Luna Sandals / Blog

Jan 16

Korima by Tom Norwood

'Kórima' means 'sharing' in the language of the Tarahumara, the tribe most of us have come to know from the pages of Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. But it means more than just ‘I’ll give you half of my orange,’ Kórima signifies a commitment to mutual assistance and support within the community. When I first read Born to Run four years ago I was not a runner – but the story that McDougall wove in those pages placed a longing in me –not just to run, but to able to run pain free, to be able to run an ultra, to run THE ultra – the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, and to experience the Kórima that seemed to exist in the crazy ultra-running community, especially by the ones that made the pilgrimage to the Copper Canyons to race with the Tarahumara, the ones Caballo Blanco, founder of the race appropriately named, “Mas Locos.” This March I was finally able to live out that dream – the only thing that was unfulfilled was meeting The White Horse himself – Micah True, who died on March 27th of 2012, eleven months before I was able to make it to the Canyons to run the race that is now named for him: Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco.

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Manuel Luna and Barefoot Ted, Urique, 2013. 

¿Quien es Mas Loco? Caballo was fond of saying, “Who is crazier?” According to my wife and many of my friends and colleagues over the last four years, the answer would be: me. When I read Born to Run Valerie was pregnant with our second child, I was in my early 40s and had never run more than three miles without severe back pain, but was desperate for a time efficient way to stay in shape with the looming reality of two young boys, full time work, and a yard and chickens to take care of. The seemingly miraculous stories of Barefoot Ted and Chris McDougall transforming themselves into runners in their 40s, despite lifelong histories of running injuries sounded too good to be true, but I was desperate and hopeful enough to go online and buy a pair of Five Fingers. For most people buying a pair of Vibrams and being able to run in local 10k races may have been enough, but I tend to jump in with both feet sometimes – this time it was full on baptism by immersion. I contacted Barefoot Ted and attended his barefoot running clinic and thirteen months later ran my first ultra with Ted. Most of my friends put up with my crazy smelly toe shoes well enough, but the day I came home a year and a half ago and told my wife I was leaving my secure job at Seattle University to make huaraches with Barefoot Ted she essentially said, “ARE YOU CRAZY?!” I was one step closer to being a Mas Loco…

I’m goal driven, and for the past four years all of my goals have been stepping stones toward my One Goal – meeting Caballo Blanco in the canyons and running 50 miles with the Tarahumara. I lost part of that opportunity after Caballo wandered into the Gila Wilderness and never returned. But – I could still run the race, and I was determined to do it this year in honor of Micah and all he did to inspire me. I traveled with Ted, Bookis, and Scott, my coworkers at Luna Sandals. We met up in Mazatlan with several Mas Locos, including Luis Escobar, the central California ultra-runner and photographer who was also in the book Born to Run, and began the twenty-one hour road trip by every conceivable means of public transportation Mexico has to offer into the town of Urique at the bottom of the Copper Canyon. We arrived several days before the race. This allowed us to hike, swim, eat great food, adapt to the heat, and begin to get to know the 120 international runners and 300 Tarhumara runners we would be racing with the following Sunday.

On Thursday about eighty of us gathered for an early morning hike to one of Micah’s favorite spots, a small farm called Los Alisos. The day was unusually cool, and after three miles we reached our destination and relaxed, joked with new friends, and ate sweet grapefruit from the trees overhead. Maria Walton, ‘La Mariposa’ Micah’s soul mate and one of this year’s co race directors gathered us into a circle and read a story to us that Micah had written about the couple that had lived there. “The first time they made love was under the giant tree on his property” the story began. It went on to tell of their love and life together, the joy of the times they had welcomed him into their home, and how when they died a few years before, both in their 80’s, they were buried under the same tree, the one we were standing under now. Before she started reading, she pulled out Micah’s ashes and passed them around the circle, that we all might have a moment with him. Also as she read, Micah’s friend Flint started a small fire. After the reading Maria placed the story, and a special Copper Canyon race shirt with a white horse that had been given to her into the fire, and scattered Micah’s ashes around the base of the tree. She was followed closely by Guadajuko, Micah’s faithful dog.

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Yours truly.

The race began at 6am on Sunday. It would be my first 50 miler, and training in Seattle all winter did little to prepare me for the nearly one hundred degree weather I’d be running in all day. Unlike more than half the starters of the race, I did finish, but not without vomiting, weeping like a baby, and death marching across the finish line fourth from last. After training for four years specifically so I could run this race, I’d love to tell you that it was hard, but I persevered and finished because of my amazing will power and great training program, but I can’t. I finished because when I got back into Urique with ten miles to go and had already decided to quit, Luis Escobar saw me sit down on the sidewalk, ran up to me and asked me if I wanted to finish. “I want to finish so badly” was all I remember saying, and burst into tears. Luis then gave me the pep talk of the century. “I’ve been in WAY worse shape than this a hundred times!” Dehydration had caused severe stomach distress so that I had not been able to eat more than two tortillas or swallow more than a few drops of water at a time over the last fifteen miles. “You’ll feel better in ten minutes” Luis said, “Just sit here and take LITTLE sips, only LITTLE sips. If you quit now, what are you going to DO?! Lay in your bed? If you do you’ll feel better in fifteen minutes and beat yourself up for NOT finishing!”

“But I’m not going to make the cut off!” I wept.

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“This is MEXICO, what do you think they are going to DO?!” He said. Then he took the yellow Buff off his head, soaked it with water and put it on my head. “I won the HURT 100 in this Buff, I’ve run Badwater three times in it, Western States seven times, NO ONE HAS EVER QUIT WHILE WEARING THAT BUFF, AND YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE THE FIRST.” At the same moment I looked up and saw Scott and Bookis – Scott had his finisher’s medal on, and I did not want to go home without one. Luis asked if anyone would pace me through the last ten miles and Bookis, who had not run the race said, “Absolutely.” As we walked those last ten miles, and the sun began to set behind the canyon walls and the most beautiful night sky I’ve ever seen emerged, I vomited every last calorie I had left in me. Without Bookis there to laugh with me about how this was so much like the dramatic endings in all those awesome race documentaries we love to watch, I again would have quit. When I finally stumbled across the finish line, two hours after the official cut off time, but was still greeted by all my friends cheering for me, and Mariposa throwing her arms around me and a finisher’s medal around my neck, I was overwhelmed with joy, not the joy of the ‘personal accomplishment’ of completing a goal four years in the making, but the joy of experiencing the Kórima of this Mas Loco community.

This is a longer version of a piece that was originally published in the June 2013 issue of Trail Runner Magazine. 

-Tom

Note: Tom is the Sales Monkey (and so much more) here at Luna. 

Nov 12

LUNAS and Mud (and rocks, asphalt, water, and everything in between) Guest Post by Greg Polakiewicz

Hello. My name is Greg, I’m 26, and I’m a Lunatic.

Yes, I treat it like an addiction, because my LUNAS are the only things I can run in.
I’ve just won last week’s Adventure Poll, and I won it by posting my ugly feet covered in mud and resting on top of the best thing I could have underneath it, my LUNAS. I’m pretty sure many people are concerned about running with Lunas on such terrible terrain, so I’m giving you guys a race report (full of pictures, because that’s what we like!) with some insights of a “Mud Monkey”, that hopefully, will be helpful somehow. The post is kinda long, but I get to the point sometime, I promise!

The race was a mountain half marathon I did in a city very near my hometown of Sao Paulo, here in Brazil. For the race, some people would run half the course, others like me would run the full half marathon (sounds weird, I know…). The only thing I knew about the race was that there would be a lot of climbing. That’s all. Why? Because I usually like to be surprised during the race, it get’s my mind busy and it’s more of an adventure to me. I’m never there to win it (not that I could anyways…), so it’s not a big issue to loose a few minutes but have more fun!

It is usually dry around this time here in Sao Paulo, so I wasn’t expecting any rain for the race. I had my trusted high mileage, first generation, naked sole Leadville all set and reserved for the race. And just like that, 8PM the night before as I was getting ready to rest for the race, it started to rain. Heavily.

About a couple of months ago, I bought some new Leadville to give the MGT footbed a try. I loved them, but I always used my older ones as they were already molded to my feet, and never got to properly adjust the lacing 100% on the new ones. When I saw the rain that was pouring down outside my bedroom window, I knew that I was going to need the extra grip of the MGT footbed, so I picked them up and got them ready for the race.

New Leadville and Old Leadville


I’m one of those anxious guys. The race was to start at 9AM, so I was there at 7AM…. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining heavily anymore, just a light refreshing rain. I enjoy rain, by the way…
I like getting there early, so I get to meet some people I usually only see during races and do some good warm-ups. It helps me to chill a bit before the race, feel more acclimatized. And while I’m there, hanging out, one of the things I enjoy is people’s reaction to my LUNAS. 

Most of them talk behind my back. It’s really common to hear “dude, check that guy out, what the heck is that on his feet?”, “is he really going to run with those?”, and such.  My favorite is “oh, look, it’s that crazy sandal guy again!”.  I keep quiet and laugh to myself.
Once in a while a more courageous person approaches with questions. Those are the ones I like. I enjoy rewarding their curiosity with all information I know on biomechanics, Lunas and barefoot, and usually they leave looking down at their huge and colored shoes, with a confused look to their faces. I’m pretty sure some of them ordered a few pairs after talking to me!

9AM, time to run! The light rain was still there, and I was enjoying it. The race started at the town’s center, so the was some pavement running until we could get to the trail. And for me, there is nothing better than LUNAS for asphalt. 

Can you find me?

The race was going normal, no surprises so far. For the first few kilometers, just some big climbs on very inclined dirt roads. I was going fast, passing some runners. People hate to be passed by the “guy in sandals”

Down we go!

That’s me running, not dancing.

Around the first third of the race, the runners who were doing the 10k had a detour to catch, just at the base of the highest peak the rest of us were about to climb. This peak, called Voturuna, is the highest of the region, it’s a beautiful mountain. 

Just after the 10k people took a right turn to head back, as we are at the beginning of the Voturuna climb, every runner found a surprise: There was a lake sitting right there, in the middle of the path. The lake was about 35 meters long, 15 meters across and around one meter deep, and there was no way around it. This lake had formed the night before due to the heavy rain that fell and no one new it was going to be there. No other option but to go straight into it.

I must have passed a dozen runners just there. How? While all of them were removing shoes, socks, crossing the lake, drying their feet, putting everything back on, and such, I just ran across it like nothing was on my way. Moments like this make me love my Lunas so much… And up the mountain we go!

Just as I started the climb, I looked up to see the mountain and noticed a storm cloud approaching behind me. I put my rain jacket on and kept going up. I knew from experience that it was not going to be a gentle and peaceful rain…. Suddenly it started to get darker.

Here comes the rain! You can see some of the trail I was coming from cutting the hill.

The Voturuna peak is not a normal pyramid shaped mountain. Its top is about a kilometer long. It is a high and long mountain. For the race, we were going up one side, crossing the whole peak and going down the other side. The trail is full of large and loose rocks, very steep uphill and very technical. I love how the Lunas handle it on these terrains, by the way. I love climbing with them. And as it that wasn’t enough for a challenge, it began to rain. As soon as I reached the top and was starting to go for the kilometer run across it, came the wind. The sides of the Voturuna are some deep cliffs, so at the top, you are pretty exposed. 

The winds were really strong and cold, filled with rain. Basically, it was raining laterally. Visibility was very poor. You could barely see a few meters ahead, due to the rain and clouds blocking the way. The temperature dropped significantly. Very few people came protected and prepared as I was for a sudden weather change. Just to make it clearer about the weather, later on I found out that two people had symptoms of hypothermia at that point of the race.

When the course came down on the other side, after dealing with tons of loose and wet rocks, it entered a more dense forest.

Going down the Voturuna. Can you find me?

The rain had stopped after about an hour of a continuous storm.  Finally. People were soaking wet, on the side of the road, trying to treat their blisters with band-aid and trying to get water out of their shoes. Me? Just running happily, with my dry feet and no issues whatsoever…

Is this all the rain you’ve got?

Heading to the forest.

And then, came the mud. I’ve never seen that much mud on a trail run. As I mentioned before, I’m not a front pack runner. And why does this matter now? Because most of the racers had already gone through the forest and made the mud trail a hell’s path. Combine mud, a stampede of runners and more water, and you get the picture.

It’s either mud or thorn-filled plants…

They look good when dirty!



And then, I had to run through it until the end of the race! 

The shot that got me a Bandito!

What have I learned on the mud? Strap you Lunas TIGHT! Very tight. Normal, comfortable lacing, will suffer in these conditions. Mud will get between your sandals and your foot, and no matter how good the MGT footbed is (and it is REALLY good), it is going to make it slippery, very slippery. When I started to face the thicker mud, I realized the front part of my feet was slipping from side to side on the Lunas. This makes it impossible to run properly, because not only you are having traction problems with the mud, but also you are having traction problems between your foot and your sandals (EVERYONE around me this time was slipping everywhere on the mud, I guess only huge soccer cleats would be the way here!). I stopped and adjusted the lacing as to be as close to my toes and as tight as possible, to try and stop that movement from happening. And it worked. The secret was to have the side straps going very tight as to avoid any lateral movement of the foot against the sandal, holding them in place. Once I got that adjusted, I kept going no problem! It isn’t the most comfortable lacing against your feet, but it is needed in order to face the challenge.
The traction of the Leadville against the mud is very good. Once I got the lacing going perfectly, I managed to improve my traction a lot.  We are talking very bad and wet mud here… No shoe would have astonishing traction in these conditions, unless extremely mud specific!!

Then, after some mud surfing, I crossed the finish line! The view I had there was quite something: People having first aid on their blister infected feet (yes, the same people saying I was crazy behind my back before the start), socks being thrown away, shoes that had more mud than the trail itself and there I was, hosing down my feet to get the mud out and going to my car to head back home for a family lunch. No blisters, no anything. Just perfect feet ready for the next race. 


Mission accomplished.

To end, I want to point out one last thing. It’s weird how, every time after a race, one or another runner will come to me and say: “I want to say I’m sorry. When I saw you before the race, I thought you were crazy. But now I see, you might be the most lucid one here… People should learn from you. Every one looks devastated and tired, and you crossed the line in beautiful form and feeling great”.  It’s almost like their inner runner knows that those shoes they wear are bad for them and want to run free. Just my impression maybe, but I find that interesting.
Oh, and of course… The funniest part is people coming to you after the race congratulating me for finishing in sandals like if this is some sort of a challenge… Barely they know that the ones they should be complimenting are the ones in “normal” running shoes. They are the brave ones!

Greg

Oct 16

Hunter Gatherer Survival Run 2013

Hunter GathererI never knew Texas could be so beautiful. The rolling green hills carpeted with Juniper and Oak stretched into the distance. Broken limestone and prickly pear cactus littered the ground. I was at a private campground called Camp Eagle in the Hills Country of central Texas. I was standing around anxiously awaiting our packet pickup for the Hunter Gatherer Survival Run. I knew there would be some challenge to pass before we could get our bib numbers. Josue, the race director, said to show up at 5pm with your knife for packet pickup.

Hunter Gatherer Survival Run is a first of its kind event. It is a primitive skills themed 100k (or 50k) ‘obstacle’ race with challenges and obstacles based on hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I was in love with the idea from the very first time Josue mentioned the concept to me. This was my dream event. It combined so many aspects of passions of mine; ultra-trail running, primitive skills, climbing, wilderness, etc. And then Josue asked me if Luna Sandals would like to sponsor it and have all the participants making and running in Luna Sandals. And that just topped it off, dream event come true. Race director Josue Stephens is creating a new line of events called Survival Runs. They are a completely new type of ultra-distance wilderness themed natural obstacle race. These events are dangerous. They are not for beginners. They are by application only. The risks involved are very real.  Often the most rewarding things in life have risks. And I accept the Survival Run (and Caballo Blanco Ultra) motto: “If I get lost, hurt, or die, it is my own damn fault.”

The first Survival Run was on a volcanic island in Nicaragua back in february with some seemingly ridiculously hard and unique challenges. Check out this video to get an idea of what it’s about. These Survival Runs are bringing together the ultra-running community and the Obstacle racing community. Its really cool to see the two different cultures coming together and something unique emerging. At Hunter Gatherer there was a nice mix of die hard obstacle racers and ultra runners mingling into a new breed of wilderness athlete.

Finally Josue got on the mic and directed the 30 or so survival runners to a pile of logs that we would be carrying 2+ miles to the top of a big hill, carving our bib number into it and returning to the start. I was one of the last to pick a log. Luckily at the bottom of the pile was a perfectly smooth and long log that figuratively had my name on it. I hoisted the 75 lb. log onto my shoulder and started on the journey. Carrying heavy things was one of the tasks I felt the least prepared for. Most of the other runners were crossfit training obstacle racers with a lot more strength training than me. I got into a good rhythm and decided the quicker I can get to the top of the hill the sooner I can get this log off my shoulders. I also tried hard to keep a positive attitude about the log and keep smiling. It is easy to get sucked into the ‘this sucks, this is so brutal’ masochistic attitude. I cruised up the hill switching shoulders and trying to keep good posture. Soon enough I was at the top of the hill and I believe I was the 4th person to the top of the hill. Which it wasn’t really a race to the top but it was a huge confidence builder to complete this strength challenge without too much trouble.

Hunter Gatherer Survival Run

That night we tried to go to bed early but shortly after turning the lights out in our little cabin  a teenage dance party started raging in the bathhouse about 50 yards away. Luckily that only lasted about an hour. But even after it ended I found myself lying in bed unable to fall asleep. My alarm went off at 2:30 am. I probably got 2 to 3 hours of sleep. We wondered over to the Start for our pre-race gear check.

At 4:30 am the race began in a way I don’t think any race has ever started. Everyone grabbed some sandal making materials, sat down, and began making the footwear they would be wearing for the race.

Hunter Gatherer Survival Run

Luna Sandals supplied the sandal making materials. I prepared it and brought it down with me. Technically that gave me an advantage because I knew the material we would be using and I am very grateful that Josue and everyone let me race anyway. In reality I knew it wouldn’t be much of an advantage. Before the race I tried to share as much as I could about sandal making and encouraged everyone to practice a lot. Making sandals is pretty simple. Learning to tie, adjust, and run in them is what takes more practice.

Hunter Gatherer Survival Run

I got to work cutting out my sandals. I took my time and made them well. Shane McKay was done and the first off the line in no time. I finished my sandals and started making my pack. We were not allowed to bring a pack. We had to make one. I made mine out of a buff, a bandana, and some p-chord. I had practiced my method and was confident in it. I got it all packed up and was off the start line into the darkness. I ran through the dark camp with a huge smile on my face. The first stop was at the top of the hill where we left our logs. I picked up my log and put in on my already bruised and torn up shoulder from carrying it up there the day before. I carefully made my way down the steep rocky slope toward the river.

At the river we were instructed to tie a life jacket to the log and swim down the river with the log. Since it was dark we were required to put a glow stick on so that people could see us swimming down the river. I threw my log into the water and started wading down the river. Swimming in the dark, in the wilderness, with a log and glow stick felt surreal and kind of freaky. There was a lot of duckweed catching my legs and holding me back. The river had two dams to go over. At both dams I lifted my log and tossed it over the other side. Swimming is something I am not very strong at. I was relieved with the nature of this swim, though it was over a mile, it wasn’t very deep in some places, the shore was never too far away, and I had a log to hold onto. The swim was awesome. It felt really cool to do.

I'm in the background trying to lift my log onto the dam.I’m in the background trying to lift my log onto the dam.

There was no aid stations at this race. You were expected to filter your own water. I have been drinking unfiltered water for years, but mostly from mountain streams and desert springs. So I was hesitant about risking it in Texas. But when I heard that the river pops right out of the ground only about a quarter mile up stream I was sold on taking the risk. While I was swimming I would just open my mouth and drink. That felt really strange to do and I kind of liked it. It was so simple, just open your mouth and drink. By the time I was done with the swim we were just starting to get some pre-dawn light.

Carrying my log out of the water after the swim.Carrying my log out of the water after the swim.

I was back on the trail running in the morning light. Much of the course turned out to be off-trail bushwacking. Going up and down steep rocky hills pushing through juniper and oak and trying not to kick a prickly pear. The prickly pear were land mines waiting to ruin someones day.  I got to the next challenge, which was a 2 foot wide hole in the ground leading down into a cave. In the cave was 6 petroglyph symbols in 3 caverns we had to find and memorize. Most of the cave was belly crawling and squirming over rocks and through cracks. It was more tiring than I was expecting. In the cave I saw bats, bugs and even a snake. After finding what I thought was all the symbols I came out and took the test where I had to point them out on a paper. But somehow I was missing one. I only knew five. So back into the darkness i went. During my second trip into the cave my legs started cramping a little prompting me to take my time. I found my last symbol, got out of there, and passed the test. For passing this challenge I received the first medal which simply read “FAIL”.

Cave entrance. Photo by Zac Wessler.Cave entrance. Photo by Zac Wessler.

It felt good to be back on the trail. Now after having stopped at several points I was realizing that though my pack was super comfortable and didn’t bounce while I was running, it was taking way too long to unpack and pack up. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time just packing up my pack. After several miles was the next challenge station. A quick medicinal plants quiz, aced it. Make a water container out of a prickly pear cactus, no problem. Carve a throwing stick and hit a target 3 out of 7 tries, piece of cake. Ok, that was an exaggeration, it wasn’t a piece of cake, it was challenging and I was super excited to hit them.

Back on the trail (or not a trail at all) it was starting to get hot. I was trying to stay hydrated and to eat plenty of food. The next challenge station was at mile 15. It was midday now and you could tell people were feeling the brutality already. This challenge station was to start a bow drill friction fire (fire with sticks). This was one thing I felt super confident at. I used to teach bow drill fire at a wilderness therapy company I had worked at in the past. I love doing bow drill. I used to be good at hand drill too but i was out of practice with that. I gathered the materials for my set and got down and busted a fire. It still feels so cool to start a fire with sticks. It is so satisfying. It takes planning, preparation, patience, skill, and a good physical effort.

Tyler busting his first fire ever!Tyler busting his first fire ever!

Hunter+Gatherer+%2713+-+TeePee-1-2818227535-OIt felt great to bust a fire and get my second medal; “I”. Now my medals read “I FAIL”. But before leaving this station I had to do another throwing stick challenge. Which was to knock two rocks off a stump. I just needed to get 2 out of 7. I did a few practice throws then went at it. After a couple misses I knocked one down. Then I hit the other one and it wobbled and was so close to falling down but stayed standing. I failed that one. I didn’t get the bead for it. I had no idea what failing that challenge meant but I didn’t worry about it too much and headed down the trail.

More bushwacking, cactus dodging, and feeling like a wild animal running through the woods.

Hunter+Gatherer+%2713+-+Prospect-2818307097-O

I was instructed to collect some juniper and algerita before the next challenge station.

I arrived at the next station with my plants. At this station we had to take another medicinal plants quiz and make cordage out of yucca. I did both of those without a problem. Before we left we were instructed to make a bow. So I went out into the brush, found a good juniper and cut me down a nice piece for my bow and started carving. I probably spent too much time carving my bow but it was so much fun.

Back on the trail with my bow in hand the carnage was apparent. Many were dropping out or skipping obstacles. It was still pretty hot and had been a long tough day. I was definitely feeling it. On the trail I stumbled upon a rattle snake with its head and rattle cut off. Its body and head were still moving and squirming around. Written in blood on the rock next to it was “HG”. It was a hardcore scene. I built a little cairn next to the head so people would see it.

The next challenge was at mile 24 or 25. First we had to climb a big oak tree to retrieve 2 arrows.

Hunter+Gatherer+%2713+-+Shooting-2817988961-OThen the archery test. We only got 5 practice shots with our bow then had to hit 3 out of 7. Getting the feel for it, I missed all five of my practice shots. But I could tell my bow was good enough. I hit 3 out of 4 during the test. I was so excited. I was literally jumping up and down with a huge grin on my face when I made each hit of the target. Next we had to do a distance shooting test and shoot 3 out of 7 arrows into this range about 50 yards away. That one went great and I received my third medal which read “DID”.

Success!Success!

By this point it was well into the evening and the idea of doing another 50k loop seemed more and more insane. Time cutoffs were becoming a real concern. And word was getting around wondering if anyone would start on the second 50k loop. But as ultras have taught me, you just have to take it one step at a time. You can’t worry about later until you get there. The next task was to build a travois, load it with 120 lbs. worth of rocks in bags, and drag it 2.5 miles. I got working on my travois.

Hunter+Gatherer+%2713+-+Shooting-2817972955-O

As I was building it I saw several other people finish theirs and give up on pulling it before getting 20 yards. I was determined though. I finished it as it was getting dark and started pulling that thing down the dirt road. I could pull it 50-100 feet then I would have to stop to rest. I turned on my headlamp and started to dig deep but with each pulling session my spirits sank more and more. I was realizing it was impossible. And I felt that if I didn’t complete the challenge there would be no way I would technically ‘complete’ the race. I pulled onward and only made it maybe 1/3 mile. I ran into Zach the photographer and he recommended ditching it and trying to make the approaching time cut off. Giving up on it felt so wrong. The momentum I had built all day by completing so many of the other obstacles felt like it was crashing down along with my emotional state. I finally accepted that I would have to abandon the challenge after spending a long time building and pulling that thing.

Hunter+Gatherer+%2713+-+Finish-1-2818081898-OFree of the travois I was determined to make up some ground quickly. The cool night air was refreshing and my disappointment turned into a determination to run fast. As I was running I was following a set of tracks of a travois. The trail turned into a narrow winding rocky single track going up a hill. I was amazed that anyone got their travois that far. I thought maybe it was Shane. I knew he was in the lead. I kept following it and eventually came upon Corrine still pulling her travois. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it. What a badass. She pulled that thing so far. I kept my pace up running in the night. Seeing the trail I would have had to pull my travois through I was so glad I gave up when I did. It would have taken hours or been impossible. Maybe there is a more efficient travois technique but I didn’t know it.

After several miles in the dark I could tell the finish was near. I ran faster and ran into the finish line at the pavilion to cheering people. I was glad to be done. No one had started on the second loop and only Shane had made it before the 17 hour cutoff to head out on the second loop but decided not to go out. Josue dropped everyone in the 100k to the 50k. I learned that I needed 6 out of 7 beads to get the final “NOT” medal. I only had 5 beads. If that wobbling rock I hit with the stick would have fallen over I would have gotten my 6th bead… But what-ifs and hind site don’t change the past. I was beat and satisfied. My medals read “I DID FAIL” One of the slogans for the race was ‘you will not finish’. And Josue was right. No one finished the 100k. Though it felt good to technically have finished the 50k, and in 6th place. Though, I didn’t ‘complete’ the race. It took me 17 hours and 53 minutes.

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That sealed it. I am addicted. Josues Survival Runs are taking things into a whole new realm. I’m so excited to see where it goes. At this point I don’t think I can miss the next Survival Run which is the Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua in February.

There is so much more story to tell but I’ve already told you way more than you probably wanted to read anyway. I didn’t even get into how amazing and great all the other participants were. I feel like I’m part of a unique new tribe of people just as crazy as I am. I am honored to have gotten the chance to run with you all. Congrats to Shane McKay on being the winner and only one to ‘complete’ the Survival Run, to Steff for 3rd place overall in the ultra event, to Shawn for placing 3rd in the Survival Run, to Tom of Luna Sandals for placing 2nd in the Men’s division in the ultra, to Tyler and Gabi on getting their first bow drill fires, to Corinne for being a badass, to Christian for finishing the Survival Run in possibly the most unique Luna sandals ever made, and to all the other runners! There are too many great accomplishments to name them all. Thanks to Josue, Zac, Brad, Amanda, Sam Coffman, and all the volunteers for rocking it and putting on a great event. Well done!

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See you in Nica,

Scott