HURTing again in 09!

The 2009 entrants list for the HURT 100 was published this morning — both Catra and I made it in! The race filled in a day, and there’s currently a wait list for those who managed to pull the app off the website before they pulled it.

There are only a handful of runners who has participated in all their races, with Catra being one of those — she will be going for her 7th 100 mile finish there, and I’ll be attempting my 4th straight.

Good luck to everyone doing Leadville this weekend — I wish I were there to get my DNF monkey off my back, but due to $ constraints, I will have to wait for another year.

See some of you tomorrow at the AC trail maintenance.

Goodbye Moose…

When I did my first marathon over 10 years ago, I walked into Phidippides because it was recommended to me by several runners. I had no idea what I was doing then, but I walked out with a pair of my first running shoes, and some useful tips given to me by the friendly staff there. Honestly, I don’t recall who was helping me that day — it could’ve been Craig, or his partner Charlie. In any case, the store made an impression on me, to the extent that whenever anyone asked me about shoes, I always sent them over there. I never knew Craig, but wouldn’t be surprised if we crossed paths/trails at some point. All I know is that I will at some point when it’s my time, and that I’ll be running just like he did until that day comes.

Local runner Craig Chambers made path better for others


Shoe store owner Craig Chambers, a source of encouragement and knowledge in the running community, died of melanoma last week.

He fooled me. Or maybe I fooled myself because I did not want fate to unfold as it did.

I had thought that somehow, despite the disease that first appeared as two small dots on his scalp, the sheer force of his lively spirit would see Craig Chambers through.

I had hoped that Chambers, 59, who first appeared in this space in March after he walked the Los Angeles Marathon, would find a way to run right past cancer and keep going, just as he had done while jogging on what seemed like every fire trail on every low mountain in Southern California.

I had prayed that he would be a walking miracle, and that I would one day write of his comeback.

Sometimes, prayers are not answered. That happened here. Last Thursday, surrounded by family and loved ones at a Santa Monica hospital, Craig Chambers died.

You may recall that six months ago, Chambers allowed me to tag along while he made his way through the flat, hot course. He had run in every single L.A. Marathon, 22 in all, finishing each without trouble.

This year, however, suffering from Stage IV melanoma, he could only walk.

Chambers, who stood 6 feet, had piercing blue eyes and pale skin, was well aware of the odds. Aware that this would likely be the last time he would wind his way through the streets of Los Angeles, the city whose every corner he seemed to embrace.

For 26.2 miles that fine March day, we talked about shared interests: architecture, philosophy, politics, art, urban life and, of course, sports. He was an athlete, and an intellectual. His talk of Obama and Dostoevsky and bird watching helped me focus on something other than the fact that my quads were cramping and I walked, better yet, hobbled, in his shadow.

Chambers did not appear to like speaking about himself. He simply did not regard himself as someone to make a fuss over. This much I did glean: He had grown up Pacific Palisades. He had gone to UC Santa Cruz in the 1960s, had learned to see the world with open eyes there, and had started running during the jogging craze of the ’70s.

He said he had already outlived the doctor’s timelines for his longevity. I gathered that he thought the melanoma was something he could end up conquering. If not, he wanted to hold the cancer back as long as possible because there was still so much life to live, so many topics to discuss, books to read and friends to encourage. “You can do this,” I heard him say, repeatedly, to struggling runners that day. “Just take things slowly.”

He spoke from experience. His feats are the stuff of legend. He ran more than 200 marathons and ultramarathons, all over the world. Once he ran 200 miles through Death Valley, followed that with a 10-mile swim, and then followed the swim with a 100-mile bike ride.

Along with his college roommate, Charlie Hoover, Chambers since 1980 had operated Phidippides, an Encino running shoe store. For five years during the ’80s — after he had given up his car, just to see what it would be like — he ran 13 miles from his Santa Monica home to the shoe store in the morning, and then ran from work back to home every night.

Why did he stop? Kathy Kusner, his life partner since 1983, explained with a quote that is a window into how he approached life: “Well, I was telling him how great cars were, that a car was a good thing to have in L.A. Finally, the time came when he said, ‘Enough already, I’ve done this for five years, running 26 miles to and from work each day. That was fun, now let’s move on.’ “

I kept tabs on Chambers over the months. I heard about how he kept walking, sometimes with his old running group. There were times when he fell to the pavement. Always, he got back up, vowing to continue, a smile on his face.

The cancer kept coursing through his body. Already, he had endured months of hard chemotherapy, undergone a brain operation, and surgeries to remove part of a lung, part of a liver, part of his lymph nodes. Now he was injecting himself daily with Interferon.

Still, in June, when he and Kusner met me for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Culver City, he was positive, even somewhat excited. Scans had shown the cancer was slowing. There was the possibility he could be part of new drug trials. He gave a quick update, smiling. Then he wanted to know about my trips to Asia, about my wife and her east-Indian roots, about what was going on at The Times.

Never did I hear him speak too long about himself. Never did I hear him complain.

“It wasn’t ‘Why me, why poor me?’ ” Kusner would say. “It was more like, ‘Let’s keep trying, I’m not doing that badly. I can go on.’ He kept an unbroken streak for not complaining, right until the end.”

Three weeks ago, we ate dinner once more, this time at the Playa Vista apartment he shared with Kusner. He was so weak he could barely stand. He had lost 30 pounds. His voice was a halting whisper. He asked me to read him a soon-to-be-published column. Sick as he was, when I told him the piece worried me, that I was not sure it was any good, he looked at me and smiled and said nothing but positive things.

It was time to go. I helped him to his feet and hugged him, knowing this might be the last hug, hoping and praying it would not.

Keep going, he told me. Just keep going.

Craig Chambers, I will, and so, surely, will your friends and family. In your example, in the graceful, powerful way you lived and died, we learned much.

Thank you.

——

A funeral service for Craig Chambers, open to the public, will be today at 3 p.m. at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, 1712 S. Glendale Ave. A memorial, also open to the public, will be at Temescal Gateway Park’s Stewart Hall on Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.

Kurt Streeter can be reached at kurt.streeter

Disappointed

After yesterday’s Mt Disappointment 50 miler, I feel worse than I’ve felt after a race in a long time. If anything, I’m usually fine after a shower, food, and a good night’s sleep. Not only do I feel really beat up, I suffered from the biggest blister I’ve gotten ever in my life. I usually never get blisters, so it’s pretty unusual for me — I think it was because I was compensating for my weak ankle that I originally injured at San Diego a couple months back that I rolled again about 4 miles in.

The weather was hot, but not as bad as I thought it would be. My nutrition and hydration was good, but because of my foot/ankle issues, I had to walk a lot of the downhills, especially coming down from Shortcut via the Silver Moccasin.

I was hoping this would be my last training run before AC, but think I’ll need another run before then to build my confidence. If my foot heals in time, I may do the training run this weekend, but will likely wait until I mark the Bulldog 50K course the following weekend, then perhaps do the last official AC training run on the 31st.

 

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Weekend in NoCal

This past weekend, Catra worked at the SF Marathon expo at the Atalanta booth with the owner/founder Heather. While she was pushing skirts, I managed to catch some seminars conducted by Julie Fingar, Bart Yasso, and Dean Karnazes.

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On Sunday, we volunteered to help new race directors Mike Palmer and Jennifer Ray at the Skyline 50K held at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley. Our task included double-checking course-markers up to the first aid station at mile 4, checking off runners as they came through, then go over the last 5 miles. When we were done, we got Rocky who we brought with us, and hung out at the finish line watching the runners come in.

This weekend, Catra will be running at Headlands, and I will be doing 50 miles at Mt Disappointment.

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Not a race…

It looked like a race, smelled like a race, and we ran it like it was a race — it wasn’t a race though, but the Relay for Life fundraiser, which I’ve participated in for the second year in a row. Last year, it was a little different — Bill ran the whole thing, and he had some “pacers” join in with him along the way, so we never really ran alone. This year though, we (Robert Baird, Bill Ramsey, Mike Kogutek, Kyle Hoang, Calvin Mulder, and I) each did our 4 hour leg solo, and it felt much like a real race in that we were keeping splits, and also had a goal (to cover 160 miles) in mind. I thought that the friendly competition aspect of it would make it fun, but I had forgotten that my only goal should’ve been to recover from Tahoe the previous weekend — I was rudely reminded of that by swollen joints and fatigued muscles about 2 hours into my leg.

I got there around 3pm, which meant that Bill had only 1 more hour to go — unfortunately, I had missed Robert during his 24 mile leg. When Bill finished, he managed to cover 27.5 miles. Mike Kogutek, taking the place of an injured Robert Schipsi, was up next — he also did 24 miles. So by the time Kyle took over at 8pm, the team had racked up a total of 95.5 miles in 12 hours. We expected Kyle to be the one to put in the most miles, and he did — 30, just a bit under the 50K mark. Calvin Mulder, who was up next between midnight-4am shift, ended up with 25 miles by the time I took over the anchor leg. Doing the math, that gave the team exactly 130.5, which meant that I also had to do nearly 30 miles to reach our goal of 160. Yeah right…that wasn’t going to happen.

Coming off of Tahoe only a week before, my legs were not ready to do that kind of speed/distance, especially with most of the 1.25 mile loop we ran on being asphalt/concrete. Therefore, I resigned myself to just trying to get as close to my personal goal (26 miles) as possible, which I thought would be doable, but with some work of course, and something I was hoping the team would be satisfied with.

I started out feeling pretty good — I was clocking 10 min laps, which was around an 8 min/mi pace. The question was, how long could I keep that up. Knowing that my marathon PR was around the same pace, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would start petering out. After a couple hours, I began feeling it in my legs and feet — they were dead and very swollen/sore. At that point, I stopped looking at my watch, and just put my head down. The 5-7am stretch was tough. Bill would mention occasionally how many miles we had covered, but I was too tired and sleepy to really do any type of calculation, and figured the goal we set was well out of range. Not until less than 30 mins left, did I realize how close we were to getting 160 miles. Then on my second to the last lap with roughly 20 mins left, Bill mentioned we were at 158 miles. I still didn’t think it would be possible, since I thought I was running much slower than I actually was. Then when I completed my last lap (159.25), Bill said that it was still possible to get 160 since I had about 4 mins left. So I ran .75 miles more along the infield, and finished with 1 minute to spare — I managed to do 29.5 miles, which gave the team exactly 160 miles in 24 hours!

I never thought I’d be able to cover that much ground in that amount of time after doing a 100 miles a week before, so it gave me confidence to know that a sub-4 hour 50K was somewhat within reach on fresher legs on a similar course.

Here’s Bill’s message and account of the weekend:

Dear Family & Friends:

 

First of all, many thanks to those of you who’ve supported Team John M. Potter, MD through donations, kind words, and prayer. This year’s Relay for Life has been and will continue to be a great success. To date, Team John M. Potter, MD has raised $5,185 for cancer research and support.

 

This past weekend, July 26 and July 27, the team, comprised of six runners, ran strong for fours hours each with the overall goal of covering at least 160 miles in 24 hours. The members of the team and their corresponding shift from Sat. 8:00 am to Sun. 8:00 am included:

 

1. Robert Baird 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

2. Bill Ramsey 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

3. Mike “Big Dog” Kogutek 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

4. Kyle Hoang 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

5. Calvin Mulder 12:00 am – 4:00 am

6. Andy Kumeda 4:00 am – 8:00 am

 

Each of the six runners covered between 25 and 30 miles. Special recognition goes to Kyle Hoang and Andy Kumeda. Kyle covered the highest mileage running 30 miles during his 4 hour run. His strong smooth stride was a joy to watch. Andy took over for the last shift on Sunday morning at 4:00 am. Although he had just run the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile Endurance Run the prior weekend, he came with a special purpose, to run strong in the memory and honor of both of his parents. Despite deeply fatigued legs and the pain of running the Relay’s concrete/asphalt loop, Andy managed to hold a strong pace covering the second highest mileage total for the team and cracking the 160 mile barrier at 7:59 on Sunday morning. Robert Baird started the team off on Saturday morning with a consistent and steady effort running in memory of his mother and aunt, and in honor of his wife. He wrapped his forearms with tape inscribed with the names of family members and friends lost to cancer and continuing their fight today. Mike Kogutek filled in for an injured Robert Schipsi on Saturday afternoon and turned in an awesome effort. He ran with focus and determination. At the end, he was thankful for having had the opportunity to run for the team. Calvin Mulder took on one of the loneliest shifts starting midnight Saturday. His purposeful, metronomic stride continued to tally the miles for the team and take us closer to our goal. Our team has been blessed with each of these fine men and runners.

 

If you haven’t yet contributed, but considered doing so, there’s still plenty of time. Every dollar counts. You can make on-line contributions to the team at the following link. You can make a contribution to the team or to an individual runner on the team by clicking on their name at the bottom of the team page:

 

DONATE!

 

Should you wish to make a donation by check, please make them payable to the “AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY” (no cash please), and mail your tax-free contribution to:

 

William Ramsey, AICP, Principal Planner

Planning Department

32400 Paseo Adelanto

San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

 

As always, thank you and blessings to you for your support.

 

Bill

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Tahoe Rim 100

I believe there was about 55 finishers out of 111 starters — that’s almost a 50% drop rate. The weather was warm, and the course was dry/dusty — especially compared to 2006 when I last ran it. No snow or any significant mud, and just a hint of smoke down around the Red House section. There was a lot of stomach issues, yours truly not being exempt — any thoughts about a theory of something being bad at one of the aids. It reminds me of Vermont last year when I (along with several other runners) had issues with the water.

Congratulations to everyone. Catra and I finished in just over 32 hours — this was our 5th 100 miler of the year, and our 3rd we ran together.

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It’s that time again…

On Saturday July 26, 6 local ultrarunners will be joining up as Team John M Potter, MD, and attempting to cover at least 160 miles in 24 hours to raise money as part of the Relay for Life — the signature event for the American Cancer Society. John’s brother-in-law, Bill Ramsey is an accomplished runner, who has 10 finishes at the Angeles Crest 100 and several sub-24 hour buckles at Western States. Along with Bill, I am privileged to have the company of Robert Baird, Robert Schipsi, Kyle Hoang, and Calvin Mulder — each of them also possessing notable running portfolios themselves.

At Relay, people from within the community gather to celebrate survivors, remember those lost to cancer, and to fight back against this disease. Please help support our cause by donating a few dollars, and/or coming out in person to run or walk a few laps with us.

Here’s our schedule:

1. Robert Baird 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
2. Bill Ramsey 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
3. Robert Schipsi 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
4. Kyle Hoang 8:00 pm – 12:00 am
5. Calvin Mulder 12:00 am – 4:00 am
6. Andy Kumeda 4:00 am – 8:00 am

Here’s my account from last year — this year, I will not be doing any trail maintenance beforehand, but am running another 100 miler the weekend before.

Oh yeah, best of luck to everyone running Hardrock this weekend.

#5 in the bag

CIMG5641.JPGAt 11:34 AM on Sunday morning, Catra and I crossed the finish line together, completing our 5th and 4th finishes respectively at the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run.  We spent close to 30 hours on the course — longer than any of our other previous races.  Not only did we run together, we also experienced our highs and lows with each other as well — running 100 miles together gave a whole new meaning to bonding.  Greeting us at the finish were Paul Schmidt and Scott Mills — my favorite race directors and people, handing me my fifth buckle, and a surprise 5 year personalized finisher’s jacket.

This race not only signified my 5th finish there, but also was my 5th anniversary of running 100 mile races, completing 23 out of 24 attempts to date, which still pales in comparison to Catra’s 55+ finishes.  We’ll be back next year when Catra will be earning her 5th finish there.

Photos here.

Video

This weekend, we’re off to do Bighorn, where we will be faced with lots of snow, water, and ice — so much that they’ve already re-routed the course up at the higher elevations.

#5

That’s my bib number, and also the number of times I will have attempted (and hopefully completed) the San Diego 100, which will be held this weekend.  This race is special to me in that it was my first undertaking at the 100 mile distance back in 2004.

It all started like this:

Date: 2004/10/11 Mon AM 06:31:39 EDT
To: <sandiego100@cox.net>
Subject: Race registration

Hello — is there still time to enter the race?

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That message ended up going to Paul Schmidt, who I did not know at the time, but have since become acquainted with over the years at various events.  It was sent only two weeks before the race, after registration had been closed.  I had no intent of running SD as my first 100 miler, but needed a qualifier for Western States, and it was the only local race left before the application deadline that would fit the criteria.  Well, after 29 hours of bumbling my way through a 100 miles, with the help of my two wonderful (thanks Jeff and Darrell), yet equally inexperienced pacers, I managed to make it to the finish alive and in one piece.

Fast-forward 4 years…the event has moved to the month of June (it has always been in October), and will be on the new course designed last year in the Cuyamaca Mountains.  It’s also the first time Catra (going for her 4th finish there) and I will be running this long/far together, so not sure if I’m more nervous about that, or the race itself.  Either way, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it — just hope that it doesn’t exceed 31 hours worth, which is how long we are given to finish.

Watch our progress here on race day.

Photos from 2007.