Let’s dust this thing off and start writing again.
First: big news. I started my dream job today and I have to tell you about it.
Backstory: in September of 2019 my friend Lee-Stuart Evans came to me with an opportunity to support a group of adventure racers in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Our plan was to drive five hours to the Upper Works Trailhead of the Tahawus Preserve and hike up to the top of Mt. Marcy and fry up some bacon sandwiches and brew some coffee for the racers coming up the other side of the mountain from Lake Placid.
He explained to me that his friend Jim Mee, who at the beginning of their friendship had convinced him to run 100 miles across a frozen lake in Mongolia had this amazing company called Rat Race Adventure Sports that put on world-class events like the one we were helping out with.
We had moderately heavy packs (maybe 30 lbs?) full of fuel and jet boils and cups and bacon and bread and clothes and sleeping gear. As we trudged up through the sloppiest rocks in the Empire State we realized we were clearly overmatched by this trail and it took us almost seven hours to do the eleven miles. For a 130 pound ultrarunner that’s used to carrying less than three pounds of food and water on him it was a frigging shit show and I begged for the sweet release of death to be visited upon me or maybe just the summit so I could sit the fuck down and rest up a minute.
At any rate it was hard, and we made it to the summit at about 6 am and unrolled our sleeping bags for a terrible and unsatisfying 45 minute nap, barely out of the howling wind.
We then awoke and readied the coffee and bacon sandwiches and ambled about and picked about a pint of wild blueberries growing on top of the mountain as we met the first few of the racers getting to us. They were as fresh as daisies and we were bleary-eyed messes and I would’ve given anything to trade places with them, as they had just set out for the 300-plus mile journey from the town of Lake Placid to find the source of the Hudson River (Lake Tear of the Clouds) and then take it all the way down to the tip of Manhattan, also known as the Rat Race Adventure Sports Source to City New York.
We then ran them back down the Calamity Brook Trail to the next crew stop back at the Upper Works Trailhead, where they transitioned to cycling for their next leg and saw them off as they still had two more days and 280+ miles of cycling, kayaking and running to get to Battery Park. I thought “what an adventure” and placed it to the back of my mind, intrigued enough to want to try something like this someday.
Well that day is now as I start my first week as the General Manager for Rat Race USA- in addition to helping test pilot new events I’ll be running the day-to-day operations for Rat Race’s full foray into the North American adventure racing market. I could not be more excited to work for this dynamic and amazing company that produces top notch endurance challenges all over the globe.
You may have two questions- one: why me?
And two: what’s going to happen to Live Loud Running and the races you put on in southern New England?
Okay, here’s my best attempt to answer the first question- I learned last year that without in-person races I needed a new carrot to dangle in front of myself. I put on a solo 100-mile race in May, conscripting my friends to aid and pace me; then ran another 100+ miler with friends on a 2.6-mile section of trail in July; then did an 86-mile effort with Lee-Stuart in August. A few weeks later I ran a 6-hour leg of a 24-hour virtual race with a relay team of Tom Starodaj, Koby Nelson and Marc Kelly. Ran a DUMBASS Marathon in October, then a 50k on a Monday for no good reason, a 50-miler for charity a few weeks later and finally eight hours in 40-degree rain on a 400-meter track on New Year’s Eve.
My biggest take away from 2020 is that I can make my own adventures and can do them on any surface, in any weather, either solo or with friends and that I just love to run. I love to train, I love the incredible experience of just doing epic shit and I love to inspire hope. That’s the personal reason why I think I was chosen for this.
The professional reason: I think because of my ability as a race director to not only adapt and safely put on three of my four “big” races last year within the framework of Connecticut’s Covid-19 reopening plan but also recognize when it’s necessary for others take the lead and work with them- I can’t say enough good things about my friend Brian Vanderheiden at Steep Endurance and his masterful writing of the state’s Trail Race Covid Mitigation Plan. I’ll also tip my hat in the direction of Liz Allen and her awesome ideas with the Border Patrol Challenge along the CT-RI border and The 6.66 Race slated for this June in Rhode Island.
And that segues perfectly into what’s going to happen with Live Loud going forward: being open to try more collaborative efforts with friends AND preserving the smaller field size and vibe of tougher races like Six Hours at the Reservoir and The Blue 2 Blue Challenge.
Making a race like The Pachaug Trail Runs not only bigger but more accessible for newer runners just getting into trails; and still throwing a fun year-end party like The West Rock Winter Extravaganza.
They’ll always be a place for hot garbage like The 7-11 Free Slurpee Day 60k and we’ll try Escape from Castle Craig relay race again and then sprinkle in some virtual races like Vertical Madness and The CT FKT Challenge and the aforementioned Border Patrol Challenge and that’s basically it.
But my main gig going forward is going to be Rat Race USA, and much like my main gig for the last 18 months as an elementary special ed teacher I’ll throw myself into this 100%.
For the last few years producing events on a micro scale (single-day, fixed course) with slightly more registrations (40-200) lends itself well to now and go help produce events on a macro scale (multi-day, dynamic course with multiple sports) with less registrations (20-30).
Rat Race is a well-established company that I consider to be a global leader in the adventure sports realm and I’ll be learning a ton of things in the interim to get up to speed. I’ll also be looking to build a cabal of test pilots to come try out these adventures with me- so please reach out to me if you’re interested and we can go over all the details.
2021 is shaping up to be an epic year and I’d love to experience the awesome with you all.
Thanks for reading!