Thursday, November 29, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge 2012 - A Perfect Storm Preview.

Staging for The North Face Endurance Challenge.

The temptation was too great to write this...

We are ultra-lucky that this little storm will ease up during the race after dumping 5 to 7 inches the previous three days. In my search for luck, I usually blog after my events. I always bring my camera to take pics and shoot video. I sometimes even write about it, but after the race. Well, not this time. No camera. Instead, I am gonna take a shot at being Gregordamas, and let everyone else blog after. I may do that too :-)

This time, I will write about what luck I see in the future. I see a perfect storm; a perfect storm that is saturating the mountains, hills, and trails of Northern California as I write; a perfect storm of the deepest field of elite ultra runners in the world to compete at the 50M distance; a perfect storm for Outdoor Apparel and Equipment Corporate Branding, UltraDropBags and Irunfar! May we all be perfectly lucky to finish safely while having fun out there.

In less than 48 hours, more than 2,000 runners will gather to race on trails in the amazing Marin Headlands and compete at 6 different distances from 5k to 50 miles.  Most ultra runners I have met over the years, have one race that is special to them - one that they run every year. In it's 6th year, I have not missed one. It was also my first. I choose to run the 50K so that I can enjoy the post race festivities and see most of the elite 50 milers compete and even finish while I enjoy an adult beverage. For those of you who know me, the pre and post race celebrations are a big part of why I run ultra's. Unfortunately, the storm is trying to play with my plan to face plant in the beer garden with my friends.

The luck is upon us, and as of now in the weather report shows a possibility of a break in the bad weather we are experiencing now. If you are running, please be prepared. This race will happen.

Yesterday, I did a final gear check in the 40 MPH down pour. All systems are go. Don't forget to re-check your gear too.

And, as the great Mountaineer, Richard Irvin said,

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear." 

True Dat!

In the men's race, the global ultra running community has recently (the past few years) been introduced to know about Sage Canaday and Leor Pantilat, your podium favorites. I know there are other names in this ultra-deep field including the defending champion, Mike Wolfe. But for this day, Sage and Leor will have the battle like Uli Steidl and Matt Carpenter did as the winners the first few years of this event back when it started in 2007 - The first "Money Grab" race!

Bryon Powell, Irunfar, respectfully calls Leor a wild card, holding nearly every 50K major trail course record in Northern California. I am here to tell you he is not a wildcard at the 50M distance, he is the favorite with the home field advantage. While most of us dream to see Max and Leor square off for a "50K death match", we will be happy to follow the competition via irunfar race coverage. Thanks Bryon! Sage is also a favorite to win. In fact, call it even. In their only 50M attempts, they set course records on very respectable courses. Leor does have a 6:01 course record on the Quicksilver 50M course that has over 8,500 feet of total gain. Sage on the other hand has the White River 50M course record (6:15) of similar elevation gain, but is much more technical.
Leor Pantilat with Adventure Running Buddy and Photographer, Joel Lanz.
Perfect Storm "the match up" meet perfect storm, "the storm". It will play a part. While Canaday has a few more long distance races under his belt, he does have bad weather training experience growing up in Oregon, living in Boulder, and racing at the snow and rain filled Chuckanut earlier this year. So does Pantilat.  With only one race over 50M in his race count, Leor has so many multi-day "time on feet" adventures that equal the 50 mile experience he is about to encounter. As we all know on the west coast, he is an "adventure runner", and has traversed and made ascents to most peaks in the High Sierras and Cascades in hot and cold climate conditions.  Leor and Sage will shine through the storm. My fingers are crossed for the both of you. GOOD LUCK!
Sage Canaday at Chuckanut 50K (His first Ultra) receiving 2nd place acknowledgement from Scott Jurek.

Now, for the Perfect Storm of business. Since the inception of this race, cash money millionaires have been blossoming in our sport. Okay, no millionaires  but our sport is becoming more and more about big business. The North Face, GU, HOKA One One, Injinji, Patagonia, Brooks, Mountain Hardware/Montrail, and Drymax being my favorites. But, let's also try to support the "little guy" this weekend and through the holiday season. Please send checks made out to me....just kidding.

Seriously, Bryon Powell is not getting huge sums to bring us his amazing coverage. Please contribute here so that he may continue to bring you the live coverage we crave.
Bryon Hunting Wabbits at Chuckanut earlier this year.

Bryon likes cake at Chuckanut post party. Thanks Krissy! That party ruled!

Bryon pouring private reserve for Mackey at WS just after his finish. Shhhhh.

Also, Danny Messex, of Ultra Drop Bags has only 21 Ultra Running Drop Bags left for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, etc. Gifts.  Go here to purchase these customizable and thanks to Danny's pre-printed inserts and checklists, preparing drop bags was never easier. only $34.95

Thanks for visiting.

Let's have some fun!

Greg Lanctot