With only two days until Western States, below is our final five athlete profiles featuring an east coast racer with 100 miler experience, a midwest speedster, a California based States veteran and more to round out the final part of our rabbit racer preview.
Rachel Bell Kelley (rabbitELITEtrail) - Chapel Hill, NC - #237
Our singular east coast representative, Rachel Bell Kelley, is quite familiar with the 100 mile distance finishing three of them in the past few seasons including Run Rabbit Run and Pinhoti. After recovering from an injury earlier this spring, her training has been dialed, including a trip to California last month for the Western States Training Camp with a couple of other rabbit racers. Kelley will lean on her experience at the challenging distance and use her on the fly problem solving skills to help her put a mark on this storied endurance test across the Sierras on this weekend.
No stranger to pushing his limits in extreme endurance challenges, Dave Odell has completed four 100 mile races, including Leadville in 2017, Rio del Lago, Cascade Crest and 120 miles at the Born To Run Ultramarathons 4 Day in Los Olivos, CA last month. One of three rabbits to get into Western States via the lottery, Odell’s training has been on point for the better part of a year under the tutelage of coach Mike Swan and he comes into race week hungry for a coveted silver belt buckle.
Nick Presniakov (SB Mountain Racing) - Santa Barbara, CA - #310
First time lottery entrant Nick Presniakov was ecstatic to hear his name called in December and in the past six months he’s buckled down with countless hours of hard work. Hiring rabbitPRO Sandi Nypaver as his coach has helped provide some structure to this Santa Barbara mountain goat’s training and his fitness is more than evident, with his fifth place at the Leona Divide 50 in April. His WSER Training Camp experience last month will prove invaluable for him on race day and with 2018 being his third consecutive year of running a 100 mile race, Presniakov is poised to secure a Western States silver buckle this weekend as well.
Kenneth Ringled (rabbitELITEtrail) - Simi Valley, CA - #326
The only previous Western States 100 finisher of the bunch, Kenneth Ringled knows what it takes to finish the grueling course from Olympic Valley to Placer High School having secured a silver buckle at the 2014 edition of the race. Since then, he’s racked up the accolades in the ultra scene including a top five finish at the prestigious Angeles Crest 100 in 2015. With a few shorter races under his belt this spring, Ringled has been putting in the hours necessary in the hot Southern California weather to top his '14 result on race day this year.
Coree Woltering (rabbitELITEtrail) - Ottawa, IL - #369
If you know one thing about Coree Woltering, our midwest rabbit trail crusher, you know that he loves to race. Any distance and anywhere, pinning a number on his one of his favorite things to do year around. With eight races finished so far this year, ranging in distance from 10k to 50 miles, Woltering already has five wins to his name and numerous course records in 2018. After attending the States Training Camp at the end of May, Wolterning has been in Lake Tahoe for the past three weeks training, relaxing and acclimating to the mountainous environment. He landed on the podium in his only 100 mile race attempt last February and figures to be a contender for a top finish at his first Western States 100.In addition to the athletes we profiled in Part 1 of our Western States 100 preview, be on the lookout for other HOKA ONE ONE athletes Jim Walmsley (#20), Tim Freriks (#29) & Karl Meltzer (#50) as well Charlie Ware (#26) from Aravaipa Running (a rabbit sponsored club) also wearing rabbit crafted threads on race day.
rabbitELITEtrail racer and Santa Barbara, California resident Wes Judd didn't just complete his first 100 miler in style, he competed - moving up throughout the day at the San Diego 100 and eventually finishing in the top five. In Part 1 of this series written by Wes, a freelance writer by trade, he breaks down his training leading up to the big day earlier this month.
In the six months leading up to the San Diego 100, my first race at that distance, I ran more consistently and in higher volumes than ever before. The prospect of running 100 miles is daunting to say the least, and there are so many uncontrollable factors come race day. What I could control, however, was my preparation. I resolved to make the most of it.
In those preceding six months, I was both patient and consistent in my build up. With guidance from my coach Mike Wolfe at The Mountain Project, I slowly increased both intensity and volume. I was also in the gym once a week, and, in the two months before the race, was spending 30-45 minutes in the sauna every second or third day. San Diego is often described as a “sneaky hard” race—a course that isn’t necessarily the biggest, baddest, nor steepest, but with hot and dry conditions, constant exposure, moderate altitude (the whole race is run between 4,000-6,000 feet), and long climbs in oven-like canyons on mostly technical, rocky trails, the course has a way of beating you down. I wasn’t going to underestimate the challenge.
It wasn’t long until I felt as fit as I ever had. In March, I raced Ruck a Chuck 50K and set a PR, and did the same thing at the 50 mile distance when I ran Leona Divide one month later. About one month before San Diego, I strung together two back-to-back 100-mile weeks, a first for me. Something I learned is that training to this level, with the burden of quantity, takes a lot of time, especially if you’re figuring out how to do this for the first time. If nothing else, 100 mile training taught me to become as expert time manager.
Wes smiling to a 4th place at Leona Divide
Training was going well—exceptionally well—up until the second 100-mile week, which ended almost exactly one month before SD100. That following week, the legs felt acutely sore—not injured, but a sharper and more cutting soreness than I usually get from big weeks. In addition, I felt as if I had lost my upper edge. Running anything faster than an eight minute mile felt very difficult. Not impossible, but much harder than it should have been, or than it was just a few months prior in training, when sub-seven minute miles were effortless. I honestly felt like I had overtrained myself. My suspicions were confirmed, or at least heightened, when I caught a debilitating stomach bug on the Friday night of that week, three weeks out from SD. In the course of four hours, I went from feeling a little unwell to having a fever and not being able to travel very far away from the toilet. It’s been years since I had a fever, and I forgot how awful that sensation is. I actually sweat through my sheets and all the way to my mattress on that second night. I was in rough shape.
Despite that, I wasn’t too worried. It sucked, and of course I would have preferred to feel good, but it forced me to rest. If I hadn’t been couch-locked, I would have tried to run the Born to Run 50K in Los Olivos as a last big effort before San Diego. I know I would have also tried to run it quickly, perhaps even keeping up with rabbitPRO Kris Brown for as long as I could. (Likely not that long.) The sickness could have been a blessing in disguise.
Training in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara
It took me a full two weeks to feel like myself again, despite being over the bug. This intensified my worry that I had overtrained. In those two weeks, I felt a deep exhaustion—not the kind that comes after a hard workout, but a sort of unshakable lethargy and fatigue—and I couldn’t push any of my runs faster than a recovery pace. This worried me, but not as much as I think it could have. I was actually quite impressed and surprised with my ability to retain perspective on the situation and remain analytical, and thus optimistic, about the state of my fitness: I was about to run 100 miles. Of course I was going to feel tired. I had just spent the better part of six months beating the hell out of my body, trying to turn it into the most durable version of itself. This was the depths of the stress + rest = growth equation, of super compensation. I wasn’t about to race a fast race, and although the loss of my upper end did worry me—I’ve always equated ease and speed with fitness—I knew those weren’t the tools I would need in this race. I needed endurance and durability. As I got closer to the race, I became more convinced that I had—or, more accurately, my coach had—timed this well. I was going to come out of this funk and, ideally, super compensate just in time for the race.
The 2018 Western States Endurance Run is shaping up to be a banner year for a group of nine rabbit athletes from across the country, and with race day just 4 days out, we wanted to introduce the dynamic group that will represent us across 100 grueling miles from Olympic Valley to the Placer High School track. In part one of our Western States racer preview, we go down the list in bib number order starting with our two Golden Ticket winners.
Photo by Christian Pondella
Setting her sights firmly on this past February's Sean O’Brien 100k, Elliot remained cool and calm under Southern California’s warm winter sun and went on to a commanding second place finish behind Courtney Dauwalter, claiming a Golden Ticket into Western States. After battling back from an injury this spring, Elliott has been training smart and preparing her mind for her first attempt at the 100 mile distance. With course knowledge from the Memorial Day Training Camp under her belt and a solid race day plan, we expect her to have a phenomenal States, experience competing with the best of the best in an incredibly strong women’s field.
Photo by Howie Stern
Eric Senseman, like Elliott, secured his entrance into the States showdown in his final opportunity, just two months ago at the Lake Sonoma 50. Taking fourth behind Jim Walmsley, Jared Hazen and Mario Mendoza (all of whom already had spots in WS) Senseman punched his ticket in emphatic fashion on a hot April day in the wine country. With a short time period to recover and get in another block of training in, Senseman enters Western States with a conservative, yet precise plan looking to finish his first 100 miler strong and compete at the very front of the race until the end.
Photo by Eric Schranz
Adam Kimble (rabbitELITEtrail) - Tahoe City, CA - #118
With four 100 mile race podiums and epic runs across the entirety of America and England, Adam Kimble considers himself a hundred mile specialist. Originally from the midwest, Adam now calls Lake Tahoe home, and he’s been dreaming of toeing the line at Western States even before he moved to the Sierras. After a spring filled with impressive race results across shorter ultra distances, Adam has been focused on building a bigger endurance base the last two months to add to his already evident foot speed. Western States is shaping up to be an extremely impressive performance for this endurance guru.
Photo by David Silverander
Since October 1st, 2016 Kris Brown has nine ultramarathon wins and in his worst finish in the last 12 months, he took fourth at the North Face 50, a venerable who’s who end of season ultra Super Bowl. Part of the rabbitPRO/HOKA collaboration with Dani Moreno, Brown is also a perfect four for four in his ultra races thus far in 2018. A veteran of sadistically hot conditions (SD100 race report), the forecast for Saturday is playing right into Kris’ methodical and savvy race tactic plan that we know will find him at the front in the final hours of his second 100 miler and first Western States. Catch Brown in a LIVE chat with iRunFar tomorrow, 6/20 @ 10:45a PDT at Coffeebar Squaw Valley or online here.
Photo by Vanessa Hansen
When you dream about something for long enough and you finally put in the work to set yourself up for the best possible chance at success, is there any option but to go out and execute your plan on race day?
True, anything can happen, but when I believe in myself I know the countless hours of training I put in have prepared me to race with courage and strength to complete feats once thought utterly insane & completely impossible.
In accepting that as the truth, I also know that once the race is done I’m ready for more no matter what happens between the start and finish. Within days I find myself analyzing my splits and those of others slightly faster than myself to fully understand the race, it’s challenges, pitfalls to avoid and strategies for success in order to continually improve, year over year. I don’t just learn one thing from race day, I learn a multitude of tidbits of information that create a wealth of racing knowledge that I lean on each time I pin a number on. However, racing is no science, it’s one of the most artistically tactful displays of athleticism I’ve ever witnessed and after finishing 182 of them, I promise you that racing is also one of the most challenging undertakings around requiring a fine balance between strength, finesse and mental clarity. Elements absolutely paramount to achieving great things in competition.
Within minutes of firing up the computer, I know where I can cut, one, two, maybe even three minutes off my time in order to push me higher in the ranks. It won’t be easy, but that’s precisely why I like it. I reach for the bar so often just so I can feel it slip through the grip of my hands, driving me to come back again with the passion to hurdle myself onto a completely foreign level, setting a new standard -- pushing to limits never thought possible.
Eighteen is great, but I want more. It’s in my nature to never be satisfied with complacency or stagnation. Each moment is savored, but always stored to deepen future experiences with knowledge from the past in both racing and life. Every single block is part of a foundation of something larger than life itself, the world I create around myself and thrive in on a daily basis.
I’m already scheming about the training I need to put into motion to make my next set of dreams come to fruition; all I can do is smile when I think about the opportunities that lie ahead. How lucky am I to be able to pursue a passion that teaches me more about myself and others than I could ever possibly absorb?
It’s time to get back to work, I’ve still got more to learn.
Video by Rickey Gates
Dedicated readers of the rabbit chatter blog may recall our series last year on that unique beast of a race, the legendary Dipsea. We started by examining the race’s storied history and by meeting two of our good friends who would be toeing the line. We also examined the unique head start system—arguably the race’s defining feature—which means that a wide range of characters are in contention for the overall win on any given year. Attention was also paid to the course’s numerous hills, which can make or break even the strongest runner and, finally, we examined the various intangibles that contribute to a unique sixth sense we termed the Dipsea Instinct.
After all that build up, though, we failed to tell you how things went down on race day! We are here now to rectify that error as, happily, our two good friends will be returning to Mill Valley this weekend to take another shot at glory.
So, travel with us now… back in time one year to a cool, blustery Sunday morning in Marin County. Over 1000 runners pack the streets of Mill Valley, thronging the Depot as they perform their final pre-race rituals. Jeffrey, running his ninth Dipsea and his last year in the scratch group, has visions of a black shirt dancing in his head. Tyler, running his first Dipsea, is wondering just exactly how crazy this is going to be and how many people he will have to pass to snag himself a return ticket for 2018.
At 8:55a Jeff and the other scratch runners are off, tearing out of downtown and toward the hills and—more to the point—the stairs that will brutalize their legs in due time. 26 minutes later, Tyler’s Z group is finally allowed to start and now all of our protagonists are on course.
Taking his favorite local’s shortcut (don’t bother asking, he won’t tell you), Jeff quickly establishes himself in the front of the race and starts trucking toward Stinson. Tyler uses every inch of his long legs to blaze past people, taking the sorts of risks on the downhills that you just don’t unless something big is on the line.
Photos from Cardiac—a major climb midway through the race—that day reveal both runners in good spirits and fine form, excited for the mostly downsloping terrain from there to the finish.
When all was said and done, Jeff improved hugely on his finish from the previous year, moving up from 99th to 50th place. Tyler, as expected, had an amazing race and very nearly won the his division, finishing just 5 seconds behind a 60 year woman to finish second in the Runner’s section. A fitting end to a first Dipsea for a runner who could realistically vie for an overall win in the coming years.
Jeff just ran a 2:37 debut marathon and Tyler just busted off a 4:26 mile, so it looks like both guys are ready to run nice and hard this Sunday. Could they both earn a coveted black shirt for finishing in the top 35? Only one way to find out!
On a perfect evening at Santa Barbara City College’s picturesque La Playa Stadium, two strong fields led to fast times and exciting contests in both the women’s and men’s 5000 meter races at the rabbit5000 presented by Running Warehouse.
In the event’s second year, Phillip Reid of the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies, based in San Luis Obispo, CA and Maor Tiyouri of Boulder, CO came away victorious with winning times of 13:51.36 and 16:04.17 in the men’s and women’s races respectively. For Reid, this was his fastest mark since 2011 and it will have an outside chance at qualifying him for the USA Outdoor Championships later this month in Des Moines, IA.
Athletes sponsored by Santa Barbara based running apparel company rabbit also had strong showings, with rabbitPRO Amy Schnittger taking second in the women’s race in a time of 16:15.37 and fellow rabbitPRO teammates Seth Totten and Tyler McCandless taking second and third in the men’s race respectively, with times of 14:01.41 and 14:03.65. McCandless, who has qualified for a third USA Olympic Marathon Trials, improved his 5K best by almost twenty seconds in his first 5K race on the track since 2010.
“This was the first year of the rabbit5000 at the iconic La Playa Stadium with an increased prize purse and we can’t wait to be able to continue to bring top runners to beautiful Santa Barbara to run fast times in future years,” commented Race Director David Monico.
In addition to the support of presenting sponsor Running Warehouse, the rabbit5000 also received support from local sponsors Alaris Fitness, American Riviera Bank, LogicMonitor, Vining Construction and Santa Barbara Running.
“Giving back to the sport is important to us personally and professionally at rabbit. We thank our sponsors in helping put this event together as well as the Santa Barbara running community for coming out to cheer on these incredible athletes looking to fulfill their dreams,” expressed Monica DeVreese, rabbit co-founder.
“It was an incredibly fun and exciting night, and we look forward to building upon the event in future years. We love being able to support the sport of running and the rabbit5000 is just one way we hope to do so,” said Jill Deering, rabbit’s other co-founder.
rabbit racer Nick Presniakov shares his experience from the Memorial Day Weekend Training Camp in preparation for running 100 miles form Squaw Valley to Placer High School on June 23rd.
Many runners are familiar with the legendary Western States Endurance Run, but I'd bet most are unaware of the WSER Memorial Day Weekend Training Camp organized by race director Craig Thornley. Over the long weekend (Saturday/Sunday/Monday) runners cover the last 70 miles of the 100 mile Western States course, each day completing between 20-30 miles.
Western States 100 is infamously difficult to gain entry into with thousands of runners qualifying and then vying for one of only 369 spots during the December lottery. One of the best kept secrets in ultrarunning is that you do not have to be registered for WSER to take part in the training camp weekend. No qualifier, no lottery, just hit the button on ultrasignup.com. This is a great opportunity if you plan on running or pacing WSER one day.
This year there were just over 300 runners that met on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend at Foresthill Elementary School. Each morning started with a check-in and then briefing from RD Craig Thornley. Then we were off on the day's long run and concluded with a provided lunch and the opportunity to get a free sports massage from 'Monsters of Massage'.
Day one we ran from Robinson Flat to Foresthill Elementary, Day two was Foresthill to Rucky Chucky, and the third and final day was from Green Gate to the finish at Placer High. It was a rare experience to go on long training runs supported with well stocked aid stations and amazing volunteers. Some of those aid stations were being manned by legends like 14-time WSER winner Ann Trason or Tim Twietmeyer, who has finished WSER 25 times under 24 hours (and won the race 5 times).
It was so good to share miles and smiles each day with other rabbits Adam Kimble, Rachel Kelley, Kate Elliott, Coree Woltering and Ken Ringled. From what I saw on the trail over the long weekend, look for team rabbit to do big things at Western States this year! During a tough training block, running with other rabbits working towards a common goal really re-lit the stoke.
The WSER Memorial Day Weekend Training Camp is truly a unique experience to see the course, chat with ultrarunning legends and WSER past winners, get in some great training miles and reconnect with friends from past races. One word of advice though, don't forget to pack the Tecnu! #seeyouinsquaw
Sunday was a banner day for an abundance of rabbit racers from all over the state and beyond at the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon, starting in Ojai and finishing along the Pacific Ocean in Ventura. One of those racers was rabbitELITE team member Jenny Hitchings of Sacramento who won the point-to-point race in emphatic fashion, finishing in 2:51:28. In the process of beating her nearest competitor by over two and half minutes, she also set the unofficial master's course record by over three minutes.
At the age of 54 it's clear that Jenny is still going strong, but most importantly having fun with her training and racing. We sat down with her post race to learn more about her history with the sport, a few secrets to her longevity and how the race went down this past weekend.
First off, congrats on your win! Seriously impressive stuff Jenny. How many years have you been running and racing?
Thank you so much! I've been running for 35 years, but I didn’t start running competitively until I was close to 40 years old around 2004.
You've done everything from 5k races to 50-milers: what do you consider your race specialty to be?
Definitely distance road racing. Though I enjoy, and do well, in the 10-miler, the marathon seems to be my event…which makes it hard to change things up. I may have been faster at the shorter distances had I trained for them better, but I always seemed to be marathon focused. For awhile I was doing well in the ultramarathons, but went back to the pavement and have been focused solely on the road recently.
How did you first get into running?
I started running for fitness and to ward off that "freshman 15" at UCSB - how can you not run there? It wasn’t until I moved to Sacramento and met some other runners who were on teams that I got involved in more serious racing. Running partners, a team and finally hiring a coach in 2006 taught me so much about training, racing and my potential as a competitive runner.
What are a few pieces of advice you wish you’d known when you started?
1. To take my easy days easy (I still struggle with this though)
2. How to cope with pre-race angst (I battle it hard)
3. Best ways to deal with GI distress (Arrrrgh)
4. To trust your training, and the rest is what the day gives you (I truly believe this)
You’re headed out the door for a long training run; what are your essential pieces of gear?
I’m a minimalist when it comes to running; I don’t carry water (I do stop at fountains), listen to music or bring my phone. All I need is my watch, prescription sunglasses and now that it is warm, my super comfy catch me if you can shorts, freedom tank and sometimes a visor...and of course my running shoes, which vary.
Tell us about your win & master's course record at m2b, how did that feel?
Since the M2B course can change slightly year to year, I’m not sure if there are official course records, but that being said, I decided to run this race as a redemption marathon after having to drop from this year’s challenging Boston Marathon at mile 21 due to hypothermia. It was a little challenging coming home from Boston, taking it easy for 2 weeks and then having 4 weeks of gearing back up for another marathon. I was a little mentally and physically fried. But I knew I wasn’t injured from Boston and I still felt in shape enough to run a decent marathon. DNF’s make you feel so incomplete, and I've had a few of those in the last 2 years. I went into M2B hoping to break 3, and thinking there was a chance I would run 2:55. I was just going to go out there and run my best, and listen to how my body felt. It turns out, I felt super “comfortable” around 6:30-35s and even when I told myself I could slow down and run 7’s, I didn’t. Still, I did get tired and my calf started to twitch around 20 miles in. However, my pace just stuck to where it was and I let the race happen organically. I just ran, sometimes with a few people and sometimes alone. I was totally surprised that I was able to pass the first woman at mile 22, and keep on going for the win! And the best part? My father who has never seen me race, was at the finish line. Now, that made me cry.
Wow, that sounds like almost the perfect race, especially with having your dad at the finish. It seems like the rest of the year could continue to be pretty special for you. What's on the summer racing calendar?
I am going to run a few shorter races through September including Santa Cruz’s Wharf to Wharf (editor's note: the top 100 finishers will get rabbit zippity-do-dahs/zippits again!) in July and some PAUSATF long races in the fall. Then I need to decide if I want to run NY Marathon or CIM. I’ll be in a new age group, so I may have to go for breaking some age group course records!! I just hope to stay healthy, fit and the best runner I can be. For me.
Jenny with rabbitELITE teammates Susan Loken (5th place half-marathon), Jenn Betancourt (6th place marathon) & rabbit community manager Jeffrey Stern (5th place marathon) post race - they'll all see you in Boston in 2019!