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Forest Fire Sunset — Palo Alto, CA, September 6, 2007

September 6th, 2007

IMG 0133-04

I was out on the balcony with Gillian this evening, watching the sun descend into the smoke. We’ve had a thick haze lingering in the Bay Area the last couple of days because of forest fires north of Sacramento and south of San Jose.

I was thinking that I should have driven out to the coast or up to the the ridge to take some photos of the sunset. But the next best thing, I figured maybe I could get a shot from the balcony, so I grabbed my camera and tripod, switched to a 300mm lens, and had time to take a few frames.


Across the Years into 2007

January 3rd, 2007

We’ve run at the Across the Years 24, 48, 72 hour event several times in the past, always doing the 24 hour run on New Year’s Eve. This time we did it differently. We drove to Phoenix two days before the start of the whole thing, and did our 24 hour event on the first day. That way, we could do whatever we wanted for the two remaining days of the event and celebrate New Year’s Eve with the runners and race volunteers. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces. Each person has some kind of personal goal, whether it’s super high mileage or just to survive. Everyone has a story.

So, even though my knee injury from a few weeks ago prevented me from running or even attempting ultra mileage, I was lucky to be able to walk the course for 23 miles and chat with runners, volunteers and visitors. I also got to see the medical volunteers do some magic and take care of a couple serious situations. In fact, Andy Lovy fixed me up early on and my knee is doing better than it was at the start of the race.

Don ran 101 miles, which means he has completed 100+ miles in every 24 hour that he’s run. After our 24 hours were done, we slept and caught up on emails. Throughout the race we visited several times, seeing how everyone was doing. Don took photos and I walked a lap with a friend every now and then. We made sure to be at the race for midnight to ring in the new year with everyone. We had champagne (or sparkling cider), wore party hats and watched terrific fireworks! Tradition is that everyone pauses and does a lap together. It was really great. We got some more sleep and returned for the finish of the race.

So after all that, we feel like we’ve properly welcomed 2007! All the best to everyone for the New Year!


December 2006 UR Magazine Cover

December 13th, 2006

2006 december color

I just found out that a photo of mine from September’s Rio del Lago 100 made the cover of the latest ultraRUNNING Magazine. The shot is of our friends Rajeev Patel and Carmela Layson, both who were running their first 100 milers. They both had very strong finishes.

If ZombieRunner were a country, I’d move there

December 6th, 2006

One of the better customer testimonials we’ve seen:

I love your selection of products!! Thanks for adding new stuff all the time! If Zombie Runner were a country, I would move there.

Gotta like that!

- dc

San Francisco One Day

November 2nd, 2006

MG 5793

We had a great time in San Francisco last weekend. We were the race sponsor for the PCTR SF One Day 12/24 Hour Run. It was a superb first-time event.

The photographs DC took are now up on our web site.

RDL – Running Dead Last?

September 30th, 2006


So what’s more fun than running a hundred miler? Helping out at one, and seeing a bunch of your friends finish. We knew we would be there at the Rio Del Lago 100 Miler for Carmela, who we’d been coaching for her first 100, but as it turned out, we were also there for George, Jakob and Rajeev, also finishing their first 100s! The weather was warm but not hot, and with so many aid stations accessible by crew and supporters, it was a great way for us to spend a weekend with a bunch of friends.

For the first half of the race Carmela, Rajeev and Jakob all ran together in a happy group. Things got tougher later, but Carmela hung in there, while I was pacing and Don and Gus (Carmela’s husband and crew extraordinaire) gave her great motivation at each aid station that they could. Early in the morning Carmela put on the speed (so much that I couldn’t keep up) guaranteeing that she would make the final cutoff in the race. She had dug deep and found her reserves. Don paced the final 10 miles and Carmela finished with a beautiful smile. The rest of our runners came in after her, also smiling. I’m sure they are still smiling now. The runner’s high from a first 100 miler seems to last for a while. Congratulations to all the finishers!


Bad Feet at Badwater

August 2nd, 2006

The Badwater Zombies in Action

We had an amazing time helping out at the Kiehl’s 2006 Badwater Ultramarathon. We brought along Cool Off bandanas and Ultimate Directions FastDraw bottles, and runners and crew snapped them all up before the race. Each runner had a foot kit from us, to help prevent and treat blisters. So, when we headed out on the course looking for blister patients, we hoped that the kit would help.

John Vonhof, author of Fixing Your Feet, also joined us to repair blistered feet. John mostly made himself available with the medical team, while we scouted the course in the Zombie mobile. There were no blister events until later in the day, at Stovepipe Wells, mile 42.

At that point, the foot fixing was non-stop, from Shannon in her hotel room to Josef in the middle of the parking lot. Crews were always happy to see us, because they typically had tried something with the runner’s feet that didn’t work. We worked late, and then got a shower and a nap on the floor.

Early in the morning we headed out to Panamint Springs, mile 72. We found more patients there, and I found good chairs and a table on the front patio, which made it easier to work. I spend quite a while working on Heike, who had tried some other blister patches on the heel and ball of both feet. Eventually we drove the stretch from Panamint to Lone Pine, stopping for almost every runner to make sure things were going ok.

At Lone Pine, things were sporadically exciting. The gaps between runners were long and the runner visits usually brief. John was there too, so between us we fixed a few feet. I got the impression that most runners just wanted to leave well enough alone and get on up the climb to the finish. So, we eventually got to sleep that night before visiting the finish in the morning. As we parked at Whitney Portal and walked up, we saw Heike, who had just finished! She was so happy that I had fixed her feet. I was so happy to see her. Very cool. We also enjoyed seeing our friend Dan Marinsik finish, with a very happy crew.

We headed back to the Bay Area to get ready for the San Francisco Marathon Expo (we only had one day in between). Going on very little sleep, we set up at 8:00 am Friday for the 11:00 am opening of the expo. Boy was it busy! We had our Badwater shirts on, and surprisingly, we saw several Badwater runners who were also going to run the SF Marathon. Even more surprising was that one of those runners was Josef, my patient at Stovepipe. He had already thanked me for patching up his feet so that he could go from hobbling to actually running downhill after Townes Pass. His crew chief was really nice too. He said, “Hello Doctor.” We all smiled and they took photos and got some more blister stuff.

It was such a full week, but everything about it was great. Most of all, we had the chance to help runners achieve their goals. That’s the coolest thing of all.


A (mud) river runs through it

April 3rd, 2006

Muddy Inov-8 Terrocs

One of the reasons to run ultras that are 50 mile or longer is that you get to spend a whole day out there. We knew American River 50M would be like that for us. This race starts in the heart of Sacramento and follows bike paths and trails along the American River to Auburn, finishing at the Auburn Dam Overlook (yes, that means a big hill at the end). With the weather we’ve been having in normally sunny but now rainy CA, the trail portion of this run turned into a great mudfest. It’s always amazing the different types of mud you can discover in a single run: brown, swampy stuff, red, slippery stuff, the occasional section of shoe-sucking mud, and my favorite, chocolate pudding. Chocolate pudding on a hill was the best. Some runners attempted to go around mud, but sooner or later, everyone gave in and just went through the middle. One reason: the more you tried to avoid the mud, the more you would go through the poison oak.

The weather started off a little gloomy, but temperatures were great for running and the sun showed up a little bit. Volunteers at aid stations were in good spirits and so helpful as always. For this run you even get spectators along parts of the course, and crew people helping their runners–often runners attempting their first 50 miler. Seeing those runners cross the finish line is great. Norm announced runners as they finished, and would “encourage” them to run across the line (walking is NOT allowed at that point). As emotional the run is for first-timers, it still gets to me too, with this as my fifth AR50 finish. Because the race is point-to-point, you get a definite sense of awe about the distance covered. As you head west by car to return to Sacramento, you can see the downtown buildings marking the city way in the distance. It seems a long way to run.


New product stuff

February 3rd, 2006

So, imagine a trade show that’s really big. Now imagine that trade show is full of booths of all your favorite stuff related to running and outdoor sports, and all the people working there are dressed in outdoor cool clothing with the latest trail shoes and sandals instead of stuffy old business suits. Then imagine that you can buy anything you want! That’s kind of what the Outdoor Retailer show is like for us. The exhibitors at the show are all the vendors, ranging from popular ones you’ve heard of like Montrail, Brooks, Inov-8, Wigwam, to makers of raw goods, including high-tech fabrics and materials.

Since we’ve attended the show before (in the summer), we had our plan of attack before we started. Visit current vendors for new product, visit our list of planned vendors to add, and then shop around for cool new stuff. The current vendors had new things for us. Inov-8 has some new models coming soon, so we pre-ordered those, and Julbo has a new style of sunglasses that are great for trail runners. GU is adding a new flavor gel, which we got to try. Then we stopped by Powerbar. They are changing their gels, have a couple new flavors, and the bars are revamped too (not the chewy performance bars, but the other ones). We are definitely adding some bars to our product line. The trend there is toward natural ingredients–dried fruits, nuts, and not a whole lot else. There is a realization that people like ingredients they can pronounce.

For clothing, super light and super breathable are always demonstrated. It seemed like Gore-Tex was everywhere. The Gore-Tex branding is getting a big push and so many vendors display that label. I was interested in the offerings that are considered soft shells–zip tops of mid-weight fabric that have some wind-stopping qualities to them but are not waterproof. A few vendors had versions of the top with waterproof fabric over the shoulders, providing a great combination of comfort and protection from the elements. We have a fondness for Sierra Designs–friendly reps, reasonably priced items, and theirs was the first rain gear we bought for running back in 2000, which we used for the LA Marathon during a torential downpour (we were smiling a lot more than the runners in plastic bags).

As we walk the exhibit hall, some sales reps are more aggressive than others and want to hand out free samples. Some are handy, like lip balms and energy bars, but others, well, would you believe we came home with a “toilet in a bag”? Anyway, often the overly-friendly rep approach pays off, as we learn about products that we hadn’t even considered. Some are sort of wacky (kind of fitting for the name ZombieRunner) and others are so practical that of course we should have thought of them.

We brought back as many brochures as we could carry and placed a great batch of orders. We can’t wait for it all to show up. It’s all in a hard day’s work.


Hanging out in Park City, Utah

January 27th, 2006
Park City base cam

We’re sitting (Gillian in one over-stuffed chair with her laptop, me in another with mine) in the Alpine Internet Cyber Cafe in Park City, Utah, working on the ZombieRunner Web Site. The photo is from a live web camera at the base of the hill — it’s been snowing today. There’s a chairlift right across the street; lots of skiiers and snowboarders wandering around. But, the skiing population is far outnumbered this week by the crowd here for the Sundance Film Festival. (The director of Letters From the Other Side just stopped by and gave us promo cards for her documentary.) We may try to catch a film tonight or tomorrow night.

We’re here for the Outdoor Retailer Show – it starts tomorrow. If the August OR show was any indication, we’ll return home with a raft of new products.

For now it’s wireless laptops and lots of good food. Yesterday’s dinner was oysters, Alaskan king crab, clam chowder and a whole lobster at the Market Street Oyster Bar in downtown Salt Lake City. Lunch today was small plates at the Easy Street Brasserie and Bar here in Park City. Some of the best French Onion soup I’ve had.

- dc