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    Half of Success is Suck

    By: Jobie Williams

    When Jim Walmsley twice had sure immortality snatched from his grip, he did what so many of us do, something that is core to the trail/ultra community, he went back to work and continued to prepare to taste success. If you disliked telling your running friends and co-workers you dropped at the local 50K over the weekend, think of having the extended running community chime in on why you missed the turn or failed to perform to expectations. I’m no Walmsley fan boy, but I respect the process he took to Western States success. His writing of his own story is what we all hope is inside of us.

    Walmsley is one of the supercars of running. The ladies and guys like him fly on the downhills, move efficiently on the technical terrain and power up the mountain sides. I’m not that person. I’m more of the Honda Del Sol of the running community - aging, with a dated design and the tape deck still listed as my top quality but we have similarities in that we can both understand that half of success is suck.

    By nearly all accounts 2017 was the worst for me. Just the absolute worst. I ran less, adventured less, traveled less.  If less is more, I had everything. The reality is life was churning me up and preparing me for more. I had become mildly successful as a human and looking back on the year, I needed exactly what I got, a forced internal review for what I wanted to become in the back half of this thing called life. Going through a rough year makes you think about a lot of things. Being a runner, let’s face it, I (and you) bring everything around to running.

    These are the some of the things I learned about success and its other half.

    1. It doesn’t always feel good 

    More times than not, you finish a run without experiencing the highs of olympic success. It probably seems you are the only person who feels this way, but surprise, surprise, people lie on Instagram. Training is monotonous. Training is a bit of failing over and over until you learn to get it right, or build up the callouses to perform to your expectations. My buddy, Billy Simpson once gave me the great trail running advice of “trust the process”. The fact that we were sitting at a slot machine and I had just told him to slow down since his balance was quickly deteriorating doesn’t matter. Its still good trail running advice.

    2. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that we are the problem

    I’ve had those days where I felt good, went out hard and burned up bright. It sucks to feel you have it, only to find yourself jogging it in because of, well, because of you. We like to blame our failures on all the other things. People go to Badwater and complain because it was a hot year - its a desert. People go to Hardrock and talk about the storms - spend a few days in Silverton, it rains every afternoon and you are at 13,000 feet above Cincinnati. People go to Western States and go out too fast because they think they are on a fast track - that race isn’t fast, its just that the supercars go there with their ‘A’ games and run ridiculous times while us Del Sols go there with a three-quarter tank of gas and visions that we look like a Lamborghini. So as long as they let us race, we will keep flopping into the Michigan Bluffs of the world wondering why the world is against us. But maybe, some introspection is due. Those hot days, or the cold, dark, rainy days you want to skip in training - the one’s that really suck, are all part of the process. Stay diligent.

      3. You are not unique

      Ever had a job where all the issues were considered unique and then you went to another job and all the issues were considered unique but they were really the same as the last place and then you went to another job and all the issues were considered unique but were all the same problems as the last two places you worked… The running community has so many individuals who have figured out our issues already. All we have to do is engage and listen. The Territory community has group runs, social media sites for communications, Strava groups, with all of these outlets come a ton of free help for what we might consider our unique issues.

        4. There are good lessons in the muck

        There is a saying that I have found to be very true, “failure is the mother of all success”. Its not always the easy way to learn through failure, but for the majority of us runners that tend to lean toward success in our lives, the failures can highlight so much more than the successes do. Whether that be a lack of specificity in training, over training, under training, or poor in-run decisions, its very hard to hide from the lessons in failure. I’ve had several major failures due to my own head games. One year at the Arkansas Traveler 100, I took a DNF around the 65 mile mark not because my body had broken down, but because my mind had. I simply lost the interest to continue. Around half way I was on track to have a good result. The weather was great, I was feeling fine for having run 50ish miles, but there was one short section of the run that was literally bush whacked through the course. It wasn’t my favorite. When I exited this tiny section and ran into the aid station, I told my wife, who was crewing me, that I had just run through the ass-crack of Arkansas. From that point on, I found every excuse and weakness possible until eventually I just had had enough and quit. For no reason. In the short-term this was hard to acknowledge but as I gave it serious thought over the next few months, I learned valuable lessons about myself and my psyche in ultras - and how to handle my own thoughts. There are loads of value in failures and going into the muck and we should cherish these moments as much as the successes because they define us just as much.

          5. Success is self-defined

          I like to run with my dog, Tennessee Williams. He is a Vizsla and is made to run all day. He is not on Strava. He could care less when we finish a run and have run the 3,046th fastest time on the Donald Trump’s Tiny, Tiny Hands segment on the Town Lake Loop. There are days to push hard and there are days to define success as getting out the door and enjoying the day. And those times when we push our bodies and minds to see what we have, don’t short-change yourself by defining success too lenient, but also don’t put expectations on yourself that aren’t meant for you. Find your own successes and then redefine afterwards. I have a running friend who is in his seventies. Every year he sets state running records at nearly every distance, a little slower than he ran last year, but still successful.

            6. Connect with others through the suck

            Some of the best times you’ll ever have in your life will be the horrible times you spend with friends or like-minded people in the throes' of a full on suffer fest run. The bonding can be as real as this life allows. Its a bit magical to suffer in silence next to a friend for hours and hours because let’s face it, those hours turn into a lifetime of conversation. Friends become brothers and sisters, relationships are cemented for life.

              .. And when its all over and we’ve run our last run, we will still have the stories and we will absolutely know that half of all our success was 100%, heart breaking, muscle crushing suck.



                Guide to Midweek Escapes

                It's easy to get caught up in the busy routine but with summer's long days we have a chance to change it up every once in a while.

                Make every Wednesday-Wild Wednesdays. We realize not all places have the access to wilderness as we would like but modify with what works for your location. 

                Here are our top ideas for Mid Week Escapes:

                The Dawn Patrol Session

                Wake up super early and drive out to that place with the incredible view that you usually save for the weekend. Get a view of the sunrise and drive back to town before work.

                What to Bring:

                For many of these Mid Week Escapes, it will be key to clean up before work. Bring two bags- one with your work clothes and the other to put your running clothes and dirty shoes. Have wet wipes ready for a make shift pre work clean up at the trailhead.

                The Summer Sunset Run

                Summer nights have always been my favorite time to run. It is warm but the setting sun offers some respite from the heat. With the late sunsets you can head out hours after dinner, enjoy running in a location typical for a weekday and don't worry about going to bed late. It is just one day out of the week.

                The Weekday Camp Out

                This is our ultimate Mid Week Escape idea and the way to really feel like you are beating the work week. Break out from work a bit early and head out of town. Go for a run, find you camp spot and sleep under the stars. Sure, you have to get up early to pack up and get back to town but its worth it. When you are back at work, a little disheveled and smelling like a campfire you won't be able to contain the smile from showing up on your face when you think about where you woke up.



                The Magic in Moving Forward

                Reflections on Self Doubt

                By Larissa Fransen

                What big day doesn’t start before sunrise? And the really big days start just after midnight.

                It’s 1:30am and I’m wide awake. No alarm needed.  I’m about to drink large amounts of coffee and set out with 5 other Runners of the Wild to attempt the infamously difficult Rim to Rim to Rim; traversing the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim and back, all in one push.

                Stats-wise, this is a big day: 48 miles and over 11,000 feet of elevation gain and for this group, R2R2R was by far the biggest “day” any of us had attempted. Months of training, planning, tapering, and resting had been a big focus in all our lives. For me, the days leading up to this one were filled with anxiety and self-doubt.  While the rest of the group felt strong and confident, I felt weak and terrified. 

                Before Mile 1 was done, the wheels were already coming off. When I should have been enjoying the descent into the canyon alongside the first minutes of morning light, I was battling nausea and side stitches. I had never hit a wall this hard so early in a run and it felt as though the lack of confidence in my own abilities had manifested itself into the pain I was experiencing.  Even in the past when I’ve felt bad at the beginning of a run, it was usually just a matter of warming up or finding a rhythm. I was expecting these feelings to dissipate as I kept moving, but they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. How am I supposed to finish a day like this when I feel this bad?

                The Grand Canyon is overwhelming, and the further I ran into it, the darker my mind went.  That place where all thoughts like these live:

                 “I can’t do this.”

                 “What if I get too far in and I can’t climb out?”

                 “What if I have to get air lifted out?”

                 “I am under trained.”  

                 “Am I over trained?”

                 “Am I even a real runner?”

                All of these doubts spun through my head as I continued to move forward. “At least I’m moving forward” I thought.

                Indeed, I was moving forward. As I slowly weaved my way through the bottom of the canyon and made it to Manzanita I began to feel more like myself.  With encouragement from the group and my own stubbornness I became more and more determined to do this, and at this point I was too far in to turn back.  Completing the climb to the North Rim restored my confidence. As I neared the top and took in the views toward the South side of the canyon my eyes filled with tears. The sights were breath-taking, and I had made it half way. This felt huge, but at the same time I still had a long way to go. As I retraced my steps it seemed like an unfortunate surprise awaited me around each bend.  Giant blood blisters? Ok. Random foot pain? Sure. Heat induced nausea? Yes. Fantastic. I tried to focus on the beauty of the canyon and ignore the pain as best I could, acknowledging that my legs were still moving and that I was going to make it.

                We shared the day with several other groups attempting the same route and found comfort in the communal suffering as the heat and difficult terrain began to wear down our bodies.  The climb out of the South Rim up Bright Angel was one of the most surreal experiences. When the sun set the temperature drastically dropped. The grueling incline seemed to go on forever, and one wrong step too close to the edge of the trail could be a deadly drop back to the bottom of the canyon.  Switch back after switch back navigated by a single head lamp became disorienting, and at times it felt like we were moving backwards. Fellow hikers and runners lined the sides of the trail, trying to rest and regain the strength to continue up and out. Despite all of these obstacles we kept moving forward. The sparkling welcome light from Grand Canyon Village finally became a reality.   

                Running is a practice, and every now and then we are able to see our practice pay off in big ways.  It may not be a PR or a race win. It may not even feel good. It may be what the Grand Canyon was for me, a test.  A test of every mile logged, every tear shed, and every laugh shared with friends. Breaking through the darkness and feeling the magic in moving forward was my win.  

                I am beyond thankful for what I was able to accomplish, and deeply humbled by the Grand Canyon.  As endurance athletes, we ask a lot of our bodies and our minds. Each accomplishment, small or large, deserves to be celebrated. The joy and the suffering in every experience make us who we are as runners and adds to the layers of grit we accumulate over the years.  These are our badges, and I am proud to wear this one alongside my fellow Runners of the Wild.

                Turning Awe into Action: Reflections on Footsteps Across Our Largest Intact Ecosystem

                By Anthony Pavkovich

                Running south, I travel up a flowing artery of our ecosystem deeper into the wild heart of the range. The shrouded forest gives way to tundra and talus where first light finds me kicking steps up the last vestige of this winter’s snow and racing the rising sun along an exposed ridgeline towards the summit. Basking in the glow of the breaking day atop Montana’s Hyalite Peak, on the northern edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), I pause for breath, taking a moment to relax, to appreciate.

                Spread out before me is the sprawling ranges, dense forests, and roaring rivers of the largest intact ecosystem in the lower forty-eight. In the soft light of dawn, the Tetons glow in the distance, over a hundred miles away on the southern edge of the GYE. The volcanic mass of the Absarokas breaks the horizon below the rising sun, and the Gallatin watershed, part of the headwaters of the Missouri, falls away behind me.  

                As the sun rises higher, I turn my back north on my old home and the city of Bozeman that defines the northern edge of this ecosystem. Smiling, I recognized how much of this landscape remains part of our commons, public lands to be shared by all. Miles of common ground spread out under my feet, so much of it personally unexplored and full of possibility after a winter at rest.

                The Greater Yellowstone, a 20-million-acre mosaic of land, is an island of underdeveloped habitat in this overdeveloped world. Remarkably, it is still home to roughly 700 roaming grizzly bears, thundering herds of bison, wary wolves, mountain lions, and wandering wolverines. Throughout the high country, there are gnarled, climate-threatened whitebark pine forests and quickly-vanishing alpine glaciers. The GYE is made up of millions of acres of high alpine peaks, vast sagebrush plains, and countless free-flowing rivers in a checkerboard of National Forest, state, and private land. At its core sits Yellowstone National Park. It is an untamed place.

                This largely public landscape seemed nearly endless, infinite. Last summer that naivety changed.

                Back then I continued to follow this ridgeline, stretching south before me away from Hyalite Peak, along the bony and sinuous crest of the Gallatin Range onwards to America’s first National Park, beyond the crumbling Absarokas, and over the still snowy Beartooths to the edge of the ecosystem and the start of the sweeping prairie that encompasses eastern Montana. This landscape felt immense until I left from my house and ran 240 miles across this ecosystem in the span of a week, an adventure we dubbed Common Ground.


                Common Ground - Full Film from Eli Abeles-Allison on Vimeo.


                By defining home to be the places you can reach on foot, from your front door, my idea of home has become a whole lot bigger. Measuring home in this way, I’ve had to reevaluate my sense of scale and place.

                Now, in the months since finishing the trip I’ve come to wonder - how do we turn this awe into action, into advocacy, into continued protection?

                How do we best protect this landscape and promote the idea that we are, as a nation, willing to set aside large spaces from development for the benefit and continuation of an entire ecosystem? Right now, roads cut through the critical core of this landscape leaving tracks and scars. Dangerous sulfide gold mines are proposed above world-renowned rivers and wildlife is fighting for space among vacation homes for survival.

                I realize that even though this ecosystem is one of our largest protected spaces, it isn't really that big at all, nor is it protected forever. If I can cross it in the short span of a week, what about migrating elk and mule deer, young grizzly bears in search of new territory, or wolverines searching for solitude? Two hundred and fifty miles is a tiny fraction of what they need. At the same time, it is the best we have and therefore we need to continue to strongly advocate for this wild landscape’s continued existence.

                This year, instead of attempting another ultra-adventure, I’ve chosen to use my energy and time to speak up and advocate for this place I value as home. By taking energy away from my running, I’m freeing up time to put effort back into my community and to fight for this landscape.

                While I’ve been focusing on large-scale forest planning with the Custer Gallatin National Forest, public engagement as a board member for the Montana Wilderness Association, and holding politicians accountable as an concerned citizen, I don’t suggest we give up our trail ambitions, either. Instead, think about making small commitments like volunteering for a trail work day in your area or donating to a nonprofit whose work you appreciate.

                Show that you value your home place. Speak up for it. Then, go out and enjoy your backyard.

                Anthony Pavkovich is a writer, photographer, human-powered adventurer, and advocate residing along Montana’s border with Yellowstone National Park. His work is inspired and shaped by the incredible abundance of wild and public land surrounding his home. To view his portfolio, visit or find him on Instagram @as.pavkovich.


                The Art of the Weekend Trip - Oregon Coast

                Words by Brett Farrell

                Photos by Steven Mortinson 

                I was craving to get out of town for a weekend trip and truly soak up all that the northern Oregon Coast has to offer. I got some friends together and we made it our goal to hit as many trails as we could, become tourists-go to the hole in the wall shops and indulge in coastal cuisine. We also had to test out and capture photos of some new gear so our friend and photographer, Steven Mortinson came to document.

                We left on a Friday afternoon after work and drove to our first destination, Saddle Mountain, with the hopes of getting a sunset from one of the best view points near the coast.  

                When we arrived, the area around Saddle Mountain was sitting in dense fog and our sunset hopes were crushed. As experienced Northwesterners, we easily accepted the eerie fog as a great consolation prize behind an epic sunset.  

                SADDLE MOUNTAIN  

                Mileage:5.2 miles round trip

                Trailhead: Saddle Mountain Trailhead

                Pro tips: Make sure to tag Humbug Mountain along the way up to Saddle Mountain.  


                Post Run Eats

                Public Coast Brewing, Cannon Beach

                A perfect post Saddle Mountain dinner spot with great grub, beer and we also had excellent live music.

                Camping close by:

                Nehalem Bay State Park


                Saturday morning we hit our second trail run destination, the Tillamook Head Trail just after we loaded up on a coffee and baked goods. This is my favorite section of trail on the Oregon Coast filled with rolling hills, single track and an assortment of views of the great big blue Pacific.  

                Morning Coffee

                Insomnia Coffee, Cannon Beach

                Tillamook Head Trail

                Mileage: 12.6 Out and Back

                Trailhead: Indian Beach Trailhead

                Pro tips: Add on another 1.3 miles each way by starting  from Cannon Beach and taking Ecola Park Road to Crescent Beach Trail.  


                Driving Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast is an adventure in itself.  It is a meandering highway with view points of the rugged rocky coastline that brings you to small towns filled with character.  

                Cannon Beach and Manzanita are polished towns that have all your modern tourist vibes but Rockaway Beach is like stepping back in time. You find shops unconcerned with hip offerings and a tendency to focus more on those who are building a collection of knick knacks from the places they have been.

                We were transported back to our childhood in one of these shops called Flamingo Jims.  

                We walked in with curiosity of what may be inside and walked out with saltwater taffy, pop rocks and a kite.  We followed it up with over sized ice cream cones.

                We left Rockaway Beach and our childhood behind to check off another must-do on the coast- shoot some oysters.

                Rockaway Beach

                The Knick Knack Shop: Flamingo Jim's


                Pacific Oysters- Bay City, OR

                The van doesn’t quite sleep three so we pulled off the highway to Netarts Bay to find some local lodging. The basic-ness of an old school hotel overlooking the bay and ocean was the perfect balance of affordability and epic views.  It was the ideal spot for kite flying, a dinner looking at the Pacific and a campfire on the beach.


                The Terimore Hotel

                Sunday morning we drove out early through the fog towards Cape Lookout State Park for our final run of the weekend that rewarded us with views above the marine layer below,  a whale sighting at the cape, and a rocky climb down toward the ocean.

                Cape Lookout Trail

                Mileage: 5 Miles Round Trip

                Trailhead: Cape Lookout Trailhead

                Pro tip: At the cape, look for a trail that descends down toward to the water for some closer views of the ocean and maybe a passing whale.

                We left the trailhead over hungry and in need of coffee. On Highway 6 we stopped at a side of the road dining joint offering precariously hung logging equipment from the ceiling, gargantuan pancakes and amazing breakfast burritos.  

                Post Run Eats

                Alice’s Country House, Tillamook, OR

                Pro Tip: Share your pancakes.

                As we drove back into town with sun burns and full stomachs, we talked about how much we packed into the weekend. We noticed that even a trip close to home brings out the spirit of travel-where we observe the world around us a little closer, have the space to open up to the people around us and tell stories brought out by the changing scenery.  It is a break from our busy schedules and essential for regaining our sense of wonder.  

                A trail that we missed but should be on our list:

                Neahkhanie Mountain: The best viewpoint on the Oregon Coast.

                Mileage:6.6 miles Out and Back

                Trailhead: Short Sands Trailhead

                Pro Tip: Make sure to check out Devil's Cauldron on the way up.