Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ultra Race of Champions: A Sufferfest

Last weekend was the Ultra Race of Champions 100k, a self-described "World Championship of Ultra running", also known as UROC, because, much like ultra running, saying Ultra Race of Champions over and over gets very tiresome. After hearing many of the same utterings from the competitors, it should have been called the "Sufferfest of Ultra running." With temperatures in the high-teens at the start, snow as deep as a short person's waist at the peak of some mountain-top climbs, Krupicka doppelgängers abundant, 10 miles of pavement (Killian definitely wanted to shoot himself) and an additional 4 miles tacked onto the already long 100k of running (that's over 6 more K's to you Euros!), everyone suffered nicely.

Our Team Colorado contingent was present: Michele "bomb 'chele" Yates, Sage Canaday and Rickey "Heavenly" Gates, along with Spaniard Kilian Burgada Jornet (we are not really sure if that is a middle name or a first-last name), Flaggers Rob Krar and Jason Wolfe, Swede Emile Forsberg, Bendite Stephanie Howe, some guy from Jones, North Dakota, Colorado's own Kerri Bruxvoort, Francesca Canepa from Italia--probably a wine drinker, Team Inov-8 master's star Gary Gellin (he was Gellin'), the whole Salomon contingent and others that hoped to make their mark on this course. 

Team Coloradans ready at the line (Rickey "Red Mustache" Gates over florescent-yellow-Krar's left shoulder, Sage in key lime green jacket and Michele off his left shoulder (she's short!)                              photo: Brad & Lori Clayton
The Prez and first lady were present to cheer on and crew for our fellow athletes and a few things became apparent: it can get really, really cold in Colorado (sh'yeah...we're in the Rockies!); misery does NOT love company; crewing is hard work--even if you are drinking beer; snow can be very deep...especially if you are very short; no one wants to drink beer after over 10 hours of racing...booo! That is what happens when you eat a gallon of gel and gelatinized gels. Very understandable.

Michele Yates took the plunge, considering she ran a 100-miler two weeks ago. Don't ever tell her she can't do something, because she will prove you wrong (while dropping a bomb on you!). We asked her a few questions about the race.

Power hiking at its finest!                                             photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

Team Colorado: Michele, congrats on 169 miles of racing in a two week period (Dean Karnazes has nothing on you!). We heard a lot of (most) people say that UROC was one of the most difficult races they had ever done, do you think so?

Michele: UROC was a very challenging race, mostly due to the weather conditions. We experienced some dangerous, snowy conditions on one of the peaks, mud, ice, flooding, more snow...but all in all, that is what it's ALL about, right? ULTRA-going beyond others or beyond due limit...  The course tested our limits :) It had technical trail downhills, uphills, easy road, bike name it!

Team Colorado: How bad was the snow on the second big climb? You said you were waist deep (but you did describe yourself as "short"). Did that affect the rest of the race?

Michele: The snow wasn't too bad, it was just the wind that accompanied it! They said the temps up top reported below zero with gusts up to 30mph..and I believe it! There were some ledges that weren't seriously could have easily slid right down the mountain..that all made it fun! I think the only thing that affected my race was running 103 miles 2 weeks ago..otherwise, I was happy to be out there!

Team Colorado: I don't recall hearing one negative thing from you, everyone else was not as positive as you (did you eat some pop tarts or something)…did that help you get through the race?

Michele: Thanks, I always try to stay positive..and again, I am happy to be out there and blessed I have the ability to do so! 
Thumb up while climbing a 35% grade with a sandwich in her mouth              photo: The Prez
Team Colorado: You went from 2nd at the beginning of the race to 4th in the middle back up to 3rd at the finish, how was that getting passed and passing in such a tight race?

Michele: Hmm, legs were not happy to be out racing again so soon, however..the rest of me was :) So taking that into consideration...I had to take care of myself nutritionally and be more conservative at the beginning of the race...pretty much up to the last 15 miles. I didn't expect to be in second at one point, so again..I stayed conservative..then towards the end (after one REALLY rough low point) I hammered down! I knew I had to be realistic coming into this race. I was not going to be "fresh" with "spunk" in my legs..but I didn't ever count myself out of first place either. ..this is an ultra- anything can happen and a lot does!
Michele leaving Frisco in 3rd (within 45 sec. of the leaders) with the snowy mountains (and this guy) taunting her               photo: The Prez

Team Colorado: Thank you for giving us a dance! It was like you were turning a ultra into a discotech!

You were the girl that changed my world
You were the girl for me
You lit the fuse, I stand accused
You were the first for me
But you turned me out, baby
You dropped a bomb on me, baby...
                                                                                           -The Gap Band
That is not a literal bomb, if anyone from Homeland Security is reading this...oh, never mind, you guys are shut down! After swapping positions, Michele moved into 3rd place and secured her position, finishing in a time of 12:46:24.

Michele literally crossed the finish line and had to run over to the awards ceremony that was already in progress...way to go "Ultra World Championship".

Team Colorado making its mark on a snow-covered bridge, but it was gone before the runners arrived      photo: The Prez
Rickey with the red shoes, red jacket and red mustache, alongside awkward running friend Ryan Ghelfi                    photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

Rickey Gates started off in a great position at the beginning of the race, in about 7th place through the first aid station, but the course and weather seemed to take its toll on him. Cold weather can do that to a person. Though, sometimes it was hot...frigidly-hot. When the wind blew or if the runners happened to find themselves in a crotch-deep snow, it was really cold. At times of no wind and when the sun was blaring...all you wanted to do was take off your clothes. 
He took his clothes off                                         photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

When you want to know the time, just know that Krupicka has your back with a watch at the ready             photo: Joe Grant

We are still not sure if he was aware that he ran the last 40 miles in two different shoes. He started off with two red Salomon S-Lab Sense 2 and finished with one blue and one yellow Sense Mantra. Make sense?

                                                               Who's the man?                                                      photo: The Prez

"Hey kids, who wants some candy?'s been in my pants for 56 miles!"   photo: The Easter Bunny
Rickey takes the time to play the role of Kris Kringle and hand out candy to the kids in Minturn.

An obvious sign Rickey was struggling was when he texted his mom in the last 10 miles and told her he was suffering badly and needed Miller know you are struggling when you request Miller Light! It has the same molecular structure as water, so maybe he just wanted to rehydrate. Although, when offered a (real) beer with 100 meters to go in the race, Rickey turned it down stating, "I'll puke if drink that right now."

Gates fully clothed with see-through lingerie jacket and fall foliage        photo: Brad & Lori Clayton
Sage Canaday took the race out Sage Canaday style--honest. Having already had a phenomenal ultra year, Sage planned on continuing his streak with an "Ultra World Championship" win. After taking a prime at the top of the first climb, Sage swapped the lead several times with the front runners, always within striking distance.

                                                       Sage among the sage                                      photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

Word was that Sage took the lead at the halfway point (since the race was approximately 4 miles long). Everyone loves an honest person!

"How do I get this damn jacket off..."                           photo: The Prez

"Oh, right, it's a half zip!"                                    photo: The Prez

The pace was fast and the weather was exhausting. Sage soon found himself struggling with some of the other superstars. He later said, "My stomach felt so bad all day and after the race I had to go straight back to my hotel room and pass out...I couldn't muster up the energy to have a single sip of beer the whole night after the race (I know, pathetic!)."

Sage wore his fall camouflage                               photo: The Prez

At Minturn, Sage attempted to eat some potato chips which went from his hand to his mouth straight to the ground. He then proceeded to apologized for littering. He was shaking and complaining of stomach issues. "All I want to do is finish", were his main words at Minturn--10 miles to go. He doesn't remember much of the conversations with people beyond this point so we can say he said anything.

Read Sage's write up on his blog.

"Michael Jordan" or "Miley Cirus" decide     photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

After running the 10 miles paved bike path up and over Vail Pass, Kilian Jornet was asked by his crew (entourage is a better word) how he was feeling. He spoke sign language and held a imaginary gun to his head and pulled the finger. You'd think he was allergic pavement! Pavement doesn't exist in Spain, if you weren't aware.

Here is Kilian wear-testing a Salomon flesh-colored racing uniform?

Disclaimer: It is unclear whether Kilian twerked anyone during the UROC 106k.

Friends and crew recipients of Team Colorado, Stephanie Howe (The North Face) and Gary Gellin (Inov-8), both ran superbly, placing 2nd and 12th, respectively. Beer and Bloks were offered at every aid station.

                                      Stephanie Howe showing how(e) it's done                    photo: The Prez

Gary Gellin loading his guns                                   photo: The Prez


  1. Rob Krar (The North Face) – 9:29:00 
  2. Dakota Jones (Montrail) – 9:32:26 
  3. Cameron Clayton (Salomon) –10:06:24
  4. Kilian Jornet (Salomon) – 10:19:18
  5. Ryan Ghelfi (Rogue Valley Runners) – 10:24:37
  6. Sage Canaday (Scott, Team Colorado) – 11:00:26
  7. Jason Wolfe – 11:21:00
  8. Martin Gaffuri (New Balance) – 11:32:33
  9. Andrew Bock  – 11:36:46
  10. Mike Versteeg – 11:36:46
13. Rickey Gates (Salomon, Team Colorado) - 12:04:05

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 12:06:33
  2. Stephanie Howe (The North Face) – 12:29:27
  3. Michele Yates (Ultimate Dirction, GU, Team Colorado) – 12:46:24
  4. Francesca Canepa (Vibram) – 12:55:07
  5. Kerrie Bruxvoort (Salomon) – 13:23:39
  6. Helen Cospolich (The North Face) – 14:29:48
  7. Nikki LaRochelle – 14:33:04
  8. Leslie Howlett (Altra) – 14:57:48
  9. Jeanne Cooper – 16:35:31
  10. Lynne Holme - 19:29:47
Gooooooooooooooal! Canadian and Flagstaffer Rob Krar takes the win    photo: Brad & Lori Clayton

Full Results


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE the approach on all the blogs! :)

  2. Holy crap, that may have been the only blog in the last six months that actually made me laugh out loud - and it was well before that pavement does not exist in Spain!

    Well done TC!

    1. GZ, comments like that only encourage us!

      If you haven't pooped your pants, we have not succeeded in our goal.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. "That is not a literal bomb, if anyone from Homeland Security is reading this...oh, never mind, you guys are shut down!"

    That's a great line! :-) Good stuff as usual Prez. Also some great pics (many of which you took)

    1. I can't take all the credit. Michele, Sage and Rickey contributed the content, I just added the twerking jokes.

      Special thanks to our official photographer, Barack!

    2. "Barack" has a great eye for capturing the fall foliage. As GZ alluded to, this is unique content that I think many across the country would appreciate for a laugh. Not many running blogs of the satirical/punny genre :-)