Tag Archive | "Mark Hellenthal"

Charlie Taylor Hope Shull Award 2014

Charlie Taylor is RIF’s 2014 ‘Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award’ Winner

Charlie Taylor - Run It Fast Pistol - Hope Shull Award

I’m honored and happy to announce that the 2014 ‘Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award‘ goes to RIF #353 Charlie Taylor from Gallatin, Tennessee.

Last year’s winner RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales beautifully captures why Charlie Taylor is this year’s winner of the ‘Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award’:

Last year, I was honored to be named the 2013 Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award. When RIF #1 Joshua Holmes asked me who I felt was deserving of the 2014 award, quite a few RIFers came to mind but one runner stood out – RIF #353 Charlie Taylor.

Charlie is an ultra runner and a survivor of cancer. Having survived cancer myself, he was inspiring to me because he not only battled it with determination and humor but he also didn’t let it stop him from living life the way he wanted to.

Many of my friends in Run It Fast are friends with him and I would see his posts or posts about him and I got to follow his story. Charlie is a survivor of colon & liver cancer. He went through surgeries to remove first the colon cancer and then the liver cancer last January. Once he was recovered from that, he then had to do 12 rounds of chemo but as soon as he was given the all clear post-surgery, he was back to running. He was a running machine!

If you have never gone through chemo, let me tell you what it’s like: Chemo is like having your life ripped out from under you. Everything, and I mean everything, changes. It makes you feel like you’ve aged 50 years in a day. Every detail of your life is focused on not getting sick from the treatment, surviving the treatment, and then recovering from it. You feel like your life has been hijacked. You are exhausted and food tastes like crap and things don’t work the way they used to. You have to worry about white blood cell counts and not getting a cold because your immune system is shot. And then there’s chemo brain – forgetfulness and not being able to focus. Honestly, if given a choice, I’m not sure I would do it again. That’s how bad it is.

I had to stop running for a while because of my tumor and the surgery to remove it but I ran a little through chemo. Mostly though, I was happy that I could continue to work and function on my own. I was so excited when my 6 rounds of chemo were done because I thought I would immediately bounce back and start running long again. But that didn’t happen and I was tired for months after my last chemo treatment. I was trying to get back into running but was this close to giving up. I was just too tired and frustrated.

Charlie Taylor PWB w Wife - Run It Fast

But then last July, I saw that Charlie was going to run the Vol State 500K (314 miles across Tennessee) as part of 3 person relay team. I remember thinking how can he do that? How can he run that much? I was barely running 5Ks and I’d been done with chemo for months. But he did it and he and his team set a course record! Then Charlie ran a 50K in August…the same month he finished his last chemo session. Charlie was running ultras in the midst of 12 sessions of chemo! How could he do that? Where did he find the energy? Or even the desire to do it?

In the year since Charlie had his surgery last January, he ran 12 races including 8 ultras (one of them being the Pistol 100 Miler!). As I started back running , posts about him would periodically pop up and I would tell myself to “Suck it up buttercup!”. Surely, if he can do all that, I could run a half marathon, right? And if he could do ultras during chemo, I could run a marathon a year after I was done with chemo, right?

Seriously, I still don’t know how he did it. He is made up of some strong stuff! He inspired me to be that strong too and to push myself.

The great thing about Charlie is that he is always smiling or cracking a joke in his photos. The cancer that he is dealing with is scary and has daunting odds but Charlie is positive and squeezing all he can out of this life. I think where I had seen myself as a victim of cancer, Charlie didn’t even give cancer the power to affect him at all. That was what was most inspiring to me. He battled it on his own terms and in his own way and inspired me to do the same.

This year, Charlie will be running the Barkley Marathons (one of the toughest, most insane 100 milers in the world). I look forward to seeing what he does there! If you want to be inspired, you should follow him too!

Thank you Lisa for those powerful words that summarize why Charlie is the winner of the Hope Shull Award for 2014.

Charlie Taylor Hope Shull Award 2014

The other Run It Fast members that were finalists for the award this year included Mark Hellenthal, Nathan Bass, Amber Goetz, and Marj Mitchell. They all inspired us in 2014 and continue to with their drive and indomitable will to be stronger than any obstacle they might face.

What is the Hope Shull Inspirational Runner Award?

In January 2012, we presented Hope Shull with a membership to Run It Fast – The Club at the Race for Hope 5K in Henderson, Tennessee.

The 5K was held to honor Hope as she had terminal cancer with just a few weeks to live. She died shortly after the race was held.

Hope Shull with Marj Mitchell Race for Hope

Hope was a personal friend to myself and many other of the early members of Run It Fast. I ran several of my very first 5K races with Hope and her good friend Marj Mitchell in West Tennessee.

I wrote Hope a letter to be presented to her at the Race for Hope 5K last January that Marj read to her at the race.  The letter included a permanent membership to Run It Fast along with a few other words that included the creation of an award in her honor –  ‘The Hope Award.’

January 12, 2012


I’m amiss that I can’t be at the race today.  I’m in Los Angeles, but you are on my mind as you often are.

I asked Marj if it would be ok ,and she thought it would be, so I want to proudly announce you as the newest member of Run It Fast – The Club.

You will always be RIF #225, a special number to me as 25 has always been one of my two most favorite numbers.  You will always be a part of the club no matter what transpires from this day forward between any of us.

I’ve always wanted you to be a part of the club because you embody EVERYTHING that Run It Fast was created to become. Run It Fast is a club full of members that have this deep down desire to overcome obstacles in life and limitations that most others let hold them back or down. Run It Fast members don’t let their situation or hardship in life dictate their life for them.

Instead they go out and conquer life by digging deep to train hard, run races, and forge friendships along the way that inspire others to do things that perhaps they didn’t think were possible either.

Also, I want to announce that starting this year, at the end of the year, the Run It Fast – Club will annually give one member the honor of being named the Hope Shull Inspirational Runner of the Year!

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the example you’ve set for me not only with running but with life.  I’ll never forget sharing the car ride back to the start of the Labor Day 5 Miler with you a couple of years ago. That was a beautiful day and a lot of fun.

With my utmost love, respect and admiration,

Joshua Holmes

Run It Fast ® (RIF #1)

Congrats to Charlie on joining Lisa as the winners of this prestigious award. Thank you for the inspirational you have and continue to provide for Run It Fast members and runners all over the globe.

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Silverton 1000 – Mountainside Photos – Run It Fast®

Finding Gold (and Bears) at the Silverton 1000 – 48 Hour (Race Report)

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” – Albert Camus

The Silverton Challenge 48 Hour Race Report

The gods were Mark and Sharill Hellenthal. The condemnation they had laid down on us runners was a 1 mile loop in the mountains of Silverton, Colorado at 9,500 feet with a gain of 250 ft per mile and a subsequent loss of 250 ft per mile as well.

Others must have committed far worse sins for they had been sentenced to six days and three days on that mountain, repeating that same punishing loop over and over. Some even dared to piss off the gods by bringing tents to sneak naps and breaks in.  A portable shower was even spotted, but even it couldn’t diminish the stench the mountains had left on the imprisoned runners of Silverton.

My journey to the mountain was complicated, two flights to Albuquerque then a 5.5 hour drive to Silverton. In retrospect it was the calm before the storm. I checked into a small cabin, then headed over to prison headquarters, where I knew my sentence was to begin the next day. I picked up my prison number and spoke for a bit with the gods behind a veil curtain so that they could keep their omnipresence spell over us that had been sent there.

While there I saw the long faces and worrisome looks from the six and three day runners. They looked at me with jealousy knowing I was soon to retire to my cabin before returning the next day, but they also looked at me with sympathy knowing I had no clue what was about to happen to me the following morning at 9am.

I slept well that night, showered the next morning, and showed up early at the barracks to begin my sentence. I had assumed that this might do me some favor with the gods. It wasn’t the only faulty assumption I had over the next 48 hours.

The games of the gods began promptly at 9am after a group photo. The photo I assumed was to remind us eventual survivors that we had been the fortunate ones. The race started and those not long for this earth started sprinting up that mountain. We saw them again within 5 minutes as the altitude had filled their lungs and gravity had harnessed their pride back towards the laughter of the gods.

Two hundred and fifty feet of climb over a mile would be punishing enough but no, that would have been too easy for some. The 250-ft climb happened in the first 0.33 mile to the summit where we’d catch our breath, run on level ground for roughly 25 yards before our heads started falling ahead of our feet and our legs wouldn’t stop. Our legs were moving at a warped speed as we couldn’t slow down, we couldn’t stop and our minds were searching and begging for the slightest incline so we could slow down. Some thought they had fallen into a black hole.  No inclines were to be found. Our quads ignited, rocks beneath our feet gave way as we were moving too fast and cutting too hard on switchbacks down towards the gods, and spots in our shoes became hotter than molasses on a Tennessee sidewalk in the heart of summer.

The 250-ft asteroid-like fall from the summit back to flat land took just 0.25 of a mile. Flat land had never felt so secure before. It was also time to walk for a few seconds to let the muscles in the leg rescind back to where they normally reside. A third of a mile later we were back at the tented residence of the gods. The tent was full of food, drink, and mocking. The treats were an oasis of hope that did just that…it made us forget the punishment we had just endured and before we had realized it, we had exited the tent, usually with cookies or gummy worms, and were scaling back up the mountain towards the summit.

I went into Silverton hoping and wanting to reach 100 miles to repay my sins. I didn’t know if the angels would call before I reached that distance, but I thought that once I reached it that my sentence on the mountain would be over and that the gods would release me.

Just five miles into this spectacle, my hamstrings, calf muscles, and feet were begging for no more. They had run 100 miles the weekend before at the Lean Horse 100. I didn’t believe I’d be able to reach 100 miles on this hellanthalish mountain loop. I knew I could stop at any time, since it was timed, but that the gods would laugh, mock, and scorn me by flashing me with the 100-mile buckle I had fallen short of before decapitating me. Foolish pride and a constant restocking of gummy worms and grilled cheeses (upon request) kept me leaving that tent and going back up and down that mountain 100 times over.

After 100x up and down that mountain I had reached 25,000ft of gain and 25,000ft of loss. A hundred times should have been enough. It had taken 35 hours 42 minutes and 44 seconds.

There was one problem…the male and female that did the most loops on this mountain in 48 hours would receive a free pair of Hoka One One shoes ($170 value). It was a mean and cruel trick by the gods that toyed with two of our deadliest sins – pride and greed.

That’s when I realized a 12-yr old boy by the name of Colby Wentlandt was in second place and on my heels. Twelve years old and sentenced to 48 hours on this mountain. What was his crime? How serious must it have been for him to be sentenced with the adults? Had his parents abandoned him while passing through Colorado? Had he murdered his parents? It turns out his parents were on that mountain too, doing painful 1-mile loop after another, but they were so many miles behind young Colby.

Colby moved at such speed it was as if he we was hoping that he could improve the fate of his parents if he could do more miles than any of the other prisoners. However, the gods had no rollover miles plan where he could convey his bounty to his mom and dad.

Colby would taunt me when we’d cross paths under the tent of the gods. He’d tell me how tired I looked and how I should go down. I’m not sure if he meant I should take a nap or if someone with a longer rap sheet should put me down behind the barn. He was sneaky wicked like that and it helped keep me alert and on my toes. I made sure to stay on the opposite side of the mountain to keep him from sneaking up behind and cutting me.

He was easy to spot from the high side of the mountain as he was always with shady characters like a Jester that went by the name of Ed Ettinghausen and two other munchkins by the names of Brandon and Cameron Plate (all sentenced to the 72-Hour and trying to keep up with 48-Hour Colby).

The taunts continued among the inmates as the night became late. ‘The Jester’ and ‘The Boy’ kept putting down 1 mile after another as Colby started to get close to tres digitos. I remained roughly 6-7 miles ahead of Colby per the prison LCD screens that were connected to our anklet tracers.

Colby hit 100 miles (his second time to reach said distance) and everyone within the tent celebrated briefly for most still had many loops left to complete before any hopes of being pardoned from Silverton.

I came in after 107 miles to learn that Colby the Cannibal had retired for the night after 101 tough and strenuous miles. I had met a rough, rugged, and dreaded female convict by the name of Sarah Johnson during these early AM miles. I had spotted a wild bear during this time as I stumbled across one of the ridges high up on the mountain. The bear was a hundred feet away or so looking for food (or bearded runners) in a dumpster near the ski lodge.

I reported the bear to the gods and they called other gods with badges. The gods had planted the bear for us prisoners. My mistake was reporting the creature as the gods then scared the bear back up the mountain near our trail where dozens of us were still circling around in the dark.

The ‘Dreaded One’ stayed close either due to fear of the bear, thinking I had Oreos, or because she couldn’t figure out if her headlamp had an actual light. The company was nice even if albeit fundamentally radical.

Often the best guys are just those that can suffer longer, who don’t give up. And it’s so easy to give up, when you’re on a mountain and it’s really hurting.” – David Millar

After 110 miles (in 40:38:44) which was a new course record I decided I needed to attempt some rest and sleep as I planned a 6 hour drive back to Albuquerque to catch my flight upon my anticipated release date of 900 hours. I knew I had to be sneaky to dodge the gods so I curled up in the back of my rental car and probably slept for 90-120 minutes.

I was paranoid that Colby had arisen early (thinking it was a school morning) and gone back out on the course for more miles before the sun came up. I went back over to the holding tent and found out that Colby was still fast asleep and far away.

I was surprised to win the race and even more impressed by Colby’s 101 miles and second place finish.

There was great joy celebrating the liberation of several of my fellow companions on the mountain as they came in after 100 miles or more. Some of the highlights were seeing Eric ‘The Fireman’ Waterman complete 100 miles after several failed pardons during other prison stays. Collen Zato was impressive in setting the 72-Hour female course record while setting up several touchdown celebrations for others as they reached memorable milestones during the event and by pacing Rachel Spatz to the female 48-Hour course record. The Jester set a male 72-Hour record for most miles on the course with or without a Jester costume. I was impressed watching Rob Distante who arose from the dead (almost literally) on day two and ran out the rest of his sentence to reach 100 miles. All four Run It Fast – Club members went over 100 miles.

Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.” – Dag Hammarskjold

The gods were cruel but the punishment was cleansing like a toxic bleaching to the soul. The mountain had beaten us down physically yet our bodies were renewed from the pounding. We left the mountain not knowing if we could survive again on the outside. Many of us knew we couldn’t and we’d be back. Some of us knew that the gods would not give us a choice either way.

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that damn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

joshua holmes (Aug 31-Sep 2, 2013)

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BLU 100 – Ed Ettinghausen and Joshua Holmes – Beyond Limits Ultra 100 – 2013

Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Race Report – Joshua Holmes

We sometimes sign up for races that we know nothing about or other races whereby we’ve read dozens of race reports regarding what we might encounter during this or that adventure. Well, for some of you at least.  I don’t make a habit of reading race reports or writing them.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had more drive to document all of my races like many of you do.  I try to document the biggest ones, like the 2011 Vol State 500K, 2012 Vol State 500K, or my 42 Mini Race Reports from 2012.

Race reports don’t exist for first year events. So I often feel more pressure to write one after completing an event that was just held for the first time.

The Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Race was held on March 16-17, 2013 at the Pathfinder Ranch near Mountain Center, California, which is just south of Palm Springs in the San Jacinto Mountains.  The race also had a 50 mile, marathon, 50k, and 24-hour options.

The beauty of this race, and perhaps curse for some, is that the 100 milers were gifted the use of a cabin for the weekend on the Pathfinder Ranch.  This made it easy to roll out of bed and onto the starting line.  BLU also provided a nice pre-race dinner the night before (did not arrive in time) and fully cooked breakfast in the diner the morning of the race.

The ranch also provided a campfire, cookout, ropes course, and canoeing (on the little man-made pond that we looped every lap) for family members that made the trek as well.

The race consisted of a 1.8 mile loop that was very flat for the most part. There was no tree cover on the course and this played a factor in the afternoon and early hours of the morning as I’ll go into detail shortly.

The race started at 8am after the legendary Ed ‘Jester’ Ettinghausen and Ryan Launder played the Star Spangled Banner on the trumpet.

All the races then started at the same time as we rubbed elbows for the last time as the field quickly spread out over the 1.8 mile loop. As the day passed on, the course became even more sparse as runners from the shorter races reached their finish lines and left us that dared the 100 to keep rounding that loop over and over.

I ran well early on. I did the first 10 miles in 1:37, reached a half marathon in 2:07 with the only disturbances being a quick stop to the cabin for the restroom.  I reached 20 miles in 3:15 and the marathon checkpoint after four hours and twenty minutes. I was running well but the weather was changing as the sun was starting to blaze and heat up really fast.

50k came and went in 5:14 and I continued to push hard but also realized that the sun was starting to bake me a bit, especially at the pace I was pushing. From the 50k mark to 37 I was still putting down solid splits but it was becoming a struggle and battle that made completing a 100 miles seem like a fictitious goal.

Around this time I started to feel like I had pushed too hard. My eyelids were spasming a bit, I was hot, and felt like I had to slow it down, way down, like go to the cabin and lay down for a small bit if my goal was to finish the 100 and not wimper down to a 50 mile or 24-hour finish. So that’s what I did. I went to the cabin where my family was finishing up ‘nap time’ and I took off my shoes, socks and laid across the kinder bed with my feet propped up over the footboard for the better part of an hour. It was good to see my family, recharge, and reenergize for the remaining 63 miles.

Once back out on the course I felt good but started back slow to let my body re-acclimate and not over-heat as the sun was on high and we had no where to hide (outside the cabins). I covered up as well as I could using my Bartlett Park Ultras hat that covered the side of my face and neck.  I began to run well as the sun started to show signs of hibernating behind the mountains to the west.

I knew my original goal of going sub 20 hours was over after laying down for an hour, but I started to run hard again as I kept checking the computer monitors to check my place and kept moving up spots as the moon came up and the cold with it.

At some point I hit 50 miles in 10:27 and then 60 miles in 12:44. At this point it was freaking frigid cold. Like it was 9 degrees when I ran the Yellowstone-Teton 100 and I wasn’t nearly as cold as I was during this point of the race. My body was running well as the temperature dropped but at some point I just started shivering….and shivering. It made it tough for me to run for whatever reason. I believe with no trees, nothing to absorb the cold, being near the desert that it just felt way colder than it actually was on the thermostat. It was actually probably in the high 30’s. It felt about -5 degrees.

For better or worse, the cabin seemed too tempting at this point. I wasn’t moving well and laying down would be worth it. There was a living room at the cabin that had a sofa. So I went in to lay on it for awhile, hoping that a quick cat nap would find me.  This was around mile 67.

So I laid across the 70’s print, floral sofa and rested although sleep never met my eyes. I knew the clock was ticking but I wasn’t eager to get back out in the cold and death march. Finally, after nearly two hours had passed I slid my shoes back on and went to the truck to find a hoodie to throw on top of what I already had on which included two tech shirts, arm sleeves, Northface pullover, and now a hoodie. I had put a pair of running tights over my shorts at some point during the night. Add to that two pairs of gloves and two knit hats.

I marched out the door and death marched, albeit at a respectable speed, with my head buried in my hoodie and my hands inside it. During my two hour hiatus I had fallen down the leaderboard like a meteor towards earth during dinosaur season.  That was ok! My goal was to finish this 100 and add another buckle to my collection.  I was able to quickly walk those early AM miles along with Mark Hellenthal who was aiming for like his 26th 100 miler (which he easily did).  Mark and I pushed each other (without running but with continuous forward motion). Mark’s a faster walker than I am so I had to run occasionally to catch back up with him.

Loop courses, of the 100 mile variety, have pros and cons naturally. One con is well…doing the same loop over and over or 55x in this instance.  The loop, as mentioned before, was flat for the most part and consisted of a dirt road/path. There was a 0.20 mile section that was paved, but you could run in the dirt next to the road if you opted to. I often ran on the asphalt as it was a nice variety from the rest of the loop that felt refreshing to the feet and was a bit faster.

At some point the sun crept over the mountains to the east and it warmed not only my spirit but my legs as I started to run really well once again.  Where was this the last few hours? Oh yeah shivering away like Jack holding on to a piece of wreckage from the Titanic in the frigid Atlantic Ocean. But that was then and this was now and I was running some of my best splits of the past 80 miles.

One reason I had picked it up was that I had done the math and calculated that at my then pace it would take me like 6 more hours for a 28:30ish finish. That was too far away and I was ready to put this race to bed. There is only two ways to do that, quit or run like you are being chased by a pink pony.

My family had also emerged from the cabin during this time and driven to breakfast and back. It was a boost seeing them and knowing that the end was near.

It took me 3 hours and 8 minutes to run the 10 miles from 80 to 90.  The last 10 miles of the race from 90 to 100 took 1 hour and 54 minutes.

I ran the last 5-7 miles trying to break the stupid number known as 26. I realized I’d easily do that with 2 miles left to go but continued to push hard, running with as much intensity as I had left at that point, to finish strong and with as little left in the tank as possible.

I came to the last 1/3 mile of the loop/race that went around the small pond. My family met me and my son ran with me for the last 100 yards as we crossed the finish line together. Mark and his bride-to-be had waited as well for me to finish which was very kind of them.

In summation: Race directors Stephanie Kundlin and Ken Rubeli did an amazing job putting on this first year event. Everything from the shirts, buckle, cabins, meals, and aid stations was first class.  I didn’t perform as well as I’d like, but I put down a lot of good miles.  I wasn’t totally prepared for how hot and sunny it got during the day or how frigid cold it got at night. I’ll be better prepared for both next time.  I’d highly recommend this race to anyone that is considering it in the future. It was a great weekend away from civilization.

BLU 100 Splits

  • Half Marathon: 2:07
  • Marathon: 4:20
  • 50K: 5:14
  • 50 Mile: 10:27
  • 100K: 13:13
  • Miles 1-10: 1:37
  • Miles 11-20: 1:38
  • Miles 21-30: 1:48
  • Miles 31-40: 3:25
  • Miles 41-50: 1:59
  • Miles 51-60: 2:17
  • Miles 61-70: 2:16
  • Miles 71-80: 5:50
  • Miles 81-90: 3:08
  • Miles 91-100: 1:54
  • Finishing Time: 25:52:22

Sidenote: I enjoyed all the conversations I had throughout this race with my fellow runners. It was also a pleasure to share the course with some true greats of the sport including Eric Clifton, The Jester, Dave James, Michael Miller, Brian Recore, John Wog, Anthony Culpepper, Stacey Costa, Alexander Scherz, Mark Hellenthal and others.

I also want to be sure to note that photographer Lynn Cao went above and beyond. She was out there as much if not more than most of the runners taking photographs throughout the day and night. She then posted the photos to her Facebook page for download free of charge. Check her out on Facebook HERE.

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