Friday, June 27, 2014

WSER: Meet the Julbo Athletes

As the most prestigious endurance running event of the US calendar and the focal point for a number of Julbo- sponsored athletes, the Western States Endurance Run takes a big spot on the mountain running calendar. Here are just a few folks to keep an eye on when the race kicks off tomorrow in Squaw Valley.

Ian Sharman

The Ultra running superstar, coach and race director (of the Julbo-sponsored Skyrunner series) is always a threat in a long run. "Fitness is 50% of the battle on race day," Sharman wrote in advance of WSER. The mental game is something that comes with experience, of which he has no shortage.

Dylan Bowman

Follow Bowman on Strava (which is easier to do than running behind him), you'll see that he's posted over 316,000 feet of climbing and over 1800 miles on the year. Big numbers. The Aspen-based heavy hitter is light on his feet in high altitude, a necessary expectation for winning WSER.

Denise Bourassa

Taking on WSER as a part of the Ultra Grand Slam, Denise Bourassa is unafraid of big challenges. The Bend, Oregon based runner describes her motivation simply, "I explore where only few can go, I follow my feet and open my mind to the beauty of running." 

Beginner's luck is only as good as the person employing it. Fortunately for Larisa Dannis, the first-time Western States runner has some skills to back up the feel good of the first time. Keep an eye on this up-and-comer from New Hampshire.

Gina Lucrezi

Based in Colorado, Gina Lucrezi has a reputation for being a tough competitor and a kind sportsperson. The collegiate winner turned ultra runner took home top honors at the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in Iceland, her second ultra.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Runner and race director, Will Robens is gearing up for the Catamount Ultra, a Vermont-based endurance run sponsored by Julbo. Will catches up with us on the event.

The Catamount Ultra: What makes it unique? What prompted you to start off this new race?The most unique thing about the race is it’s location. I think that's what has really made this years event so popular. I have been running great trails in and around Stowe for years and the trails at Trapp Family Lodge are incredible. Lots of different forest type, great views, and an awesome crew that keep those trails really nice and runnable, bike-able, and ski-able. I think a lot of people know that and are psyched to get out there for a long trail race.

Will there be Trapp lager on hand?There will be! All finishers will get a nice pint glass made just for the race and a Trapp Lager Brewery beer.

Any features to the race that will figure particularly largely in its challenge?There is a decent amount of climbing early in the 25k loop on the way to the cabin aid station.  However, once you get up there the gradual cruise back down the Haul road is really nice. 50k folks get to do that twice!

What races inspire you and are there any the Catamount Ultra is modeled after?
I can’t say that I modeled this after any one particular race. I love races with variety.  Climbing, downhill, thick forest, long views, the more variety you can find in a race course the quicker those miles roll by. That's one the things that makes the trails at Trapp Family Lodge so great, there are a lot of options.

Anything else you'd like to add?As corny as this may sound, my goal is to put on a race that's for trail runners, by trail runners. I hope everyone who shows up has a great time, feels at least a bit challenged and goes home thinking about coming back next year.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Julbo? Ian Sharman Explains

We asked ultra runner, Ian Sharman to explain which Julbo glasses were his pick and why in the lead up to the Western States Endurance Run. Here's his response:

The almost instantaneous transition from light to dark eye protection with Zebra lenses is ideal for long trail races where tree cover is mixed with bright open sections. This is my fifth Western States and before I wore Julbo shades I had to keep switching the shades between my face and resting on my head. Not any more - so that makes life just a little easier and let’s me focus on other aspects of the race.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mountain Magazine Highlights Julbo (Early Summer, 2014)

"Superior fit makes it easy to forget you're wearing sunglasses."

We couldn't have said it much better. Check out the What We Ran selections in Mountain Magazine's Early Summer 2014 Issue.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Julbo Q&A: Craig Thornley, Western States Endurance Run Race Director

For someone uninitiated to the scene, how would you describe the role Western States plays in endurance running as the oldest and most prestigious event?

We try to be leaders in all three key areas of our foundation: Trail stewardship; medical research; and conducting a well-organized 100-Mile run. Our trail efforts this year after the American Fire last August burned 19 miles of the course and two bridges has been extraordinary. Over 6000 hours of volunteer work were put in to re-open the trail and get it prepared for the race this year. The research that has been done at WS over the years has resulted in over 60 scientific publications. This year at Squaw Valley before the race we’re hosting the first annual Medicine and Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports conference. Attendees are coming from all over the world to participate as presenters and attendees. Finally, the race itself. With over 1600 volunteers for 369
runners, we pride ourselves on our service to runners. We also draw one of the most competitive fields in ultrarunning. We are the final race in the Montrail Ultra Cup where top runners can race their way into WS.
And, we are now one of ten races in the Ultra-Trail World Tour .With our inclusion in the UTWT, in addition to attracting elite runners from all over the globe, we hope to share our values and learn from other races
from around the world.

What goes into this race behind the scenes that folks might take for granted? You spend a lot of time on creating a safe challenge, how do you do that?

Hah! I have many people ask me what else I do. Apparently, many people think being the race director of Western States doesn’t take much time. LOL. The point to point nature of the course inherently adds complexity. While we have two primarily permitting agencies there are about 25 other private land owners, municipalities, etc. With 24 aid stations, 9 medical stations, 1600+ volunteers, a 13-member board of trustees, well, those take a lot of my time to organize.

What's new for this year's incarnation of the race?

A second river crossing. With last August’s American Fire burning 19 miles of trail and two bridges, we did a tremendous amount of trail work to the tune of 6000+ hours. We were able to replace one of the burned bridges but were not authorized to replace the iconic Swinging Bridge at mile 46 which crossing the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. The US Forest Service will replace that bridge later this summer and fall. This year we’re going to cross the river with the aid of the cable strung across similar to what we do at mile 78. This is sure to be a refreshing dip before runners face the Devil’s Thumb climb.

What are other events you look to for inspiration as a runner and a race director? Who else puts on a great show?

I’m partial to the race I co-founded and co-directed up in Oregon for 12 years, Waldo 100K. I like races that focus on the runners and provide authentic atmospheres where runners want to hang out and cheer slower runners as they finish. Lake Sonoma 50 M which is directed by Tropical John Medinger and Lisa Henson and Andy Jones-Wilkins’ new race Thomas Jefferson 100K are two such races.

This is your second year managing the Western States race. What's it like the second time around? What lessons are key from your first year in 2013?

This second time around is much smoother. Last year I was just barely keeping my head above water, getting inundated with questions from people who had done some obscure but important job for many years and wondering why I hadn’t contacted them. It was a very flat organization with too many people reporting directly to the RD. This year I’ve added some organizational structure to the race and delegated responsibilities. Some volunteers are not happy that I am unable to give them the personal attention they’ve had in the past but there is just no way I can do any high-level planning or execution without delegation.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Denise Bourassa Attempts the Ultrarunning Grand Slam

In baseball, a Grand Slam is when a player hits a home run while the bases are loaded, scoring the team four runs. In ultrarunning, a Grand Slam is when one runner completes four of the oldest 100-mile races in the United States. We’ll let you decide which is harder.

At the age of 45, Julbo runner Denise Bourassa is attempting her first Grand Slam this year, running the four most prestigious 100-mile races in the U.S. – the Western States 100, Vermont 100, Wasatch Front 100 and Leadville 100. She has a good base, having run 37 ultras in the past, but is still nervous and excited about the upcoming races. We asked her a few questions about her upcoming athletic adventure.

JULBO: What made you decide to attempt the Grand Slam?
DENISE BOURASSA: There is something enticing about the idea of stretching my mind and my body to its furthest ability and to do so without breaking. The Slam is also on my bucket list along with Hardrock 100 and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.   

J: Is there one race among the Grand Slam races that you're particularly excited about? That you're scared of?
DB: I am as excited for Wasatch as I am scared of it. With Wasatch as the final and toughest race, I am in complete awe of what might be in store for me. I cannot comprehend what I am about to experience.

J: Why ultrarunning versus road running?
DB: I was a road runner for 10 years and was introduced to ultras about seven years ago by my husband. I was immediately hooked. It is a total body experience, allowing you to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows both mentally and physically.

J: How have you been training for the Grand Slam?
DB: Ultimately, I have been working on building a strong base and staying healthy. My training is focused on uphill and downhill running, hiking and endurance. I am working with (Grand Slam record holder) Ian Sharman who is giving me consulting advice during the course of the Slam. I recently did my own version of a mini slam, which included a 100K, followed by a 40 miler two weeks later. Although the 100K was tougher than I anticipated, I felt great during the 40 miler!

J: Favorite place to run?
DB: My favorite place to run is Smith Rock. While it is known for the rock climbing, it has plenty of trails, vertical feet and views that make it an amazing place to run.

J: How do you keep yourself entertained for 100 miles at a time?
DB: Good question! To date I have had as few as 19 hours and as long as 33 hours to keep myself entertained! I spend the majority of the time thinking about how I am feeling. If I’m feeling good, I strategize how to maintain that. When the wheels are no longer rolling, I work on what I can do to correct it. During the later hours, music can be a source of rejuvenation as well as a pacer.

J: When you're not running, what do you do?
DB: When I am not running, I am a nurse by trade and work a 50-hour (or more!) week managing a 16 operating room department. While I do enjoy any number of outdoor activities, I find the majority of my time is spent exploring both new and old trails with my husband. Lucky me, he is an ultrarunner also!

The first Grand Slam race is Western States on June 28. Good luck, Denise!