Friday, December 21, 2012

Team Colorado in the Media

Simon Gutierrez on the cover of the November issue of the Pikes Peak Road Runner's the Long Run in his win at the Pikes Peak Road Ascent 10k (Peter Maksimow just writes an article about being injured) and graces the pages of Competitor Magazine with his cross training tool, the Elliptigo.

Team Colorado's Rickey Gates plays around in the mud with his fellow Salomon teammates and imitates that very large Jesus on that mountain in Rio de Janeiro. You are going to hell, Rickey!

Gates also is also a Contributing Editor for Trail Runner Magazine and likes to upset his readers with articles full of profanity. Clean it up, Rickey!

Rickey wrote an article about what motivated Rickey to get into trail running.

Also read his feature article in the same issue (December 2012, Issue 84), THE ICE. There is nothing like frozen nostrils in the morning.

In the latest issue of Trail Runner Magazine (Jan. 2013), Rickey also twits or tweets--or whatever it's called--with Lance...

Oh, and by the way Mayans...I will never trust you again!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simon Gutierrez 2nd at Masters' USATF XC Nationals

The Gute does it again....impresses the Golden Years ladies to take 2nd OA in the Masters' 10k race of the 2012 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Masterson Station Park in Lexington, KY. It was carbon copy of the 2009 Masters' race where he took the runner up spot at the same venue. His time for the 10k course was 32:53 behind Malcolm Campbell of  the Atlanta Track Club.

In his words:

XC nationals went well....we dropped the eventual winner with 1.5 miles to go which I made the mistake of getting complacent and not pushing the pace...with 800 to go I dropped the eventual third place guy easily only to have Malcolm come screaming by me with 500 to go...I guess you can say I was xc ring rusty....this is the exact race I ran here three years ago, identical, finish too, out kicked last 500 in 2009. Last time I hurt my knee here so, getting back on this course was nerve racking, but satisfying...

Gute finishing 2nd in a tightly fought Masters' race in 32:53

USATF Press Release

Monday, December 10, 2012

The North Face 50 Interview with Alex Nichols

Team Colorado's Alex Nichols placed an impressive 5th overall at the chaotic ultra race, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile which took place on December 1st in San Francisco, CA. We were able to get a few words in with him around all his other publicity and interview since the race.

Axel after a tough 46.94 miles                                                      photo: Brett Rivers

Team Colorado: Nice race out there in San Francisco! 5th place among some of the finest ultra runners in the country, were you expecting that? Give us the lowdown! 

Honestly I thought I would place better. I'm not disappointed in 5th but I was kind of shocked by how fast everyone was on that day. It's good though. I think ultra running is getting faster and I'm happy to be a part of that.

TC: So, in 2011, you were leading TNF 50 and the next thing you knew is that you were laying on the ground with what you thought might have been a broken ankle. What happened? How many 50 milers have you run?

In terms of ultras I've only ever run the North Face 50. Last year was a huge disappointment because my training leading up to the race was perfect. I spent the first half of that race just sitting behind people and waiting to make my move. When I did I was shocked by how easily I was running, but soon enough gravity caught up with me and my ankle imploded. This year I had 6 weeks of running before the race but managed to finish in a good spot. In some ways 2012 was kind of the opposite of 2011.

TC: Back in August you place 2nd at the Pikes Peak Marathon, in front of World Mountain Running Champion Max King and probably one of the most versatile trail, mountain, ultra, cross country, track, etc. runners out there, and even gave Killian Jornet a run for his Euros. That was when your name got out there and all the running groupies wanted your autograph. Were you expecting the same thing at TNF 50--with the running, that is, not the groupies? 

I think what I've learned about this year is that I need a blog. Everyone has a blog, and without one my groupies are lost. Or maybe I should get into twitter, then I could let hoards of fans know what I'm doing at all times. But then again my groupies may be disappointed to find out what I do on a daily basis. There's only so many times that reading about an 11 mile mesa loop in the morning can be interesting. I'll work on it though, maybe then people will let me line up at the front of the start line.

TC: You have also been successful at the shorter distances and on the oval. What was your preparation leading up to TNF 50?

I definitively don't consider myself an ultra runner. But I have always done a fair amount of mileage  and some pretty solid long runs. I think that the volume over the years, and being very comfortable on 20+ mile runs has allowed me to run a range of distances pretty successfully. I try to alter my training to better suit my next race but my weeks are generally structured the same year round (as long as I'm not injured. Something that seems to happen way too often). For north face I got my long run up to 40 miles but kept the rest of the week pretty normal.

TC: We witnessed the sloppy wetness which was TNF50. How bad was it?

It was pretty bad, but not horrible. My main issue was the visibility for the first 9 miles. I think the 5 AM start is a little too early. When you combine the darkness with sideways rain from the ocean it makes things pretty tough. I remember staring directly in front of my feet for at least the first hour and a half. After that there was a lot of mud and a lot of people to pass but I had enough other stuff on my mind that it didn't frustrate me too much.

TC: A lot of the men's elite field who went off course tried to make up by adding in the missed loops later in the race. Is this true? Who were they? Did you go off course? What the course difficult to follow? Was it as chaotic as it was for us watching the live stream of the race? (Sorry, that is a damn well loaded set of questions, you don't have to answer all of them or feel free to rant and accuse if you would like).

I'm still not exactly sure what happened in the lead pack. They were so far in front of me in the first half it seemed like they were in a different race! The day before I had requested that my crew tell me how far back I was from the leader at the aid stations, but when I failed to get any sort of update from  my Dad and my girlfriend Maddy I just assumed that I was so far back they didn't want to tell me. Turns out they had no idea of who the actual leader was or how far in front of me he was.

Looking back at it now I think my conservative start benefited me in several ways. Since I wasn't worried about where the leader was I was able to stop and find out where the course went at several key intersections. I still went out and back in a couple of spots, adding on some extra distance, but every time I was confused I was able to talk to someone or I would just take a moment to think and get back on track. I've been in more than one race where I was too focused on racing and went off course simply because I was so focused on the guy next to me. And of course by going out at my own pace I didn't slow down nearly as much as the rest of the field. It was pretty chaotic overall but I just stayed in my own little world and things worked themselves out around me.

TC: How many marriage proposals have you had since the race? Lots I bet!

It's true actually. I keep getting weird emails and calls from Peter Maksimow. I wouldn't mind so much but lately his beard has started to creep me out. I heard he keeps pens in there for storage. 

TC: Who??? Never heard of him, but I have heard of the epic beard you speak of. Thanks, Alex!

In the swamp of TNF 50                                                                         photo: Gary Nichols

Here is the data from Alex's Garmin:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The North Face 50 Interview with Justin Ricks

We caught up and chatted with Team Colorado's Justin Ricks about his experience at the 2012 edition of The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile.

Team Colorado: Justin, first of all, congratulations on your 18th place performance at TNF 50 this past weekend. On paper, the field this year in San Francisco seemed like one of the deepest, most competitive ultra races ever assembled. What did you think going into the race?
Justin: I just wanted to run my own race and I didn't want to blow up like I had at other 50 mile races.  I wanted to run conservative, though, looking back at it, I may have been a little too conservative. 
TC: You recently placed 2nd at the USATF Trail Marathon Championships, so you were obviously prepared for the technical, long races;  what was your preparation leading up to TNF 50?
Justin: Living in Colorado, there was no way for me to prepare for running in those conditions.  Looking back, I think that the best preparation I had came in the form of the Fall Series.  Running through Monument Creek was better training than I ever imagined. 
TC: We know you are quite fast on the roads, having won the 2011 Eugene Marathon in 2:22:05. How did training leading up to TNF 50 differ?
Justin: I focused more on the 30-plus mile runs and less on speed work.  But, the training was basically the same.  I wasn't as disciplined in my training as I am when preparing for a marathon. 
TC: We heard it was a wet and sloppy day on Saturday and that there was a course change the day before the race. How did that affect your race strategy?
Justin: I was actually excited about the weather conditions; the race was going to be a unique experience.  It turned the race into more of an adventure run and it favored the runners who could compete better in extreme conditions. 
TC: There were an awful lot of people who went off course and tried to make up by adding in the missed loops later. Did you go off course? What the course difficult to follow? Was it as chaotic as it was for us watching the live stream of the race?
Justin: I stayed on course for the race despite having convinced myself that I had gone off course multiple times.  The markings were confusing and I can see how easy it was for runners to go the wrong way.   My biggest issue was visibility during the dark hours of the morning.  My headlamp was not bright enough to light the trail with the heavy rain I was running through. 
TC: Anything else you would like to add?
Justin: I really enjoyed the opportunity to run through conditions I have never before experienced.     

Ricks crossing the finish line at the 2012 TNF 50                    photo: Brett Rivers

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile (well, really 46.4 miles)

This past weekend in a sloppy swamp in San Francisco....a 50 mile race took place. Well, it turned out to be more like 46.4 miles, depending on which loop you decided to do in which order. Team Colorado was represented by Alex Nichols, Justin Ricks and Rickey Gates.

Little do they know what they are getting themselves into - the elite field of the 2012 TNF 50     photo: Candice Burt

Alex's muddy little legs--at least he's showing the competition a clean pair of Inov-8's!             photo: Bethany Garner

After incessant rains led the California State Parks division to nix the original course a day before the race took place, the race directors had to modify the course...or better yet, improvise. There is that doozie of a climb, Cardiac Hill, that they had to remove. Stinson Beach--they removed that section. The beautiful out-and-back on the Coastal Trail is a staple of the race, it got the ax. But there is that area North of Muir Beach that the course runs on...oh, but wait, that was removed, too. Is there anything left to race on, you ask? Well, there is this 23 mile loop we can try...

So, basically the runners had to do two 23 mile loops which contained loops within that 23 miles and overlapping of the course in some sections that caused a lot of the men's elite field to "make up" the laps they missed later in the the race...and the course marshals were fine with it! (On a site note: iRunFar's live coverage stated that the women's elite field did not get lost because they "stopped to ask for directions". Pretty typical of the males!)

Here is Rickey Gates refueling after swimming through this river        photo: iRunFar

It would have been an entertaining race to watch, wouldn't it have? Well, not to some people following iRunFar's live streaming online. Some might have called it chaotic. I likened it to watching an episode of the Benny Hill Show--very entertaining, because "5th" place Miguel Heras was 21 minutes behind "leader" Sage Canaday at 32.3, when in reality, Heras thought he was leading and ACTUALLY was leading. Then Timmy Parr came into the aid station behind Alex Nichols, who was in 15th at the time (not sure if that was 15th or "15th"), thinking he was was in 15th-20th, only to be told he was in "3rd". SCORE FOR TIMMY!!! Probably the best news he has heard all day!

Alex is staying on must have asked for directions                   photo: Brett Rivers

I would compare the updates of runners coming through the aid stations like the PowerBall drawings where all those ping pong balls that fall from that large funnel into that big mixing machine get ejected into a spiral track revealing random numbers. Here comes 5, then 1, next 15. There are probably better odds playing craps! A comment from Brett on the iRunFar live feed stated, "They should just have a lottery at the end, throw the top 20 finishers' names into it, and randomly draw for the win and prizes." 


Justin Ricks running down the creek                     photo: Brett Rivers 

Then we are alerted that Team Colorado's Rickey Gates drops out at 4 hours. A few minutes later he tweets Exhaustion, what feels like blood issues and way too many wrong turns for me at#TNF50 has me dropped at mile 25ish." OK, so we are hearing from the athletes at this point. Next we hear that when Heras asked what place he was in, the response might have been you are first, third, or fifth." Ha! I bet that wasn't funny to him at 36.3 miles.

Hilarity ensues.

We get word that Justin Ricks has come through an aid station and stops what appears to be a bottle of mud...what aid station? doesn't matter what aid station, no one was keeping track anymore, they are just going to look at everyone's GPS and determine if they are run adequate distance. It is also reported that Sage was 1st, 5th and disqualified all at the same time.

OK, maybe not mud, maybe it is a Anchor Steam Porter!         photo: Bethany Garner

A tweet on iRunFar informs us that "At mile 42 3rd-9th(ish): Clayton, d'Haene, M Wolfe, Bowman, Martin, Cort & Vollet between 12-20 minutes behind Heras." No Sage? No Alex? Maybe iRunFar should have put a disclaimer up on their life coverage that stated, "this is not actually what is happening, it's just an estimate." Then we hear from someone at the final aid station announcing Alex has moved his way up into 5th place. Not sure if it was a real 5th or a fake "5th".

There are some Ron Burgundy jokes, Sage getting re-lost on his make up laps, suggestions for a penalty box like they have in triathlon. Up comes a picture of Heras coming across the line 1st, with what looks like a scowl towards the race directors on his face, and 3rd place is put before 2nd place for a short while until that is straightened out. And, just to prove that he officially won, a photo of Heras' GPS to confirm that he ran 46.4 miles. I guess that looking at someone's watch when $10,000 is on the line is adequate enough proof.

Even his watch speaks a different language! Can it say "dinero"?             photo: iRunFar

After leading at 28 miles in the 2011 TNF 50 and spraining both ankles forcing him to drop out (and it was a dry day!), Alex Nichols comes across the line to take 5th place in a time of 5 hrs. 55 min. 25 sec. behind 2nd place François d'Haene (actually pronounced "från-swaHHH", who knew?), "3rd" place Cameron Clayton (who registered only "one" split out of 5 during the entire race) and 4th place Adam Campbell.

Alex crossing the mud line in 5th, looking like a wet puppy!           photo: Brett Rivers

Justin Ricks finishes in very respectable 18th place, only 25 minutes back of Alex, with a time of 6:24:16; which proves the competitive depth of this 2012 TNF 50 field, regardless of if they stayed on or went off course.

No, it's not poop on his legs, it's just mud - Justin comes across the line after a wet and muddy race    photo:Brett Rivers

So, now the question is: How can you not disqualify someone if they did not stay on the appropriate course? Track & Field would be a disaster if someone was allowed to run a counterclockwise lap without being disqualified! 

Alex noticed that a few of those runners who went off course and attempted to make up by adding that section in later, completely missed a climb, therefore, running less distance than him. Alex's GPS read 46.94 miles, half a mile longer than the winner, who is assumed to have stayed on course. Would Alex have finished 3rd if those runners that didn't run the entire course were disqualified? Would Justin have possibly moved up to 10th place?? We'll sit down and ask them about it. Stay tuned...

Mmmmmm, chocolate! Rickey Gates fondues his feet after a tough day.    photo: Rickey Gates

Thanks to iRunFar for the race entertainment...uhhh, coverage. We know it's not your fault, but thanks for making us laugh anyway. Kudos for trying to broadcast chaos!

TNF 50 Results

On the same day in warm and sunny Colorado Springs, Simon Gutierrez runs the antithesis of TNF 50, winning the Nielson Challenge 2 mile in 10:20. Smart move, Gute!