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Author Archive

Running in the Alps

17.Sep.2014 by Alex Schulz

Morgen!

Our stay in Ramsau so far has been nothing short of spectacular.  We have been hitting the training hard since arriving last Monday with some long runs, several hefty ski sessions up on the Dachstein glacier, and a little bounding workout in the mix as well.  The opportunity for running and exercise here in Ramsau is astounding.  There are trails all over town, connecting the local grocery store to the tallest peaks and everywhere in between.  In the afternoon of our second day here the guys crew went for a run out behind our house, choosing a trail at random and seeing where it would take us.

Heading up.

Heading up.

Near the top.  Note the trail we climbed switchbacking up on the left.

Near the top. Note the trail we climbed switchbacking up on the left.

After hitting 2164 meters in elevation, time to turn around and run home.

After hitting 2164 meters in elevation, time to turn around and run home.

Since that day the weather has taken an unfortunate turn for the worse.  We have been treated to a steady amount of rain, both down here in town and up on the glacier.  Still, a bit of rain and wind and cold is not enough to throw off our game, and the training has continued unabated and with enthusiasm.  The team went on a long cruise through the mountains this past Sunday, starting down the mountain range from town and looping up past the tram that takes us to the glacier, and eventually back to our house, close to four hours of running and hiking later.

Starting our journey into the foggy mountains with Ethan looking around apprehensively.

Starting our journey into the foggy mountains with Ethan looking around apprehensively.

The big man crossing a steep scree field.

The big man crossing a steep scree field.

Some of the crew descending out of a very foggy pass.

Some of the crew descending out of a very foggy pass.

Although wet, foggy, and at times pretty chilly, this long run was one of the better runs I have ever been on.  It’s hard not to enjoy running through the Alps, rain or shine.  Nowhere else have I encountered such dramatic and stunning terrain.  One particular highlight was rounding a corner on the trail and coming face to face with a large cow.  Said cow was looking pretty stubborn and unwilling to move until a friendly (and far more brave) fellow hiker came up the trail in the opposite direction and gave it a stout wallop on the rump with his umbrella and a loud “Hiyah!”.  The cow took off and our run continued.

The weather has cleared since Sunday and we have been treated to bright sun, blue skies, and warm temps.  Some of my fellow GRPers have already put of some updates about our day-trip to Salzburg and other from the past few days.  Keep checking back for more updates!

–  Alex

Alaskan Adventures Part Two

27.Mar.2014 by Alex Schulz

Since my last blog post we have been busy racing hard and fast up here in Alaska.  The earlier part of the week brought three races in a four day span with the 15km skate on Saturday, the classic sprint on Sunday, and the club relay on Tuesday.  On racing trips the focus is all on skiing fast, recovering well, and achieving strong results.  This does not allow for much time to explore the areas in which we race, an unfortunate fact as we GRPers are fortunate enough to be able to travel to some very cool locations.  Conscious of this, a few of us jumped in the van the other day and took off down the road to go check out the Portage Glacier.  After an hour of meandering along the coastline we arrived at Portage Lake, strapped on skis, and took off across some beautiful crust.

A pretty scenic spot for some crust skiing.

A pretty scenic spot for some crust skiing.

The skiing across the lake was about as beautiful as one could hope for, with bluebird skies and pristine crust surrounded by impressive mountains.

You can actually see Andrew, he is the tiny speck in the middle of the picture where snow meets the rock.

You can actually see Andrew (if you zoom in), he is the tiny speck in the middle of the picture where snow meets the rock.

At the end of the lake we found the glacier flowing down into the water.  According to locals, the glacier has been calving recently, and while there was no open water or crashing ice when we were there, all of us were plenty wary and kept our distance.  The ice was stunningly blue and the entire scene left us all very impressed with nature’s handiwork here in the mountains.

Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier

Gordo pondering glacial thoughts.

Gordo thinking glacial thoughts.

Is this where Glacier Freeze Gatorade comes from?

Is this where Glacier Freeze Gatorade comes from?

Glacier hunters

Glacier hunters

The trip to Portage was a very welcomed departure from the normal race and rest routine and a great chance to explore the area outside of Anchorage.  Today, it’s back to watching March Madness, keeping the feet elevated, and resting up for tomorrow.  One race left to go in the 2013/1014 season!

–  Alex

 

Alaskan Adventures Part One

20.Mar.2014 by Alex Schulz

The GRP ski crew touched down in Anchorage last night after a long day of travel.  We are here in the far north to compete at the SuperTour Finals, the last hurrah of racing on the domestic elite circuit for the season.  While flying over Canada we were treated to some spectacular views through the cabin windows.

Big mountains in Canada.

Big mountains in Canada.

Waking up this morning we were treated to a spectacular view of the city of Anchorage far below us, with the water and distant mountains further away on the horizon.

The view in front of the house with downtown Anchorage far off on the right.

` The view in front of the house with downtown Anchorage far off on the right.

The sunsets here in Alaska are particularly spectacular as the sun moves across the sky a bit more slowly than further south in Vermont.  As such, the sun hangs on the horizon for a long time, painting some brilliant colors across the sky.  As I write this post now, at 8:30pm, the sky is still pink and quite light.

8:00pm in Alaska.

8:00pm in Alaska.

Tomorrow we travel to Kincaid Park to preview the sprint course.  Anchorage has been hit with the same curse that many previous SuperTour Finals venues have been subject to: high temperatures and fast melting snow.  The normal race venue at Kincaid is apparently quite low in snow, but the organizers are still trying to pull of at least some of the races there, while some of the longer events may be held at nearby Hillside Park.  I am going to try to post daily (or almost daily) updates about life in Alaska while we prep for and compete in the last races of the season, so keep checking back on the GRP blog!

–  Alex

 

 

Midwesternizing

3.Mar.2014 by Alex Schulz

Howdy All,

The GRP recently returned from a two week trip out to the heartland of the USA, surviving bitter cold, deep snow, and many hours of driving in the van to log another successful block of racing.

Our first stop was a weekend of SuperTour races in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  We were very fortunate to be able to stay at Gordon’s home right in Minneapolis, only a short 20 minute drive from the race venue in Battle Creek near St. Paul.  While I, personally, had a dismal set of races the first weekend out there, the rest of the group stepped up to the plate and earned several more top 10 finishes for the GRP.

Pat and Gordon cruising in the 15km classic (Justin Samuels photo).

The lead pack in the men's 15km classic.

The lead pack in the men’s 15km classic (Justin Samuels photo).

A full recap of the races and results can be found on the Craftsbury website here:  http://www.craftsbury.com/general/about/news/14stmn_140219.htm

After the conclusion of the weekend’s racing we all packed into the van and made the trek across to Hayward, Wisconsin, home of the American Birkebeiner.  The Birkie is a legendary race, surrounded by the most outrageous hype, lore, and general hysteria that one could possibly imagine.

I, however, did not race this year’s Birkebeiner.  I opted, instead, to focus on the Elite Sprints held on Hayward’s Main Street two days before the actual race.  The sprints are a fun event organized by a bracket of 1v1 heats that see the loser eliminated and the winner advance to the next round. The skiers drag race down the street, pull a 180 around a pylon fixed in the snow, and sprint back to the finish line, racing all of about 200 meters.  This video does a great job showing what the event is like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1nrYT-ACC4

It’s an ideal event for a bigger guy like myself, requiring more power and quickness as opposed to aerobic capacity.  With the help of a can of RedBull I was able to advance through the rounds far enough the end up in 3rd place on the day, earning my first official race winnings of the year.

Big checks!

Big checks!

After the sprints I transitioned from racer to salesman and went to work for Concept 2 at the Birkie Expo.  C2 arranged for me to run a booth for the company at the expo, acting as a company rep and trying to get skiers interested in the SkiErg.  Immediately following the sprints I joined Andrew and Pepa at the expo center and began unpacking and setting up the SkiErgs.

Madly assembling SkiErgs!

Madly assembling SkiErgs!

The day before the actual Birkebeiner I put in a big 9am to 9pm shift working the expo so the rest of my teammates could rest up for the long race that awaited them.  Luckily, the brothers Graves were in town to also race the Birkie, and they swung by and gave me some company at the booth for several hours.

John Graves and I talking to some interested folks.

John Graves and I talking to some interested folks.

Peter and I giving a shot at two man SkiErg technique.

Peter and I giving a shot at two man SkiErg technique.

The expo wrapped up late at night, with many new SkiErg fans spreading out into the greater ski world.  The next morning was Birkie race day, and I joined Pepa and Nick in giving out feeds to the rest of the GRP racers as they braved some seriously cold temps and slow snow, highlighted by Caitlin and Clare both skiing into the top 10 in the women’s race.  A full race report can be found here:  http://www.craftsbury.com/general/about/news/14birkie_140226.htm

After another two days in the van driving back East, we are finally all together at home in Craftsbury once again.  Soon, however, some are taking off for OPA Cup races in Europe, while the rest of us look forward to the Craftsbury Spring Tour coming up soon, followed by the season finale SuperTour Finals in Anchorage at the end of March.  Keep checking back for more updates about the end of the season!

–  Alex