Gratitude – Joe Grant ponders the concept of gratitude during a morning run

I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

by Joe Grant, special to irunfar.com

We have had a long mild stretch of unseasonably warm weather in Gold Hill, Colorado, allowing me to run much more than I typically would at this time of year. Most of the roads around town and the trails down in Boulder have been clear of snow and ice. I have been grateful for the clement conditions as some persistent nerve damage in my wrist has limited my physical activity primarily to running.

I sustained the injury during the Arizona Trail Race last April, a 750-mile mountain-bike race across Arizona. The severity of the pain has fluctuated from manageable, to nearly non-existent, to feeling as if my wrist was completely broken.

About a month ago, I severely re-tweaked it for the nth time, which triggered a negative psychological response far greater than the physical discomfort. The issue, I felt, was close to being resolved, but then due to a silly mishap, I was back to square one.

For some reason, I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

When healthy, as fitness and ability improve, there is a tendency to become too goal-oriented and perhaps overlook some of the more essential reasons of why it is worth being outside in the first place. Nature is part of us and we are fully part of nature.

Beyond stating the obvious, on a deeper level, this realization brings forth a sense of contentment, grounding, and humility–all of which are important ingredients to the healing process.

As I set off on my run today, I go by the school where the kids are piling into the classroom. There is yelling and laughter, a mix of the excitement and innocence that comes to life every morning in the playground This is a good way to set the tone as I enter my own world of play.

The neighbor on the corner is smoking a pipe on his porch, easing into the day. I do not smoke, but enjoy the aroma of tobacco. There is also a real sense of tranquility in his process that I can appreciate. A couple of fox dart across the road, playfully teasing my dog. Bella is not sure what to do, to chase or flee? She stands frozen in place, the hair on her back raised. Before she has time to engage, they have vanished into the woods.

I love the fox–their whimsical character, that twinkle in their eye, always with an air of mischief. Much like the kids, their whole demeanor reminds me to stay lighthearted, to not take myself too seriously.

I plummet down the steep trail, opening up my stride, feeling loose, relaxed.

I can hear dog’s bell, but lose sight of her. She takes a shortcut, appears out of the trees ahead, charging. We hop the creek in unison and begin to climb. She buries me with ease up the hill with her four little legs. Pausing, she looks back at the heavy-breathing ape, tail wagging. She is smiling, I swear.

It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, to feel defeated by an injury or an obstacle and lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead of feeling bogged down by my limitations, I am deeply grateful for what I can do. With the right perspective there are no dead ends, only possibilities.

As I reach the top of the climb, I stop at the overlook above town. The Indian Peaks line the horizon, with the broad, flat summit of Longs Peak capping the range to the northwest.

The mountains speak to a deeper place in my heart, rather than just feed my physical needs. We have so much to be thankful for.

Source: Gratitude

The Top FKTs of 2016, from Ultimate Direction

Joe Grant nabbed the FKT for bagging all of Colorado’s 14ers without the help of a car in 2016. Photo courtesy Joe Grant

The FKTOY award will recognize the top FKT by a Female and by a Male. The purpose is to learn, appreciate, and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. No one actually wins anything – just the respect of their peers.

by Buzz Burrell, Ultimate Direction

The “FKT” has arrived!  Runners all over the world now understand and use the term, and may expend more effort going for a Fastest Known Time than in a regular race.

So the time has come for a “Fastest Known Time of The Year” Award!  Following the long-standing Ultra Runner of the Year (“UROY”) awards that have recognized and celebrated the sport’s best since 1981, the FKTOY award will recognize the top FKT by a Female and by a Male. The purpose is to learn, appreciate, and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. No one actually wins anything – just the respect of their peers.

So a list of top candidates was created by Peter Bakwin from his FKT site, then a group of 21 experienced runners were recruited to vote … and after much deliberation, their votes decided it!  It was an amazing process.  The winners will be announced next week in Ultrarunning Magazine and on this blog, along with brief comments from the Voters as to why each was valued (Hint: they ALL were incredible, but two more so than the others

So here is the list of candidates and what they did.  What do YOU think about these routes?  Which do YOU think should be the inaugural FKTOY?  Please post your Comments below.

FEMALE (all in chronological order)

Joelle Vaught – 5/20; Trans Zion; 48 mi; 8h, 26m, 9s – Sweet route crossing Zion NP on trails; previous FKT’s by Krissy Moehl and Bethany Lewis.

Amber Monforte – 7/22-26; John Muir Trail Unsupported; 222 mi; 4d, 1h, 13m – One of the mostly hotly-contested long trail routes. Only 5h 13m slower than Sue J’s 2007 Supported record.

Gina Lucrezi – 8/10; Mt Whitney (car-car); 22 mi; 5h, 29m, 22s – 6,000′ vert in 11mi to highest point in lower 48 states; first known attempt by a Woman.

Heather Anderson – 10/7-27; Arizona Trail Self-Supported; 800 mi; 19d, 17h, 9m – “Anish” now holds the Overall Self-Supported records for the AT, PCT, and the AZT.

Meghan Hicks – 9/9-11; Nolan’s 14; 100 mi; 59h, 36m – Open Course tagging 14 14ers; few trails, lots of navigation, tons of vert. Supported.

Sue Johnston – 1/1-12/26; 4000ers Calendar Grid; 3,159 mi; one year – All 48 New Hampshire 4,000′ summits every month for a year. Reported 3,159 mi, 993,970′ vert, and hiking 205 days.
Yikes!  Stout stuff!  What about the guys?

MALE

Ryan Ghelfi – 7/6; Mt Shasta Ascent; 1h, 37m, 5s – This used to be an actual race. Ryan beat FKT’s by Rickey Gates, and John Muir from 1874!

Uli Steidl – 7/26; Mt Rainier (car-car); 4h, 24m, 30s – Bettered Willie Benegas 2008 time. This is the Runners Record; there are separate records for Skiers (which is faster).

Leor Pantilat – 8/6-10; Sierra High Route Unsupported; 195 mi; 4d, 16h, 21m – Technically difficult for most runners so few attempts have been made; this took 3 days off the previous FKT. Roughly paralleing the JMT but above it, mostly off-trail, with 3rd Class sections and navigation.

Nick Elson – 8/13; Grand Traverse; 17 mi; 6h, 30m, 49s – Legendary alpinist Alex Lowe had this FKT, then Rolo Garibotti at 6h, 49m for 15 years. 10 Teton summits, 12,000′ vert, climbing up to 5.8 grade, free solo.

Joe Grant – 7/26-8/26; Colorado 14ers Self-Powered, Self Supported; 400 mi; 31d, 8h, 33m – 3+ days faster than Justin Simoni from previous year. Start/Finish at his house, hike/run 400mi, bike 1,100mi, climb 57 14ers, no Support.

Karl Meltzer – 8/3-9/18; Appalachian Trail Supported; 2,189 mi; 45d, 22h, 38m – Speedgoat’s 3rd try took about 9 hrs off Jurek’s time from previous year. This is the original long trail, featuring David Horton, Pete Palmer, Andrew Thompson, Jen Pharr-Davis, Scott Jurek, and countless before.

Jim Walmsley – 10/4; Grand Canyon R2R2R; 46 mi; 5h, 55m, 20s – Took 25m off Rob Krar’s 2013. Super classic route. Blazing 2h 46m S-N to begin, which is an R2R FKT going in the slowest direction.

Pete Kostelnick – 9/12-10/24; Trans America; 3,067 mi; 2d, 6h, 30m – Goes way back to the “Bunion Derby” days of the 1920’s Broke 36 year old FKT by 4 days. 72mi/day for 6 weeks.

Incredible!  How does one choose between these?  The Voters were allowed to vote for up to 5, ranking them accordingly, then the scores were added up.

Source: The Ultimate Direction Buzz | Athlete Commentary, Product Development and Race Updates

Dispatch #6: Self-Propelled Adventure w/ Joe Grant, Erik Sanders, Christopher Harrington & Ilene Bloom

Joe Grant

For this week’s live show we talk with a group of impressive go-getters from the Front Range:

We recorded LIVE with a nice crowd from the patio of Mountain Toad Brewing in Golden with four inspiring mountain adventurers who all share a love of suffering in nature.

Joe Grant talks to us about his recent self-supported peak-bagging of all 57 14ers. He talks about his 100-mile “rest day” bike ride, his lowest point on the trails (on a paved road of all things) and how he keeps his motivation in some very difficult elements.

Erik Sanders discusses his Labor Day weekend Nolan’s 14 attempt and breaks some news regarding an exciting adventure race he’s got coming up.

Christopher Harrington talks about the group of trail-blazers he founded, FRXC – Front Range Cross Country, and lays out an ambitious plan that is now officially Joe Grant-approved.

Our “every-woman” Ilene Bloom tells us how she got mixed into the crazy world of ultra-running and what she’s got her eyes set on next.