Ultrarunning Edge Blog
Shorty's Cutoff Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 15 June 2015 09:08

Shorty's Cutoff is a great section of trail that doesn't get enough use by trail runners. The southern part of Shorty's connects White Pine Creek trail to Steam Mill Hollow, and the northern part extends from Steam Mill Hollow to Steep Hollow. This northern section is also mile 64 to 67 of the Bear 100, but hardly any Bear 100 runners ever see it in daylight.

Yesterday my dog and I started at the Tony Grove backcountry trailhead and ran to White Pine lake, where we picked up the White Pine Creek trail east. About a mile after turning onto White Pine Creek trail, the trail crosses White Pine creek. Below the crossing, the trail continues east about 3/4 mile down a big open meadow. I find the easiest way to get to Shorty's is to bushwack north across the creek at the base of this meadow. You quickly see a trail north of the naomi_high_countryshortys_westcreek, and you can follow this trail west (upstream) for about 1/3 mile to Shorty's Cutoff. This first part of Shorty's is narrow and rocky (needs more use) and climbs fairly steeply to a pass between the White Pine creek and Steam Mill creek drainages. The trail from the pass down to Steam Mill creek is wider and can be a lot of fun for a runner. The trail reaches Steam Mill creek right at the Steam Mill itself.

After crossing Steam Mill creek, Shorty's Cutoff heads north across a meadow. (Do not take the main Steam Mill trail which heads east down the meadow.) Just beyond this meadow, Shorty's climbs through some trees out to a higher meadow. From here the trail continues north for three miles, alternating between dark, fir-lined draws and large meadows with fantastic vistas. You cross Hell's Kitchen canyon drainage and pass above the yurt, eventually arriving at the jeep trail down Steep Hollow. This northernmost three miles of Shorty's is a really enjoyable section of trail, although the trail surface is not as good as it was a few years ago. Also this year there is a portion where an avalanche brought down many fir trees (the first major draw north after the climb out of Steam Mill). The horsemen have done a good job sawing through the downed fir trees, but the trail itself still needs major work there.

After getting to Steep Hollow, we reversed course and returned to the Tony backcountry trailhead. Total distance was around 22 miles.
Trail Conditions for the 2015 Logan Peak Trail Run Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 13:40

It has been a strange year for weather in the high country—very warm, dry Winter and very wet Spring. Over the last few weekends, I've been up on different parts of the course for the Logan Peak Trail Run.

Most of the trail is in pretty good shape. Last weekend I cut out a number of downed trees on the N. Syncline portion of the trail. (Three downed fir trees of moderate size still remain.) The S. Syncline had a lot of late snow. The snow has mostly melted by now, and there was only one significant downed tree. The Providence Canyon jeep trail also had a lot of residual snow, but it should be gone by race day.

I have not been on the actual road to the peak, but there is only one short section that is significantly protected. I expect the road to the peak to be fully clear of snow by race day.

Conditions look good for the race!

2008 Gary Fisher Cronus/Wahoo Build—not your father's hardtail!!! Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 23 March 2014 04:42

In recent years, I've found I can't routinely run four or five days a week the way I once did. My solution has been to start riding a mountain bike for some of my training. So this past Fall, it was time to build a new mountain bike. Much of the mountain biking world is switching to 29 inch wheels and full-suspension frames. I'm sure I would want a 29er if I were planning to do something like the Leadville 100 bike race, but for now I wanted something really fun—something that would motivate me to get out and ride hard and long. A lightweight 26er hardtail seemed like just the prescription.

On the Old Bear 100 Course Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 30 July 2012 07:17

One of my favorite stretches from the old Bear 100 course is the Highline trail between Danish Pass and Paris Canyon. It's been several years since I last ran this, and lately several of us have been saying how much we wanted to go back and run part(s) of the Old Bear.

So yesterday morning, Milada and I drove up to the base of German Dugway bright and early. Temperatures were fairly cool starting out, but predicted to be in the 90s by mid-day. We climbed the 3 miles up German Dugway to the top of Paris Canyon in early morning light (great vistas). We then headed south on the Highline trail.
Preview of the 2012 Logan Peak Trail Run (Finding Tools with Caballo Blanco) Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Friday, 04 May 2012 18:01

Yesterday morning it was again time for our annual snow trek to Logan Peak. Participants were Scott Datwyler, Ryan Dunkley, Dan Judd, Tyler Shurtleff, and myself. I suggested we run this year in memory of Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) who passed away while trail running in the Gila Mountain Wilderness a month ago. Many of you will remember Caballo Blanco as the elusive, gringo trail runner of the Mexican Copper Canyon area in Chris McDougall's bestseller "Born to Run".

In past years we've usually started at the top of the Providence quarry. This year because of the washed out upper Providence Canyon road, we had to start on the new Providence Canyon singletrack trail about a mile below the base of the quarry. When we began running at 5:45 AM, temps were in the low 40s with a low cloud ceiling and a pronounced southerly wind. Conditions improved as the morning wore on.

As we climbed up the canyon above the quarry, we eventually hit snow at about the same point we do every year (this year, however, we went as much as a month earlier than usual). In protected areas, there is still quite a bit of snow, but snow levels are low to nonexistent in very open areas or areas with pronounced southern exposure. Once we hit the main peak ridge, there was good packed snow for runnng, and we only occasionally broke through. At Logan Peak, views were spectacular as usual, but there was a VERY bitter wind.

Descending west from Logan Peak along the ridge to Little Baldy and below, the snow was pretty good for running/glissading—though we all had some spectacular falls whenever we hit soft areas. Once we reached the pass between Little Baldy and Temple Baldy, the remainder of the run (South Syncline trail, Welches Flat jeep trail, lower Providence Canyon jeep trail) was mostly free of snow.

Every year we find various tools along the route. This year was no different: Scott quickly picked up a nice multi-purpose tool along the Providence Canyon jeep trail above the quarry, and I soon found a 10 mm box/open end wrench. But in the end, I trumped Scott in the 'found tools' department. Late in the run as we were coming down the Welches Flat jeep trail, Scott, Tyler, and Ryan stopped to get water at Welches spring just below the trail. As we were leaving the area, I stepped over a strange object in the wheel track on the main Welches jeep trail. When I turned back to examine it, I discovered it was a 4 1/4 inch by 1 3/8 inch knapped chert point—most likely an ancient (Fremont ???) Native American knife. Very cool!!! (Reluctant to leave something this important on the jeep trail, I carefully carried it out with me. After shooting a number of good photos, I've turned it over to the Forest Service for further study/analysis.) Scott and I have run this trail dozens of times, and both the Logan Peak Trail Run (120 runners/yr) and the Bear 100 (200 runners/yr) follow this route. So this knapped chert point has to have appeared (frost heaving or spring glacial transport) some time between last fall and now. Maybe this find means Caballo Blanco truly was running with us in spirit.
Autumn in Green Canyon Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 23 October 2011 08:51

Of all the runs and races I didn't get to do this summer, there was none I missed more than the Green Canyon Beirdneau Ridge loop. So with the warm temperatures and very late Fall we are having, Friday seemed like an opportune time to try Green Canyon. The elk hunt had ended on Wednesday, and the regular season deer hunt wouldn't start until Saturday. I didn't think snow would be a problem because I had been up at 9000 feet on the Highline trail the previous weekend and encountered only 6 inches or so of snow in very protected locations.

I arrived at the lower King's Park trailhead with my dog at 10 AM (a later start so that temperatures could warm some). I was able to run almost all the singletrack up to the Green Canyon backcountry trailhead (I must be finally getting my uphill running strength back). Even with our late start, we were able to get on the upper Green Canyon trail well before the hunters packing in early for the deer hunt. At 11 AM, most of the meadow was still heavily frosted, but air temperatures were rising quickly as the sun crested over the ridge. The lighting made the fall colors spectacular, and I stopped to shoot several pictures.
That Awful "Snap": Recovering from a Broken Ankle Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Friday, 14 October 2011 17:45

Some of you know I was out of commission most of this past summer after breaking my ankle on Memorial Day weekend. It has taken until now to pretty much fully recover.

This all began on a drizzly morning trail run. I had been out for about an hour and was feeling pretty good when I arrived at the wooden foot bridge over the creek in Corner Canyon. This is one of those curved, wooden, Japanese-style bridges. I've been across it dozens of times in the past. fib1 Yes it can be treacherous on a frosty morning, but temperatures were in the high 30's. I didn't give it a second thought. I ran to the crest of the bridge and took one more step, at which point both my feet shot out from underneath me, and I was sliding down the bridge on my back. At the base of the bridge there is a slight lip. My left foot caught the lip, and as the leg buckled under I heard that awful "snap". After 10 or 20 seconds of intense pain and nausea, I cautiously got up on my uninjured leg and began to test a little weight on the injured leg. Initially the foot on the injured leg was canted to the side at an odd angle. However, as soon as I put weight on the foot, I felt the ankle rotate back into correct position, and the ankle was stable again. I was about 1/4 mile from a trailhead, so I called my wife and some friends to come meet me, and I hobbled to the trailhead.

A trip to the ER and some X-rays confirmed what I had known all along. My ankle was broken. The break involved only the fibula (3 inches above the ankle bone). The fibula is basically a stabilizer rod for the ankle, but it supports only about 5% of body weight when walking, which is why I was able to hobble for 1/4 mile without intense pain. The X-rays showed the broken bone to be almost correctly lined up, so the ER doctor gave me a strap on boot cast, some crutches, and told me to see an orthopaedist.
Early Course Conditions for the 2011 Logan Peak Trail Run Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 22 May 2011 09:16

Yesterday morning I decided it was time to get out and assess conditions on at least part of the course for the Logan Peak Trail Run. In any normal year, Scott Datwyler and I would have already been to Logan Peak by now. But with much larger than normal amounts of precipitation and average temperatures 10-15 degrees below normal, this is no normal year. I took one of my sled dogs and headed for Providence Canyon.

We ran up the canyon road for a mile or so, then forded the creek and picked up the new Providence Canyon single-track trail. I moved a few tree limbs off the trail here and there, but the new trail is in surprisingly good condition for this early in the season. The only part of it that needs work is the quarter-mile section above the old shooting range (roughly 2 miles up the canyon). In this section, the new trail becomes indistinct amongst the many old jeep trails and the many new ATV tracks and cow paths.

The Providence Canyon single-track joins the Providence Canyon road about a quarter mile below the old Providence quarry. As we neared this point, I was already beginning to see large patches of snow extending almost down to the road along the south slope of the canyon. The road itsef was clear to the base of the quarry. Beyond this point a steep, loose-gravel, jeep trail climbs to the quarry. Three quarters of this jeep trail was snow-covered, and I watched as a large 4WD pickup truck lost traction 50 yards onto the snow. The quarry itself was substantially snow covered, and everything above the quarry (including the Providence Canyon jeep trail) was fully snow covered.

At the quarry (6700 ft.), I stopped to get out trekking poles, Yaktrax, and nordic ski gaiters. I also switched from a short sleeve shirt to a light-weight long sleeve thermal. It was a nice day, but the presence of so much snow was enough to lower the air temperature by a good 10 degrees relative to the lower canyon.

It's always a stiff climb from the quarry to the top of the canyon. Fortunately even at mid-day the snow was very firm, and so I seldom sank more than an inch or two. About 3/4 mile above the quarry (7500 ft.), the South Syncline trail joins the Providence jeep trail. The junction is marked by a reflector mounted about five feet up an aspen tree. This reflector was at ankle level. A short way beyond there, we encountered fresh snow.
We continued the additional 3/4 mile to the junction of the Welches Flat jeep trail (LPTR course) and the Providence Canyon jeep trail (8100 ft.) At this point I estimated snow depth to be 6 feet, and the amount of fresh snow had increased to at least 6 inches, making traction poor. We turned around here and descended back down the canyon.

By race day, much of the course for the Logan Peak Trail Run is likely to be clear. However, I expect patches of snow along the S. Syncline trail in Logan Dry Canyon, along parts of the Welches Flat jeep trail, along much of the N. Syncline trail, and of course extensive snow on the climb to the peak.
Energy Gel Packets—A Pocket Full of Goo? Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Thursday, 29 July 2010 14:56

Today I experienced my fourth leaking energy gel packet in as many months. I've had it!!! Three different manufacturers: PowerBar, GU, and Hammer Nutrition. In every case the gel packet was not punctured; instead it was leaking from a seam in the packet or a crease where the packet was folded.

For years energy gels have been substantially overpriced—somewhere between eight and ten times the cost of the gel ingredients. Manufacturers have mostly justified these high prices on the basis of the packaging. That was fine as long as the packaging worked. I've been using gels for over seven years, and my handling of gel packets hasn't changed. If anything my usage of gel packets has declined over time. So why all of a sudden are so many gel packets leaking?

Starting today, I refuse to put up with it anymore. We now have lots of options when it comes to getting carbohydrates and electrolytes for endurance running, cycling, etc. Gel manufacturers can either start producing bullet-proof gel packages, offer a money-back guarantee, or deal with lots of very negative publicity and loss of business.

Leave a comment about your experiences with gels.

Running the Green Canyon, Mt. Elmer, Beirdneau High Country Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 10:18
green_canyon_westOne of my absolute favorite early summer runs is the roughly 25 mile partial loop route that goes up Green Canyon, over to Mt. Elmer, back along Beirdneau ridge, down the Preston Valley Trail, and back to the mouth of Green Canyon. Now that my duties as co-race director for the Logan Peak Trail Run are largely completed for 2010, yesterday it was time to to go see Elmer.

In the past few years, cyclists, ultrarunners, hikers, YCC members, and forest service trail crews have constructed single-track trail segments that parallel the main forest service road up Green Canyon. It is now possible to travel to the top of Green Canyon almost entirely on single-track trail with only a few hundred yards required on the forest service road. The lower part of Green Canyon is entirely runnable, climbing only 1600 feet in about 5.5 miles to the Wilderness boundary. From there to the top of Green Canyon, the trail becomes much rockier and climbs an additional 2100 feet in a little less than three miles.
Course Conditions for the Logan Peak Trail Run Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 07 June 2010 10:27

north_high_countryA month ago, snow levels were below normal in the northern Utah high country. This weekend, Kelly Bradbury, Lynn Hulme, and I ran the last 9 miles of the Logan Peak Trail Run course. The previous weekend I had run the first 11 miles of the course. In many places there is a great deal of snow! Clearly several spring storms and much colder than normal temperatures have left the course with substantially more snow than typical for early June.

In Logan Dry Canyon, there is little snow until the location of Aid Station #1. From that point all along the south slope of Dry Canyon, snow is significant. I did not flag any of the course there, but runners/hikers should have no difficulty following my footsteps. Along the exposed west flank of Little Baldy and along the western part of the Welches Flat jeep trail in Providence Canyon, there is little snow. However, the eastern part of the Welches Flat jeep trail and the Providence Canyon jeep trail both have much snow—enough to make route-finding a challenge.

North of Logan Dry Canyon, there is quite a bit of snow. We lightly flagged the course going in the reverse direction from Aid Station #1 to about mile 19 on the course. East of that point, the course was effectivelly impassable due to extensive but very soft snow.
Runners who wish to preview that part of the course will need to travel very early in the morning when the snow is firm. There are many large logs that have been cut in previous years to keep the trail open. Following cut logs will be the only workable route-finding strategy until enough snow melts to be able to see patches of the actual trail.

Although snow has been melting rapidly for the last few days, we are expected to have four or five days of colder than normal weather later this week. I expect the course will still have significant amounts of snow by race day—particularly on the climb to/from the peak and along the NE corner of the course.

Wilderness and Ultrarunning: The Great Divide Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 23 May 2010 12:59

With more and more ultramarathon races filling early and with this year's prominent closure or rerouting of several races held on public land, it is time for us to re-evaluate the relationship between ultrarunning and Wilderness.

Like many ultrarunners I am a strong supporter of wilderness (with a little w). Originally I began running long distances on trails as a grant_swamp_passway to experience spectacular regions of backcountry and wilderness without having to commit large amounts of time and resources (e.g. backpacking). I suspect many other ultrarunners are the same. Over time I discovered that 50 and 100 mile races made this even easier by safely eliminating the need for extensive route logistics and time-consuming caching of food/water/supplies.

There is typically no problem with non-competitive ultrarunning in National Wilderness, and many of us cherish the time we spend running in National Wilderness areas. I will certainly never forget running rim-to-rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon or running to Indian Pass and back in the Wind River Range or even my many trips across the Mount Naomi Wilderness (though I sometimes question the wisdom in creating a "Wilderness area" that can be crossed in 2.5 hours). I'm sure many other ultrarunners have similar cherished memories of Wilderness trips.

There has however always been a shaky relationship between ultrarunning races and Wilderness (big W). There are widespread misconceptions that the Wilderness Act of 1964 explicitly excludes organized competion. In fact such exclusions (where they formally exist) are contained in federal agency management plans—NOT in the Wilderness Act itself. The Wilderness Act does explicitly exclude commercial enterprise, but allows commercial services "performed for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas". Under this latter aegis, commercial fishing and hunting guides and outfitters providing pack animals are routinely permitted. Mining and grazing of livestock is also explicitly allowed in the Wilderness Act. Arguably therefore, ultramarathon races which are (mostly) not-for-profit events should not be excluded as commercial enterprises.
Registration for the 2010 Logan Peak Trail Run Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 03 January 2010 21:14

logan_peak_raceRegistration is now open for the 2010 Logan Peak Trail race, which will be held Saturday, June 26, 2010. This is a tough 28 mile mountain trail race on predominantly singletrack and jeep trail with 7200+ feet of vertical gain/descent. Located in the Cache-Wasatch National Forest of northern Utah, the scenery is spectacular. The course follows a modified lollipop pattern in which Logan Dry Canyon makes up the stem, and the loop is formed by circumnavigating Logan Peak. Midway through the loop, runners climb to and descend from the peak.

Kelly Bradbury first organized this race three years ago. Scott Datwyler and I are the race directors for 2010. This year we are offering online registration through UltraSignup.com. The race will be capped at 100 runners.

Pinole: Eat Like a Tarahumara Runner Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 17:22

The breakout bestseller "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall has stimulated a number of recent ultrarunning blog articles extolling the biomechanical virtues of Tarahumara (Raramuri) Indian running style (see e.g. Proper Running Technique Can Improve Performance, and Elements of the Perfect Trail Running Shoe). But the Tarahumara Indian approach to eating on the run is equally intriguing. These runners use pinole (a form of corn meal) as a primary energy source when distance running. Interestingly American Indians and 18th and 19th century Mountain Men (all known to rapidly cover long distances on foot) also often subsisted on pinole supplemented with pemmican or jerky. For a couple months now, I've been experimenting with pinole as my carbohydrate energy source on longer runs. For me, pinole seems to work every bit as well as—maybe better than—gel.

Pinole is easy to prepare. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, blend 2 cups corn meal, 1/3 cup honey, 0.5 teaspoon lite salt, and 0.25 teaspoon table salt. Spread the mixture uniformly on a cookie sheet (with sides) and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until medium golden. About every 5 minutes, you will need to use a spatula to mix (breaking up any big lumps that remain) and spread the pinole on the cookie sheet. This keeps it from getting too browned, and the corn meal mixes more easily with the honey as it gets hot. When the pinole is medium golden, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let cool. Store the pinole in a closed container at room temperature.

Corn meal contains about 160 calories per ounce by weight. So in energy terms, pinole is pretty much a direct replacement for gel on a volume basis. I find that gel flasks are a convenient way to carry pinole. Simply unscrew the flask top, and pour about an ounce volume of pinole into your mouth. Pinole tastes like a slightly sweet, crunchy version of popcorn. Chew and swallow most of it; then chase with 6 - 8 ounces of water. It takes somewhat longer to digest cornmeal than maltodextran or simple sugars, which are used in many gels. In this respect pinole is more comparable to gels based on brown rice syrup. If you're one of those runners who wait until your blood sugar starts to dive before consuming a gel, pinole probably won't work very well for you.

The Indians mix some cinnamon with their pinole. I don't particularly like cinnamon, but it does help modulate blood sugar. Regular corn meal works fine for piñole, but if you can find blue corn or one of the other maize meals, go for it!

Elements of the Perfect Trail Running Shoe Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 16 November 2009 12:23

For years I've been deeply dissatisfied with most available trail running shoes. Several weeks ago, I read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall—a fascinating and highly entertaining book about the Tarahumara Indians and ultrarunning in general. McDougall's book reinforced many of my complaints with commercial trail running shoes, and helped to focus my ideas about what a perfect trail running shoe really ought to be.

I recognize that feet come in a variety of shapes and sizes and that not every trail runner (or road runner) needs or wants the same thing. On the other hand ultrarunning is all about pushing boundaries, and where our feet are concerned, frankly many of us need to push the boundaries a bit further. There is a widespread misconception that characteristics like arch height/strength, tendency to supinate or pronate, etc. are dictated primarily by genetics. This is not really true, as any serious cyclist who started with 'flat feet' knows. It is perfectly possible to build and strengthen your arch, and doing so leads to feet that are more 'neutral'. Unfortunately the current emphasis on running shoes that provide motion control, stability, and cushioning simply serves to perpetuate weaker feet. I'm not suggesting that every trail runner throw out their shoes and run barefoot (even most primitive human cultures wore some type of foot protection). Nor am I suggesting that ultrarunners quit using their favorite shoes for long
Last High Country Run of the 2009 Season Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 01 November 2009 18:32

Last weekend, I decided it was time to get out for one last, long, high-country run this season. We had already experienced several early snowstorms, but most of the snow had melted below the 8500 - 9000 foot level. With another major snowstorm and cold temperatures predicted for the following Tuesday, it seemed likely that the high country would soon be too inaccessible for distance running. All summer long, I had been wanting to get back to some parts of the old Bear 100 course. This seemed like it might be a good opportunity.

german_dugwayI drove up Cub River canyon to the base of German Dugway. My plan was to run up German Dugway to the top of Paris Canyon and then take the Highline Trail north over into Horseshoe Basin, on to the top of Dry Basin, and then back—about 20 miles round trip, with elevations ranging from 7000 - 8600 feet. By mid-morning it was already a gorgeous day: clear, 28 degrees fahrenheit, and no wind. Climbing up German Dugway, the ground was still nicely frozen, and running conditions were perfect. The vistas to the west were beautiful. I felt strong, and my dog and I made good time. Once we got over onto the Highline Trail, we began encountering mud in places where there had been a lot of recent ATV traffic. I wondered how bad this might get in another two hours.

The portion of Highline Trail that descends from the ridge into Horseshoe Basin is high and north facing. Here there was about six inches of firm, crusty snow, and the running was fantastic! As we reached Horseshoe Basin proper, we began to again encounter places with lots of sloppy, freeze-thaw mud. This continued all the way to the top of Dry Basin, except for about half a mile where the trail winds through a heavily protected forest of pines and firs.

On the return trip the mud was definitely getting worse in places, but overall not too bad. The views were still spectacular, and we flew down German Dugway to the car. The run took just over four hours—not bad considering the mud. It was a great way to end the main running season!

Dancing the New Bear Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 09:06

My wife Gayle and I have worked as volunteers (aid station captains, flagging trail, etc.) for the Bear 100 since 2003. In 2007, I ran the Bear 100 (the last year of the old course). 2008 was the first year of the new course. I had run the Bighorn 100 earlier that season, and so I agreed to man an aid station and do some pacing. However by the time race day rolled around in 2008, it was obvious I was in really good condition and should have been running the race. Moreover I was thoroughly familiar with the new course. When it turned out that so many runners had problems navigating the new course, I made the decision then and there that I was going to run the new course this year.

There would be complications, however. Inadequate trail signage is/has been a nagging problem in the Cache Wasatch National Forest. Worse, we have persistent problems at ultra races in this area due to people (disgruntled hunters, disgruntled hippies, disgruntled motorized users, etc.) removing (or intentionally moving) trail flagging. Because of last year's navigation problems on the new course, I volunteered this year to be in charge of course marking. I also really wanted to eliminate the longstanding hassle of putting up glow sticks along some 60 miles of the course immediately before dark. If I was going to accomplish these tasks AND run the Bear 100, I would have to get organized. I managed to put together a team of 12 experienced runners/hikers to mark the course. Then late in August, we came up with high intensity reflector technology to replace glow sticks for night time trail marking. Hopefully everything would go according to plan, because if it didn't, I was going to end up spending a great deal of time fixing course markings while I was supposedly trying to race the Bear 100.

On race day it was slightly chilly at the start, but nowhere near as cold as normal in late September. We've been having a heat wave. At 6:00 AM everybody took off. Initially we were pretty well massed together. After passing ten people or so, I managed to settle in with a large group that went at a pace I liked. I remember it was nice chatting with friends and acquaintances from other races. But most of the first 5 or 6 hours of the race itself weren't especially memorable to me; I spend too much time on that part of the course during the rest of the year.

After screaming down Leatham Hollow, I was right on pace when I reached the Leatham aid station. There, Gayle was ready with my drop bag. After a quick shirt change, water bottle refills, and some melon, I was running again. The climb up Left Hand Fork and Richards Hollow was uneventful. Near the top of Richards, I caught up with Tim Seminoff and Errol Jones. Soon Errol and I took off fast on the descent to the Cowley aid station. Somewhere along there in the powdery dust that obscures the road underneath, I managed to stub my right middle toe on a rock. I slowed a bit, and at the Cowley aid station, I spent a couple minutes taping the toe tightly. It would annoy but not slow me the rest of the race.
High Intensity Reflectors for Marking Night Trails Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 06 September 2009 13:06

The 2009 Bear 100 will be using high-intensity reflectors instead of glow sticks to mark the night time part of the course. Ultra trail races have for years used glow sticks to mark the trail at night. While glow sticks do a decent job indicating night time routes, they are abhorrent in many other respects. Glow sticks are expensive; they generate complaints from other trail users; they are environmentally unsatisfactory; and they require a special trip over the course for placement (because of their short life time). Here at the Bear 100, we have been searching for a good alternative to glow sticks, and we think we have found it in the form of high-intensity reflective film or tape.

reflectorsThere are actually quite a variety of high-intensity reflective materials available. The material we are using is 3M Scotchlite Diamond Grade 983 reflective tape. A great deal of optical engineering has gone into this and related products, yielding a very high reflectivity even at low light levels (RA ~ 800 cd/lux/m2 at optimal angles) and good reflectivity at low angles from the reflective surface (RA ~ 300 cd/lux/m2 at 45 degrees). This material is also highly durable (seven to ten year life), meaning we should be able to reuse these reflectors for quite a few races.

We will be deploying reflectors as 1/2 in. x 3 in. strips attached to standard plastic flagging. This shape is similar to a glow stick and will hopefully make it easier for runners to make the transition from glow sticks to reflectors. The linear shape should also increase the likelihood that reflectors will still be visible when partially obscured by foliage. These strips cost roughly 13 - 14 cents apiece. In testing, these reflectors are easily visible at 100 yards—similar to glow sticks (see 2_reflectors_at_100_yards).
Preparing for the 2009 Bear 100 Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 31 August 2009 11:25

With four weeks remaining until the 2009 Bear 100, it's time to map out a race strategy. I want to try something a little different for this race because I always seem to have big problems with stomach distress and hypoglycemia between miles 20 to 35 in races. I plan to start slow and go easy. This way I can hopefully avoid trashing my muscles during the period when my energy maintenance is poor. Then at about 40 miles, I plan to speed up and hopefully keep a faster pace for the remainder of the race.

Since mid July I've been working to maintain much of the conditioning base I had built (but didn't really get to use) for Hardrock. Because that was mainly steep up-canyon/down-canyon conditioning, I have lately been doing more speed work on relatively flat hopelessterrain. Much of my long distance training for the Bear 100 has been and will be pacing. A week ago I paced one of my running partners for the last half of the Leadville 100, (congratulations Milada, you did really well), and I'll be pacing for a little under 40 miles at the Wasatch 100 in two weeks. Pacing long distances as a form of training fits well with my new race strategy, since the typical average speed while pacing is about what I want to shoot for in the first third of a 100-mile race. 

I'm pretty familiar with the Bear 100 course. Yesterday, I took one of my sled dogs for a quick run up Blind Hollow to Tony Grove and back. This is the only portion of the course I had never been over. The grade and terrain is reminiscent of Richards Hollow. I alternated running and power hiking on the way up, and then blasted down it on the return trip. The route is fairly easy to follow, except in the vicinity of Tony Grove, where there is a maze of trails. Fortunately this will be well-marked on race day for Bear 100 runners.
Pacing the 2009 Hardrock 100 Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 20:47

2009 was supposed to be my year to run the Hardrock 100. Alas it was not to happen. I was position 32 on the wait list after the lottery in early February. Over the next 5 months I advanced to position 5. Based on past years, my chances for getting into the race looked good. So we drove to Silverton, CO. Unfortunately this year, for the first time, no one on the wait list got in at the end of registration.

camp_bird_roadFrustrated, I decided to see if someone still needed a pacer. Ouray, 56 miles into the race and the lowest point on the course, seemed like a good place to look for a runner who might want a pacer. Sure enough around 8 PM Kirsten Thompson showed up looking for a pacer for her husband Sam Thompson, who was expected to arrive soon. I was careful to caution her that Sam is a lot faster than me, and I might not be able to keep up for the entire last 44 miles of the race. On the other hand, I climb well, have good skills on technical downhills, and lots of experience with night trail running. I was confident I could get Sam from Ouray to Telluride and probably to Chapman at a good pace. There also weren't any other available pacers.

Sam and I left Ouray a little before 9 PM and headed up the trail through Box Canyon Park, which eventually spilled us out onto the Camp Bird Road. We power hiked this FS road almost 6 miles and 2800 feet up to the Governor Basin aid station. Along the way we saw a total of two trail markers.