Monday, October 31, 2011

Pine to Palm 100 2011 - Ultra Road Tripp'n to Ashland, Oregon

Releasing this 6 weeks after the race... call it a PR for delayed blogging. And, Dick Collins Firetrails 50M, and Whiskeytown 50K still to be written... enjoy!

I was ultra lucky to have a perfect ULTRA Road Trip experience.

Dan Decker, a good friend and ultra racing teammate, and I, pack the car and head up to Ashland, Oregon. Also packing their car in Marin county, were friends, Grant and Shawna Sisler. We, however, decided to leave a day earlier on Wednesday. P2P 100 as described on the race website - A remote and rugged classic point-to-point course traversing the Siskiyou: Mountain Range in Southern Oregon. Starting in Williams, OR, the course winds its way east to Ashland, OR on a mixture of single track trail, dirt road, with less than 4 miles of pavement. The course boasts of over 20,000 of gain and 20,000 of loss (22,000+/- up and down to be exact as quoting Hal) with 3 epic climbs to 7,000 feet and fantastic views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. McLaughlin.

When I think of all the responsibility I have to my team, I find it harder to run races not in the PAUSATF. Like you, I want to run so many other races around the country. Two other things in the way of this pleasure are cost and tired legs (many other excuses to choose from I am positive). Ultra-Luckily I live in a hotbed of ultrarunning in Northern California and have so many local races to choose from. But, we must get out and explore outside of our 18 event schedule of the Norcal Grand Prix. Off to Ashland, Oregon, and to what some call "the ultrarunning capital of the world". No argument here.

Over the past few years I have tried to run an ultra per month. While there are 88 ONE HUNDRED MILE races in North America (see, I have only completed 3, with one "pending completion" (shhhhhhh), and one DNF. That's only 5 of 88, and by the time I get close to the 88th there will be well over 100 or so hundred milers.

I/we/you usually schedule your year around getting into Western States 100 (a PAUSATF race) via lottery (read past blog for ways to participate in WS100). Because I didn't get in...

AGAIN, I fired up the 100 Mile Schedule for Coyote Two Moon (Santa Barbara Region), Tahoe Rim Trail (my PAUSATF 100M race), and Pine to Palm - 3 vacation or "ultra road tripp'n" destinations for sure!

Dan (who also made C2M and TRT as pacer and crew) and I tied our gear to the frame of the Lamborghini and sped into Ashland 7 hours later. On the way up, near Shasta and Yreka, we noticed some things.


No way!
You can't be serious?

Upon driving into the town of Ashland, we notice some more things and places of interest.
We'll just follow them.

No Caption Needed.

You probably guessed correctly.

"Don't Stop Believ'n...."
Oh and there were some other nice mountainous shots too.

All photos shot while driving not texting.

Mt Shasta
Can you see the reflection of the black Lamborghini with Dan sticking his head out the roof?
Oh, you may have noticed the shots were takin' from a moving vehicle. Please do not attempt to drink, drive, smoke, and take pictures while driving. Another disclaimer... no ultrarunners or bears were hurt during the writing of this blog or running of this race.

So, finally we arrive...

We thought we would go to Hal Koerner's running store, Rogue Valley Runners and say hi. We parked in front of the store but decided to go enjoy an adult beverage next door... an Irish Pub.

Again, no time to stop, have to shoot photo while driving.

Now we take a break and Dan's ready! Back off Ladies... he got the hall pass but he's a married man.
I know what your thinking, "Is this an ultra blog or a drinking/party blog?" Sorry to confuse you. We must Carbrewload before running 100 miles. I mean, who knows if they will even have a beer at an aid station. Can you imaging running for 24 hours without a beer? 

After one beer, and having never met Hal Koerner (Race Director of P2P), Dan and I thought pre-race "stalking greatness" was a phenomenal idea. We go next door and start chatting it up with a couple of the store stewards, Leland and Maya. Leland had been helping me try to get Dan and I pacers for this event the entire summer. Come to find out that basically all ultra runners are volunteering or racing or pacing someone else. We're not that popular anyway... No biggie... Dan and I go solo. Thanks again for trying Leland. Wait a minute, there's Tetsuro, aka Buford, from Coyote Two Moon 100 fame. He asks us in Japanese, "Can I stay with you and can I get a ride to the start?" I replied in French and tell him "No f-ing way Buford". All kidding aside, we take care of him. The dude just flew in from completing the Wasatch 100 and didn't have a car.
Dan "Ducky" Decker and Tetsuro "Buford" Ogata talking "Puke 100 Slam"
 And a few minutes later, Hal walked out from the back office, and asks if we are here for the race. We nod yes and ask the obvious questions,  "Can we smell your shoes?" "Where is the best place to get a beer?", "Umm, Can we polish your cougars (WS100 Trophies)?"
2007 and 2009 Champ , Hal's Kitties
Before we left, Hal recommended a good place to go get a beer or two or three - The Caldera Brewing Company. I enter the name into the Droidster on my 5G network and it shows two places. We decide to go to the one on the east side of town just past Southern Oregon University. We pull up, but it doesn't look like a restaurant or bar. I guy comes out of the wherehouse looking facility, wearing knee high rubber boots, and Dan asks, "Hey is there a restaurant brewery back here?" Our new friend responds, "No, this is where we make the beer, would you like to come in and have a few pints?" HUUUUUUUUUUUH?????????? I think I may have gotten out of the car before it was parked or before I turned off the ignition. Dan I and jump up the loading dock and  Mr. Brewer dude (who shall remain nameless so he doesn't get in trouble or Jenn Shelton and Erik Skaggs don't come knocking on his door) escorts us into a beautiful room that looks like this...
Nice Pour!

Notice Caution Tape... and another pour for Dan.

It's my turn... since I'm driving (I mean taking a TAXI), I think I will start with a low alcohol content brew.

Our we smiling too much?


"So this is how you make it. What's the next flavor we're gonna taste?"

Beer Art - I call this "Glass 7/8's Full - Ginger Hisbiscus Brew of Ashland"
I have not been drinking. I am just posing for blog photo's and faking it.. Notice convenient Tap Handles on Side of  Van.

The taxi arrives and takes us too our next place... It's still Wednesday and we have only been in town a few hours.

Now, you have to be saying, I wanna road trip with these guys. Dam Straight, you do! (After this blog, Dan's wife may never let him travel with me alone again.) This is usually the case with my other married friends, as I have yet to be married. I stop and think... should I click on one of those facebook singles ads I have on the right of my page. If you're not single, then you won't see them. The captions for the FB ads are actually pretty funny. They read like this. "Date Older Rich women", "Gold Digging Young Women" (I must have entered false income data somewhere), "Meet over 40's Single Babes". What I don't see is "Meet and Marry Wonderwoman". Just had to get my "I'm single" single plug in.

So, now we are off to the real Caldera Brewing Company. Sorry no pics. Get's a little foggy here. :-)

We wake up two days later... and go for a morning run through the outskirts of Ashland.

We named him Captain Organic.

Ashland in the morning.

Sporting new Rogue Valley Runners visor, Dan's morning flex!

Sun is not quite up yet in the valley of Ashland.
All this time we shack up at Shahid Ali's family motel, Enono Lodge in Ashland. I had met Shahid a few ultra's back and saw that we were gonna get a nice discount for the race. So lets support a friend, we say. A little side note here, Shahid attempted Pine to Palm last year and for whatever excuse he didn't complete it. This year was to be very different. Shahid absolutely crushed it this year in under 24 hours and even ran a better last 10 mile split than winner Timothy Olsen. A little more difficult to understand, was when I was following his August training in FB, Shahid ran 258 miles with 50,130 feet of elevation gain during the month of Ramadan (No food or water sunrise to sundown therefore no food or water while training). Congrats, Shahid!

Thanks to Shahid, his Mom, his Dad, and brother for making sure our stay was very comfortable.

We pack Tetsuro in the car and head out to Jacksonville (on the way to Williams - race start) to meet with

 friends Grant and Shawna for lunch.

"I need coffee!"
We meet up with friends, Grant and Shawna Sisler. This is one of your cool power ultra couples. In a town named Jacksonville, we eat at this outdoor cafe with perfect 75 degree weather. We all have coffee for lunch with our chcicken, avocado, bacon, and tomato sandwiches on homemade bread. Yes we all ordered the same thing. 

Dan, Tetsuro, Greg, Shawna and Grant Sisler

Situation arises. Dan and I had orginally planned on camping, but forgot a tent. LMFAO. So now we needed a place to stay. Jacksonville (another awesome town 20 minutes from start) was sold out because of a concert in town featuring Bozz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, and Smokey Robinson. We now had to scramble back to Medford and meet up with Grant in the morning to get to the race. Coincidentally, my dad was in Medford for a softball tournament and was able to give us a ride to Grant's vacation rental and then was able to drive my car to the finish in Ashland. Remember, this is a point-to-point race. Love this format!

We all jump in Grants car. He set's his Garmin. I repeat he sets his Garmin. I sort of paused and thought to myself, I know how to get there, but figured I would just say something when Mrs. Garmin voice goes down thbe wrong road. Well, I didn't. Let me pull an exerpt from Grant's race report (done within one week of the race and I am almost 6 weeks from race to posting this).

    "What we did not take into account was that I get lost... a lot. I get lost at home; I get lost on the road; I get lost in phone booths"

Me: I believe this is what you call, not providing critical info. You forgot to tell us this before setting sexy Garmin voice (not! so someone please work on that for your next business - sexy Garmin voices) for the start.

     "As we cruised along we talked about the race, our goals, our concerns, when I took a left turn off the main road.

              Greg: "Where are you going?"
              Dan:   " You sure this is the right way?"
              Grant: "I drove there yesterday and I put the marking in for the GPS. I'm just following what it says."  
              Tetsuro: "No worries."
              Greg: "You drove this way yesterday?"
              Grant: "I don't know, that was yesterday and it was light out, how can I remember?"

(Note to self... LOL)

              Dan: "You sure you marked the race start with the GPS?"
              Grant: "Yes"
              Tetsuro: "No worries"

"So on we drive, driving down the road having a conversation that now focused on the GPS and whether they are good, or bad or ????????"

Back to me now:

Then it happened. We got to that road, and it was a "dirt road" that was suppose to get us to the start. "Two of four people scream "F@#$!!!!!" and ""S$&%!!!!". We now have 20 minutes to get there and "non-sexy bitch voice says no more. Dan had timed us 12 minutes out and we figured another 8 minutes to get there. Oh shiatsu!!! Grant now thinks his suburu is a Ferrari, and there is a Garmin on the side of the road in Oregon if anyone wants one. I then say "I need to do three things when we get there: get my bib number, fill up my nathan pack, and take a dump". Grant responds " Well, you better pick two of those." Let's just say I did all three but was in the port-o-john during the 10 second countdown to the start. Even funnier is that when we got there, Tetsuro, Dan, and I jsut jump out of the car and let "Grant go park the car by himself. Later do I find out he parked or rolled it into a ditch for his crew to pick up.


Don't call this a race report, because I that's not my blogging style. However, I will tell you a few things that make this race great and a few more things to make your run/race more enjoyable. So, the first 2.4 miles are on a slight uphill grade, run-able on asphalt. While some may complain about the limited asphalt, I think it's genius. On a 100 mile race why deal with trail dust in a large group during the first few miles. Word of advice on the 13(10m single track) mile start, IT"S ALL UPHILL. You go from 1,800 to 7,000 feet. Again, for mid packers like me it's all run-able. BUT, use caution when you rise above 5,000 and don't push it so not to blow up later in the race. I ran and walked the final 3 miles up to conserve myself. And then you go 15 to 16 miles downhill back to 2,000 feet again don't descend to fast during the first 5 miles of this very fun single track before it looks like a slight downhill for the other 10 or so.

Fast forward to mile 25 where you cross over into California and back to Oregon. Nothing that is written down anywhere (probably for permit purposes), but unique nonetheless. You then arrive at "Seattle Bar Aid Station", where the energy was pumping. Well over 150 people, crew and volunteers, cheering you on. Then it's time for another climb, but first it's photo time with Dan, Grant, and Greg.

Photo Credit to Long Run Pictures. See

So, we run, and run, and run, and walk a bit to the finish. You can tell that Hal and those who he designed this course with, used past experiences to make this fun yet challenging, while also being crew friendly to the end. One feature that I really enjoyed were the "Capture the Flag" aid stations. At 3 aid stations you were told to grab a flag at distances ranging from 2 to 4 miles total out and back. One was a steep one mile "fire road/trail" climb, One was a a run-able mile "fire road/trail" climb, and the last was at mile 85 aid and was a two mile single track out to a pile of boulders that you had to climb in order to retrieve the flag.

Getting to the mile 85 aid/safety station (water and fire only) was the biggest test for everyone. While it was dark (I think for all), the climb and run through overgrown and soggy hills made for quite the challenge. I was at my lowest point when I arrived for two reasons. Like the other 100 milers I have run, I usually don't take in as much gel or liquid during this slow period. This was the absolute worse part of the race to pull this stupid maneuver. The other reason was that I forgot my camera at the last aid station. I purposely left it there to capture photo's at the highest point (after the rock climb/scramble to retrieve flag) of the race and near sunrise. BUT, I forgot to take it out of the drop bag. UUUGH!

I arrive to the aid station and knew that Maya (RVR) and Jen Shelton were gonna be there, I thought what a great time to get my man breast autographed by Jen, oh and get a photo or two. But, as the kids say "Epic Fail". Turns out when I arrive, Jen and Erik Skaggs have gone to bed. I notice that there was a mat next to the fire, and I am really tired, so I ask Maya if I can take a 15 minute nap. She says sure. I think I remember that move back in College. You know the one where you can't drive home, so you ask to sleep on the couch hoping for some loving. Or not. LOL So, as I lay there and close my eyes, just before sunrise, I here a few people arrive that I passed earlier. Maya gives them instructions to head out to the rock scramble. Then, you here this voice come out of the neighboring tent, "Don't forget to grab the flag." That was Jen. I chuckled and continued my nap next to the fire only wondering what could have been... sighhhh LOL. As soon as another runner arrives, I get my ass up and decide to make a go for it. That was this first time I had ever needed a bit of shut eye, but well worth it as I was starting to fall asleep on that long climb. To the rock pile I go.

As I arrive to the rocks, the sunlight is starting to reveal what is going to be an all-time ultra moment for me. AND, I forgot my camera. F#@&! Climbing up the rocks, it totals twenty feet high and 75 feet in distance of range-of-motion challenging climbing. When I get to the top, I stop and look around at this perfect 360 degree view of Southern Oregon. Red light ripping all around the mountains with layers upon rolling layers of dark green perfectly manicured mountain tree tops. Oh, what a reward for that nap. I miss this if I had not napped. THANKS for that treat!

Here is a photo from Longrunpictures that will help paint my picture.

As I return, I give my flag to Maya and other hottie by the fire (forgot to get phone number). I travel down to the next aid station where JB Benna, Jen Benna, and Carly Koerner are taking care of the last aid station at mile 90.

I waited to tell you about the pre-race breifing now because of the timing of this aid station. Hal Koerner, RD and RVR store owner, as you know already, was suppose to be at the pre-race briefing to tell you all about the course and answer all those important questions. But, he didn't make it. He later told us he was out double checking the course markings. No worries Hal, because Carly knocked it out of the park. Which brings me to tying in the last two aid stations. Carly mentioned to all of us that "you guys will be glad to know that Jen Shelton and the girls will be up at Wagner Glade aid/safety station." So, when I get to the aid station where Carly, JB and Jen Benna were (mile 91 ish), I mentioned that I needed to take a nap at the fire and Carly responds, "Oh you decided to take a nap with the ladies, did ya." Thought that was funny so bloggeth I must.

Ripping the 10 mile finish was awesome. Even the last 1/2 mile through the neighborhood was a nice touch. People on the curb or sitting out in front of the house as we run this "steep downhill" morning offering to the finish. Buckle up!!!!!!!

Yep, I finished and can't wait to do that again.

Look at all this schwag! I just noticed that I forgot the hat that they gave out too. Nice buckle, hoodie, and flip flops for finishing.

Book your trip to Ashland next year as this was an awesome roadtrip.

Thanks to all the amazing people of Ashland, Williams, Jacksonville, Medford, Talent, volunteers, crews, and especially Hal and Carly for making this one great ultra-lucky experience.

78 started
45 finished
17:19 Tim Olson wins for 2nd straight year.

5th place Grant Sisler 23:14
10th place Dan Decker 25:00
17th place ME, Greg Lanctot 27:13

Thanks for reading,