Voices In Lord Balls’ Head

I was on a two hour run Friday and struck up a conversation with a guy in my head who recognized me at a bowling alley because of the name on my belt.  Here’s how it went.

Guy:  Lord Balls?  Really?  I’ve read your blog.  You kinda remind me of Caballo Blanco; you’re really not a very good runner, but you think you are some gift to the world of ultrarunning.

Lord Balls:  Good to see you …. .  Do I know your name?

Guy: I’m a blogger too.  Just launched a new blog with a friend and it is going to be really great, we got over 100 hits on our first week and have steadily climbed the last six.  We want to bring exposure to the world of ultra, trail, and mountain running which is sadly lacking.  We are going to be innovative and do athlete interviews, race previews and reports, commentary, gear reviews, and so on.

Lord Balls: Interviews, race previews, gear reviews?  Sounds like iRunFar.com?  Who are you?

Guy:  I know you’re a big fan of Western States.  What do you think about all the elites deciding to go and form their own championship at UROC 100K this weekend since WS won’t let them in the race, let alone comp their entry fees or pay their travel and lodging?

Lord Balls: Excuse me, Guy, but what are you talking about? The fields at Western States have been as deep as they ever have the last few years.  My friend DanO ran 16:45 this year and didn’t make the top ten men?  He was outkicked for the tenth spot by Ian Sharman who ran 12:44 for 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon this year?  And Ellie Greenwood became only the second woman to run under 18 hours and led the women, the top ten of whom finished under 20:40! Can you name another 100 that had ten women under 21 hours?   With the Montrail Ultra Cup, there are up to 32 spots for elites so they do have a way to get in.  Last year the top two men and top two women at WS also were voted top two UROY.  Don’t think there is any other race in the country that can make that claim.  UROC is, well, an interesting idea, but it doesn’t have many of the things that I think are required to be the destination race that many runners and sponsors will want to focus on.  You need a great course, you need history, you need community passion and involvement,  you need sponsors that will make multi-year commitments, etc.  I don’t know much about UROC but as far as I can tell it is the Great Eastern Endurance Run with a new name and some perks for elites.   Guess only time will tell whether it draws the top athletes and sponsors.  Are you going to tell me who you are?

Guy: Speaking of UROY.  What the heck is that anyway?  I see that your quasi-academic friend AJW is already obsessing over this useless award.  What does it mean to be crowned ultrarunner of the year anyway?  When Kilian Jornet isn’t named UROY this year it will prove my theory that UROY is useless.  Why aren’t the Europeans eligible to win this award? What a joke.  I wish somebody would explain the purpose of this award.

Lord Balls:  Do you have ADD?  Now you want to rip my friend and UltraRunning Magazine’s 30 year North American ultramarathoners of the year award? You start off saying that the sport of ultrarunning is sadly lacking exposure, but then you say that UROY is useless?   I take it you aren’t going to tell me who you are.

Guy: Just call me InsideTrailMatt.  I really like your blog, Craig.  You have passion for the sport like me and my friend.  We like guys like you and AJW, especially when you go back and forth with your silly bets and competitions.  You guys are great.  And I really like it when you stir the pot.  I’m pretty good at that myself, you’ll see.

Lord Balls:  InsideTrailerMatt,  thank you, I guess.  I’m getting kinda lost in this conversation.  What are we talking about it?

InsideTrailMatt:  Can you believe Geoff Roes said that this was his most enjoyable year of ultrarunning ever?    Not sure who he is kidding as anybody can tell that this has been his worst year of ultrarunning ever.  With his two big DNFs at WS and UTMB he’s obviously not going to be voted UROY for the third consecutive year.

Lord Balls: I think it may be time for you to take your meds.  Good luck with your new blog.


  1. Man, now I’m starting to actually feel sorry for InsideTrailMatt and TL. Getting market share is dicey, and they rolled the dice and stirred the pot. And the backlash has been fierce from the old guard. Not easy breakin’ in, even harder when you ruffle feathers. I think they would have been fine going after just Geoff Roes…but once they got AJW snarlin’, now they’re in black-listed territory. Shame, too, cause Tim has really come into his own as a runner this year (probably his favorite year ever…). Thank you for providing us with a view from inside the head of the Lord.

    • Yeah, I feel a little bit for him, too, but maybe this will help their blog in the end. I actually think it would be funny if ITM identified himself on their blog as an armchair quarterback who has never run an ultra and who forms his opinions by reading elite runner blogs. TL could be the newer ultrarunner with a newer fresher perspective of the ultrarunning scene. But who am I to say, I’m only a lord.

  2. He already did identify himself. Not sure how that would matter. How many sports analysts are out there that know their sports and are great journalists, yet never played at the pro level. I like your humor in this post and I can tell a lot is tongue in cheek. Yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder if some of the venom lately on the blogs is jealousy or envy. Of course this comment will get laughed at histerically and nobody would ever admit to it. But still. I enjoy people who stir the pot whether right or wrong, whether I agree with them or not. People can always choose to not read it if they think its a waste of time.

  3. This is one of the funniest blog posts I’ve read in a long, long time (I mean that in a positive way). I asked Inside Trail Matt what his credentials are and here’s what he wrote:

    “Wyatt, I’m guilty of never running a 100. I have crewed and volunteered at them, trained with many an ultra runner, shared beer and bread with them, run several 25-30k mountain races, love getting in the back country and running, fell in love with the trail as a kid on top of Whitney, in the Grand Canyon, etc.

    I’m an athlete. I played collegiate soccer, dabbled in semi-pro ball in England, have done a few half-ironmans, etc. Not sure any of this helps you.

    The biggest draw for me is the competition of the sport. That’s what I’m into. I’m not in love with the 100 miler per se, nor the 10k; but the competition between serious competitors in those events is what I absolutely love.

    Hence, my special focus here on the Euro mountain running scene, even the British Fell season, and mountain running in general.
    I love all sports. Call me a competitive junkie.

    Unfortunately, we don’t agree on everything. Maybe you don’t trust me because I haven’t run into the night. My perspective on the sport, however, especially if I’m that invested (believe me, I am) should be relevant. I am making it so by working hard, getting myself into long running shape, reading the landscape and trying to find ways to address various levels of achievement along with ways to comment on industry infrastructure, the past, present and future.

    And Inside Trail is going to be where I publish these views.”

  4. Inside Trail or Matt aside for a moment: do we generally think someone has to be an experienced trail or ultra runner to make effective commentary on it?

    Certainly folks who come from the MUT space and have competed in it gain some perspective via those experiences. But I don’t think it is a prerequisite someone has to check those boxes to offer insights on it.

    Last I checked, many coaches in many sports were not necessarily successful in those sports.

    That said, I get questioning the message that put up there. I just don’t think discrediting it because of his background is the right argument to make.

    • George, this reminds me of a story when I was pacing a friend (a middle of the packer) at his first 100 at WS sometime in the 90s. I had not run a 100 miler yet. I had run about 12 marathons, done big adventures climbing mountains, big walls, and backpacking. I had experience with WS as an aid station volunteer, pacer, crew, and a spectator. My friend who was running didn’t quite understand how hilly the race was and didn’t prepare his quads. We lived in different states so we didn’t train together.

      After working the first part of the day at Dusty Corners I meet up with his crew at Michigan Bluff. He’s “done” when he gets there and had been mentally prepared to drop for the last several hours so it was quite impressive that, with the help of his crew, he was able to leave Michigan Bluff and continue his run. I thought we had made a mistake when he left the Bluff, staggering. But, the man that showed up at Foresthill was a renewed and invigorated man. So I start pacing him down Cal St and we move well to Cal 1 but things go downhill (literally) pretty quickly after that. His quads are shot. He’s tired (duh). He lays down in the middle of the trail before Cal 2 and wants to sleep. Not a very good place to call it quits. I plead with him and try to convince him that he has to keep moving, at least to the next aid station. He looks up at me and says something I’ll never forget and to which I didn’t have a good answer: “Do you know what it feels like to have run 70 miles?” He was not going to listen to anything else I had to say. And, he didn’t. We managed to get him to Cal 2 where a well-meaning medical volunteer also tried to get him to continue, but he wasn’t listening to us. He DNFed.

      He did come back another year and get a bronze buckle and then eventually a silver one.

  5. GZ: My 2 cents (which may be worth just a penny): I don’t think you need to be an elite or even good at ultrarunning to be a knowledgable commentator of the sport. I just think you need to know firsthand what it’s like to run 50 or 100 miles before you go passing judgment on a guy who has.

    In today’s mainstream sports, it’s the opinions of those who play/played that often matter the worst. If Tom Brady’s in a slump, I’m going to value what Ron Jaworski says over a guy like Stuart Scott. Sorry for the NFL reference; despite the fact that ultrarunning is my first love, I do enjoy watching football.

    I think there’s a huge need for a website like Inside Trail. Footfeathers is a great commentator on the sport for many reasons.


  6. This kind of strikes me as the old guard or the in-crowed circling the wagons. So what if Matt has not run a 100 miler and you don’t know his name? He decides to analyze and even criticize the sport and some of the long time and successful runners and all of a sudden all hell breaks loose? Are we really that sensitive? I actually find it refreshing and appreciate the thought he puts into his posts. Both he and Footfeathers are also excellent writers and InsideTrail has added much to the coverage of UTM running, including additional coverage of shorter and the Euro scene. I really hope all you top runners continue to support IT and allow their voice to be heard.

    New and different voices are a good thing even if they are contrarian. A few guys from the old boy’s network should not get to decide whose voices are added to the mix. No matter how successful those old boys might be. But I doubt you will listen to me because I am some nobody who resides in the middle of the pack and is clearly outside the circle.


  7. P.S.

    I have to admit you write well and this would generally be funny if it was not about a real person. A little too mocking for me. I like InsideTrail and think it makes a good contribution. I did not agree with Matt’s commentary on Geoff but still glad he is willing to put his voice out there.

    Also, you criticize Matt for going after Geoff but then you go after the race that Geoff helped launch and his reasoning for helping start the race. You not only mock and criticize Matt and Geoff but a bunch of other people too. You’re doing the same thing you go after Matt for doing. Kettle meet Pot.

    But I guess you can get away with it since your part of the old boy’s club.

    • Jeff, I will not and never have ignored anybody because they reside in the middle or back of the pack. That is just an unfair accusation and if I’m being too sensitive by responding then so be it. Come to Waldo next year and find out how I treat middle and back of the packers.

        • This irritated me more because it seemed to be somebody from outside of the ultrarunning community (I discovered this only after doing some research) ripping on a couple of those inside the community, criticizing and saying some pretty outrageous things about a friend of mine who just so happens to be a semi-top runner.

          • Craig, what are the requirements for entry into the ultrarunning community? When exactly is someone ‘inside’ the community? When they complete a 50K? After all, it’s technically an ultramarathon. Do you need to run 50 miles? A 100K? Or does it take completion of the 100 mile distance to validate one’s opinions? In other words, if IT Matt had a 50K under his belt (instead of just a 30K mountain run or climbing Whitney or playing semi-pro soccer), would his post have been somehow more valid?

              • Craig. Was that a sly way of dodging the questions I asked? I asked 2 questions in my post. The first one is a simple Yes or No answer, hardly requires a new post. The 2nd question, Im sure, you could answer in a few sentences. I hope you just mis-understood the question or didn’t read all the way through my 18 words, and are not just dodging the question. Come on I want to hear what you have to say about this…

                  • Craig, I don’t know about Rick, but I’m a lawyer. I assume your question was in response to his trying to pin you down in a “lawyerly” way? In any case, I’m glad you acknowledge the difficulties inherent in our questions. For example, if ITM isn’t a member of the “ultra community,” then certainly none of the hundreds and hundreds of very dedicated, but non-ultra-running volunteers at WS are part of that community. As someone who has co-captained an extremely busy aid station at Rocky Raccoon the last few years, there’s no way I’d ever think any of the amazing folks (many of them accomplished runners at shorter distances) who bust their butts at our aid station that they weren’t a part of the community, just because they haven’t run over 26.2 miles. Food for thought, grist for the mill, and all that stuff. Look forward to your post on this subject – it’ll definitely generate some traffic.

                    • Miles, a few years ago I wrote a post about the WS Family. While the following quote is specifically about WS, it might be applicable here. Shannon Weil, Co-Founder of WS, a non-runner who has devoted a lot of her life to WS wrote:

                      “The WS Family is simple to join; it includes anyone who has ever been moved by the spirit of the Western States Run or the Western States Trail Ride.”


                      My new post is ready and in the publish queue.

  8. This post is well-timed, with the recent and upcoming acronym fest (UTMB, UROC, UROY). These new events, new media, and new opinion are creating a philosophical self-assessment for the sport.

    And, for me, it’s a bit gut-churning: I feel like I just got to an awesome house party, about 3 minutes before the cops arrive to stomp on it with a big, black boot.

    In short: What separates ultra-running — the “true distance running”, if you will — from all other sports is that it is INCLUSIVE, SUPPORTIVE, and COMMUNITY.

    Conventional, “competitive sport” is largely the opposite: EXCLUSIVE, DEFENSIVE, and DERISIONAL.

    Elements of society — from within and -out the ultra community — are trying to make ultra running a conventional sport. And what we see already are the above-mentioned elements: critical, venon-spewing analyses, hyper-competitiveness, and a general disregard for what makes the sport – and its members – so great: the community.

    I loathe most convention, but I LOVE that people are into “Born to Run”, because I feel its greatest message is that ultra running, and peak performance (as runners, and humans) comes from humanity and community; from solidarity and support in doing something monumentally hard. And that for us ALL to compete at our best comes, paradoxically, from helping one another — in training, in racing, and in the media.

    That said: @George Zack, @Wyatt Hornsby, I think you DO have to run a hard 50 or 100+ — to put yourself in a position of supreme vulnerability, and to GIVE and RECEIVE with others in those hours of darkness — in order to understand that, and get over that paradox. And until you experience that, you don’t have a bleep-ing clue about what the sport really is about.

    That said #2: you may not need that experience to comment, but I suggest that you do if you intend to change the TONE of the sport with your work.

  9. Craig – OOJ, I don’t discredit the wisdom one gains from running an ultra, and what that allows them to pass on to other runners.

    I don’t buy that someone has to run an ultra to be able to speak to the nature of the sport, particularly with the topic we are kicking around: professionalism in the sport and what that means when considering media coverage.

    Wyatt, I am sure with a little bit of research I could name a good number of coaches in the sport who have had success as coaches, but little success as an athlete in the sport. To use your football example, Bill Belichick – I don’t think he ever played in the NFL. Right? But he is considered one of the best coaches.

    In running, I sure that Wetmore and Vigil are CO examples of the same.

    Likewise Craig, I am sure I could come up with lots of folks that have been ultra successful that have been paced by people that have NOT run an ultra before. In fact, I think Tim Long paced Tim W to 5th at Leadville last year, and Tim L had not done a 100 yet.

    Back to the IT post that fired folks up – and going back to when AJW brought up the DNF’s in the UROY voting, I find it hard for me to question the motivations of a Geoff, a Nick, whoever. If they DNF – it is their thing to deal with. When AJW implied some questioning of folks motivation in that past, I did not agree – even though he well ultra accomplished. When Matt questioned Geoff’s ‘best year ever’ comment – I also did not agree – even though he is not ultra accomplished.

    For me – I guess I am okay with hearing an outsider’s perspective on the sport, even if they have not run an ultra. Admittedly, I am somewhat of an outsider – or a newbie, so maybe some would question my credibility.

  10. Dude, you stir, he stir, me stir…I was so bored lately, and now it’s all fun again!
    I read your post and first 3 comments, then skimmed (my eyes are getting old), and almost forgot what I was about to comment, but I’ll try:
    1. love the story of WS pacing. I had someone (my then fiancee) trying to tell me what to do at mile 80 of Hardrock. he almost got to not marry me. Dude, try this first! With that, my point is, before you offer an inside on how to train/run 100’s – get through one, or better few (Larry only finished RR100 at the time, screw that experience! with all due love to my now husband:)).
    2. if you post controversial stuff, take the heat, or simply let the chat develop and run its course, while posting next story – after all, really, we won’t do anything if don’t hear a back-explanation
    3. I might be old-fashioned, and sport might be developing, but when I grew up, we were taught to not get snarly on older generation (grandpa’s of life)
    4. I absolutely agree if you have a blog that is labeled as a “inside the sport commentary”, the readers have a right to know the credentials of commentators. That said, we all had to do some digging to form opinions on whether or not to trust the words written (analysis of ultra-scene and why elites do what they do, or not do, is like trusting your money to a financial guy just out of college, no life-base knowledge. Steam in it, please.)
    5. many may disagree with Craig and his way of expressing – I know I am still scared of him at times (ha!), but with that he gets all the respect of being in the sport for as long as most of us simply knew about its exsistence, in every aspect of it, front, back, middle, DNF, volunteer, RD, analysis, whatever. He can say whatever he wants. That’s credential. I’ll at least listen.
    I am sure I forgot lots of stuff. Gotta go run.

  11. An outsider can comment and write articles on ultra’s but as an “insider” I’d more than likely chuckle and disregard. An article/blog from someone that has ran a 100 is more thought provoking.

  12. I think we need to be careful assuming any of us gets to decide who gets a voice and who does not. That is a really scary concept that has all sorts of awful implications and connotations. I have read “insiders” indicate that they do not recognize someone’s name and therefore feel that they don’t have to give their opinion any weight. Like it or not the sport is becoming more popular and therefore there are more participants (including slow people like me) and more nonparticipants who watch the sport carefully. Everyone who cares will have an opinion. Just like anyone who follows football has an opinion even though they likely never played or never played past high school.

    I think we should tend towards being inclusive rather than exclusive.

    This is my first time ever commenting on a blog and it may be my last but I feel pretty strongly about building an inclusive community around UTM running. It is such a great sport.

    • First time ever commenting on a blog and you chose my blog and this post? Wow, you are a brave man, Jeff. I welcome your contributions. Are you suggesting that the ultrarunning community is not inclusive? Seriously? Curious as to what ultras you have been to or where you might have formed this opinion.

      • I dont mean it is not inclusive and I have never run a race where I felt anyone was being excluded. I was referring to the idea that someone has to prove themselves before they post or comment on a post in the UTM blogosphere. I imagine that the UTM blogs are read by lots of people who are just fans, who are thinking about getting into UTM, who have just recently begun racing UTM, or who have been at it for a while but who come in near the end of the pack. I just want those people to feel welcome. The more the merrier and I would hate for someone to feel excluded based on the perceived attitude of someone who is big time in the sport (based on something they read on a blog) to the point that they decide not to pick it up.

        i am probably over reacting but sometimes there there appears to be a contrast between what I experience at races and what I read on blogs that I fear for the public perception of the sport.

  13. Thanks, Jeff. You’re in good company because all the commenters here are slow (self included). Perhaps none of us should comment, since we aren’t qualified. While we’re at it, anyone without an English degree and/or cannot use perfect grammar or spell correctly shouldn’t have the right to share commentary or opinions.
    I’m embarrassed for some of you.

  14. Regarding the “controversy” about Ultrarunner of the Year going to only North American athletes, this isn’t the first year that a non-North American athlete might be considered deserving…and yet illegible due to the award criteria. There were many years in the 80s and 90s that Yiannis Kouros was clearly the top ultrarunner in the world, especially when we was winning Spartathlon, setting the 24-hour record, and basically running circles around the competition. I’d love to know from some of the longtimers if there was ever any controversy about whether Yiannis should have gotten the award.

    My general rule in life is that hardly anything is unprecedented. There’s a precedent for almost everything–you just have to find it!


    • That’s a good question, Wyatt. Perhaps TJ (he’s the Publisher of Ultrarunning Magazine for those of you not in the community) will answer historically. I can say that since the magazine doesn’t include results from races around the world it would be difficult to get the information to the UROY voters. And, the voters are from across the US so more judges from around the world would also need to be added to the panel. I have not talked with TJ or Tia (she’s the editor for you outsiders) about whether they plan to give their magazine a more global presence.

      • Eric: Even today Yiannis’ records stand…and he’s still quite the runner. His 24-hour record is 188+ miles. Scott Jurek’s American record, which is incredible in and of itself, is 165+. Yiannis ran 23 more miles! Plus, he went over 180 a few times in the 24-hours he did. He’s also covered 1000+ miles for 10 days and has the 48-hour record. So I’d say he was greater than his contemporaries and even today there’s no one we know of who’s come close to his records. Scott had a couple of really sweet Spartathlons, but Yiannis is in a league by himself. I’ve always wondered why Spartathlon gets so little attention and yet Mont Blanc gets the hype. Spartathlon is on my bucket list.


  15. In my opinion, looking for IT Matt’s credentials is just an indication that you are deliberately or subconsciously looking for excuses in order not to even consider that he may be right. In the past, Matt showed a lot of respect for the sport, as well as many top runners … I am not sure you can blame him for staying under most people’s radar. It is definitely not that he came out of the blue to flame around. On the other hand, Craig’s post may sound funny, yet it is (in my opinion) way more personal and derogatory than what Matt wrote … I find it strange that it is then Craig who writes about inclusiveness of “the community”.

    • Vlad, I’m not looking for any excuses for anything. If you’ve read this blog you would have seen that I’ve had disagreements with Mr Roes and many others and I’m not afraid to express them. AJW and I share a similar passion for WS but we are not in lock step. I’ve been critical of all aspects of our sport. Poke around and look at my last year’s worth of posts.

      I didn’t know who ITM was (I still don’t), but as it has been expressed here by me and others, an about us page would at least let the readers decide how and what to do with what they read on the blog. Aren’t we all trained to look at who the writers or publishers of any blog or website we end up at? And, I never suggested anybody take any posts down or not write what they feel. He and anybody can flame all they want. But if you’re gonna write stuff that stirs the pot you better be ready to take the heat (like I am right now) and tell us who you are.

      I appreciate your comment, for making me think, and hope you have a great evening.

      • Thanks for reply Craig. I certainly will read more of your blog, since I discovered it just quite recently. I agree that more detailed “about us” page would be useful, but I still don’t like to mix “their credentials” with their current posts. It is not about forecasting the future to look what is their prediction record. In my opinion it was expression of “their feelings” which actually reflected feelings of quite a few “insiders” as well. I also don’t get how they presumably offended AJW (or his fans) … my understanding was that it was all well intended fun commentary (at least AJW’s part and the “quasi-academic” term) … but in my case you can always blame the “language barrier”. Could they be more “sensitive” ? sure … could they treat their readers better ? … absolutely … so they have things to improve I think, but reading comments of some pretty big names (including yours) concerning IT Matt was very disappointing. From the “big names”, i.e. often described as “humble and down-to-earth people” I was naively expecting somewhat different reaction … perhaps staying more on top of things like Karl did in his latest reply to Cloud (on Geoff’s blog), although I find some of his earlier replies to Cloud kind of childish as well.

    • Brett, I broke 5 two years ago. Last year AJW and I ran head to head so it was a tactical race and we didn’t break 5. I think we’re going to run another mile before the end of the year. We’ll set the date and invite anybody that has run a 100 recently. Pretty fun trying to train for and then run a fast mile after you spend most of the year preparing to run 10 minute pace on hilly terrain. The pain is intense but it’s over so quickly.

      Here’s a link to the mile two years ago. http://youtu.be/SCQT93T-ckI

      • Opinions are all well and good, but I agree that it’s only fair to the reader to show what angle you come from (and everyone has some background that’s relevant to this). For example, I don’t like the ethos and faffing around you get with triathlons, but in fairness I’ve never actually run one (for that reason). So if I started telling the tri community what’s wrong with their sport, but acted like I was a seasoned/knowledgeable triathlete, then that’s different to making those comments but admitting I’ve never actually experienced it first hand. Credibility is important, hence why more people tend to read blogs of the fastest and most experienced ultra runners.

        But more importantly…try running a 100 meter race, Craig. It’s embarrassing. When ultra guys do it, it looks like slow motion. And I used to be a sprinter when much younger…

        • Ian, we workout in Eugene, the land of lots of very fast people, so we’re pretty much over being embarrassed. You should see when we’re working out at Hayward Field and the UO team is there. It’s gotta be entertaining for them. Fortunately, the athletes are usually very supportive of us ultrarunners and cheer us on even though we’re running in slow motion. The one rule we do have is no carrying water bottles when working out on the track. Now that would be embarrassing 🙂

  16. Wow. Look at all the new folks. Welcome to Conduct the Juices! There are no, how was it said, “soft pours”, here.

    If ITM or anyone else associated with that Blog wants to be critical of other runners, then they should be ready to answer and stand behind their words. You folks have certainly had no problem responding to LB, why is his inquiry so wrong?

    The reaction from Inside Trail to Craig’s inquiry on AJW’s comment thread was to take down the post. This was after having his partner respond, then slyly put it back up after a few days.

    Look. To those who think that LB doesn’t recognize mid or back of the packers, why would he put so much information about WS on his website? This is not a category for “elite only”. His trail description is for anyone, and is read by everyone. Read his posts about the Haggin Cup and realize he wants you to take care of yourselves while running these races, so that you can run more of them. He’s introduced and welcomed far more newbies into this sport than he has ever driven away from it. All of you, ITM included, could learn a thing or two from what he has to say.


  17. Since my initials appear in this post and the subsequent comment thread I feel as though I should reply. I will also post additional personal thoughts and commentary over on AJW’s Blog at some future date but for now I’ll just say a few things.

    First, I have indeed commented on DNF’s on my blog and you can find the link over there. The comments were made about 19 months ago and were in reference to whether or not DNF’s should be considered in the context of the UROY voting. As one of the voters, I was concerned, at the time, that we only received information from the magazine about races that candidates had finished and therefore wondered (aloud, on my blog) if non-finishes should be included in the deliberations. This has since been changed (although I should note that other ranking services such as UltraSignUp do not include DNF’s in their database) and DNF’s are now included. I am also well aware of those people who disagreed with my position and the judgemental tone of my post (GZ, Greg Crowther and several other highly respected runners) and the dialogue that ensued was helpful to me and I learned much in the experience. I also learned that there are many, many people out there who are just waiting to pounce when I have my first DNF:)

    Secondly, LB and I are good friends but we certainly disagree on several fundamental things. For example, as can be inferred by his Haggin Cup posts, Craig is not a finish-at-all-costs guy. I am. In addition, I believe that there should be a 100-mile prerequisite for the WS100. Craig does not. Third, I wear boxers and Craig goes commando. In short, to clump us together as one is inaccurate. And, for the record, we did run a mile head-to-head at Hayward last year and Craig ran a 5:06 to my 5:08. He is, nonetheless, 10 hours behind me in the 10-year bet.

    Thirdly, in response to some of the Old Guard/New Guard comments above let me just say we were all new guard once and all of us in the alleged “Old Guard” are immensely appreciative of the changes in the sport. And, none of this is new. To use WS100 as an example, back in the day the “Old Guard” said a non-Californian would never win. Then Morton crushed the Course Record. Some in the “Old Guard” called Jurek’s first win a “fluke”. He then went on to win 6 more. More recently, there was a feeling among the experienced folks that a foreigner would never win. We saw what happened there. And, just a year ago, I suggested that the top-10 at WS would only take a 17:30 and this year a 16:40 was necessary. In short, none of us in the “Old Guard” are afraid of being proven wrong and we actually enjoy the banter. Furthermore, we learn much every time we exchange ideas.

    Finally, I’ll be honest, the comments on Inside Trail’s blog about being quasi-academic did upset me. I simply did not know how to interpret the comment. I do not know Matt but I do know Tim. He and I actually had a great race a few years ago at Ghost Town (Tim won by 5 seconds in a sprint finish). The reason the comment upset me was that it appeared to cross the line from the personal to the professional. Personally, I love ultrarunning, everything about it. But am I a professional runner? Far from it! I am, however, a professional educator and have devoted my life to working with young people in schools. I actually consider myself an academic. Maybe it’s just me but I would prefer keeping my personal passion and love for running separate from my professional vocation.

    Until, of course, I am able to turn running into a career. I am not holding my breath…

    • @AJW

      Thanks so much for this history lesson (and I mean that). One of the reasons I enjoy this blog and several others is the opportunity to learn from those with more experience and those who have achived higher levels of success. your comment is an example of one of those learning opportunities.

      Most comments were only to caution some of the “Old Guard” who clearly care a great deal about the sport, to be careful not to create the perception by some of the things they put into the blogosphere, that they do not welcome new people and ideas.

      It is clear to me that you and Craig and other experienced and successful UTM guys do welcome new people, etc. however perception matters and some of the blog chatter seemed to be sending the wrong message.

      BTW – I thought ITM tried to respond to the quasi-academic thing and explain his thinking (either through a comment on your blog or on IT). Do you feel his explanation sufficed?

    • Hey Jiz, Brewhaha gave me a pair of boxers last year. I don’t wear them very often but I have worn them. And, don’t you remember that the 10 year bet started over this year because you failed to shave your head before WS for coming in second in the mile? Great example for your kids, BTW. Dad loses a bet and doesn’t pay up. So, you only have like four hours on me with two years left.

    • AJW – I brought the DNF post into the conversation for a very point you mention. I did not agree with your assessment, but that did not turn the whole thing into some sort of BMW session.

      If I implied I wanted to see you DNF, I did not mean that. I’d rather you not DNF. I will admit, that if you ever do, I’d be very interested to hear your take on that given your earlier takes on it … but that is probably my overzealous interest in hearing people learn from their own failures (or maybe misery just loves company).

      I appreciate your willingness to hear a “new guard.” Frankly if we tell folks as they show up to the sport, “shut your mouth kid until you do what I have done,” well … hardly an inclusive attitude.

      Boxers here … except in races.

      But I do recall some haircut terms to that mile race that may not have been delivered on.

  18. And, I’d be happy to undelete the post I deleted after Inside Trail deleted theirs but I don’t know how to do that. And, I don’t have the time to figure it out. That said, aside from being miffed about being called “quasi-academic”, I pretty much am done with it all.

    I do have much to say about this whole community thing which I’ll do on AJW’s Blog when time allows.

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