I run a lot. Running a lot is a requirement for running trail ultramarathons; being on vacation is no excuse not to run, but I’d do it even if I didn’t have a race the week after! Running - and especially trail running - is an incredible way to see a country or city. I ran a total of 76 miles during our vacation in Korea and Japan, most of it in the mountains. On almost all of my runs, regardless of where I am, I carry an iPhone X, which has really exceptional cameras. Here are a collection of photos from those runs on: Bukhansan, Ansan, Namsan, Han River, Achasan (Korea), and Inariyama, Kamo River (Kyoto).
It has been nearly four months since my last post - from my time at the Oregon Coast 30k, then the longest race I'd attempted - to now. Over 160 hours of training in the last year, roughly 1,200 miles run, and nearly 100,000 feet climbed in preparation for one thing; something I'd seen as impossible, despite so many idols and regular folks doing it time and time again: Run a 50km trail race. But not just any trail race - the vaunted Orcas Island 50k.
The race has between 8,000 and 9,000 feet of climbing and somewhere between 30 and 32 miles of travel throughout the eastern lobe of Orcas Island in the San Juans of Washington's Puget Sound. In the month of February, Orcas Island's Mounts Constitution and Pickett receive rainforest-levels of rain, sometimes even snow. It features three climbs up Mt. Constitution's slopes (including the infamous Powerline: 2 miles of pure hell straight up the mountain, covering nearly 2,500ft of elevation), a couple doozies up Mt. Pickett, and many more smaller inclines to burst runners' calves. This year, due to increased rainfall, it included a slightly longer starting section and dozens of deep puddles, including an example up to our knees and roughly 25' long.
My amazing wife arranged a group of friends to come stay in a cabin for the weekend. I ran with two of the primary men that introduced me to the sport of trail ultramarathoning. It was the most mentally and physically challenging event of my life; it was pure joy with deep chasms of misery and doubt; it was 6:45:50 of fortitude-testing highs and lows. Perhaps some new test will beat what I experienced this weekend, but it's hard to imagine such a thing.
As a little kid, I was obsessed with Machu Picchu for a while. My school had large, glossy, color picture books of Incan ruins, and something about the way the city looked like a castle or its unlikely perch on top of a mountain ridge captured my imagination. Brushing against the stones of this ancient place and gazing down into multi-thousand-foot valleys from precipices delivered deep joy.
The town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu, despite clearly being the result of the booming tourist economy, had a few gems. First, traveling to the town is only possible by train - my favorite mode of transportation. The tracks cut right through one axis of the town. There were also a couple of very nice beer joints, including one at which we quickly became favored clients, knowing a thing or two about good beer and staying long hours to play cards and eat guinea pig pizza. We only stayed two nights, and despite the general touristy tone of town, Aguas Calientes had its own charm and didn't lack surprises.