Monday, December 28, 2009

Lost California Runner Found Near Mt. Tam

The lost trailrunner did a few things right that helped him survive his ordeal. Among them, remember to always tell someone where you're going and also stay put once you realize you're lost and the sun goes down.

Trail runner rescued during stormy night near Mt. Tam

A man who went for an afternoon run Saturday in a wooded area south of Fairfax was found
muddy, wet and shivering uncontrollably at 11:15 p.m. by three members of the Marin County Sheriff's search and rescue unit.

Guy Stark, 50, of Concord, had become lost and disoriented while running on Cataract Trail near Alpine Dam in the Marin Municipal Water District watershed, said Michael St. John, the search and rescue unit leader.

On Sunday, Stark had nothing but thanks for his rescuers.

"I was really happy to hear a human voice," he said. "I was amazed. I had given up hope. I don't know if I could have survived the night."

Four MMWD rangers and 34 search-and-rescue members hunted for Stark after his family reported him missing at 9 p.m. A command post was set up at Sky Oaks Ranger Station on the north side of Mount Tamalpais. Rescuers with all-terrain vehicles, a boat team and nine trail assignment teams combed the area as temperatures dipped into the low 40s.

At 11:15 p.m., Stark was found on the Helen Markt Trail on the southeast side of Alpine Lake. St. John said he was hypothermic to the point of uncontrolled shivering and was "very much in need of rescue." He was able to walk out with the assistance of the team.

"He was probably only a quarter or half a mile from his car as the crow flies," St. John said.

St. John said Stark did some smart things, such as letting his family know where he was going and hunkering down on a trail after it became dark rather than wandering. However, he left his hooded sweatshirt, cell phone and a hand warmer in his car, thinking he wouldn't need them.

He was wearing running shorts and a lightweight running shirt and had no food or water. He told rescuers that he had never before run in Marin County.

Stark had parked his car at the Cataract Creek Trailhead and started his run at about 2 p.m. He got lost - blaming his sketchy map and sub-par signage - as daylight faded and decided to stay put because of near-zero visibility.

Stark told rescuers that a shelter he'd built next to the trail worked well during the first splash of rain but not so later on. Along with the cloudbursts, thunder and lightning, Stark said he was spooked by thoughts of unwanted visitors.

"At first I was thinking about mountain lions, so I got a big stick," he said. "Then I convinced myself that the cats wouldn't be out in the rain looking for food. Plus it's hard for them to smell anything in the rain, so I started calming myself down."

A few minutes after an intense shower, he heard voices. It was search-and-rescue team leader John Channell with teens Chris Ottoboni and Ben Cook.

"I didn't think anybody was coming out because it was treacherous and rocky and slippery," Stark said. "When I first heard them, I thought they were partiers or campers because I was sure that nobody would risk their own lives to come out here looking for me. They deserve a lot of credit."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Trail Running Resources

This is from

What Are Your Favorite Trail Running and Ultrarunning Resources?

We've got a simple question for you today: What are your favorite trail running and ultrarunning resources? Are you a print person who can't wait for the mailman to deliver the latest issue of Trail Runner Magazine or UltraRunning magazine? Are you the social sort who relies on personal blogs, the Ultra listserv, or Facebook? Are websites your thing, you internet junkie, you?! Regardless, please leave a comment to share you favorite sources of trail running and ultrarunning info. We'll get you started with a few of our own!

Trail Runner Magazine - Simply the best trail running magazine in the US. It's page host a wide variety of interesting stories ranging from the growth of ultraunning to pre-race sex. Yes, it's One Dirty Magazine.

UltraRunning - What Trail Runner Magazine is to trail running, UltraRunning is to ultrarunning... that is THE magazine on the subject. It's a repository of race reports, but there's also plenty of other content if results aren't your thing.

Running Times - Adam Chase has been bringing together great trail running content in RT's Trails section for more or less a decade. As a bonus, Running Times has the best running training advice of any running mag out there.

Honorable Mention: Trail-magazine IS in German, but you don't need to read German to enjoy the trail porn worthy images in this e-magazine. We can't help but enjoy reading Outside's Buyers Guides.

Social Media (New and Old)
Ultra Listserv - The ultra list might be older than the internet itself... or at least it seems that way. Regardless, it and its archive are great resources for aspiring and experienced ultrarunners alike. Be aware that the List serves up an enormous volume of email on everything ultrarunning. We'd suggest setting up a separate Gmail account if you subscribe. (If you want to know more about the Ultra List, check out Endurance Planet's podcast on the subject.)

Facebook - Facebook has become ubiquitous enough that we feel comfortable mentioning it. While there are a ton of trail running and ultrarunning resources on Facebook, our favorites are Salomon Running for its witty discussion points and Trail Runner Magazine, which mixes informative posts with discussion starters.

Blogs - We're not going to list our favorite personal running blogs. Instead, we mention them generally. They run the gambit from informative to inspirational. Heck, we challenge you to go read a new personal running blog today. Looking for leads, check out our blogroll.

Websites - Trail Running Soul has long been aggregating lots of trail running news stories, gear reviews, and even some video. It's updated quite frequently and recently there's been more original content. - It's where we go when we're looking for info on a North American 100 mile race. - Real Endurance has a fairly comprehensive ultrarunning calendar that's sortable every which was and a pretty hefty trail running blogroll. The only question with Real Endurance is can you find the good stuff among the volume.

Trail Runners Outpost would like to add: offers race listings and information about multi-day racing.

A Trail Runners Blog is also a very good site for trail running info and interviews with cool people.

Also, a couple of sites that have race listings and offer online registration that are really good:

Wrap Up
Ok, now that we've shared a few of our favorite trail running and ultrarunning resources, we'd love for you to do the same. Throw out a couple of your favorite websites, blogs, magazines, whatever. Not in North America? Even better! Tell us where the great info is overseas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

XTERRA Trail Running World Championship Half Marathon Video

Video from the 2009 XTERRA Trail Running World Championship in Hawaii.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Mile with Two of the Fastest Trail Runners in the World

Video detailing one mile with two of the fastest trail runners in the world - Uli Stiedl and Geoff Roes at the 2009 North Face Challenge Championship race in Marin County, CA. Winner takes home $10,000. And yes, that uphill they're running at the start of the video is pretty steep.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Barefoot Running Shoes

Dr. Jenny Sanders interview with Podiatry Today.

Have you seen an increased demand for shoes that simulate barefoot running?

Yes. Questions about barefoot running seem to parallel the introduction of new barefoot running shoes into the marketplace. The most common I’ve seen in my practice include NikeFree, Vibram Five Fingers and Newton Running.

NikeFree was the first introduced in 2004. At the time, Nike who was sponsoring Stanford’s track team discovered that some of their training had been done barefoot. Stanford’s coach at the time, Vin Lananna felt that barefoot training reduced injuries and improved foot and ankle strength. Seizing an opportunity, NikeFree was developed. Basically it has a soft, non-supportive cloth upper with a wide, cushioned midsole having deep grooves to enhance flexibility.

A little slower to catch on has been Vibram Five Fingers, which were introduced in 2005. Vibram originally designed these to be worn while yachting and was surprised initially that anyone would want to run in them. Once they discovered this however, this shoe with individual toes became mainstream.

Newton Running was developed in 2007 and is similar to NikeFree in appearance but provides more forefoot cushion. It was designed by Runners and is heavily endorsed by runners. The shoes are expensive and cost between $150-$200.

Other than the debut of a new barefoot running type shoes, Christopher McDougall’s recently released book entitled Born to Run, has re-ignited the barefoot running controversy.

Chris is an ultrarunner and writer for Men’s Health. His book is a page turning, entertaining read about his own personal journey of barefoot ultrarunning, which started, with the simple question of “why does my foot hurt?”

It chronicles Chris’s introduction, training and subsequent 50-mile treacherous run with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. The Tarahumara are a legendary tribe known to run hundreds of miles at a time while only wearing sandals. In it he vilifies running shoe companies, podiatrists, sports medicine specialists and orthotics as the cause of running injuries. Looking below the surface however, I was able to appreciate the book for it’s historical accounting of barefoot running, ultrarunning and Chris’s analysis of running form. I also think it will stimulate conversation and better scientific research into the question is there an optimal running form and is it the same for everyone and every foot type?

In regard to shoes that simulate barefoot running, what in your clinical opinion are the biomechanical strengths and weaknesses of these shoes in comparison to conventional running shoes?

Barefoot running shoes are designed to promote forefoot contact over heel contact. This does two things. One, it reduces the impact of heel strike, improving shock absorption throughout the midfoot and forefoot. Two, it alters the center of gravity forward with the feet being better centered below the hip, which is a much more stable alignment.

My problem with barefoot running shoes isn’t with the biomechanics of the design but rather the concern that runners will see this as the newest fad and train without proper conditioning or assessment. It doesn’t matter whether you are wearing NikeFree 5.0 or Nike Zoom Structure Triax +12. If the running shoe isn’t a match to your foot type and running biomechanics, injuries will occur.

I also think in addition to shoes, too many runners have not been adequately coached in proper form. The best running shoe design in the world coupled with poor running form has little chance of benefiting a runner. ChiRunning, Pose Tech Training and Evolution running are all running methods which simulate barefoot running form and are often helpful in reducing or eliminating injury.

Are there other considerations Podiatrists should keep in mind when asked for recommendations of these shoes by patients? Are there certain foot types that would prohibit use of these shoes?

When asked by patients about barefoot running I say it may have a place in an overall training strategy, but based on most of the patient’s pathology I see coming through the door, few would benefit from this as a primary treatment. In fact I have taken quite a few runners out of these styles of shoes because they caused injury. It amazes me that so many experienced runners (triathletes, marathoners, ultrarunners) who presumably know everything about their running are oftentimes clueless when it comes to their shoes. They are sponsored by a particular shoe company consequently have to wear that company’s shoe and no one has really ever analyzed whether it’s right for them or not. Or, they have run in the same shoe for the past 10 years but never realized that the shoe design has changed so dramatically during a version change, that in spite of the name being the same it’s not the same shoe.

In your experience in treating athletes, are there particular brands of these shoes that simulate barefoot running that you have found to be effective?

The few patients I have who use these types of shoes as well as readers of my blog find that Vibram Five Fingers are really the only shoe that simulate the true feel and biomechanics of barefoot running. NikeFree and Newton Running seem to be losing ground in the battle of barefoot running shoes. However, I’m sure as time goes on, more and more shoe companies will jump on the barefoot running bandwagon and incorporate even more designs and styles into their manufacturing lines.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is Barefoot Running Beneficial Or Detrimental?

More reading about the barefoot running debate. From Podiatry Today.

By Lauren Grant, Assistant Editor

With the emergence of new research and more footwear that simulates barefoot running, the debate seems to be intensifying in the podiatry community about the merits of barefoot running.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers assessed eight experienced barefoot runners and found that barefoot running led to more plantarflexion at the ankle, which facilitated a reduction in impact forces and shorter stride length. The study authors also found that a lightweight shoe (FiveFingers, Vibram) was “effective in imitating barefoot running conditions while providing a small amount of protection.”

Another recent study, which appeared in the Journal of Biomechanics, found increased eversion of the forefoot with barefoot locomotion. The study authors also noted that shoes “restrict the natural motion of the barefoot” and “impose a specific foot motion pattern” during the push-off phase.

Assessing The Biomechanical Strengths And Potential Drawbacks

Could the emergence of shoes that simulate barefoot running have an impact? Two podiatrists see pros and cons with these shoes when it comes to biomechanics and the training regimens of athletes.

“Increased torsional motion of the foot will likely stimulate activity of the intrinsic musculature of the foot,” explains Doug Richie, Jr., DPM, a Past President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. “Stronger intrinsic muscles in the human foot could conceivably improve foot function and efficiency in running gait. However, this has not been proven in any credible scientific study.”

Jenny Sanders, DPM, says barefoot running shoes are designed to promote forefoot contact over heel contact.

“This does two things. It reduces the impact of heel strike, which improves shock absorption throughout the rearfoot and midfoot,” notes Dr. Sanders, who is in private practice in San Francisco. “(These shoes) also alter the center of gravity forward with the feet being centered below the hip, which is a much more stable alignment.”

In terms of potential weaknesses of these shoes, Dr. Richie says a lack of cushioning may increase the risk of certain injuries. In his clinical experience, he has seen many running injuries that were “impact-related and could be related to shoes with poor cushioning.” However, Dr. Richie concedes that the literature is inconclusive on the cause-effect relationship between impact and running injury.

He maintains that the lack of torsional stability in minimalist shoes will likely put strain on the plantar aponeurosis and increase the risk of plantar heel syndrome. Dr. Richie adds that the lack of heel elevation in these shoes will cause eccentric loading of the Achilles tendon and calf musculature. “In runners who have not adapted to this footwear design, the risk of Achilles tendon injuries could be expected to increase,” notes Dr. Richie, an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Biomechanics at the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University.

Dr. Sanders says a significant concern is the possibility that runners may see these shoes as a new fad and train without proper conditioning or assessment.

“If the running shoe is not a match to your foot type and running biomechanics, injuries will occur,” notes Dr. Sanders. “In addition to shoes, I think too many runners have not been adequately coached in proper form. The best running shoe design in the world coupled with poor running form has little chance of benefitting a runner.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Video of Trans Zion Traverse

Video of Jared Campbell and Karl Meltzer's 2008 Zion Traverse Adventure:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jared Campbell's and Christian Johnson's Recent FKT on Trans Zion Traverse

From Jared Campbell's blog:

Spectacular view from the West Rim Trail, looking West

Two weekends ago Mindy and I had a few dreamy days in Zion National Park. The weather was perfect for running and the forecast was more of the same through the following weekend. So, on a whim I decided to get off my lazy butt and run the Trans Zion Traverse (TZT). With just a few emails I had two good friends, Jay Aldous and Christian Johnson, sign up for the journey. Christian’s experience of Zion thus far had been the standard tourist trails and sites so I was excited to show him this incredible run. Plus, he’s running the HURT 100 in January so this would make for a great training run for him.

Jay Aldous in Hop Valley

After stuffing ourselves with a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner Mindy and I hopped in the car and drove down to Cedar City where we quietly snuck into the hotel room that Christian and Jay were staying in. At 6AM we woke to some fine gas-station coffee compliments of Jay, quickly packed our stuff, and headed out, bound for the Kolob entrance of Zion National Park. Just after 7:00 AM we left Lee’s Pass down the La Verkin Creek Trail. We reached the Kolob Arch trail intersection in about an hour and started the small climb up into Hop Valley. We were moving quite well and enjoying good conversation. Jay shared some stories of his past endurance activities, which really are amazing. For example, back when I was in diapers, Jay was into REALLY long distance cycling. He tackled a circumnavigation of the lower 48 United States, and then moved on to set the record (which stood for 18 years!) for circumnavigating…. the entire globe! Something like 13,000 miles in 100 days. Jay is an amazing guy. And, at 48 years old, this year he pulled off a 22:03 at the Wasatch 100 after taking a 26 year hiatus from the race.

Christian and I have done several small runs together in the past few years and is the kind of guy that I knew I’d enjoy being with on a longer adventure. He is one of the nicest guys I’ve met and is an incredibly talented runner. In just a few years of trail running he has climbed to the top! Like Jay, he also has a background in road riding, but fell in love with the simplicity of trail running. I’m excited to watch Christian crush it at the up-coming H.U.R.T. 100 in January, where I predict Christian to go sub-24 at this brutally hard course.

So, needless to say I was in great company. I was incredibly excited for this run, but was honestly quite ill-prepared given how little and how inconsistently I had been running in the past few months. So, I’d have to “BS” this one.

As we settled into the northern end of Hop Valley, the temperature dropped to somewhere in the high 20s (guess). The river was frozen and the sand frosted on-top. This really is a nice and peaceful section of the run, very flat with beautiful view all around. We made good time down the river valley and then made quick work of the climb up and out of it, finally seeing the sun for the first time of the day. We hit the Hop Valley TH and then shifted to the Connector Trail. The Connector Trail was in far better condition that when I did this run about a year and a half ago. We followed it perfectly this time.

Partway up the climb, where it angles towards Pine Valley Peak, we ran into Mindy who was coming down the trail. She informed us that she couldn’t get into the West Rim TH due to the road being closed so she went to the Wildcat TH instead. This meant that we’d get an extra 1.8 mile out-n-back to the car and would have to take extra food with us to make it 31.7 miles to the end. No big deal, but it did cost us about 15 minutes. After fueling up we took off, bound for Wildcat Canyon.

The climb to Wildcat Canyon is low-angled and actually quite enjoyable for several miles. It was at this point that we saw an incredible heard of roughly 50 Elk. We startled them and they took off making the ground shake as they ran up the hillside. We watched in amazement and part of me wished that they’d let me join them, but no such luck. We pressed on to the traverse down to a dry Wildcat Canyon river and then the small climb up to the West Rim TH. Christian and I had pulled ahead of Jay a bit in the last mile or two and we knew something wasn’t right. We waited and he caught up with us and explained that he just wasn’t feeling on today and that we should go ahead with out him. Sometimes you got it and sometimes you don’t. So, Christian and I pressed on heading south-bound on the West Rim Trail.

We did the 5 miles to Potato Hollow in about 45 minutes, moving at a nice clip on the easy rolling hills. The view starts to get really tasty at this point. Whenever I look west from this vantage point I feel as if I’m at an ice-cream parlor and I want a bit of everything. Left and Right forks of North Creek, Ivins Mountain, Inclined Temple…. they all look so good.

As we continued on I pointed out the start of Heaps Canyon, the backsides the Patriarchs, Behunin Canyon, and thought back to the many great adventures I’ve had here in the past few years. The descent from here is awesome and the view just continue to get better and better. Eventually Telephone Canyon comes into view on the left, a canyon that my uncle Ron descended just one week ago. Next, the Imlay Sneak route leaves the West Rim Trail to my left, another great adventure comes to mind. Nearly every step of this trail has fond memories tied to it for me.

It is at this point that one thing changes very quickly…. the number of people! As we crested the next hill, Angel’s Landing comes into view, perhaps one of the coolest trails in the world so I can’t fault the droves of people trying to hike it. We encounter hundreds and hundreds of people and 2 guys immediately jump on our tail as they’re curious why we’re running downhill so fast. We explain that we’ve already logged quite a few miles today and that our objective is to run across the entire National Park in record time. They tell us that they’re marathon runners and are pretty amazed at what we’re doing. It was fun to chat with them for a bit, but both Christian and I were running on empty (dehydrated) and it quickly became too much conversation. So we put the throttle down a bit and left them behind. I had poorly judged the time to run the W. Rim Trail section and had consequently run out of water and I could feel it. So, when I got to the Grotto Aid Station (i.e. spigot) I had to go through the usual routine to “come back”.

After some salt, water, and calories we were on our way running the road up to Weeping Rock where we dropped a gear or two for the climb. Christian pulled on the climb up the many switchbacks while my body re-equilibrated again. At a low-point physically we ran into Mindy who was running the East Rim Trail into the park, which lifted my spirits greatly. One gel and one Mindy encounter and I felt great again! We grinded up to the top of the plateau and then onto Stave Springs. Just a few hundred yards after the Spring and I stopped dead in my tracks as there was a beautiful Bighorn Sheep just 50′ ahead, staring us down. We watched in amazement of this great animal. He came towards us a bit and then decided to leave the trail we were on. wow!

Christian at the end of our great Trans-Zion Run

Eventually we reached the high-point where we put it in high gear and ran to the end. 9:08 was our official time, good for a new FKT (Fastest Known time), but one that won’t last long. What a great adventure. We jumped in the car (which Mindy had left for us) and drove into Springdale where we had pizza and beer with Jay and Mindy.

Life is sweet. Another stellar adventure in Zion.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Trails: Pine Ridge Trail, Nebraska

If you're looking for a new trail to explore in a relatively unexplored part of our country, check out the Pine Ridge Trail in Nebraska. When most people think of Nebraska, they don't think of pine trees and hills. The Pine Ridge Trail might just change your perception of trail running in Nebraska.

From the Pine Ridge Trails brochure:

"The Great Plains’ ocean of rolling, grassy swales and farmland erupt abruptly into the rugged country called the Pine Ridge. This unexpected region owns an uncommon diversity of plant and animal life. The timbered canyons and open parks mix western and eastern plants, grazed pastures and sprawling timberlands. While the Ridge is not wilderness, it is still wild. The Pine Ridge Trail gives hikers and horseback riders panoramic views of the varied terrain, flora and fauna."
The Pine Ridge Trail is presently 27 miles long and designed to eventually extend 52 miles in length and connect Chadron, NE to Crawford, NE. Along the 27 mile trail are numerous other single track routes that all together add up to over 100 miles of single track trail through the Pine Hills of Nebraska. Find yourself a map and get out there an explore this hidden gem.

At Trail Runners Outpost we'll be regularly posting information about relatively unknown trails in lesser traveled locations. So, if you're traveling or if you live in these areas, we hope we can point you towards some great new trails for trail running adventures.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Palmiero-Winters Setting Trail Records on Prosthetic Leg

Great article on Amy Palmiero-Winters from the Milwaukee Journal
Ultra runner takes pain in stride on prosthetic leg

With her incomparable standards, Amy Palmiero-Winters rated her 50-mile run in the North Face Endurance Challenge in southern Wisconsin as very successful and relatively easy.

The 37-year-old from Hicksville, N.Y., set yet another unofficial record for 50 miles.

More important, she finished without blood dripping down her prosthetic left leg.

That represented a vast improvement in pace and discomfort from her first outing in a 50-mile trail ultra, in May, when Palmiero-Winters struggled to the finish line in Bear Mountain, N.Y., just 30 seconds before the 13-hour cutoff time, and "bloody as hell," in the words of the race director

Since then, with a series of awe-inspiring runs, Palmiero-Winters has not merely set records but created them, in categories for amputee runners that few ever pondered.

Her run on the Ice Age Trail on Oct. 24 established a new standard for 50 miles - 8 hours 43 minutes - breaking by nearly 90 minutes the unofficial record she set in September, in the North Face Endurance race in Washington, D.C.

In between, on Oct. 11, she became the first female amputee to finish a 100-mile ultra on the road, the 10th annual Heartland "Spirit of the Prairie" Endurance Run.

Palmiero-Winters was the fastest female in that race, with one sound leg or two.

"She's pushed the envelope way past what is conceived by the public," said Erik Schaffer, president of the high-tech prosthetic company A Step Ahead.

"She's setting a new first every time," Schaffer said. "There have been people with prosthetics who have done some long runs, but nobody is close to her worst time. We're trying to track it, but there's nobody doing what she's doing."

Her performances on the road have been mind-boggling. Her determination on the trails has been nearly incomprehensible.

Running on steep hills covered with rocks, roots and leaves, Palmiero-Winters has almost no margin for error. The ideal landing area on the narrow, hook-shaped blade that serves as her left foot is roughly one inch square.

Without an ankle, heel or calf muscle to absorb the impact, the shock of each hard step travels through the prosthetic into the tibia, fibula and patellar tendon in what remains of her leg, cut off about 3 inches below the knee.

Painful chafing

"If I step on a rock on the front of my running foot, it will hyperextend my knee backward," she said. "If I step on the back, it will throw my knee forward. And it's the same if I step on a rock to the right or the left of the foot. It throws me to the inside or the outside of the prosthetic leg.

"All that twisting and turning and rocks kind of throws you around inside the prosthetic. That alone creates a lot of pain."

As she runs, the size and shape of her shortened limb changes and loosens in the specially fitted carbon fiber socket. That causes the chafing, blistering, tearing and bone bruising that Palmiero-Winters suffered in New York.

"I have no idea how she was running," said Nick Moore, director of the five races that make up the North Face Endurance Challenge series. "It was impressive. She has unbelievable fortitude."

Eyes on Olympics

Mental toughness and a high threshold for pain have helped Palmiero-Winters run beyond what anyone with a prosthetic has done before. Her natural running ability puts her among the best runners in any category, and she expects to compete with them at the sport's highest levels.

Among her goals is the Badwater Ultramarathon, the 135-mile race through the blistering heat of Death Valley.

Before that attempt, Schaffer will have to tweak the ultra runner's custom-designed prosthetic to stop the heat transfer that burned her limb during an unofficial Badwater venture this year.

With a personal best of 3:06 in the 2006 Chicago Marathon, Palmiero-Winters holds onto the dream of qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials. USA Track & Field officials have said she would be allowed to compete in the qualifying trials if she can reach the entry standard.

Her immediate focus remains on ultras and the trails, where her love of running has been rekindled.

Stacking ultras in a remarkable run, Palmiero-Winters plans to finish the North Face Endurance series in San Francisco in December. Her next race will be her first 100-mile attempt in the woods, the Ozark Trail Endurance Run on Saturday.

Those are all races, distances and challenges that Palmiero-Winters never contemplated as a young runner with two sound legs.

She took the sport less than seriously, even after running a 3:16 in the Boston Marathon in 1993. A year later, a car hit Palmiero-Winters while she rode her Harley-Davidson motorcycle near her hometown of Meadville, Pa., Her left foot was crushed.

Showing what would become familiar fortitude, she ran the Columbus Marathon with the damaged foot in 1995, but the injuries required more than two dozen surgeries and eventually amputation, in 1997.

'A second chance'

That ended her running pursuits for more than five years but eventually brought an improved perspective and motivation.

"I didn't realize until after I lost my leg that I have a great natural talent and I never took advantage of it," Palmiero-Winters said. "When I woke up that one day, and realized, instead of losing my life, I lost my leg . . . it was about time I put the most effort I can into the things that I do.

"I did get a second chance."

She soon rekindled the desire to run.

"The feeling I get from running has never changed," said Palmiero-Winters, a single mother of two - Carson, 6, and Madalynn, 4.

"Running makes me happy and proud of who I am. Overall, it makes me a better person.

"I have two little kids. When I go home, I sure like that they think they have the world's fastest mommy."

A welder by trade, Palmiero-Winters now works with A Step Ahead, based in New York, and has started a nonprofit organization, ASPIRE, to help children and young adults who have lost limbs.

Those children, and her own, provide the inspiration that carries Palmiero-Winters through painful miles.

Thinks about backers

"For me to get through what I have to get through, and I do it every single race, I think of the people who support me and the people who stand behind me," she said.

"If I'm running one mile and something hurts, I'll think about my kids and how they cheer for me and their smiles. And the next miles, I'll think about one of the little kids I coach, who always says 'Remember the little engine who could,' and the next mile think of my godson, Drake, and then my little buddy Jake who's missing both his legs at his knee.

"At the prosthetic company, I'll think about the guy in the back and the guy who makes my leg and how hard they work so I can do what I do. I think about everybody in my life, and I get strength from them."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Human Body is Built for Distance

Another interesting article from the New York Times addressing how the human body is designed for distance running.

The Human Body Is Built for Distance


Does running a marathon push the body further than it is meant to go?

The conventional wisdom is that distance running leads to debilitating wear and tear, especially
on the joints. But that hasn’t stopped runners from flocking to starting lines in record numbers.

Last year in the United States, 425,000 marathoners crossed the finish line, an increase of 20 percent from the beginning of the decade, Running USA says. Next week about 40,000 people will take part in the New York City Marathon. Injury rates have also climbed, with some studies reporting that 90 percent of those who train for the 26.2-mile race sustain injuries in the process.

But now a best-selling book has reframed the debate about the wisdom of distance running. In “Born to Run” (Knopf), Christopher McDougall, an avid runner who had been vexed by injuries, explores the world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a tribe known for running extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals.

Mr. McDougall makes the case that running isn’t inherently risky. Instead, he argues that the
commercialization of urban marathons encourages overzealous training, while the promotion of high-tech shoes has led to poor running form and a rash of injuries.

“The sense of distance running being crazy is something new to late-20th-century America,” Mr. McDougall told me. “It’s only recently that running has become associated with pain and injury.”

The scientific evidence supports the notion that humans evolved to be runners. In a 2007 paper in the journal Sports Medicine, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and Dennis M. Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, wrote that several characteristics unique to humans suggested endurance running played an important role in our evolution.

Most mammals can sprint faster than humans - having four legs gives them the advantage. But
when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.

Why would evolution favor the distance runner? The prevailing theory is that endurance running allowed primitive humans to incorporate meat into their diet. They may have watched the sky for scavenging birds and then run long distances to reach a fresh kill and steal the meat from whatever animal was there first.

Other research suggests that before the development of slingshots or bows, early hunters
engaged in persistence hunting, chasing an animal for hours until it overheated, making it easy to kill at close range. A 2006 report in the journal Current Anthropology documents persistence hunting among modern hunter-gatherers, including the Bushmen in Africa.

“Ancient humans exploited the fact that humans are good runners in the heat,” Dr. Bramble said. “We have such a great cooling system” - many sweat glands, little body hair.

There is other evidence that evolution favored endurance running. A study in The Journal of Experimental Biology last February showed that the short toes of the human foot allowed for more efficient running, compared with longer-toed animals. Increasing toe length as little as 20 percent doubles the mechanical work of the foot. Even the fact that the big toe is straight, rather than to the side, suggests that our feet evolved for running.

“The big toe is lined up with the rest, not divergent, the way you see with apes and our closest nonrunning relatives,” Dr. Bramble said. “It’s the main push-off in running: the last thing to leave the ground is that big toe.”

Springlike ligaments and tendons in the feet and legs are crucial for running. (Our close relatives the chimpanzee and the ape don’t have them.) A narrow waist and a midsection that can turn allow us to swing our arms and prevent us from zigzagging on the trail. Humans also have a far more developed sense of balance, an advantage that keeps the head stable as we run. And most humans can store about 20 miles’ worth of glycogen in their muscles.

And the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the human body, is primarily engaged only during running. “Your butt is a running muscle; you barely use it when you walk,” Dr. Lieberman said. “There are so many features in our bodies from our heads to our toes that make us good at running.”

So if we’re born to run, why are runners so often injured? A combination of factors is likely to play a role, experts say. Exercise early in life can affect the development of tendons and muscles, but many people don’t start running until adulthood, so their bodies may not be as well developed for distance. Running on only artificial surfaces and in high-tech shoes can change the biomechanics of running, increasing the risks of injury.

What’s the solution? Slower, easier training over a long period would most likely help; so would brief walk breaks, which mimic the behavior of the persistence hunter. And running on a variety of surfaces and in simpler shoes with less cushioning can restore natural running form.

Mr. McDougall says that while researching his book, he corrected his form and stopped using thickly cushioned shoes. He has run without injury for three years.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Black Hills Runners Club

South Dakota has some great trail running opportunities, and the Black Hills Runners Club has taken advantage of these great running trails by hosting their first Black Hills Runners Club Trail Running Series. Unfortunately the series is wrapping up, but there is still time to run the last race in the series, the South Dakota Trail Championship on November 7.

The Black Hills Runners Club is an active running club that promotes running in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. The Black Hills is home to many scenic and fun single track trails for running including the 100 mile long Centennial Trail that runs from Wind Cave National Park in the south to Bear Butte in the north and traverses the length of the Black Hills. The Black Hills Runners Club is now taking advantage of these great trails by offering a trail running series on various trails throughout the Black Hills. Stay tuned for more information about the 2010 trail running series and consider a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota for some awesome trail running through the scenic and historic Black Hills.

Friday, October 9, 2009

South Dakota Trail Running Championships

Below is an advertisement for the 2009 South Dakota Trail Running Championships taking place on November 7th 2009 at the Storm Mountain Trailhead. For more information check out

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Insight from New Balance About the Development of Their New MT100 Shoe

Below is some really interesting insight from Byran Gothie, New Balance Outdoor Project Manager, into the development of the New Balance MT100 shoe. It appears that NB really took real trail runners advice and experience into account when developing this shoe. We may have to give this shoe a try...

We tried not to treat the 100 as a direct update to the 790 but instead a new shoe to our lightweight trail category. We did start with the 790 though to figure out how we could build a better shoe. In addition, we added ultra trail runners Anton Krupicka and Kyle Skaags to our Outdoor Ambassador Team around the time we started looking into an update. The first thing we did was look at shoes they ran in for high wear areas. The attached image shows how we built the outsole specifically around the high wear areas of an ultra runner’s efficient gait. The lateral mid/forefoot has been built up the most to provide support to the highest wear area. The midfoot/heel is actually ground contact so that there is a smooth transition or just a contact point. The heel has been designed specifically for braking, as we found that the only time they landed on their heels was when they needed some control going downhill. The heel and forefoot heights are the same as the 790, 18mm in the heel and 8mm in the forefoot.

Anton and Klye then came out to our sports testing lab in our Lawrence office where we ran them through a bunch of tests like force plates and motion capture. This helped to validate our theory and solidify our work on the midsole/outsole.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Harakiri Mountain Run

Video of a cool mountain race in Europe.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lost California Runner Wishes She Had Done Some Things Differently

This CNN article describes some of the mistakes the lost California runner made prior to leaving for her fateful run.

By Ashley Fantz
(CNN) -- The California runner who was lost in a forest for three days without water had barely a few hours to go before she would have died, her doctor said Thursday.

Runner Maria "Gina" Natero-Armenta, 36, survived for three days without water in a California forest.

Maria "Gina" Natero-Armento, 36, not only survived 72 hours with only a slice of apple in her stomach and a little bit of water for nourishment, she also has only one functioning kidney, Dr. Derrick Hong said.

He spoke with CNN on Thursday afternoon, along with Natero-Armento and her husband, Armando Armento, in a conference call interview from her room at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California.

Natero-Armento is no amateur when it comes to distance or mountain running. She's one of the top female finishers in a San Diego 100-mile race and an experienced ultrarunner with top times in other 100-mile and 50-mile races. Her body was unusually strong to begin with, but she also has one kidney -- the other doesn't function because of a congenital disorder.

"This is extraordinary," Hung said.

She said she had planned a simple eight-mile run, a small fraction of what the ultrarunner usually tackles in a sport that challenges competitors to run at least farther than a 26.2-mile marathon. She is among the majority of ultrarunners who like doing 100-mile races.

She set out from her Oceanside home at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to meet Fidel Diaz, her running partner and brother-in-law, who is also a serious ultrarunner. They planned to run along a trail in the the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego.

She brought along two water bottles and wore a Camelpak, a backpack that can be filled with water. That was plenty of water for an eight-mile outing. She didn't bring food with her, but Natero-Armento said she ate a piece of apple before she started, and that was the only food in her stomach.

Natero-Armento said she did several things that were out of character that day, and she wishes she had been more prepared.

"I am very careful usually, but that particular day, I was not," she said. "I normally, the night before the long runs, I have everything ready. And this night, I had nothing ready, and it was just a mistake."

She usually wears a Garmin GPS watch, a sophisticated device that runners use to find out where they are, the distance they have traveled, calories burned and altitude.

"I didn't have my Garmin and wasn't wearing a watch," she said. "I don't know. I always carry food with me, and I didn't have nearly enough."

"I always carry my phone with me, and I didn't have my phone with me, and that really was a big mistake," she said. Feeling antsy to just get on the trail and run, she wasn't thinking deliberately. "I just wanted to get going that day; get some fresh air and go for a run. I hurried up."

Natero-Armento and Diaz began running about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, she said. She lost track of as much as eight hours, she said, as she and Diaz became lost. By then, she was dehydrated and disoriented.

And Natero-Armento said she also made another, more serious bad decision. At some point in the run, Diaz had become ill. Ultrarunning is a sport in which some participants sometimes push themselves way too hard.

"[He was] pretty much beside me or in front of me, but I do know that I was insisting on keeping going since I was OK," she said. "He doesn't eat or drink much ever [when out on runs], so I know he can handle that."

She said that she kept going because she'd seen him run hard while sick -- also not uncommon in 50- and 100-mile races -- and that she figured he could handle it if she pushed him.

She said they became separated as they two were going over a rugged hill.

"We had separated because we were going through a hill quite a while and had to go through brush, and that's how I have a lot of scrapes. So that was very difficult," she said. "[We] crawl under and break branches, and that was the only way we were going to get out of there, according to Fidel. So I don't think he was able to see that I was not there anymore."

She said that Diaz was in front of her. He would shout to her so they knew the other one was close by: He shouted to her, and she shouted back. Then, at one point, she couldn't hear him anymore.

"When I called him and he didn't answer, at this point, I lost a little bit of control," she said.

Night turned into day. She had no water or food, and she didn't try to eat anything. She became disoriented but had the wherewithal to know that she was completely out of fuel. She didn't have the strength to keep walking, so she climbed into a ravine, believing that would be the safest place.

Diaz was not available for an interview Thursday.

He was found Wednesday several hours before she was. It's not clear why he was lost for so long and where, for days, he had traveled in the forest.

Rather than ask for water, law enforcement said, Diaz asked how Natero-Armento was doing and if someone had found her.

"I really had to, from the beginning, accept that I was not capable of getting out of there, there was no where to go," she said, recalling her hours in the ravine, thinking about her husband and her family. She told herself she would live.

"I knew what I had to do."

The experience has not scared her away from distance running on trails. When her kidney is strong again, she will be back, running

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Search for the Lost California Runner

Video of the search for the lost California runner Maria “Gina” Natera-Armenta:

Monday, September 28, 2009

California Trail Runner Lost...and Found!

A California trail runner was lost in the mountains for more than 3 days. She was recently found and rescued and is now recovering in a California hospital. Many lessons can be learned from this incident about trail running safety.

Ultrarunner tells Register she was prepared to die
Woman lost for days in forest was severely dehydrated when found
The Orange County Register

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST – After three days in the rugged Cleveland National Forest, veteran ultrarunner Maria “Gina” Natera-Armenta said she was prepared to die after becoming separated from her running partner and becoming stuck in a steep, rocky area with no way out – and no food or water in temperatures that soared past 100.

In an exclusive interview with The Orange County Register in her hospital room Wednesday afternoon, Natera-Armenta detailed her ordeal, which began around 7 a.m. Sunday morning during a routine mountain run with her brother-in-law, and ended when she was spotted from the air by searchers Wednesday afternoon.

Her sometime running partner, Fidel Diaz, 53, was found early Wednesday morning, wandering around the Lazy W Ranch looking for her – shaken and dazed, but coherent and not suffering any serious injuries.

But it wasn’t until hours later that Natera-Armenta showed up – after a helicopter spotted her in a remote, rocky section by a waterfall, where steep slopes prevented her from climbing out.

More than a dozen of her trail-running friends had joined search-and-rescue teams scouring the mountains for her – never giving up hope they would find a runner known for her tenacious, never-die spirit.

The sound of a sheriff’s helicopter hovering above her about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday compelled the desperately weak Natera-Armenta out from under some large boulders she had been using to shield herself from the heat and the sun.

Severely dehydrated, she had her last sip of water at 2 p.m. Sunday – and her last bit of food, a piece of peanut-butter sandwich, at 4 p.m. that day.

Natera-Armenta, 36, waved her arms as the blades of the chopper roared.

“The sound was right on top of me,” she recalled, sipping iced water from a straw in her bed at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo as electrolytes were pumped into her veins. Her skin was darkened and her cheeks were hollow.

“I thought, ‘Where did that come from? They can see me. There’s no way.’”

Natera-Armenta’s kidneys were failing. Her blood was becoming too concentrated, rushing to her brain and away from her skin and muscles – reducing her to a feeble state.

She had suffered severe diarrhea for at least two days, and while stranded had started her menstrual cycle – further depleting her weakening body.

Doctors at Mission Hospital said the endurance athlete, who has been a serious trail runner for about three years, wouldn’t have survived another day in the forest without food or water.

When rescued, her dehydration level was 10 percent to 15 percent, said her physician, Dr. Mike Ritter.

Fifteen percent is considered fatal.

Other than scratches and abrasions that mostly were on her legs, she suffered no other injuries and is expected to fully recover.

“I thought I was going to die, but I was prepared,” Natera-Armenta said.

She had already started to say her goodbyes, she told a Register reporter.

“I said goodbye to everybody,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘I hope I don’t make them too sad.’”

When her husband, Armando Armenta, walked into her hospital room, he kissed her on the forehead.

“I love you,” he told her.

“What happened?” she asked.

“You tell me. What did you do for three days in the mountains?”

It started off as a routine run, she explained – in the Lazy W Ranch off Ortega Highway where single-track trails snake up unforgiving ridges. Natera-Armenta has raced distances up to 100 miles in remote, punishing mountain trails.

She had eaten a snack at 5 a.m. at her Oceanside home before driving up to San Juan Capistrano to car-pool into the trailhead with Diaz.

Not having slept well in recent days, and not feeling her best, Natera-Armenta said she had planned to run for only about two hours – 10 or so miles, at her typical pace.

She carried with her two hand-held bottles of water – a total of more than 40 ounces – and about 30 ounces on her back in a hydration pack.

Soon into the run, she and Diaz got separated, she said.

He had started off running fast and got well ahead of her, but soon he started vomiting, and she eventually passed him.

Diaz and Natera-Armenta, although very familiar with the two main trails in the area, the Los PiƱos and San Juan trails, was heading up the rugged and steep Hot Springs trail.

She said she had never been on that trail. It is unclear how familiar Diaz is with it. He was not immediately available for an interview. Also unclear is why Diaz was not able to summon help earlier. He told authorities he had gotten lost after the two separated at around 4 p.m. Sunday.

At one point, Natera-Armenta said she lost a water bottle as she climbed up a steep section. The bottle fell down a ravine and she thought it would be unsafe to try to retrieve it.

She kept climbing – not wanting to retrace her steps because the trail, she said, was a “mess.”

Eventually, she found herself near a dry waterfall, surrounded by steep slopes teeming with thick, dry brush.

“I got myself in trouble,” she said.

She was too weak to climb out, she said. She found shade under rocks and trees.

Not having much of a choice, she decided to stay put – and pray she’d be found.

“I knew I couldn’t get back the same way,” she said. “I just knew I had to stay strong.”

Night came. She struggled to sleep. She fell in and out of dreams.

The next day came, and then the next.

Natera-Armenta said she had three different spots where she would rest under the shade of rocks.

She concentrated on conserving her energy.

“I asked myself, ‘Am I going to die today, or try to save as much energy as possible?’”

Day 4 came – Wednesday

Still alone.

Natera-Armento said she mostly thought of her husband a lot – and inconsequential things like favorite TV shows.

About two dozen of her running friends joined search-and-rescue teams at daybreak Wednesday to look for her.

Although her husband had reported her missing Monday night, the car she and Diaz had used was not found until late Tuesday afternoon.

At some point while stuck in the mountains, Natera-Armenta took off her soiled blue running shorts.

Strong winds blew them away, silently sending them down a slope.

She was too weak to retrieve them.

When rescuers found her, Natera-Armenta was wearing only her running shirt, shoes and socks.

She said that by Wednesday – hours before she was found -- she had given up hope of surviving.

She had toyed, for a moment, with the thought of jumping off a boulder to her death – not believing she could survive another night.

But she hung tough.

The sound of chopper blades slicing through the hot air brought her to her feet.

She waved at her rescuers.

Soon, she was recovering in the hospital – her fingernails thick with dirt, but her smile intact.

During her bedside interview, Natera-Armenta was animated at times, but felt dizzy and weak at other times.

She repeatedly said “I’m sorry” to visiting relatives, and even managed to crack a few jokes.

“I just feel like I’m always a troublemaker,” she said to a sister, Alma, of Garden Grove.

“Oh my God. My sister, my little sister,” Alma said after hugging her. “You have a nice tan.”

“I’m so stinky,” Natera-Armenta said. “I feel so bad.”

“Don’t worry,” Alma told her. “You’ll get pretty again.”

When a nurse asked Natera-Armenta what she wanted to eat, she said, “coconut water.”

The hospital, the nurse politely told her, didn’t have that.

When a nurse brought Natera-Armenta a plate of food, her husband lifted a fork to her mouth and gave his wife the first food she had had in 72 hours.

A forkful of salmon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Could Barefoot Running Save Your Knees?

Great article from Paul Scott on

Could barefoot running save the knee?

By Paul Scott

Several years ago, during a grateful stretch of employment after the birth of my first child, I got an assignment from a glossy and hip national magazine to review trail running shoes. I had reviewed cologne and grooming supplies, but had never before reviewed high-end sports footwear.

I was promptly shipped more a dozen pairs of high-performance shoes, really gorgeous stuff, the very best brands, retailing $60 to $120 a pair. My closet was suddenly ridiculous, and I took the job very seriously, lacing up every pair and heading out to test the shoes through snow and rain and mud.

Eventually I picked out a best of the batch, and did my best to justify the call in print, but when it was all said and done I had a hard time knowing why. I think I chose one shoe over another because of the way the shoe performed, but I may have also really liked the way it looked. Part of me wondered if the whole thing wasn’t a bunch of b.s.
Maybe I wasn't cut out for shoe reviewing (they never called again). Then again, maybe I wasright. A revolt over whether we should wear running shoes has taken on momentum lately. It first began in the late 1980s, when a study found that the more your shoes cost, the higher the injury rate. That could mean a lot of things, of course -- maybe people who pay more for their running shoes run more aggressively, and thus get injured more, for example. But another study published during that time suggested barefoot runners get injured less because their arches adapted to better deflect impact forces.

A lack of evidence
Lately, nothing less than the great running-shoe value system has come under question. You know that advice you get in the shoe store -- that to prevent injury, people whose feet turn from side to side, or pronate, should wear "stabilizing" shoes, while everyone else should wear "cushioning" shoes? It turns out no one has ever proven that notion, according to a survey of the literature recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

That study was highlighted in a recent article in the New York Times on the phenomenon of shoeless running, a trend that has given rise to shoes (such as Vibram FiveFingers) specifically designed for shoeless runners. (What’s next, guitars for playing air-guitar? Umm, skip that ... .) "Born to Run," a new book by magazine writer and runner Christopher McDougall, examines the question in even greater depth.

The proponents of shoeless running argue that it helps protect injuries to the foot, lower leg and ankle, but given that the entire leg from the foot through the hip is a linked system, I’m hoping it won’t be long until they discover that shoeless running has benefits for the region home to the most vexing of running injuries, the knee.

Irene Davis, PhD, a researcher at the University of Delaware, past president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and newly converted barefoot runner, has measured impact forces with and without running shoes. Though anecdotal observations are many, she says, "unfortunately there’s not a lot of concrete evidence that suggests that when you run barefoot you get injured less."

A question of landings
Davis says it's possible that barefoot running is smarter, however, and the issue comes down to the biomechanics of how runners land. Most runners (80 percent) run with a rear-foot strike pattern, landing on their heels and rolling through to push off from the balls of their feet. She says running shoes cushion the heels during this pattern, "but you have a quick rise to impact peak" running heel-first. In runners with a forefoot or mid-foot strike pattern, on the other hand, "[their] peak becomes attenuated," Davis says. We all have a pattern we are born with, but necessity requires barefoot runners to change to a mid-foot pattern. "When you barefoot run you can’t land on your heel," she says. "It hurts. Go out and try it."

Davis doesn’t know whether barefoot running will protect the knees, but says it would appear to reduce the forces on the tibia, and "that’s probably going to be good for the knee." Diabetics and people with arthritic conditions need to keep their running shoes on, she says. Others can take off their shoes, but need to start small. "I did it slowly," she says. "I started at a quarter of a mile, then moved it up to a third of a mile, and then a half a mile."

'A natural pumice stone'
She says her feet have actually become softer in the process. "I’m a girl," she says, "so my worry was I didn’t want calluses. The pavement serves as a natural pumice stone."

Ironically, grass is more dangerous for shoeless runners than paved paths. "The problem with grass is you don’t know what’s underneath it." Pavement resembles hard-packed natural running surfaces in places like Copper Canyon, Mexico. More important, pavement is hard, and in terms of biomechanical re-education a hard surface is the whole point of taking the pillows off your feet in the first place. Hard surfaces force you to land even smarter than you would on grass. "When you run on pavement you’ve got to cushion more." With your body.

Freelancer Paul Scott, of Rochester, writes frequently about health and fitness for various media. Susan Perry is on vacation.