It was just over one year ago that I decided to jump into the blogging world, and what a year it has been. I had kicked around several ideas on what type of blog to have, including politics; one of many aspects of ski patrolling; religion (or lack thereof); some nerd topic like computing clusters, databases, or Mac OS X system administration; and even an “I ran four miles today” training diary. None were really firing me up, or conducting my juices. But, after listening to Ariana Huffington’s advice to “blog your passion” and looking around the ultra blogosphere it became obvious that it had to be about ultrarunning and Western States 100 in particular. With my background and connection to the race going back to 1978, it was easy to write content. Lots of content. Most of my friends would tell you that I’m obsessed with the race and that they don’t dare question a fact or stat I spout about WS (OD, do your yellow buckles have “One Day” on them?). The title was easy as I had already been writing a column in my local ski patrol newsletter under the same name. The platform was also an easy choice, WordPress, thanks to advice from my friend Lynno.
So, after a few days installing the software, making sure I followed all the Acceptable Use Policies at the University of Oregon, and tweaking the css and php, I started with content I already had including How To Prepare for WS, the WS Trail Description, and my five previously written WS race reports. Those first two are still very popular reads and I would recommend any first time WS runner read both of them. I also put in my 1998 climb of El Capitan with my brother Chris, a.k.a. BK (who is about to raft the Grand Canyon solo next month), which had been on my old website. Yeah, I used to be a climber before becoming obsessed with getting my 10-year WS buckle.
One of the first WS posts I did was the 1980s WS video trivia contest. Remember, “As the sage Demosthenes Brito once said: Everyday is not the same and that’s alright by me.” That trivia contest was followed up with the WS course and Michigan Bluff trivia contests. WS RD Greg Soderlund jumped in and won the course trivia contest. Even though some thought it was unfair that an RD should be allowed to answer a trivia contest about his own race, I thought it was cool that Greg participated and swiped a Conduct The Juices t-shirt from my friend AJW. Speaking of AJW, how much fun did we have with him? Remember the Top Ten Signs You May Be AJW, the Ten Year Bet, or the Jizzle Wizzle Mile? Thank you, AJW, for being such a good sport and for providing me with so much material.
Then there was the WS Synchroblog Project, which proved to be wildly successful, if you measure success in terms of visits. I spent a lot of time researching and interviewing people for my five posts and I’m proud of each of them:
- End Mandatory Volunteerism
- WS Family
- The Haggin Cup (I think this was my best of the five).
- The River Crossing
- On the Origin of Pacers
Thanks to my fellow synchrobloggers Bryon Powell, Scott Dunlap, Sean Meissner, and AJW for going along with my crazy idea. Only time will tell if we really made any impact, but the whole project was a lot of fun and I’ll always remember those synchroblog days, getting up and watching the frenzy. What a blast.
Humor also played a huge role in conducting my juices. Remember all the top ten lists including the top ten signs you may be AJW, things you might hear at RVR, reasons why Twietmeyer retired, or the things my wife loves about me, to name a few. Or the Legend of Ticer, the Oregon Naming Conventions, or the crazy Leadville 100 race report I wrote for lowercase (and his retort)?
I never thought I could do this all by myself and I’m grateful to all my guest posters. Remember when lowercase (Lewis Taylor) stepped in and guest blogged while we were at Michigan Bluff training for a week? He blogged daily, trying to duplicate our training in Eugene. Cougarbait, Twiet, SLF, my wife Laurie, Robert Blair, Lynn Nelson, and White Trash also provided great content. Thanks to each of you.
We also covered several controversial topics. One thing my friend lowercase and I discussed before starting this blog was how the best thing about our sport is that everybody is positive. At the same time, one of the not so good things about our sport is that everybody is positive. It’s almost as though it is taboo to criticize a race, a runner, or any aspect of our sport. Even if a race sucked, the race reports are almost universally positive. Why? Is it because most of us are volunteers and we don’t want to criticize volunteerism? I say bullshit. Our sport is experiencing serious growing pains. If we can’t objectively analyze races or other aspects of our sport, then we’ll have a difficult time improving. I’m not one to shy away from controversy or a little heat and we had several good conversations. We fired some people up with Cougarbait’s Why Max King won’t win WS; Twiet’s Course Changes; my Sportsmanship, 1687, and Lottery Season posts.
On a more somber note, we came together as a community and remembered the great northwest ultrarunning legend, Dave Terry, who we lost unexpectedly in September. May you rest in peace, Dave. We’ll be running in your memory at Chuckanut 50K this coming March.
There were many other posts, but that’s enough links for you to read for a few weeks and I think hits the highlights of the first year. I’ll go one more year at this blogging thing and then re-evaluate. When the juices stop flowing I’ll stop. Until then, let me know what you think or if you have ideas on topics that should be addressed.
Here’s to a great ultrarunning year in 2010. Western States is less than six months away. Get training.
Thank you for the time, effort and commitment you put into the blog. It is fun to read and fun to respond to. The blog reflects your total engagement with the ultra community, from the bright spotlight of WS to the runner that is just getting into our sport.
For me, the highlight was seeing the response our community had to Erik Skaggs. While the financial situation is still not complete, it is clear that due to the efforts of many people, on a national scope, he will be covered from a monetary standpoint. I doubt the level of response would be found in any other sport. It made me reflect on what a community is and the relative importance of it. In times of increasingly harsh rhetoric, to have a bond with fellow humans that ignores politics, religion or any socio/economic layer you want to throw out there is way more important to me than it use to be.
Here is to our community. May we all have the best race of our life in 2010 and you in particular have the States of your dreams.
@SLF, Well said. We’re all glad that Erik is running again.
LB – Your commitment is inspiring and your obsession with the greatest race on earth is contagious. I ask only one request. Please train way more than you blog for the next 6 months! Laurie’s money is on the table ….
@BK, The La-Z-Boy predicts the future…
LB, To echo SLF, thanks for the effort you put into the blog, whether it’s the humorous posts or the thought provoking ones. Here’s to a great 2010 on the trails. WT
@whitetrash, LB needs do donate that lazy thing to a homeless person and sit on the floor in Lotus while visualizing riding a bicycle downhill WITHOUT the brakes on.
@BK, Should I get a gong, too, and put prayer flags up in my garage?
@Craig, Only if you want to run faster.
Great post Craig! I am looking forward to another great year on The Juice. And, glad you chose such a flattering photo of me:)
Now, get out and train!
@AJW, AJW, are you the bow-legged one in the ’89 photo? You still have the red shorts?
@SLF, That is Rae Clark…he is looking a bit too intense even from this distance…but a very good runner indeed.
@Tony, I thought it was kelly woodke…
ps: don’t blow the wad!
Thank you for another super post.
When I got to the Dave Terry part I got tears in my eyes and I never even knew the guy!
But I remember reading your post after his passing, and the comments about him from all of the people who knew and appreciated him and his contribution to their life.
We have all known, and been blessed with, other ultrarunners who have helped us, with no thought of getting anything in return, except that maybe we might give back to someone else in a similar way some day.
And the thought of any of them not being around, that’s what, I think, brought tears to my eyes (I wasn’t thinking about my slow running times or the two 100 miler cancellations in this first year).
No two guys have been more helpful to me than Scott Mills and you. Thank you. But also, thank you to AJW, Scott Dunlap, Geoff Roes, Marie Boyd (the RD of Bishop High Sierra Ultras) and many others, for your blogs and/or supportive e-mails. All strangers to me as early as one year ago today.
I am COMPLETELY indebted to people who had, one year ago today, been COMPLETE strangers to me.
The chronicling (sp?) of your ultrarunning thoughts, successes, trials (trails) and tribulations truly is inspirational and motivating to me.
Just, thank you, and maybe I’ll see you on the trails someday. I hope you all have a successful 2010.
I’ve got to get out on a run now before the kids wake up! I really want to get in a run without the BOB double stroller again. Uh oh, I just heard my son yelling for me. Yikes! See ya. 🙂
Craig – my thanks as well for a great, innovative blog. You and your followers have been generous to let us listen in on your perspective and banter.
Your inception of the synchroblog will go down in the history of blogdom for sure. A great idea all-around and I loved being a part of it.
Looking forward to hearing about Western States 2010!