Ultrarunning Edge Blog
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.

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
My Favorite Things: Yaktrax Pro Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 29 December 2008 21:03

yaktraxFor efficient winter running traction on packed snow trails here in the Wasatch mountains, nothing beats the Yaktrax Pro! They slip over running shoes easily, and the velcro strap makes it easy (and comfortable) to cinch them down securely. At 5.5 oz per pair, they add very little weight to your feet, and they are simple to pack because there are no sharp spikes or abrasive edges to worry about.

The mountains of Utah tend to have drier, powdery snow. If we get ice, it's usually a thin layer at the very bottom of the snow. Most years that is a long way down. Yaktrax are designed to grip over their entire bottom webbed surface. This gives optimal traction in packed snow, where spikes would have little or nothing to grip against.  

Yaktrax are not for everybody. If you run in some other part of the world where there is a lot of ice or crust, you may be better off with spikes. Also Yaktrax do not hold up well on rocks or dirt. For traction on roads or trails where there is occasional ice, you're probably better off with spikes or studded shoes (my preference on icy pavement).

If you need traction on packed snow trails that don't have exposed rock or dirt, I highly recommend the Yaktrax Pro.

My Favorite Things: Camelbak Octane 8+ Hydration Pack Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Saturday, 08 November 2008 15:48

Nothing makes it simpler for me to 'just get out there' than the Camelbak Octane octane8 8+ hydration pack. It is light enough for racing, but roomy enough for long, self-supported, backcountry trail runs. Unexpanded (525 cu in), it is sleek and efficient. Fully expanded, it has huge capacity. The shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, and the substantial belt makes it possible to loosen the shoulder straps considerably for a more relaxed upper body when running. The two side belt pockets—easily accessible while running—are perfect for carrying 5.5 oz gel bottles and/or electrolytes, meds, etc.

I've never been very satisfied with fanny packs for running—they simply bounce around the tops of my hips too much. Apart from this, the advantage of the Octane 8+ is that it makes it possible to carry lightweight but bulky items that would never fit in a fanny pack. During cold nighttime portions of races, I have sometimes used the Octane to carry spare tights, top, socks, gloves, emergency equipment and extra gel/food without even pushing the unexpanded capacity of the pack. I have only used the expansion capacity once, but merely knowing it is available greatly simplifies clothing choices for extended runs.
Try a Belly Light for Night Running Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 12 October 2008 10:50

The last few times I've paced or run a 100-miler, I've been using a belly light in addition to a headlamp. This has proved to be a highly effective arrangement for lighting the trail at night. The belly light provides better trail illumination than a headlamp because it is closer to the ground, and the beam makes a less acute angle to the ground. The beam from a belly lamp does have some side-to-side sway when running, although less than you typically get with a hand-held or arm mounted light. The combination of a belly light and a headlamp is especially good because the two light beams move independently when running and have different angles to the ground. In my experience, there is more than sufficient light when both the headlamp and belly light are set on low beam.
Can I Get Those Socks in Black or...? Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Wednesday, 07 May 2008 14:59

As a long time trailrunner, one of my pet peeves is equipment companies that just don't seem to get it! I know it's difficult for manufacturers to produce equipment which suits everyone's exact needs. I don't expect that. But sometimes I wonder who the equipment manufacturers ARE getting their ideas from.

Take the case of trailrunning socks. For years I've used trail socks made by a certain well known outdoor white_sockssock company. Those socks were comfortable, well-cushioned, tough, and ahem...not white! Recently that company discontinued their trail sock line in favor of white road running socks. We trailrunners run in mud, gravel, peat, dust, sand, snow, and occasionally even ash. No matter how good your shoes or how high your gaiters, the trail is going to get into your socks. White doesn't make much sense! Sure the number of road racers dwarfs the number of trail racers; however a lot of those road racers train on trails. And yes I know there are other companies that make trail socks in colors besides white.