Cactus to Clouds Ultra Running. Ultra Hiking. Ultra Beautiful. Wed, 25 Nov 2020 00:23:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 145370708 Big Dog Backyard Ultra 2020 Results & resources Sat, 17 Oct 2020 19:08:07 +0000 The Big Dog Backyard Ultra is a relatively new but absolutely awesome ultra running event, and the 2020 event might be even better in this time of coronavirus. This is just a summary of resources to help you (and me) enjoy the race, and eventually final race results and/or details as time allows.

Big Dog Backyard Ultra General Stuff

Big Dog Backyard Ultra links, including Laz’s ongoing commentary / blog after each lap (for as long as he can keep it going).

Team and Individual Results

This race is being run with 21 satellite teams, with a potential victory for each county (last one standing in each national race) and an overall victory for the last team with anyone standing. Team results are not yet fully updated / may change, but Karrel Sabbe is the 2020 Big Dog Backyard Ultra champion.

(Team Size)
(Yards / Miles)
1. Belgium
Karel Sabbe
(75 / 312.5)
Geerts Merijn 574 2,392
2. USA
Courtney Dewaulter
(68 / 283.3)
Harvey Lewis 517 2,154
3. Canada
Stephanie Simpson
(43 / 179.2)
Matt Shepard 492 2,050
4. Sweden
 Torbjörn Gyllenbring
(55 / 229.2)
Anna Carlsson 480 2,000
5. France
Christian Mauduit
(46 / 191.7)
Valéry Caussarieu 464 1,933
6. Germany
Marina Kollassa
(51 / 212.5)
Andreas Loeffler
& Michael Ohler
457 1,904
7. Spain
Jorge Manuel García Rodríguez
(36 / 150)
Gonzalo Novoa Rodríguez 451 1,880
8. Mexico
Pedro Parra
(64 / 266.7)
Miguel Lara Viniegra 447 1,862
9. Finland
Kati Ahokas
(40 / 166.7)
Emil Söderlund 447 1,863
10. Ireland
Ed McGroarty
(42 / 175)
Eoin Keith 444 1,850
11. Ukraine
Andrii Tkachuk
(41 / 170.8)
Volodymyr Khanas 440 1,833
12. Denmark
Stine Rex
(38 / 158.3)
Jakob Larni Nielsen 405 1,688
13. UK
Richie Hinson
(38 / 158.3)
Johnny Breen 402 1,675
14. Switzerland
Niklas Sjöblom
(32 / 133.3)
Matthias Dippacher 373 1,554
15. Australia
Chris Murphy
(46  / 191.7)
Barry Loveday 368 1,533
16. New Zealand
Adam Keen
(35 / 145.8)
Glenn Sutton 361 1,504
17. Singapore
Abimanyu Shunmugam
(34 / 141.7)
Wong Hoong Wei 321 1,338
18. Japan
Akio Ueno
(43 / 179.2)
Shota Noguchi 291 1,213
19. Russia
Tatyana Maslova
(28 / 116.7)
Gennady Karasev 270 1,125
20. Belarus
Aksana Sulimchik
(26 / 104.2)
Pavel Kulikou 174 725
21. India
Kartik Joshi
(21 / 87.5)
Ghanshyam Sudan 145 604
21 Teams
300 Runners?

(*) In Bigs terminology, Laps = Hours = Yards (hourly laps around the yard), each of which is 100/24 or 4.17 miles long. By original Barkley convention, women are underlined.

(**) Team India was originally 11 (?) but only 9 started; Team USA was originally 15 runners, but Mike Wardian had to drop out at the last minute due to injury;

Big Dog Backyard Ultra Teams

There are twenty-one (21) teams in the 2020 Big Dog Backyard Ultra remote World Championship. See Keith Dunn tweet, below, for more:

Information for all of these teams is provided, below, if I could find it. Some teams had last minute team changes or cancellations, for final team counts may not match Keith’s initial summary.

Team Australia

Team Belgium

Laz congratulatory interview with overall winner Karel Sabbe:

Team Belarus

Team Belarus’ thirteen runners were done by lap twenty-six (108.3 miles), with a national victory by Aksana Sulimchik. Here are their final results:

Runner Nationality Gender Age Yards
Aksana Sulimchik Belarus F 34 26
Pavel Kulikou Belarus M 25 25
Igor Lavnik Belarus M 37 21
Alyona Zyuzina Belarus F 41 15
Aliaksei Shvants Belarus M 29 14
Andrey Berezouski Belarus M 46 11
Anton Skuratovich Belarus M 34 11
Denis Ivanov Russia M 29 9
Alexey Alexeev Russia M 40 9
Anton Khramau Belarus M 29 8
Yuri Gerasimuk Belarus M 28 8
Aliaksandr Bendzer Belarus M 28 7
Sviatlana Pukhaeva Belarus F 40 5
Ekaterina Strakovich Belarus F 29 5
13 Total Runners
174 Total Yards
11 Belarus
2 Russia
  • Facebook Page?

Team Canada

Team Denmark

Team Finland

Team France

Team Germany

Team India

India fielded one of the smaller teams, with only nine runners, and everyone was done by lap twenty-one (87.5 miles)–with a team victory by Kartik Joshi.

Kartik Joshi Card Courtesy of Indore Marathon

Kartik Joshi Card Courtesy of Indore Marathon

Here are the final results for India. Congratulations to everyone.

Runner Nationality Gender Age Yards
Facebook | Instagram
Indian M 19 21
SATHISH KUMAR Indian M 30 18
SANJAY MUKATI Indian M 29 15
AMRITESH MODI Indian M 36 12
9 Runners
145 Total Yards
9 Indian
0 Other

Team Ireland & United Kingdom (On Same Course)

Team Japan


Team Mexico


Team New Zealand

After a lively competition with Team Australia, New Zealand ended their race on lap 35 (145.8 miles) with a victory by Adam Keen.

Runner Nationality Gender Age Laps
Adam Keen New Zealand M 35
Glenn Sutton New Zealand M 34
Andy Smith New Zealand M 31
Fiona Hayvice New Zealand F 31
Shaun Collins New Zealand M 26
Matt Bailey New Zealand M 25
Chris Bisley New Zealand M 23
Katie Wright UK/New Zealand F 23
Mike Field New Zealand M 22
Andrew McDowall New Zealand M 20
Glenn Kelly New Zealand M 20
Ian Evans New Zealand M 20
Michael Stuart New Zealand M 20
Damien Wood New Zealand M 16
Russ Thomas New Zealand M 15
15 Total Runners
361 Total Yards
14.5 New Zealand
0.5 United Kingdom

Team Philippines


Team Russia

Russia’s team of fifteen was the third country out, after twenty-eight laps (116.7 miles) and a victory by Tatyana Maslova.

Runner Nationality Gender Age Yards
Tatyana Maslova
Russia F 28
Gennady Karasev Russia M 27
Irina Masanova Russia F 26
Valeriy Regetsiy Russia M 24
Oleg Levandovskiy Russia M 22
Dmitry Demchuk Russia M 18
Igor Kraev Russia M 18
Alexey Dyuzhakov Russia M 16
Aleksandr Rankovskiy Russia M 15
Marina Evgrafova Russia F 15
Mikhail Mironenko Russia M 14
Natalia Porotikova Russia F 13
Alena Shevchuk Russia F 12
Andrey Vasilenko Ukraine M 12
Yuliya Karlina Russia F 10
15 Total Runners
270 Total Yards
14 Russia
1 Ukraine

Team Singapore

Singapore made it to lap thirty-four (141.7 miles), with Abimanyu Shunmugam as the last one standing.

Runner Nationality Gender Age Laps
Abimanyu Shunmugam SINGAPOREAN M 49 34
Wong Hoong Wei SINGAPOREAN M 40 33
Jasmine Goh SINGAPOREAN F 41 29
Ben Swee SINGAPOREAN M 44 24
Natalie Dau SINGAPORE PR F 48 24
Joshua Toh SINGAPOREAN M 43 23
Ned Phillips SINGAPORE PR M 53 22
Alex Ang SINGAPOREAN M 47 21
Melissa Loke SINGAPOREAN F 37 21
Sue Corser SINGAPORE PR F 46 20
Shorne Lim SINGAPOREAN M 44 19
Lim Kay Kiat SINGAPOREAN M 47 18
Low Weng Hoe SINGAPOREAN M 44 16
Alvin Png SINGAPOREAN M 37 11
Winnie Ong SINGAPOREAN F 37 6
15 Total Runners
321 Total Yards
15 Singaporean 10M

Team Spain

Team Sweden

Team Switzerland

Switzerland started with fifteen runners, but was down to the last one standing after yard thirty-two (120.8 miles), Niklas Sjöblom.

Runner Nationality Gender Age Yards
Niklas Sjöblom Sweden M 36 32
Matthias Dippacher Germany M 43 31
Adrian Brennwald Switzerland M 45 30
Luzia Bühler Switzerland F 38 29
Christian Knapp Switzerland M 53 28
Leona Knüsel Switzerland F 26 28
Ole Evers Germany M 26 27
Luca Ambrosini Italy M 36 26
Till Winkler Germany M 43 25
Johannes Stimpfle Germany M 33 24
Stefan Knoche Germany M 54 24
Basilia Förster Italy F 40 22
Manuel Schmid Switzerland M 40 18
Michael Kaufmann Switzerland M 52 18
Marco Stolba Switzerland M 39 11
15 Total Runners
373 Total Yards
7 Switzerland
8 Other

Team Ukraine

The Ukrainian team is racing a park near or in Kiev. Looks chilly.

Team USA (Tennessee)

Team USA is running on the course where the non-pandemic Big Dog Backyard usually takes place–in Laz’s backyard in Belt Buckle Tennessee. The US winner was Courtney Dewaulter on lap 68.

More Information

If you have suggestions, improvements or just plain ol’ comments, please let me know.


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At 130 Degrees, He’s the World’s Hottest Man Tue, 18 Aug 2020 19:41:21 +0000 It’s my pleasure today to have with me in the C2C studios the world’s hottest man, or at least the man who briefly and stupidly stood in the hottest place on earth for a few minutes before fleeing to his air conditioned car. Welcome, HotMan13155.

Thank you for that ambivalent introduction. It’s great to be here, or anywhere that’s not hotter than the surface of the sun. Also, this is way better than doing actual work.

C2C: So let’s start with with obvious; where were you when you attained peak global hotness, and why?

The previous record for the hottest temperature on Earth was set in Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California, in 1913. So when I saw the forecast, I thought that was the place to be. Honestly, how can you not want to be in the hottest place just to know what it feels like? #YOLO, motherfucker! I immediately regret saying that. I was hiking in the Sierras on Sunday, August 17th and Death Valley was only a hundred or so miles away, so I picked up some water and snacks and headed south on the highway to hell. It was fun just watching the temperature tick up…

C2C: Were you worried your car might catch fire?

Yes. For some reason the internal temperature gauge on Subaru Outbacks maxes out at 122. I thought the car would spontaneously combust when I reached that temperature by Stovepipe Wells, but it turns out they were just too cheap to install a better sensor. It was kind of a let down. The car was fine. Turns out that a lot of people on Reddit were concerned about the car after somebody posted my picture there:

The air conditioning kept things nice and cool on the drive,  but the windows were burning hot, which was disconcerting. To avoid overheating, I turned off the AC and rolled down the windows on the ascent after Panamint Springs when the temp hit 118. You know how you can hold your hand over a flame until your flesh slowly starts to burn? Well, same thing holding your hand out the window of a car at 70 mph when it’s nearly 120. It burns. Kinda crazy. So I had to do it again. Yep, still burns.

They were fine, but to be safe I engine-braked on all the steep hills. Paid for those paddle shifters, so I might as well use them. I also might have been speeding a bit. If you were that dude coming up the whoop-de-doos  from Stovepipe, sorry I scared you, but no, it wasn’t a mirage; Subarus can fly.

C2C: Why did you stop at Furnace Creek instead of Badwater?

That’s where the record was, and they had an open bookstore at the visitor center. I was very focused on air conditioning, and also food. I had only brought snacks from Lone Pine, and I wanted real food. Fortunately, they had some lovely cold sandwiches in the shop. And they didn’t mind me asking original questions like, “How do you live here?” and “Does your hair ever catch fire?”

C2C: So, how did it feel getting out of the car?

I parked in a shaded area. For some reason, one or two cars parked in direct sunlight. I have no idea how they got back in without dying. Anyway, I opened the door and it was like stepping into an oven. Dry, stunningly hot, but still okay in the shade. It was fine until I walked into the sun, and then it freaking hurt. I mean, you could just tell your body wasn’t having it. I glanced at the thermometer, checked my watch (I was close to when peak temp was supposed to happen, and didn’t want to miss it), and headed for the store. It was a thirty-second walk and that was enough of that. The AC was heaven.

After the bookstore, I stopped by the outdoor thermometer to take the selfie you see above (and which has since gone viral). It was 3:37 pm, and I think the official record was at 3:41 (or will be when confirmed), so i was literally the hottest damn man on the planet for a few minutes (you know, if you ignore anything indoors, other people staggering around in the heat, places without officially calibrated thermometers and other inconvenient facts). Screw it. I was hot AF and no one else was even close.

Random things going through me head: wow, my phone is hot; why are the tops of my ears on fire; I can’t believe I’m not sweating more; if I wasn’t single, I could have the hottest sex on earth right now; no, that would probably kill me; it’d be worth it; there are surprisingly few girls out here; wow, my phone is really hot; oh, there’s a ranger in a Subaru (I should ask about the thermometer); okay, now there are no girls out here; why are my eyes burning; I smell like bacon; time to go.

Getting back in my car was a bit miserable, but at least the sun hadn’t been baking the black leather seats. That would have sucked. Shade is awesome.

C2C: Why are you wearing a face mask?

Because I’m not a savage. Kidding; I forgot I had it on. It’s required in the bookstore and it seemed like a lot of effort to take it off.

Also, I was making a political statement. Not. But seriously, screw you if you can’t wear a mask in an air conditioned damned store. In this case, though, with no one around, it was largely due to sloth and a mildly baked brain. I mean, I’d forgotten my hat and sunglasses. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Did mention the chips?

C2C: The what?

Okay, so, in Lone Pine before driving toward Death Valley I couldn’t figure out what to eat so of course I bought a bag of Doritos FLAMIN’ HOT® Limón chips. I mean, it just seemed appropriate and I love spicy foods. So the whole drive, I’m jamming these firey things in my mouth, and they are not kidding; these are FLAMIN’ HOT chips like oral magma (trademarked). It was kinda painful. And perfect. And also painful. Plus that red dye never comes out. Anyway, the whole time I’m taking my selfie of infinite hotness, my stomach’s on fire and I was pretty sure if I farted I could melt the sign. It was a thing, but I didn’t want to cheat on the max temp, so I clenched. Sorry if that’s TMI, but the mask is hiding flamin’ hot grimace, so…moving on.

C2C: Did you see people hiking out there?

Almost. I stopped at Zabriskie Point on the way out so I could take a short walk to the lookout and gaze at hot lumpy rocks from a taller, lumpier rock. On the way, I passed four heavyset guys in sweatpants and Camel Packs looking at the information sign and talking about doing a “short hike”. I snorted derisively and that was apparently all it took to throw off their game. They decided to climb to the viewpoint instead, and it took them a while. I think I saved lives. But seriously, who hikes in that heat in long black pants?

Yeah, how long could you survive out here at 130? No one really seems to know. There’s lots of information online (e.g., Quora), but there are lots of variables (like health, shade, access to water, electrolytes, etc.). People run the Badwater in similar temps, even if their shoes occasionally melt. People are tough. Not me–I would die in hours–but other people.

C2C: Were you surprised by the reaction on Facebook?

Not really. It was a funny pic and worth a few likes, and there were more popular posts about dirty feet and the usual summer rescues. It wasn’t a big deal until someone posted it on Reddit. I still don’t know who posted it there. Social media is weird.

C2C: So you didn’t post it on Reddit?

I don’t even have an account. Someone told me I was trending and I had to search on Google to figure out what the hell they were talking about. Turns out my picture was a top post in /r/pics and, more importantly, /r/hot (yeah, baby). I was going viral, and of course everyone’s comments were positive and supportive, which was great.

The picture also made a lot of people hungry as well as thirsty. There were several discussions about the right temperature to cook me, grill vs. Sous Vide, and so on. Made me crave some In-N-Out. But seriously, that’s not where the meat thermometer goes. Pervs.

What’s crazy is that as I answer your deep and incredibly insightful questions, my picture is THE top post on Reddit. Yeah, that’s me in the black face mask. I’m internet famous for the next 24.2 seconds. Whee…

C2C: Were you sad about being shitposted?

I still have no idea what that means. I’m sure it’s nice.

C2C: Anything else you’d like to say?

Don’t go to the hottest place on Earth on your own for no reason. It’s stupid and you’ll die. Or maybe you’ll have a blast. Life is strange like that.

Also, I’m still hot.

Questions from Your Fans

C2C: We have some time to answer take questions and address comments from your massive, growing and of course loyal fan base who totally will not go on to something more interesting tomorrow. Ready?

I was born ready. Shoot.



Okay, rough start. I get this question a lot, but no, my shirt says “Rip Curl.” I save my ripping for waves (or used to). Honestly, who would wear a Rip C**T t-shirt? I assume people who like Brussels sprouts, and they’re all misogynists anyway.

You should see the nude version. Did I mention I’m single? Also, badly sunburned? It puts the lotion on its skin…

Finally, someone sees it. Maybe now they’ll return my SAG card. Golobulous forever! Wait, was I even in the movie? Whatever.

Keep it in your pants. Also, what’s your number? DM me. Is that a thing on Reddit?

You’re not wrong.

Wait, are you that sexy mofo in San Diego that everyone keeps mistaking me for? You got me slapped, dude, and I still don’t know what for. Kudos.

Yes, because that’s a thing. Is that a thing? No way I’m searching for that on Urban Dictionary. Oh, wait, it’s not that bad. Shiny.


This guy? I have no idea. Okay. I’m not sure he’s white enough.

Be nice. I’m not that old.

That’s better. But I hope you mean overlords?


So, I’ve done the same thing…in Fairbanks…when it was 54 below. And I froze my face. It was cool. Well done, sir.

Great question; the display is not the thermometer. It is apparently calibrated, above the ground, in the shade, and so on. Fun fact, the “feel” of the sun would have put the apparent temperate at around 145, and the ground would have been around 190 (on the black asphalt).  I should have brought eggs to cook. Officials are now in the process of confirming that the thermometer is setup correctly to verify the record.

Fuck you.

Kidding. Everyone said this. Literally, everyone:

From the pedia: “The William Tell Coleman Borax Company established Greenland Ranch in 1883, named after the green alfalfa fields which they planted there. They established a weather station at the ranch in 1891. Greenland Ranch was renamed Furnace Creek Ranch in 1933… Furnace Creek was formerly the center of Death Valley mining and operations for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the historic 20 Mule Teams hauling wagon trains of borax across the Mojave Desert.” Which doesn’t answer your question, so I’ll just say…hot.

+3 points for noticing a living bush in the picture

Okay. Deets?



C2C: Well, thank you for joining us for what has been one of our more pointless interviews. Keep up whatever it is you’re doing, and good luck with the Dorito breath.

I know, right?


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Radek Brunner – Post Quarantine Backyard Ultra Interview Mon, 13 Apr 2020 17:22:35 +0000 Just a under week ago, though it seems far longer, a virtual ultra running event called the Quarantine Backyard Ultra (QBU) seemed destined to continue indefinitely. The two final runners, Radek Brunner and Mike Wardian, had run more than two-hundred miles and there was hope they might break the 68-hour / 283 mile record held by Johan Steene or even, some whispered, reach the almost mythical three-day / 300 mile goal.

Radek ran on a treadmill in the final hours. Wardian did laps around his neighborhood. Thousands watched on fragile Zoom video feeds. They ticked away laps 60, 61, 62 and neither runner even looked tired. Three days of no sleep, constant 4.167 mile laps, rushed carbohydrate snacks and micro naps–all for an unofficial race with no prize other than personal pride. It was a strangely beautiful thing that united a small corner of the internet, until Radek was disqualified on lap 63 for not starting his treadmill on time. Things were less beautiful after that.

Quarantine Backyard Ultra Cones

Quarantine Backyard Ultra Cones

You can read that story here. This interview is not about the details of the QBU, but about how Radek came to the race, the disqualification, and what’s next for him as a clearly underappreciated elite ultra runner.

Post-QBU Interview with Radek Brunner

This interview was conducted by email. As a non-native English speaker, Radek has allowed me to edit some of his responses for clarity. We’ll also try to provide a Czech translation, below, so you can read the interview in his native tongue. That said, let’s get started…

How did you first hear about the Quarantine Backyard Ultra? When did you decide to run, and why? What were your initial goals?

I read about it on Facebook. My friend Bob Hearn was in and I subscribed too. That was just 14 days before the race. Then a few days before the race, it looked like it might not happen at all.  The weather in Czech republic was great and, two days before when I went with my friend on a 54 km long training run, I thought it might be better for me to just to a normal outside training run on Saturday [Apr 4, the day the QBU started]. But on Saturday morning, I said my wife: okay, I’ll try it, but I’ll only run til midnight and then go to sleep. That was my first goal.

Radek Brunner QBU Bib

Radek Brunner QBU Bib

What were you most concerned about? Injuries? Fatigue? Technology?

After a few hours I had a problem with knee, but after the next two or three laps it was better and I forgot about it.

Who did you see as the biggest competitor when you started? Was there someone you wanted to beat?

For me the biggest competitor was the elite field, especially Pete Kostelnick, Olivier Leblond, Greg Armstrong and of course Maggie and Courtney. It was absolutely amazing to run with these great runners. Every time somebody from this field quit the race, I was very surprised.

What type of training were you focused on up until the lockdown?

I didn’t prepare for this race. I did it just for fun. My training preparation was focused on a 24-hour race in Basel-Switzerland, but it was canceled the week before this race.

Were you hoping to win because you wanted to go to the Big Dog Backyard Ultra? If so, have you done other backyard-type races?

No, absolutely not. I wasn’t thinking about winning. There was a very, very strong elite field of runners, who had better past performances than I did. I wasn’t thinking about the Big Dog Backyard Ultra. I’d never tried this type of race before.

When you first started, was the technology working well? Were there any concerns?

No problems; I thought that everything worked very well. I never tried the Zoom app before. I installed it on my laptop an hour before the start, and it worked fine.

After lap 60, it seemed like your running changed. Were you tired? Any injuries or concerned? How far did you think you could go?

I don’t think that my running routine after 60 laps changed. I was focused as usual, and got a small nap between laps 56 and 62. I felt good. I was prepared to run more than 62-63 laps.

Can you describe the details of what happened on lap 63? What happened with your tablet? Were you wearing a watch with a different time?

My watch I used only for counting distance. I had a foot pod on  my shoe, which I calibrated the day before outside, so I was sure of the distance on every lap. I corrected it with the treadmill.  The problem was that on my laptop the sound was muted, because I switched off the sound to sleep [Other participants on Zoom often talked between laps]. And on big screen, I had no timer. That was my issue.

On the tablet, I had the stream from Facebook, and it was delayed. This was my mistake, I know. All the other laps I started with laptop, but this lap I started with tablet and it was a bad decision. I was prepared on the treadmill at the right time, but I did not start at the correct time. I was prepared to run, but it’s forbidden to start early (before the bell). So I waited for the bell, but on the tablet. After I heard it, I started.

After that, my phone ringing and somebody from HQ at Personal Peak called me and said that I missed the start. But I told him that I started at the bell. Then we confirmed that tablet was delayed. He told me, okay, keep going and complete the lap. So I got back on the treadmill and ran, but after I was finished the race director told me about the disqualification.

I thought I hadn’t done anything to break the rules. The whole time, I streamed my treadmill and all my steps, for more than 62 hours, every minute. But I still know the mistake was my own. Only mine. Maybe, that this decision from race director was hard [strict], but that’s okay. Rules are rules and I agree with it. I was just sad, because I knew I could run longer than 62 hours, and Mike could too. We both wanted to keep pushing together toward the 68 hour record.

When you heard about the disqualification, I’m sure you were upset. I know from other interviews you saw it as unfair or overly strict. What do you think Travis and Personal Peak should have done instead?

Maybe they could have confirmed that my tablet was delayed and that it was not a health issue, and see that I was prepared to run further. But that’s just a thought.

Imagine that they had talked to Mike Wardian, and he had agreed to continue the race. And then you won. Do you think people would have been okay with that, or would there have been a controversy around that win because of the withdrawn disqualification? This is just a hypothetical.

The way it happened, continuing was not possible. But okay, if we had continued and I won, I still would not be not satisfied with it. I want to win in regular race, with strict rules that everybody follows.

Going forward, what do you think should be done to clarify the rules or improve the race format?

I don’t know. Maybe it would be better if everybody ran only on treadmills and stream the entire time. But technical problems are common, and still would be. It’s  a problem with all virtual races.

After the race, did you get a chance to talk to Mike? How was the conversation?

No, we don’t speak together. We only messaged. Mike is great runner. I’ve known about him for a long time, and for me it was great when he wrote me that for him it was a great race with hard opponents. And that he was counting on me too.

I assume that you’d like to run a backyard against Mike and others in the future. Is this now a bigger priority for you than it was before?

No 🙂 I don’t know if I want to try something like this again. But maybe my plans for the year will be change, and I’ll be with Anna [Carlsson] and Mike in October at the [Big Dog] starting line?

As you know, if you won the Big Dog Backyard Ultra, you’d get a golden ticket to the Barkley Marathons. Is that something you want to do?

No, I didn’t know that, and I don’t plan to start in the Barkley. I think, there must be runners with good English, because you run with navigation from books? And I think, that I will be lost on the first loop :).

Thank you, Radek, and good luck with whatever comes next.

More on Radek Brunner

Radek Brunner Spartathlon

Radek Brunner Spartathlon

Radek is an accomplished ultra and Spartan runner. You can learn more about him and his many accomplishments on Facebook, Instagram, Strava, UltraSignup and on his personal blog.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this interview for Radek, please let us know in the comments below.


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Amazing Grace of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra Tue, 07 Apr 2020 21:34:28 +0000 Like the Camelot of Monty Python fame, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra was a very silly thing, and that’s what made it so perfectly wonderful. Lots of people got together online to run a virtual endurance race where there could be only one winner, there was no prize, and it didn’t even count as an official backyard ultra. There was no reason to do it, so thousands of quarantined amateurs and elites lined up to start on April 4, some bearing self-made bibs, many on treadmills they’d just purchased for the purpose, with just about everyone smiling with excitement.

To give you the feeling for the scope and quality of the field, here’s a great summary from Runners World: “Both runners [Mike Wardian and Radek Brunner] outlasted a field of around 2,400 athletes from over 55 countries, including a group of elite runners like 2019 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc champion Courtney Dauwalter, 2019 Big’s Backyard champion Maggie Guterl, 2014 Badwater champion Harvey Lewis, Last Vol State 500K champion Greg Armstrong, and a cast of others.

And in the end, elite ultra runner Mike Wardian won. You can see Wardian’s impressive prior results on UltraSignup, his blog here, and of course his very impressive trophy from Personal Peak fitness, the race creators:

Yes, Wardian ran 262 miles and got a fake toilet paper role as a prize. If that doesn’t tell you how serious this is, then nothing will. What it won’t tell you is what really happened.

What Happened? (The Facts)

You can find great summaries of what transpired at the Quarantine Backyard Ultra in Outside Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and so on. And you can tell how ravenous the media is for positive sports content by how quickly every site online published a race report today. So I have no intention of doing the same thing, but a simple summary of facts will help:

Travis and Ashley Schiller-Brown, Dave Proctor and possibly (?) others at Personal Peak endurance coaching created a virtual race called the Quarantine Backyard Ultra (QBU), which thousands of people joined. The race ran for more than sixty hours, starting on Saturday, April 4th with thousands of runners on treadmills or short backyard / neighborhood / inside laps, and finished 63 hours and 262.5 miles later with victory by Mike Wardian and controversy surrounding the disqualification of the second man standing, Radek Brunner, due to a late start on the last lap. Radek is less well known than Wardian, but has shown impressive results and is generally considered a world-class ultra runner and Spartathlete.

For those of you not familiar with the backyard ultra format, this race was invented by Lazarus Lake (aka Laz, real name Gary Cantrell) with the original Big Dog Backyard Ultra, which is literally run as 4.167 mile laps around his backyard in Tennessee. Runners have to finish one lap per hour, after which they can eat or rest, and then be in the corral and ready to start the next lap (aka “yard”) when the next hour starts. There’s plenty of information online, but like Laz’s more famous Barkley Marathons, there is no official website.

Since the Big Dog’s first running in 2012, dozens of regional backyard ultras have sprung up worldwide, with many as feeders to the Big Dog itself. But of course the coronavirus pandemic brought all of that to a halt, and Personal Peak stepped in–with the blessing and cooperation of Laz, to create an “unofficial’ race for all those frustrated backyard runners. Instead of a race course, you’ve got your treadmill, office, neighborhood, or even backyard–whatever worked, as long as you followed quarantine and race rules.

The result was a race never run before in a format never used before by thousands of people on dozens of Zoom feeds (like the one below), many of whom had never even heard of backyard ultras before this race went viral-ish online:

In a time when we were isolated in our homes, this race promised a chance to get out some athletic frustration and interact with thousands of equally cooped-up people around the world. What could go wrong?

Well, a lot. Problems with this format were immediate and obvious. Zoom was not meant for this type of event, and some people are frankly not meant for Zoom. There were glitches, lost feeds, and eventually total banishment from YouTube of the streamed feeds due to copyright violations as runners played music in the background without muting their microphones. Time delays due to global distances and stream buffering meant conversations were awkward or impossible. The fact that it went as well as it did is like a coronavirus miracle, but also go a long way to explaining how it all fell apart in the end.

Because it pertains to this story, the rules of the backyard ultras are here, including:

2) Starting Corral
. Measured to fit entire starting field
. Corral stays the same size thru out the event
. Participants must be in the starting corral at the bell

3) Starts
. Each loop starts precisely 1 hour after the last
. Warning must be given 3, 2, and 1 minutes prior to start
. All competitors must start at the bell (no late starts)

This language is largely mirrored for the Personal Peak Racer Guide (bold and emphasis added) for the quarantine version:

1) Course
Racers can use a loop, out and back, or Treadmill
You must complete 4.167 miles or 6.71 kilometers every hour

2) Starting Corral
Your starting Corral is the field of view on your camera running Zoom. (If you aren’t using zoom, then designate a spot in the entryway of your home, backyard etc. and use that to begin each loop)
Participants must be in their starting corral at the bell, and must leave immediately to start their loop.

3) Starts
Each loop starts precisely every hour, on the hour
Warning whistles will be given 3, 2, and 1 minutes prior to start on the Zoom Feed
All competitors must start at the bell (no late starts)

And later in the guide, specific to treadmills:

Starting the race:

At the first bell, start your watch to record your GPS signal
Start your treadmill, and begin running (don’t straddle the belt or you will miss distance)

In other words, there can be no doubt of two basic rules: (1) you must be in the starting corral (on the treadmill) at the bell and (2) you must start immediately at the bell (which, for a treadmill, means the treadmill has started). This is unambiguous and is why Radek was disqualified last night as we all screamed out our computers in disbelief; Wardian started lap 63 on time, while Radek stood on the treadmill without starting the lap for nearly two minutes. Here you can see Laz and Sandra (his wife and collaborator) trying to figure out why he hasn’t started.

Radek Not Started Lap 63

Radek Not Started Lap 63

And while this also gives you a feeling for the awkward nature of the Zoom format, it doesn’t show you Ryan Kershaw from the QBU team trying to tell Radek to start. To hear this yourself, go to around 4:54 on this video. It’s probably hard to understand if you weren’t watching, but this was heart wrenching. People were freaking out in the chat feed. Radek, who clearly had the energy and will to continue, had for some reason just failed to start on time (suspicion now is that a lag on his tablet caused the confusion). It was over, and due to ongoing communication issues, he didn’t even know it. So he started running, an endurance machine nowhere near the limits of his abilities, and the internet started tearing its collective hair out.

And some of it got ugly. Fingers were pointed and names were called. Everyone became a legalistic nit-picking expert on everything. All the camaraderie and compassion went right out the window. People were screaming in all caps, begging for mercy, or just crying-by-emoji proxy, and all the while Radek kept on running. It was a human tragedy unfolding right before our eyes, and there was nothing we could do about it. Except watch, of course, and so many watched we eventually crashed the feed.

What Really Happened? (The Feeling of It)

To back up a bit, it should be obvious that this race does not not offer video-friendly content. Dozens of tiny windows of sweaty runners on treadmills or empty streets with runners occasionally passing by isn’t going to win any Oscars for Best Anything except soporific. And starting on Saturday morning, aside from a little initial excitement, it was pretty easy to drift away and do other things unless you were directly involved.

Quarantine Backyard bib Posting

Quarantine Backyard bib Posting

Which brings up an important point. Because this was a no-fee, no-qualification race, anyone could join. For at least a week prior to the start, social media was full of excited racers posting their printed or even drawn “bibs” just to get into the spirit of things. This was a race for anyone who could find space and time to run, not just elites, not just people living in the right areas, but anyone anywhere in the world where they had a video feed (so, yeah, that still leaves out a lot of people) who just wanted to be part of it. I would have joined if not injured as always, and I would have proudly displayed my meaningless bib for all to see. Instead, I went for a walk and got ready for the start which, as I said, was not a beautiful thing.

And then 24 hours passed. Runners had gone 100 miles and hundreds were still in the race. There were fewer feeds, and the chats were picking up but you could still be forgiven for not being riveted to your computer screen. But then the big names started dropping, including Maggie Guterl–a past Big Dog overall champion and female favorite–and by hour 48 (two days and 200 miles in) they were down to just two elite runners, Radek Brunner and Mike Wardian. Laz summarized the status, as he did every lap (compressed and emphasis added):

and they are off on the 48th hour.
two days and 200 miles.

it couold end here.
or it could last 2 more days.
no one knows what the two warriors are thinking…

except themselves (and maybe their crews)
but i am betting 200 miles has come at a price.

tied for first:
michael wardian: virginia
radek brunner: Česká republika

in second place…

there is no second place in the backyard.

the race is binary.
you win, or you DNF.

Usually in backyard ultras, this is where it gets interesting. People are tired and sleep deprived. Blood sugar is plummeting, moods are swinging, and yet the miles keep on ticking away. Even online in tiny windows on Zoom feeds, it got exciting. The chat filled up with people who couldn’t turn away. We talked about random nonsense, like the stupid orange cones on Mike Wardian’s street the cyclists kept assaulting. Save the Cones! Or how many shirts Radek had gone through.

Quarantine Backyard Ultra Cones

Quarantine Backyard Ultra Cones

Or about whatever. Who cares? It felt like we were all part of something, together, around the world, that was absurd and beautiful and ridiculous. This is what Travis and Ashley, Ryan and David Proctor and of course Laz gave us. Not just a distraction, but a coming together. A unifying positive thing that had nothing to do with politics, lockdown rules or body counts. It was no longer a race, it was an escape from everything else, and in a strange way, a place not to be alone inside all by yourself…even though that’s exactly where we were.

By Monday morning, Wardian and Radek had been running alone for hours, remotely pushing themselves to continue, two great competitors egging each other on. And this, as Laz pointed out at some point, is the true magic of the backyards: you can’t keep running for more than one lap after the second-to-last runner quits, which means that any hope of breaking the 68-hour backyard record held by Johan Steene meant both men had to fun for at least 68 hours. They wanted to win, to beat each other, but they needed each other to reach their true goals. And we needed to be there to see it. God knows, I did.

Which is one of a thousand reasons why neither would ever have wanted the other to be disqualified on a technicality. They both had the chops and apparent energy to not only beat the 68-hour record (unofficially, of course), but then maybe continue on to hit the fabled 72-hour (300 mile) mark. Because while Radek may have lost some of the energy in his stride after hour 60, both men were clearly capable of going much, much longer. People on the chat feed were losing time at work, staying up past bedtimes, blathering about nothing and having a great damn time.

Until, of course, they weren’t. When it all fell apart, Travis was on the verge of tears. Technicalities and feed drops kept killing connections and making things even worse. And then we all got  to watch Radek get the news on his cell phone while still running after Wardian had finished his last, winning lap in record time. Travis and Ashley were so worked up and apologetic they forgot to congratulate Wardian on his finish even as his wife (?) demanded to know what the heck was going on. It was an unmitigated shit show. I wanted to cry, and maybe I did a bit. It was just so damn sad. Then it somehow got worse as they accidentally cut the live feed (the new feed ended up on Travis’ page instead of the Personal Peak page) and we were all left wondering WTF had just happened. And that was just the reality of it, the unavoidable emotional consequences of something that didn’t finish the way anyone wanted it to.

What sucked worse was how people reacted.

What Really, Really Happened? (The Social Contract)

I’m going to wax a bit philosophical here because, well, that’s what I do. What unfolded last night as we all desperately searched YouTube and Facebook and God knows where else for a video feed we’d never find to explain objectively trivial  events that had taken on vastly oversized importance, was a collective emotional breakdown of epic proportions. All the joy and wonder and gratitude got blasted off the face of the earth by righteous indignation and petty bickering.

People challenged the disqualification. Others defended it, while both sides cherry-picked parts of the rules that made their point and ignored those that didn’t. People accused Mike Wardian of cheating because he had allegedly started late on an earlier lap (he hadn’t, but his watch had paused). Everyone turned into race lawyers, backseat drivers and living room referees, picking apart everything in an event that had until minutes earlier, been lauded as universally awesome. Someone rationalized that Radek’s second step onto the treadmill constituted “starting.” People lost their damn minds.

Someone even called out Greg Armstrong for stepping off the treadmill in the middle of one lap to get a snake out of his house. A freaking snake:

Greg Armstrong Quarantine Snake

Greg Armstrong Quarantine Snake

Since I was brought into question in a below comment about being shown “leniency” due to the snake incident and why I wasn’t DQ. Here is some clarification: The top picture is when I stepped off the treadmill; notice the watch in the picture coincides, within a few seconds, of the treadmill time. Bottom pic is the finish of the lap with 57 seconds difference. Side picture is of the snake trying to get back into the house. 57 seconds to run to the other end of the room grab a 4.5 foot snake, run to the yard, discard said snake, calm my family from said snake and get back to business on the treadmill. I actually probably ran 4.185 miles that hour but hey who’s counting. It was made clear by the race organizers that as long as you allow the treadmill to come to a complete stop you are allowed to get off and back on. It would be like in the actual Backyard stopping and grabbing a snake from the middle of the road and walking it safely to the other side…” –Greg Armstrong

And some even blamed Laz, though he wasn’t the race director and it wasn’t his call–so many that Personal Peak had to issue a clarification: “To confirm. Lazarus Lake did not make the final call on the outcome of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra. He and Sandra were invited as honorary race directors, and a such the decision was entirely that of Travis and Ashley of Personal Peak.

Laz himself expressed gratitude that it was not his call (formatting compressed, emphasis added):

maybe i am the only person who is glad not to be in charge.
not this time.
people tend to see the world in black and white, and with the screen of not having to make decisions when things go grey deal in absolutes.

being here in quarantine in the house on the hill, and handcuffed by a near total absence of technological skill, i dont know how many people saw the events that unfolded at the start of hour 63.
but here is what i saw….

with the caveat that i had finally gotten to sleep for a couple of hours…..
i did not realize it at the time, thinking i had just taken a nap between the start of hour 61 and the start of 62, i actually slept thru hour 62 and it was time for 63.
i got to the computer during the countdown.

as the final minute counted down i just saw radek’s treadmill standing alone.
it got under 30 seconds and still no radek.
i thought he must have quit.

then with just seconds left here is radek.
he gets on his treadmill and is just standing there.
i am yelling at him, which is useless because he cant hear me.
by a minute after the start i think he is done…almost 2 minutes in, he starts running.

the race management disqualified him.

maybe in the world of people who are absolutely certain they know the right answer i am the only one who is glad to not be in charge today.

mike did his 63rd hour, and now he is the winner.
radek was left with the taste of ashes.

Which is pretty characteristic for how Laz sums things up; poetic and compassionate, but also cogent and pointed, with just a little dig thrown in to inspire competitors to greater efforts next time.

Then someone said something about how Laz had made other bad calls, like the one about Gary Robbins and the Barkley, at which point I wanted to throw my computer across the room. So, quick segue for the Barkley-obsessed. In 2016, Canadian Runner Gary Robbins famously failed to finish the Barkley by just six seconds after 60 hours of running, and social media piled on Laz for being so cruel. How could you? they asked. He was so close. You can see the whole gut-churning thing documented in the Ginger Runner’s movie, Where Dreams Go to Die:

In which you can see Gary tap the gate and collapse in front of everyone, exhausted, knowing he failed, as his wife and supporter tries to comfort him:

Gary Robbins Courtesy of Film My Run

Gary Robbins Courtesy of Film My Run

That was a sad and terrible moment, but the social media backlash was based almost entirely on misinformation. The “six seconds” was largely irrelevant–Robbins had in fact gone off course, missed a few miles of trail, and then finished six seconds late. But saying it was because of this pittance of seconds made for better click bate, and so the myth persists. Laz made the right call then, and Travis made the right call here with Radek. Though only God knows how both will be remembered.

And that brings me to an actual point. It’s hard to do things. It’s inconceivably harder to to things involving hundreds or thousands of people, and impossible to do anything that makes everyone happy. If our standard is to be that nothing will be done that isn’t perfect, and no person shall be forgiven who is not without sin, then I reject that world. I think most of us do. I was going to go on a bit of tirade about fascist legalism vs. anarchist libertarianism, but I’ve used up today’s word count.

What I really want to say is that I’m grateful, and no matter what you think of the outcome, you should be too. The social contract inherent in having a functional society must embody the recognition of imperfection, tolerance for mistakes, and the character to forgive all the petty insults of our daily lives. In that sense the QBU was just a microcosm of what we face every day. Some people will do anything, including work themselves to death (e.g., healthcare workers on the front line), while others will do nothing but scream and criticize. For every act of beauty, there will be reactive acts of ugliness, but the latter do not outweigh the former. At this race, as during the pandemic and in life, good easily outweighs bad if we let it.

I’m not a Pollyanna. Things could have been done better, but so what? In the midst of a terrible time, good people did their best, without being asked, and without compensation, to help make our lives a little bit more tolerable. Travis and Ashley worked their asses off and gave us endless ours of wonderful social engagement. The runners impressed us with tenacity, grit and eventually encouragement for their competition. Laz and Personal Peak brought us yet another inspired event that is less about beating one another than helping each other do things we never thought possible. Spectators and chat participants were supportive, hysterical and genuinely glad just to be part of it. And the cones survived.

Here, Mike Wardian shows his gratitude once the video feed was finally recovered:

It was a real honor and privilege beyond my imagination,” he says. Damn right. That goes a million times for all of us who did nothing but watch and cheer. Yes, I’m sad that Radek was disqualified and wish there had been a better way. But not one person involved did anything hateful, unkind or even illogical. That’s the best you can ask of anyone. And I can’t wait to see Radek and Wardian move on from this to compete on a real course under better circumstances.

So what I mean by the social contract is simple. Events like this, like families and societies or even species, survive and thrive only by tolerance and compassion. If you step back from the details, what you see is a glorious unexpected thing that you and I didn’t earn or have the right to demand, but which was nonetheless given to us. I’ll always remember the terrible ending, but more I’ll remember the athletes, Laz struggling with the technology and video-bombing his own living room, the jokes, the smiles (and of course the cones). We owe people who make an effort to do something, no matter how small and objectively inane, appreciation and forbearance rather than criticism. Otherwise, why would they ever do it again? And if you can’t do that, if you don’t have that kindness within you, just don’t watch.

So, Thank You

To Personal Peak, Travis and Ashley, Wardian and Radek, Dave and Laz, Sandra, Ryan and God knows who else, thank you. You made a potentially crappy weekend a lot of fun, but not just that: In a time when the world seems to be tearing itself apart, where we’re trapped inside with our families and carbohydrates and dark thoughts, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra brought us hours upon hours of beautifully imperfect escapist perfection.

Thank you.

You can see my post-race interview with Radek here. And in case you missed the Monty Python reference, here you go:


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Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Water Sources Mon, 06 Apr 2020 08:20:39 +0000 One of the most important things you’ll need to consider for your Rim-to-Rim or R2R2R is water, including how much to carry, where to refill and making sure you have enough. Carry too much and you’ll slow yourself down and slosh a lot. Carry too little and you’ll be sad or die. So, let’s get this right.

Rim-to-Rim & R2R2R Water Sources

Typical Water Availability by Month

This table is intended to help with planning for your R2R or R2R2R, but you should never assume this information is correct at the time for arrival. Always confirm water availability on the day of arrival on official NPS website. RA stands for rest area, RH for resthouse, CG for campground, and DUA means day use area. Note that the Mar/Oct details here may vary from what’s in NPS FAQs, based on experience.

Location Nov-Feb
Bright Angel Trail
Trailhead Y Y Y Y
1.5m Resthouse N ? Y ?
3.0m Resthouse N ? Y ?
Indian Gardens Y Y Y Y
Trailside IG-RR F F F F
River Resthouse F F F F
Trailside RR-Bridge F F F F
South Kaibab Trail
Trailhead Y Y Y Y
Cedar Ridge na na na na No water!
Tonto / Tip Off na/RF na/RF na/RF na/RF No Water?
North Kaibab Trail
BA Campground Y Y Y Y
Phantom Ranch Y Y Y Y
Trailside PH-MRA F F F F
Cottonwood CG N ? Y ?
Manzanita RA ? Y Y Y
Roaring Springs N ? Y ?
Supai Tunnel N ? Y ?
Trailhead N ? Y ?
Ranger Station N ? Y ?

Key: (Y) Always supposed to be on; (?) Might be on depending on winter conditions; (N) Not on; (na) not available, ever; (F) Usually available near the trail if you filter water from a stream or the river. Items in italics are somewhat or very off-route for R2R or R2R2R, and are shown only as backup sources.

Note on SK Tipoff (na/RF): A relatively new rest area has been added that includes Rain barrels that might have water sometimes, but even if it does it will need to be Filtered or treated (always).

Year-Round Water Sources

If a resource of location shows “Y” for every section in the table above, that water resource is supposed to be available year-around. The only notable exceptions are pipe breaks, which happen more than you might think; maintenance, which also happens frequently or; other random events that no one can predict. I emphasize this only because there have been times when water at the South Kaibab and/or North Kaibab trailhead is not available when it’s supposed to be. Do not push yourself so hard that you can’t make it to another water resource if something is off for any reason. It’s just not worth the risk.

Seasonal Water Sources

If you’re wondering why there aren’t more precise details on seasonal water sources, it’s because they are shut off / turn on based on weather for the winter (not based on dates). As per the NPS, “Seasonal water stations are usually turned off for the winter sometime between Oct 10th and 30th dependent on location and associated temperatures.”

Rim-to-Rim & R2R2R Water FAQs

Q: Why do I do in an emergency / If I can’t find water?

Depends. This could be part of a whole seminar on wilderness survival. Do you go back for move forward? Do you rest in place until sunset? Do you call for help? All of these questions have contextually conditional answers. The best answer is, don’t get yourself in that situation in the first place. If your at or near the NK trailhead and the water is off, the ranger station is relatively nearby but also not 100% reliable.

If you’re on the SK in the heat, there is sometimes emergency water in a few places (from rangers) I’m not going to mention b/c you shouldn’t plan on it. I once ran out of water on a non-corridor GC hike and a range we came across ended up promising water and then forgot about us. The main point is, you shouldn’t run out of water if you plan ahead; there are simply too many year-round resources. Don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk with bravado or bad planning. And then if it all goes wrong, call for help; don’t die.

The one thing I can say, is that if you choose to hike R2R or R2R2R when it’s very hot (e.g., August), if you’re heading back and plan to climb up South Kaibab, and you are at all worried about your condition, freaking stop at Phantom Ranch, beg for a room (which will cost you), re-hydrate and get up early in the AM to hike out. I’ve had friends who were severely dehydrated or hyponatremic do this, and it probably saved their lives.

Q: How much water should you bring?

Depends. If it’s hot, a lot, if it’s cold, enough. The usual recommendation for hikers is to have three liters / a gallon at to refill at each major water stop. Runners will almost never carry this much except when the water is off and the North Rim is closed (say, in winter). As a sweaty guy, I always carry two (2) liters unless it’s very hot (when I bring more), except on the downhill from BA trailhead to Indian Gardens when there’s no point. When in doubt, bring more (at least two liters, probably three). On your first attempt, focus more on safety and learning than weight and time. You can always come back; the canyon’s not going anywhere.

Q: Should you take iodine tablets or water filters?

Maybe. I almost always take a few tablets in a baggie, practically weightless, just in case. I’ve only had to use them on winter R2R2Rs when I knew the water was off anyway, but there are stories of water spigots (e.g., at Cottonwood or Manzanita) failing for some reason. I did a run from the North Rim to Cottonwood in the summer, and the water failed between the time I passed Manzanita on the way down and when I needed water for the climb back up. Had I not had iodine pills, I’d have had to risk giardia or dehydration.

Unfortunately, the places where you really might get in trouble w/o water (e.g., North Kaibab trailhead or middle of South Kaibab), there’s no water to filter anyway. So, I’d say the odds you’ll need a filter / tablets are low, but the benefits of having them are high. I keep a few in my kit now and almost always bring them.

Q: Should I take salt tablets or electrolytes?

Maybe. I do anytime I go in the Spring or Fall, but not usually in the winter. In the summer, yes. Then again, don’t do R2R or R2R2R in the summer. It will suck and you might die.

Q: Should I do R2R or R2R2R in the summer?

Probably not. Temperatures in the lower canyon regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and people get heat exhaustion, heat stroke and die pretty often. Even if you have water, you may not be able to take the heat. There are rescues all the time, despite signage all of over the canyon.

Q: Will the water be on at time X?

Maybe. The Grand Canyon has old, terrible plumbing that breaks all the time. Always check the NPS site, and always think about what you’ll do if water is not available when it’s supposed to be. The following is a sample screenshot from that website for March 1, 2020, just to show you how much things vary. This is NOT the current water status (!!!).

Grand Canyon Water Status Sample

Grand Canyon Water Status Sample

If you want to confirm any of this information, contact the Grand Canyon Backcountry Office (usually open 8am-12pm & 1pm-5pm) at (928) 638-7875.

Other Water Availability Resources

More R2R and R2R2R Stuff

Coming soon.

As always, if you have suggestions or find inaccuracies or errors, let us know in the comments below.

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coRUNavirus – The Virus for Runners Tue, 17 Mar 2020 21:42:43 +0000 coRUNavirus Meme

coRUNavirus Meme


“When a global pandemic
just means more time to run.”

Because honestly, social isolation and trail running are pretty much the same thing for most of us. The only thing that changed is that we have more time to do it, and there are fewer people out there to catch the corona from. And it’s a great way to let off steam, train and still protect others from infection. So, win-win-win.

“I can’t work remotely today, I’ve got corunavirus.”

“Social isolation brought to you by corunavirus.”

And so on.

But seriously. Practice social isolation and wash your hands so they stop cancelling our damn races.

Social Isolation & Running

This post is not entirely in jest. There are numerous sites stating that running alone may be one of the few socially isolated, safe workouts you can do during the outbreak.

As recommended by Insider, “To run while also social distancing, do it alone or with a friend you keep a distance from, and choose a quiet or off-hours route.” There is of course nothing backing this up scientifically, but it seems to make sense.

Runner’s World has also posted information on how to run safely during the outbreak. For instance, “Effective March 16, San Francisco residents were ordered to shelter in place until April 7, meaning everyone is to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible. However, the directive allows for people to go outside and engage in outdoor activity, such as running, walking, and hiking, as long as people practice safe social distancing (stay 6 feet apart) and do not gather in groups.”

BTW, I just made corunavirus up and I doubt I’m the first. For words I didn’t make up, check out the Ultra Running Glossary.

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Cactus-to-Clouds Hike FAQs Mon, 16 Mar 2020 01:33:23 +0000 The Cactus-to-Clouds (C2C) hike is one of the most challenging and rewarding in Southern California, but is not to be taken lightly. In addition to an overview, and logistical summary, the following FAQs are meant to answer any additional questions you might have. If for some reason you can’t find an answer to your question, feel free to ask in the comments section, below.

Note that these FAQs are for Cactus-to-Clouds (C2C), and not for the Skyline-only (C2T) or full C2C2C hike or run options. Most of the answers would be the same, but not all.

C2C Water & Nutrition FAQs

How much food do you need?

Varies / Personal. I have no idea how to answer this. For me, the answer is 1,200 calories more or less, for Skyline alone, but this assumes a climb to the tram taking no more than five hours and often far less–very fast for most people. The most important thing is to bring food you’ll eat, including salty foods when it’s hot. Don’t bring food high in fat or protein unless you know your stomach can handle it. Also avoid simple sugars if you can, going for more complex carbs, but this is all personal preference. The usual rule of thumb is 300+ calories per hour, based on how long you think it will take. If you check out this trip report, you can see how much I brought and ate on my first C2C, which is kind of a worst-case scenario (so don’t do what I did).

Do you need salt pills?

Yes. The answer is actually it depends (on the heat, your water consumption rate, sweat rate, body, etc.), but a handful of salt pills weigh very little and take up almost no room. Even if you don’t need them yourself, your friends or others on the trail might need them desperately.  See FAQ on water.

What is the “Skyline Ridge Cross-Country Route?”

Skyline Trail. Never actually heard anyone use the longer name.

How much water do you need?

1.5 Gallons (5.5 Liters). The standard answer is 1.5 gallons (5.5 liters) if you haven’t done it before and the weather is temperate (not too hot or cold). This is what I took  my first time, and it worked out fine.

Safety Sign on Skyline

Safety Sign on Skyline

On subsequent hikes in the heat, I’ve taken more than 6 liters (including 3 liters frozen) and run out because it was still over 90 degrees at Flat Rock, or taken 2 liters and only drunk 1.5 (in cold weather when moving fast). Plan for 1/2 liter for every hour you’re on the trail, minimum, and your first time, bring at least 1.5 gallons. See FAQ on salt pills.

Are there water sources on Skyline Trail?

No. Bring enough water to get you to Long Valley or you’ll regret it.

Are there water sources above Skyline Trail?

Yes. There is water at the Long Valley ranger station (almost always), at the Tram station (off route a bit, and only if open), sometimes via spigot in Round Valley, and sometimes via streams above Long Valley and in Round Valley. All stream water needs to be filtered or purified, but all spigot water is potable.

C2C Logistical & Trail FAQs

Are there limits on group size?

Yes. While Skyline Trail has few official regulations, San Jacinto State Park does not allow groups larger than fifteen (15) and has other regulations for groups, children, etc.

How long will C2C take?

Personal / Varies by season. The FKT (Fastest Known Time) is held by the god-like Brette Maune (Yes, the Barkley Brette Maune) and is under five hours. I’ll have to check the exact time (the Pro Boards / FKT site has conflated C2C2C and C2C). A more common time is around 10-12 hours, but some people take that much time just to get up Skyline. If you’re in good shape, have trained properly, and the weather is in your favor, 11-12 hours is a good target.

Still, this is just a swag based on anecdotal evidence. I’ve done it sub-eight hours, but I’ve also had days when my companions took 8.5 hours to get up Skyline. Check out this trip report if you want to see how badly wrong it can go (we almost missed the last tram down). And  as you can see from the Safety Sign picture (See the water FAQ), the search & rescue team says Skyline itself can take 8-12 hours.

Do you need a map?

Skyline Trail via Gaia GPS

Skyline Trail via Gaia GPS

Probably / Varies by Season. I’d say the first time, yes, at the very least on a GPS device (you’ll have trouble finding a printed map). During the winter in fresh snow, absolutely–you’ll be astonished how quickly the trail becomes impossible to follow without a map or GPS in fresh snow, especially at night or during a storm. See follow the trail FAQ. Some random resources are shown here, but most GPS systems will offer a map of the area:

Where do you park?

Uh. Depends? The simple answer is on North Museum Dr. or North Belardo Rd.  by the Palm Springs Art Museum, and not in the museum parking lot or public parking garage across the street (the former will get you towed, the latter will get you towed four hours later).  This is the closest parking to the trailhead.

Do you need a permit?

Yes. You never need one on Skyline Trail, but you always have to get one at the Long Valley ranger station if you’re going onto the peak for C2C. These are free and self-issued at the station 24/7. Just don’t forget to return the permit on the way back.

What are the trail bail-out points?

None? On Skyline Trail, there’s no way to bail out; you either make it to the Tram or you turn around and go back to Palm Springs. Turning around when it’s hot can be a very, very bad idea. Generally, you’ll need to evaluate your water situation and the temperature before deciding to turn around; once you’re 1/2 – 2/3 of the way up, it’s often safer to keep going up even if it takes longer. This logic changes, of course, if you think you’re going to miss the last tram down.

So, figure out your water, water consumption rate, heat tolerance, speed, know the tram operating hours, and then figure out if you should turn around on Skyline or not. The answer is usually not. Of course, if you’re tired when you get to Long Valley and don’t want to finish C2C, just take the tram down and try another day. Skyline trail by itself is a great accomplishment.

Can you follow the trail?

Depends. I’ve never had any trouble following it except during winter (in heavy snow), but people get lost all the time. Are you awesome at off-trail navigation, do you have a great sense of direction, and do you possess a modicum of common sense? If so, I’d think it’s pretty easy to follow. But this doesn’t stop people from wandering off trail every year. I’d always recommend doing C2C with someone who’s done it before the first time. If you’re not sure, over-prepare. See map FAQ.

How much does the tram cost?

$13 or More. A one way ticket (down) is roughly half the price of a full round-trip ticket and can be purchased in the mountain station gift shop, though this is not listed on their price list. Parking at the bottom if you’ve left a car there is now about $10. A taxi ride from the valley station back to the trailhead if you didn’t leave a car at the tram is about $30 (but of course varies). Point is, bring money and credit cards. It’s a free country, but not a free ride.

How to you get from the tram to your car?

Taxi or Uber/Lyft. This assumes you’ve got a car at the trailhead but not one in the tram parking lot. In this case, customer service at the valley station will call you a cab that will cost around $30. If you’d rather use Uber, Lyft or another ride-sharing service, they are available but there is no reception at the valley station–you’ll have to schedule from the mountain station before you go down.

Is the tram running (Can you get down)?

Maybe? I can’t believe how many people forget to to check this. Always check to see if the tram is running before you go, or you’re going to have a much longer and possibly much deadlier hike than you intended. This means both “Is it running at all?” and “Will it be running when I get there?”

What’s the weather like?

It varies. That’s why they call it weather 😉 . Always check weather and trail conditions the day before, and weather again the morning of. The most important thing to remember is that the temperature in Palm Springs and the temperature on the peak of San Jacinto are dozens of degrees different. It’s often boiling (deadly) hot in Palm Springs while temperate at the summit, or temperate in PS and below freezing and snowing on the summit. Check the weather at different elevations, not just the trailhead. Some good resources:

  • Weather in Palm Springs. Check out the forecast for your time period on, Weather Underground, etc.
  • Weather in Long Valley (by Tram). The Tram site always has something for current conditions here.
  • Weather at the SJ summit. Take a look at the peak and 8,000′ forecasts on Mountain Forecast or equivalent sites like NOAA. Note that SJ is not the Sierras, but it does get seasonal lightening on some afternoons.

See also the trail conditions FAQ.

What are current trail conditions?

Wellman Divide in the Snow

Wellman Divide in the Snow

Great question. This is always a bit of a challenge to find out. Skyline Trail is not an official trail, and to prevent rescues there is a bit of a local attempt to not tell people what’s going on on the trail. If you’d seen the stupid stuff people do, you’d understand. However, there is some basic information that will help:

  • San Jacinto Mountain Discussion Board. There is often a thread on the board by recent hikers talking about Skyline Trail and above.
  • Long Valley Web Cam. This is a courtesy of the Tram, and you should probably always check it to see how things look in Long Valley.
  • SacJacJon. Great local volunteer who does frequent trail condition updates, though usually not for Skyline itself. If you can, send in a donation.

See also the weather FAQ.

Should you take trail shortcuts?

No. Whatever your opinion is on nature and respect for the trail, if you take shortcuts you’ll probably just end up getting lost and ruining some rescue team’s day. Don’t be a jerk. Stay on the trail. Also, Leave No Trace.

When should you do C2C?

Goldilocks Season! If it’s too hot (100+) in Palm Springs, you might not want to do it and if you do, start well before dawn. If there’s two feet of fresh powder at Long Valley and you’re not an expert mountaineer with snowshoes or a ton of stamina, don’t do it.  Recommended times are fall before it snows, and spring after most of the snow melts. Usually May or October are good bets.

Hey & Kam in Snow

Huy & Kam in Snow

This picture is right above Flat Rock from a year when there was just too much snow to get to the tram in time so we turned around around 6,500′. Yes, I’m wearing shorts. You probably shouldn’t do that.

See the weather and trail condition FAQs.

C2C Gear & Equipment FAQs

Do you need bug spray or netting?

No. I never have.

What shoes should you wear?

Personal Decision / Varies by Season. I wear trail runners with great traction (lugs) 95% of the time, and light hiking boots if an only if there’s fresh snow and I’ll be post-holing for a while. I’ll even wear waterproof running shoes rather than hiking boots in rain, light snow, ice, etc. However, this is a deeply personal answer and the right answer is what’s safe and comfortable for you. Unless you’re taking shortcuts, bushwhacking for some reason, or in a winter storm / powder conditions, you’re always on a trail.

However, you’ll be passing cacti, bushes, rocks, dead trees, etc. To preserve your skin, I often wear long socks. It may not be fashionable, but all the minor cuts and scrapes can be irritating after a while.

Do you need sun screen?

Probably. But it’s your skin. Same with lip balm.

Do you need trekking poles?

Depends / Varies by Season. Nobody needs them, but it’s a steep trail and they absolutely make life easier; easier on your legs, easier on your ankles, etc. In the winter when it gets icy or snowy higher up, they do become close to necessities, and there are (rare) times when an ice axe is even desirable. I take ultra-light carbon fiber poles except in powder when I need powder baskets and stronger poles. But I’ve also done it in most conditions without poles. Recommended unless you’re experienced and sure you don’t need them. See FAQ on microspikes.

Do you need trekking spikes / microspikes?

Kahtoola MICROspikes

Kahtoola MICROspikes

Depends. In most winters, it gets a bit icy / snowy / slippery around the Traverse (or lower). If you have microspikes and don’t mind the weight, just bring them. If you’re concerned about the weight, research trail conditions first and then make a decision. I’ve brought them and not used them, and not brought them and wish I had. As long as you have trekking poles, at least, it usually works out–but it’s definitely not always safe. There are also some very rare conditions where you’ll need actual mountaineering crampons and not just spikes. See FAQ on trail conditions and trekking poles.

Other C2C FAQs

Is it dangerous?

Yes? All danger is relative to preparation. It’s not that dangerous if you’re prepared and you avoid the summer heat and winter snows. It’s incredibly dangerous if you’re unprepared, arrogant or an idiot. If you get rescued off this trail and it’s not due to injury or medical emergency, the fault is yours.

There’s plenty of information online about what can and does go wrong, including this article (old but good) on Skyline Trail rescues: “Uncalculated Tragedy” that includes a nifty factoid: “From 2009 to mid-2015, 61 rescue missions occurred on the Skyline Trail below the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Nearly two-thirds involved hikers with heat-related trauma. Five died from their injuries.” It hasn’t gotten any better since 2015.

Can you take your dog or other pet?

No. Skyline Trail has little enforcement, but you can’t take dogs or pets into the SJ State Park at the top of the trail. You can only take service animals on the tram.

Who will rescue me?

Volunteers. If you get yourself in trouble on this trail, the Palm Springs Mounted Police Search & Rescue team will have to deal with it. So, you know, don’t make them spend their time and money just because you didn’t prepare. But if you do need them, 911 works on most of the trail.

Is it runnable?

Yes? Technically, pretty much anything is runnable if you’re Killian Jornet. I’ve jogged up most sections and run down the whole way (including from the Tram to Palm Springs on Skyline), but it’s hell on the lungs on the climb and worse on the quads on the descent. I would strongly, strongly advise hiking both directions before running either.

That said, the video shown here by “The Ginger Runner” is a good example of how to run / fast-hike the trail. You’ll notice they’re not doing a whole lotta running.

What training do you need?

A lot. Think of climbing Mt. Whitney from Whitney Portal without the high-Sierra elevation. It’s harder than that because there’s a lot more elevation gain. Train climbing steep hills with moderate pack weights until you can do six-thousand feet or more without too much of an issue. Beyond that, the training you need depends on your fitness, age, weight, experience, time goals, etc. If you have to ask this question, you probably need more training.

What else would you like to know?

Just let us know in the comments, and we’ll answer if we can.

Other C2C Hike Resources

More to come, but for a start:

Have fun out there. You know, ultra fun.

Disambiguation: This site is inspired by the C2C hike, but is about a lot more; it covers all sorts’a ultra-running and ultra-hiking stuff. 

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David Limousin Pre-2020 Barkley Interview Tue, 10 Mar 2020 17:21:16 +0000 This David Limousin Pre-2020 Barkley interview is meant to shed light on another great Barker as they set off for the wildlands of Frozen Head State Park, and to call attention to the challenges or running with Type 1 diabetes. David is running on behalf of all diabetes sufferers and in partnership with the Type 1 Running Team.

David Limousin Interview

How did you first hear of the Barkley?

I heard about the Barkley Marathons for the first time in 2016 on a fantastic YouTube video made by Fabien Duflot for Iintérieur Sport [see below, 2014 Barkley video]. From here, I have try everything to be in the race.


When did you know you’d gotten in for 2020?

I received my condolence letter on 9th November 2019 for going on the next edition of the Barkley Marathons. Fantastic and amazing emotion for me.

What did you learn from in 2018 that will help you in 2020?

David Limousin with Laz

David with Laz at Yellow Gate

I was on the 2018 edition but unfortunately, I lost my road book during the first miles because of a poor experience and organisation. I had to stop after book 4, which I couldn’t find. Today, I am much better prepared. I have the advantage as a veteran of the Barkley of knowing the race, its particularities and being able to anticipate a lot of things.

What are you most concerned about? What are you most excited about?

What concerns me most is sleeping management and deprivation. It’s almost impossible to take the time to rest because of the time barriers given the difficulties that await us. But I am also excited by this crazy challenge. I love to be alone in the dark, in the forest and to push my limits.

What do you think was most important in Laz’s selection of you for the Barkley?

I think my selections for the Barkley are due to my way of embarking on my adventures with my pathology. I am Type 1 diabetic and I manage an association specialized in supporting diabetic runners for diabetes management. I would like to share the world that everything is possible with a disease.

What type of training have you been focused on in the final weeks?

During final weeks, I focused on big training blocs from 8 to 12h to confirm my preparation, my equipment and my diabetes management. About 120km / 4500D+ a week.

As someone with diabetes, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned that you’ll be applying at the Barkleys?

As a diabetic person, I must above all have an excellent glycemic and food management. Poor management can destroy all my chances of giving the best of myself on other aspects of the race. Hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia can be fatal and can lead to loss of power and lucidity. To avoid these worries, I need to check my blood sugar regularly with my sensor and eat accordingly. Some may see this as a real brake, but for me it is a strength. I am lucky to have figures [data], to know the impact of sport and food on my blood sugar level and therefore to know my body in depth. This allows me to anticipate compared to “lambda” runners for whom hypoglycemia is often fatal.

Is there something you’d like to say about diabetes and ultra running for others with the same condition?

I just want to say that you can do it. Don’t be afraid about an eventual hypoglycemia. You have to try. Step by step and find the way to succeed your project. At the start 10 years ago, it seemed unthinkable to me to run more than 3km. As the training progressed, I got to know myself and I think that the key is deep down. Try to train, eat, measure you blood sugar lever, make a mistake, start again and learn.

What else would you like to say about competing with diabetes?

To each his Everest! I’m not saying you have to do ultra trail. I’m just saying it’s possible by doing the Barkley. The ideal is to measure yourself regularly, to have a blood sugar level a little above the high limit (1.50 / 1.70g / l) at the start of the race, to reduce your insulin doses and to eat regularly. It is also advisable to speak to your doctor.

I don’t think anyone from France has ever completed the Barkleys. Do you think this might be the first year for a runner from France?

I think yes ! But who !? :p

I understand your girlfriend is supporting you (again) for the Barkleys. Do you think it would be possible for someone with diabetes to compete if they weren’t supported by someone with such personal awareness of your needs?

David Limousin with Girlfriend

David with supporter Coline

Coline knows me better than anyone and supports me on a daily basis. Diabetes takes a huge place in our relationship because it is 24-hour gymnastics. She alone knows me well, knows how to recognize hypoglycemia and knows how to react. It’s an important part in the success of my race. But I know also that Type 1 Diabetic people are heroes and can raised mountains. It’s a fantastic community of amazing persons.

Navigation has been a challenge for Barkers. What have you done to prepare?

David Limousin Navigating Training

Night Navigation Training

In 2018, I didn’t have any orientation concerns. I think I have good skills from this point of view. But I worked orienteering on official courses several times, on terrains that I did not know. a real plus compared to 2018.

Rat Jaw and briers have really torn up other runners. Any special plans to deal with the cuts and burs?

I think I will jump over Briers. That’s my plan ^^ ! No… just kidding. I will protect my legs with long pants.

In the past, weather has played a big role in who finishes. How have you prepared for the extreme heat and cold you might experience?

I trained in all types of weather. The cold, the snow, the rain, the hail. This is not what will stop me. I tried and tested in training a lot of equipment of different brands, several textiles, fabrics to compensate for the vagaries of the climate in Frozen Head.

What shoes and pack do you plan to use and wear? Are these specific to the Barkleys, or what you use for all of your ultras?

David Limousin Shoes & Vest

David Getttin’ His Gear On

The equipment that I take to the Barkley is equipment that I am used to using. Only my card holder designed specifically by my mom in law and my compass are in addition. For the Barkley I will use:

  • La Sportiva Akasha mountain running shoes
    • Two pairs offered by La Sportiva and Terre de Running Antony Shop
  • Salomon Skin pro 15L backpack
  • Body Cross T-Shirt and windbreaker
    • Offered by Body Cross, a French technical brand
  • Armytek Wizard Pro V4 headlamp
  • Black Diamond 3-brands sticks
  • Raidlight WinterTrail pant and gloves
  • FreeStyle Libre diabete sensor
  • Omnipod insulin pump
  • Food and drink (2.5L)
  • Etc.

What’s the best / worst advice past Barkers have given you, if any?

Barkers don’t share lot of information between us. Only a few French Barkers share crucial information with me about the race, maps, road book and book places but I can’t tell you about it here ;).

Among the men and women, who do you think is mostly likely to finish?

I think this year will be an amazing Barkley year with multiple finishers. I think about Gary Robbins, Guillaume Calmettes (maybe the first French to finish) and an other surprise.

What are your personal goals for the Barkley? Loop? Fun Run? Finish? CR?

One of my favorite quotes is from Will Smith, “Why do we fail?

“You got a dream you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves they tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it, period.”

I prefer to don’t talk about my goal :). It’s mysterious, as the race…

Thank you for the interview, and good luck, David! We look forward to hearing how the 2020 Barkley goes for you, and more about progress on diabetes and ultra running.

More about David Limousin

Some additional information about David and coverage related to diabetes, including his interview with partner Run Run Productions (in French):

David also introduced himself in English to the Facebook ultra-running world on TAUR:

My goal is to share information about diabetes around the world:
– We are not Type 1 diabetic because we ate too much sugar
– We can eat everything, no one should tell us what we should or should not eat
– Type 1 diabetic have to make sport
– Hypoglycemia should not be scary!
Everything is possible. If you have a dream, you have to protect him.

David is sponsored by Abbott and LM INGENIERIE Audiovisuel. and has partnered with the Type 1 Running Team, Terre de Running, Run Run Productions and French technical gear brand Body Cross.

Good luck Out There, David!

More about the Barkleys

Just in case David’s interview wet your appetite for more:


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Isobel Ross Pre-2020 Barkley Interview Sat, 07 Mar 2020 02:50:33 +0000 Australian Isobel Ross will be joining a strong contingent of women at the 2020 Barkleys, including Liz Canty and Maggie Guterl. I had the chance to ask her some questions before she leaves for Frozen Head State Bark in Tennessee.

How did you first hear about the Barkley Marathons?

I first heard about it 11 years ago listening to a podcast in the car with my then 8 year old daughter. We both thought it sounded like an awesome adventure. I just thought I would never be able to get in.

When did you know you’d gotten in for 2020?

I got in the first time for the 2019 edition. I was living in Canada at the time. I got in for this edition late last year. I was out on a final training run for a 100 miler I had coming up. I was just as excited as the first time around!

What are you most concerned about? What are you most excited about?

Everything!! I am nervous mainly about the nav and the sleep deprivation.

What do you think was most important in Laz’s selection of you for the Barkley?

I don’t know!! I wish I knew!!

What type of training have you been focused on in the final weeks?

Isobel Ross Training

Training Hard off Trail

I have done a lot more nav work this year. Unfortunately, I have been injured from the 100 miler I did in November. I have had an impinged nerve in my calf that made running impossible for two months. I am a lot better now.

Navigation has been a challenge for Barkers. What have you done to prepare?

I have been doing rogaines and practicing on practice courses.

Rat Jaw and briers have really torn up other runners. Any special plans to deal with the cuts and burs?

Not too fussed about that. I do have excellent gaiters from Moxie Gear.

In the past, weather has played a big role in who finishes. How have you prepared for the extreme heat and cold you might experience?

I have been through a very hot summer, and ran through Canadian winters. I have all the gear necessary for any weather. And then I just suck it up!

Sleep deprivation can also be a major issue. Do you have an interloopal rest plan?

It’s an issue for me. I find it hard to operate on no sleep. I am good at micro naps.

As a coach, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned that you’ll be applying at the Barkleys?

Just focusing on doing my best at all times. On keeping on going. On focusing on the process.

No woman has finished the Barkley, and it’s been years since any have finished a Fun Run. Do you think this is the year that changes? If so, what gives you the most optimism? Does this put any extra pressure on you?

I would love it if this was the year it changes, it would be so awesome to see a woman do well.

Are friends and family joining you for support, or are you self-supporting?

Unfortunately no 🙁 . I shall be travelling over by myself. A friend, Larry Kelley will be crewing for me.

What’s the best / worst advice past Barkers have given you, if any?

Isobel Ross in the Mountains

Isobel Ross in the Mountains

Nothing really All advice is good, but you have to relate it to yourself, which ultimately changes it anyway.

Among the men and women, who do you think is mostly likely to finish?

I honestly don’t know!!

What are your personal goals for the Barkley? Loop? Fun Run? Finish? CR?

I did not complete a loop in time last year. I would love to finish, but of course know how difficult this will be. I would also be extremely happy/ecstatic with a fun run. The Barkley is so hard, it’s impossible to guess!!

About Isobel Ross

Isobel Ross runs Peak Endurance Coaching in Australia, has the Aim High, Run Far blog, and does the Peak Endurance running podcast. She was a first time Barker (aka Virgin) at the 2019 Barkley Marathons.

We wish her good luck Out There!

More about the Barkleys

We hope this interview with Isobel gave you an appetite for more:


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2020 Barkley Marathons (Canceled!) Sat, 22 Feb 2020 19:01:14 +0000 As of March 16, 2020, the 2020 Barkley Marathons were announced as canceled by Keith Dunn on Twitter due to the coronavirus and related travel issues. Great decision, laz, but bummer nonetheless…


I was just putting this together as I learn who’s running, or who might be. If you happened to know of racers who were in the 2020 Barkley (and have gotten their condolences letter) let me know. Until then, be safe out there (and in there).

In the meantime, pass some time watching the Barkley by watching the documentaries and movies. Enjoy!

Non-Barkers of the Non-Barkley

As of March 16, this is who we thought would run:

Possible Victim Details
Leif Abrahamsen (NOR)
Ultra Signup
Guillaume Calmettes?
Ultra Signup
Jamil Coury
Training Video
Ultra Signup
Enrico Frigeri (BRA)
Jeff Garmire?
Ultra Signup
Frank Gonzalez?
BFC 2019 #1
Ultra Signup
Greig Hamilton?
Ultra Signup
Tomokazu Ihara?
Ultra Signup
Miguel Lara
Ultra Signup
David Limousin (FRA)
Out due to Coronavirus
Corona Virus Cancellation
Pre-Race Interview
Ultra Signup
Andy Pearson
Training Video
Ultra Signup
Krapa Rando?

Jake Rankinen?
Ultra Signup
Gary Robbins (CAN)
Ultra Signup
Karel Sabbe?
Ultra Signup
Johan Steene (SWE)
Out due to Coronavirus
Coronavirus Cancellation
Ultra Signup
Let us know!

Liz Canty
BFC 2019 #1
Confirmed Mar 3 via FB
Ultra Signup
Maggie Guterl
Big Dog 2019 Winner
Ultra Signup
Ashley Hazlett?

Darcy Piceu?
Ultra Signup
Isobel Ross (AUS)
Pre-Race Interview
Ultra Signup
Marianna Zaikova?

Starters Usually 40+/-

Note that women are indicated with an underline. If you know the other runners or can suggest other race reports, let me know. I’ll update as new information comes in.

Runner Notes

Lief Abrahamsen is the first Norwegian invited to the Barkleys (via Google Translate): “If I have to complete 5 laps in Barkley, everything has to hit, I have to hit with navigation, the weather has to be on our side – some years it is simply impossible and complete due to difficult weather and fog – and I have to have a top day physically and mentally.

Jamil Coury and Andy Pearson announced they were into the Barkleys in a YouTube “Bootcamp” video:

And here later was the sad notice of cancellation from Jam Jam himself:

Brazilian Enrico Frigeri will be coming to the Barkleys to represent Latin America. According to Go Outside Brazil, “Enrico was one of the 20 foreigners chosen, the only one from Latin America, for the 2020 edition. Another 20 North Americans should be selected this month. Due to a confidentiality contract, the Brazilian can only say that the proof is in March.

Through-hiker Jeff Garmire talks about Barkley 2020 training here.

Miguel Lara was announced as a Barkley runner this year on the Born to Rub Instagram account: “…Miguel Lara has been selected to participate in the Barkley Marathons. We are super excited to support and follow along his journey.

David Limousin of France appears to be participating in part to draw attention to Type 1 diabetes. His announcement video is below, but only in French. See also this article in Wider Trail Outdoors magazine. You can also read his pre-race interview here:

Runner and photographer Krapa Rando has been training hard, as shown in a video posted to Facebook. See some of his great training videos here.

Gary Robbins is coming back for his fourth try: “I did, of course, get my letter of condolences for the 2020 Barkley Marathons. And after last week’s training, my first 30K week in almost two years since March 2018. I’m finally confident enough to say, not only are we going back to the Barkley this year, I have high hopes.” Gary also noted on FB, “My buddy Jake [Rankinen] ]got into the Barkley this year, after 5 years of applying.”

Isobel Ross at 2019 Barkleys

Isobel Ross at 2019 Barkleys

Isobel Ross will be returning for her second Barkley. See pre-race interview.

See you in 2021!!!

More about the Barkleys

If you see any other race reports buy runners or crew,  or particularly good recaps, let me know. And as always, if you want to learn more about the Barkley, check out the following:

Peace, and good luck Out There.

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