Mindblowing Endurance in Death Valley

Badwater is referred to with a degree of awe for good reason. Whether there may be counter-claims for the title of Toughest Endurance Event On Earth, there is no doubt that this 135-mile slog across Death Valley – a place so hot and dry that without water even highly conditioned endurance athletes face death within hours – holds the original claim to that honour.

Grant Maughan. Just not sure if this is the start line of the single Badwater, or the finish line of his double Badwater….

I am so happy to have just received this epic writeup from Grant Maughan, 2013 Australian competitor. It’s a long piece that really starts with a slow burn but ultimately takes root like wildfire. If you don’t know how it ends, it’s certainly not for me to spoil it for you. Just read it. I dare you to not be moved.

The grime of the road & the desert had peppered me with a thick grungy coating, my teeth felt like unfinished concrete. I could feel the stiffness in my clothing as I moved , caked as they were in salt & dirt. I felt very alive , though physiologically I was probably more like a corpse . To some it is a wonder that people would do this kind of thing to themselves but honestly, I have come to regard that feeling of total depletion & ragged fatigue as a maxim of my existence. I find it quietly satisfying, just like the free dive to the abyss , where you go to a place that your body is not really made to go , but then after your own efforts, return to the place that you really belong.

Grant’s blog is DingoFishExpress and I’ll definitely be ploughing through it further after reading this exceptional piece from the way-out-there. Thanks Grant!

Of course, if you’re too ADHD for a long-form read, Grant’s also kindly put together an 8-minute video. LOVE IT!

Desert Jane does it again!

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When your run is visible from outer space…..

You know you've gone hard when your run is visible from outer space - great work by Jane Trumper and Andy Bowen

You know you’ve gone hard when your run is visible from outer space – great work by Jane Trumper and Andy Bowen

Congratulations Andy Bowen and Jane Trumper on successfully completing your 700km run of the Gibb River Rd, aka Outback Odyssey, to raise money for Bear Cottage and to create a new Australian record run which might well remain unchallenged forever. Sounds like a tough dusty slog!

The route was intended to come in at around 647km, with offroad detours to visit gorges and the occasional homestead bringing the total to 688km, so the pair decided to run a final 12km at the end just to finish on a nice, even 700km!

Their crew, Garry and Janet Tapper from York, near Perth, and Suse Griffen, an American running friend from Tokyo (where else?!) were reportedly amazing. Garry earned himself the nickname “the postman”, because, says Jane, “he always delivered”.

Having set out on the afternoon of Wednesday June 5th, the crew gunned it over the last 4 days to finish the morning of Saturday June 15 so that they could call it an even 10 days. Their shortest day was 59.4km because, according to Jane speaking by phone from their first proper lodgings in nearly 2 weeks, all other campsite options were full of cowpats or locals wanting to borrow carparts. Their longest day was 78km and of course, 700km over 10 days averages the trip out to a solid 70km/day with temperatures averaging in the mid-30s for the duration.

Apparently work crews along the road caught on to what they were doing and sure enough by the end of the run, the traffic controllers were holding up queues of cars until Jane & Andy had run through the roadworks they were constructing. They report seeing landlocked crocodiles, giant Taipans, stunning waterfalls, and more red dust than you could poke a shower at.

To donate to Bear Cottage, visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/jane_trumper_9

For Jane’s blog see http://ultrasmall.wordpress.com/

For Andy Bowen, see http://ultramarathonrunning.com.au/

Jane is talking excitedly about Run For Tomorrow which starts in Ottawa next April, shortly after she revisits Boston Marathon for a proper finish in 2014. Andy, from the sound of things, is keen just to get the dust out of his computer, which is now apparently red, even though it was kept unopened in a bag for the duration of the adventure.

We’re really proud of these guys for what is a remarkable achievement of endurance and self-directed running. And we’re looking forward to more pictures and stories from their adventure soon, but here’s one of our favourites for now.

It's always handy to bring a giant with you.

It’s always handy to bring a giant with you.

Big week of stuff! And one moose.

It’s gonna get a little busy here this week. We’ll be announcing a couple of shirt winners later today – still 3 hours to get your North Face 100/50 Hoka OneOne pics to us to go in the draw for that one.

We’ll also be posting Top 10 Trail Running Tips. It’s such an arbitrary number, but let’s face it – ‘Top Trail Running Tips’ just doesn’t sound as catchy, and there are so many different schools of thought on everything about running, that one could go forever. See ‘Lore of Running‘ by Prof. Tim Noakes if you don’t know what we mean.

An interview also coming up with Desert Jane Trumper and Tyre-Dragger Andy Bowen. They’re launching Outback Odyssey, and are off to run a 700km stretch of rugged Australian outback just over a week from now. We’ll be asking them how they’re preparing for 12 days of ultramarathon. And, of course, why?

Welcome back also to Team Hoka Australia’s Scott Hawker. We’ve seen some beautiful photos of his time in the US, where he absolutely ran his pants off.

running amongst the redwoods near Bolinas, Scott Hawker, pic. by Rickey Gates

Check out these results – 2:47 net time in the Santa Monica Coast to Coast Marathon, which he reportedly ran as a training run, with an official time of 2:48:13 for the win and a new Course Record, a casual 50km training run amongst the redwoods with ultra-machine Rickey Gates, and a 2nd place in the Turnagain Arm 8-mile that got him a mention in the Alaska Daily News. The photo he took with Midget Elvis and his close encounters with black bears also caught our attention. Great adventuring!

Scott Hawker flying to a course record at Coast to Coast. Pic by Rocket Racing Productions.

AND we’ll be releasing details of how your storytelling can win you a brand spanking new pair of Stinson Evo and Stinson Tarmac, and keep us all entertained with yarns of disaster and/or hilarity.

And we’ve just received a couple of great pics of Queensland gun Ben Duffus in action at The North Face 100, on his way to winning the juniors and taking 7th place outright with a scorching 10:18:53. Pretty ballistic running for a 100km loop course with about 4500m elevation gain.

Team Hoka's latest addition, Ben Duffus ripping it up in the valleys of the Blue Mountains, pic. courtesy of the Duffus family

Team Hoka’s latest addition, Ben Duffus ripping it up in the valleys of the Blue Mountains, pic. courtesy of the Duffus family

It’s pretty exciting to be partnering with these two young and committed runners. They’re humble, strong, and bring a bucketload of talent and pace to Team Hoka on opposite coastlines of Australia. We thoroughly agree that Hoka OneOne are great running shoes for older runners, injured runners, ultra and endurance runners, but performance speaks for itself. These guys are part of the new generation, part of the shift in thinking from endurance sports being something you do when you’re too old to run fast.

Ben Duffus looking fresh and feisty around the 60km mark at The North Face 100 Australia, pic courtesy of the Duffus family

Ben Duffus looking fresh and feisty around the 60km mark at The North Face 100 Australia, pic courtesy of the Duffus family

Exciting times ahead!

A moose! By Scott Hawker. How could we not include a picture of a moose? Serious nature awesomeness.

Team Born to Run prepare for Antarctica

Hi, it’s Roger from Hoka OneOne Australia and Team Born to Run. That’s me on the left, along with my team mates, gear testing on Ushuaia’s Martial Glacier earlier today. This Thursday, we’ll take a 2-day boat trip across the notorious Drake’s Passage to the coast of Antarctica.

Each day, rubber duckies will whisk us from ship to shore as we complete a number of world firsts. In the 9 year history of the 4 Deserts Challenge, we’ll be the first team ever to bag the Grand Slam. That might not sound complicated, but when entering as a team means running as a team, within close proximity every step of the way for each of 4 250-km multiday races under extremes of heat, fatigue, dehydration, and restricted calorie-intake… yeah, at times, it’s been challenging. But now, the mood is of extreme excitement.

We can’t wait to get to Antarctica. We are about to do something amazing in a place where almost nobody has ever been. If you’d asked me 12 months ago whether I’d ever go running in Antarctica, I’d have likely what-the-eff-bombed you. But now it’s happening! Youngest runner, first couple, first father-and-son, and first type 1 diabetic to take out the Slam (assuming no race-ending injuries on the ice).

Endurance running and the power of possibility, longtime partners in juicy life-changing goodness!

See http://www.facebook.com/teamborntorun for more.

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Back from Sahara, off again to Antarctica!

Hello Hoka OneOne readers, Roger here. If you’ve come along to the Hoka stand at any of our shoe demo events over the last few months, I’m the noisy one.

Team Born to Run in the Sahara, pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

This year, I’m working alongside 4 other runners from Team Born to Run as we become the first team ever to complete the Racing the Planet 4 Deserts Grand Slam. This means we complete 4 self-supported events, each made up of roughly 4 marathons, an 80km day, a rest day, and a much anticipated final stage that usually ends in hard-earned beer and pizza.

L to R Greg Donovan, Roger Hanney, Jess Baker, Ron Schwebel, Matt Donovan, the diverse runners of Team Born to Run, pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

The first event took place in the high altitude and dry air of Chile‘s Atacama salt plains in April of this year. Prior to that, we also spent a week training in New Zealand, because running as a team is a totally foreign concept to most runners and needed practice! We have to stay together over the 250km of each race, which means that we all only run, more or less, as fast as the slowest member.

In Gobi, the slowest member role was passed about the group as both Matt, the youngest and least running-experienced member, and I were beaten up badly by dysentery. It’s one thing to run 40km when you’re feeling ill. It’s another thing entirely to run 40km while feeling ill, go to bed unable to eat, wake up without breakfast, and run all over again.

My humps, pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

The Sahara Race which we have just completed took its own toll. Greg Donovan, founder of the Born to Run Foundation, which we are running to launch and promote, did however come to the desert after having been ill with a virus the week before. Never having been one to tolerate heat well, Greg ran himself into a dehydration hole by the 25km mark on the morning of the first day, as temperatures passed 35 degrees and kept on climbing. He narrowly avoided requiring a saline drip, which would have disqualified him from the race and shattered the team, but still had to drink roughly 17 litres of fluid between his 2nd pee of the day and his third.

This meant that by the second day, a day which saw temperatures hit the mid-40s, Greg’s running legs were nowhere to be found. And this, in part, became the team’s defining challenge for the week. With the soft sand surface ranging anywhere from ankle to knee deep, and temperatures rising sharply from 9am, with no shade to be found anywhere on the course, and camp proving elusive until mid-afternoon, how do 5 individual runners of varied ability function as a single unit?

Teamwork, pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

Frustration was a daily torment, and having to budget food intake for runs which regularly took 1-2 hours longer than expected did nothing to help. All we could do was gnash our teeth and dread the looming long day, an 87km sun-scorched painfest which we fully expected would take us past the 20-hour mark as fatigue replaced stamina.

Fortunately, this was not to be. With a 7am start, the team crossed the finish line as one and jubilant at 9 seconds to midnight on Day 5. From the very start of the run, the mood had been different. Remnants of illness and even new shades of tiredness were evident but throughout the day, whoever might be weakest invariably pushed the hardest. Satisfied that our buddies were burying themselves, we knew that as a team we could ultimately do our best on the day.

A fast march across the desert floor, under a near full moon, sunglasses at the ready to keep sandblasts out. pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

Finishing off an effort like that was a greater buzz than we got from the race finale, running from the Sphinx past the Pyramids to – you guessed it – finish line beer and pizza, on a day when camel riders trying to make a quick Egyptian Pound clearly demonstrated the meaning of the phrase ‘taken for a ride’.

It is now just 10 days until we leave once more, this time to run in Antarctica. However, this departure will be different, because we will come back with a Grand Slam. It has hit individual members of the team at different times throughout the year – just how hard it is to successfully achieve this goal. Even in Sahara, with just a couple of days to go before the event finished, other runners aiming for the Grand Slam this year dropped out from exhaustion and fatigue, almost within sight of their ultimate goal.

Hopefully, we will all ultimately be successful. To succeed will create a great origin story for the Born to Run Foundation, tying personal responsibility and fitness to better outcomes for type 1 diabetics. Our success will also help promote the Big Red Run, a 250km multiday race and fundraiser being held for the first time next year in Diabetes Awareness Week, July 2013, in the Simpson Desert.

Watch this space!!

Flying high! Another desert down, Antarctica next!! pic by James Holman, Hot Knees Media, courtesy of http://www.borntorun.com.au

Roger tells some running stories in latest issue of Reps Magazine Australia

Reverend Hoka Roger writing in latest issue of Reps Magazine Australia

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