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'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Year in Review 2016

2016 was another fine running year for me. I finished six ultramarathon trail races; three that I had never run before. In one race I ran the farthest and longest I had ever run in my life. I also had the opportunity to visit many lakes and several peaks near Santa Fe, NM and spent some time running in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, TX.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Enjoy this slideshow of my favorite photos from 2016:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sunrise Sunset

Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

—Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof)

I set the lofty goal of seeing a sunrise and sunset from the Franklin Mountains, preferably from the top of North Franklin Peak (7192’), the highest in the range. Last month I wrote about training for the Lone Star 100 miler that will be held here in February and completed one 50K lap that will make up the course. This month I decided to run the 50K course with an additional trip up to the peak for a total of around 40 miles.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I Did on Black Friday

We spent our long Thanksgiving weekend at the BR Ranch visiting family and getting some much needed R&R. I decided that I wouldn't run at all the entire four day weekend. Just kidding. Pretend I never wrote that last sentence. Actually I did a lot of running in one of our least populated counties —Hudspeth, TX. Black Friday seems like such a bore to me. I can't even imagine what some people go through just for some Christmas savings. On the other hand, I got some great deals on quietude, scenery and nature and all it cost me was some calories which I had plenty of after eating our Thanksgiving meal.

Harry and Lucky leading the way
Quitman Mts (Hudspeth Co, TX)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

One More Lap!

Several years ago I was running a 27 mile loop around the Franklin Mountains State Park. The trails here are very steep and rugged and temperatures can get brutally hot even in the fall. Several mountain bike races are held in the park each year and I happened to be running the day after a race. Hot and completely exhausted, I was approaching the end of my run around mile 25 when I read a race sign that said, “One More Lap!”. I chuckled to myself and thought, NEVER—that would be impossible! One loop out here can damn near kill a man, but two?

lechuguilla stalk

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mt Taylor 50K

After years of hoping to run the Mt Taylor 50K, my wish finally came true. The mountain itself is bigger than life. Not only because it’s 11,300 feet high, but also because it is sacred to the Navajo and other Native American people. Ancient myths were born here like the story about a slain monster, his coagulated blood flowing down the volcano and the head, known as Cabezon Peak flung to the east. (I saw this rock formation when I ran Deadman Peaks 50 last year.) 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Franklin Mountains Trail Runs (Volunteer)

What’s harder—running the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs or volunteering at the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs? After three days of volunteering as a Team Red, White and Blue member, I’m starting to wonder. I had a great time giving back to the sport I love by helping at this Trail Racing Over Texas (TRoT) event that was held in the Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX on 9-11 September. The race itself was very tough on the runners. I’ve run the 50K course in training and have made many trips to the top of North Franklin Peak (7192’ elev) so I have felt their pain.

Team RWB member gettin' it done. 
Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer/Trail Racing Over Texas
Many of the photos in this post were taken by Myke Hermsmeyer. Please visit his photography site for galleries of the races. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Blister Prevention

Ultra runners love nothing more than showing off their black toes, lost toenails and blisters. If you doubt me, just hang out at an aid station or finish line of a 100 mile endurance run especially one with creek crossings and swampy conditions. You are sure to see runners proudly comparing their blisters to see who has the gnarliest feet. They share photos on social media and wear their pus filled protuberances like badges of honor.

This is the last cute feet picture you will see in this post.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Silverheels 100 Miler

Lungs don't fail me now. Come on heart you can do it. 1-2-3-4-5 steps, rest. Breath...1-2-3-4-5. Repeat. How much farther can it be to the top? This is truly a soul crushing climb up to Hoosier Ridge at over 12,000 feet elevation. My lungs are searing, my head feels swimmy, but I keep plodding relentlessly hoping I can make the top. Finally I reach a sign, the turnaround point where I'm supposed to pick up a playing card to prove I was here. I look around for the deck of cards only to find a marmot turd and a few chewed spades and hearts. I pick up half a card and stop to take in the expansive view of the Mosquito range of Colorado. It really is spectacular and most of my discomfort temporarily subsides.

I'm at mile 42 of the Silverheels 100 miler that started in Fairplay, CO south of Breckenridge. Several days before the race, I received an email informing the 40 participants that the course isn't 100 miles at all, but over 105 with 18,000+ feet of elevation gain. This is the most ambitious run I've attempted to date and I have a lot of doubts about finishing it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Santa Fe Lakes and Peaks

I recently spent a few days in the Santa Fe National Forest training for my upcoming 100 mile trail race, the Silverheels 100 in Fairplay, CO. The race is run at an average elevation of 11,000' with a high point of over 12,000 feet so I needed some serious climbing at high altitude. Santa Fe, NM seemed like a great training location with several peaks in the 12,500' range. Besides, the mercury in the Desert Southwest has regularly risen well over 100 degrees so I needed to head for the hills to beat the heat.

Santa Fe Baldy

Monday, July 4, 2016

Franklin Mountains 50K 2016 Course Preview

With the Franklin Mountains 50K Trail Run in just a few short months, I decided to put together a course preview for you. This year the race, in El Paso, TX, is part of the Altra US Skyrunner® Series meaning it must have a minimum amount of elevation gain per distance. Here are a few definitions from the International Skyrunning Federation to help you understand:

“SKYMARATHON® – minimum distance 30 km and under five hours (winner’s time). Minimum 2,000m vertical climb

ULTRA – Races over 50 km between five to twelve hours for the winner.

ULTRA SKYMARATHON® – Races that exceed the parameters of a SkyMarathon® by more than 5% with more than 2,500m vertical climb.” (2500 meters = 8200 feet)

2016 Franklin Mt 50K Elevation Profile
So yes, you will be doing a lot of climbing in this race. Around 8250 feet! I ran the course last spring when the weather was still cool and it took me 10 hours to complete. Keep in mind that I’m a mid to back of the pack ultramarathoner.  I’m sure our elite and Flatiron runners from Colorado will be twice that fast looking fresh as daisies as they sprint across the finish line, although heat will be an issue this year. It’s the rest of you I’m worried about. If after reading this, you decide the 50K is too much for you, consider running one of the other distances that Trail Racing Over Texas is offering the weekend of 9-11 Sep, 2016 (5K, 10K, half marathon, King/Queen of the Mt). Hopefully this guide will help you survive the race and still have a good time. Isn’t that what our sport is all about? 

Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

Friday, June 17, 2016

Life in the Desert

The desert here in the Southwest has been teeming with life even though the mercury has soared into the triple digits. I’ve spent a lot of time running the trails in the Franklin Mountains State Park lately and have come across plenty of beauty as well as a few surprises. 

Eagle claw cactus
On one very long and scorching run, the eagle claw cacti were in full bloom. I’ve never seen so many splashes of purple along the trail. You hardly notice these inconspicuous barrel cacti at other times of the year because they blend in with the landscape and some barely protrude above the ground.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run

I look at my watch as I stop to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down. This 10,400 foot mountain isn’t getting any lower and I’m not getting any younger so I better get a move on. I’m obsessed with my time today as I run the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run. With over 11,000 feet of total elevation gain, it is one of the hardest 50 milers in the country. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cactus to Cloud 50K

Francois Jean Rochas is a true badass. Not because he is here with the rest of us to tackle the Cactus to Cloud 50K, a 32 mile journey from Oliver Lee State Park, through Dog Canyon, across the precipitous “Eyebrow”, up 5000 feet to the Sunspot National Solar Observatory and along the Rim Trail to Cloudcroft, NM with almost 9000 feet of total elevation gain. No, Francois or “Frenchy” as he was called, lived in a cabin in the late 1800s at the mouth of Dog Canyon, the starting point of our trail race this morning. 

Frenchy's cabin at the mouth of Dog Canyon

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cedro Peak 45 Miler

Cedro Peak (7767’) is located in the Cibola National Forest near Tijeras just east of Albuquerque, NM. I ran the Cedro Peak 45 mile course several years ago and am delighted to be here again for some fun on the trails. It is still dark and the weather is in the 50s this morning with a stiff breeze. It’s supposed to get gusty later with a slight chance of a shower, so I packed a rain shell just in case. I never want to be in the wilderness unprepared.

After leaving my drop bags with volunteers and checking in with race staff, I grab a cup of joe from the Green Joe Coffee Truck and sit in my warm car until race time. After the sun rises, about 50 ambitious trail runners line up at the Oak Flat picnic area. We start our run by winding through the picnic grounds and then descend a very steep rocky trail, but not before passing a lone picnic table. Not just any picnic table, but the one we will reach after climbing back up this hill in mile 44 later this afternoon. If my recollection is accurate, something special will be waiting for us here upon our return. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Comanche Trail Palo Duro Canyon

Last month I spent a few days at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, TX where I ran out to the famous Lighthouse rock formation. 

Read about it here: Lighthouse Run

View from the Comanche Trail
I also ran part of the newly built Comanche Trail which, according to  a park ranger, is about six miles one way. The Palo Duro Trail Run is held every October and volunteers have been building more trails to eliminate some of the loops in the 50 mile course. The current 50 miler is 12.5 miles repeated four times. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bataan Memorial Death March 2016

After waking up at zero dark thirty the morning of the Bataan Memorial Death March, I opened my back door to let the dogs out. Well, I was hit by a blast of wind that took my breath away. Spring in the Desert Southwest can bring wicked wind storms and this is the only place I’ve ever lived where “blowing dust” is an actual weather forecast. The strange thing is that the forecast for this morning wasn’t calling for high winds. Nevertheless, our mountains create their own weather at times bringing the worst conditions to run in.

The great plant hunter and explorer of Tibet, F. Kingdon Ward said it best, “It is this wind which makes life on the plateau…so unbearable. It has a cumulative nervous effect; possibly its action is electrical, due to the constant friction of dry air. I do not know. I only know that it is slow torture; you are waging a losing fight all the time, up against something which gradually, but no less surely and ruthlessly beats you. It makes no terms; it is war à l’outrance.”

Organ Mountains— White Sands Missile Range

Friday, March 18, 2016

Palo Duro Canyon Lighthouse Run

Last week I had the great pleasure of running in Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Panhandle of Texas. As I was driving, I couldn’t help but think, is this the right way? There is nothing out here but grass and cotton fields speckled with oil pump jacks. The roads don’t have a single turn anywhere because there is nothing but flat, flat and more flat so how can the Grand Canyon of Texas be around here. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coyote Alley

Last month we went to visit family at the BR ranch in West Texas. One morning I went for a run with my three dogs as well as three of my in-law’s dogs. **Cue Dog Whisperer theme music** This area is very remote so I don’t worry about them being off-leash. I’m no dog whisperer, but we rarely have any trouble aside from an occasional jackrabbit chase where the dogs only return a few minutes later empty handed and out of breath.

Taz, our special child
Harry Potter

Monday, February 8, 2016

Roundtop Trail Run

My first race for the new year was the Roundtop Trail Run in Anthony Gap, NM. This local race was put on by race director, Mark Dorion of The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land! fame. (Watch his site for future trail races.) The course was an eight mile out-and-back trail that runners could do repeatedly up to four times for a total of 32+ miles. I tend to get bored after several passes on the same trail so I opted for 16 miles. We ran on a portion of the Sierra Vista National Recreation Trail that goes from Anthony Gap, NM just over the Texas State line all the way to Las Cruces, NM over 35 miles away.

"Turn around when you see the sign that says, TURN AROUND."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Baylor Canyon and Pine Tree Trail

Last weekend I went to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces, NM to run the Baylor Canyon and Pine Tree trails with several of my running friends. The Baylor Canyon National Recreation Trail is six miles one way, takes hikers through a saddle in the Organ Mountains with 1000’ of elevation gain and descends to the other side. We started from the western slopes of the range and ran to the Aguirre Springs Campground near White Sands Missile Range on the other side. The Organs get their name from the jagged pinnacles that jut up from the peaks that look like the pipes of an organ.

The Organ Mountains as seen from the westside