Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Vitargo Video

I just spent the last month working a clinical rotation in Las Vegas, based in a few hospitals.  Great time to run less mileage and recover from Western States, but it was very difficult to be away from my family. So happy to be home now.   I am not a big Vegas kind of guy, but the few half days I could get out to run I had a few good jaunts up the local Frenchman peak near where I lived in Northeast Vegas. The biggest running highlight was a loop over Mt Charleston (basically "little Switzerland"), and a couple short sessions in Red Rocks.
Since it was Vegas, there were many medical cases directly related to the way people "experiment" out there.. we will leave it at that..

Not too much new info on Vitargo usage, but what I did learn at Western States is that I could stay hydrated with 5 scoops per bottle.  Hope you enjoy the toy selection as a backdrop...

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Western States 100.. one for the ages

 The dirt road along the American River.. just before Rucky Chucky Crossing. (Galen Burrell footage)

What an awesome race last weekend. I'd told myself going into it that my primary goal was to make the 100 mile running experience as fun as possible. Given the unseasonably cool weather, my expectations were met by simply having a blast out there, except for maybe 10 miles of grinding around mile 30 and 90.  I wish I had time for a race report, but Galen Burrell and Rickey Gates, my stellar pacers, took some fine footage. 

Rucky Chucky Crossing, mile 78..feeling good

The best single track section of Cal Street, if not the whole race.. mile 74 or so..


The Bondi B in action (Tim Olsen, new WS 100 record holder, wrote: "Next thing we knew, Mackey makes a Killian move up on the bank and goes screaming down the trail, as someone muttered, “Time to Fly,” which cracked us all up as Mackey’s Hokas went bombing down the hill.")

As far as fueling, I found my magic Vitargo formulation to be 5 scoops of Vitargo per water bottle (4 plain unflavored with 1 flavored (ie Grape or Tropical punch). Thus made it very easy to mix the morning of the race, without having to use a blender.
1) Fill bottle half with water, pour in one scoop. Shake vigorously . Add another scoop. Shake
2) Add a couple more ounces of water and a scoop. Shake. Add one more scoop.. shake.
3) This is 4 scoops now and you are getting close to a gel.. Add a bit more water and the last scoop gradually. With the right vigorous shaking the gel/drink like mix will form. Just be sure to shake immediately when adding scoops. 5 scoops= 700 calories.
I carried 2 bottles most of the first half of the race, with a few short sections of one bottle. I also ate some real food (ie PBJ and bananas), but ate no commercial gels at all. 80% of my calories were from Vitargo, about 10% from PBJ, and 10% from bananas and a couple handfuls of chips.

Rickey Gates photos below. Rickey won the Montrail 6K Uphill the day before the WS 100, followed in 2nd place by my other pacer, Galen Burrell. I felt obligated to be the first to the top of Squaw in my165K  race, felt fine with the altitude and weather, so I didnt disappoint. Sorry I couldnt win my race though, guys. I really tried.

Galen kept me in smiles on Cal Street

Tom Lyons: the best crew guy in the world has crewed me 4 times at WS 100 now. 

Thank you Tom, Rickey, Galen, Mark Richtman, and Jed Tukman, Russell and the Injinji crew for housing me and good bonding (and Tom had a couple other folks helped him crew here and there that  I didn't even see). Thanks Vitargo for the endless energy, Injinji for keeping me comfy underfoot, Hoka for generalized elevation in all my running, and Udos for quicker recovery.  Congratulations to Tim and Ellie Greenwood on their records, and to all who tried this massive accomplishment.

Monday, June 11, 2012


The Legendary Annual  102nd  DQ-ipsea Race
Lights are on, no one's home.. Galen Burrell photo

Slipped away this past weekend to the Marin area for the Dipsea race, a legendary 7.8 mile mountain trail race which goes from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach over a couple of significant climbs. (A must read.. Barry Spitz’s “Dipsea: The Greatest Race”.. Barry signed my copy this past weekend, dedicated to my kids in hopes they experience the run someday)  Over a thousand people run this handicapped race, meaning that the starts are staged so that, in theory, everyone crosses the finish at the same time. Well the system is flawed and favors the old and the very young, with a one 25 year-old who gets 4th or 5th each year, but almost without exception these days an older folk or young girl wins the race with their significant head start. I love this format, as it reinforces in all who love trail running that it truly should be a life-long sport, and even the extremes of the spectrum should have a taste of competition and chance at the W. 
I had never even witnessed the Dipsea, but all my Marin trail running friends raved about the race. I picked up my bib Saturday afternoon, had a burrito with Rickey Gates and Galen and Kristin Burrell (and baby Autumn), and spent the evening with the Fitzpatrick family. Tim Fitzpatrick noticed I’d been given the wrong bib number, and the small print name at the bottom of some other guy indicated indeed he was correct. No worries though, the next morning at the race start I went to check in and got my “correct” bib number. Noting my wave start on my bib as the U wave, Tim mentioned that he’d missed his start in the past times he’d run Dipsea.. me, I would never do that, I told myself.
The starts went off, with Barry Spitz announcing runners from each wave. The 75 year olds with 6 year olds went first with their handicapped 30 or so roughly minute head start, then each minute another wave would go off.. 65 year olds with 10 year olds, 55 year olds with 15 year olds, etc etc until the last wave of “scratch” wave, meaning 25 year old men. It was real cool and inspiring to see the older folks and an 8 year old girl being recognized as past champions, yet intimidating in the gap that would have to be made up to catch them. The crowd of hundreds in downtown Mill Vally roared with each announcement in this race which has defined Northern California short distance mountain running.
My wave was to start 2 minutes before the scratch wave.. not really much of  a head-start.. and as Barry called the U wave into the start corral, I misheard this as the U runners should be behind the current start wave.. I climbed the orange fence into the guys my age, and looked at the bibs next to me.. W! The gun had gone off with the U’s about 30 seconds before, and I quickly scurried off to start my race alone in front of the crowds.
Up the 700 or so steps of the first climb, I had never called out “on your left” as many times in that race as I tried to make up my lost time. Passing is really har in this race as runners are three abreast on the 700 or so stairs, and all single track after that through thick forest of brush and poison oak. The race is an open race, so you can short cut in designated places, if you know where to go, so the locals are favored for sure in the dozens of ways they can cut minutes from your total time. I knew most of the good short cuts, and used them as needed, and I was always feeling in control of my own private pain cave, pushing hard as an ultrarunner can but  always feeling like I could do it all day. Over into Muir Woods, the effort increased for the 1200 foot climb to the hill they call Cardiac, passing always but never being passed, all classes of age groups and sexes who’d started before me finally coming in sight of legendary Colorado runner, Andy Ames at the top of the climb Cardiac. Kim Gaylord handed me my Vitargo gel flask at the top, refueled quickly, and  passed Andy on the Swoop shortcut, until I saw Gary Wang taking photos. Gary said I was 15th, and with only 2 miles left in the race with no one in sign on this super techy downhill through the Ewok forest I thought there was no way I’d catch them all. The next bridge in the woods had crowds cheering who said I was 8th, so being corrected in my placing I pushed hard up the “Insult” hill and passed three runners in succession.
 The dreaded Dipsea downhills..Gary Wang photos
The Hoka Bondi B and Injinji socks doing their job right.

The last section, if you use the short cuts, which almost everyone does, puts you on the Panoramic highway for a 100 meter bit, hearing footsteps behind me, I saw the super fast 55 year old local just ahead of me, and both were motoring. Jumping off the hwy to another shortcut in the brush, heard more Ewoks laughing, and I crashed down it and passed him too aggressively.. I think he cursed me as I bumped him, then took as super sharp right turn back onto the Dipsea and one of the Ewoks tripped me on the trail, obviously pissed at me. Getting up,  I saw the 55 year old Marin legend Brian Pilcher had found a short cut and as now 30 feet in front of me with the 25 year old who had joined him just ahead. I motored, passed Brian, and gunned to try to make up 17 year age gap just ahead of me. It was not to be.
Into Stinson Beach finish of thousands, I held me head high as I came in 5th place is just over 52 minutes, high enough in the standings to place and score a big silver Dipsea cup at the awards. I was really happy, as the 72 year old winner had come in a few minutes earlier and there was no way anyone was going to catch that mutant. Diana Fitzpatrick was third, and with my placing the Tamalpans would take the team title… or so I thought.
After two hours of watching finishers come in and chatting and having fun, Lisa Jhung, walked to the beach, cooled down run in the sand, swam , etc. Life was good.
I had a flight that I needed to catch though and headed back to the finish and wards area. Seeing Victor Ballesteros, I said hi and he asked why I’d started my race early, as he and I are the same age, and he’d started three minutes behind me. Huh?  I pulled my bib out and showed him the U wave.. his wave was W though. On this I saw Tim Fitzpatrick walk up, who proceeded to push me straight off my cloud. He pointed to the fine print name on my bib number (my second bib number given to me).. the name was not mine.
Doh! Not only had I FUBAR’ed the starting gun once, I’d twice gotten the wrong bib handed to me.. and I’d failed to check the name on the bib twice.. What’s the saying.. Fool me once.. but fool Dave five times and he will still be standing there like a jackass.
I really had to get to Mill Valley to get to the airport, so left it in Tim’s kind hands to deal with the race director to decipher this mess.
Today I found out I was DQ’ed from the standings, which is all fine as far as I am concerned.. I deserve it! I still had a fun time chasing old ladies in the woods, got a great work out doing it, and will come back some year for this classic to get my ass handed to me. I am also going to hire one of the local Mill Valley kindergarten five year olds to read my bib name and start wave letter to me, and point me in the right direction when the gun goes off.

Aftermath and sequelae here.. the "black shirt" is a big deal if you get top 35

Smart man who knows how to read bibs.. Hans Schmid, 71 year old winner and 40 minute 10K road runner. Mill Valley Patch photo.

Hans Schmid's story here
Rickey Gates' awesome photos
Boulderite Lisa Jhung will write fine Dipsea prose here in the next couple days,8032,s6-238-511-0-0,00.html

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Vitargo Gel, Chuckanut 50K, and the Boulder Spring Half

Since two weekends ago, I’ve raced two races so here are a couple quick write ups. The Chuckanut 50k is probably distant in everyone’s memory, but for the locals here in Boulder, this morning's Boulder Spring Half was finished only a few hours ago.
Chuckanut.. Michael Lebowitz photo

Chuckanut had been on my radar for years, knowing many racers who’d gone up over that time raving about it. My pal Bryan Dayton was the first of many to recommend it, but it hadn’t quite been in my wheelhouse of 50 milers and 100ks, so it got backburnered until now. This year the competition was hot with a bunch of road marathoners going up against ultra, so I couldn’t resist, even though I knew I would likely get torched. Turns out it rained hard and snowed, putting a mild cooling effect on the competition. I woke up Saturday morning to rain and snow, and was psyched to the technical footing games at hand. Fellow Bay Area hotel mates Gary Gellin, Jean Pommier, and a fine gang of folks kindly gave me a ride to the start, checked in, and we were off in the rain.

The first 10k of somewhat flat crushed gravel path must have taken it out of me, as by the time we hit the singletrack I started dogging it up the rolling climbing singletrack. The first third of the race was kind of a blur as couldn’t quite accelerate the climbs. I knew the lack of recent speedwork was the cause, and settled in to try to find a groove. . Apparently I wasn’t the only one having an off day, as I surprisingly passed Mike Wolfe in about 15th place. Fortunately for me, the rest of the race I rebounded as I once again kept fueling with Vitargo and felt stronger as the race progressed (oh no.. now 50k is "short" for me), passing soon to be daddy Tim Olsen (will he now race faster? I think so) and other guys all the way to the finish. The snow was wet and sloppy, making for fun sliding and splashing the rest of the race. This is the stuff I run for, and the nastier the better, and I tried to use it to my advantage. The Chuckanut Ridge trail was super fun rolly singletrack roots and rock, and my choice of the Bondi B was a good one. Even though the tread on the Bondi is minimal, I had no problem on the snow and mud.

Coming up the last of the steep snowy climb of Chinscraper trail in 6th place, I looked back and saw two guys close behind and gunned it to the top. This was the steepest grade of the course, actually hand over hand in the snow; I was glad I’d thrown a one pair of Injinji on feet and one on hands for warmth.

The 1600’ descent was all on dirt and snow road back to the 10k fast section to finish, and one guy was right behind, pushing hard the whole way. I couldn’t go any faster, but knew my energy was high and he or anyone behind would have work to do to pass me. Hitting the last aid and the feared 10k, I didn’t look back and just tried to focus on turnover. Just then, the sound we all fear of footsteps slapping came up from behind. Jim Rebenack, who had run solid at the Golden Gate 50K, put on a spurt and passed me and put a quick 10 seconds on me. I then made the dreaded mistake of looking back and seeing Tim Olsen and three others only 20 seconds back. I decided that moment was do or die, and I was not going to finish any lower than 7th, and maybe even higher even though no one was in sight far ahead. I put a surge on to pass Jim, hoping this would slightly demoralize him temporarily, and pushed best I could. Just then a runner I hadn't seen before came out of nowhere with a pacer, and I guessed he was not in the race given the race rules. He then proceeded to get a drink from a crew a half mile ahead and drop his pacer off. I was more than ticked off at this as I realized he was in the race, and tried my best to catch him, but he pulled ahead. I felt this was very poor form, as he was the only one running without a hand bottle in this 6th through 13th position of guys, had obviously been running with crew help, and didn’t even respect the efforts the five or so other guys in his immediate viscinity in such a tight race, but just cruised on by.

Into the final mile, I recognized Jason Louttit up ahead, who’d gone out fast. I really respect his spirit and aggressive race style though (which he used at AR 50 last year) , and congratulated him on his effort as I passed. Into the park under overcast and cool skies, was an awesome finish area with about all the ultra friends I have in North America. Thanks to Krissy Moehl RD, who did a fantastic job of organizing this new classic to add to my perennial attendance list.

Turns out leader and monster Max King had made a wrong turn on a mis-marked last descent (not anyone's fault; these things happen), and roadie Sage Canaday took second to Adam Campbell. Welcome to ultras, Sage, and the other fast roadies who came out; happy to have the sport elevated like this! Fellow Boulderite and Hoka team mate and travel mate Jason Schlarb ran hard for third. For the ladies, it was no surprise that Ellie won... again.

Feeling the need for some speedwork, I jumped into the Boulder Spring Half Marathon this morning. The top times at this packed dirt race were pretty stout (sub 1:10) in the past few years, so I'd had hopes of top 10 maybe at best in the middle of my race cycle. Turns out the really fast guys were sunbathing today, and I somehow took 3rd place men and 1st master and 1st ultrarunner who-should-know-better. A fine morning of training in the thin air and heat.. 80 degrees F here in the Front Range CO today.. (but sub 32 here and much faster.

Lastly, one of the other Iron Mikes, Mike Wardian, was in town this weekend, so I gave him a tour of the moonlit local peaks on a Friday night run. In talking with this guy, his motivation is truly astounding. I know he is talented, but he is further proof that it motivation is more important than talent when it comes to success.

Finally, what many have been waiting for...How to make Vitargo gel!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Injinji! ..and other news

I've been running in Injinji for the past few months and love the lack of blisters and super comfort and am thrilled to be part of the Injinji Team! It's amazing what covering each of your toes in these socks have done to prevent blister: zero blisters in two ultras this year, and in training, as well . (I messed the beta I gave Injinji in the press release; I have raced at two races this year so far, not one as it says in the press release; my mistake)

Taking off in the morning for what should be a scorching 50k trail race in Bellingham, WA, the Chuckanut 50k. Still spots available so feel free to come on up.

Some podcasts of this week..Trail Runner Nation

and.. "Running Smart"..

Heading up to Chuckanut 50K tomorrow for what should be a serious hurt fest. In attendance will be the 2011 World Mountain running Champion (Max King) and the 2012 US Ski Mountainering Champion (Luke Nelson), as well as maybe a couple .. like 20.. of the top ultrarunners in the US and Canada. Well, I hope Max and Luke will be satisfied with 2nd or 3rd place.. :)

Last time I raced in Bellingham was at a triathlon.. then one and only one I have competed in.. 15 years ago. Was dead last out of the water on the half mile swim out of 200 racers, including little kids and old ladies. I side stroked and floated on my back for the whole section.. treading water here and there. The lifeguards were seriously worried about me. I must have come onto the beach 5 minutes after the next closest swimmer, jumped on my borrowed mt bike (for the `7 mile road section), and hot footed the 5 mile trail section around the lake, not passing many racers because I was so toasted. Finishing that race is up there in top 5 of difficult events of all time for me. May I have a slightly different experience this weekend.

Re: life back in Colorado, I am currently rotating at a community health clinic (Salud Clinic) in Longmont, CO, working in family practice. I have had some dreams of working in FP for a long time, and am finding the work incredibly rewarding and demanding. It is an amazing experience to apply what I was taught in classes to the real medical world; they are night and day, and feel that the application of medicine to a real clinical setting is harder than school was. This is the "art" they talked about. In this clinic, all the patients are of lower income, and many have delayed their preventative care, or come from backgrounds that have set them up for barriers in their lives to keep them from taking care of themselves. This experience has only reinforced my belief that people need help and deserve it from others, in the form of a solid well funded (or at least adequately funded) safety net, and everyone can't just go it alone.

Okay, back to racing mode.. time for some sleep..

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Riddle: What happens when POTY meets UROY?

David Riddle (2011 Ultrarunning Performance of the Year at JFK 50) was in Boulder yesterday and decided he wanted to get a tour of the local Boulder peaks. He contacted a few other locals, but Jeff Valliere and I were the ones to show. (Apparently, David thinks there is an ultra running power vacuum in the Republic, and may try to move here to fill it since he apparently thinks Roes, Jurek, Moehl, Tony, and I are falling off pace.) We had an awesome run up Green Mountain slipping up the hill, with Jeff setting the clip in his traction while David and I gasped in his wake. Jeff and David tell it better than I so check their blogs for pics and details. I am still acclimating and am just getting over the thin air hump, but Jeff is in full stride.
Interestingly, JV actually may have more Green Mountain summits than anyone ever, approaching 1000 ascents now. There is one other who may catch him if he can stay healthy, and also an older bearded gentleman who I see hiking on Green Mountain most times I go up there. He has disheveled dress and beard, carries a plastic shopping bag in one hand, and has tractionless shoe on his feet. I'll say hi next time I see him and see what his deal is.

A short vid about Vitargo and the Golden Gate 50K which I raced two weekends ago in Marin..
Vitargo is comprised of super long chain carbohydrates (as compared to short molecular chain maltodextrin or simple sugars) which has boosted my energy substantially in racing and training, with no bloating and exponentially higher caloric intake rates. Thinking on a chemical basis, super-long chain carbohydrates have significantly lower osmolality in the stomach as compared to anything like maltodextrin (upon which most conventional gels are based) or simple sugars (which most gels also use); what this basically means is that it is impossible to intake calories fast enough to replenish usage. Vitargo's intake rate comes extremely close to the rate of caloric expenditure in ultrarunning.
Like Hoka One One and Injinji, I can't believe I didn't use Vitargo until recently. Three years ago, I didn't believe products made much of a difference in performance, as long as they were reasonably lightweight. But being more critical and selective now, I know I was pretty off track. This year I am going to plug my sponsors more with some reviews as they have been critical to helping me run my best and made the difference between wins and second places or less.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And the winner is...

2011 Father-Daughter Valentine's Day dance.. lovely selector of winning ballot

Todd Shipman! Todd .. congratulations on your sweat soaked paper entry being randomly chosen by a cute 3 year old girl (upcoming birthday Jan 29) from the bottom of a beat up pair of Bondi B's!
Not sure what shoe you will receive but it will likely be a pair of Mafates or Bondi B's.. sorry I can't get a pair of Evo's but I don't even have any yet and neither does the speedgoat.
To claim your prize.. email me at dave dot j dot mackey at gmail dot com and we can get your vital stats and get them shipped to you.
Thanks for your great entries and comments, even over at I will try to have more contests this year.
Here are a few race memories from 2011, just so I can finally bring closure to the year and get fired up for 2012...

UROC.. start feeling good (UROC photos byJoel Wolpert,

UROC Chased by Scott Gall.. feeling groovy

Remember that cartoon character named "Skeletor"?

Umm.. DNF'ing at UROC

Inside Trail's Rodeo Beach 30K

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2011.. not bad.. 2012 will be better (free Hokas in the fine print)

Here are a few links to recent news.. the biggest of course was Ultrarunning Magazine Ultrarunner of the Year. I was thrilled to have taken that one, but we all know it more or less was a dice roll between four or five guys to choose it. As a friend reminded me, and to which I agree, if Mike Wardian had chosen not to run the North Face 50 in December (18th place), he would have won UROY. That's how it goes though.. have to pick and choose the races through the season as you can't peak all year. I am aware that I have had few (or none) over-the-top wins which redefine the sport, which some elites can lay claim to on their resumes. I guess I am not that kind of runner, as I roll on the higher plateau and touch the lower 13ers, leaving the 14er's to others. But I guess I may have tagged more summits than most. Hats off to Mike Wardian, Mike Wolfe, Nick Clark, Dakota, Geoff, and all the guys with whom I raced this year.. you guys are each inspirations to my running.

Some press..
If you leave a comment on the my irunfar interview AND here on this blog post (since no one else has just yet), I will put your name in a pot and mail you a free pair of Hoka One Ones! (not sure which Hoka yet but you will be happy)

Ultrarunner Podcast.. About Ultarrunner of the Year, shoes, juggling all the balls of life, etc.

Nice footage of the NEW Stinson EVO Coming this February to a store near you..

Bandera 100K.. I haven't even said a word about Bandera 100K. This past week I was so slammed I will have to write something up.. Hats off to Tim Olsen .. that young eco-whippersnapper who beat me, but didn't beat my course record! (Sorry I am so competitive it bugs even me sometimes). He ran a fine race, and his performance reminds me of my race last year, in which like Tim this year, I'd come fit off a fine North Face 50 race one month prior to roll into Bandera Texas. He was the fittest long-hair of the crew that day and took it. Way to go, Tim! I was happy with 2nd, but the heat took it out of me on the second lap, as I was behind in my fluids and couldn't rebound. I was prepared for the forecast of 65 degrees but these were some 80 degree sunny sections for which I didn't hydrate. Live and learn.. I had a very fun weekend, got to spend time with family raced against some good friends like Tim, Nick C, Yassine, Schlarb, Joe U, Dave James. Spend some quality time with Charles Corfield, Meghan and Craig, Pam Smith... the list goes on.. I had a blast out there. Run Bandera; you will be happy you did.

Upcoming news.. I may have a cool new sponsor coming on board... so stay tuned..
This past year I was SO happy with Clif, and Hoka, and the bottles of Udo's... some things may change a bit, but based on a solid 2011 I ain't reinventing the wheel anytime soon. My relationship with Udo's has been more formalized, I my contract with Hokas is solid long term and I will be eating Clif bars til the day I run my last step on dirty earth. THANK YOU all for helping me run my best!! I know I would not be racing these days without these companies help.

Otherwise I will be working between Boulder area and back here in the Bay Area for the next year in family practice for the most part, with some dabbling in the other areas of medicine. Looking forward to a steep learning curve and squeezing in my sleepless running life outside of it. My race schedule will look something like this all depending on what I can negotiate with my school schedule.

Bandera 100K, Bandera, TX 2nd Place Montrail Cup race
Jed Smith Ultra, Sacramento, CA OR Chucknut 50K
Leona Divide 50, Lancaster, CA Montrail Cup Race OR Lake Sonoma 50, CA (or maybe Miwok.. love that race)
Western States 100, CA June
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc OR Run the Rockies, Colorado August
Steamboat 100 miler and/or Ultra Race of Champions
North Face 50 San Fran, CA December

Back at you soon with the Hoka shoe lottery results in one week!