Michigan Bluff Training Camp 2011: Day VI – Olive Oil Joe’s Run

Day VI – Wednesday, May 25

The Report From Camp

The Route: Volcano Canyon Out and Back

The Mileage: 12

The Back Story: Earlier this season, our Eugene friend and training partner Joe Uhan showed up at the starting line of the American River 50 slathered in olive oil (some Midwestern track trick to stay warm or some such nonsense). He had purchased the only olive oil he could find, which happened to be a giant Costco-sized container, and that just made the whole thing all the more ridiculous. Thornley gave him endless amounts of crap for this and vowed that there would be an olive oil component to this year’s training camp.

The Eugene crew greases up before heading out for an early 10:30 a.m. run

Temps were in the 40s and it was raining when the Eugene runners began getting ready for the inaugural Olive Oil Joe’s Run. LB and his crew selected Western Family brand extra virgin olive oil, which is sort of like ordering the chicken paillard at Popeye’s. There’s nothing virgin or extra virgin about that stuff, but just as Thornley likes his wines “slutty” he apparently prefers his olive oil to be on the promiscuous side as well.

The group took the early start (10:30 a.m.) and headed toward Volcano Canyon for an oily out-and-back to Bath Road. While they were crossing the high-flowing creek at the bottom, AJW was out doing his own run to Last Chance and back. GM fell in the creek and together the group did a fine job of polluting the pristine stream with the toxic, fish-killing oil on their skin.

“When we started the run, I could feel the cold on my face, but my legs felt really warm,” Thornley reports.

The group performed some trail work along the way, removing an oak tree from the trail and diverting a creek that had reached its perimeter – effectively toxifying another body of water

The Report From Eugene

The Route: Home to Full City, west Eugene loop and back/DAC to Hendricks Park and back (with a stop at Olive Grand)

The Mileage: 21

I hadn’t prepared to do Joe’s Olive Oil Run today. I figured it had slipped off the schedule with all the excitement at camp. I had already gotten my miles in,  launching from my house and 5 a.m. and running with the Hackers at 5:30. But after learning it was on, I felt I had to do something to ramp up the excitement level here at home. So I invited Cliff Volpe to join me on a run from downtown. “If you’re leaving home, bring the olive oil,” I wrote in an email. “I’ll explain later,” to which Cliff replied:

“Sorry, man, A) I’m already downtown, & B) I’m not going to giv ur watermelon a mediterranean waxing.”

Like this Northern California olive oil, lc is intensely fruity and flavorful with overtones of pepper

Cliff, still in the dark about this outing, showed up for the run, along with Christian Beck. I had been unable to locate any olive oil in the kitchen at my workplace, but I remembered that there just so happened to be an olive oil shop a half-block from the start of our run. The place is called Olive Grand and Tamara Oldenburg, the woman who owns it, is great. She didn’t miss a beat when I asked her for some olive oil that would be suitable for rubbing on my skin before a run. She steered us toward a  peppery, robust Northern California varietal that promised more antioxidants for my epidermis and she even let us taste a few different types from tiny plastic cups. Tamara didn’t seem to mind that I was rubbing the tasters on my arm and she informed us that olive oil is in fact great for the skin.

lc, with extra virgin in his veins

“It’s good for your interior and exterior,” she explained. “The skin is the largest organ.”

I’m sure Thornley would have had something to say about that last remark, but Thornley’s not here right now and I do things a little bit differently than he does. I don’t have time to “e-stim” my tibialis anterior for two hours on a random Tuesday morning the way he does and I certainly wouldn’t ever think of sullying my skin with some soapy low-grade Western Family pomace oil masquerading as extra virgin olive oil the way those guys at camp did. I emerged from Olive Grand with my $7 handcrafted robust organic variety – great for grilled meats, marinades, stews and pasta dishes – ready to really put Joe’s olive oil theory to the test.


I lubed up in front of an adoring crowd of downtown bus station degenerates on Willamette Street, trying hard not to soak my nipple Band-aids with too much oil, and Joe’s Olive Oil Run began in earnest. Did it work? Sure, I’m willing to say that I achieved some level of warmth from the oil on my skin. Will I ever grease up the way Joe did before a race? Probably not. I asked Thornley this same question, and he said one run with olive oil was not a big enough sample size. I suspect this won’t be the last olive oil run and I encourage anyone interested in learning more about olive oil as heatant to experiment on themselves. I recommend the Robusto or the Sevillano an oil described as “fresh, herbaceous and aromatic.” 


  1. While I recognize and appreciate exaggeration as a literary device, I will say it was not a “Costco-sized container”/jug/oil drum. :p

    “It WAS their most modestly-priced receptacle.”

    And how’d that “lube” work out in those 40-degree temps? That’s what it’s made for! 🙂

    • OOJ, your bottle of Olive Oil was big enough to cover all 600+ people who ran AR that day. Maybe if you bought it at Costco instead of Safeway it would have come in a four-pack, but the bottle was definitely Costco-sized.

  2. lol… what a fantastically fun video and commentary guys! Next run, for additional speed, we’ll maybe heat things up with our new Jalapeno Olive Oil. You may need to run faster just to “cool down”!! Thank you for sending the link–it was a blast to watch your run and the consistent sipping from our olive oil bottle. Come on back in when you get a chance and we’ll hook you up with some fun flavors for “Cooking” too 🙂

    • WT, thanks for coming to our defense. I was a little taken aback by lc’s uppityness and arrogance at our brand of choice. Sure, he used to be Food Dude which gives him a little cred, but the guy drinks PBR!

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