Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ATRA Announces Partnership Renewal with Ortholite

The American Trail Running Association (ATRA) is pleased to announce that OrthoLite renewed their partnership on December 18, 2013, and will continue to be known as the official insole of ATRA.

OrthoLite has been a major supporter of ATRA for nearly a decade, the most of which has been as an official partner.

“OrthoLite is thrilled to continue this longstanding partnership with ATRA in 2014,” said Pam Gelsomini, OrthoLite president. “This partnership allows OrthoLite to continue its mission of providing the ultimate in comfort and durability on all types of terrain, and we admire ATRA’s commitment to the trail running community.”

Adam W. Chase, president of the American Trail Running Association said of the partnership renewal, “It is only appropriate that a support company like OrthoLite would provide such welcome support of the American Trail Running Association. Thanks to OrthoLite’s generous and sustained contribution to our organization, we can look to 2014 as a year of growth and continued advocacy for our sport of trail running.”

One of the enhancements planned for the partnership in 2014, includes an increased social media presence on the various portals in which ATRA participates to include Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

ATRA’s online marketing director Richard Bolt will be working closely with OrthoLite to facilitate updates on the various social media channels.  Bolt says of the partnership, “We're so glad to have OrthoLite on board as an ATRA corporate partner again in 2014. For trail runners, the benefits of an OrthoLite insole are particularly helpful - moisture management, breathability and cushioning. Running on rugged, muddy and dusty off-road terrain is tough on your feet and OrthoLite is there to support us!”

ATRA is a non-profit 501 (c ) 3 corporation based in Colorado. Founded in 1996, ATRA’s mission is to represent and promote trail and mountain running. It is a membership-driven association with corporate, race, club, and individual memberships available.

Its many programs include a comprehensive online calendar, a quarterly newsletter – Trail Times, and monthly e-blasts with current information about the sport, and a labeling program for race directors instituted in March 2012. ATRA is a sponsoring organization of the second annual Trail Running Conference, the Estes Trail Ascent, slated to be held October 9-11, 2014, in Estes Park, CO.

ATRA is a member of USA Track & Field, Road Runners Club of America, International Skyrunning Federation, International Mountain Bicycling Association, and a founding member of Running USA.
To learn more about ATRA, visit For more information, or to order OrthoLite insoles, visit

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Trail Runner Recipe: by Michael James

The following recipe originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of ATRA Trail Times email newsletter:

3 c. organicgirl Super Greens
¼ c. finely shredded coconut
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. soaked quinoa
½ c. roasted and salted sunflower seeds
½ c. dated (pitted)
¼ c. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients until finely chopped. Take 1 tbsp. of ingredients and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hand. Set in the refrigerator for one hour. Sprinkle with sugar to taste. Makes 9 – 12 energy bites.

Each bite contains 48 calories and the following:
4 2 g of fat
4 1 g of saturated fat
41 g of polyunsaturated fat
4 0 g of cholesterol
4 54 mg of sodium
4 69 mg of potassium
4 6 g carbohydrates
4 1 gram of protein
4 3% iron
1% calcium
4 10% Vitamin A
4 6% Vitamin C
4 39% Vitamin K
4 2% folate
4 1% magnesium
4 2 % manganese

Michael James recently turned 40, and is sharing healthy eating and a love for trail running — especially ultra running — with ATRA.

Flagstaff Endurance Runs

The following article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of ATRA Trail Times email newsletter:

by Herb Kieklak

The Endurance Runs in Flagstaff, AZ, are spectacular – true treasures in the world of trail running. Held in mid-September, the events — 50 kilometer and 50 miles — combine high altitude, gorgeous scenery, and very challenging terrain.

The runs are organized by Aravaipa Running which is operated by the brother team of Nick and Jamil Coury, both successful runners on the ultra circuit. The pair is easy to talk with about training ideas and honest about directing you to the race that is best suited for you. I enjoy locally-grown events of this type, rather than corporate, large-scale events, because even a  non-local runner like me can feel at home and enjoy running with friends old and new. I have run several of their events and can attest to amazing volunteer support, incredible swag, super helpful race directors and challenging courses.

The Flagstaff Endurance Runs took several years to get approved due to many environmental factors, but the organizers persisted, and eventually were able to map out a course which was agreeable to those issuing permits.

Before registering for the event, it is a good idea to pay heed to their warning: The combination of elevation gain/loss and Flagstaff’s high altitude makes the courses very difficult and NOT recommended for beginning trail runners.

From personal experience, I can attest to the validity of their claims. Last year, I attempted the course and experienced my first-ever DNF, as the high altitude nailed me late in the race – of course training in Florida is not very beneficial when it comes to high altitude racing. This year, I was determined to make amends for that blemish on my ultrarunning record.

I adjusted my training program and added a day of acclimation per advice of race director Nick Coury. Last year, I had arrived the afternoon before the race on suggestion of many runners to “get in and get out” before the altitude change hits you. It may have worked if I was running an East Coast trail race. However, this race is so totally different than any East Coast race, that there is no quick “get in and get out.”
The Flagstaff Run starts at 7,000 feet of elevation which makes it high altitude from the first step, unless of course you live at that elevation. The course has several bodacious climbs, (again speaking as an East Coast runner), and what I call “white knuckle descents.” Obviously, living in the great Southwest would be a huge advantage for running these highly technical, ankle-twisting trails. Somehow, I can’t imagine running fast down the side of a mountain, while on narrow, rocky single-track trail when a single misstep means a nasty fall. And to make it worse, there is the AWESOME view while coming downhill which beckons runners to stop and take in the vista. 

You break out of the ridge above the trees to a wide open mountainside and have spectacular views of Flagstaff, granite walls , huge Ponderosa pines and quaking Aspens in the midst of fall color change. You are torn between taking in the impressive scenery, or watching the trail to make sure you don’t bust your  #*&. This year we had the extra” treat” of a rare desert rain storm and Holy Moley...what a storm. It thundered and shook  like the Second Coming. So now I am running, albeit plodding on the uphills, and having thoughts of flash floods, and the addition of mud and water to already treacherous downhill trails. Luckily,the rain came in spurts and at 9,000 feet turned to hail instead of rain.

At the third peak of 9,000 feet, some 20 miles into the race, my legs felt like lead and I started getting dry heaves and was “a little worried” that I would DNF again. But luckily, the route soon dropped to 8,000 feet and I soon started to feel better and news that the next aid station was only 5 miles away instead of 9 ,like the last couple, was a big mental boost.

Along the way, I was joined by another runner that I had been playing leapfrog with throughout the race. This was great as we all know how much more fun it is to have a pace/run buddy.  At the next station, there was the added benefit of meeting some ex-Floridians, who turned out to own Sedona Running Company. They could commiserate about training in mountainless Florida as a preparation to run in altitude-laden Arizona.  After that break, I was refreshed mentally and physically (Gatorade and M&Ms) and ready to “blast” the last three miles to the finish.

I was amazed I was able to put in a strong finish when I got “down” to 7,000 feet and how much different if felt than up at the top.  This year, I was proud to collect my finisher mug and very grateful to Nick Coury for his advice on preparation.

Runner Up: Going Alternative at Mt. Greylock

The following article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of ATRA Trail Times email newsletter:

by Laura Clark

As the oldest continuously active uphill mountain road race in the United States, Mount Washington has attained superstar status, ranking it right up there with the Boston Marathon and Western States.  But, there is a downside to this fame. Since everyone wants to hitch their personal wagon to this starred event, scoring a lottery entry is every bit as competitive as running the actual race.

We Western Mass Athletic Club members, however, maintain a tenacious toehold onto a well-kept secret: Mt. Greylock, in Adams, Massachsetts, clocking in at 38 years, is America’s second oldest uphill.  At 3,491 feet high it does not quite match Mt. Washington’s 6,289, but to counter that, it offers 8 miles of real estate as opposed to Mt. Washington’s 7.67. There is no lottery to win, no hefty check to write, just a token $10 pay-at-the-threshold fee.  The atmosphere is down-home, park your car at the imaginary start line casual, leaving you free to concentrate on your race instead of complicated logistics.

This year we awoke not to Homer’s rosy-fingered dawn but to thunderstorm downpours.  If I hadn’t promised fellow Saratoga Stryder Jack Chapman that I would pick him up at the Saratoga Hess Station rallying point, I would have been tempted to opt for an early hibernation.  Instead, I promised myself a strategic bedcover retreat if he didn’t show in fifteen minutes.  Turns out Jack had been thinking the same thing, so we reluctantly committed.  Luckily, Lady Greylock had enclosed her domain within a magic circle of tranquility, permitting us dry passage.

I ran near Jack, Laurel Shortell and Benn Griffin while another Stryder, Vince Kirby sprinted light years ahead.  Laurel and I reverted to our usual snowshoe race pattern: once my older legs cranked into gear, I passed her, only to see her inevitably close the gap as we neared the summit.  This time, however, I rallied, holding her off by a mere 18 seconds. Although we rarely slip into a side-by-side pattern, we are always aware of each other, pushing together to achieve our best effort.  In this manner, we overtook Jack, who later commented, “I should have trained for this race.”  Jack had spent the summer constructing a magnificently polished woodie camper, big enough to encase his 6’plus frame but lightweight enough to maneuver into any off-trail parking spot.  His current goal is not so much a minute/mile pace as it is to experience trail races adjacent to scenic campsites.

While Lady Greylock’s ascent is more forgiving than some, featuring a few level and even slightly downhill sections, there is no doubt that we finished on top of the world.  Herman Melville’s pinnacle Lighthouse, providing inspiration for Moby Dick, remained barely discernible, shrouded in ghostly white whale mist.  Today there would be no sunbathing, no hang-gliders to watch, no reason to climb the tower for the view.  But that is what makes the journey so special – you just never know what the Lady has in store.

Rest and Restoration for Better Performance

The following article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of ATRA Trail Times email newsletter:

By Stephen R. Santangelo

There are many training modalities based on sports science which are available for endurance athletes. Your age and level of fitness determines where on the scale from novice to elite you fall. Too often, running enthusiasts want to emulate the elite athletes by replicating what the elites do, thinking it will improve their own performance. In the long run, this is not true and often will lead to a loss of enthusiasm and poor performance.  Why does this happen? There’s a simple answer, the lack of rest and restoration.

You have to understand elite and professional athletes train and compete as their profession. They are surrounded by an extensive support network such as monetary sponsors, massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, trainers, coaches, nutritionists, etc. Few of us enjoy these luxuries and therefore we must take rest and restoration seriously and incorporate it into our training regimens weekly.

Often the novice runner with three years or less of solid training can benefit from complete rest days which include no physical activity. It can be two to three days per week.

The intermediate runner with more than three years of training and competitions can easily take off one day per week with a day of active rest. Active rest is where one participates in an activity with a low level of intensity and has nothing in common with trail running, such as volleyball or badminton.

For the seasoned trail runner, both active rest and restoration days are advised. On a weekly basis this will be determined by current training intensity and level of competition as well as frequency of competition. 

Restoration training is based upon hormone production and the Central Nervous System (CNS). First, consider hormone production. During a continuous activity — ie: trail running —within 40-45 minutes testosterone begins to fall off. At 60 minutes testosterone completely shuts down. This causes cortisol, which often has a negative impact on our anatomy. When cortisol production is high the adrenal glands enter a state of fatigue. Next, the pituitary gland’s production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), is lowered along with hypothalamus hormone production. This in turn directly affects the thyroid’s production of T-3 and T-4. You can clearly see how the domino effect occurs and how all hormone production is interlinked. What does all this mean? Without a detailed scientific explanation, it’s like hitting the wall in a marathon at the 20-mile mark.

When your hormonal time clock is out of whack your CNS goes into survival mode. The CNS is divided into 3 functional parts, the PSN (parasympathetic nervous system), SNS (sympathetic nervous system) and the ENS (enteric nervous system). The ENS has little effect on training and plays a minor role in recovery. Our focus is on the PNS and SNS. Think of these two entities as the accelerator (SNS) and the brake (PSN). In order to have complete restoration these two functions must be balanced.

Signs of imbalances are dark circles around the eyes, lack of interest in training, lack of enthusiasm, restless sleep, elevated resting heart rate, constant fatigue, sugar cravings, weight gain or weight loss, and waking up in the morning not feeling rested. 

The first step is to determine your resting heart rate when you are in optimal condition. Monitor your RHR on a weekly basis. When your RHR is more than 10 beats per minute above normal you have entered the fatigue zone. Your body is not recovering. When this happens, monitor your training based upon duration and heart rate. Take one day off completely from physical activity. The following day’s workout must be a “jog,” not a run and it must be kept under 40 minutes; 35 minutes is good for men, 30 minutes for women. During this jog your heart rate needs to be kept between 120-130 beats per minute. This safe zone is essential for the nervous system to balance; not too much gas and not too much riding the brake.

During this time a chiropractor and/or a massage therapist will help to speed recovery. It’s not uncommon that an athlete will take up to two weeks for complete restoration. You will have to maintain this “jog” cycle until your resting heart rate is back to normal for at least three days. You will monitor your sleep as well, so, pay attention that you’re getting a solid night’s rest and waking up energized. Should you not feel rested and your energy level doesn’t kick in until 2-3 hours after waking, take another day off before you “jog” again. You will also monitor your food intake to be sure it’s back to normal without any cravings. These will be your indicators your hormonal time clock has been restored.

As you age and you have years of running behind you, complete rest, active rest and restoration will become the mainstay of training. This is essential for longevity in the sport and maintaining a healthy and vigorous lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Inaugural US Skyrunning Series Announced

From Ian Sharman - Director, US Skyrunning Series:

Inaugural US Skyrunning Series 2014 Less Cloud. More Sky.
San Francisco, CA (December 10th, 2013) – Fourteen quality races, three disciplines, the same winning formula. The inaugural 2014 US Skyrunning Series is the natural expansion of the international Skyrunning events that have captured the imagination of runners globally. There will be National Skyrunning Series in numerous countries in 2014, which will be announced in January 2014.

What the Series Will Look Like
Five Sky, five Ultra and four Vertical races are distributed across the country, offering expanded opportunities to run in some of the most beautiful locations in the US.

312 miles of racing include over 100,000 feet of vertical climb with inclines that will truly push the best mountain runners to their limits and offer unique experiences for every competitor. Distance + Vertical = Skyrunning.

Legendary, iconic and prestigious events make up the calendar, with many of the Vertical races doubling up at Sky and Ultra events. Many of the races have been created or adjusted specifically for the US Skyrunning Series, broadening the scope of competitive and spectacular Skyrunning races globally.

As Ian Sharman, the Director of the US Skyrunning Series states: "Ever since I first saw Skyrunning at Transvulcania, it captured my imagination with the audacity and beauty of the courses and sheer difficulty of the races. The events are some of the toughest around but leave runners wanting more, from the leaders to the back of the pack. So I'm really pumped and honored to bring the original Skyrunning concept to the US on a wider scale with some of the most exciting races around."

Videos of two of the races can be found at the following links to give a clearer picture of the styles of races included in the Series:

2014 Race Schedule
1. COLORADO: Kendall Mt Run - 12 miles - Silverton - July 19
La Maratona Verticale - 27 miles - Breckenridge - August 3
Angels Staircase - 22 miles - Carlton - August 10
 - 26 miles - Venue TBC - late September
Flagstaff Endurance Runs - 23 miles - Flagstaff - October 5

Cruel Jewel - 56 miles - Blue Ridge - May 16
2. UTAH: 
Speedgoat - 31 miles - Snowbird – July 19
Angels Staircase - 37 miles - Carlton - August 9
The Rut - 31 miles - Big Sky - September 13
Flagstaff Endurance Runs - 35 miles - Flagstaff - October 5

 - Mt Washington - Date TBC
2. COLORADO: La Maratona Verticale VK - Breckenridge - August 2 
Lone Peak VK - Big Sky - September 12
Flagstaff Endurance Runs VK - Flagstaff - October 5

Ranking Points
The three best results in each Series are scored in the overall ranking for each runner. Ranking points in the final races of all three Series will be increased by 20%. Ranking points breakdown: 100-88-78-72-68-66-64-62-60-58-56-54-52-50 down to 2 points to 40th position for men and 15th position for women.
Total prizes:  TBA in January 2014. Also prize money in every individual race.

*Entry is direct with organizers.
Slots are available for 2013 SWS and ISF Ranked athletes. Details to follow.

About Skyrunning
SKY - races more than 22 km and less than 50 km long with at least 1,300m positive vertical climb (SkyRace® and SkyMarathon®)
ULTRA - races over 50 km long that exceed the SkyMarathon® parameters (Ultra SkyMarathon®) 
VERTICAL - races with 1,000m positive vertical climb not exceeding 5 km distance (Vertical Kilometer®)
Skyrunner®, SkyRace®, SkyMarathon®, Vertical Kilometer® are registered trademarks

The US Skyrunning Series can be found at the following online locations:
Twitter – @usskyrunning