Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
If you thought the TSA's inability to notice a 6-inch hunting knife was a sign that airport screeners might as well be watching Spongebob instead of X-raying you and your stuff, here's further proof.
A man in Houston says the TSA screeners didn't blink an eye at the loaded .40 caliber handgun he'd forgotten was tucked away in his computer bag when he made his way through the security checkpoint at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Since the TSA requires you to run your laptop through separately from its bag, it should have been even easier for screeners to notice the gun in the laptop bag.
'There's nothing else in there. How can you miss it?' asks the passenger. 'You cannot miss it.'
The passenger noticed the gun when he arrived at his destination and reported the incident to authorities. The TSA investigated and provided 'remedial instruction' for the screeners involved.
Sorry, but if you have to re-teach a TSA screener what a gun looks like, maybe you should reconsider your hiring practices.
ABC News provides one final look behind the curtains of Security Theater:
A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.
Thanks to Jared for the tip!"
Friday, December 03, 2010
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
For most promoters, a full slate of MABRAcross racing is plenty. But the go-getters at DCMTB wanted more so they added races for rookies, single-speeds and tandems to the DCCX slate. For those that stuck around late in the day, these races were some of the most entertaining on the schedule.
The tandem race, in particular, did not disappoint. Twelve teams signed up and eleven were brave enough to toe the line. Many of the racers were lining up for their third race of the day.
Looking at the start list, it was safe to say that the race favorites in the tandem class were familiar names to MABRAcross prognosticators.
Jared Nieters, MABRAcross series leader, and Joe Dombrowski, the winner of the day’s elite race, looked strong on paper as they squeezed their Haymarket Bicycles-SEAVS rig onto the front row. But a slow start and nagging mechanicals seemed to dog them along the way.
Lined up next to Nieters and Dombrowski was the Adventures for the Cure tandem piloted by Adam Driscoll with Pat Blair as stoker. If you don’t know much about these guys, let’s just say they spend way too much time together. They have ridden across the country together on fixed-gear bikes, completed the two-man Race Across America, and are pretty much inseparable if the activity has anything to do with bikes. In fact, they get mistaken for each other so much at bike races that I believe they just take on the other’s persona when someone can’t tell them apart.
I point this out about Driscoll and Blair because their communication on the bike is incredible. You can hear it on the video in the turns and through the barriers.
Another team that does a nice job communicating is the TOMS Shoes p/b Kindhuman Sports team of Matt and Chad Bartlett. The brothers have more fun on a bicycle then should be allowed. We get to hear them discussing the set up to their big air moment and also heckling the other TOMS Shoes rig. Needless to say, these guys also get confused for each other. Maybe that’s the key to tandem cross success.
If you like what you see and want to try it out for yourself, you can do just that at Rockburn Cross, day two of the Howard County Double Cross. Early word is that this is going to be an epic rematch of the top three teams, with other strong challengers on hand to make it spicy.
For the video we went into unchartered territory. Three helmet cams, one camcorder outside the tape and a whole lot of footage. I’ve edited it down to about 13 minutes but I’m sure there is a whole lot more to go through that was left on the cutting room floor.
Thanks to John Cutler for the background music and than you for watching.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
DCCX takes place Sunday at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. With over 600 racers already registered, this event is going to be huge.
Despite the ever growing popularity of DCCX, the organizers are never satisfied with last year and are always looking to give participants and spectators the best experience possible.
DCMTB, the club responsible for bringing us DCCX, is not one to blindly follow conventional wisdom. They like to mix it up a bit on course design, venue layout and fun extra activities like tandem races, a Saturday women-only CX clinic and a rookie class.
Women interested in the Saturday clinic, led by 2009 DCCX champ Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), need to do nothing more than show up at the AFRH on October 23rd at 2 p.m. Let the guard at the Upshur St. NW and Rock Creek Church Rd. gate know why you are there and he will point you in the right direction.
We met up with DCCX promoters Marc Gwadz and Matt Donahue to run through the course and get an idea of the new twists and turns. Many will be happy to learn that the long, exposed out and back on the far side of the course is gone. However, a new uphill barrier will join the existing uphill obstacle (steps replace last year’s barrier) to make the course no less painful.
For this course preview everything was done on location, which is a CXHairs first. We rode and filmed the course and immediately downloaded the file. The mobile crosshairs studio was set up on a hay bale leaning against a telephone pole around where the frites will be served on Sunday. Matt and Marc got on the mics and recorded the commentary in the field, which means you get some authentic DC background noise, like the medevac helicopters landing at Washington Hospital Center, mixed in with the commentary.
For more information and updates on DCCX, check out the DCMTB blog.
Thanks for watching and we will see you Sunday.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Dick Yuengling, Jr., president and owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., today announced the company has signed a letter of intent and is in serious discussions for the purchase of the Hardy Bottling Facility in Memphis, Tennessee, which will allow them to distribute Yuengling lager, their flagship brand and Yuengling's much sought after portfolio of brands in select new markets in the United States.
The 'Hardy Bottling Facility' is the former Coors brewery in Memphis, where they made Zima at one time. Carolyn Hardy, the former plant manager, led an employee buyout of the facility in 2006. Apparently, things have not gone quite as well as they might have hoped. Unfortunate for the company, but if Yuengling does make the purchase, they have a track record of saving jobs. I don't know if the workers at Hardy are unionized or not; Yuengling took on the union workers in Tampa, and they later voted to de-certify. The release did say that no plants will be closing, and no jobs will be lost: great news.
So why did Yuengling decide to buy yet another facility, not long after expanding the newer Pottsville brewery? I thought they had capacity to spare. Apparently not:
Our three existing plants, two in Pennsylvania and one in Tampa, FL are limited in their production capabilities. In addition, the cost of freight and logistics challenges our ability to market our products at the competitive prices to our loyal consumers.Good news for the people who've been hankering for Yuengling. The release made no promises on timing: "We can not put a specific timeline on this yet, only to say our company is working very hard to manage our growth in our usual slow and methodical manner."
Okay. What's this mean? Well, first, it means New England should finally see Yuengling, along with other parts of the country that are jonesing for an American-made, American-owned light lager beer, a beer with a real history behind it, from America's oldest brewery. Sounds hokey, but I think it's real; it's certainly worked for them in Pennsylvania.
Maybe more importantly, it puts Yuengling on the national radar. Up till now, the big boys could call it a regional brewery. Now they're going national, in their 'slow and methodical manner.' Will they continue to do things 'the Yuengling way,' feet on the street, not a lot of reliance on marketing and laptops, leaning on the beer and the story? I believe that's the way to bet.
The joker in the deck is Dick Yuengling. He's getting older, his daughters are in the business, things are good...is it time to retire? My guess is no. I think Dick wants to take his shot at a national market, and judging from how he sounded when I interviewed him last November, I think he's ready for it. I really wonder what will happen when the torch passes, and the daughters are, inevitably, offered a buyout deal from a much, much bigger brewer. Impossible to predict the result. We'll just have to wait and see.
More here from the Wall Street Journal.
Friday, October 08, 2010
I’m an unfit Popeye and the New Balance MT101s are my spinach. The year’s not quite over, but I can’t imagine anything but the MT101 as my favorite new shoe of the year. Seriously, that’s no hyperbole. For anything shorter than marathon, there’s no other shoe I’d rather run in right now. The New Balance MT101/WT101 (MT101 from here on) is light, low to the ground, and fits like a glove. All the issues I had with the original MT100 have been ironed out. That’s why iRunFar is so excited to have teamed up with New Balance to giveaway five pairs of MT101s!
Since being launched last autumn, the New Balance MT100 has been the talk to the minimalist trail shoe world. (“Barefoot shoes” are their own thing.) Originally designed with the help of Anton Krupicka and the Skaggs brothers, there aren’t a lot of extras on these shoes. The MT101 is merely an evolution of the MT100, but the changes that were made make it a much better shoe.
Here’s a summary of the changes before jumping into an in-depth review:
- Better foot lockdown by the addition of midfoot and rearfoot overlays
- Improved ankle collar construction that saves your Achilles
- Slightly more expensive – it costs all of $5 more
- More flexible rockplate
- Slightly heavier at 7.48 ounces versus 7.09 ounces for a US men’s 9
- Less odiferous glue
Below, we’ll examine the MT101′s upper, midsole, outsole, and weight before taking a look at my own experience with the shoe. And, yes, there is the huge MT101 giveaway! Read on to find out why I love the MT101 so much!
[BTW, if you have an interest in minimalist shoes, New Balance, or Anton Krupicka, check out our preview of the forthcoming New Balance Minimus line designed with input from Anton.
New Balance made its two biggest improvements to the MT100 by adding overlays and fixing the ankle collar in the MT101. In addition, they tweaked the tongue a bit. Otherwise, it's the same great upper as the MT100. Here's more on the upper.
The MT upper continues to be primarily mesh backed by lightweight fabric, but now with significant and well-deserved additions. In our MT100 review, Travis Liles noted, 'the upper... does not offer much lateral support, which can be problematic on technical or switchbacking trail.' This observation was echoed by many others.
In response, New Balance completely redesigned the upper's overlays. Most notable is a significant metatarsal wrap that expands from an inch wide at its attachment point in the center of the arch to five inches wide at the top of the shoe. That results in a wrap stretching from the foremost eyelets to one and a half inches back on the ankle collar. This is a huge improvement that really locks down the entire foot as well as providing a small amount of support.
On the lateral (outside) portion of the midfoot upper, New Balance added one midsole-to-eyelet band (from four to five), but, more significantly, the company spread out the connection points of those bands from two center eyelets to five eyelets, which gives broader metarsal lockdown.
Finally, New Balance added both a medial (inside) and a lateral band connecting the midsole and the ankle collar. This change, along with all the others, makes for a much cleaner ride on technical terrain. The MT101 is better connected to your foot, which means you are better connected to the trail.
With the MT100, a small, but significant number of runners experienced severe chafing of the Achilles tendon area. I was one of those sufferers in the MT100 when the skin over my Achilles sawed to pieces in less than 3 sockless miles. For some, the problem even persisted while wearing socks! The culprit? A 2 mm high ridge of thin EVA at the top of the ankle collar. That ridge served no purpose and was merely a relic from the manufacturing process.
Well, I’m happy to report that New Balance successfully revamped its manufacturing process. I can now deem the MT100′s ankle collar problem completely eliminated in the MT101. Sure, I still get some light rubbing in the Achilles notch, but it’s minor and what I’d expect given these are the only shoes I’ll wear sockless.
The MT100′s tongue was a single layer of the fabric-backed mesh that is used throughout the rest of the shoe. This thin mesh had a tendency to fold and collapse. New Balance found a way to provide structure with a minimal addition of material. On the rear of the tongue, they sewed on a thin, second layer of fabric that extends two inches down the backside of the tongue at the tongue’s edges while tapering to an inch at the center of the tongue. On the front of the tongue, New Balance bonded a half inch-wide ribbon that extends vertically two inches down the center of the tongue. These two additions can hardly weigh a thing, but they do keep the tongue laying flat against the top of your feet.
The tongues of the New Balance MT100 (top) and MT101 (bottom). I did not adjust either before taking this picture.
Other Upper Features
The MT101 still has the slipper like feel of the MT100, while retaining plenty of toe box wiggle room. The mesh upper is highly breathable, but does let in quite a bit of dust. The MT101 also retains the “sausage-like” Sure Laces.
As with the MT100, the MT101 lacks a post for pronation control. However, the midsole is raised on both the inside and outside of the midfoot, which provides a modest amount of support.
Once again, there’s a Rockstop TPU-rockplate sandwiched between the outsole and midsole that offers decent push-through protection in the forefoot and midfoot. New Balance made the MT101′s rockplate slightly less dense, which results in more forefoot flexibility. While I’ve not been able to feel the difference in flexibility while running (Yes, I’ve run with the MT100 on one foot and the MT101 on the other.), the MT101 is hands down the more flexible shoe in manual testing.
I don’t feel that the decreased rockplate density detracts from its push-through protection. In fact, in side-by-side “jumping ’round the yard” tests, I felt the MT101 offered better rock protection as the MT100.
One other thing… according to some, the MT100 had a “horrible, long-lasting VOC stench.” This smell came from the cement that glued the rockplate to the midsole. New Balance corrected this problem with the MT101.
New Balance didn’t change the MT100′s trail-specific outsole one bit for the MT101. Why mess with a good thing? The outsole is a scant 2mm (or so) thick at the midfoot with lugs ranging from 1 to 3 mm in the forefoot and midfoot with 5 mm lugs in the heel. There are still circular cutouts in the outsole to reduce weight. These cutouts expose the Rockstop rockplate in the forefoot and midsole foam from the midfoot through the heel.
The MT101′s outsole remains perfect for packed dirt trails; however, it’s not the shoe of choice on sloppy trails. That said, the heel does provide some grip, which is why Anton didn’t shave it off before the snowy start of the 2010 Western States 100. I’ll note that, every once in a blue moon, a piece of pointy rock will stick into the heel’s exposed foam.
Weight (or lack thereof)
I found the light weight of these shoes to be exhilarating… especially, because I still consider the MT101s to be full-fledged, if stripped-down, shoes. My used MT101s in US men’s 9 weigh 7.48 ounces (212 grams). While that’s pretty darn light, it is a bit heavier than my used MT100s, which weigh in at 7.09 ounces (201 grams). Given that the MT101s still weigh in at less then 7.5 ounces, I can live with an extra 11 grams on each foot.
My Experience With the New Balance MT101s
As noted at the top, I love the MT101. I get to slip my feet into more trail shoes than I can keep track of and, at the moment, there’s no other shoe that I’d rather slip into for a quick run. These shoes feel fast and make me want to run fast. In fact, while I’m not sure if it’s a placebo effect or my need to be a midfoot runner in the MT101s, I think they do make me run faster. When I want to bust out of my running doldrums, the MT101s are a stiff breeze at my back.
In truth, most of my running in the MT101s has been on a roughly even mix of paved roads, dirt roads with some gravel, and soft shoulders. I admit I love running short road runs in these shoes. No, they are not well-cushioned, but I like the firmness. I can’t see myself ever logging 20 mile all-pavement runs in them, but I have logged up to 5 or 6 miles of pavement in a run without regretting it.
The MT101s also kick butt in the water. The mesh upper instantly takes in water, but it also sheds it like a sieve. Plus, there’s not much in the shoe that can absorb liquid. Within a minute of completing a recent half hour run in the rain, I weighed my MT101s and they weighed in at under 10 ounces. They picked up a scant 2.3 ounces (65 grams) of water for a wet foot total of 9.74 ounces (277 grams). Meet my new stormy weather trail shoes!
In my few proper trail runs, I forced sharp turns, leaped onto pointy boulders, and otherwise pushed the shoes as best I could. They’ve not failed me yet. I do find that, if I’ve not worn them in a while, I find gravely roads to be intermittently painful. However, over a series of runs, I quickly adjust to block out this transient, nuisance-level pain.
Both the MT100 and MT101 have a 10mm drop from heel to toe. Although the drop is a little less than the 11-12mm drop found in many shoes, it is not small. The numbers would lead me to believe that I could train at will in the MT101s. That would be wrong. If you have been a heel striker or have suffered from foot or lower leg issues, please slowly transition to the MT101! The MT101 has a much lower than average 18mm heel height and an 8mm toe height, so there’s not much cushioning. As a result, you will run more on your toes than many of us are used to. The shoes are an awesome tool to help build foot and leg strength and I believe they would make a great transition shoe for long-time runners who later plan on incorporating barefoot running into their running regimen.
As an aside, I speak of the above gradual progression from experience. In November 2009, I was hit with plantar fasciitis. I spent 6 months in extremely supportive shoes while mostly sticking to relatively flat runs. By the time I was symptom free in May 2010, my calves had atrophied from the lack of miles and hills. This summer, even my initial, short 4-5 mile runs in the MT101s left my feet and calves tired the next day. I loved the shoes, but couldn’t wear them more often than every other day and for no more than 5 miles at a time. A few months later, I’ve now worn them for up to 10 miles at a time and I’m holding up much better on 6-8 mile runs in the MT101s. They remain, at most, an every other day shoe. I look forward to continued progression with my new favorite trail running shoes, the New Balance MT101s.
Price and Availability
The MT101s are available now! It’s true that New Balance did up the MSRP $5 from the MT100s to the MT101s, but I think MT1010s are still a steal at $79.95! Note that you can find the MT101 and WT101 for $74.95, the same as previous MSRP for the MT100 and WT100.
New Balance MT101/WT101 Giveaway
We’re giving away five pairs of New Balance’s MT101 or WT101. To enter, leave a comment (Please do this directly on the website, not via email.) with your name and location. In addition, you must enter your email in the confidential box above the main comment box to help expedite our getting your brand new gear out to you (if you win). Your email will not be used for any other purpose. This contest, which is limited to the US only, ends at 5 p.m. PDT on Friday, October 15. We’ll announce the winners in a separate post on Monday, October 18th.
With so many pairs to go around, be sure to spread the word!
Call for Comments/Questions
While the contest is as simple as noted above, we’d love some more info from our readers. If you’ve previously worn the MT100 or WT100 or if you’ve had a chance to try the MT101/WT101, please let us know what you like about them.
As always, please ask any questions you might have about the shoes.
[Note regarding comments: We might delete all non-substantive, contest-entry comments after the contest concludes so as to make the remaining substantive comments more useful to future readers.]
[Disclosure: The Amazon link in this article is part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar. If you haven't guessed, New Balance is providing the five pairs of MT101/WT101s.]
In rural Obion County, Tennessee, the local fire department operates with a subscription model. You pay $75 each year if you want to opt in. Gene Cranick decided not to pay. When his house caught fire last week the fire department refused to come put it out.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.
Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.
The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.
This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.
Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
It's like an Onion story (actually, it's like this Onion story) but sadder, obviously, because it's not a joke. Over at the National Review online, Daniel Foster, a "conservative with fairy libertarian leanings" is trying to figure out what this story means for his worldview.
Foster acknowledges that with an opt-in system there need to be consequences for opting out, but this case is different, he says, because "Mr. Cranick ... wasn’t offering to pay the $75 fee. He was offering to pay whatever it cost to put out the fire."
Sure, they could have put out the fire when Cranick offered to pay "whatever it takes," but as I see it, according to the libertarian, the fire department still wouldn't have any obligation to. And we certainly don't want a system in which the fire department is regularly negotiating the cost of its services with individual homeowners while their houses burn, dealing with people who promise to pay "whatever it takes" but can't, or having to shut down during a good year because it's paid on a fire-by-fire basis.
I think it's pretty simple: If you're a libertarian, then there's nothing to complain about. This whole thing went exactly according to theory. Big government doesn't force you to pay for a bloated fire department. If you decide not to, then when your house catches fire, you try to save it yourself with a garden hose. It's tragic and makes everyone involved—mayor, fire department, and homeowner—look stupid.
Here's the other tragedy, though: This is an especially vivid example of why we should chip in for public services because it involves a conflagration and physical destruction. But we badly need to learn the same lessons in other areas—education, for example—where the consequences of eroding public services manifest slowly and don't end up on the news.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Not only are we thanking you, the iRunFar reader, this week for helping us reach the milestone of one million(!) pageviews, but we’re also preparing to move iRunFar headquarters out of the Sierra Nevada. It’s a long story that we’ll fill you in on later. Anyway, we’re getting rid of our entire stockpile of giveaway items ahead of the move.
Most of the gear we’re giving away in this contest is new; however, there are lightly-used items, as well. You can assume that an item is new unless we tell you otherwise. Details on how to enter follow the list of gear to be won.
BTW, here’s an index to all of our contests this week.
- Salomon Minim 30 – A lightweight (675 g) 30-liter pack that is hydration compatible and trekking pole friendly. The pack is black and red.
- Camelbak Blowfish – Generally a bike pack that was used for trail running. A used, couple-year-old version that’s still in good shape. About a 12 liter capacity that holds a 100-ounce bladder (not included). Goldenrod and gray.
- Camelbak Flashflo – A waist-mounted hydration pack (bladder included). A used, couple-year-old version that’s still in good shape. Blue, gray, and black.
Short Sleeve Tech Shirts (medium unless otherwise noted)
- Jupiter Peak Steeplechase ’10 – A good looking blue shirt from Green Layer.
- Rothrock Challenge ’10 – Another blue shirt from Green Layer with small, simple front logo and sponsor-filled back.
- HAT Run 50k – White shirt with black neck and small black back panel. Back features a definition of ultrarunning.
- Freemotion – Black shirt with yellow accents.
- Taos Up and Over Trail Run ’10 (extra small) – Blue shirt with simple logo front and sponsor-filled back.
- Salomon New Era Cap (medium/large) – Black with small “Salomon” and logo in gray on front.
- Salomon Cap (large/extra large) – Classy black cap with large gray Salomon logo and gray trim.
- Mammut Cap (large/extra large) – Black cap with the Mammut logo.
- Udo’s Oil Cap – Black Coolmax hat bearing “Udo’s Oil” and “oil the machine.”
Socks (sizes are noted in US men’s)
- Asics Men Sorbtex Performance Low Cut Sock 3 Pack (large 9-12) – Three pairs of thin white tech socks.
- Injinji Performance Mini-Crew (large – 11-13) – The classic Injinji tetrasock in “sand” color.
- Merrell Quick Socks (large – 9-11.5) – Merino running socks with targeted cushioning.
- Newton Ankle Socks (large/extra large 10.5-15) – Performance running socks perfectly suited to Newton running shoes.
- The North Face Men’s Fire Road No Show (large – 9-12.5) – Thin-to-medium weight socks with targeted cushioning.
- Brooks Run Happy Water Bottle – A dark blue 20 ounce H2GO bottle with the Brooks Run Happy logo.
- PUR Guide Water Filter and Replacement Cartridge – This is a fastpacking/hiking item rather than a true running item, but it may be useful for iRunFar readers. The filter system, which is well-used and well-cared for, comes with a replacement filter.
- Nathan Flip Straw Pure Bottle – An orange 700 ml BPA flip straw bottle.
- La Sportiva Bottle – A white, BPA-free, biodegradable water bottle.
- nuun Bottle – A blue water bottle made by Specialized.
- Mountain Trails Foundation bottle – A water bottle featuring the MTF logo.
- The North Face towel – A thin small-to-medium size towel that would be great to wipe off with after a workout.
- Assorted flash drives – We’ve got a couple outdoor company-branded USB flash drives with from 1/2 – 1 GB capacity.
- Salomon Shoe Bag – A simple black Salomon shoe bag.
- The North Face Sunscreen – 50 mLs of 20 UPF sunscreen.
- Green Laces Shoelaces – Show your support of the environment with these laces.
Really, there are no rules to speak of. To enter, just leave a comment (please do this directly on the website, not via email) with your name and location. While not necessary, please include your email in the confidential box above the main comment box to help expedite our getting your brand new gear out to you (if you win). In the name of responsible shipping (and our non-existent budget) we’re limiting this contest to American and Canadian shipping locations only.
We ask that you please note in the comment only the gear pieces in which you are most interested. Your specific requests add to our work, but mean the gear goes to the folks for whom it would be most useful. There’s no limit to the number of items you can enter to win (see paragraph below), we just ask that you are thoughtful in entering the contest.
The drawing for each item will be random … for the most part. One caveat of this giveaway is that you’ll only walk away with one item. (A good reason to only enter for the items you want most.) With that in mind, there may be instances where we will deliberately divvy up prizes so that more people walk away happy.
To be eligible, you need to enter by 5 p.m. PDT on Friday, October 15. We’ll post results from all of our One Miiillllionth Pageview contests on October 18th.
We don’t make you “do” anything to enter this giveaway. No need to fill out a form, sign up for this, or subscribe to that. However, if you appreciate iRunFar and what it does, we just ask that you spread the word. You could share news of this giveaway with others, link to iRunFar on your blog or website, or tell your buddies about the website on your next run.
While you’re at it, consider further embracing the iRunFar community through one of the following options. Not only will they keep you better informed (we share different news on the website, the Facebook page, and Twitter), but you’ll help us out, too!
Also, anyone looking for a free iRunFar bumper sticker, please use our contact page to request one. We’ll need your full address for that! Folks, we ship these free anywhere in the world. Really!
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
We’re teaming up with The North Face to provide a lucky winner with free entry into his or her choice of any The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship weekend race (December 4-5 in San Francisco’s Marin Headlands), a full Better Than Naked running outfit, and a pair of TNF Single-Track shoes. All you have to do to enter is to let us know why you’d like to run one of the TNF EC championship races.*
The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship Weekend
This year, each of the five TNF Endurance Challenge locations features a full weekend’s worth of exciting trail racing. For the fourth straight year, the 50-mile championship race headlines the showcase of races. Run on Saturday, December 4, the 50-mile race through the Marin Headlands will feature what could be the US’s best ultrarunning field of the year. Up for grabs is $30,000 in prize money with $10,000/$4,000/$1,000 going to both the top three men and top three women. Oh, and there are big bragging rights on the line as most competitors head into an off-season.
If you don’t want to run the 50-mile championship race, but still want to challenge yourself on Marin Headlands trails that weekend, there are a ton of other trail race options. On Saturday, December 4, The North Face will also host a 50k, a marathon, a marathon relay, and a kid’s run. For those hoping to wrap up their season with a shorter race, there will be a half marathon, a 10k, a 5k and another kid’s run on Sunday, December 5. After covering the 50- mile race on Saturday, iRunFar’s Bryon Powell will be running one of Sunday’s shorter races.
As noted above, the winner of this contest gets a free entry into whichever race he or she wants to run. (Travel and lodging are up to the winner.)
Better Than Naked Apparel
Next spring, The North Face will be launching a line of Better Than Naked performance running apparel. The line features super lightweight breathable and weather-resistant materials… that make it better than running naked. While the human body also lacks reflective features, each piece in the Better Than Naked line makes up for this evolutionary deficiency.
When released, there will be three Better Than Naked items available for both men and women: a jacket, crew shirt, and short. The winner of this contest will receive a full his or hers set that includes a Better Than Naked jacket, crew, and short well before they’re available to the public! (Note that the line will also include a women’s Better Than Naked singlet.)
TNF Single-Track Shoes
As clothes can enhance the running experience, so too can shoes. Thankfully, The North Face is rounding out the winner’s kit with a pair of the company’s award-winning Single-Track shoes. As a team of iRunFar reviewers has previously put this hybrid trail runner to the test, we’ll direct you to our The North Face Single-Track review.
To be eligible to win this huge prize package, you need not write a huge essay on why you’d like to run one of the The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship weekend races. A short note will do. The winner will be drawn at random. Entry is open to anyone anywhere! Be sure to leave your name and town. The contest will close Friday, October 15th at 5 p.m. PDT. We’ll announce the winner along with all the other One Miillionth Pageview contest winners on Monday, October 18th.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Photo: Erin Mulder
Running a 100-mile ultramarathon is an extremely difficult feat. But, running four of the country’s oldest 100-mile races in a span of 11 weeks? Come on!
Thirteen folks completed all four—the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100, and last weekend’s Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run—this past summer, competing in what is known as the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Somewhere between 10 to 20 folks do the Grand Slam each year.
This year, 34-year-old Neal Gorman from Washington D.C. set a new record for the lowest combined time over the four races. Gorman’s time of 74 hours, 54 minutes and 16 seconds bested Joe Kulak's previous record of 75:07.
Gorman, who owns an insurance brokerage firm in Richmond, Virginia, is recovering from an impressive second-place overall finish at the fourth and final 100-miler in the Grand Slam series, the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run. I caught up with him on his drive back from Utah to D.C.
“The Grand Slam sort of came out of nowhere this summer,” he says, explaining that he raced the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 in 2008, and ran part of it with Kulak. “After running the Vermont Trails 100 and then the Wasatch Front 100 in 2009, I got a better feel for running that distance, learned how to do it well, and how to feel okay. And I thought, ‘Next year, there’s so much energy around Western States. If I get in, better do the Grand Slam.’ Why not? It seemed like a pinnacle effort that would really create a lasting memory that would just be fantastic.”
Gorman got into Western States, paid the $80 fee to register as a Grand Slammer and began chasing the engraved eagle each finisher is awarded at the end, should they complete all four hundreds. “It was a fun, long-term goal,” he says. “I love those, by the way.”
Gorman says that, for him, Western States was the hardest of the four 100s. “I created a bad patch for myself. I felt fine, but I had nothing, and I just wasn’t right for two or three days after that. I just chalked it up to heat, and that it was my first 100 in a while.”
You’d think one bad hundred would make a person concerned that they’d be racing three more within weeks. But Gorman remained level-headed and optimistic.
“I trained to think about it one race at a time,” he says. “Vermont was next, and I just thought, ‘I’d like to do better the next time and have a good day.’”
He had a good day, and then he had a good race at Leadville, and went into Wastach with a goal of running under 21 hours and 30 minutes to break Kulak’s record. “I knew Wasatch would have to be a top-notch performance,” he says. “I was like, ‘You’re going to have to go after this like a prize fighter. Stay focused, and don’t relent.’”
Gorman finished an astonishing second place at Wasatch, behind winner Nick Clark, and set a new Grand Slam record with just over 12 minutes to spare.
“I felt like stars were aligning all summer,” he says, crediting good weather, great pacers, working under his running coach, Russell Gill, and his innate ability to sense oncoming injuries early and treat them accordingly. Sometimes, that meant running through pains, which seemed to work for him.
When asked if he’d do another Grand Slam summer, Gorman replied with a laugh, “Seriously, just beat me with a whip. It’s too good of an experience to pass up.”
Gorman isn't alone in his enthusiasm. "There were so many spectacular moments," says Aaron Mulder, who finished with the third fastest Grand Slam time this year after only getting into running in 2006. "The scenery of the four races was vastly more beautiful than I was lead to believe. My biggest regret might be not sacrificing just a bit of time to bring and use a camera."
Friday, September 10, 2010
There's something about riding in the back country... It's a totally different experience. Being out there in general is amazing, but I guess since riding in it is fairly new to me it just stands out. The SM100, while maybe not as "out there", and was certainly WAY more crowded then the Iron Mountain 100k, did it for me.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
A teacher argues for the expansion of No-shave November.
An untrimmed mustache is a despicable thing. I know this because I am an American, and because it's the rules. Mostly these are the unspoken, unwritten rules of culture that everyone grows into, but sometimes they are right there in black and white.
The start of each new high school year brings a review of institutional rules, and beneath the grumbling malcontent this engenders, lie larger questions of values and culture that are rarely, if ever, addressed. And for reasons that are never clearly expressed, students are expected to unquestioningly comply with a number of broader cultural expectations—restrictions on facial hair among them.
I, on the other hand, am the art teacher. I do not like pat, one-size-fits-no-one answers to questions. So, I will take a moment to talk about facial hair. But before I do, I must admit that since the school where I teach is a private school, they have perhaps a little more leeway with the rules than do their public school brethren—and in my experience, they tend to use that leeway to allow students a bit more facial-hair self-expression than is perhaps typical. Nonetheless, “rules is rules,” and there comes a point when even at my school, the hammer gets dropped on students brazen enough to sport a pair of lightning bolt sideburns.
As a college preparatory school, we are theoretically attempting to prepare students to move into the professional world, a world that by and large thinks creatively-sculpted facial hair is something better left to the denizens of television shows and community college. It would be valid, I think, to question if this particular cultural bias is quite as relevant as it once was, but I would like to go a layer deeper and ask why we feel it necessary to scrape and shape our facial hair at all. And—despite what billions of advertising dollars have been spent to make us believe—the natural state of most faces (at least in my particular racial and cultural milieu) is to be gloriously bearded.
That is not what bothers me, though. People are welcome to do whatever weird and wooly things they want. What bothers me is that because of all this face-scraping, Americans throw away around a billion disposable razors a year. That is a lot of plastic and aluminum being dumped on and into the earth and oceans that sustain us. It is also depressingly ridiculous, given that there are sharpeners available (it’s even possible, I have recently discovered, to sharpen a safety razor on your arm hair) and that—let’s face it—straight-edged razor shaving is a dead sexy, manly skill to have.
I know that men’s faces are not entirely to blame for all that, but I cannot help but feel that it might be a good place to start fighting back against the marketing machine that demands consumer-conformity to some artificially fabricated smooth-faced ideal. You know, make them find some other unnecessary product to trick us into buying—maybe one that does not end up filling the crops of seagulls with tiny bits of sharpened aluminum. Is high school the appropriate place to begin this sort of fight? I do not know.
It is unlikely that I will be persuaded to stop slicing away at my face any time soon. I am guessing that the weight of culture and long-borne insecurities press down on me far too strongly for a drastic change like that. Plus, I love my job.
For our teens, though, there is still hope. It’s a new generation, a generation unwilling to blindly accept the market-driven traditions of its forebears. Perhaps if we were willing to stop enforcing our problems on our youth, they would find the space and freedom to start helping us fix them.
Josh Barkey is a high school art teacher in North Carolina.