Racing barefoot on lava

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by paraganek, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. paraganek

    paraganek
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    Racing Barefoot on Lava
    By Paraganek


    Oh, the lazy summer time. :yawn:
    Have not done a decent race in some time and feel like it is time to hit a road or trail again together with a nice bunch of similarly excited runners. :hungry:
    Oregon race calendar is a good place to start looking for such a venue.
    And here we go:

    "Featured in the August 2014 issue of Runner's World Magazine. This is one of the highest foot races in Oregon, covering 6.97 miles of trail, mountain slope, and just a bit of road. The entire course is above 5000 feet in altitude, with 3900 feet of total elevation change."

    Timberline Trail Running Club

    That immediately gets my attention.
    The location, the elevation, the terrain.
    It starts and ends at Timberline Lodge high on the slopes of Mount Hood. I know that area very well from my hiking/climbing adventures but I have never tried to run there.
    It's got some nice features:
    * Rocky and dusty trails low in the woods
    * Barren volcanic landscape higher up
    * Snow crossings even higher up
    * Less oxygen :wacky:
    * Great views

    And doing it barefoot will definitely stir things up a bit. :barefoot:

    .
    ..
    ...
    August 10, Sunday morning.
    Waking up at 7 AM.
    Juicing my morning fruits, packing stuff, getting excited, then nervous, then excited again :confused: .

    The race starts at 10 but it is going to take me an hour and half to drive from Portland to Timberline Lodge.
    9:30 AM.
    Sun is scorching hot, it is already 72 F. There is about 100 runners at the start, most of them look pretty competitive. I definitely catch a couple of curious glances at my bare feet but no one comments (yet).
    "He does not look like he forgot his shoes at home so he probably knows what he is doing" I get the impression from serious looks around.
    My goal is just to finish the run with no goals time wise so I am in no hurry and start slowly at the end of the pack.

    Downhill comes fist. On just a mile and half we drop some 800 feet. Some old paved forest road, then gravel but mostly dry dusty rocky trail in the middle of a ski slope. I manage just fine, maintaining speed with others, so far so good.


    Timberline Mt Run 02_lr.JPG
    Most of the race course looks like this


    Next three miles ascending back to 6000 feet. A lot of switchbacks. Forested area provides much needed shadows to cool down. The pack of runners is still quite condensed.
    I slowly start passing people uphill and the first comments start pouring from behind:

    "Ouch!" :inpain:
    "There is no ouch out there, the trail is really nice." I politely throw back hoping to sound convincing.

    "Wow!" - a silent one

    "Don't your feet hurt?" - another one at a water station.
    "If they were hurting I would not be running here, believe me" I smile back.

    Vegetation stops, we are above timberline running on a barren old broken lava landscape. Noon is coming, 85 F now with all the heat radiating from the dark rocky landscape, burning sun depleting my water reserves. Really glad I left my t-shirt in car, occasional light breeze cools me down.

    The real scramble comes up. We gain the last 1000 feet over only 1 mile. Towards the top it is more of a power walking than running. Runners are much more scattered now, some stopping and resting. Snow patches start appearing. At one point we are passing under a ski lift with some skiers riding it up (Mount Hood has year round skiing). A bunch of snowboarders starts pointing down at me:
    "That guy is doing it barefoot !"
    I show them two thumbs up with a smile and get loud shouts of encouragement in reward. :playful:

    Mile 5.5, the highest point at 6,960 feet. Running on old packed snow patches brings the much needed refreshment and cooling for the feet.


    Timberline Mt Run 06.JPG
    Meeting skiers along the race


    Timberline Mt Run 07.jpg
    Running over snow

    Now I am flying down. Everyone in front of me seems to be running slow crashing heels hard into the ground. Just painful to watch. I quickly pass everyone in sight and just keep enjoying the crazy downhill ride alone.


    Timberline Mt Run 03_lr.JPG
    Finally downhill


    Timberline Mt Run 01_lr.jpg
    Running downhill on coarse glacial till

    Finishing in 1 hour 23 minutes.

    After the race more people come over to chat a little.

    "Man, what is you strategy for running downhill? You were just flying out there! My knees always hurt on steep downhills" one the guys I passed on the downhill section.

    We chat a little, all I can tell him is running barefoot really makes the difference. All I do is just relax the whole body, bend knees a lot and let the gravity pull me down the mountain while maintaining really high cadence.

    Another girl tells me she is a strong believer in running barefoot but her arches are too weak to actually run like that. o_O If only she knew...:depressed:

    No one calls me crazy, hardcore, bad-ass etc. (as I have been often called at other races)
    In general people here today are much more open to the idea running without shoes actually makes sense.

    I take it as a good sign, times are changing. :)

    Timberline Mt Run 04_lr.JPG
    Feet after the race - no blisters, no cuts, no bruises.

    Race stats:

    Distance 6.97 miles
    Time 01:23
    Total elevation change 3,900 feet
    Max elevation 6,982 feet
    Placed 5th in my AG



    Timberline Mt Run Profile 2.JPG
    Elevation profile


    Timberline Mt Run Route.jpg
    Map of the course
     
  2. Barefoot TJ

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    Beautiful flowers. It's interesting how they grow in that soil. It must be rich in something. Love the elevation you traveled!

    I have copied this to the Home Page. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. Larry

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    Man, that looks like a tough run. Impressive effort!
     
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  4. Bare Lee

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    Great Job Mr. Paraganek! You done us proud!
     
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  5. paraganek

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    That is my mission :)
     
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  6. Spiderweb62

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    Awesome ! Thanks for sharing....I start to like downhill running now that I can relax my body, but this is another level ! Well done !
     
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  7. rickwhitelaw

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    Great report and pictures Dan. I am always impressed with your barefoot adventures.
     
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  8. Tristan

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    Sounds like a neat course with great views. Skiing in summer, wow. Nothing like that over here in the eastern states! 1,000' vertical in a mile - that's rough even for hiking.
     
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  9. Ahcuah

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    That looks awesome. (And I'm guessing the red on the bottoms of your feet are maybe some berries you stepped on?)
     
  10. Josh16

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    And I thought some of routes/trails here weren't barefoot running friendly! It shows me a lot can be achieved with the proper effort and dedication.
     
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  11. paraganek

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    No berries in that area, could be stains from some red rock mixed with whatever the feet picked up on the floor at the finish area (beer :hungry: )
     
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  12. Barefoot Ken Bob

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    There are few, if any, non-barefoot friendly terrains. There are some terrains that are only friendly to the best running techniques while barefoot. It is terrain like this, where we learn the most.
     
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  13. Barefoot Ken Bob

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    I remember reading an article criticizing barefoot running, and they used this photo of the bottom of Abebe Bikila's feet as an example of how "bloody" his feet were after running barefoot ???
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. El Yuca Descalzo

    El Yuca Descalzo
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    Excelent dude! way to go!
     
  15. Barefoot TJ

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    They don't look bloody to me. They look...dirty...as they should be.
     
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  16. Josh16

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    I like to say "Dirty feet, healthy feet".
     
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  17. Fatty

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    Inspirational.
     
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  18. jldeleon

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    Hey you! You maniac! :D Could you please email this to me? With a couple photos? I'd like to put on the Facebook Page - I would let you do it, except I do not remember how I had been organizing them on there, so I have to go check that out. Thanks!
     
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