Should Runners Use Standing Desks?

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Trail Runner magazine.

You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” But, while a sedentary lifestyle does have major risks, the benefits of standing desks are not as clear as that often-repeated quote suggests.

A review study in the Annals of Internal Medicine did conclude, “Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.” According to the review, those deleterious outcomes include heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

However, as noted by Dr. Robert H. Shmerling in Harvard’s Health Blog, “Rigorous studies of standing desks have not yet been performed.” A review of 20 studies on standing desks in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found no significant benefits. So we know being sedentary all day isn’t good for you, but we don’t know if standing desks are the best way to achieve optimal health outcomes.

The conundrum faced by runners specifically is that training requires recovery, and time sitting at a desk doubles as healing and adaptation time from workouts. Standing is a stress that could reduce recovery or exacerbate existing injuries like plantar fasciitis due to increased pressure on the feet. And after a hard workout, eight to 10 hours on your feet might not be the most pleasant way to spend the day. Kenyan training camps are famous for involving lots of hard running interspersed with many hours of lying around.

On the other side of the ledger, standing desks increase metabolic rate because standing burns more calories than sitting. They may also contribute to those aforementioned health benefits and could reduce the risk of injuries like hip flexor tendinitis and Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which are caused by scrunching up your hip flexors like a pretzel all day.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Foam Rolling

Current research suggests that the key is to mix sitting and standing, rather than to view a standing desk as a magical elixir. It’s similar to nutrition—an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a hundred apples a day may keep the doctor on speed dial. Even if you use a standing desk, be sure to walk around for a minute or two every half hour, do some foot circles and stretch.

Have questions for Coach Roche? Send them to [email protected]

Meet Trail Runner and Army Veteran Ben Altenes

Ben Altenes is a photographer, veteran and father who always goes the extra mile (or 1K of vert). Altenas, 35, of Salt Lake City, Utah served 10 years in the U.S. Army throughout the Middle East. When he came back, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) nearly destroyed him.

Altenes was already a runner, and he brought his running shoes with him across the world, through various tours of duty. Now transitioned back into civilian life, running has become something more than reaching fitness goals. It’s therapy, a way to manage the anxiety and anger that come with his PTSD diagnosis.

 

What are the most memorable places you have run?

The most memorable place I have ever run is Afghanistan. I was based in an area where I could safely run on trails, roads and in the mountains. Hearing the muslim call to prayer from numerous mosques on evening runs was an incredible experience.

In some locations, I ran a minimum of eight miles a day. In others, I would go scrambling over a mountain in Afghanistan or Kurdistan.

What’s it like to run in a wartime setting?

Running overseas was different from running back home for many reasons, and not just because I was in a hostile environment. I felt invincible when I was overseas, because I was kicking in doors and handing out lotto tickets.

Running in the mountains here in Utah has its own threats—some of the cliffs and trails have given me the right balance of adrenaline and peacefulness that keeps me coming back for more, just like the wars did in the Middle East—but being subject to my children and friends daily, I know that life is delicate.

How do running, nature and music go hand in hand for you? 

Trail running, or just raising my heart rate and working up a sweat in any way, has been my number-one tool to ease the anxiety and effects of PTSD.

Music has always traveled with me around the world. Having the ability to listen to those songs while on the trails now allows me to reflect on the memories I acquired during my 10 years of operating around the Middle East. It helps me realize that I am still alive, and I still have a path here at home.

How do you integrate your passion for running and the outdoors into family time? 

My son is five and my daughter is three, and while they may not run like a “runner” (yet), they enjoy coming to races. It’s pretty cool to see your own offspring excited to see you finish running up and down a mountain. Their mother and I try to share our passion for the outdoors with them.

What’s your favorite go-to workout during a busy week? 

My favorite go-to workout is a local 23-mile road cycling route through a few towns I grew up in, because I can knock it out in an hour. Cycling is my favorite cross-training activity.

As a photographer, what tips do you have for other runners looking to take a killer photo out on the trails? 

Go the extra mile, or the extra 1K of vert, to get the shot you imagine. Most of those awesome backcountry trail-running shots aren’t taken just off the road.

Also, pack an actual camera—a smart phone can get a good shot, but a camera makes a big difference.

What song is stuck in your head on most runs these days? 

The Blaze by Juvenile gets me focused, pumped and motivated.

If you could run with any music artist, dead or alive, who would it be? 

OZZY Osbourne is one of the classics I grew up with in the 80’s. I think it would be a riot to have someone cuss more than me on the trail.

 

CALL FOR YOUR STORIES—Jaybird supports athletes from all walks of life in chasing their running dreams around the world. Jaybird also wants to hear your stories. Share your motivation for running in a short story and hashtag #whyirunjaybird on Instagram for a chance to win weekly prizes including earbuds and a chance to be featured on our social channels.

WATCH: Running Virginia’s Massanutten 100

Jamie Hobbs grew up around ultras. His father was a trail ultrarunner, and he spent many weekends spectating. But he never thought he would be interested in ultras himself.

Hiking led to running, which led to longer distances.

This video, by Ron Heerkens Jr. follows Hobbs through two seasons of racing as he tackles Virginia’s Hellgate 100k and, ultimately, the Massanutten 100.

Public Lands Are Under Siege. Here’s What Trail Runners Need to Know.

In a leaked memo obtained by the Washington Post on September 17th, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump modify or reduce 10 national monuments. The report is the culmination of a months-long review of 27 U.S. national monuments (the review was limited specifically to national monuments created under the 1906 Antiquities Act since January 1996, and only those of at least 100,000 acres).

If these proposed reductions come to fruition, they would be the largest elimination of land protections in U.S. history.

Even if they don’t, there are numerous other threats mounting against public lands, any one of which could set new precedents for the way those lands are managed and funded.

What are all these threats, and what can we trail runners do about it?

 

Zinke’s national monuments proposal

Zinke’s 19-page memo suggests the Trump administration “protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, repair and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.”

Some of these things sound promising – “protecting objects and prioritizing public access,” maintaining “tribal cultural use.” But there are threats mixed in, too—namely, prioritizing “traditional uses.” This means, essentially, opening monuments to grazing, logging, coal mining, oil-and-gas extraction and commercial fishing in marine monuments.

While the memo was scant on specifics, and the White House has declined to comment on the leaked papers, experts like Mark Squillace, a professor of law who served as assistant to former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, believe that the changes could be drastic.

“We do not yet have specific details regarding the scope of the likely reductions, but the early indications are that they will be substantial,” Squillance says.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Perhaps no other monument has become so symbolic of the fight to protect public lands than Bears Ears, an expanse of desert red rock, canyons and mountains in Southeastern Utah designated as a national monument by President Obama in 2016. Zinke recommended shrinking Bears Ears from its original 1.35 million acres down to just 160,000 acres, the “smallest area compatible” with management of the over 100,000 archeological sites within the monument’s current boundaries.

Runner Luke Nelson spent four days running through Bears Ears National Monument in April. “In the roughly 150 miles that I traveled on foot, I learned that [Bears Ears] contains more cultural heritage than I could have ever imagined,” he says. “Around nearly every corner in the canyons there were petroglyphs, pictographs or nearly intact structures. It was simply astounding.”

The proposed reduction has been applauded by farmers, ranchers and the oil industry as it opens previously protected lands to expanded development. However, in reality, the region’s relative remoteness makes energy extraction an unattractive option.

Bears Ears contains hundreds of miles of runnable slickrock trail, and many worry that these reductions will hinder access to those trails. (For trail beta, check out The Best Bears Ears National Monument Hikes, by Morgan Sjogren.)

Zinke’s memo does suggest that acerage taken out of national monuments could be turned into national recreation areas. This designation, reserved for areas that attract a high volume of users, are usually designated by congress and include a land-management plan prepared by the land agency that is responsible for it—typically either the National Forest Service or National Park Service. However, designation as a national recreation area won’t protect those lands from budget cuts, which could halt trail maintenance and park law enforcement.

Golde Butte National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Land Management.
Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada

Zinke’s memo also recommends downsizing Gold Butte National Monument, 296,9337 acres of rugged red-rock desert less than 100 miles from Las Vegas. Gold Butte, which contains historic dwellings, ancient petroglyphs, mountains and sections of the Mojave desert, was designated a national monument in December of 2016 under President Obama. The given objective behind Zinke’s proposed cuts is to “protect historic water rights,” though he has proposed no new specific borders.

These cuts would leave open Gold Butte to potential drilling, mining and increase grazing, though the primary concern is that potential boundaries would leave archeological sites and artifacts as well as historic water sources vulnerable.

“These are fabulous running trails that offer incredible views, scenery, flora and fauna,” says Terri Rylander, a trail runner and board member of conservation group Friends of Gold Butte. Rylander is primarily worried that reductions to the national monument boundaries could result in reductions in funding. Gold Butte relies on its designation as a national monument to fund everything from staffing to adequate signage and trail maintenance.

“Anything that’s done to take away those protections threatens those benefits,” she says. 

 

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Land Management.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

America’s largest national monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante (1,700,000 acres) was designated by Bill Clinton in 1996 and sits in south-central Utah. At the time of its designation, Grand Staircase-Escalante was contentious for halting a coal-mine project. The monument remains divisive, as Utah Governor Gary Herbert remains a staunch opponent to what he considered a federal land grab.

In his memo, Zinke points out that Grand Staircase-Escalante has “an estimated several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits,” an observation that has many conservationists worried that proposed cuts would spur unprecedented oil-and-gas development in the area. Zinke’s recommendation would also remove limits on motorized vehicle use in the monument.

There is much for trail runners to lose if Grand Staircase-Escalante’s borders are reduced. Miles of trail and quiet wilderness could fall prey to energy development or encroachment by roads.

Nelson has fond memories of sharing Grand Staircase-Escalante with his family. “Seeing my young children having an incredible adventure exploring slot canyons and streams of the monument still brings a smile to my soul,” he says. “It was during that trip that I think they started to gain an appreciation for wild and protected places, and it a lit a fire in me to protect these spaces.”

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Land Management.

 

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon

The expansive Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument rests on Oregon’s southern border, and is a favorite of Pacific Northwest trail runners. The 86,774-acre monument was designated by President Clinton in 2000.

Zinke recommends removing an unspecified amount of land, citing logging as the primary reason. (The current management plan allows for controlled logging to help maintain a healthy forest ecosystem.) The expansion of logging practices not directly associated with forest health could hinder access to some of the monument’s 50 miles of trails—including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / U.S. Department of Interior.

While the previous four monuments have gotten the most attention—and are, perhaps, the most consequential to trail runners—six other monuments face management changes that could threaten local ecosystems.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

The 87,563-acre expanse of Katahdin Woods and Waters was acquired privately by Burst Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, who bought the land in chunks after years of unsuccessfully lobbying the state to buy it. She donated it to the federal government just last year, when it got its official designation from President Obama. The monument features a network of trails through old-growth forests, including a section of the Appalachian Trail. After voicing support for the monument in June, Zinke is now recommending changing the land’s management to allow for future logging.

 

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Land Management.
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico

Designated by Obama in 2014, this monument lies just north of the border with Mexico. The mountains sprawl for 496,330 acres, towering above a desert that is home to numerous animal species as well as Native American rock art and ancient dwellings. Zinke’s memo points to a modification in management plan that would allow for livestock running and cattle grazing in the area.

 

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Land Management.
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico

Obama designated Rio Grande del Norte in 2013, setting aside 242,555 acres of northern New Mexico high desert. Zinke’s memo notes that ranchers have been discouraged from renewing area grazing permits and aims to protect “traditional use” that would likely include cattle running and grazing, as well as authorizing tribal management in designated areas of the monument.

Zinke’s memo also recommends reinstating commerical fishing in these three marine national monuments:

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, Massachusetts

Just over 100 miles southeast of Cape Cod, this monument protects abundant and diverse coral species and deep-sea ecosystems.

Pacific Remote Island National Monument

Located south and west of Hawaii, this chain of islands and atolls comprises one of the largest and most biodiverse areas within U.S. jurisdiction, including coral reefs and marine wildlife. The monument was established by George W. Bush in 2009 and expanded by Obama in 2014. 

Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, South Pacific Ocean

Created by George Bush in 2009, Rose Atoll is home to many threatened and endangered marine species.

 

How likely is it that these management changes and boundary reductions will come to pass?  

According to Squillace, it would take an Act of Congress to shrink or abolish these monuments, which seems unlikely as this proposal would likely lack sufficient support. “Zinke and presumably Trump believe that the President has the authority to modify monuments by presidential proclamation,” says Squillace. “If Trump moves forward as expected, this will almost certainly end up in court.”

Even without reducing the size of national monuments, there are plenty of other plausible threats. Namely: budget cuts.

“Cuts to federal funding can mean parks don’t have the resources to maintain trails, ensure places are safe and allow access,” says Hallie Fox, co-founder of Run Wild, a group that engages and informs trail runners about protecting public lands.

 

Other public-lands threats

In February the House and Senate both voted to reverse a rule called Planning 2.0, which gave citizens an avenue for participating in the decision-making process for how all Bureau of Land Management public lands are managed.

In March, Secretary Zinke reversed the Obama-era freeze on leases for coal extraction on public lands.

Also in March, Nevada representative Mark Amodei brought a bill to the floor which would empower the Nevada state government to sell parcels of local public land to private citizens. The bill has not been voted on.

As recently as September, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was pressured by fossil-fuel industry lobbyists to formally propose a rollback of regulations for fracking on public land (the public comment period has closed, but an official decision has not yet been announced).

 

What can we do?

In the face of these threats, trail runners as well as other outdoor special-interest groups are mobilizing to protect public lands.

Call your local representatives.

“Trail runners should save their senators’ phone numbers and, whenever compelled, call and leave a message … urging them to speak out against Secretary Zinke’s recommendation to shrink 10 National Monuments,” says Clare Gallagher, ultrarunner and public-lands advocate. “Trail runners can read more. We can talk about the politics of public lands and climate change.”

Get informed.

Take a moment to look up your local trail network online and find out who manages it. What kind of protections allow it to exist, free of roads, buildings or commercial operations? What, if any, are the threats?

Connect with other land users.

When it comes to protecting public lands, trail runners, hunters, anglers and other seemingly disparate user groups want the same thing.

“Trail runners should connect with anglers and hunters who fork over a lot of money to maintain public lands,” says Gallagher. Contact your local chapter of hunting and fishing organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers or Ducks Unlimited, and start a conversation about how trail runners and other outdoor users can work together.

Nelson agrees. “We can’t simply watch other groups do all the work. That may mean joining and participating in [advocacy] groups or at the very minimum actively working in our local communities to stand up for the public lands we love to run on.”

Monumental Controversy: Exploring the National-Monuments Debate

Teague Hatfield says public lands have made Bend, Oregon, what it is. “The reason we’ve gone from 32,000 people to 80,000 people in the last 20 years is because of the fact that we’re a recreational mecca,” says the owner of the local FootZone running store.

“That and beer,” he adds after a beat.

Bend’s story will be familiar to residents of many small and medium-size towns in scenic locales across the West. Outdoor amenities—trail systems, ski slopes, raftable rapids and the like—draw tourists as well as entrepreneurs and knowledge-economy workers, which all gradually accretes into a diverse and vibrant local economy.

Public lands—especially protected tracts, like wilderness areas and national parks—form the foundation of that economy.

“There are a lot of examples of tech industries that have relocated to Bend,” Hatfield says. “A lot of those are lifestyle-driven choices, whether it’s single-person operations or small firms.”

The majestic peaks to the west of Bend, the sweeping desert to its east—it’s hard to imagine such sublime and imposing landscapes ever changing.

Paradise Imperiled?

But, despite their importance to places like Bend—and to trail runners the world over—public lands occupy a contentious place in our politics. To Hatfield, those public lands’ continued existence is more tenuous than it might seem.

“I believe strongly that if we don’t protect the things that are just invaluable in our Western landscapes,” he says, “that those things can and will be taken away from us.”

Recent years have seen a renewed push by some—though by no means all—Republican politicians to reduce the federal government’s role in land stewardship. Utah lawmakers have led the way in advocating for a “transfer” of federal holdings to state or local governments, a move opponents say would result in a massive sell-off due to those agencies’ inability to manage the lands. Meanwhile, recent national-monument designations have come under fire.

Keeping public lands public, and wild lands wild, may seem like a no-brainer. Outdoor-industry entrepreneurs like Hatfield see the economic benefits public lands provide. And trail runners who spend their days exploring national-forest singletrack know the intrinsic value of accessible open spaces.

But that perspective is not universal. Some factions in the rural West have sincere concerns about federal management. More importantly, they distrust the very intentions of bureaucrats, environmentalists and outdoor-industry groups.

Related: No Free Lunch, Trail Running and the Public-Lands Debate

Historically Contested

Federal-land management has been controversial for as long as the federal government has managed land. Through most of the 19th century, public lands were simply as-yet-unclaimed parcels awaiting settlement or development.

That began to change in the latter half of the century. Congress granted Yosemite Valley to the state of California in 1864, on the condition that it remain a (mostly) undeveloped park. As the wilderness historian Roderick Frazier Nash writes, “The legal preservation of part of the public domain for scenic and recreational values created a significant precedent.”

Eight years later, Congress set aside “a certain tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River” as the country’s first national park, protecting its “timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, [and] wonders.”

Those early acts of preservation were not without controversy. “The best thing the Government could do with the Yellowstone National Park,” a Kansas senator declared in 1883, “is to survey it and sell it as other public lands are sold.”

A decade later, the creation of the first “forest reserves”—later to become national forests—withdrew still more acreage from the survey-and-sell pool. Wilderness advocates, like the writer John Muir, hoped the reserves would remain untouched. But in the end, adherents of so-called “wise-use” conservation—the idea that forests should be harvested sustainably, rather than logged destructively—prevailed.

However, by the mid-20th century, the preservationist movement had gained steam, helped along by the growth in outdoor recreation. After decades of piecemeal protections—a national park or monument here, a “primitive area” designation there—a raft of legislation in the 1960s and 1970s redefined federal land-management priorities.

The 1964 Wilderness Act famously created a national system of protected areas in which “man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Other acts created a parallel arrangement for undeveloped rivers; established a system of national recreation, scenic and historic trails; required environmental assessments of federal decision making; and codified the multiple-use mandates under which the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management balance resource development and grazing with recreation and preservation.

By the late 1970s, though, shifting federal priorities had sparked a backlash in some parts of the West—the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion.

“Not Just Randomly Managed”

Malheur County, Oregon, lies 200 miles southwest of Bend. It’s sagebrush country, literally and figuratively.

The landscape of deep volcanic-rock canyons is known as the Owyhee Canyonlands. Writing in this magazine in September 2016, ultrarunner Jeff Browning called it “an untamed chunk of the American West larger than Yellowstone.”

Though largely federal land, the area lacks official protection. Worried about mining or other development, conservation groups—including the Oregon Natural Desert Association, on whose board Hatfield serves—sought to change that by advocating for a national-monument designation.

The 1906 Antiquities Act empowers the president to unilaterally protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” on public land as national monuments.

Though prompted by concerns over discrete archaeological sites, the language allowed for a broader interpretation. President Theodore Roosevelt established the precedent of using the Antiquities Act to protect whole landscapes when, in 1908, he created the 800,000-acre Grand Canyon National Monument.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton created the 1.7-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Local officials opposed it vociferously. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah called it “the mother of all land grabs.”

Part of the problem was procedural. The Clinton administration deliberated and decided in secret, without public input—a process even some monument supporters took issue with.

But it also affirmed a suspicion, deeply held in parts of the West, of a heavy-handed federal government that didn’t have the best interests of local communities at heart. In this case, opponents could even point to a tangible example—a planned coal mine, expected to create hundreds of jobs, that the monument effectively shut down.

Grand Staircase-Escalante remains a touchstone in monument debates—including in the Owyhee.

In a March 2016 nonbinding resolution, 90 percent of Malheur County voters opposed a national-monument designation. One of those opponents was local rancher Elias Eiguren.

“The history of national monuments has not been good,” he says. “Ones on this scale that affect the management of this size of a landscape have not been good to local communities.”

Eiguren grazes his cattle on BLM land that abuts his ranch, and local residents pitch in to fight fires and noxious weeds on public lands. He worries the added restrictions of a national monument could hamper that work, and have impacts on the local agriculture economy.

“The land out here, it’s not just randomly managed,” he says. He and his neighbors are “stewards of the land with dirt under our fingernails and doing the work every day here.”

In fact, national-monument designations are less restrictive than wilderness, for one. Recent monuments have tended to allow continued grazing, and the proclamation establishing Bears Ears National Monument states that the designation won’t have an impact on “emergency response activities within the monument, including wildland fire response.”

Moreover, protected public lands are generally a boon to a regional economy—whether in Bend or Malheur. Though every place is unique, rural Western counties with more protected federal lands generally outpace their peers in key economic indicators, according to research from Headwaters Economics, a nonpartisan institute.

Another Headwaters study found no evidence that 17 national monuments designated between 1982 and 2001—including Grand Staircase-Escalante—impeded economic growth in nearby communities. And, unlike in the case of Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Obama administration conducted lengthy public processes before issuing its decisions

But that’s kind of beside the point. Federal assurances and economic data won’t sway someone from a deeply felt truth. And in the case of monument opponents like Eiguren, it seems the mistrust is profound.

“Whatever happens to be written into [a monument] designation is what the land has to be managed for, and nobody knows what that is going to be until the president makes a decree, basically,” he says. “We don’t have an opportunity to have any say in that. It’s really a shoot-first-ask-questions-later type of approach.”

Public Lands: a brief history

1862: Homestead Act promises 160 acres of federal land to each Western settler.

1864: Yosemite Valley is granted to California, on the condition it remain a public park. (The valley later returns to federal ownership as part of Yosemite National Park.)

1868: John Muir arrives in San Francisco. Over the next several decades, his writings popularize the notion of wilderness.

1872: Congress designates Yellowstone the country’s first national park, stipulating that it be “set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground” and that its “timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, [and] wonders” be protected.

1891: The first federal “forest reserves” (later renamed national forests) are created. Wilderness enthusiasts like Muir and proponents of “wise use”—scientific, sustainable forestry—disagree on how they should be managed.

1905: U.S. Forest Service is established.

1906: Antiquities Act authorizes the president to preserve archaeological, historical or otherwise significant sites as national monuments.

1916: National Park Service is established.

1934: Taylor Grazing Act establishes the basis for grazing regulations on public lands.

1937: The Appalachian Trail, first proposed in 1921, is completed. Federal protection as a national scenic trail comes in 1968.

1946: Bureau of Land Management is established.

1960s-’70s: A wave of environmental legislation establishes multiple-use mandates for the Forest Service and BLM; creates national systems for preserving wilderness and wild rivers; and requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their decisions, among other things.

Late 1970s: Changing land-use laws spark a backlash among some in the West—the so-called “Sagebrush Rebels”—who call for greater local autonomy in land-management decisions.

1980: Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act creates over 100-million acres of national parks, preserves and forests in the state, including 56-million acres of wilderness.

1996: Bill Clinton creates Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

2016: Barack Obama creates Bears Ears National Monument in Utah (see page 44).

Paul Cuno-Booth is a newspaper reporter and freelance writer living in Keene, New Hampshire.

Understanding Glycogen, Your Body’s High-Performance Fuel

Put 100 runners around a pre-race dinner table, and they won’t agree on much. Training talk may cause shouting matches; shoe talk could cause friends to come to blows over terms like “drop” and “stack height.” But one thing most would agree on is what to eat—a big pasta buffet.

Pasta has earned its vaunted place at pre-race meals everywhere because of its impact on glycogen. You have probably heard the term “glycogen” bandied about before, and you may have even used it yourself when ordering your pre-race meal.

I know that when I order at restaurants, I am implicitly saying, “I’ll have the large glycogen pizza, please, with a side of glycogen breadsticks.” But what is glycogen, and how can you use it to avoid the dreaded bonk?

 

The Basics

Glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose stored in the liver and muscles that acts as a fuel source for exercise. Glycogen metabolism is the process by which these stored carbohydrates are used as fuel, involving many enzymes with chemical compositions that fill a quarter of a page. While the glycogen-to-fuel process is complex enough to fuel many PhD dissertations, the basic takeaway is that excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, turning pasta into performance.

Among other things, the breakdown of glycogen is used in ATP synthesis, which is essentially how energy transfer happens in cells. Even though glycogen only accounts for a minimal amount of total stored energy in the body, lower-burning fat takes too long to go through the same process to fuel sustained moderate exercise, so at around 55 to 65 percent of VO2 max for most athletes, glycogen stores become essential to maintain performance levels (though exact intensity depends on many athlete-specific factors).

Think of fat and carbohydrate burning on a spectrum, with high-intensity efforts involving mostly carbohydrates and low-intensity efforts involving mostly fat. Both energy sources are important for running.

According to cycling expert Dr. Iñigo San Millán, at race pace, most athletes will burn two to three grams of carbohydrate per minute. Even at lower intensities, most athletes will burn one to two grams of carbohydrate a minute (though this rate can be adjusted with training). Most athletes store 300 to 500 grams of glycogen when fully fueled, equating to about 90 to 120 minutes of intense exercise.

Glycogen burns rapidly but is refilled at a drip, usually replenishing at a rate of two to five percent per hour after exercise. Empty glycogen stores can take a full day or more to restore.

Three ways glycogen is important for endurance athletes.

1. Glycogen fuels performance for most trail runners.

If your training and racing goes beyond low-level aerobic exercise, you will need to use glycogen to perform at your peak potential. According to a paper in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, chronically low glycogen stores in athletes can cause fatigue and even induce a “catabolic” state involving muscle breakdown by requiring the body to rely on proteins and amino acids for fuel. That is one reason why low energy availability over time may contribute to a reduction in performance, and even overtraining syndrome.

Related: 4 Natural Energy-Gel Alternatives

2. Glycogen re-synthesis can improve recovery.

As outlined by an article in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, because glycogen helps muscles recover and avoid cannibalizing themselves for fuel after high-intensity exercise, replenishing glycogen can preserve muscles and accelerate recovery. Topping off glycogen stores will help you get ready for another run sooner.

3. Training in a glycogen-depleted state can enhance some training adaptations and improve aerobic efficiency.

While the body generally needs glycogen to perform at a high level, it can be trained to use its glycogen stores more strategically. An article in the journal Sports Nutrition outlines how running in a glycogen-depleted state can enhance markers for adaptation to training and make the body better at burning fat. Some top ultrarunners like Zach Bitter and Jeff Browning take it one step further, using a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet to train their body to burn mostly fat at relatively fast paces. However, LCHF diets are complex and controversial, and should be undertaken solely for training purposes when preparing for low-intensity events, at the advice of an expert.

 

How should you maximize glycogen fueling in your own training?

1. Train with adequate glycogen stores by eating carbohydrates in your daily diet.

Don’t overthink things. Just prioritize a balanced diet rich in healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, along with plenty of good fat and rich protein. Since glycogen levels take many hours to fill up, what you ate yesterday is often more important than what you eat the morning of. Avoid food restriction and eat guided by hunger.

2. After runs, prioritize replenishing glycogen through carbohydrate intake.

After exercise, the body is aching to top off glycogen stores. Chocolate milk is often cited as a good post-run drink due to its mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. While it’s hard to think of a more delightful nutrition suggestion, any similarly carbohydrate-rich food will work.

3. During runs, replenish glycogen as you go.

As glycogen levels drop, so, too, does performance for most athletes. For runs long enough to begin burning stored glycogen (usually 60 to 90 minutes or longer), practice refueling as you go. For most athletes, 200 to 300 calories per hour of mostly carbohydrates—like gels or sports drink—is a safe bet, adjusting for body type and background.

4. You can’t replenish glycogen as fast as you can burn it, so temper your effort level.

In events 90 to 120 minutes and below, if you start with full glycogen stores, you can pretty much go as hard as you’d like and avoid low-glycogen bonking. Over that, you need to pace yourself to avoid running on empty.

As a thought experiment, imagine that a typical athlete has about 360 grams of carbohydrates stored as glycogen, and can replenish 60 grams per hour while burning 180 grams per hour. With no carbs, the athlete goes two hours until bonking. Even with adequate carbs, the athlete will bonk in less than three hours. So the key is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates burned per hour by reducing intensity so the body can burn more fat. In other words, pace yourself to achieve the optimal fat-to-carbohydrate burn rate to avoid bonking.

My general glycogen-related pacing guideline is: you can go hard in events less than two hours, moderately hard in events two to three-and-a-half hours (glycogen can mostly be replenished at strong efforts), moderate for events three and a half to five hours (when fat burning becomes more important), easy/moderate up to eight hours and easy and conversational in anything over that.

5. Do some runs (including some longer runs) in a glycogen-depleted state.

You can use glycogen depletion as a tool to enhance training adaptations. An approach I use with some of the ultra athletes I coach is to do every third long run at very low intensity in a glycogen depleted state (no carbohydrates since the evening before), doing back-to-back long runs every month (even with normal fueling, this type of schedule causes glycogen depletion naturally) and doing short doubles on one or two workout days most weeks. However, to keep it simple, you can just do your daily morning run without breakfast occasionally. (Note: Dr. Stacy Sims, author of the book “Roar,” indicates that glycogen depletion may be less useful—and possibly detrimental—for some female athletes due to hormonal shifts. Very few of the professional female athletes I coach aim for glycogen depletion in a structured way, though will sometimes do back-to-back long runs and doubles for other reasons.)

 

David Roche runs for HOKA One One and NATHAN, and works with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play.

Doping Conviction for Petro Mamu, 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Champion

On September 27, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced that 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Champion Petro Mamu used banned performance-enhancing drugs (PED) in competition.

According to a statement by the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), Mamu, of Eritrea, had taken an asthma medication that is on the list of substances banned  by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The medication was found in Mamu’s system during a post-race drug test at the August 7th world-championship event, which took place in Premana, Italy.

The statement also revealed that Mamu had tested positive for the same substance one week earlier at the short-distance World Mountain Running Championships, also in Premana. Mamu had finished fifth in that race.

“The results from the short-course championship hadn’t arrived [before the start of the long-distance championship],” says WMRA president Jonathan Wyatt, by way of explaining why Mamu was allowed to compete at the long-distance championships. “There is a notification process that goes from IAAF to the National Federation and then to the athlete. Unfortunately there was not enough time.”

The findings directly affect the podium results at the long-distance championships. Francesco Puppi, of Italy, has been bumped from second place into first; Pascal Egli, of Switzerland, is now the silver medalist; and U.S. runner Tayte Pollman has been moved into third place, for a belated bronze medal.

The long-distance championships podium: Mamu (center), Puppi (left) and Egli (right). Photo by Richard Bolt.

“I’m disappointed to see yet another example of how PED use makes it difficult for athletes to compete on a level playing field,” says Richard Bolt, who was the team manager for U.S. athletes at both the short- and long-distance championships. “Tayte looked so strong in Premana and was getting faster as the raced progressed. I’m happy to see his effort has been rewarded with the podium finish he deserved.”

Pollman will have the opportunity to attend a medal ceremony at the 2018 championships, to be held in Poland. (He did not respond to requests for comment.)

For Andy Wacker, 29, of Boulder, Colorado, who represented the U.S. at both short- and long-distance championships, the news was particularly shocking. He considers Francesco Puppi, the now champion, a friend.

“I had stayed with Puppi … in June, and saw first hand his hard work and dedication,” says Wacker. “He was up at sunrise, running 15-mile tempos in 95-degree heat before taking an hour-long train to Milan where he is working on a PhD in physics. He would take the train home, go for a second run and then make dinner for me.”

Despite the fact that the podium has been altered to account for Mamu’s PED use, Wacker says the results don’t feel satisfying. “Petro put us all in a position where we don’t know what would have happened, and can’t feel good about our accomplishments, which are now tainted by this incident,” he says. “This may be naive, but I still think that the world championships are supposed to be, like the Olympics, a shining example of peaceful diplomacy, friendship and competition. Cheating defeats that spirit.”

As punishment for his use of a banned performance-enhancing substance, Mamu has been stripped of his gold medal (and prize money) from the long-distance championships and his fifth-place finish at the short-course championships. He will also serve a nine-month ban from competition, reduced from two years after he cooperated with the IAAF investigation.

This means that he will still be able to compete at the world-championship events in 2018.

Athletes and WMRA officials alike are dissatisfied with the IAAF’s decision to reduce Mamu’s ban.

“I believe that bans should be two years at a minimum,” says Wyatt. “If WADA would like to offer cooperation clauses, then longer bans can be reduced, but the minimum two years should be respected.  As it stands Petro will miss very few races in his normal mountain-running calendar.”

Others take an even harsher tact. “I believe there should be a lifetime ban for anyone who has cheated,” says Mario Mendoza, who represented the U.S. at the long-distance championships. “In rare cases where it’s unsure whether the athlete cheated on purpose or not, I still believe there should be a minimum of a four-year ban. A nine-month ban is just a joke. A female competitor would be out nine months to have a baby.”

The question of ingesting banned PEDs “on purpose” is a sticky one. WADA regulations include Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) for athletes who have medical conditions that necessitate taking a banned substance. “If a doctor had issued Petro with [a TUE], he could have taken that substance with no consequence,” Wyatt says. “You see a lot of abuse of that system, where whole teams of athletes are deemed to be asthmatics.”

As it stands, Mamu did not have a TUE for the use of asthma medication. (Mamu has yet to respond to a list of questions sent to him by email. Trail Runner will update the article if and when he does so).

“Athletes are responsible for everything they do and take. They have to inform themselves,” says Wyatt. “This was not Petro’s first year of racing, so we can all reasonably expect him to inform himself of any prohibited substances.”

Joe Gray, 33, of Colorado Springs, finished just 10 seconds ahead of Mamu at the short-course World Mountain Running Championships on July 30, leading U.S. men to a bronze medal. “Reduced sentences should only be given to athletes who are part of a doping group … and can provide vital information to end doping on a grand scale,” he says. “I’ve said for years that we need out-of-competition testing across the board for off-road racing. Too many athletes are unaccounted for.”

Related: When IT Comes to Anti-Doping, Trail Running Is Still a Wild West

Mountain running lacks the kind of regular, centralized doping control of sports like cycling. Testing is only required at some races—like world championships. Other races have to request (and pay for) testing to be administered.

The WMRA and the International Association of Ultrarunning can each designate a short list of competitors to receive year-round, out-of-competition testing, based on race results—but the practice is not widespread across all elite-level mountain runners.

Wacker, who has represented the U.S. at eight international championship events, says he has never been tested—including at this year’s short- and long-distance championships, where he finished 30th and 38th respectively.

“I have never been drug tested at any race I have been a part of as a professional. Nor have I ever been tested out-of-season,” he says. “I was tested twice as a collegiate athlete. We need more testing, but it is difficult as the cost [of drug testing] is often incurred by the race itself. In a sport like trail running, where small race sizes mean small race profits, bigger organizations need to help out.”

Says Nancy Hobbs, who chairs the Mountain, Ultra, Trail council of USA Track and Field, and is a WMRA council member, “We should strive for education as well as a more comprehensive program to include pre-competition testing, out-of-competition testing and in-competition testing at more events worldwide to insure the playing field is equal for all athletes.”

Your Guide to Responsible Trail Use

If you’re new to running on trails, it’s easy to view them as softer, hillier extensions of the pavement. It’s all just running, right?

Well, not quite. Trail running offers an escape to beautiful, wild places—but also implies a responsibility to keep those places pristine and respect the experiences of other visitors. Here are a few tips to help you become an upstanding citizen of the trails.

Accept Responsibility

Before heading into the hills, learn about the trail, gather appropriate gear (which will depend upon the length and remoteness of your run) and prepare to take care of yourself. When you’re running in backcountry areas for hours on end, things can go wrong—not only could you be in danger, but other people may shoulder the burden of bailing you out.

“There’s personal responsibility when you’re going out on a trail run or participating in a trail race,” says Liza Howard, a top ultrarunner and wilderness-medicine instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. “That has always been part of the trail-running ethic.”

Respect Other Users

People before PRs. Gunning for a Strava record doesn’t give you priority over other people on the trail. “Even I get bothered by obnoxious runners who think they own the trail,” says Andrew Skurka, a renowned thru-hiker who competes in ultramarathons.

Recognize that everyone has the right to move at the pace they choose. Give ample warning when overtaking hikers, and don’t squeeze past in narrow or sketchy spots.

Know who has right of way. Basic traffic rules keep things moving smoothly and safely on the trails. When going downhill, yield to those coming up. Always yield to equestrians, staying on the trail’s downhill side (spooked horses bolt uphill). Mountain bikers should yield to you, though, in practice, it can be easier to let them whiz by.

Be a good dog … owner. Dogs can leave their mark on the outdoors, in more ways than one. Responsible dog owners obey the rules, which differ from trail to trail. Are dogs allowed on the trail? Do they need to stay on leash? Should you pack out or bury their waste?

Keep off-leash dogs in sight and under voice control to keep them from stressing wildlife—or other trail users who don’t like being slobbered on, barked at or attacked.

Minimize phone use. Use your phone if you need to; just don’t let it intrude on those who come seeking a quiet experience. “Not everybody wants to hear your conversation at the top of Longs Peak [in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Naitonal Park],” says Ben Lawhon, education director at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

Keep one ear open. If listening to music, leave one earbud out so you can hear wildlife and other trail users. Avoid playing music from open speakers.

  

Protect the Environment

Stay on the trail. Run straight through muddy and snowy stretches of trail, and don’t cut switchbacks. Skirting mucky patches or taking shortcuts widens the tread, hastens erosion and scars the landscape with unauthorized “social trails.”

That can be avoided with a bit of planning. “Not having the right equipment oftentimes can be a pathway to increasing impact,” says Lawhon. Know which trails get muddy and wear trail shoes with aggressive lugs, or simply seek out dry trails.

Poop responsibly. We’ve all been there—one hour into an adventure and suddenly regretting that pre-run espresso. Just make sure you do your business in a responsible way. Get 200 feet away from any trails, campsites or bodies of water; dig a hole six to eight inches deep; and pack out used TP.

Howard recommends bringing toilet paper and hand wipes in a Ziploc bag; wrap used TP in a wipe if you don’t want it to be visible. If digging with a stick or your heel sounds arduous, consider carrying an ultralight trowel or a tent snow stake, Lawhon says.

Don’t litter. Pack out all trash—including biodegradable peels and cores—and pick up whatever refuse you see along the way. This goes for organized events, too. It may be acceptable to litter at road marathons, but a trail race will expect that you carry your trash and dispose of it at aid stations.

Don’t take stuff. That rock or flower belongs where you found it, however cool it looks.

Honor land-management restrictions. Seasonal closures and other rules might keep you temporarily off your favorite trail, but they’re in place for good reasons, like protecting wildlife populations or reducing erosion.

Give back. Trails don’t just happen. Pitch in with a local organization that builds and maintains trails, removes invasive plants or otherwise works to preserve the health of natural spaces.

Volunteering also builds valuable ties to land managers and to other trail-user groups, like mountain bikers and equestrians. “We’re not all moving at the same speed, but we all have a stake in trails,” says Lawhon. “To the extent that we can all get along and share these resources, it’s going to benefit all of us in the long run.”

Meet Trail Runner Rory Bosio

Rory Bosio is a force on the trails. The 33-year-old California native won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a prestigious 105-mile race around the Mont-Blanc massif, twice, in 2013 and 2014. She has also earned podium finishes at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 and the Way Too Cool 50K.

Yet she has no interest in being a full-time runner. Instead, she devotes much of her time to making a difference as a full-time Pediatric ICU nurse. She balances her intense career and sporting passion with a sense of humor, tasty treats and fat beats.

 

Why did you start running?

I did my first race at 8 years old—one mile around my school. I hated every step of it. Luckily, things have improved since then, although I still have my down days. I did my first 50K when I was 22. I’m firmly in my 30s now, so I’ve been at it for a while.

The “why” is because I love being outdoors in the mountains as much as possible, and I love to immerse myself in the beauty of Mother Nature. I love the simplicity of running.

What is your most memorable race?

I remember eighth-grade cross-country state championships very well. I’ve never been as laser focused on a race. I think I was trying to impress my crush, so I tried really hard and ended up winning. (It’s not as impressive as it sounds because we were a very small division). I was very happy with the result. My crush didn’t seem to care, though.

What’s your favorite post-long-run treat?

I have a sweet tooth, a salty tooth and I love food, so I’m happy with most treats. My favorites include French pastries, frozen yogurt with extra rainbow sprinkles, a New York Strip steak on the bone with extra fat, any type of potato (fried, baked, mashed) and red wine to wash it all down.

How do running and your job as a pediatric ICU nurse compliment one another?

Not to put down any full-time athletes, but for me it’s a recipe for disaster to be a full-time runner. When I’m not working as much and only running, which I tried for a bit, I start to question what I’m contributing to society and what impact I’m having on the world.

Nursing is a great counterbalance to running, because when I’m at work I’m focused not on myself, but on keeping my patients alive. It offsets all the time I spend gallivanting in the mountains. To put it in a completely sanctimonious way, I feel better about my place on earth when I go to work and take care of kids.

What advice do you have for other runners balancing training with a career?

Don’t view running as “training.” This makes it seem like a chore. I view running as my fun time, and an outlet for the everyday stressors of life. Running should always feel like something you want to do to release the stress valve. 

What is your favorite run in the world?

That’s like choosing a favorite child, but as my Grandma says, every mother has her favorite (hers is my uncle Pat, which she will readily tell you). My favorite run is the Tour du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, France. The Alps are wonderful and charming with beautiful mountainous terrain, excellent refugios off the trails to stop for a croissant and cappuccino, cute Frenchmen along the way—need I say more? There’s also over 30,000 feet of vertical gain. Did I mention I like to go uphill?

What’s your favorite race-day pump up song?

“Push It,” by Salt n Pepa.

 

 

Tim Freriks Sets FKT for Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

One year after Jim Walmsley broke both the single- (rim-to-rim) and double-crossing (rim-to-rim-to-rim) records in the Grand Canyon, the rim-to-rim FKT has fallen, to Walmsley’s friend and training partner Tim Freriks.

Freriks, 26, ran the 21-mile route in 2 hours 39 minutes 38 seconds, besting Walmsley’s time by roughly seven minutes.

“The idea for a R2R actually came up before I was even involved in the trail and ultrarunning communities,” says Freriks, who started trail running after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2013. The Grand Canyon was his favorite place to run.

“[The rim-to-rim] kind of became this thing that I wanted to do, just for myself, to connect with a place that I had grown up around,” he says. “Not necessarily with a time goal in mind.”

Months of training in the canyon paid big fitness dividends, and his focus shifted toward racing; he finished second at the 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 and first at this year’s Transvulcania 73K in Spain.

“I never got to make an attempt at the R2R or R2R2R, but I knew that I’d come back to it when my schedule allowed,” he says. “The stars finally aligned last weekend.”

Walmsley and fellow training partner Jared Hazen (the group has dubbed themselves the Coconino Cowboys) came out to cheer Freriks on from the bottom of the canyon.

“They brought so much energy with them down there, and were cheering for me like I was racing,” he says. “It was awesome.”

A full-time registered nurse, Freriks has to work racing and long runs around a packed and often-awkward schedule. The day after his record-setting run, he went in for the first of three consecutive 12-hour shifts at the hospital. 

Trail Runner caught up with Freriks to chat about his training, motivation and plans for the rest of the season.

  

Photo courtesy HOKA One One.

 

 

 

Why the R2R?   

The R2R choice was one that I made just because it fit nicely into my training block for races later in the fall. I didn’t need to completely structure my training around a big 42-mile effort [on the rim-to-rim-to-rim] that would require an actual taper and more downtime afterward. I want to run the Skyrace here in Flagstaff, and The North Face 50, so I’ll get to keep the R2R2R on the wish list.

 

How did you feel the morning of the attempt? 

I had some commitments the day prior, so we made it out to the North Rim at about 11 p.m. I got up at 5 a.m. the next morning. As soon as I had my morning coffee and got in a little shake-out run, I was ready to go. I felt like I was firing on all cylinders when I started down the tight switchbacks on the North Kaibab Trail.

 

Related: Watch Jim Walmsley Fly Through the Grand Canyon 

 

What was your strategy and nutrition plan, and how did things pan out? 

I’m a bit more of tortoise than a hare, so my strategy was just to be as efficient as possible by not stopping. I didn’t stop for any water or nutrition. I carried two handhelds, with 40 ounces of fluid and about 1,000 calories. I just wanted to flow as best as possible and not have my legs too beat up by the time I started climbing out the South Kaibab Trail.

The one thing that I was most stressed about was mule trains, where you have to stop and wait or just hike behind them for several minutes. Even though I was trying to float along on the downhill, I was trying to build a buffer for the climb out. I ended up running into only one mule train, and was stopped for less than a minute.

 

What were your highs and lows?

The high point was running into Jim and Jared at the bottom of the canyon. I had built in enough time that I only needed a 76-minute climb out on the South Kaibab trail, and I knew that was doable, so I was riding a high.

The lowest point was probably the climb just below Skeleton Point on the South Kaibab Trail. We call that the crux of the climb because it gets so steep, and it’s completely exposed to the sun. The weather was hotter than I had anticipated, and I began to question whether the Kaibab was breaking me.

 

Describe the “finish” moment.

We run the canyon enough that I know what splits to expect. When I made it to Ooh-Aah Point with five or six minutes to spare, I felt like I’d made it. I couldn’t shake my smile. When I saw Sunny Margerum, a friend and HOKA One One team manager, taking photos at the top, I was so relieved. My friends and family were there, and it was a pretty special moment—I grew up backpacking and exploring the Grand Canyon with my dad, and to be able to be a tiny part of this canyon’s history is pretty special to me.

 

What’s it like setting a record previously held by a close friend? 

Jim’s been a great mentor and friend to me in this whole trail and ultrarunning process, not just with Grand-Canyon running. I feel like we’ve been able to grow up together as ultrarunners. He’s been instrumental in my development as an ultra-trail athlete, and the Grand Canyon FKT was no exception. I was unfamiliar with the top four miles of the North Kaibab Trail, so he gave me some beta on what to expect in that area, and on when to push and when to put things on cruise control.

Just because of our experiences in the canyon together, this record felt significant. It’s fun to both hold those two Grand Canyon records now.

 

Describe the R2R experience for those who have never been to the Grand Canyon before.  

The North Kaibab is a little less steep but much longer. It takes approximately 14 miles to get to the river. The South Kaibab is about 6.5 miles from the river to the rim. At the bottom there are several miles at a gentle incline along Bright Angel Creek in a really slotted-out box canyon where you can float along and try to recover before the big climb out the South Kaibab. The South Kaibab is super steep, with lots of logs and rock ledges. It can be difficult to get a rhythm.

 

Was it particularly significant to be running in the Grand Canyon in the midst of the heated debates going on about public-lands protection? 

Definitely. I grew up exploring the national parks with my family, and I really believe that places like these should be preserved for future generations to experience. Parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Kings Canyon have played a huge role in making me who I am today—not to mention the lesser-known monuments, preserves and public lands where I’ve put in countless miles and made memories. I hope that by showcasing these parks, athletes like myself may be able to sway some opinions on the direction we go with public lands.

 

Will another Coconino Cowboy be coming back for the record next year?

I sure hope so! The Cowboys are growing, and we’re getting more and more athletes coming to Flagstaff to train together on the trails. I think that a group atmosphere like this breeds success. Some names to watch out for: Cody Reed, Jared Hazen, Makai Clemons, Eric Senseman and Tommy Rivers Puzey. All potential rim-to-rim record holders in the future.