Blog : TPU2017 Racer Profiles

2017 Racer Profiles – Adam Harmon

2017 Racer Profiles – Adam Harmon

Meet Adam Harmon 

“Getting His Feet Wet”

 

Adam Harmon comes to TPU this year, fresh off a Leadville 100 25-hour finish.  And that wasn’t his first rodeo; he’s got a couple of other hundos in the bank, and multiple years at Leadville, one of the sport’s most challenging events. You might say his feet are already pretty soaked. But this seasoned veteran ultra runner has his eye on the longer, expedition stage races as a next step.

He wants to see how the self-supported stage race format works for him, so he’s getting his feet wet in the high, dry desert of Big Bend Ranch, at TPU.

Some of his past favorite races have been the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming and Desert Rats 50 in Colorado.  He’s clearly an enthusiast of the desert high country, and Big Bend Ranch seems made-to-order for him.

With Leadville having just concluded in August, Adam has mostly been in recovery mode lately.  He reports that he’s feeling great, and his only concern is that he maybe didn’t spend enough time with full pack on his training runs.

TPU kicks off Sunday morning with the first of 4 daily marathons, followed on Thursday by a 56-miler.  It’s a very long haul, with advantage to those who can manage nutrition and hydration well during the day, and recovery at night.  Adam’s focus will be to not go out too fast, a habit he has learned to rue.

In Boulder, Colorado, Adam coordinates marketing for local bike shops and also operates Rocky Mountain Ultra, an online retailer that brings European ultra and adventure gear to the American market. At 28, he’s already got his life centered around the things that are dear to his heart.

Best of luck to Adam as he gets his feet wet in expedition stage racing next week.  (Note to Adam: there’s a stock tank at Camp 2, and you can get your whole body wet.)

“LIKE” us on Facebook to get race reports from the trail and keep up with Adam’s newest adventure.

2017 Racer Profiles – Sereena Trottier

2017 Racer Profiles – Sereena Trottier

Meet Sereena Trottier

“Living the Dream”

 

Sereena arrives at TPU 2017 on a “golden ticket.” She entered a contest sponsored by Trail Runner magazine for the best story of motivation, and won an entry into this year’s race.

Her dream-chasing story focused around her decision to leave her day job as a financial professional and find the things that could make her heart sing.  It was a terrifying transition, not know what was ahead, but she followed the urge to seek bigger and better opportunities.  And she found them.

She happened to encounter Ray Zahab, a noted Canadian ultrarunner, adventurer and what some might call an “extreme athlete.”  Ray was looking for volunteer help producing his own race, the Bad Beaver Ultra, and bam! Sereena ended up a race director. Their organization, 3BeaversRacing.com (Mat Lefèvre is the third beaver), now produces a set of races highlighting the spectacular Gatineau Park of Canada.

As well as this transition has turned out for her, it’s all still quite new and dazzling.  Sereena is looking forward to seven days of reflection in the desert, and settling into her self during TPU.

Sereena with her mother

Sereena has completed multiple Ironman triathlons, 2-day Canadian Ski Marathons and other marathon and ultra running events.

Ray has been her coach for TPU training, and Sereena reports that she is ready to go.  Injuries have been minimal and her biggest challenge preparing for TPU has been finding the right pack.  After trying several, and finding that what worked like a magic charm for one runner didn’t necessarily work for her, she settled on the UltrAspire Epic vest/pack.

Sereena’s two concerns about the upcoming week are: the Texas heat, a very different climate than she’s accustomed to in Ottawa, and her sleep at night in camp.  As a veteran of other overnight events, she has encountered sleep issues before.  In TPU’s homey Sibley tents, with the billions of stars outside, and the murmur of volunteer voices as they prepare camp for the following day, we hope Sereena will be lulled into the most peaceful rest each night.

 

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook to get race reports next week and keep up with Sereena’s dream.

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2017 Racer Profiles – Jonathan Culling

2017 Racer Profiles – Jonathan Culling

Jonathan Culling 

“Testing Myself”

 

Jonathon Culling of Austin, Texas describes himself as “not-necessarily-a-runner,” which is fine because TPU is not necessarily a running event.  For some, it’s mostly a hike, and since the cutoff times are very generous (12 hours to complete a marathon distance) and there’s nothing to do on the trail but enjoy existence, a leisurely pace is completely reasonable.

Jonathan has, in fact, completed a number of trail races, from 10K to 25K, so he’s not a complete newbie.  Road running never resonated with him, but adventure, trails and deserts do.  He’d been reading about the 4Desert series in China, Chile, Namibia and Antarctica, and found he could test himself in that environment a lot closer to home.  6 hours away, in fact, in Big Bend.

Testing his limits is Jonathan’s motivation for such endurance feats.  He wants to know what he has inside, to push against his mental limits and discover how far he can go.  As he has been preparing, he’s been catching up on running culture, feeling that he was at a slight disadvantage not having played in the ultrarunning space before.

Balancing out that perceived disadvantage, he’s had the benefit of a very seasoned TPU veteran, Coach Thomas Mullins.  Thomas has been an invaluable resource, especially for questions about pack weight, gear and nutrition. The advice has worked well, as Jonathon reports his final pack weight is 17 pounds before water… an efficient weight for this event.

Newborn Photography

At the peak of Jonathan’s TPU training run-up, his baby daughter was born, so one might say that he is already pushing his limits.  The weekend of Diana’s birth was supposed to have been a 50-mile training workout, which he missed while accomplishing the greater goal of shepherding a new member into his family.

Jonathan works in IT operations in Austin, and he and his wife have another daughter, Clare.  Since the birth of the new baby, they have been slightly out of sync with their normal schedule, so it’s been an interesting run-up to race week.

Just prior to leaving for Alpine, Jonathon said he anticipates his biggest challenge at TPU will be to rein in a naturally competitive nature, and be alright with a relaxed pace.  He intends to fully utilize the water stations for rest, and pay close attention to his recovery routine in camp at night.

“LIKE” us on Facebook to get race reports next week and find out how Jonathan is passing his test.

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2017 Racer Profiles – Scott Maddeaux

2017 Racer Profiles – Scott Maddeaux

Meet Scott Maddeaux 

“Difficult but Simple”

TPU was like a song Scott couldn’t get out of his head.  He saw a poster for the 2016 race in the downtown Austin REI last year as he was waiting in the checkout line.  He mentioned it to one of his running buddies, Jess Kolko, who knew the female winner of the 2015 race, Cheryl Tulkoff.  All three of them got together and talked TPU.  By this time, the magic of the event had lodged in his mind, and registration inevitably followed, for both of them.

Scott runs in Austin, Texas, where he supports educator resources for the Austin public schools.  His running history is mostly road marathons, and TPU is his first ultra distance.  Nothing like starting at the top.

That’s because Scott is a person who likes difficult, but simple things.  And often those two things go together.  If you attempt something hard enough, like a 167-mile stage race, for instance, all the smaller things in life seem to dissolve for a time.  The difficulty actually makes it simple.

“I love the thought of having nothing to do but run in the desert for a week. I always learn something about myself when I’m challenged, and there is going to be a lot of time for self-reflection,” says Scott.  He’s right about that; Big Bend Ranch is one of the most undeveloped, un-visited, unknown places in the great state of Texas.

In preparation, Scott has been doing back-to-back long runs, some with a weighted pack.  He had hoped for higher-mileage training, but the demands of fatherhood and professional work have limited him somewhat.  Nevertheless, he has been satisfied with the way his body has tolerated the increased mileage and carry weight.

Both Scott and his friend Jess snagged the early registration bonus of free coaching from TPU veterans. Coach Cheryl Tulkoff has been especially helpful with questions about gear and packing.  Like every other TPU racer, Scott is trying to shed weight from his pack while keeping enough calories to sustain a week of running.  Packing for TPU is a delicate balancing act, but it appears that Scott has nailed it.

Scott’s 5-year old daughter Stella has been packing a toy backpack with toy food for her stuffed animals who are on their way to a “big race.”  She has instructed Scott to “try really hard,” and has let him know how lucky he is to be doing something that allows him to bring chocolate and cookies.

Scott is hoping to have some great stories to tell of his adventure at TPU.  A week in the desert with no distractions, among other people who are drawn off the beaten path to this very remote and very rugged adventure??  There will be stories.

 

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook to see race reports next week and hear how Scott’s “big race” progresses.

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2017 Racer Profiles – Rachael Kadell

2017 Racer Profiles – Rachael Kadell

Meet Rachael Kadell

“Inspired by Dad”

 

When her running buddy told her about the enchantment of this crazy stage race in Texas, Rachael was intrigued.  With her husband’s encouragement, she signed up.  Only afterwards did she read the TPU website in detail… and she realized she was in for a Texas-sized challenge.  Carrying all her own supplies over 165 miles in the high Chihuahuan desert is definitely a milestone event.

Together with her 10-year running partner, Rachael will soon add TPU to a hearty running resumé that includes R2R2R, San Diego 100 and Javelina Jundred.  She and Shelli belong to the SoCal TrailHeadz running club and have the kind of friendship that has been cemented by sweat, fatigue and long hours on the trail when all the easy topics of conversation have run out.

Rachael ran her first marathon in 2006 with Team in Training, and has been at it ever since.  After noticing that she vastly improved as a wife, mother and co-worker when she spent happy time on trails, she shifted from roads to dirt.

She takes her family very seriously and is deeply involved with her kids, in addition to professional work in investor relations for a hedge fund.  All those duties make training time precious, and Rachael has arrived at TPU week a bit nervous.  She had a DNF at a race in August, and has been bothered by doubts since then.

Having a friend with a long history of running through challenges together will get the two of them to the finish line.  Rachael and Shelli have nurtured each other through many a race, and they expect to complete the 167 miles together.

Shelli and Rachael

Rachael and Shelli took advantage of the early registration bonus, snagging the expert coaching of Thomas Karlick, the 2016 TPU overall winner.  Rachael reports that Coach Thomas pushed the two friends pretty hard, recommending higher mileage than for any of their previous ultras.  It was a struggle to find the right work-family-training balance, and still have fun.

Some of the challenges Rachael has faced in her prep for TPU are finding tasty, gluten-free foods that are lightweight; running with poles; changes in posture required by the weight of the pack; and the logistical puzzle of loading a 20-liter pack with enough to sustain the body through a week of running.

Through it all, though, Rachael holds in her heart the image of her dad, who has lived with a rare form of leukemia, and all its attendant complications, for over 30 years.  His willingness to get up each day and deal with his physical challenges inspires Rachael to work hard with a smile on her face.

TPU will challenge her, and push her way out of her comfort zone, which is precisely what she is seeking.

 

“Like” us on Facebook for updates as Rachael rolls over the trails of Big Bend Ranch next week!

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