About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ten Years of Blogging

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for ten years now. This project started as a mistake late at night while I couldn't sleep. While reading a runner’s blog post about the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs, I accidentally clicked on the Google “Blogger” icon. I didn’t know anything about blogging and was even quite new to Facebook and social media in general. When I clicked on the icon it said something to the effect of, “create your own blog” so I started poking around and, before you know it, I had a template set up and was on my way.

W. Texas, wide open spaces

I sometimes refer to my blog as my insomnia cure, because most of my posts are certain to loll you to sleep. Nevertheless, every significant running adventure of the last 10 years is documented including race reports, adventures with my dogs, vacations to national parks and our family’s ranch on the border and other ultramarathon related posts. I get a lot of questions especially from non runners about why I do what I do. They find it strange that anyone would run all day, all night and part of the next day, but this is what humans have done for eons while hunting, gathering and living as nomads. Therefore, I created a frequently asked questions page to answer everyone's questions about my strange lifestyle. Like this one: Aren't you addicted to running?

Taz sporting his new serape
Gambler
In 2009 when I began bogging there weren’t many books on ultrarunning so most of us learned how to run long through the internet; perusing runners’ blogs for information on how to train, fuel and hydrate while covering distances of 50-100 miles. However, shortly after I started my blog, Christopher McDougall released the famous book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen which started the trail running boom. Trail running exploded and many books about ultrarunning were published by elite runners and coaches. Crazier races started to pop up, new shoe companies were born and people even started to make their living by hosting trail running events.

Franklin Mountains State Park
Sweet acacia
Texas spotted whiptail lizard
I’m not writing as much as I used to, but am still running as much as ever and taking a lot of pictures that are featured on my running gallery and wildlife gallery pages. Even though two of my races were cancelled this year due to heavy rain and snow pack, I still managed to run several races I had never run before and also ran Grand Canyon R2R2R. I also finished two of my annual events, the Jemez 50 Miler in Los Alamos, NM and the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, NM.

Barrel Cactus in bloom

Unfortunately, I had one DNF at the Wildland 52K in Jemez Springs, NM when I fell near the end and dislocated my shoulder. I considered finishing the race, but thought better of it since I was using trekking poles and didn’t know how steep or treacherous the last five miles would be. My shoulder has mostly healed now and I plan to start training with poles again next month to get ready for the Lone Star 100K in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I finished this race in 23:45 earlier this year and hope to better my time next year. 

Gambel's Quail

I also had my first finish at the Old Pueblo 50 Miler in Sonoita, AZ south of Tuscon. A rare snowfall before the race blanketed the surrounding mountains in white, but made for an extremely wet course with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 ankle deep stream crossings. Nothing like slogging through 50 miles with numb toes! The highlight of my 2019 though, was a life changing double crossing of the Grand Canyon. The beauty of this natural treasure is unmatched and the challenge of climbing out of the deep chasm after covering 40 miles is enough to test anyone’s mettle. 

Checkered garter snake

Recently I’ve been running with my life coach and personal trainer, Taz since the rattlesnakes have mostly gone into hiding to wait out the winter. He tags along behind me on my daily route at the Lost Dog Trail near my neighborhood. Taz is part Xoloitzcuintli or Mexican Hairless of ancient Aztec fame. Xolos were created by the God of Lightning and Death to guard humans and guide the dead into the underworld. Taz is always happy to guide and guard me especially since I’m the keeper of the bacon! Since he is hairless we bought him a new coat that matches his namesake; a poncho made from an authentic Mexican serape. 

Lucky
Harry (Potter)
I had a great Thanksgiving at our family’s ranch in West Texas where I ran in the borderland with the ranch dogs. I’m always most thankful for my health and opportunities to spend in the great outdoors soaking in the vast desert views and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Downtime enjoying great food with family can’t be beat; so we did plenty of that too. I’m looking forward to many more running adventures in the years to come. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.




See you on the trail.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Franklin Mountain Trail Runs Volunteering 2019

I recently spent the weekend in my backyard mountains volunteering for the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs put on by Tail Racing Over Texas. I volunteered as a member of Team Red, White and Blue, a non-profit exercise group that supports veterans. I train in the Franklins all the time and ran the 50K race last year. No matter how much time you spend wandering the Franklins (WTF), it never gets any easier. Franklin Mountains State Park, surrounded by El Paso, TX, is a rugged range with high peaks that reach over 7000’ elev. The trails are steep and gnarly with gullies full of ankle breaking rocks, scree fields and slick-rock cliffs. If you fall, you have no where to go but into prickly and pointy vegetation like cactus, shin dagger and Spanish bayonet. There are plenty of rattlesnakes to keep you alert and though I’ve never seen a mountain lion, I’m almost certain they’ve seen me.

Runners approaching N. Franklin Peak (7192')

First light on Mundy's Gap Aid Station

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Running Adventure Gone Wrong

Sucking wind, I plod 10 steps further up the overgrown slope nearing 10,000’ elevation stopping for five deep breaths of thin air. I take 10 more steps assisted by my trekking poles and stop again to let my thumping heart catch up. This is the brutalist 50K I’ve ever run with cross country sections, steep climbs, and 8000’ of vert on rugged unforgiving terrain. There is no trail here, just an old dozer fire line that was cut straight up the mountain. The temperature is cooling the higher I go while dark ominous clouds billow overhead. Thunder is rumbling in the distance and the last place you want be in a lightning storm is on top of a mountain. Nevertheless, I continue my upward slog towards Cerro Pelado Peak (10,112’).

Jemez Mountains and Valle Caldera Preserve, NM

The Wildland 52K Benefit Run was designed to show the rigors that firefighters go through. I’m lucky that I’m not wearing a heavy pack and humping tools and equipment through the backcountry as our firefighting heroes do. This is a small, rather low key race where half the proceeds go to two nonprofits that benefit firefighters and their families in need. A great cause that makes my misery all the more worthwhile.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

100 Miles of healing in the Borderland, El Paso Strong!

El Paso, TX is a beautiful city that wraps around the largest urban wilderness park in the US, Franklin Mountains State Park. North Franklin Peak tops out at 7192’ with views of three states and two countries. Just across the southern border is our sister city of Juarez, Mexico. Overlooking El Paso, Juarez and Sunland Park, NM is a 29’ tall statue of Jesus of Nazareth on the peak of Mt Cristo Rey. Thousands of devout Christians climb the smooth trail leading to the top several times per year. The Rio Grande slices through the middle of the two large cities and a levee trail heads north. These trails and mountains are my home and where I go for therapy and to meditate, heal, take in nature and ponder everything that is great about my life and the Borderland. I cover a lot of miles in this beautiful place and recently ran 100 miles in a week.
Mt Cristo Rey 
N. Franklin Peak

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Running Ridgway State Park Colorado

Last month I was supposed to run the San Juan Solstice 50 Miler in Lake City, CO, but like Hardrock 100, it was cancelled this year. Massive amounts of snowfall and avalanches in the San Juan Mountains have left many trails and high passes inaccessible. In addition, avalanche debris threatened to clog streams and rivers in and around Lake city which could cause flooding. This race has been on my bucket list for many years and I was excited to finally have the opportunity to run this year. Fortunately, I have the option of rolling my entry over to next year so I will get to run anyway; God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bandelier National Monument

I recently had a few short adventures in Bandelier National Monument in white Rock, NM which is next door to Los Alamos, NM. I ran the Jemez Mountain Trail 50 Miler last month and decided to visit this nearby park. Parking is limited so they require you to take a free shuttle bus at the White Rock Visitor Center. Since I was saving my legs for 11,000’ of elevation gain the next day, I decided to walk the short main loop trail to see the cliff dwellings and out to the Alcove House (2.5 miles total). 
Frijoles Canyon with the Jemez Mountains in the background
Visitor Center
Big Kiva
I started my hike at the Bandelier Visitor Center that sits adjacent to cliffs of tufa or volcanic ash. The cliffs are pocked with honeycomb like weathering known as tafoni. Some of the holes were enlarged to create cavates (pronounced CAVE-eights) by ancestral pueblo peoples who lived in the cliffs and surrounding area. This indigenous population also built structures beside the caves where they thrived for many years by hunting and growing bean, corn and squash. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Jemez Mountain 50 Miler 2019

This past Memorial Day Weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to Los Alamos, NM to run the Jemez Mountain 50 Miler. This race is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. In this area, there can be unpredictable weather, drought, wildfires and even a bear attack. These types of events have forced the race to alter the course almost every year. This year was no different. Although we weren’t allowed to run in the Valle Caldera National Preserve where a woman was attacked by a bear during a marathon several years back, the National Forest Service allowed us to run on previously burned trails that have since been restored.


Valle Caldera National Preserve

The morning weather was a pleasant 50 degrees where about 110 of us started out in the dark with headlamps. In just 30 minutes or so the sky began to lighten and we passed some honeycombed cliffs of tuff (volcanic ash). Close by is the Bandelier National Monument with similar cliffs where ancestral pueblo people built homes carved into the tuff. The beauty of the Jemez is what keeps me coming back year after year.