Tom – Mountain Run Done

Mile 10 of this 17.4 mile race was just over the top of this 11,000 foot peak

Wow!  Just Wow!  Hip replacement or not, I just completed the single-most-difficult-thing-I-have-ever-done-in-my-life.   I….ran…..The Rut; a 28k course that took me over Lone Peak, the  11,000 foot mountain pictured above.     There are 2 races over this mountain; a 50k  and a 28k (17.4 Miles).  The 28k race was on Saturday and the 50k was on Sunday.  I am thankful I didn’t run the 50k on Sunday because the course had to be diverted from the top due to bad weather.

I am happy to be done.  For me, it was a great accomplishment and I couldn’t have done it without some help along the way.  I had the help of my Zero Runner, my understanding family, my SDP training buddies and some advice from my friend who is a physical therapist.

In order to train for the Rut, I needed elevation.  To do this, I spent a lot of time training with my SDP buddies away from the city.  One of the places we trained regularly was on Mount Spokane, the closest mountain to Spokane.  The runs were long and the travel time kept me out even longer.  Half of my weekend days were devoted to this, which meant less time with the family. I am very lucky to have a family that understands my desire to run.   When they’d see me walk through the door after a dirty and dusty day on the mountain, they’d give me big smiles and tell me “I’m Crazy”.    So thankful for them.

Earlier in the year, my THR hip was hurting.  I am pretty sure this was due to the knee surgery I had had in July of 2015.  As I trained, I favored it keeping the weight off of it while I ran.   This put more stress on my THR on my left side.  Enter the Zero Runner.  ZR8-Octane-ZeroWhen I first learned about this machine, my body felt completely broken.  After seeing the endorsments it received from running greats like Alberto Salazar, Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher, I was sold. I began to run on this machine in mid-May and it changed my life.  Half of the miles that I put in getting ready for this run, were put in on this machine.  It allowed me to workout in a full running motion with zero impact on my joints. It was instrumental in my ability to come back from what felt like a point of no return.

I also had been using gel inserts in my right shoe to accomodate for the leg length difference that I had (around 3/4″).  One of my running buddies who is also a physical therapist, gave me a real insert and suggested I move to a different shoe for trail running.  I had been training in Hoka One Ones (which are great for road running), but I kept tripping on the trails.  The Hokas with their extra cushioning gave me less ground clearance, and I was constantly tripping.  So I switched to the Brooks Cascadia, a shoe with a much lower profile, and I stopped tripping on the trails.

In the days leading up to races, I usually get a little quiet and a little cranky.  My wife Colleen noticed this wasn’t the case with this run.  On the morning that the team left for Montana, I was whistling and feeling good.  This attitude took me right to the starting line on Saturday morning.  Initially I had agreed to run with my buddies who were planning on taking their time and enjoy the Rut experience.  But when I saw the age group results from the previous year, I had second thoughts.  When the Elk Bugle (that’s what they used for the starting gun) went off, I abandoned my buddies and took off.  I worked my tail off, but I was able to take a few pics along the way……

2Base (Medium)
Leaving the tree line and heading into the scree
3Climbing (Medium)
Getting Higher…


4CloudLayer (Medium)
Eerie landscape
6 (Medium)
Running up the mountain over these plate sized rocks was hard, running down the mountain over them was worse.
7 (Medium)
Excuse me, would you mind taking my pic? There was time for that. Picture taking was how I disguised my rest breaks.
9 (Medium)
Over the cloud layer
8 (Medium)
The first really hard climb towards Headwaters
10 (Medium)
The Bonecrusher segment after Headwaters
11 (Medium)
Top of BoneCrusher
top (Medium)
The tip top of Lone Peak. I made it.  11,000 feet high.
12 (Medium)
Feeling Good at the finish. 5 hours, 25 minutes (I started in the second wave, 5 minutes after the first wave)
trophy (Medium)

I remember when I finally arranged for my hip replacement.  There was no doubt (even before speaking with the doctor….even after speaking with the doctor) that I would run again.  This race reminded me that the only thing that stops anyone from achieving anything, is themselves.  I am crazy.  This race was crazy.  But at the end of my life, all I will have are my cherished memories and this one is now a part of them.

I’ll close with my motto which many of you have seen before…..

“You don’t stop playing because you grow old.  You grow old because you stop playing….”

10 thoughts on “Tom – Mountain Run Done

  1. Wow… Just Wow. That track looks brutal. I went and found your time and knew the vertical and traction had to be tough. Do they advertise an over/under for twisted ankles?

    Nice job!

    1. It honestly was the hardest race I have ever run. The altitude and the elevation gain was like nothing I had ever done before. I might be hooked!

  2. Nice job Tom, I can’t imagine running that elevation over the rocks, either one is a challenge but both together, forget it. Great pictures and great determination and attitude to run your own race and get an age group place. How did you feel, and your hip, after the race? I know what it feels like to spend a good portion of your weekend training, it takes dedication, positive outlook and a great support group, having met you and your family I know you can check all 3 boxes. Hope you take some time off to recover.

    1. Thanks Dave! Funny how I didn’t even mention my hip in the post. It did FANTASTIC. No pain afterwards. But I have to tell you, with these races, its not about running a long stretch at sub 7 minute pace. It’s about grinding out the terrain with a lot of steep ascents that can only be covered via power hiking. Quad muscles were burning when I finished, but the hip did SPECTACULAR. I am not sugar coating it, I promise. No hip pain whatsoever. I know where you live, it would be hard to train for a race like this because you don’t have enough elevation, but if you ever could, I think you’d enjoy this kind of race. The race prep really helped to strengthen my legs which was also much needed for my hip. Put the Rut on your schedule for next year! Entry fills up in less than a day, so you have to be quick to sign up….

  3. Tom – you are my motivation. Anything is possible and I am going to push it to the limits and then some. What an amazing achievement and an awesome race!!

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