Friday, August 29, 2014

O2X Summit Challenge Series: The mountain is the obstacle

The following post is sponsored content from new ATRA "Switchback" corporate member O2X.  

WARREN, Vermont O2X Summit Challenge Series is bringing fitness back to its outdoor roots with an inclusive festival atmosphere and all-natural course options that will challenge anyone from the casual 5K jogger or weekend hiker to the hardcore mountain runner – those aren’t the only things that make the O2X Summit Challenge a different kind of event. But they’re a good start.

An outdoor experience for runners, hikers and nature lovers, the O2X Summit Challenge Series debuts on Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush Resort on September 13. Events at Sunday River, Maine (Sept. 27), Loon Mountain, N.H. (Oct. 18) and Windham Mountain, N.Y. (Oct. 25) round out the series.

O2X Summit Challenges stand apart from obstacle races, at the same time offering much more than the straight-to-the-summit fire road mountain run. Courses will combine single-track trails with creative natural challenges like stream crossings, rock scrambles, downed trees, and glades, ending with a summit finish. With a 4,000-foot mountain for a canvas, O2X course designers just didn’t see a need for anything beyond what nature has to offer.

“O2X Summit Challenges are crafted mountain experiences fundamentally different from simple uphill running races,” said Gabriel Gomez, co-founder of O2X Summit Challenges. “We’ve worked with local mountain managers and combined our team’s experience setting routes around the world to create challenging and enjoyable adventures for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.”

The course can be approached as a hike (take in the scenery), a run (there’s money on the line) or a mix of the two (because most of us just can’t sprint all the way up a mountain). Participants can choose between Single Diamond routes that gain at least 1,000 net vertical feet and are three to five miles in length; Double Diamond routes, gaining at least 2,000 vertical feet and running five to seven miles in length; and Triple Diamond, gaining at least 3,000 vertical feet, seven to nine miles in length (coming out west in 2015).

Training support is available through the mobile app Unleesh (, an experiential learning program that allows human performance experts at O2X to deliver daily workouts designed to maximize performance on the mountain. Unleesh provides easy-to-follow instructions with images accompanying each exercise in a given workout. To receive the training plan, download the app on iOS and Android by searching “O2X.” Those who prefer the good old map-and-compass style to mobile apps can sign up for the O2X email list and receive a PDF copy of a 33-week workout.

“The Unleesh app will help users establish a fitness baseline and structure their workouts with the perfect blend of duration, intensity and recovery right up to race day,” said O2X co-founder Adam La Reau. “It’s like having a personal coach training you to peak for O2X events – you don’t have to worry about going too hard or too easy, too long or too short – with the Unleesh training app, you’re in good hands.”


Pre-race camping, post-race celebrating and a fun, communal atmosphere will be in full effect throughout the event. A weekend-long “BaseCamp” will offer on-site camping, meals, hikeable spectator lookout points, a creative and fun kids race, training-and-performance exhibits, slack lines, bouldering walls and a farmer’s market-inspired gathering of local fare.

The Sugarbush event will offer a $15 Chili Buffet featuring three styles of chili served in bread bowls as well as hot corn bread around a blazing bonfire. Breakfast will be served the morning of the race and food and drinks during the rest of the day.

Boston band Element 78 will headline the post-race celebration for all four series events. The dynamic collection of sponsors, partners and local supporters represented at BaseCamp include Juti Organics, Defense Mobile, Delta Dental and CamelBak.

Ever stuck around for the conclusion of a concert or sporting event to see the mountains of trash and debris-strewn fields left behind afterwards? O2X organizers are committed to running a clean event and not letting that happen. That’s why they brought in a crack team of music festival green-up pros from a non-profit organization called REVERB.

“We have pushed hard from the conception of this event to hold ourselves and our partners to the highest standard of environmental responsibility,” said O2X co-founder Craig Coffey. “A zero-impact event is what we’re all striving for, and bringing in REVERB is another step toward our goal.”

O2X organizers are committed to composting and recycling, working with local suppliers to reduce shipping impact, avoiding single-serve packages and donating salvageable foods in the local area after the event. All O2X courses are built to U.S. Forest Service guidelines, and organizers are committed to a first-of-its kind Remediation Pledge to leave the mountain in better shape than they found it.


The debut event at Sugarbush is the first in four O2X events that make up the Summit Challenge Series. Men’s and women’s series winners will be awarded $1000 each at the final Windham Mountain event.

Top finishers at the Sugarbush event will divide a $1500 purse on Sept. 13. Men’s and women’s Single Diamond course winners earn $250 each. Double Diamond course winners take home $500 each. A special Rise Higher Award will be awarded to the most inspiring racer through an email nomination process ( before the event.

Registration includes parking, insurance, and bag drop. Racers who sign up for four 2014 races gain free entry to any single race in 2015. To register, visit

Monday, August 25, 2014

USA 10K Trail Championships - Story & Photos

The runners in the 6th annual Continental Divide Trail Race enjoyed beautiful weather and views as they tackled the challenging course.  The race took place at Laurel Ridge Camp and Conference Center in Laurel Springs, NC, right on the Eastern Continental Divide.  The course provides runners with a mixture of challenges as the terrain is constantly changing.  From the start on top of the mountain, runners are continually descending then climbing all the way to the final ¼ mile climb at 22% up to the finish.  Fast times on the course require both speed on the smoother trails as well as technical ability on the singletrack sections.  The soft conditions from recent rains added to the challenge for 2014 version.  This year an even 100 runners took on the mountain with many excellent performances.

Start of the race.

David Roche (Sunnyvale, CA) repeated his National Championship from 2012.  He started off the race at a blistering 4:15 pace, trying to open up a gap on the other runners.   A large group followed closely for awhile, but they were soon left strewn in his wake.  Despite turning his ankle and falling twice, Roche ran away from the field early and ran most of the race solo, with a fine finishing time of 42:43.   Mario Mendoza (Bend, OR), defending champion from 2013, finished in the runner-up position this year in 44:48, improving his time from last year.  Jason Bryant (Elkin, NC) secured his 11th 3rd place finish in a USATF Mountain-Ultra-Trail championship with a time of 45:58.  He was also the first 40+ Master’s runner and the first NC USATF finisher, beating out many runners in their 20s and 30s.

Megan Roche - women's champion

Megan Roche (Sunnyvale, CA) won her first National Championship, running from the front as the male winner did, to finish in a time of 48:59.  You may have noticed that the male and female champions share the same last name.  They are newly-weds, celebrating their honeymoon with a trip to NC to run in the USA 10Km Trail Championships.  They will also be travelling together to Italy next month to compete for the USA in the World Mountain Running Championships.  Expect to see more from this new power couple of mountain/trail running!  Dominique Stassuli (Lillington, NC) took second place in 55:47 and Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, TX) was the third USATF finisher and first 40+ Masters finisher in 57:30.  Lorraine Young (Raleigh, NC) was the top NC USATF and top NC USATF Masters finisher.

David Roche - men's champion

The competition was also intense in the USATF age groups.  The men’s 65-69 age group had 6 runners competing for USATF medals.   Joyce Hodges-Hite (Millen, GA), now 77 years old, secured her 5th 70+ USA 10km Trail Championship age group title.  On the other end of the spectrum, Lauren Henderson (Columbia, SC) took her second Juniors championship title.  USATF teams battled in several categories.  Bull City Track Club is beginning to exert a bit of domination in the 10km Trail Championships.  In the Open competition, they claimed their 3rd team title in 4 years on the Men’s side and 2nd Women’s team title.  The Rosemont Running Club travelled down from Pennsylvania again to take second in the Men’s Open team division.  Bull City also claimed matching titles in the Men’s and Women’s 40+ team competition.  Finally in the 50+ team categories, the Igloi Track Club from Indiana was able to take the Men’s team title and Piedmont Pacers took the Women’s 50+ team title.  Piedmont Pacers then got the Men’s team title in the 60+ category.

Thanks to all our runners who have become part our trail family.  Thanks to all our volunteers for making this event happen.  Complete results are posted at

Written by Alison Bryant - co-race director.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Continental Divide Trail Race - Coming up tomorrow!

Have you ever wanted to try a challenging mountain race but don’t want to commit to training for a long distance race?   The Continental Divide Trail Race may be the perfect race to do just that.  The race is only 10 km long; most runners complete the race in 55 to 90 minutes.  The shorter race allows you to test your abilities in the mountains without the commitment of a marathon or ultramarathon race.
The race takes place at Laurel Ridge Camp and Conference Center in Laurel Springs, NC.  It is a beautiful location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, only 1.5 hours from Winston Salem, 2 hours from Charlotte, and 2.5 hours from Asheville.   The Continental Divide Trail Race has a nice mixture of tight technical trails and wide grassy paths, steep climbs and descents mixed with fast runnable sections.  Are you afraid you won’t be able to run the whole race?  Don’t worry, everyone will walk some during this race.  We will keep the clock running until the last runner finishes. Now before you say this race is too tough, we had several 70+ year-old runners participate who said that they loved the course and plan on returning.   But maybe they are tougher than most folks nowadays.  Maybe they know the fun is in taking on a challenge.  Post-race festivities include good food, multiple awards categories (including homemade apple jam for age group winners!), and door prizes.

The Continental Divide Trail Race also serves as the 2014 USA 10 Km Trail Championships, attracting elite runners and top age group athletes from across the country.  So you can have the opportunity to race with them or just be running the same trails with the elites as they lay down smoking times.  Prize money will be awarded to the top USATF finishers and the top NC resident USATF members in the open and masters categories.  This year we are expecting previous winner David Roche (who just made the USA Mountain Team), and his new wife Megan Roche (who also just made the USA Mountain Team) who will be running Continental Divide as part of their honeymoon.  Last year’s champion, Mario Mendoza, will also be returning to challenge the mountain. NC Mountain runner Ryan Woods (2 Time member of the USA Mountain Team) returns trying to move up 1 spot from his numerous 2nd place finishes here.  Another NC Mountain runner, Amber Reece-Young (Runner-up at the 2012 Xterra World Championships) returns to compete for the national championship tag.  To compete in the national championship, you need to be a USATF member, however USATF membership is not required to run the race and everyone is eligible for the Continental Divide age group awards.

Video from the 2009 Continental Divide Trail Race

If you want to spend more time in the mountains, Higgins Lodge has hotel rooms available or you can reserve a bunk in one of the summer camp cabins.  It is also only less than an hour from the mountain town of Boone, an excellent choice for a weekend getaway.

The 2014 Continental Divide Trail Race will take place on August 23, 2014.

For more information, visit

Press Release by Race Director Jason Bryant.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Max King's Running Tip of the Month - August 2014

The following article was written by Max King and originally printed in The Footzone Bend's August e-mail newsletter.  Reprinted with permission from The Footzone Bend and +Max King

We've talked a lot at the shop lately about how we run, specifically what we run in, and we all came up with "lots of stuff". We're shoe geeks and we like to try out different things. I'm lucky enough as the shoe buyer to get to rotate between many different shoes but the one thing that we all had in common was that we like specific shoes for specific runs. A good trail shoe won't necessarily run well on the road and vice versa, a lightweight trainer can make you feel fast on those quicker workouts where your normal trainer doesn't work as well.

So, we need to address the shoe quiver again. I believe it's an important part of every runners gear. A do-it-all shoe is a great way to go, and there are indeed some shoes that will perform for all of your needs if you stick to a few routes. If you get a bit adventurous, and I hope you do at some point, then adding another pair of shoes you can rotate in can be a big benefit.

Here are a few recommended additions to your standard road shoe: If you're adding in rougher trail I would highly recommend a good trail running shoe. Working up to a faster half marathon time? Adding a lightweight trainer will help. If you use your running shoes for your gym or CrossFit workout you can extend their life by picking up a training shoe that will perform better during your strength sessions. I like to go with a more well cushioned shoe for those days where I want to get in a run but I also need some recovery from the pounding.

Whatever it is, there are multiple reason that you might need a second or third pair. Don't be afraid to go that route, your primary shoes will still be there when you need them with extra life to spare. It's an extra up-front investment but evens out over the life of the shoes. You might think I'm just trying to sell more shoes, but trust me, that's not my goal. My goal is to keep you motivated, keep running fun and help you get the most enjoyment out of your runs.

For more information on weekly group runs at the Footzone, check out their website: 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Qualifying Standards for the 2015 Long Distance Mountain Running Championship Team

USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Executive Committee just approved qualifying standards for the 2015 Long Distance Mountain Running Championship Team.

1) the top US male and female from Pikes Peak Ascent (August 16, 2014) will be automatically qualified for the 2015 US Long Distance Team, regardless of place.  2) Any US athlete who is in the top 3 overall at Pikes Peak Ascent (August 16, 2014) will qualify.   3)  Top finisher from US Trail Marathon Championship (Moab, Utah - November 8, 2014) will qualify; 4) Remaining spots will be chosen by resume (as few as 1, and as many as 3 for  both male and  female team).

The US Long Distance Team will be comprised of five men and five women; top 3 score (cumulative times from the three top runners).

The 2015 WMRA Long Distance "Championships" (name is proposed to change from Challenge to Championships at the 2014 WMRA Congress meeting in Casette di Massa, Italy in September) will be hosted by the Zermatt Marathon on July 4, 2015.