Part 4 – Northern California here I come! (May. 24th, 2015 – June 15th, 2015)

I decided to make my way to Northern California to train in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Over 300 runners showed up for the Western States Training camp. The 3-day event is not restricted to entrants to the 2015 race; however, an unofficial poll revealed that more than 1/2 of the runners in attendance will be toeing the line in Squaw Valley on June 27th.  Over the 3-day camp, runners will cover the final 70 miles of the point-to-point course.

Day 1:

Runners were shuttled from Foresthill to Robinson Flat.  From there we would hit the trail to experience the middle 1/3 of the course (approx miles 29 to 62).  This section took me just under 7 hours passing over two of the race’s toughest climbs: Michigan Bluff & Devil’s Thumb.  At Michigan Bluff I even got to meet 14-time WS100 champ, the legendary Ann Trason.


A forest fire a few years ago forced race officials to cancel the race.  Notice the devastation in the photo and video!





Day 2:  Foresthill to Rucky Chucky

The second day was the shortest day at just over 18 miles, yet it still took me 4 hours to complete.  Amazingly, last year’s champ, Hamilton native Rob Krar ran this section in a record 2:03 on race day!  That’s an incredible pace especially this late in the race (miles 62-80) and on mountainous trails!

Day 3: Green Gate to Finish

With sore feet & legs, runners got to run the final 20 miles from the far side of the river crossing near the Green Gate aid station to the finish at Placer High. It is said that this section is the most “runnable”, unfortunately most runners have mashed quads and very little left in the tank.  Also, elites aside, mere mortal runners will be plodding through this section late at night and/or well into day 2!  

What struck me most about this section was the grueling climb from No Hands Bridge to Robie Point (miles 97-99).  I imagine that on race day tired runners could smell the barn and simply resolve themselves to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The next couple of weeks…

Since I’m still enjoying my year off from teaching, I decided to stay in Northern California until the race.  I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to acclimatize to the heat and altitude and further explore the course along with other mountain trails.


After the training camp I headed to the Tahoe region for a week.  While there, I ventured over to Squaw Valley to run (read: walk) the first climb…a 2-3 mile ascent to Emigrant Pass.  Also, I took time to run various sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.


A night run over the last 22 miles was scheduled for June 6th.  Over 100 runners attended the “unofficial” event.  Thanks to all the volunteers, runners were shuttled to Green Gate (mile 78 of the course) and we ran back to Placer High.  There were even two full aid stations set up on this night.  Although it was uncharacteristically humid, I felt good on this run.  I ran a bit harder than I normally would have.  I tucked in behind two other runners who were pushing the pace and running some of the uphill that I would normally walk.  I was a bit out of my comfort zone but I didn’t want to run alone out there at night and be mountain lion bait!

My wife will join me on June 10th.  We will visit Yosemite, Big Sur and the Bay Area before returning to Squaw Valley for race weekend.  Time for a well-deserved taper!

Gotta rest,


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Western States 2015 – A Timeline Part 3

by vince June 19, 2015 Monumental Efforts

Part 3 – Baby steps (Feb 25th, 2015 – May 21st, 2015) I was happy to be reunited with my wife in a place where the mercury was well north of the record low temperatures Canada was experiencing (even though I rarely peeled myself away from the couch during that cold snap).  It was now […]

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Western States 2015 – A Timeline Part 2

by vince June 15, 2015 Monumental Efforts

Part 2 – Percocet & Netflix (Dec. 24th, 2014 – Feb 25th, 2015) Following the accident, I was transported by ambulance (a 3 hour ride) to the Phuket Hospital.  There, a surgeon explained in his broken English that although he could immediately perform reconstructive surgery, the clavicle could generally heal itself…the option was mine.  Surgery […]

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Western States 2015 – A Timeline Part 1

by vince June 10, 2015 Monumental Efforts

Part 1 – “Ain’t no Fonzi” (Sept 2014-Dec 24th 2014) Ever since I started running ultras, The Western States 100 has been at the top of my “must-do” list.  Every year thousands of runners enter the lottery for one of the coveted 270 spots.  In order to get a ticket for the lottery, runners must […]

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The Century Club

by vince December 2, 2014 Monumental Efforts

NOTE: This post was originally published in December 2014 but somehow was deleted when the hosting expired. We’ve renewed and turned on automatic renewals so that doesn’t happen again.  Sorry for the re-post. Back in my university days in the early 1990’s, to become a member of “TheCentury Club” you had to drink one shot […]

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Book Review – Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

by vince August 4, 2012 Book Reviews

“Do you wanna be somebody, Jerker?  Do you wanna BE somebody?” — Dusty Olson, Scott’s friend and pacer extraordinaire “Sometimes you just do things” is a mantra that Scott Jurek learned from his often strict and unrelenting father at a very young age.  It is repeated throughout his recently released book Eat & Run – My […]

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The Limberlost Challenge – Keeping it in the Family

by vince July 26, 2012 Faces

I know I said that Monumental Effort’s next post would be a book review of Scott Jurek’s “Eat & Run”, but you’ll have to wait another week for that one.  Instead I’ve prepared a race report of The Limberlost Challenge. Preceded by a week at a Muskoka cottage, The Limberlost Challenge (TLC) has become a […]

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MERT Day 74-90: Wrapping Up and Next Steps

by Bill July 9, 2012 Monumental Efforts

Let me begin with an apology.  I neglected the authoring of posts over the final month of my Monumental Effort.  Sorry about that, I really have no excuse. On June 30th, my 90 day Monumental Effort concluded.  To be honest, I can’t believe the 90 days went by as fast as they did.  Looking back, […]

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MERT Day 53-73: 100 Miles or Bust

by Bill June 13, 2012 Monumental Efforts

I haven’t posted an update in a few weeks.  I really wanted to track Charlotte’s Bruce Trail run closely, so we turned the blog over to that coverage.  But I haven’t been completely idle, so it’s time to get back to it. A few weeks ago I paced Vince (the other guy who authors this […]

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Day 4: Charlotte Vasarhelyi – Bruce Trail End-to-End 2012

by Bill June 7, 2012 Bruce Trail

  As some of you already know, Char has spent the past day and a half off of the trails.  As of 1:30 this aft, upon the emerge doc’s recommendation she has officially pulled from the Bruce.   Char has very taxed hamstrings which have caused a great amount of swelling in her lower legs. […]

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