Jul 18, 2010


Mile 110
Badwater was an amazing experience for me. I feel very privileged to have been there and have seen it close-up.

I dropped from races for a lot less than what Tony went through. A LOT less. Yet every time he went down, he kept getting up and persevered, and finished.

As a result, I have a whole new perspective on ultra running.

For the rest of the summer, I will be taking a break from writing regular updates to this blog.

Jul 8, 2010

Death Valley bound


The mercury hit 103ºF in Central Park on Tuesday

Was just a mellowed-down sneak preview of this...

The mecurury will push 120ºF next Monday and Tuesday in Death Valley

I leave tonight. Psyched!!!

Important info!

Race starts Monday Morning.
Follow @IRunUltras on twitter, we will try to keep that updated with Tony's status: http://twitter.com/irunultras

If you want to know the actual temperature in Death Valley, most of the web sites you visit use sensors located 100 miles or more from the course! I have found only one site reading a sensor actually located in Death Valley proper - on the road between Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek  (specifically, where Rt. 190 and the road to Beatty, NV intersect): so click here for real current conditions! http://weather.weatherbug.com/CA/Death%20Valley-weather.html?zcode=z6286&stat=DTHVL

I will, of course, be posting updates as I can to my own twitter account. Also, there might not be a post to this blog on Monday - I might opt to wait until after the race to post a report from my perspective. That will be as early as Tuesday afternoon or as late as Thursday morning.

Did I happen to mention I was psyched??!?!?!

New entries for Steve's blog are published on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00am NY time

Jul 6, 2010

Photos from Maine - Mt Katahdin, Knife Edge, Cathedral Ridge

On Saturday, July 3rd 2010 I hiked Mt. Katahdin in Maine. It was my 32nd State Highpoint. I ascended via the Cathedral Ridge and Descended via the Knife Edge. The just-under-10-mile hike took just-under-11-hours. I started right after 6am and finished before 5pm. I did the hike solo: I was by myself, but not alone as there was plenty of company on all the trails.

If you're here to find out what you can expect on the Knife Edge in terms of exposure, I tried to capture its essence in the photos below. You can click on them for larger versions. I hesitate to say that I did justice to the Knife Edge, but I will say that my photos did as good a job as I was capable of shooting. The best photos are here in this post, but there's a link to the entire gallery of photos at the bottom of this email.

I will say this about Cathedral Ridge and the Knife Edge - they're both not to be missed. The Knife Edge is famously spectacular; unique among hiking trails in the Eastern United States. But don't discount the Cathedral Ridge, which, like the Knife Edge, features significant scrambling combined with exposure. Two park rangers advised against descending via the Cathedral Ridge, and instead climb Cathedral and do Knife Edge on the way down. I reversed by planned route to follow their suggestion and in retrospect have to agree with them. It is much easier to Ascend Cathedral Ridge - descending it would have been unnecessarily dangerous.

Mt. Katahdin's parking reservation system is excellent. I recommend using it. I left New York on Friday night confident that I'd have a spot at the Roaring Brook campground, which appears to be the best place to park if you want to experience the Knife Edge. If I remember correctly, all the spots for Roaring Brook were reserved before the gate opened at 5:30am.

I wore a GPS on this hike, and the log is available here.

This model of the Mountain shows my route. I ascended via the Cathedral Trail, and descended via the Knife Edge to Helon Taylor.

GPS Log of my Route, with miles marked. Mile 5 is at the Summit.

Elevation Chart

The Ascent - Cathedral Trail

The real work begins shortly after Chimney Pond at mile 3.5

This is what Chimney Pond looks like from the summit.

The route up ascends three enormous cathedral rocks

Zoomed out view of previous photo (both were shot from the knife edge)

Difficult rock scrambling begins immediately. These boulders were all larger than 4 feet across.

After an hour of scrambling to go about a half-mile, this is how far I'd gotten

Halfway there

A few hundred vertical feet below the summit. "oops." Much more mellow saddle trail in background.

State Highpoint #32. Northeast region complete.

360º Panorama from the Summit of Katahdin
360º Panorama from the Summit of Katahdin
The Descent - Knife Edge to Helon Taylor

The Knife Edge from Cathedral
The Knife Edge from the Summit. 50MPH wind gusts, otherwise nice. (:
At first - "This isn't so bad"
Trail gets more and more rugged the farther away from the peak

Imagine climbing over this, realizing a fall off either side would be.. bad

It probably took me two hours to do the 1-mile knife edge

Leaving electrolytes in the car didn't help, I got cramps

By the way, don't look down. That's Chimney Pond, 2500' below
This window of exposure is only 2' wide, but look - a rare stretch of dirt trail!

The very end of the knife edge was probably the hardest part, with a steep climb down Chimney peak to a notch, then an equally steep climb up Pamola Peak. I skipped the climb up Pamola, bad idea.

Climbing down from Chimney Peak. Path around Pamola visible. Don't take it.

Looking back up at what I just climbed

Pamola Peak. You can understand why I skipped this part, and just went around to Helon Taylor. I don't recommend doing this. The path from the notch looks really promising, but it soon ends and you have to scramble over loose rock and bad footing.

Helon Taylor trail descending the ridge. Lots of hiking still to do, but I was done with the gnarly stuff.

Entire photo gallery.

New entries for Steve's blog are published on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00am NY time

Jul 1, 2010


120ºF would actually be mild for Badwater
Among the training necessary to successfully run the Badwater Ultramarathon,Tony has to acclimate his body to handle the brutal heat that Death Valley can deliver in the middle of July. He does this by daily sauna training - spending increasing amounts of time in a hot room.

Amazingly, he found a gym in Westchester that sports an insane 207ºF sauna, and last night invited me to be his guest.

After a 3-mile treadmill run (that I did in 27:35, by the way), I joined him in the hot room. I took off my shirt and went in wearing only shorts. Tony was wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt with a sweatshirt over it. Gnarly. He'd be in there 25 minutes.

I weighed myself before going in. Took my weight holding a 48-ounce bottle full of fresh cold water.

Replaced 48oz of water, and still lost half a lb

Initially curious as to whether I'd be able to handle a mere ten minutes, I surprised myself when I was still there feeling good after 15. I ended up doing the same 25 minutes Tony did, although considerably less dressed. I had finished the entire 48 ounces of water.

Holding the now-empty bottle I took my weight after, and was down 1/2 lb. If a pint of water (16oz) weighs 1 pound, then I sweated out at least 56oz of water in that 25 minutes. I feel extremely conservative in rounding that up to a clean half-gallon, as I was holding a dry towel going in and a wet towel coming out, plus my shorts were soaked.

Yes, I sweated out a half-gallon of water in 25 minutes, and replaced only 48 ounces.

Nuts, right?

New entries for Steve's blog are published on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00am NY time