Sunday, January 26, 2020

Join us for the USATF Pacific Association Oscars this Saturday night, live!

You have until noon Pacific this Tuesday to get your tickets for our 2019 Awards Banquet which, this year, will not only cover LDR (Long Distance Running, that is Cross-Country, Road and Mountain, Ultra, Trail) but also Youth divisions, think winners at the Junior Olympics!
(Picture from

While our 2019 MUT Grand Prix Age Group Champs have been already known since the Ruth Anderson event held mid October last year, the mystery will be unveiled with regard to the coveted MUT Runners and Volunteer of the Year awards.
For the sake of transparency, let me share the key parameters we are looking at when reviewing the whole season.

First and foremost, candidates have to be paid members of our Pacific Association. This seems obvious for the Runners of the Year, but it's also one for Volunteer of the Year, which certainly limits the field as many runners tend to volunteer and give back even more once they have turned the page of competition. By the way, the same is true for our function of Officials: it's not enough to put the time and money in training, certifying and paying for our uniforms, we also have to be current with USATF.

After that easy black and white requirement, let me first give credit and thanks to Hollis Lenderking who handled this sensitive selection task with so much sensitivity and thoroughness, for more than 20 years. He still provides precious inputs, especially on the Ultra side (2019 was the first year we added sub-ultra Trail races, and 2020 will see our first Mountain races).

Being an engineer and hyper analytical at times, I put a framework together to help being more objective and systematic, especially for the years we have plethora of candidates. Like this year...

Here you are, 6 categories for each runner, with a 0 to 5 scale for each. I've participated in the National USATF MUT award selection this year, but not in the Ultra Running Magazine one (which, in my opinion and those of many others, challenged to fully encompass the non trail ultra running disciplines, i.e. Road and Track, albeit trying harder), it's really challenging to compare so many various fruits over an entire season. Some have incredible performances but fewer races, some cover multiple disciplines, you even wonder if we should take into account the DNFs too.

The 6 categories with indications to rate each:

  1. Body of Work (MUT): 0-No race result; 3-significant MUT achievements; 5-5 or more significant MUT achievements
  2. International / National: 0-No result in international or national competitions; 3-Significant results at international or national level(*); 5-Podium at international competition
  3. Pacific Association MUT GP focus: 0-0 PA race/result; 3: 4 or more PA GP results; 5-7 or more PA GP results
  4. Performance range: 0-Single distance / format; 3-Significant results in two distinct formats / distance ranges; 5-Significant results across sub-ultra trail, and 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 ultras
  5. Historical performance (CR, AGCR, ITRA>800): 0-No CR setting; 3-Some CR setting, or CR-worth/close performances, A few notable ITRA scores (>800 for Men, >700 for Women); 5-Consistent setting of CR / AGCR across body of work, Several high ITRA scores (>850 for Men, >750 for Women)
  6. Age graded performance: 0-Too young for age being a factor (20-35); 3-Rocking the Masters division; 5-Still killing it enough to make the podium or top 10

(*) Significant results is still a subjective criteria but would include podiums, top 5% of competitive races, high ITRA score, top performance (time or distance)

Per the above note, we look at UltraSignup results, ITRA results and scores, the DUV (Deutsch Ultra Marathon) database, our own MUT PA Grand Prix results, as well as crossing with the PA Membership. Quite some work if you ever wondered, and would like to handle one of these coming years... ;-) Your are welcomed!

MUT Runner of the Year - Women Division

For 2019, here are the considerations:
  1. Beverly Anderson-Abbs
  2. Meghan Laws
  3. YiOu Wang
  4. Magdalena Boulet
  5. Devon Yanko
  6. Diana Fitzpatrick
  7. Simone Winkler

MUT Runner of the Year - Men Division

On the Men side:
  1. Bob Hearn
  2. Chris DeNucci
  3. Drew Holmen
  4. Jon Olsen
  5. Tim Tollefson
  6. Chikara Omine
  7. Cliff Lentz
  8. Jean Pommier (oops, sorry, yet again... ;-) )
  9. Lance Doherty
  10. Chris Concannon
  11. Scott Trummer
  12. Karl Schnaitter
  13. Rich Hanna
  14. Gaspar Mora Porta
  15. Thomas Reiss
  16. Cole Watson
2 additional special considerations:
  1. Gordon Ainsleigh (potential lifetime achievement)
  2. Mark Richtman (postmortem, for his January sub-ultra Track M60-64 American records)

As for the MUT Volunteer of the Year...

you'll have to attend to see what's coming out of the envelope on Saturday night! Hopefully without any hiccup since we don't have a major consulting company involved... ;-) (although, who knows what can happen at the end of a long day since Saturday is also our first Grand Prix race, with Jed Smith 50K in the morning...).

Hoping to see many of you, MUT fans, on Saturday evening (again, register here). Please help us represent and show how vibrant and strong our local community is!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 2019: still in pain for v15.0

It was at that race that I injured the attach of my left quad, a year ago. One year passed and the pain is still there. Granted, it's getting better, meaning less pain, but what a long process. Of course, I might have not helped that I tried to race like nothing had happened, until May: 11 races with only one shorter than the marathon distance... 2 new Age Group American Records... and, with the 50-mile at Ruth Anderson, a 13th consecutive Age Group win in our North California MUT (Mountain, Ultra, Trail) Grand Prix; insane... Yet, I'm blown away that 6 months of rest have still not been enough. Wow, that's by far the biggest running injury I've experienced in my 21-year career. And, still, I have to appreciate that there are many more serious, some irreversible, injuries out there. After all, it's Thanksgiving, so better be super grateful for even being able to run, once in a while, short of training.

I registered a few weeks ago, for the 10K, hoping that I'd be completely healed. Without any training, my goal was to run with Greg. Agn├Ęs signed-up for the 5K. I flew back on Tuesday, after the most insane trip ever, 29,636 miles (50,801 km) in 2 weeks! Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, back in California for 10 hours, then France, Turkey, South Africa, Turkey, France, California, phew! As a reference, the Earth circumference is only 24,901 miles... Needless to say #FlightShame on me... ;-/ At some point, I was even not sure if I'd be back on time, so I'm really glad I was able to at least toe the line of this 15th edition, 11th consecutive one for me.
After a major rain and snow storm (yes, some snow on nearby Mt Hamilton!), the weather was gorgeous, albeit on the chilly side, with 38F at the start (2 degrees Celsius). At least, the asphalt had dried up this year, as opposed to last year (I injured my quad by slipping on a cross walk by less than one inch...).

I love the abundance of porta-potties at this event. 10 minutes before the start, no line/wait!
Greg and I started at the back of Corral A.
Greg said he could shoot for a 7:30 min/mile pace, maybe 7:00. Well, we were on for some slalom right off the bat, as there were young kids ahead, strollers, walkers, and many, many runners obviously in the wrong corral. Fortunately, Santa Clara Street is really wide and we got into some good rhythm, on the right of the street, before the first left turn. As a matter of fact, we were now cruising at 6:30 min/mile, and Greg seemed at ease, while I was really enjoying that pace and speed I love so much. We hold on to that pace for the first 3 miles, where the 5K runners turn left to the finish and we turn right. To my surprise, very few runners were on the 5K. Around mile 2, we passer Karl Schnaitter and Simone Winkler from Excelsior, MUT buddies.

My hamstring started hurting in the second mile and, in the fourth mile, I fell a few seconds behind Greg. We saw the front runners on their way back, something I usually manage to avoid, but not this year. I kept pushing, without giving it all, the stride being the limit today. After running with Greg, my second goal was not to pull too much on the injury. I crossed the finish in 41:34. This is my 54th 10K race in 20 years, out of 323 races, and my slowest 10K ever, by 3 minutes, OUCH! I know, I still need to be so grateful to even running that fast...

Here is Relive's 3D fly-over for an aerial view over downtown San Jose:
With 17,000 finishers, RunRaceResults does quite a phenomenal to publish results 6 hours or so after the race, see on their website. There will likely be quite a few updates and corrections but, at the time I write this, I'm quite surprised to see that this slow time still put me in 2nd in my age group. Although really far behind first M55-59, Raymond Rodriguez from Los Banos, in 36:36.

Speaking of first place, Adam Bodnar won the 10K in a blazing 31:42.
We had a chat in which I invited him and his fellow Googler, Zachary Medeiros (38:15), to compete in our 2020 MUT Grand Prix. Poor Zachary: I told him that our Quicksilver 100K wasn't full yet so he got excited and said he'll sign-up right away. I now see there were already 44 people on the waitlist... He is 45th, hope he makes it!
Despite the bright sun, it felt chilly in the Festival area, between the sweat of a good effort and low temperature, so we didn't stay for too long, but still managed to see a few friends.

Before our race, I was able to see the Elite Women and Men 5K races (women at 7:30, men at 8), impressive splits. Three women broke 16 minutes: Shannon Rowbury (15:41), Kim Conley (15:44), Emily Infeld (15:47). Three men broke 14 minutes: Aaron Templeton (13:54), David Bett (13:57), Brian Barraza (13:57), while 13 more men ran under 15 minutes! Our local MUT elite, Chikara Omine, ran 15:36, a 5:02 min/mile pace!

With that, see you all in one year, rain or shine! And hopefully on roads and trails in the meantime, in better shape for me, and good shape for you! Happy 2019 Thanksgiving!

PS: a few more pics of the Elite 5K race