the heaviest downpour. We change his clothes, get tons of soup and he is drinking coca cola now J cheese and some sausage. And more Fruit3 for his pack. We look at the elevation profile, I cheer him up as much as I can to go out into the rain and snow again.


Trient (142km) There had to been a castle aid station I knew it! Pictuqures little town in Switzerland. Small aid station before last big hills. I am so tired now of waiting in the rain I decided to not go to the aid and wait for him by the hill they come down through. I am now mad at myself for not motivating him more and feel like he is not fast enough and it’s my fault. I decide that I will do whatever I can to get him go faster to try to make it in 30 hours. Runners are starting to come in, barely walking. Runner has to come down this muddy hill, then go up to the castle church and walk down stairs to continue. Some barely walking. I see Canadian flag and it is Brian’s family from Red Deer, I get to help to cheer. Feels good. I am starving at this point as I decided not to buy food at the last aid as I was worried of missing my bus and now this aid won’t have food for few hours. (Food for crew it is)

I wait by the muddy hill. I accidently cheer in 2 runners thinking its Majo (they all look the same and have poles J finally he comes in. Here I go, I start telling him, he can do this, run in with him and later I found out it was Kaci who was with him. (Yes, I did not know that this lady is “the” amazing Kaci) I can feel he is feeding of my energy, gets food and says ok, I am going to tell them we are moving and going. He stays at the aid station only few minutes, we all run and cheer them out!! They are doing it! Sub 30 hours. (Might have under estimated the size of the next hill but they did it) Even I feel so energized!

Vallorcine (153km) last aid station. They are cooking wine and it smells so good, too bad I don’t drink. At least they make me some amazing cheese fries J Talking about food, the aid stations are incredibly full with food: cheese, sourdough break, sausages, soup, pasta, drinks, coffee. Really amazing. (just think the entry fee for this race is only 260 Euros, I know they have more runners, but still)


Majo’s sister makes it here and later I found out there are other Slovakians and some other Majo’s Instagram friends waiting at the aid for him. Most runners have been taking 2 hours from last aid station to here. I can see on the tracker they are faster. There is this hill where they come down and I can see 4 lights come on. I know it’s them, 1.5 hours only and they are here. We run in with them and as I enter the aid station to help him (they still have to check my ticket, validate although my runner is right there) and all I can hear are people cheering his name. They get in, he gets coffee, saying he needs something more, quick soup and they are very motivated to go in and out. As they leave our friends create a tunnel for them to run through (they later went up the road to do the same for them for a crossing before the mountain) and the emotion are unreal. I can only imagine what he must have felt like running out that aid station. I wanted to cry. So very proud.


Chamonix: finish line: The official rule book says that one of the philosophy of UTMB is solidarity. To quote: “actually, our mountain dwelling mentality plays an important place in human relationships and actions to helping one another”


And that is exactly how this race finished. At almost 1:30 in the morning there are still people lined up to cheer the runners. I have never been more proud to see Majo cross that finish line!


(at the end, runners get a finisher vest. Medals for participation don’t get awarded here only the winners and would he have finished 2 hours earlier- a free beer)

Martina …




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MooseBicycle 


Well, lets start here, this is going to be kind of a different post, not running related. I want to share with you my thoughts about Fatbikes made by MooseBicycle


The guys hooked me up with the first bike about six months ago, back in the fall. They came up with three new models this year – the 1.0, 2.0 and the 3.0, which is coming out in April. First, I have to say I am an UltraRunner and the road bike or even fat bike is an addition to my training. I am not focusing on fat biking accomplishments whatsoever. Fat biking is pure fun and joy to me. Also, I have to say I own a carbon fiber Cervelo R3, which is my summer ride. Two years ago, I was playing with the idea to buy something for winter, so a Fatbike comes at a logical choice, just to incorporate a variety into my training. I was playing with the idea to expand my running by getting deeper into nature by running deeper trails and using the bike an an approach out and back. Anyways, long story stort. I went in Bragg Creek one weekend and rented a pretty expensive fat bike for a couple hours. Honestly, I was not impressed by performance compared to the value of these bikes. There is no way I would pay $4,000 – $5,000 to have a little fun in the wintertime. You might understand since biking is not my main sport. Later on I became great friends with the guys from Moose bikes, which is a Canadian Company with a bunch of great people behind it. All the bicycles they make are more than reasonably priced. 


The guys hooked me up with a Fatbike which was on sale for $999 and I was super impressed with the components and quality of how the bikes were made as compared with the bike I rented last winter. I wouldnt necessarily say this bike is a high performance machine, but the components on the bike was matching or better and I was having as much fun or more fun on the moose Fatty ripping the trails. I am not trying to say this is the best fatbike on the market. I really notice the sky is the limit and companies are pushing the limits and the price up with upgrades such as carbon fiber and full suspension fat bikes, but I can guarantee you will get a hell of a bike for your money with Moose Bicycles. 


In the fall I was riding the black/yellow version 2016, which I find a pretty reliable machine but there was space for a little upgrades here and there. The bike in general I find pretty reliable. Currently, the Moose bike in 2017 came out with an upgraded version of their fatbike which they come up with three different versions; 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. You can really choose what you are looking for and bikes are priced accordingly starting from $700 CAD. I want to talk a little bit about the Moose 2.0 because that is what I currently ride and the 2.0 is in between the 1.0 and 3.0. The 2.0 is beautifully painted silver/black. The rims are lighter and 1/2 inch wider than the previous version of the fatbike. The crank set was simplified from 2 gears to 1 in the front which is plenty in my opinion. There is no more freezing of front derailer and no more shifting problems. I notice in the beginning of winter all the mud was building up in the front derailer and I always had to stop and clean it out. No more issues with this one. 

Hydraulic disc brakes were upgraded with wider rotors giving you a more powerful braking force. However the bike comes with the same shimano deore group set. 

Also the fork is more rigid with less vibrations coming into your handlebars. The bike comes with the same tires. They are not studded which I dont mind because I can ride it year round and not worry about damaging the trails. I find the bike has excellent traction with 2-3psi and it holds super well in sharp corners. The only thing I would pay attention to is the best bike fit for me is medium size, but I wish the bike would come with a longer seat post. Make sure you check that before ordering. There are plenty of accessories on the website such a the frame bag which is super cool. 1.0 is basically the same identical bike with the same frame, with a slightly downgraded group set but I betcha it will give you as much fun as the 2.0. The bike does not feel super aggressive, I almost feel like I am sitting into the bike and not on top of the bike. I always felt very stable and secure and in control. 


Now 3.0 what is coming out in April is a complete BEAST!! The group set was significantly upgraded with a different shifting ratio, different handlebars, and most importantly front Rockshock suspension and more aggressive maxxis tires. I didnt find suspension needed from riding in the snow or from a touring perspective, but if you are looking for one bike, year round, the 3.0 would be the one to go with and I am sure you can have more fun riding it over big bumps in the summer and fall. You can find these 3 bikes on moosebicycles.com they offer worldwide shipping. If the model is in stock, pretty fast delivery. I really believe you are getting a lot of value for your money and if you have a family you can get four Moose fattys for the price of one almost identical from competitive big name brands. The bike was delivered in a big box and even with home tools, you can set it up in 1/2 hour and its ready to go. I took my moose bike on pretty rugged rocky trails and I wasnt gentle with it and nothing is loose on it after months of riding. Set it up, pop in the wheels and have a lot of fun!! Moose bicycles also makes beautiful fixed bikes and work every day commuters.

You should follow @moosebicycle on Instagram or Facebook lots interesting photos or deals popping out always… 

enjoy! 


Caballo Blanco Ultra 2017


Monday – The Drive 

It’s 10 to 6am now and I just woke up once again, 12 people is comfortable sitting in our “mini van” … I woke up once again because roof is making that noise like when is raining, but it isn’t…. 


We left Michael’s house exactly 4:13am , there is many stickers on our white bus, but I didn’t see them yet because it’s dark. It’s been dark in Phoenix since yesterday when I arrived, so I am not exactly sure where I am at this point, just shapes of the mountains on the horizon around reminds me Javelina 100 for whatever reason… 

Our bus, lets call it that way, is loaded with pretty good horsepower. Barefoot Ted is sitting in the middle, talking about something with Patrick Sweeney , I don’t know what about, the noise canceling bus is doing great job separating people’s conversations… 


There is Eric Johnson here and a long haired dude who broke a bunch of records running actually barefoot, I mean we all run barefoot, but this dude actually really runs barefoot and killing it … Andrew Snope is his name if you are wondering… 

Michelle Barton is here too, Irem Ted’d wife, and a bunch more people who I don’t know yet because it is dark and our trip to Copper Canyon just started… 
It’s 12:31 now Still “raining” in the bus. 

We crossed the US border, so we definitely are in Mexico somewhere, we had to stop the bus for a minute because the road was blocked with packages fallen off the truck, bags of dry chilie, so yeah, we definitely are in Mexico now! 

It is getting warmer too … 

and dudes started speaking Spanish …


Thursday – Creel 

Dinner last night was all right … 

We did some exploring of the area around, a short run to the Jesus statue on top of the hill, then around a bunch of interesting rock formations. 


We loaded the bus once again and finally seeing Barrancas Del Cobre! Yop, It’s hard to describe it, you gotta see it for yourself ! It’s definitely not like the Grand Canyon – what I was thinking. It’s magical! People’s faces lit up, that’s for sure! More driving into the canyons right after, seems like we were dropping deeper into the canyons, yet somehow we are at Mario’s place for tonight, still 2300m above the sea. 


Randomly, I meet Gustavo Lozano, a guy who designed the very first original Caballo Blanco course in 1995. Great looking guy with flawless English and great energy talking about how everything started here. Yet he is forgotten and never mentioned anywhere… 


Glad I was lucky enough to talk with this guy! Yeah, that’s about it for today… I mean hard to describe all of those moments, barefoot on Rarámuri ground, looking in Canyons with purple-redish sunset…and all… 


Wednesday – running with rarámuri…

We are splitting into two groups today. One running with Miguel ( he won the Caballo Blanco race couple times) another group is hiking around with his wife…


The run started easy, short uphill, bunch of rolling stuff on super cushy pine needles, then long drop into thevrocky forest hills, on a dusty road and boooom! We are standing on massive cliff edges with breathtaking views over the Barrancas. Yeah, you can see Urique deep down on the bottom… canyons 3x deeper than the Grand Canyon, so you have a perspective… 


This road would follow down to Urique obviously, but we turned left over the ridge, following a kinda dry river, with acbunch of nice cooling water pools… 

Suddenly we pop out in front of the Miguel’s house… 


More rocky, rolling hills from there and then Rarámuri village, where we meet up with Barefoot Ted and the rest of the hiking people… 

More running from there, back to Mario’s place… 

I ran without a shirt ( and that was stupid! ) 

Anyway, after that we had an amazing experience in a sweat lodge with a shaman… Quite an experience that’s for sure! 


Like he said afterwards, “Today was the perfect day ” 

Oh and I almost forgot, we lost Tom today, but he found himself just fine and being honest I am kinda jealous that wasn’t me who was lost! I am sure he had amazing experience on his own! 

 

Thursday – Urique 

I was up kinda antsy around 7:00am already, but we didn’t really rush anywhere… 

loaded the bus around 10am and left Mario’s behind…


I am sure Ted set some sort of world record that day because he rode his solowheel into the Urique – hah ! 

We were driving on the bus on a kinda sketchy road with massive drop offs! I was feeling fine, but slightly concerned about burning brakes I guess… 


Our bus broke halfway down, but thankfully at a pretty awesome place with amazing views over the canyons, so time spent for replacing the truck wasn’t that bad … 

Finally down, walking on the streets of Urique… Definitely feels kinda surreal… 

I need coffee and something to eat now… 


Friday – exploring 

Waking up, sharing dreams and getting some breakfast with people randomly showing up in Mama Tita’s restaurant… 

If you’re looking for someone, all you need is to run to Mama Titas….it’s a great hangout with lots smiles and hugs…


Snoope, Eric, Michelle & I went for a run later on. We didn’t know or care where exactly or how many miles… We finished with about a half-marathon and a short swim afterwards, ran out of water obviously… beautiful trails, running around Urique definitely has endless possibilities! Whatta place! 

Canyons are amazing … 


Saturday – Kids race 
Waking up around 5:00am because we didn’t want to miss the start, however a massive thunderstorm rolled in overnight, The morning was quiet which felt unusual. Understand later because the electricity was out in theventire town, so the race start was pushed back to around 9am . 


Over 700 kids showed up for the race, different age groups, different distances, but they all run like for their lives! All in from start to finish! Amazing to watch kids smiling blasting by, holding sandals in their hands cause they lost one or both in the process… 


Kudos to Mas Korima guys and all another sponsors 100 mile club , Barefoot Ted and much, much more for supporting this race and giving away tons of prizes for all those kids, Rarámuris are super shy, but you could see how happy kids are holding their prizes! 


Hard to describe, you gotta be there… 

Later on, I hooked up with a bunch of people and wandered around… We went to see the Rarámuris campsites, many families travel over one hundred miles over steep canyons into Urique for this race with absolutely no possessions! 


Amazing people they are! I feel connected, somehow even without the ability to talk…

Yeah, beautiful simple people with legs made of steel! 

Brown shiny steel… 


I got my race bib after dark, more food and early sleep…. 
Sunday – Race day 


Honestly, I didn’t train much for this race and my last really long run was Tahoe 200, almost 6 months ago, most of my time training was on snow doing skimo and some specific treadmill running, but nothing significant to be ready for this one… I wasn’t worried about the distance because that’s already somehow unblocked in my head. I know I can grind it out and that was really the only upside I had…haha! Go and get it done! 

 700 people on the starting line for the 50 miler was definitely something new to me. That is lots of people! Funny thing, you are looking around and you don’t see Salomon packs, compression socks , no Nike shoes promising sub two hours marathon,and all that craziness of the modern world, no placebo effect, haha just “average village” people smiling ready to run in homemade sandals… there was a bunch of indians in jeans and bunch of handsome looking guys with a lot of pride dressed up in super elegant outfits. Snow white running skirts colorful flowing butterfly looking blouses and their strong brown legs of steel were shining under the street lights of Urique. 

START ! I am running easy around 5 min pace, people passing me by, older ladies in long dresses, guys in jeans blasting by me like nobody’s business…They are running a 5k race pace obviously, I was thinking… 


hmm maybe after 21km in, I passed the last older lady after a big climb where she was buying some food & coca-cola from a random placed “aid station”. My nutrition was based on one Xact Nutrition Fruit3 bar per hour combined with Mas Korima Pinole bites and absolutely zero electrolytes. I am sure I drank more water than any other ultras I ever ran. I felt like my nutrition plan was spot on. I am not going to write about the race course here, I assume you’re kinda familiar with the concept… 


Anyway, I was running more or less on muscle memory. My legs felt solid up to 60km distance. I was killing it on the climbs and running downhills. After the first massive climb I ran into Patrick Sweeney, we were sharing some faster miles on the downhills but unfortunately shortly after that his race was over due to a calf injury. The last 20k around noon, when the sun made canyons feel like your being cooked alive in a microwave, was kind of a struggle..something like ice cold water was something you could only dream about. I stopped for 15 minutes and swam in the cold river next to the trail, that felt amazing, and I went on to grind another 20k of the rolling blazing hot, dusty road… 

Lots of short conversations with Tarahumaras on the way made the last stretch much more enjoyable… I ran into Snoop, Michelle and Eric a couple times, they were looking great, bunch of high fives and C’ya later! 


Tarahumaras, they don’t know or care about barefoot running, they just run! Running for money and food… cutting the course almost everywhere if possible. Some guys I passed 5-6 times, but they never ran around me lol , don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Honestly, I don’t care – we all have different reasons why we run and why we were there, that was in my mind and I was just smiling… 


I finished in 9:37h , Barefoot Ted was there super excited, he hooked me up with a cold drink finally! With the drink in my hands I sit down on the curb of Urique road without paying too much attention. Shortly after I notice its Manuel Luna sitting to my left, right next to me. This Manuel Luna the legend who made the very first sandals for Barefoot Ted 10 years ago. These tiny little random moments created the race itself. These are the moments what you will never forget in your life. I hung out at the finishline on the curb with Barefoot Ted and Irem. Shortly after that was Michelle crossing the finish line looking super strong and next to finish after Michelle to finish was Eric. Once he finished he drank a big bottle of beer Ted gave him in 3 seconds.


Usual feelings of happiness overlapping with feelings of sadness because once again something you’re dreaming about is suddenly over… 


It’s an eye opening race! You should do it ! 

Everyone, if possible should go there and run it ! It may change your perspective on running and on life as well… 


Monday – ride home 
Waking up early, great coffee and 20h drive back home… 

Lots of stories shared, bunch of beers drank, crossing military checkpoints, Mexico-US border and “shortly” after, back in Phoenix.


Tuesday – home 

We took a bunch of photos for Luna Sandals & WAA Ultra sponsors,with Natalie, had some lunch and slowly started disappearing in the airport, everyone flying back home to where we came from.


It’s midnight, I am in Calgary and here the trip ends…
I wanna say that I am super thankful to everyone who was a part of this amazing trip! For all the stories we created together, so many names to be mentioned, so many more stories to be told, so many important details I skipped over… 

Thank you Barefoot Ted, Luna Sandals, Mas Korima…Thank you all… Kuira bá





Skimo ?! Yeah 

…Probably many of you have noticed a lot of European ultrarunners are spending a lot of time on the skimo skis in the winter. Canada has an amazing potential for this sport, but it still seems to be very unknown. I would like to see this sport grow. I have been doing backcountry skiing over 20 years, but in last two years I have spent time focused on the racing aspect of the sport. I am still not kicking ass or anything, but I am trying my best. I can tell the winter skimo training is benefitting my summer ultraracing and making me stronger. Just like Ultrarunning around here, Skimo racing has an amazing community with interesting people. If you are looking for something fun and new in the wintertime, you will more likely grow into a stronger athlete, spending time in the winter on skimo skis. 

Many of my friends have been asking me a lot of questions about skimo racing lately, so I sent some questions to my friend Kylee Toth Ohler, who is the current Canadian skimo champ. 

I hope this write up will inspire you to try something new and step outside of your comfort zone.

🇨🇦 current Canadian Skimo Champion and the North American Skimo Sprint Champion, Kylee Toth Ohler

▶️ first thing first what Skimo even means to you? 

Kylee : Skimo is the short form for Ski Mountaineering. Our sport is called Ski Mountaineer racing or randonnee racing. It is an athletic sporting event in which you ascend and descend over a set course with the first to cross the finish line being the winner. 

• how and when did you started with everything ? 

K: I started Skimo 8 years ago after a good friend, Steve Sellars said he thought I would enjoy it. My first race was organized by Stano Faban 🇸🇰 in Fernie and it was one of the first times I was ever on Ski touring gear.

• I know you organize bunch events locally now days how did that started? 

K:  I organize the Vert180 race and co-organize the Calgary Skimo Club. My vision for both the event and the club is to see Ski Mountaineer racing in Canada grow as well as raise our performance level internationally. It started out of a love and enjoyment for the sport.


• do you remember your first setup? 

K: Yes😬 It was super heavy touring boots, Silveretta bindings, synthetic skins and fairly beefy skis. They were not ideal for Skimo but as a University student I was thankful I had gear to get me started.

• what’s considered nice skimo setup? What to pay attention when you shopping?

K:  First thing to look for in a nice skimo setup is does it match your outfit!😉 Kidding! In general the lighter the better but make sure the skis are something you can descend on. Look for boots that have good flexion when you are ascending and fit properly no hot spots, tight spots etc. Look for short enough skis 150cm minimum for girls 160cm for men. Get the lightest setup you can afford but be realistic with your budget and what you want to use the setup for.

• when you come up with idea racing?

K:  I came up with the idea of the Vert180 because I thought what would be the most punishing, mentally challenging event I could organize😅 No, seriously I like the Winsport venue being in a big city, Calgary and thought the terrain would be accessible for all abilities. 


• any secret tips how to improve ? 

K: Consistancy! One of my favorite quotes that I’ve heard is,”a winter athlete is built in the summer.” Take a good rest between seasons but then put in the day in day out work. Also, don’t take racing and training to seriously its important to have a lot of fun!

• what usually people do wrong when they transition from backcountry skiing into skimo racing? 

K:  They have a mindset that light isn’t right. It is hard to convince people that they can still ski well on lighter skis with Dynafit bindings and not super beefy boots. People also tend to view backcountry skiing and skimo racing as the same thing and compare the two. Racing is an athletic event/sport while backcountry skiing is a recreational activity. Viewing them differently might help people wrap their minds around wearing spandex 👍😉.


• Was fun to seeing you racing IronLegs 50 this year and congrats on amazing achievement! How different was racing ultra compared to Skimo events?

K:  They are actually very different. In a skimo race you usually run at anaerobic threshold for as long as you can and races run sub 3hrs an ultra running event requires a lot more pacing and staying in your aerobic zone. Both are really difficult but in very different ways. I was very happy to complete Iron legs and think mountain running is excellent cross training for skimo. I’m not sure how sport specific the distances in ultra running are to skimo racing but it’s hard to argue that it has good base and mileage building capabilities.

• I think skimo is absolutely amazing winter training for Ultra runners what you think about that ?

K:  Yes I think that Skimo would be great for Ultra runners especially some of the Grande Course races in Europe which are usually much longer. Skimo would provide an ultra runner with easy low intensity mileage in their off season, while racing would give ultra athletes a chance to push their heart rates up. Skimo also requires a lot of leg strength and would help build that in runners. Plus, it could be good for a mental break and injury prevention cross training with some skiing.


• how different is training for skimo compared to Training for Ultra?

K:  For me the difference is the length. For Ultra you have to put in a lot of mileage for training. For skimo it is more diverse; mileage, intensity, intervals and strength.

• I noticed many ultra people started with skimo maybe after Kilian is bringing more attention to this sport? Why you think Canada is still kinda ” struggling ” even we have amazing conditions here and so amazing mountains?

K:  I think a huge barrier to entry is the cost and availability of equipment as well as access to low risk training venues. 

• would you consider skimo being expensive sport?

K:  The initial start up investment is a bit steep but after that it is pretty inexpensive. Race entries are really affordable and training is free.


• do you see popularity of this sport growing since you started?
K:  It hasn’t been a straightforward growth, we have had ebbs and flow of momentum but in general it is slowly and steadily growing. Definitely in our neighbor the United States it is growing quickly and significantly.

• what is your favorite spot to go on skis?

K:  I have two kids so don’t get out backcountry as much as I did when I was younger. But, I’ve always loved the Field area it’s dark, gloomy and kind of strange but it also feels super wild, remote, intriguing and quiet which I enjoy.

• what’s your favorite race?

K:  The Vert180 of course 😊. I actually really enjoy the more technical races with ridge runs and steeper descents, Castle Mountain puts on a great race as well as the Whitefish Whiteout in Montana.


• how different is this sport in Europe compared to Canada?

K:  So different!! Racing in Canada is grass roots, volunteer driven and not nearly as polished which actually has an appeal in itself. In Europe Skimo is a well established sport. It has professional athletes, teams, sponsor money and has been around for decades.

• thank you for your time! Wish you all the best in this season! And hopefully another ultras next year!?

Kylee :   We will see 😬😉😊

So there you have it ! Now check the link below that’s the best way to jump into it… 

Vert 180 skimo race 

East Canada 🇨🇦 and US🇺🇸 race schedule here: 

Skimoeast
Lots great info , training plans etc. you can find here SkinTrack

VIVOBAREFOOT Primus 

VIVOBAREFOOT Primus Soft Ground & Firm Ground 

Konecne prichadza na trh Primus SG ! hovorim konecne lebo v tychto botach beham uz cosi vyse roka a bolo naozaj tazke urdzat ich v tajnosti !
– aby sme sa rozumeli patrim do Vivobarefoot ELITE TEAM  a tym padom mam moznost testovat boty daleko skor ako pridu na pult a tak vychytat pripadne chyby ktore su neskor doladene resp. odstanene … preto v tajnosti. 

Pred rokom som behal v botach Primus TRAIL , ktore mali stale rovnaku podrazku ako ich predchodca TRAILFREAK , myslim ze chlapci z vivo chceli vyskusat novy zvrsok , odolnost a tak pritom sa stale pracovalo na novej gume pre dalsi model FIRM ground a SOFT ground … Primus trail bol taky prechod mam pocit , no stale moc slusne botky ! Kazopadne nove podrazky pouzite na SG a FG podavaju Primus do daleko inej kategorie ! 

Neskor som dostal na testovanie SOFT ground a to bola laska na prve obutie ! mozno preto ze vela casu beham v sandaloch a prave tie v blate a snehu nemaju moc velky zaber a nakoniec asi ani zmysel pouzit, Primus SG prave vyplnil tu medzeru jesene a jari ked behanie v sandaloch este,  alebo uz nieje moc idealne .

Dalej som dostal na testovanie Primus FIRM GROUND , trosku ina bota ako SG , viac “ ochrany “ okolo clenka co sa celkom osvedcilo v sutovyskach pri zbehoch , boty su rovnako siroke a ohybne ako SG, no nie az tak agresivne co sa tyka podrazky, idealne vpostate na akykolvek povrch a ak nemate zaujem behat v sandaloch tak to je asi trailova bota v ktorej stravite vadsinu casu roka, tak povediac s domu do terenu …

Ale rad by som sa rozpisal o SG lebo to je akosi moja najoblubenejsia “running “ bota od Vivobarefoot zatial ! Ako som spomenul kedze beham v sandaloch SG mam stale v aute alebo na aidstations ako plan B ak by sa zmenilo pocasie , dazd a blato okamzite prezuvam !

v Primus SG som dobehol SINISTER 7 160Km Ultra , prvich 110km bolo v sandaloch a ako nahle sa pocasie zacalo kazit prezuval som SG a pridal rychlost , druha polovica preteku rychlejsia a nakoniec 4miesto. 

Tak isto TAHOE 200 –  336km som bezal 185km v Luna Sandalach a potom dobehol v Primus SG do konca celkovo 8miesto . 

– Boty su siroke , myslim sirsie ako Trailfreak , zvrsok lepsie sedi s bodom ohybu prstov , rovnake stahovanie snurkou ako Trailfreak ale lepsie sedia na nohe viac ako ponozky dalo by sa povedat ,nepretacaju sa na nohach pri horizontalnych zbehoch ,agresivna podrazka s TOUGH rubber vas podrzi na akomkolvek povrchu, zosilneny material na priehlavku s dierkami na zbavenia sa vody s topanok , neoprenova minimalisticka pata, idealne na beh bez ponoziek aj v naozaj mokrom a blatovom terene .

SG su super nielen v mokrom ale aj prachovom , ci piesocnatom terene , behal som v nich celu zimu v snehu a naozaj vyborne drzia! podrazka je agresivnejsia ale nie tak husta a tak je dalo by sa povedat “samocistiaca” sneh ci blato sa nelepi medzi agresivny dezen …

….zivotnost je jednoznacne vedcia ako predchodca trailfreak , ci uz podrazka alebo zvrsok boty vydrzia daleko viac , vpodstate vyse roka striedam dva pary SG a stale funguju bez problemov velkost 45 na kratscie behy do 50k treningy atd. a velkost 46 na vsetko nad 50k a ultra preteky . Kazdy par ma vyse 800km plus , hike & bike 

Takze tolko v skratke o novich SG a FG . nebudem moc rozoberat vyhody behania vo Vivobarefoot botach pretoze predpokladam ze ak toto citate uz vtom mate jasno ,ja osobne si uz nedokazem obut “ blbe boty na opatkoch “ , tak isto viem ze nie vela ludi bralo Trailfreak ako za zrovna vydarenu botu ,asi hlavne co sa zivotnosti tyka , kazdopadne dajte sancu PRIMUS SG a FG myslim ze budete milo prekvapeny ! Elite team testuje nove boty v roznych kutoch sveta na roznych povrchoch a fakt krutych podmienkach , spojitost s dizajn teamom funguje lepie ako kedykolvek v minulosti a myslim ze je to krasne vidiet na botach PRIMUS ! Vela zdravich kilometrov s usmevom na tvari ! Vam prajem ! 

Tu najdete Pokec o Tahoe 

Hydrating in summer 

Summer is here ! 

I am slowly but surely getting ready for Tahoe 200. Part of the training is looking for right gear that will make sense to carry with me , will improve my race strategy, finding tiny gains that can make a difference. And since i am kinda gear freak, testing new ideas is actually quite fun. So I am gonna show ya bunch of interesting products that I believe, can definitely improve your summer running & training. 



Lifestraw
is pretty simple, super light , simple concept – in your pocket, you run out of the water, find creek, pond , lake, dirty rain puddle – stick it in and suck clean water! 


Very fast and efficient the only problem is that once you leave you water source, you don’t have a backup… I guess you could take water in your water bottles and use lifestraw later… 


Sue Usher from RockGear Distribution gave me this awesome filter system, that seems to be even better actually! ” plastic ” super light foldable bottle with filter straw in it ! 


So no need sucking from creeks simply get water, screw filter straw on and you are on your way with clean water whenever you need it ! Slightly increased weight but nothing crazy and the definitely interesting concept! Both filters removes 99.9999% bacteria and 99.9% protozoa 

Lifestraw is around 27$ in MEC 

Vapur 1L bottle with filter around 50$ in Spry – RockGear 

Stay hydrated, train smart, race hard & have fun doing it yo ! 

Gear talk – Leki poles 

               “The right tool for the right job”
Long story short…  I’ve been using Leki for over two decades now… Back home in Slovakia we had BigPack store back of the days and they were selling Leki brand like top of the line Trekking poles, I had pair for backcountry skiing – telescopic aluminum such great poles ! Since then everything changed once carbon fiber comes to the market poles become much stronger and same time much more lighter! 


Absolutely in love with trigger shark attachment for Skimo racing ! So much faster and easier way to dealing in transitions, taking skins off and all that jazz ! It just makes perfect sense… 

After lots Ultra racing last year very focused on ” speed ”  I kinda wanna try more adventurous approach in 2016 , meaning have lots fun in mountains really more enjoying short Canadian summer and only pick one A race, that was the plan. So I choose Tahoe 200Miles

Race with 98% single track over beautiful terain! Iam sure my heart will be in right place during the race even if legs will feel otherwise… Least that’s the plan ! So Iam sticking with it ! 

Anyway I was listening my friend Victor Ballesteros ( finished 2place at Tahoe last year pic above) audio podcast on Trail Running Nation and he give me idea use poles in my race… Of course Leki were first thing on my mind cause I can’t imagine having that ” regular ” plastics strap around my wrist for ideally 60 hours long?! 


Recently thanks to amazing people from Leki – USA I become part of the Leki Trail Running team which is absolutely fantastic ! Guys set me up with bunch carbon fiber running  poles and I started training with them immediately! Transition from Skimo winner season into summer running with poles is actually perfect! 

My  Plan slightly changed though I enter recently one more race – Sinister 7 local amazing 100 miles in Crownest Pass area Iam sure you already know what Iam talking about! But if you’re not click on the link and put it on your list for next year! So test run at Sinister hopefully I will find all the bugs in those 100miles and get my mind ready run it over again hah … 

  • Micro Trail Pro / Trailstick  Light & stiff! On pic above is basically same poles only two color choices whatever you prefer if racing red is too much for your taste just go with that classic carbon fiber look … 

  • Poles are attached to you wrist this way, see white loop … Or you can use trail running gloves instead strap around your wrist… 

  • In winter or cold days Windstopper gloves work amazing! 

  • You can unhook poles easy anytime dealing with your gear , nutrition, hydration, hook it back on and running… Simple, easy… Fast ! And Super comfortable! 

  • Alissa St Laurent & Eric Reyes on top of the Grotto mountain, Alissa also incorporated poles into her training for UTMB  , it’s definitely leg saver over super long racing when lots power walk sections waiting to eat your legs… And if not for anything else?! We invited new sport! High altitude fencing ! 


Have fun Running whatever distance whatever race or peaks or deserts , jungles you choose to ! Train smart race hard yo ! Enjoy your Leki 

Year of the Monkey

Well …It’s been a long time … I am not exactly the blogging type, I guess… Definitely love Instagraming  though, taking pictures is just a much easier way to express myself and to say something without words, sometimes no words are needed anyway… 

  • however  LunaSandals coming to Canada! That’s the great news ! So I wanna answer bunch questions cause lots people are asking me what model is the best, which model I use the most, what this and that so… Gotta try say something about Lunas I used in last two years … 

  • Mono ”  I run in Monos alot ! Basically everything on road & treadmill, I would say they are my ” road shoes ” super light, simple and comfortable! They need about 60 to 80km break in time to really form to your feet and they form the best from all Lunas I believe. I don’t run trails in Monos however some nice easy ” groomed ” trails are not the issue… I raced half marathon in monos finished second, definitely wasn’t sandal that was holding me back to run faster though! They are very responsive but feel a bit cushy …. 

  • Leadville Trail ” same like Mono basically plus solid Vibram rubber more gripping bottoms make this sandals great for running trails, they form fast to your feet and simply last much longer on sharp rocks and rough terrain…. 
  • Leadville Gordo ” is basically Leadville Trail  with extra ” protection ” or portable ground however you wanna call it … Amazing sandals for technical sharp rocky trails or Ultra Distance, I finished second in BlackSpur Ultra 100Km in them and actually use same sandals to run my Nihahi FKT loop and still use them now days running in training… Take more time to break them in but definitely last much longer! Great sandals! 

  • Skinny Bear ” super grippy, super thin , just leather & Oso Vibram rubber on the bottom, great all around city with really that barefoot feel and always ready to hit the trail. They don’t have midsole so didn’t form as great to the foot and stay kinda flatish however if you’re looking for maximum foot proprioception this is the one ! 

  • Oso ” is exactly same ride like Mono or Leadville Pacer but with Skinny Bear super grip , very durable trail sandals but Oso Vibram grip seems to be much more durable even walking around on pavement compared to trail Leadville Pacer sandals, I still prefer Monos for innercity life though but Oso is very versatile and great all around choice… 

    • Origen ” really really like them ! They have actually Michelin tires tread on the bottom makes them total tank ! Super grippy , protective and responsive! You have two options to choose from, one running ready with ” tech straps ” another option is go on website and build your own custom Sandals with whatever color leather straps you like ( I have green on pic above) even leather straps are totally secure and running ready ! Looking forward to running hard in them ! 

    • Mono Gordo ” is Mono but with extra mid layer ” memory foam ” like material. Great sandals for long road running, Ultras on firm ground or pavement or even excellent everyday sandals with super loooooooong life! Oh and very light… Also available to customize, on Luna website with different colors options , tech or leather straps… 

    • Luna Tabu ” is ninja like sock if you will…. Nice backup to have in your pocket just in case you get some snow up on mountain ridges or bad weather roll in, it’s just like jacket or gloves in your pocket protect your feet against elements when you need it …. 

    •  running in sandals its fun! Yeah we might call it a skill… Or life style? Whatever I absolutely love it! Makes me smile when Iam running, makes me enjoy every minute of it… Allows me to work on my form, get me stronger, injuries free and most importantly very happy! Even if not for hardcore distance running, you should give Lunas a try … Great way to enjoy world and nature around you….

    •  and you become part of the monkey tribe lol whatever your Lunas takes you Iam sure you will get high five from another Lunatic… 
    • Lots great informative content about Lunas , how to adjust straps etc. you can find on the Luna website
    • Our Luna ambassadors team you can find HERE get inspired…
    • There is much more models and styles on the website, I have just mentioned my favorites but check the website to find what will fit into your lifestyle and Enjoy… 

      Nihahi Ridge ” FKT ” 

        

      Well for quite some time I was looking from Powder Face Mountain cross the valley on long and beautiful Nihahi Ridge … I knew lots people was on it and run parts and pieces but never hear anyone run entire ridge  ( I find later Ian MacNairn did but not everything connected in one day  )

        

       So I maped out course in Suunto Movescount, including climb from backside up on Prairie Mountain, down , then climb on Powder Face which created perfect 52km long loop –  upload run route into my Ambit3 peak and went for it … ( in Luna – Gordo sandals ) … Absolutely amazing experience and definitely hardest 52km in my life… There was actual trail on maybe 20% , rest is all ” bush running ”  Solo – Unsupported, powered by Vitargo S2

       Here is actual run data 


       Movescount – Nihahi Loop  

      And here is video ( make sure click on HD )

      Nihahi Ridge HD video – YouTube


      Huge thanks to Barefoot Ted and guys from LUNA SANDALS for all the support! Iam proud to represent! …. Peace !