Friday Inspiration – Runners Talking About Running

This one is  a different kind of Friday Inspiration. It’s a short, casual interview with of the most interesting ultra-runners out there – Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek and Peter Balkwin.  Interesting questions, and interesting answers on why they race (or don’t race) why they run, and how to treat my personal nemesis, plantar fasciitis.

I’d never heard of Balkwin before seeing this video – he seems like an interesting character. Check him (and Krupicka and Jurek) out.

Friday Inspiration? Moved by the struggles of others

The other night, bored during a six mile treadmill run, I started scrolling through so-called triathlon inspiration videos on youtube. I got mostly what you’d expect. Chris Lieto finishing Kona. An age grouper struggling to the finish line. Many of them were set to Eminem for some reason.

Then I came across this one:

Viewed almost 1.5 million times this video is almost all images of people falling to pieces. There are images of bike wrecks, runners collapsing, runners suffering from back spasms so bad they can’t stand up straight, people on stretchers, ambulances, all in the name of inspiration.

I was of two minds watching this video. Part of me was horrified that these images of people’s bodies failing them would be seen as inspiring; but another part of me was inspired by it, admiring the determination. As someone once said about the classic video of Julie Moss finishing the Ironman, “there are those who will look at that video and know they never want to do the event and those who will look at it and know they have to do it”.

Friday Inspiration: The Dawn Wall

Yesterday Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson did what was considered impossible – they free climbed Yosemite’s Dawn Wall. Unlike most achievements in climbing, this one is actually getting some serious mainstream press attention, including numerous articles in the New York Times.

It should.

What Caldwell and Jorgenson did isn’t just an incredible physical feat, its an inspiration to, as Jorgenson said yesterday, “find our own dawn wall”… and send it.

Surprisingly for such a huge event, there doesn’t seem to be any footage around yet of Caldwell and Jorgenson summiting. Instead, here’s a great video with Caldwell about his obsession with the project:

Friday Inspiration — Rob Krar on Depression

The videos I post on Fridays are often inspiring because of the physical talent and hard work they display. This video of Western States champion Rob Krar discussing his battles with depression is inspiring on a whole other level. Sure it features Krar flying past tourists as he climbs in and out of the Grand Canyon. But more importantly it focuses on his struggles with depression with some frank talk about how his depression affects his loved ones and his running. Well worth a watch.

Friday Inspiration – Shalane Flanagan and the Berlin Marathon

This coming weekend (the 28th) is the Berlin Marathon where Shalene Flanagan is going to attempt to beat the America record. If she does it, she’ll be only the second American woman, after Deena Kastor, to break 2:20.

This is the second time in a year Flanagan has laid it all out there with an epic goal. In the spring, she hoped to win Boston, something most fans of the sport knew was a long shot. Still, she gave everything she had. She didn’t win, but she did set a new American women’s record on the course. Here’s an emotional interview with her after Boston:

The American record is also going to be tough.

As Flanagan said in this Runner’s World piece,  “I may epically fail, but at least I’ll find out whether I have what it takes. It’s a daunting task.”

I really hope she gets it.

There’s about 10,000 videos online of Flanagan. She’s charming, funny, and beautiful and many of the videos focus on her personality. Fewer of them focus on her running. Here’s one of the better one’s I found that shows her actually running:

Friday Inspiration — The Mile

Tomorrow, I’ll be racing the mile for the first time. I’ve no idea what to expect and for a race that take me less than seven minutes (I hope!), I’m pretty nervous.

Its funny how contemporary recreational running has changed. Everyone runs a 5k, millions run marathons, but few race the mile.

I’m trepidatious, but excited to be part of the excitement at the 5th avenue mile. Getting to watch some of the world’s best, while also running myself, is a rare opportunity. Should be fun… and painful.

When you talk of the mile, there’s one name that always spring to mind – Roger Bannister. Here he is:

Friday Inspiration – Heinrich on Why We Run

It is fair to say that I’m obsessed with Bernd Heinrich. I found his book Why We Run: A Natural History to be both rigorous and moving and his lifetime commitment to running to be inspiring.

Heinrich is going to be a presence on this blog for a while to come, so get used to it and check out this awesome video Salomon Running did about him. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but this video almost moved me to tears.



Friday Inspiration – Kai Lightner and a Mother’s Love

Ok, maybe its because I’m a parent now (or maybe not) but something about this film of teenage climbing phenom Kai Lightner and his incredibly supportive mother really struck a chord with me. Ostensibly, this is a film about Lightner’s rise in climbing, but really its about a mother son relationship. Just try to watch this without being moved by Kai’s Mother’s devotion.

As a side note — Lightner is another example of the rise of the kid climber. Tiny hands? Strength to weight ratios? Fearlessness? I’m not sure what is driving this trend, but its interesting to see it develop. Are we headed for a world like gymnastics, where the most famous climbers will all be children?

Friday Inspiration – The Great New York 100 Mile Exposition Run

I haven’t run an ultra-marathon (yet!) but I’m fascinated by the sport. Through the years that I’ve followed it, the coverage and interest has become more focused on races in the big mountains of the American West and Europe with east coast races getting very little attention. Races like Hardrock and UTMB are incredible in their difficulty and natural beauty, but there’s something special about the urban race too. Especially the ones that take place in your own back yard — like the Great New York 100 Mile Exposition Run —  organized by Phil McCarthy and others from the local ultra running scene.

Here’s a great video about last year’s race. Someday I hope to toe that starting line.


The Hardrock 100 is widely considered one of, if not the, hardest 100 mile race in the United States. It is surely the most beautiful and also wonderfully eccentric.  Organized by a bunch of rocket scientists (seriously) and mountain weirdos, entry is determined through a complex lottery that rewards those who have finished the race numerous time, or haven’t finished it at all.  The only people guaranteed an entry are the man and woman who won it the previous year.  Everyone else, no matter how fast or famous they are, has to try their luck

With 66000 (yes, sixty six thousand) feet of elevation change, all of which happens way way high in the San Juan mountains, Hardrock is a challenge for even the best mountain runner to finish. It is, as the motto proclaims “Wild and Tough”.  Only a select few people in the world can possibly compete for the win.  This year, for perhaps the only time in a decades, many of the best ultra runners in the world happened to have gotten in to Hardrock turning it into one of the most competitive races of the year.  Also, there are flash flood warnings.  And it snowed yesterday.  And its just fucking crazy and beautiful and totally captivating.  If you want to see the best performances in ultra-running this year, you need to have your eyes trained on Hardrock over the next 24 hours.

Irunfar is doing comprehensive coverage of the race.  It is definitely the best place to follow what’s happening.  You can follow their live coverage with comments  from ultra running obsessives here, or their more manageable twitter feed here.

For some background into this special race, its worth reading this article and perhaps watching some of the dozens and dozens of videos available on youtube about Hardrock.

Here’s a pretty awesome one about last year’s female winner Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa):