Episode 33 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

Jasmin Paris crushes the Montane Spine Race photo: Bob Smith/grough

Jasmin Paris crushes the Montane Spine Race
photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Legend is back! Finally! After a three-month absence, the Don Draper of ultrarunning returns for our latest installment of This Month in Ultrarunning, the craze that’s sweeping the nation. Phil and I start off with some final thoughts on the 2018 UROY and FKTOY voting (3:30) before turning our attention to the new year. We discuss some recent ultra-related news and headlines (14:30) before a rundown off all the early season action (30:00), including results from the Spine, Hong Kong, 9 Dragons, Tarawera, Bandera, Rocky Raccoon, and more. We finish up with a brief look ahead to this weekend’s second Golden Ticket race, the Black Canyon 100K (51:30).

Beer for this episode: Alchemist Holy Cow

Our full UROY podcast with Jason Mintz, and my final UROY ballot
Ultrarunning Magazine’s most competitive races list
Our interview with Mike Siudy, the King of the Catskills
Koop’s article on the state of ultrarunning competition
Ross Tucker’s article on Caster Semenya
Another really good article by Ross on some of those issues and more
Runner attacked, kills mountain lion. (Since we recorded, he’s come forward.)
We made a brief mention at the end about my coaching services, including guaranteed entry into Leadville via the LT100 Coaching + Entry package

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 32 - Running Biomechanics with Geoff Burns


If you don’t follow the sport of ultrarunning outside of the big trail races, you may not know the name Geoff Burns…but you should. Geoff is one of the top road ultramarathoners in the US; he is the 2016 national champion at 100K, and has finished fifth at each of the last two 100K World Championships. He’s also a doctoral student in biomechanics at the University of Michigan, and he joined the show to help get us back in touch with our science-of-the-sport roots. We talked about running for the Wolverines (2:30), his recent research on stride frequency (9:30) and the implications it has for training and racing (28:00), the utility of wearable power meters for runners (36:30), representing the US in international competition (45:20), his experience at Comrades (where he placed 12th) in 2018 (52:30), his plans for 2019, and more.

Geoff’s paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology
Alex Hutchinson’s article on Geoff’s research (our interview with Alex here)
Chris Lear’s Sub-4:00, about Alan Webb and Michigan running
Desert Island Picks: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoefsky, Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Trader Joe’s Beef Tamales, Taylor’s 1963 Vintage Port

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 31 - Debating the UROY Ballot with Jason Mintz


For the fourth straight year, I’m both thrilled and appalled at being asked to vote for Ultrarunning Magazine’s Ultrarunner of the Year…and for the second straight year, I’ve asked one of my toughest critics to join me on the show to tell me how badly I’m screwing it up. This time, we did it early enough that I could actually make a few changes to the ballot! Upstate NY ultra stud Jason Mintz enters the Pain Cave to discuss our choices for the top 10 men and women of the year, top five performances of the year, the difficulty of weighing performances in overseas races, how much DNFs should count against you, and more. Check back next week for my blog post detailing my final choices.

My debate with Laura Kline over the 2017 ballot
My final ballot in 2016 and 2017

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 30 - Running Happy with David Roche

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David and Megan Roche are one of the power couples in US trail and ultra running today, with seven national championships between them. Not only that, they’re the brains behind Team SWAP and the coaches of some of the most successful athletes in the country, including recent winners of Western States, Leadville, Run Rabbit Run, and more. Not only that, they’re also the authors of The Happy Runner, a new book that just might change the way you view training, racing, and life. David joins us in the Pain Cave to talk about the importance of self-acceptance, how to “let go” of our dependence on results, the principles of his training and coaching philosophy, and much more.

Buy The Happy Runner
David’s (dog’s) Instagram
Desert Island Picks: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Tupac’s Greatest Hits, Brooklyn Cider House (I chose this specific one for him!)

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 29 - Epic Adventures with Pete Kostelnick

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We had so much fun talking with one of the fastest US women ever at 24 hours (Megan Alvarado) that we decided to do the same for the men. Pete Kostelnick is a two-time winner and the course record holder at the famed Badwater 135, as well as #5 on the all-time US 24-hour list, but he’s perhaps best known for his record-setting run across America in 2016, breaking Frank Giannino’s 36-year old record by more than four days. This summer Pete took it to a new extreme, running 5300+ miles self-supported from the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to Key West, Florida—a diagonal crossing of the continent—in just under 100 days. I spoke with Pete about how he got into running long distances (1:30), his experiences at Badwater (10:40), racing 24 hours (16:00), his record TransAmerica run (27:30), and his amazing “Ke2Key” adventure (37:00).

Pete’s Feet Across America
Pete’s Instagram
Desert Island Picks: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 28 - Biking, Babies, and Blasting the JFK 50 with Kate Pallardy

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The cancellation of the North Face championships meant that many of the top athletes who had been aiming to end their season in northern CA wound up journeying east for the venerable JFK 50 mile, the oldest ultramarathon in the country. The smart money was on previous winner Leah Frost (#3 all-time at JFK) or former Western States champ Kaci Lickteig for the women’s crown. But when the dust settled, it was Beast Coaster Kate Pallardy who scored a convincing win in 6:40. We welcomed Kate into the Pain Cave to talk about her background as a pro triathlete, training on the mean streets of NYC, how she balances homeschooling (and breastfeeding) her kids with training to run fast marathons and ultras, and how she found her passion in sport and in life.

Kate’s Instagram feed
The country’s oldest ultra, the JFK 50
Desert Island Picks: Killing the SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Mozart: Overtures on Spotify, Harpoon Camp Wannamango

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 27 - Racing 24 Hours with Megan Alvarado

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In the past few years, as ultrarunning and trail racing in particular has continued to grow in popularity, there’s been a concurrent increase in the number of world-class racers exploring their limits in timed events, and the competition at these races has become fierce. This week we welcomed Altra/T-Starr Running/Drymax athlete Megan Alvarado, the newly crowned US 24-hour champion, into the Pain Cave. Megan and I spoke about balancing 24-hour racing and trail racing (6:10), training on the treadmill (10:00), how she approaches a timed event (22:50), increasing female participation in the sport (29:00), and her Desert Island Picks (39:20).

Megan’s Ultrasignup page and Instagram
How to help wildfire victims
Here’s a running-related fundraiser I donated to
Megan’s Desert Island Picks: The Brave Athlete by Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson; Spotify Motivation Mix playlist; Diet Cherry 7Up

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 26 - Running, Spirituality, and Transcendence with Sanjay Rawal

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Ultrarunner and filmmaker Sanjay Rawal joins the Pain Cave to talk about his latest documentary, 3100: Run and Become. The movie follows competitors in the 2016 Self-Transcendence Run, a 3100-mile ultramarathon around a single city blog in Queens. In exploring the secret of what drives these runners, the film journeys to a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, and the Buddhist temples deep in the mountains of Japan, to discover the spirituality that underlies the reasons why we run. Sanjay and I discuss Sri Chinmoy, the guru whose teachings inspired the Self-Transcendence Run, motivation, filming, multi-day racing, and how running can help in our search for meaning.

The Self-Transcendence Run
More about Sri Chinmoy
Sanjay’s IMDB page
Desert Island Picks: The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman, Greatest Hits by The Cure, Bitburger Alcohol-free Pils

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 25 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

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The Legend returns to the Pain Cave to rescue you from the ultrarunning doldrums, with recaps of the insanity at Big’s Backyard (3:00), Hennepin Hundred (27:45), North Coast, Run Rabbit, and more.

This episode was recorded last week, before Javelina Jundred, which we’ll recap in our next episode.

Also, I did want to point out one error/omission from this episode. While discussing Barkley (why are we always discussing Barkley?!), we were trying to name women who have finished a “fun run” and could only come up with Beverly Anderson-Abbs. A little research revealed two other women have completed three laps on the course: Eliza McLean in 2000 and Sue Johnston in 2001. (Bev has finished two fun runs, in 2012 and 2013.) Thanks to Matt Mahoney for that data and sorry for the mistake.

Beer for this episode: Start Line Brewing Hop Load IPA

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 24 - Jim Sweeney is Crazy Fast

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The fastest 100-mile of 2018 doesn’t come from a resident of California, Colorado, or Arizona, but from right here in upstate New York. Albany’s Jim Sweeney sits down in the Pain Cave to discuss his cool new gig at the West Kill Brewery (1:00), his background in ultrarunning and how his training has progressed heading into his breakthrough 2018 season (3:00), his early-season success at Umstead (13:00), and his astounding 13:09 at the Hennepin Hundred, one of the top 15 US times ever. We also get into his upcoming race plans (31:45), some staple workouts and training approaches (38:00), and his Desert Island Picks (42:10).

West Kill Brewing
Desert Island Picks: The Stranger by Albert Camus, Spiritual Machines by Our Lady Peace, Left Hand Bittersweet Nitro

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 23 - TDS Recap with Dylan Bowman


It may have been a disappointing year for many of the top Americans at UTMB, but US runners came through with podium finishes at TDS, the 121km companion race. We welcome mens’ runner-up Dylan Bowman to the Pain Cave to talk about his fantastic early season (4:45), how he prepares for big mountain races (20:15), his race at TDS (33:00), the carnage at UTMB (49:55), his plans for the rest of the year (61:15), and his Desert Island Picks (65:00).

Dyaln’s website
Video of DBo’s Lost Coast Trail FKT
Finish of TDS
Desert Island Picks: Graceland by Paul Simon, ‘Til the Medicine Takes by Widespread Panic, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, New Belgium Fat Tire Ale

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 22 - Emergency "What the Hell Happened at UTMB" Pod with Phil Vondra

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We hadn't planned on a UTMB recap episode, but after the craziness that transpired last weekend in Chamonix, Phil and I had to sit down for an emergency pod to discuss Killian's allergic reaction, Xavier's redemption, disappointment for the US men and women, and what this all means going forward.

Tonight's beer: Zero Gravity Grand Royal

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 21 - For Ultra Geeks Only: UTMB preview with Phil Vondra

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Ultra geeks rejoice!  We're joined once again by our "This Month in Ultrarunning" partner in crime, Phil Vondra, for an in-depth preview of UTMB.  Phil and I recap a fantastic week in Colorado, including Leadville (2:00), Pike's Peak (15:30), and Transrockies (21:00), plus other news and results from the ultra world (24:00), before we go deep on everything happening in Chamonix, including results from TDS and our look at the contenders for OCC, CCC, and UTMB (32:45).

Tonight's beer: the Other Half Nelson + Mosaic
Koop's Leadville writeup
Mountain Peak Fitness' photos and videos from Leadville
irunfar's UTMB mens' and womens' previews

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 20 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

photo: irunfar.com

photo: irunfar.com

The Legend returns to the Cave for this month's installment of TMIU, where we quickly recap some of the major storylines from Western States (3:00) before dissecting Perrier-gate at Hardrock (11:00).  We also discuss the controversy surrounding the awards at the Vermont 100 (38:00), review some results from Lavaredo and Cayuga Trails, and get into some recent FKTs.

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 19 - Overcoming Injuries with Heidi Armstrong


Look, if we do these things for long enough, eventually we're likely to get injured.  And those of us who have been there know the truth: just like training and racing, recovering from an injury is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one.  In this episode we chat with former elite mountain biker and injury recovery specialist Heidi Armstrong, founder of The Injured Athlete's Toolbox, to learn how to deal with and overcome injuries.  We talked about Heidi's athletic background and how she developed an interest in recovery (1:30), the terms athletes use to describe how being injured makes us feel (9:30), the role social media can play in recovery (18:00), how an injured athlete can move towards acceptance and recovery (20:10), and how to recognize when we need help dealing with our injuries (32:55).  If you're injured, or have been injured, or will get injured (hint: that's all of us!), this is a good listen.

The Injured Athlete's Toolbox
Contact Heidi by email
EMDR therapy
Desert Island Picks: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, Woodface by Crowded House

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 18 - The Catskill 35 FKT with Mike Siudy

(L-R) Mike and pacer extraordinaire Jay Lemos

(L-R) Mike and pacer extraordinaire Jay Lemos

The new King of the Catskills, Mike Siudy, visits the Pain Cave following his incredible FKT of the "Direttissima"--a continuous, 140+ mile tagging of the thirty-five 3500' peaks in the Catskill Mountains.  We start with how Mike's background as a climber and hiker prepared him for a career in ultrarunning (2:35), how he became a Gridiot (11:40), Ted "Cave Dog" Keizer's pioneering route (16:25), and how it all went down on Memorial Day weekend (19:45).  Plus, we chat about the Barkley Marathons (57:00) and Manitou's Revenge (which Mike co-directs with Charlie Gadol) before digging into his Desert Island Picks (1:13:15).

Mike's MPF/RNR page
Industrial Arts Brewing
The original Catskills nightmare, the Escarpment Trail Run
On becoming a Gridiot
Cave Dog
The Direttissima
Manitou's Revenge and Cat's Tail Trail Marathon, the brainchildren of WTF Racing
Desert Island Picks: The Games Climbers Play by Ken Wilson, Southsiders by Atmosphere, West Kill Brewing's Moonfarmer IPA

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 17 - State of the Sport with Eric Schranz


The Pain Cave journeys west to the venerable Western States 100, where I was pacing our very first podcast guest, Brian Oestrike.  Since I was in town, I was able to finagle a sit-down with the great Eric Schranz of Ultrarunnerpodcast.com.  As we recorded the day before the big show, Eric and I spent a few minutes discussing how we thought the day might play out (1:45), before we addressed some of the issues at the forefront of our sport, including the East Coast/West Coast divide (6:45), PEDs and TUEs (10:45), the primacy of WS100 and controversies it engenders (23:00), and the sustainability of growth in the sport (30:40). 

Eric's recent interview with Jenny Jurek
The aforementioned/oft-discussed profile of Coree Woltering
Improving youth participation
Desert Island Picks: Athletic Brewing Company, Deeper Understanding by War on Drugs, Joshua Tree by U2,

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 16 - For Ultra Geeks Only: Bighorn Recap and WS100 Preview


It's only been two week since our last TMIU episode, but we're too excited for this weekend to wait!  We welcome home the Legend, Phil Vondra, to recap his epic run at last weekend's Bighorn 100 (2:10), briefly review some recent results from Comrades, Broken Arrow, and Mount Washington (17:00), and dig deep into our Western States preview (24:00).

Black Tooth Brewing Hot Streak IPA
AJW's recent post on avoiding DNFs

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 15 - Joe Puleo

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It took us two tries to get this episode up.  I recorded the first version with Joe in person.  For some reason the audio got screwed up and the sound skipped every couple of seconds.  It was a great conversation but ultimately unlistenable.  Version two was recorded over the phone; while we had no such glitches, we didn't have a great connection, and I'm going to blame Joe holding the phone too far away from his mouth for some of the inconsistent volume.  But again, we had a really fun conversation.

Joe is one of the most influential people in the last twenty years of my life.  I first met him while I was a medical student in the late '90s; his store, the Haddonfield Running Company, was like a second home to me in those days, and we've been good friends ever since.  Joe is an accomplished coach at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels; he's also an author and a lifelong learner.  A true renaissance man.  

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The occasion for this episode is the release of the second edition of Running Anatomy, which Joe co-authored with Patrick Milroy.  We spent some time talking about Joe's experience writing the book initially (8:00), what the impetus was for the second edition (11:15), the idea of functional versus general strength (17:20), why coaching remains such an important part of his life (26:15), his work with Jorge Maravilla (33:30), and why distance runners are such prolific drinkers (45:45)...and of course, Joe's Desert Island Picks (56:00).  Hope you enjoy this one despite the sound issues, it really is a worthwhile conversation.

Running Anatomy, Second Edition
Joe's old store, Haddonfield Running Company
Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Hopes and Fears, Keane
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

Intro: "What We Need" by Bannister Effect
Outtro: "Flaw in My Design" by Bannister Effect

Episode 14 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

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Despite--or due to--engaging a bit too aggressively in the Avery Collins training plan, I had a blast recording the most recent installment of TMIU (a.k.a. FOR ULTRA GEEKS ONLY) with the Legend himself, Phil Vondra.  (I did need to edit out a three-minute spasm of giggles about 35 minutes in.)  We chatted about Phil's prep for Bighorn, the first of two 100s on the schedule for him this summer (4:20), before we discuss some recent race results (9:00), Mike Siudy's epic Catskill FKT (25:00), and the races and storylines we'll be keeping an eye on in the next few weeks (39:00).

Links:  Hudson Valley Brewery Empyrium
Burial Beer Company Gang of Blades
Zach Miller's recap of the IAU World Trail Championships
Mike Siudy's FKT report
Where is Harvey?

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale