Saturday, June 28, 2008

Let the madness begin...

Editor's Note: This essay pirated from Michael Valliant's website (The 4-1 Run) without permission. It was definitely Derek's fault.

Let the madness begin...the start of the Team Slug Booty Rumble 50K around Killens Pond in Delaware. Derek Hills (dual citizenship with Team Slug and the Rise Up Runners) leads the charge wth RUR's Lori Callahan and Mike Valliant in the mix. Photo courtesy of Team Slug.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...this contest will be for ten rounds with each round lasting 3.1 miles of runnable singletrack. The heat will climb to around 88 degrees and the humidity will make it seem worse. If it any time you become unconscious or your corner throws in the towel, you will probably be offered a beer, but you will not have completed the Booty Rumble 50K.

ROUNDS 1 through 5

Bob and weave...the first loop around Killens Pond we get our bearings, learn the course, as first Derek Hills leads the way, then relinquishes the lead after a re-routed trail stymies him. Beautiful course, open trail, some roots, some wooden bridges through muddy spots, running by some cabins, then by a boat ramp and a 1/4 mile of road before looping back to the check-in and aid station.

The Delaware Slugs are great people--ultra runners and ultra running enthusiasts, who have battle scars and stories from various races, and are friendly, gracious, and encouraging on the trail and at the picnic tables.

Pace seems easy, speeding up at times, and finishing each 5K loop in under 30 minutes. 10K in 55 minutes or so. Runners are spread out, but there are still a few of us running around each other. I start thinking greedy and say to Lori, "You know, if we keep this pace, we might finish in under 5 hours..."

Lori is more reasonable (and right), "And if we don't, that's okay too..."

Of the Easton/Rise Up Runner contingency, Derek has moved ahead a bit, and Lori and I zig-zag through the first three loops or so, with her quicker through the aid station, and me catching up to her on the trail. We're in the aid station at the same time after three, and I run four at a good clip to catch up, but wind up catching up to Derek, who says his legs feel like bags of cement. I'm feeling good, so I move on ahead. Turns out Lori had lingered a bit longer at the aid station to adjust gear. Finish loop 4 (20K) in under two hours. As I am leaving the aid station to start loop 5, I see her heading in.

Loop 5, still feeling strong, coming in under 2:30 for 25K. Half-way there. The shoes I am testing for Trail Runner mag have been rubbing funny, so I switch to a more trusty pair of Inov-8s I have at the aid station and my feet feel lighter. Legs feel good, stomach is intact, in the back of my mind, the 5 hour 50K is still whispering.

ROUNDS 6 & 7

Loop 6 is more of the same, though my mind begins to feel like it's in the rinse cycle--lap-happy and on auto-pilot, but still functioning and not screaming at me. Finish 30K in under 3 hours.

Loop 7 has me a little dizzy. Still running, but not strong. Man, it must be getting hot or something! Got some Shot Bloks down, but stomach isn't happy any more. Shuffle in for 35K, fallen off the pace of the previous six loops, but, hey, it's another loop in the books!



How'd I end up on the mat? The Killens Pond's Pondside Trail doesn't pack a wallop. It doesn't have a knockout punch. More of a glancing blow. What's going on?

Tank is empty. Stomach is on strike. Legs are not cramping, but the mind/body no longer wants to make them run. So I walk...most of the loop. I expect Lori will be coming by me this loop, and she does. She's fairing a bit better, steady, working with a 10:1 run/walk cadence. She's got momentum and pushes on ahead.


Dizzier. No desire for food, stomach won't allow any. It's a casual race. Most folks were doing a few loops, or the 25K. 40K is all I've got in me today. It's a fun run...and I am relegated to walking. I'll just walk the rest of this loop and call it a day. Drink some water, chill on the picnic table, wait for my stomach to feel better. Is it really a DNF on a fun run? I'm okay with a it's hot...I'm done. I'll just get around the loop. Pick it up to a shuffle.

I pull in to the aid station and I'm done. No will to keep moving. I sit on the picnic table, grab some ice for the back of my neck and sit down. I drink a little water.

Fella comes over who'd run a few loops. Just ran the Skyline 40 miler the weekend before. Had to powerhike the last section because of stomach issues. Had thrown up for 35 miles at the Massanutten 100-miler before dropping. Didn't want two DNFs in a row, so made himself finish Skyline. Before that had ran well at the Umsted 100, but hadn't been able to get his stomach right since.

"Just two more loops," he says. "You can just walk 'em to bring it home if you have to."


I'm up. Sitting helped. The ice helped. Water for the last loop has calmed my stomach. I take an S-Cap and drop a NUUN tablet and ice in the water bottle, to make sure cramping doesn't become a factor. At some point while sitting, my legs found there way back. I'm running again leaving the aid station.

ROUNDS 9 & 10

For the second five loops walkers, campers, fishing folks have been laughing, shaking their heads seeing me go by again. Must be a sight! My legs are working again and I'm able to run. For less than another 10K now, I know my stomach will cut me some slack. A little trail weary, but passable. I finish loop 9 and tell the good folks at base camp I better do a "cool down" loop.

As I'm leaving the aid station, I see Derek coming in. "Last lap?" he asks. "Last lap." "Alright!"

Loop 10 is like 9--running, not fast, but running most of it. The road around the pond, past the public ramp is a welcome landmark, knowing it's pretty well finished. I find enough foot speed to make myself look like a runner again down the stretch to finish. Some cheers and a whole lotta smiles. 50K (31 miles) finished in 5:48. Lori is in already (and much quicker to recover), clocking in at 5:40, and not five minutes after I sat down, the cheers picked up as Derek came across the proverbial line in 5:52.


A little unorthodox for a race report, but I'm not sure what is orthodox about running 31 miles in the middle of June :) Team Slug, Delaware welcomed us with open arms and gave us everything we needed to gitterdun' on a hot day. An exceptional (and exceptionally funny and kooky in a good, ultra running way) group of folks, who know how to have a good time.

They've got a more holistic race report, and a bunch of pictures that sum up the day in images over on the Booty Rumble 50K race page. There's also a quick shout-out of thanks and congratulations to Lori and Derek on our Rise Up Runners blog.

Mentally, the Rumble was one of the more difficult runs I've done, not for the difficulty of the course, but for the ease of stopping at the end of every loop once you get tired! For me, point-to-point, out-and-back, and even a bigger loop, make for an easier race, even with tougher terrain.

Having said that, the experience was great. The people were fantastic. And I've stretched out the soul again to see what's in some of the corners that don't get used until/unless you push yourself past where you are comfortable.

That said, when ultra running and I cross paths, I think I prefer it to be in the spring, fall, or winter. Isn't summer supposed to be for vacations? ;)

Michael Valliant

Friday, June 27, 2008

Western States Cancelled.

35th Western States Endurance Run has been Cancelled.
Dear Western States Runners,

It is with deep regret that we announce today that the 35th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run has been cancelled, due to the unprecedented amount of wildfires that have struck northern California in recent days and the health risks that have been associated with these wildfires. The Board of Trustees of the Western States Endurance Run has consulted with many of our local and state race partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, in coming to this decision. We apologize to our runners for any inconvenience this decision has created.

The race's organizers are currently working on a revised schedule of runner activities for Thursday and Friday in Squaw Valley, and these details will be made available soon. Although there will be no race for the first time in our 35-year history, we still wish to make this experience as meaningful as possible for our runners. Activities will include annual events such as runner check-in for goodie bag pickup on Friday morning, the pre-race briefing and raffle on Friday afternoon, the showing of Western States documentaries on Friday night, and a special gathering of runners commemorating the race's start on Saturday.

Since the beginning of more than 840 wildfires statewide, 312 wildfires in northern California and more than 3,200 lightning strikes in the Tahoe National Forest alone on June 21, the race's organizers have worked closely with a variety of local, county and state agencies in determining the best course of action for our race. It has become apparent that given our race's paramount concern - the safety or our runners - holding this year's race would pose too great a risk to our runners, to our aid station personnel and to our volunteers. Given the close proximity of at least two fires that are within two miles of our race course and a critical access road, as well as the deteriorating air quality stretching from our start in Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif., the board has determined that cancellation, rather than postponement or the use of an alternative course, represents the safest and most prudent decision for our 2008 event.

Our decision was based on three factors:

1. Proximity of the fire to the race course, which has the potential to impact the safety of runners, aid station personnel and volunteers at any point during the race.

Fire projections indicate that the Westville Fire has the potential to reach the Foresthill Divide Road by the weekend; in addition, the Peavine Fire could reach Last Chance and Mosquito Ridge Road, possibly compromising access in and out of these areas. In a statement, Jan Cutts, District Ranger for the American River Ranger District, said, "In addition to the potential direct impact by the fires, (the race's cancellation) is based on safety concerns surrounding the increased number of vehicles on the road and congestion associated with the Run. We see hundreds of vehicles on the Foresthill Divide Road and Mosquito Ridge Road for this event each year. That's just too many additional vehicles when we've got fire-fighting equipment and personnel using the same roads for fire suppression operations. … Safety is our overriding concern and we felt we could not provide a safe environment for this year's Run because of the unprecedented fire activity in the area."

2. Air quality deterioration.

Placer County Air Pollution Control District officials have issued an air-quality advisory. Air quality specialists with Placer County are advising individuals to reduce their exposure to the unhealthy air, and that includes vigorous outdoor activities. Medical representatives from the Western States Board have consulted with several physicians regarding their expert opinion on running a 100-mile trail race through rugged country through such unhealthy air; the consensus has been that such an activity would not be recommended, with the potential for serious health risks - even for the most highly trained of athletes. As a point of reference, a high level of pollution is 35 micrograms of material; in Auburn on Wednesday the level was 10 times that amount, according to figures from Placer County. In addition, Placer County Air Pollution Control District officials have characterized the air conditions as extremely hazardous and the worst recordings the area has had in more than 10 years.

In a statement, the Placer County Public Health Officer, Air Pollution Control Officer and Director of the Office of Emergency Services, all concurred with the decision to cancel this year's run:

"The current situation in Northern California with respect to poor air quality and active fire danger is unprecedented. Within Placer County there are three active fires burning in the American River watershed, two of which have potential to impact the Western States Trail directly. These fires, as well as ones burning outside of the American River watershed to the west and north are creating unhealthy smoke concentrations throughout the foothills. This has necessitated county public health officials to issue advisories recommending a curtailment of voluntary outdoor activities that include strenuous physical exertion. These recommendations include reducing exposure to smoke." Added Tom Christofk, Placer County Air Pollution Officer: "The widespread smoke throughout Northern California is forecasted to remain as long as the wildfires continue to burn and the weather conditions do not substantially change. The poor air quality conditions being experienced in Placer County are expected to persist through the weekend and impact elevations from the valley to Tahoe. High particulate matter concentrations affect respiratory and cardiovascular systems negatively, and I concur with the decision to cancel the Run from a public health perspective as we have been issuing health advisories recommending the limiting of outdoor physical exercise until conditions improve."

3. Safety of our runners.

For 35 years, the Western States 100 has been predicated on our runner's safety. As stewards of the race, the Western States Board has always recognized that running 100 miles over snow, through high elevations, into infernal canyons and through the dark of night can pose great challenges for even the most skilled of runners. Couple the challenging nature of our run with the existing combination of close proximity of wildfire, potential volatile fire activity that could cut off key access points to the course as well as some of the most unhealthy air the region has seen this decade, and the decision was made in recognition of our preeminent goal - the safety of our runners.

For all of you, today's news is disappointing. Since the lottery was held in December, you have trained with remarkable diligence and focus to get to this day. You have dreamed big and made countless personal sacrifices to prepare for one of the greatest days any trail runner can ever have. As a group, the Western States Board would like to commend you for your dedication and devotion not only to the preparation that is required for our race, but to the community of trail runners of which we are all a part. You are members of a special group, one that relishes challenge, constantly strives to improve the limits of what is believed possible, and seeks the special kindred spirits of others who revel in the beauty of our sport. We have been honored to have your name as part of our race's start list this year.

We would be remiss if we did not publicly thank the men and women of the American River Ranger District, particularly Jan Cutts and Ed Moore, for their consultation and constant flow of updated information regarding this very challenging fire situation. The City of Auburn, City Manager Bob Richardson, and officials from Placer County, in particular Tom Christofk, Placer County Air Pollution Control Officer, and Dr. Richard Burton, Placer County Public Health Officer, have also been invaluable sources of information and advisement. Thanks to all of these trail partners.

In the coming days, we will announce details regarding entries for next year's race, which will be determined in a fair and equitable manner. It should be noted that per our race rules, all race entries are non-refundable.

Thank you again for your participation and interest in the Western States 100. We hope that we will see you in 2009.


Tim Twietmeyer
Western States Board President

Greg Soderlund
Race Director

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey Slugs...we can't make this stuff up...

Or, Reflections from Saturday's Booty Rumble Slug Run...

from race winner Dave "The Viper" Groff....

"I've heard it all before. The pre-race briefing where the RD warns you about all the hazards of ultrarunning and the dangerous flora and fauna that may be encountered on the course. Delaware Striped Pit Vipers? Yeah, right. Extremely agressive? Sure, okay. Only lost 3 runners to them over the years? Okay, okay (those estimates are always high anyways). Lets go already.

Being my first run with the slugs I was a bit skeptical about the over-dramatic briefing but let me assure you Delaware Striped Pit Vipers are real! Oh woe to the Unbelievers!

About half way through the second lap a DSPV in search of a snack launched itself from a tree and landed squarely on John's shoulders. He was wearing the thing like a boa and screaming like a little girl until he saw me coming up the trail so he grabbed the beast by the tail and flung it to the ground and did his best impression of a war dance. The serpent came at us with fire in it's eyes and it's fangs dripping venom. Now instead of just a snack he'd have a nice meal.

Now it's a well known fact (apparently not known by yours truly though until after the horrific encounter) that DSPVs are attracted to unsuspecting ultrarunners wearing white. Damn my luck!

But it's also a well known fact (but again not by yours truly) that DSPVs are mortally afraid of tie-dye. As I reached for a twig in a futile effort to defend myself from certain doom the hideous creature caught a glimpse of my ever-present trusty tie-dyed bandana on my right wrist. Immediately the beast wilted, all fight gone, and took off in the other direction like it had grown a set of legs (not slow Slug legs though, more like roadrunner legs). We were saved!

Every runner has their superstitions - mine is my trusty worn bandana. DSPV repellant, emergency shelter, fine cloth napkin or snot rag, tourniquet or doo rag, I never run an ultra distance without it."

Dave (insert slug name here) Groff

Saturday, June 21, 2008

TSI Booty Rumble 50K


Ms. Pokey, President of all the Delaware Sluggo's, is pleased to announce that the Inaugaural TSI Booty Rumble was held today in the Central Slug Swamps of Delaware. Eleven Starters toed the line; led home by David Groff of New York in 5:11. On the women's side, Lori Callahan of Maryland led the pack in 5:40. It was Ms.Callahan's very first ultra-distance run. Congrats to all Starters and Finishers; full results and pictures are posted at

Please register early at for the Fall Run.
Slug finishers will receive the 20th Anniversary Team Slug Beer Stein.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Team Slug International Booty Rumble 2008

Confirmed Victim's for 2008 Booty Rumble
Team Slug Supersecret Training Grounds
(The Swamps of Central Delaware)
June 21, 2008

At least 25K
Da’ Prez Dover, DE
Linda Gallagher Port Matilda, PA
Heather Valochvic Vermont
Andrea Berninger Elizabeth City, NC
Debbee Straub Townsend DE

Grand Poo-Bah Easton, MD
Eddie Joe Chester Springs, PA
John Straub Townsend, DE
Landy Cook Easton, MD
Lori Callahan Easton, MD
Michael Valliant Easton, MD
Dave Groff Erieville, NY
Anthony P., NY

Esteemed Race Director “The Motivator” Lisa Whazzup Walton
Super Secret Special Guest- Well it wouldn’t be a secret if I told you!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Last Call from Sista Pokey...

Last Call for the Booty Rumble- Haven't nailed down a final count, but looks to be about 12 possible victims... Orders for the Xtra special booty rumble shirts are going out June 10th, I am sure you wanted one. What size would you like? I'll get you a list of names and locations of the brave souls. Looking forward to seeing you, I hope all is well-Sister Pokey

p.s. Official Slug e-mail .... ....

Monday, June 02, 2008

Team Slug in Europe...

We know nothing, and even if we did, we wouldn't post it...


Slugs in Europe ROCK !!!