Sunday, April 29, 2012

Leona Divide 50-mile: feeling welcomed in South California

I'm on the go, flying right after another ultra to our IBM Impact conference in Vegas, so here is a short report about a great experience, my first ultra in South California!

Our QuickSilver Ultra Running Team captain, Greg, included this race in the Ultra Running League he launched this year. That's what got us to compete in Chuckanut (Washington State), Lake Sonoma 2 weeks ago and Miwok next week in North Cal, and Leona Divide 50-mile this Saturday, my second race of a series of five back to back, which I call my ultra Spring madness (5:49:59 at Ruth Anderson 50-mile last week, Leona Divide this weekend, Miwok 100K next Saturday, Quicksilver 50K and Ohlone 50K).

Greg, Bree and I drove down on Friday afternoon down to Lancaster and Palmdale where we met Toshi and Judy. We met Race Director, Keira Henninger, at the check-in and got a few tips, the main one that, despite an intimidating course profile displaying quite a long and steep uphills, the course was all very runnable.
Greg really likes the fancy race t-shirt design from Jesse Heynes' INKnBURN, ole!
It was quite chilly on Saturday morning when we got to the start area by 5:30 am.Temperature in the low 50s but more importantly quite some wind/breeze. I sneaked in right after the first row of runners on the start line which included many favorites for today's race (Tim Olson, Jorge Pacheco and Maravilla, Yassin Diboune, Chikara Omine, Jason Wolfe and Schlarb, Dylan Bowman, ...). Like at Chuckanut, a very impressive competitive field for this 20th anniversary of this race. (Photo Credit: Judy Hosaka)
The course starts with a good climb and I settled in about 20th of 25th position, quickly losing sight of the super fast leaders. My pace was just under 9 min/mile after the 3 miles of climb and quickly decreased as we sprinted in the long down hill to the 8-mile aid station. I didn't stop there as I was carrying 2 bottles and went on the next long climb to the 12-mile aid station where I just grabbed a cup of coke and two salt tablets. At this point we left the fire road for a very nice single track down to the 16-mile aid station, which is also the 42-mile one on the way back and the only placed allowed for crews. Judy took a few pictures and videos there. In the following 3-mile uphill, I started walking on got caught by the runner who followed me in the previous climb from mile 8 to 12, a great climber. I'm glad he did because he "waked" me up and was actually able to stick with him for the remaining of the climb and even continue on my own as he stopped to remove sand from his shoes. Speaking of sand, I never ran so many miles on such packed sand, most of the sections actually from start to finish. At places the trail was literally white which helped alleviate the midday sun.

My favorite section was the Pacific Crest Trail section before and after the aid station #7 and 9 where we actually ran in the woods (not to forget the special ambiance at this station manned by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his flashy and joyful Coyotes gang!). The second part of the 50-mile is actually a 38-mile out-and-back so we get to see all the other runners. The turn around is at the bottom of a 2.8-mile down-hill, like we have at Miwok. I was just starting going down when I crossed the lead runner who had a 5.6-mile lead on me, yikes! I kept crossing the leaders and counted 14 of them when I reached the aid station at the bottom of the fire road, mile 31 (50K mark). I quickly got my Gu2O bottle refilled, took another cup of Coke and a few chips and off I was for this long climb. Thankfully, it was still early morning (10am) and several sections of the fire road were still in the shade. And the breeze was still strong, keeping the air relatively cool, especially in the shade. On my way up, I was able to run half of it and saw Toshi, about a mile behind, and about 20 other runners including the top 8 women. Unfortunately, Bree wasn't part of them, I actually saw her at the top of the hill, she didn't have a good day. Also from our Club, Clare was a few minutes behind Bree, followed by Greg who was having a lot of fun taking pictures and videos, Scott and Nattu (Karen would drop on foot injury).

In the next section, I passed Scott Jaime (a very competitive Master) and another runner, then crossed hundreds of runners who were so nice to step aside and give the leaders the right of way. I'm particularly appreciative to all of them as they were on a uphill section and it's very tiring to stop and go in such conditions but that was the Race Director's instructions. I provided a lot of "Thank you" and "Sorry" at each crossing, I hope I didn't forget anyone (one even kindly replied "You don't have to feel sorry!"). The traffic actually intensified in the last section as we were catching up with the tail of the 50K race.

I remained in 12th place through the aid stations 8 and 9 (respectively miles 38.6 and 42.6). With 3 downhill miles to go I caught up with a fading Chikara, for whom it was a come back on the ultra trail circuit after a road racing season last year. I told him that we had to keep moving if we didn't want to get chick'ed (for the non insiders that mean being passed by a participant of the other gender...), and here he is, flying down the hill, leaving me in the dust, finishing ahead of me by 1 minute! You know what to tell Chikara to kick his butt... ;-) I crossed the finish line in an honorable 7:07:51, good for 12th this year and 3rd Master. Not too bad after last week's performance, on a course I didn't know.
Upfront, the fight for the win had been furious and Dylan Bowman, 26, of Colorado emerged as today's overall winner with an amazing 6:00:38, slashing the previous 17-year old course record by 21 minutes! Tim Olson took second, ahead of Jorge Maravilla by 19 mere seconds, in 6:07:34. Since Tim is already in Western States, Jorge was thrilled to get his own slot to participate in the Big Dance the last weekend of June between Squaw Valley and Auburn!
The aid stations were perfectly stocked and all the volunteers were extremely friendly and cheerful, each aid station with a distinctive theme and ambiance. A big thank to all the volunteers for allowing to enjoy such a wonderful and challenging course. And to Keira for inviting us to this special celebration and making us feel like at home in South California! I'm glad that Greg set such an opportunity to compete outside of our local Grand Prix, it's so nice to see other parts of our extended ultra running community and discover new trails!

Tamalpa had only 2 runners lined up today and Jimmy's Coyotes were all volunteering on the course so we had only two teams competing in the league this time, Ashland (Tim, Jenn, Hayden) versus Quicksilver (Jean, Toshi,  Bree). And, with Tim's amazing performance, we lost again, by 44 minutes (22:54:58 vs. 23:38:54). Like at the World 100K Championships in Italy last week, these Oregonians are really at the top of the endurance running game!
Before leaving for the airport, I got a few tips from Tim on his use of Vespa and could compare to what Chikara and I did. I took 3 GUs, a few potato chips and cups of Coke here and there and 3 bottles of GU2O, and one Vespa Concentrate every 2.5 hours versus every 1.5 hours for Tim. Tim is taking about 100 calories an hour, I was slightly below that. Learning and tuning...

Great experience and heat training, ready for a busy week in Vegas from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon, then Miwok 100K next Saturday before flying to Riyadh on Sunday. What a busy Spring... Have a great week all!

PS: see a few pictures in my Picasa album, including Judy's pictures (IMG_0084 to IMG_0117) and video clips at the 16-mile aid station

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ruth Anderson: 50 fast miles!

This Saturday marked the beginning of my Spring ultra madness: 5 ultras in 5 weekends! Not to mention or forget the business trips...

I flew back from Madrid (a couple of great training runs there last weekend) on Friday evening, in time this time to get some sleep before the race and get to the start on... time. If you recall, last year, we were supposed to come back from a family trip to Florida but missed our connection in Phoenix where I was still on the tarmac when runners were getting to the start line. I managed to started 2 hours and 15 minutes late and run a 8:05 100K (see the whole story and experience of Did Start Last...).

When I walked out of the airport this Friday, I was surprised how hot it was, especially coming back from Madrid where the weather was not so nice. Indeed, the forecast was for a hot day this Saturday and it was great the race started at 6:30 to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning. I started with Victor who was going for the 100K distance after running his first marathon at Napa last month in an impressive 2:37. I had decided to go for 50 miles given my race calendar and "just" improve the age group course record I had set here 2 years ago (6:07). Having ran a 5:43 at Last Chance last November, I was confident, yet I was a bit concerned of the recent asthma incident at American River 2 weeks ago.

We started slightly under 7 min/mile pace and, after a couple of miles, I actually accelerated, running one lap just under 6:30 min/mile pace which was aggressive. My first 5 laps were in the 29-30 minutes range and my 6th lap was 30:01. I felt good and actually excited to now be on a trajectory similar to the Last Chance race, in the 5 hours 40 minutes range would I be able to maintain that pace for the remaining 5 laps. The views of the lake were gorgeous but it remains an urban race with all the surrounding noise (cars, trucks, motorcycles, sirens, shooting range, ...) and many joggers on the bike path. As we approached mid day, the shady sections of the course were disappearing and I was glad to be able to go fast to get done before the peak of the heat.

My pace went over 7 min/mile in laps 9, 10 and 11 as I was feeling fatigued, more mentally than physically actually, lacking motivation and real challenge to keep going hard. I pushed the pace in the last out and back, rushing to the main aid station to clock a 5:49:59 finish time (right on 7 min/mile!). (Photo, Keith Blom)
Not a PR but more than 17 minutes shaved off my course record and 2nd best time of this race history (granted, a low key event). I was actually thrilled with this performance after such a busy week in Madrid and 4 5-hour nights there. I'm home for a week now before driving down to the Leona Divide 50-mile next Saturday then flying straight to Vegas for another super busy week there, flying back a few hours before Miwok then flying the next day to Riyadh, phew!
On the 100K, Victor took first in 7:32 after passing the 50-mile mark faster than his PR at that distance! Like many other runners, he started suffering from the heat after 1 pm but managed to maintain an amazing pace, 7:16 overall.
Speaking of 100K, it is here that Joe Binder and Jon Olsen qualified for the 100K USA team last year in 7:00 and 7:12 respectively and they were competing in the World Champ even in Italy this Saturday. They did incredibly well, Jon taking 7th overall in a blazing 6:48 and Joe 10th in 6:54. David Riddle was the first for the US, in 5th and 6:45, and Michael Wardian 8th, 7 seconds behind Jon! In the Women, the race was actually won by Amy Sporston of USA in 7:34, with Meghan Arbogast placing 4th, at age 50! (She slashes her own age group world record from 7:51 to 7:41!) Team USA took second to Italy and ahead of France in the Men, and First in the Women with the top three times clocked by three Oregon residents! See iRunFar.com's report for more details.

We had a great contingent of our Quicksilver Ultra Running Team this Saturday, so much that Greg was happy he didn't have to run himself after Lake Sonoma last week. With 3 distances (50K, 50-mile and 100K) times 3 categories (Men, Women, Mixed), it was quite a task to strategize and keep track on what was going on on his brand new "paper iPad!" ;-)
Actually, Captain Greg had a lot of  fun seeing us going through the aid station and, from time to time, playing Glen Tachiyama or JB Benna, mixing pictures and videos...
Yet an amazing event put up by Race Director extraordinaire, Rajeev Patel. Dave and Stan spent a long day keeping track of all our splits, hundreds of them, including transmitting them to the live webcast, the old fashion radio way!
I posted a few pictures in my Picasa album but I recognize the mix of bright sunny light and dark healthy shadows around the aid station made it difficult to get good shots with my simple and aging PowerShot.

From 14 to 77, there was a great representation of our passion for ultra running!
And here is Bill Dodson, our Pacific Association Mountain Ultra Trail running committee Chair, recovering from his 50K run (no, not barefoot this time!):
Warm thanks to all the runners whom I passed and provided encouragements! A special thank to the volunteers who kept the two aid stations perfectly stocked. I carried 2 bottles the whole way so I only stopped once at the mid-way aid station but it was great to get encouragements from you guys! Fueled by Vespa and all the fat from the rich food I enjoyed in Madrid, I took only 3 GUs and a handful of small cups of Coke (about 500 calories intake for a 5,000-calorie effort). I didn't cramped and I'm now going for a recovery run before tapering again this week before Leona Divide. Using racing as training...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Running in Madrid: from the airport...

Ok, fair enough, there are much better places to stay and run from in Madrid than the airport! But, in case you are stuck there, the trick is to get on Calle de Alcala to get downtown. And it may be tricky as there are several highways in the airport area but there are also a few overpasses for pedestrians. While there are many cars in Madrid, the city is also well designed for pedestrians with an extensive metro networks (including a stop at the airport!), sidewalks in good conditions and these overpasses to cross the main arteries around the city. It was interesting to run both on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. On Saturday, late afternoon, the Alcala street was very busy, with people shopping around. On Sunday, I ran between noon and 5 pm and the street were deserted in comparison. At least that made running on the sidewalk much easier on the second day!
Being on the East side and having landed in the morning, I went for a shorter run on Saturday (18.5 miles), to the "Parque del Retiro" near the famous Prado Museum. This is a large urban and historical park whose circumference is close to 3 miles when you stay on the outer alleys.
In the South part of the park, don't miss a botanic garden hosting at least a dozen of peacocks:
On Sunday, I went all the way to the West side of the city to visit one of my sister's friends whom I hadn't seen since 1972 when she visited us in Normandy, 40 years ago! That gave me the opportunity to go across the huge park Casa de Campo, similar to Paris' Bois de Boulogne (and much larger than Central Park which I heard someone comparing it to, just before we boarded at Newark). Including a few wanderings to cross highways on the west side, my run ended up being close to 32 miles, a good training run for the upcoming Ruth Anderson race in one week.
More pictures (48) in my Picasa photo album.

Certainly, if you have the opportunity to stay downtown, and you are looking for a few miles of trails, Casa de Campo is the place to go!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

American River 50 2012: perfect conditions...

With Spring and Easter come prefect trail running conditions: not too hot, not too cold, trails still soft and not dusty yet, more day light. To top it this weekend, the sky was mostly clear to let us admire the full moon at the start and benefit from its light. Personally, I thought all the stars were aligned for a great day on the trail and pursuing my remission with this race after a hectic start (asthma crisis in 2008 and 2009). In 2008 I finished in 8:53 after painfully walking 2/3 of the course (Never give up!), unable to breath after mile 16. The following year, same story and this became my first DNF, dropping Beal's Point (mile 26.6, Giving up...). In 2010 I finally broke 7 hours (6:58, Faster, at last!) and improved again last year with a 6:47 (Older but faster). And I was aiming at another Personal Best this Saturday, hoping to run free with Caballo Blanco like last weekend...

It started well. After a few hundred yards I lost sight of the lead bike which was reasonable given this race has always very fast and competitive runners. My GPS indicated 6:55 min/mile as a pace which was slightly slower than I was expecting on the bike path. Without pushing much, the pace slightly went down over the next few miles as I was catching and running along Rod Bien. Lewis Taylor passed us when our pace was down to 6:40, then Phil Shaw. Both were targeting around 6:15-6:30 (that would be 6 hours and 30 minutes for the whole course, not a minute/mile pace). Rod finished in 6:20 (7th), Phil in 6:28 (9th) and Lewis in 6:39 (11th) so a good company to be in, pace and goal wise. We traded places while going through the first two aid stations (carrying two water bottles, I didn't stop), we were moving, life was good... Actually, around mile 17, before the bridge Nimbus Overlook, Rod asked how I felt and he had to ask twice because he couldn't hear my first response. Since my first asthma crisis at the Phoenix marathon in 2002, mile 16 has always been the place exercise-induced asthma would kick in from time to time. For the past 2 years I've been taking Singulair I came to the point of forgetting about this sort of wall. As a matter of fact, I thought about asthma at the start, with the chilly air, and ran the first mile with my Buff covering my mouth. Anyway, I could feel the lungs started not functioning and was hoping they'd hold on the remaining 30 miles of trails.
I stopped at Main Bar (I hadn't realized they changed the location from Nimbus Overlook), mile 19, to refill my GU2O bottle (above picture from UltraRunnerPodcast.com, still all smile...). While there it felt like I got under a train, a group of about a dozen running really strong (Erik Skaden, Sean Meissner, Mark Lantz, ...). Among them was teammate Chris Calzetta, whom I hadn't seen on the start line. He was all smile and I encouraged him to stay with such a pack. He would finish in 6th in 6:20, for his first American River! The average pace was still below 6:50 as we got on the trail. Staying on that trail for too long I almost missed Negro Bar which I entered after a small detour. At this point, we were getting back on the bike path but I had to alternate running and walking to catch my breath. It wasn't feeling good anymore... I was actually surprised that, in the next 6 miles, nobody would pass me despite the much slower pace. I passed the marathon mark in 3:03 and reached Beals Point around 3:08. I was so out of breath that I couldn't respond to all the questions the volunteers were asking me at the aid station and decided I'd rather get moving as the second half will be and feel really long. Here I am, enter Beals Point, photo credit to UltraRunnerPodcast.com:
Finally, one runner caught up with me just before Cavitt High School, and not any runner but Ellie Greenwood. Ellie is potentially the next Ann Trason, winning everything on the circuit, Western States last year, Chuckanut 3 weeks ago and she would easily win this race again placing 6th overall in 6:18, more than one hour before the second woman! She passed me in a uphill section, very focused and giving me a "nice job" on the way. Average pace then: 7:12. I kept moving albeit much slower yet didn't get passed again for a few miles. Toshi passed me during a pit stop, and that started a long series of tens of runners including teammates Sean, Marc and Jeremy. I'm not going to go into too much details over the last part of my run as I want to turn the page quickly and get back to... work... I managed to run the first 50K just under 4 hours and it took me another 4 hours to walk and jog the last 20 miles, on the famous section that I still hate (American River, Rio Del Lago, Sierra Nevada Run). I know this is a wonderful trail, with the views over Folsom Lake in particular, but there is something my body and mind can't stand, sorry... After the last aid station, Last Gasp, with 3 uphill miles to go, someone told me I was in 48th position which was something I could live with. I tried to run as much as possible but my lungs were really burning and my muscles crying for oxygen, having been asphyxiated for 30 miles... While I was pushing to the limit 10 runners actually passed me in that last stretch but I did manage to break 8 hours, 7:55:57. Photo Stan Jensen (run100s.com):
Phew, gasp, ahhh, yikes, ouch, there aren't enough onomatopoeias to express how I felt after passing the line. Of course happy to be done with my 69th ultra race, thrilled to have managed to cover the distance under 8 hours given the circumstances, but so disappointed by this counter performance and the fact that this darn asthma kicked in again. Taking Singulair has certainly helped containing my handicap but obviously not completely eliminated it. And I know I shouldn't even complain, so many people are not even able to run a mile because of much more serious asthmatic conditions. Or others because of lung disease like Tom Kaisersatt.

Overall, the conditions were perfect and, out of the 890 entrants, 686 are listed in the results on Ultrasignup. (I don't know how many of the entrants were actually at the start). Julie Fingar and her NorCal Ultra team did a very professional job to accommodate such a crowd with so many efficient, friendly and encouraging volunteers from the start to the finish and including the remote Buzzard's Cover aid station (special thanks to you guys!). I want to also salute Tim Twietmeyer who finished less than a minute behind me for his 32nd finish out of 33 American River editions (just missing the first 1980 run and having ran 30 under 8 hours and 16 under 7 hours)!!!

I'm heading to Madrid later this week and will be back for Ruth Anderson where I hope my lungs will behave and remain cooperative... Happy running to all in the meantime!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Caballo Blanco: run free us all!

Dear Caballo Blanco,

My friend, as you were using in our correspondence. Friendship is such a precious thing and I have so much respect for the legend you are; I would have not use this term first, but you did and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to get to know you. Like thousands of runners and non runners alike, I first met you in Born To Run. It started in May 2009 when, upon landing in SFO, back from a trip to Europe, I found a message from Zombie Runner advertising a book signing by Chris McDougall himself that afternoon. Agn├Ęs and I stopped by and Chris wrote something nice about my blog and my approach to running in the copy I bought there.

So, here we are, getting to discover and know a running ghost in a remote area of Mexico. I wrote a review of Chris' book (Born To Run: the Tarahumara secret), a post which got a lot of hits since then, although not as many as the number of copies Chris has sold since; it takes quite a tipping point to create a legend and your were not so thrilled about certain aspects of this media tornado. As sensational and fascinating as your appeared in the book, that seemed a bit odd for a true ultra running and I could feel there was something more simple and authentic in your personage, especially based on the other interactions you had with other characters of the book that I had met before (Scott Jurek, Tony Krupicka, Jenn Shelton, Ann Trason, ...). Then you appeared on FaceBook and finally I could meet you in person in October 2009. I'm grateful to Mike Nutall for having open his house for this fund raising event for your foundation, the Norawas de Raramuri. Mike is a local ultra runner and one of the three founders of the renowned design company, IDEO. It was quite a thrill to get to know you better and experience your joy of meeting members of our local ultra running community. We were all hoping to run a few miles with you but you had injured your foot a few days before.

Last weekend, I posted this call to action relaying the news about the terrible drought affecting the Copper Canyons and the Raramuri community. As you know, I first checked with you about the best way to help out and I was therefore slightly disappointed when you commented both on the blog and on facebook, about the danger of getting sensational with this story. I don't think I was and I hope readers didn't conclude it wasn't worth sending money to one of the agencies providing support to the Raramuris, because the need is still very much there and you acknowledge it! I believe that you wanted to protect the identity and pride of your people down there, after a few derailments in some press coverage. That was Monday...

Then, on Thursday, the news broke about you being missing after a morning run on Tuesday morning. Knowing your survival skills and the fact that you live in the wilderness a large part of the year, some of us imagined you smiling at the scale of the search which went on in New Mexico. But, as time passed, we became so concerned. We heard stories about you running in the car traffic, then the fact that you left with only one bottle of water, that the temperature in this large wilderness area was oscillating between 70F during the day and 20F at night. Then I got extremely worried when I learned that even your dog wasn't with you and couldn't find your trace. On Saturday morning, you were still missing, 4 days after you left the lodge. I went to the track (Los Gatos High School) to do my long tempo run and I kept thinking of you with optimism. It was very windy but I pushed hard and managed to clock 58:27 for 40 laps (close to but not quite 10 miles on that track). The strong wind made like the track had a few percent of incline... I came back home and kept checking the status on facebook and the best source of updates and information, Mark Kreuzer's blog entry on TrailAndUltraRunning.com. It's later that night we got the terrible news about your death, Caballo, with your friend Ray finding your body just 6 miles away from the lodge. The only consolation was to learn that you died doing what you liked the most, running, and that the report was talking about laying down peacefully...

But you left us way too early, we had so much more to learn from you! How symbolic is it that you ended your running journey on Earth right in the middle of your cherished communities of Boulder, Colorado in the North and the Raramuri and the Copper Canyons in the South. Close to a border that splits North America and didn't make much sense to your dual life here and there and your global approach to getting connected with our Planet. And what a symbol this happened in a place called... New Mexico! At least the news came before April Fool's Day, or that would have been a very hard thing to believe, especially knowing your sense of humor and mystery... Here is my favorite picture of you which captured so well your authenticity and inner peace (unfortunately, this picture has been flying around so much on the Internet, I don't know who to give credit to...):
I thought of you all night and, like many other runners, decided to go for a run this Sunday morning. I cannot believe how much I connected with you during these 4 hours. First I was debating which shoes to pick and, guided by your spirit, I ended up choosing my Brooks PureConnect although they were at the other end of the garage. Pure for minimalism and Connect to get in touch with the Earth. I was dialoging with you for quite a few miles and it's only after 8 miles that I looked at my GPS for the first time. Usually I look at it at least every 5 minutes... Not only this surprised me but, more importantly, I had never run up Montebello so fast! I was running... free! Free of negative thoughts, free of a priori about my pace, free of the clock pressure... The more I was talking to you, the more positive thoughts emerged and running felt so easy, while I was passing cyclists (Montebello is 6 miles and 2,500 feet up to the top of Black Mountain). Thinking of your communicative smile and joy of running, I was going through all the luck life brought me, my wonderful family, my parents still alive, our landing in this amazing Bay Area, the discovery of ultra and trail running, the connection with that special community in particular, and the list goes on... With a strong wind coming from the Pacific Ocean, the sky was almost all cleared up after yesterday's rain but for a few white clouds, another opportunity to think of you and your FaceBook profile picture:
I reached the summit in record time (1:33 for 11.3 miles, a 8:13 min/mile pace). I could have turned back to see how fast I could do on this out and back but you were not the type of guy interested in records, so you told me to go on with my original goal of running longer today. After Montebello, which would not have been your type of surface (asphalt), I went on Bella Vista and, certainly, the views were wonderful up there. You would have enjoyed this trail so much. The ground was so soft after yesterday's rain and running down from the summit felt like flying over the hills. At this point I thought it would have been great to have a camera to videotape this scenery and I thought JB Benna (author of Unbreakable) might do a great movie with Chris, Luis Escobar and your other friends, about the joy of trail and ultra running, and the Raramuri culture in particular. To be honest, I couldn't get if you would support more mediatization of your second native family.

I never ran this loop so fast, I was stunned to have run so "free" and I'm so thankful to you for this incredible experience. Given all the traffic on FaceBook and the press coverage, it's clear that you have touched thousands of runners and changed our World for the better. You were so authentic, you had found such a peace in running and living in the Copper Canyons, you were so true to yourself and others in the observations you were making about our World (yes, Mr. Micah... True! ;-), so eager to both find peace in living a simple and austere life like a monk but travel the world to inspire others and share the Tarahumara secret, your life left a wonderful imprint on the Earth for us and the generations to come. Here is a letter to turn one page and help keeping the warm memory alive. I didn't have the opportunity to meet your love ones but hope to do so soon and thinking of them in the meantime. Again, I'm so glad to have met you and to know that you'll keep inspiring us to run free.

With all my respect and gratitude for sharing your gifts and passion,

Jean.

PS: glad Scott Dunlap captured this picture of us at Mike's in October 2009 ;-)