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Running the Badwater Capefear Ultramarathon

51.4-Miles of fear and family.

In the ultrarunning world the name Badwater carries weight and respect.  The Badwater 135 maybe the most widely known race in the world.  Aside from the Barkley Marathon which eats you alive the original Badwater maybe the toughest to finish.  Starting in Death Valley, in mid-July, runners travel along some of the hottest conditions on the planet to finish 135-miles later running up Mt. Whitney.  Badwater is a series of races and it is also “a family.”  Each Badwater race is unique, each have a distinct personality and frankly each are challenging in their own right.


Badwater Capefear offers a 50k and 51.4-mile option depending on the amount of suffering you would like to endure.  I choose the 51.4-mile option because I wanted to experience some suffering to help prepare for my run at Leadville latter in the year.  By the end I had, had enough of Baldhead Island.

Going into this race I didn’t fear the distance or any weather conditions that cropped up and I didn’t fear being active for the time required to complete this race.  I did have some fear of the sand.  The only time I’ve run on sand was in 2012, I ran 8-miles with “the Raven” on Miami’s south beach.  That run left my legs tired and my lower back very sore.  I would have to run nearly five-times that distance.

Baldhead Island is a wonderful place to visit, experience nature, explore the coast line of North Carolina and it is a tough place to run 50 plus miles.  The race started at the foot of Baldly Lighthouse and rambled in and round the resort homes for 11-miles then two-miles of trails with low hanging branches and roots waiting to grab an unsuspecting runner.  Once off the trail a short-paved section delivered our group to 39.2-miles of beach running.  This is where the Badwater race begins…

Running on the sand turned out to be no big deal, if you stayed on the hard-packed sections.  If you ran off into the loose, fluffy sand you were dead meat.  Arriving on the beach just as the tide was going out was a reward for running a conservative opening 13.2-miles.  Low tide provided a wide running path for most of the beach legs of which we would run “out and back” two times for a total of 39.2-miles.  Notice I said we had a wide running path for the “majority” of the day.

29315296_10210559480174788_7296093022994326520_n(Photo credit Scott Dean)

Running on the beach was awesome, the ocean on one side, mounds of sand and vacationers on the other.  The day was filled with sights and sounds you don’t normally get to experience.  The early miles clicked off rather fast as I was on sensory overload.

Running on the sand was also a pain in the hips, ankles and knees.  In advance of the race I feared the potential energy sucking soft sand.  I didn’t give much thought to the cambered surface.  It did not take long for this un-level surface to rear its ugly head.  Mid-way to our 1st turn around I noticed some dull discomfort developing in my right ankle.  At no point was it race threatening or a hindrance it was just another ultramarathon thing that pops up that you must overcome and manage.  After a great pitstop thanks to the volunteers it was time to push on for Fort Fisher and our turn around point.

Going into the race our group (Wendy, Catie, Jeff, Scott, and Lyndsey (she jumped from the 50k to 51.4-mile option midway in the race…Rock Star)) decided to stick together, no PRs, no golden tickets just a day of experiencing Badwater.  We stayed on pace all day as Catie paced us with a 4/2 interval.  Many I’m sure looked at us in the initial stages and wondered why we were walking so early in the race.  It was at the turn around on the first leg that I noticed we were catching up to the “faster runners.”  An ultramarathon is an all-day battle not often won by the early swift.  Our running group was awesome, supportive, welcoming, fun, and encouraging as we became the talk of the race.  We arrived at the Fort Fisher turn with a few new members, a lot of laughs, and a few stories told along the way.

Running south on the beach provided the relief my ankle needed yet also introduced something ominous for latter in the day “the wind.”  With 22-miles down the thought of finishing my first Badwater race came into view.  It’s funny what motivates you during a long race.  A buckle, a medal or simply being a finisher is sometimes all you need to keep focused on your goals.  As vain as it may sound, the Badwater Capefear belt buckle was something I wanted, something I wanted to earn and as the miles grew long something that kept me focused.  Our group made good time working our way back to the turn at the conservatory and the future finishing line of the race.

An ultramarathon, no matter the distance can be filled with highs and many lows.  I tried to capture the drama of a 100-mile race in my book Running to Leadville.

Heading back out on the beach I kept in mind a tried-and-true battle plan, “keep moving forward and focus on the small victories.”  The thought of running the entire 9.8-miles to Fort Fisher seemed daunting as the sun began to set, the wind kicked up and the tide moved closer to shore.  Viewed in its entirety it is easy to see why ultramarathoning and tackling life’s bigger issue can be defeating.  With steady progress and my mind’s eye focused on my first little victory, making the mid-point aide station, the final leg seemed more manageable.


Departing the midpoint aide station my focus was getting to the turn around and the final leg of our adventure.  Passing runners coming back from Fort Fisher made it clear the toughest part of the race was still in front of us.

The 4.8 miles to Fort Fisher were uneventful.  We ran, we talked, and we laughed.  At times, we commented on how hard it appeared the runners moving in the opposite direction were working.  At Fort Fisher, I took time to visit “the real bathroom” as we began to call it to take care of business and as an afterthought before walking out I took time to wash my face.  The cold water felt so refreshing.  I want to say it supercharged my legs and the final miles went by in record time but that would be a cause and effect story only believed on the silver screen.  In fact, having a clean face put a slight bounce in my step and allowed me to face the finishing leg in positive spirits.

The wind was wicked and cold on the return trip.  Our group battled together, Catie kept a steady pace with each of us taking turns ensuring no one got dropped.  We had been together all day and although it had never been said I believe we had an unspoken bound that we were going to finish together.

2018 Badwater Strava

The toughest part of the day for me was the final mile on the beach, not because of the wind, not because of the sand and not because of our pace.  The last mile kicked me in the head because when I saw the signs for the right hand turn on the course that marked the elbow in the beach, I thought those were the signs for the end of the beach section.  Once I figured out my mistake I was a bit crushed.  I had a mile plus still to go.  My first thought after collecting my emotions was that this must be what the false summits of Leadville feel like.  I put my head down and was determined to finish strong.

29064030_10213487306549392_949718844186847818_o(Photo credit Robert Lee)

When the final turn came upon our group we were a bit spread out as running in the soft sand that led onto the beach section caused us to get drawn out.  Our group of six joined up and ran the last .5 miles on the road back to the Baldhead Island Conservatory together.  We finished proud, smiling and with our arms raised in victory.  Victory came not only for finishing, but for the bounds we shared hanging out together during the Badwater Capefear 51.4-mile race.


We became family.


We became BADWATER.

Emmy Lu – Miniature Schnauzer – We Love You

My Dear Little Girl Emmy Lu,

I still remember with joy and happiness the day we met.  We had recently lost another dear family member named Hanna.  At that time my heart was still sad and broken.

We met Carly first and once settled Melissa took us to meet you as you were still with your puppies.  We came around the corner and there you were, a shy little girl yet happy and eager to meet us.  Instantly we fell in love with the joyful and delicate way that was your spirit.

emmy lu31

You stole our hearts.  These days without you have been hard.  Maybe the hardest of my life.  It happened so fast, we had no idea we could loss you and we were not prepared.

You added so much to our lives.  Mommy and I loved the way you played with us, easy, light and full of Emmy Lu spirit.  We enjoyed so much watching you and Carly interact noticing how close the two of you were.  We loved how when you wanted attention you would place your nose in our hands.  Emmy you were such a dainty little girl yet full of fun, vigor and love.

I’m so sorry we could not do more.  We believed we had you on the road to recovery.  It happened so fast, we didn’t believe you were in any danger and we are still in such shock and disbelief.  Each day is easier and harder just the same.  I am angry, full of guilt and I wonder why?

We will miss everything about you…your black and white party coat.  Everyone commented on how beautiful you were.


How you loved to run around the house, tearing down the hallway and bouncing into the couch. The way you ran laps in the front yard.  You were one fast girl, easily out running your sister.

How you slept between Mom and I laying your head in the crock of my arm.

We will miss the way you danced for your treats.

We will miss your wonderful face.

WE WILL miss you.  Emmy Lu…..

Thank you, for everything you added to our lives, Mom and I so wish we could have had you with us longer.  Six years old was way too young.  We trust God has a plan…but not sure I agree with him on this part, but trust you are healthy, happy, and safe with him.  I believe you are running laps among the clouds and dancing for Jesus and treats.

We love you and always will.



Daddy…Mommy and Carly

Runner – Dear Veteran Runner, Racer, Marathoner

Dear Veteran Runner,

Congratulations on enjoying a long running career.  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like a “veteran runner” until just a few years back.  I’ve been running for 17 years now and for most of that time I’ve felt like I was learning more than giving back any sense of knowledge or wisdom.  But recently I’ve noticed people tend to pay attention and seek out my pearls of running experience.  So, I guess I’m one of the old runners now.


 (Thule, Greenland 2000…the beginning)

As a follow up to my letter to new runners, I asked myself what have I learned in these 17 years?  The list is endless, but I’ll try to capture a few key topics in hopes of passing on my take on being a veteran runner.

#1  Everyone is important.  I can still remember my first 5k, standing at the starting line looking at all the “real runners” and believing that the race was really for them.  I thought for sure I was just there as a backdrop to their race.  I was there to give the fast crowd some form of measurement.  I kept to myself, ran my race and went home I’m sure unnoticed by the majority.

I have since learned that everyone is important.  Everyone lining up for a race is running for their place on the finishing line.  Some in the crowd will run a fast race and some will run slow.  Some runners are battling life threating diseases, some are on the road of recovery.  Everyone who ties their shoes, pins a number on their chest and runs the race is important.  As a veteran, I want to ensure I show that I value everyone in the race.  I want to celebrate in their victory as much as my own.  As a veteran runner, everyone is important.

#2  Listen to your body more than ever.  Being a veteran runner means that you are older.  Like it or hate it, it is a fact.  And as such we need to listen to our body.  We need to pay attention to the little issues that might crop up one day and sideline us the next.  I have found that I do not bounce back as fast as I used to.  When our body talks we need to listen before it becomes a major statement which might shut us down for an extended time.  As a veteran runner listen to your body.

#3  You can still set personal records (PR).  Just because you’re getting older does not mean your better days are behind you.  With experience comes wisdom, with wisdom comes improved race times.  Whether in training or on race day knowing how to maximize your fitness, how to use your race day experience and how to leverage your insight into racing strategies can aid you in shaving seconds, minutes or even hours off the clock.  As a veteran runner, experience can overcome youth on the clock.

Tips front cover

Some times running a faster race time is not about running faster…it’s about tactics and race day strategies.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) can help you set new PRs and run your best races.

#4  Be accessible.  Standing on that first starting line, my attentions where drawn to the experienced racers.  I was watching them, whether they knew it or not.  Being a rookie, I wanted to see how they lined up, how they prepped for the race and how they ran the race.  I also watched to see how they interacted with their peers, new comers and fellow runners.  Sadly, no one noticed me.  I left that race much the way I arrived, one runner, one face in the crowd.  I left with no sense of community.  As an experienced runner, you stand out, and you reflect the running community.  Whether you intend to or not people notice you, people pay attention, and new runners form their opinion of the community by watching you.  As a veteran runner, you are the ambassador of our sport, be a good example.


(Just a few of the group/community experiences I’ve shared)

#5  Pay attention to the experience.  Running offers so much to our lives.  Running is an open door to adventure, an escape from our work-a day-world.  Occasionally turn off your watch, forget about Strava, Mapmyrun, your training plan and simply run to enjoy movement.  Smell the roses.  Feel the grit of dirt on your skin.  Enjoy the sensation of sweat running down your back.  Celebrate the action of your heart.  Simply run.  As a veteran runner enjoy the ride.

You only become an veteran runner by running.  You can’t buy it.  You can’t borrow it.  You can’t find it in a closet hidden in an old dusty box.  You must earn being a veteran runner.  That feeling comes to each one us at a time and place unique to us.  One day while getting ready for a race, you’ll stand and look in the mirror and see a veteran runner looking back at you.  As a veteran runner make sure it’s a good example…someone you would want to run with, learn from and one day be.


Runner – Dear New Runner – Fitness and Marathon Training

Dear New Runner,

Thank you so much for joining the running community.  I can’t guarantee you it’s going to be easy but I can promise that running will open many new doors to adventure.  A running lifestyle can introduce you to new friendships, experiences and life change that no other form of exercise can.  But you have got to keep a few things in mind…


#1  Get good shoes for your running style, gait and body mechanics.  The most common question experienced runners are asked by people new to our sport is “What are the best shoes?”  This is such a personal question with an answer that is different for every person.  Once you decide running is your activity of choice for fitness visit a specialty running store.  A specialty running store can provide a professional gait analyse to ensure your choice of shoes provide the best fit and function.  It’s not about style, color, or what works for the elite level athletes in professional sports….it is about what works for you.

#2  Start slow.  Once I fell in love with running I wanted to run often.  Each run left me wanting to run longer and faster.  BUT, you have to go slow at first to allow your body time to adjust.  I once read an article on running injury free.  The biggest take away was the 10% Rule.  The 10% Rule boils down to never adding more weekly or monthly mileage than 10% more than the previous week or month.  I also believe you should not extend your long run more than 10% of your previous and current long run.

Running is also about adventures, drama and life change.


Running to Leadville, the story of the 100-mile runner.  A story about life as much as it is about running.  A look into what compels someone to take that first step on an adventure that pushes them to the limits of themselves and exposes the core of the human movement.  An endeavor that isn’t over until the last breath is taken.  Running to Leadville – available on Amazon

#3  Listen to your body.  There is no one perfect training plan for everyone.  When selecting a training plan you must find one that will work for you, your life-style and your running and racing goals.  Once you find that plan…you must listen to the feedback your body gives you and not become so locked into your plan that you potentially run yourself into an injury.  If I have a long run, speed work or hill repeats on my training agenda and my legs, my lungs or my heart just don’t feel up to it….I adjust.


#4  Stop and smell the roses (take the selfie).  To me and this is simply my personal experience…no single run, no single training cycle, no one race  (unless your gunning for Olympic Medals, Boston Qualifier or a  Golden ticket) is worth bypassing the experience.  We only live this life once, enjoy the sunset, the misty morning on the trail, the geese, deer or squirrel you share the trail with.  Your running life will be more enjoyable if you high five the kids, hug the dogs and smile at the cameras along the way.

13226746_1237562866254867_7126512203488526329_n (2)

#5  Embrace the community.  I used to be a lone-wolf runner.  I trained alone, I showed up at the races by myself, ran and went home to my family.  Running was fun…but not very deep.  Today, I have friends that have seen me at my lowest, I have friends who kept me moving, I have friends who have seen my victories.  BUT more importantly I have helped a cancer survivor run her first marathon.  I have ran with a new runner when they crossed the finish line for the first time.  I have been part of a six person 200-mile relay team where we ran and laughed for 35+ hours.  I’ve run across the Grand Canyon with a group that will forever share the R2R2R bound.  I’ve run 50 miles with someone battling their own body to get their first 100-mile buckle.  I could go on and on…the stories are endless.  Running and runners are my tribe.   


Running is a lifetime sport and more so it is a lifetime life style.  Running takes you to edge of what you think you can do and expands your horizon, your self-confidence and broadens your life experience.

Best of luck…keep in touch I can’t wait to hear about your future running success.


Running the Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon

My opportunity to run the Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon came about when my boss knocked on my office door and announced “Do I have an opportunity for you, and it includes some travel.”  After accepting the “opportunity” my runners brain kicked into high gear.

Did I familiarize myself on the topic of the work related opportunity?  Nooooooooo 

Did I make travel arrangements?  That could wait! 

Did I tell my wife, DUH, I’m a runner, but I’m not crazy, I told my wife then I did the next best thing.  I scoured the internet looking for an “opportunity” to race while away on business.

2018 Clearwater Distance Classic

The Clearwater Distance Classic provided a few race options, the Ultra 50k, the Marathon, a Half-marathon, a 5-miler and a 5k.  I choose to run the marathon for a number of reasons.  Namely, I didn’t want to beat myself up 2 weeks prior to running “the Light 2 Light 50-mile race” in the Outer Banks.  The marathon seemed liked the perfect compromise for me.

[Tweet Read about "Brian's aka @cledawgs marathon run at the Clearwater Distance Classic, did he score another sub-four?"]

Arriving in Tampa around noon on Saturday I hot footed it from the airport over to the Expo to pick up my race package.  The expo was located at Coachman Park in Clearwater on Saturday and Sunday morning before the race.  Most races do not offer race day packet pick up and I was thankful this race did just in case I was faced with some travel issues.

After surviving the winter blues the last few weeks in Virginia and North Carolina where temperatures dropped into the teens,  it was very nice to have race day “morning” temps hovering in the mid 50s.  I arrived on site early enough to get settled into my racing mood, listen to some old school rock & roll (“summer breeze makes me feel fine….”) and watch the race day crowd gather.  When it was time to line up for the start of the race I positioned myself among a pack of runners behind the 4-hour pacer.  I had no real goal in mind for this race.  I didn’t taper, I didn’t eat all that well prior to the race and I really had no agenda in mind.  I viewed this race as an opportunity to check “the run a marathon in Florida box” and have some fun along the way.

2018 Clearwater classic marathon start

The starting line provided a wonderful back drop with the Clearwater bridge in the background.  As wonderful as this was for my pre-race selfie it also reminded me that although this course was pretty flat, we had to cross two of those bridges enroute to our 26.2-mile finish.  The Clearwater bridge would challenge us at the 1-mile mark.

Moments before the National anthem was sung I finally arrived with my race day plan.  I decided to hang with the 4-hour pacer until around mile 20 or as long as I could.  My mind set for the past few marathons has been to pace myself in the early miles so that I have something left in the tank to “put up a fight” in the end.  The gun went off and the game of follow the leader was on.  For 17 miles I hung back from the 4-hour group but close enough to keep them in sight.  This tactic did wonders keeping the pressure off as we made our way through aid stations and bottlenecks along the course.

Overall this course provided some stunning waterfront views.  I enjoyed running along the beaches, among the stately homes, through the shopping district and enjoyed the many picturesque views while crossing the water ways.  The only part of the course that got tedious was the very long stretches where it felt like we were running along one seemingly endless road.  There is no way to sugar coat it, that is just what we did.  In hind sight this forever out and back loop made the miles click off almost unnoticed.  Before long the 17-mile marker came into view and I wondered where the miles had gone.  We reached the single digits without the droning count down of time and distance.  The latter stages of the race came about without any major mental hurdles it was then that I noticed I had some life, some spunk, some fight and vigor left in my legs.

2018 Clearwater classic marathon raceday photo5

(it got hot…)

It’s always a scary when you swing out from behind the pacer and decide to make a move.  When pulling away on my own I always wonder, is it the right time?  Can I hold up?  Will I hit the wall down the road and regret my move?  Fear creep into my spirit as I wondered what would happened if I fell off the pace, as I have in the past, and they caught me in the waning miles?

Today this was not going to happen.  Over the next nine miles my legs never let me down, my rhythm never seemed to change.  My plan was working to near perfection.  As I ran past the 20-mile sign and punched a hole in “the wall” a new thought came to the forefront.

Could I set a new Personal Record (PR)?  Could I better my time (3:53:47) at Myrtle Beach just a year ago?

It was time to attack.  Once clear of the pack I drafted off of anyone who could break up the wind in front of me.  I focused on chasing down the runner in front of me, then the next, the next and the next runner after that.  Silently I counted the number of runners I caught from behind and used this game as motivation to push even harder to add to the tally.   Then it happened, I could hear them approaching from behind.  I could hear them talking at first.  The conversation grew louder and louder.  Next I could hear the sounds of their footfall reeling me in.  My. Heart. Sank.  I was caught by a much younger couple who were making great time.  Fear departed my battle wore brain when it was apparent that they were the only ones in hot pursuit.   I did the only thing I could, latched on to their hip and used their energy to pull me along for the next two miles running at below a 8:20 pace.

Tips front cover

Some times running a faster race time is not about running faster…it’s about tactics and race day strategies.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) can help you set new PRs and run your best races.

I ran the following miles and up the remaining hills as fast as I could and cannon balled down the downhill’s.  I dreamed up every motivational tip I could to get every once of speed, to quicken my leg turnover, to fuel my rapid succession of footfall and cut every corner to shorten the race.  I ran the remaining nine miles in a fashion that would make anyone proud.

2018 Clearwater classic marathon strava

I gave the closing miles of this race everything I had.  I ran hard…and I pushed myself to run a touch quicker.  I ran into an uncomfortable zone and did not let up.  As the race came to an end I could feel a crash coming on but I continued to fight all the way to the finish line.

2018 Clearwater classic marathon race Finisher

After all of this I came up short of my PR, while running my second fastest marathon and my 5th sub-four finish on a day I would have been satisfied to simply finish.

2018 Clearwater classic medal2

I may not have declared a real goal to the world but I reached both of my unofficial goals just the same…I wanted to run a race in Florida, and I wanted to have fun.  Opportunity accepted,  and taken advantage of.  Thank You Boss!

I’ll next challenge the sub 4-hour marathon mark and my marathon PR at the Myrtle Beach Marathon (BBMBM) and the Cleveland Marathon, (BBCLE10) come run one of these great races with me using the discount codes for a special discounted entry fee.

Running in the winter survival guide – ultra-marathon crazy

Sitting back after the 5th running of my Ultra Crazy 50 training run during a rather harsh cold snap in North Carolina I am reminded of a few cold weather/winter running tips. 26168507_1952791064735420_4004312953369809902_n 1.  Dress to run and dress in layers, but don’t overdress.  At the start of any cold weather run you want to feel slightly chilled.  If you feel nice and toasty before you run a single step…imagine how hot you’ll be after 5-miles?  Being as warm as a bug in the rug might sound and feel good, but once you start to sweat…and that sweat turns into damp clothes, you won’t feel so good when the chills set in.

2.  Keep your hydration from freezing.  For our 50-mile run we ran four 12.5-mile loops.  Our loop had us out on the trails, away from running water for anywhere between two and two and half hours.  This extended time in the elements had our hydration bladders and drinking tubes and hand-held bottles frozen solid.  To remedy this:

A. Adding a little bit of oil, sugar or salt to your water will harmlessly lower its natural freezing point (I’ve heard alcohol does the same)

B.  You can carry your hydration on the inside of your clothes or jackets next to your body

C.  Take little sips more often to prevent the water from settling in the bladder or hose

D.  Blow back into the tube after you drink to keep the path clear 

3.  Keep an eye on the trails/road.  Umstead was snow covered and beautiful this Saturday  but she was also dangerous.  A snow-covered surface can hide a lot of hazards, ice, roots, rocks, pot holes etc.  It is best to run with caution and an eye on the ground.

4.  Bridges freeze first.  The bridges that provided a wonderful backdrop for our mid-summer selfie was an iced covered hockey rink.  When running in the winter beware, it just might be a good idea to walk.  We had four bridges to cross over and each one was a bit slick.

5.  Make your pit stops fast.  If it’s the call of nature or time to resupply and refill your water bottle do it fast.  It is surprising how quickly your body cools down when you’re not moving.  Sure I was cool while running, 10 hours out in the elements will do that to you, but the only time I really felt “COLD” was while making our refueling pit stops.

The difference between running a race and “racing” a race can be boiled down to tactics.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) bridges the gap between training and racing.

6.  Shoe Gaiters are not just for sand, rocks, stones and trail grime.  Shoe gaiters are great for keeping snow out of your shoes.  And if you must go off trail, try to keep your shoes dry, starting a long run with wet feet on a frigid day is a sure way to get on the sad panda super highway.

iceearrings (Ice ear rings…a new fashion trend?)

7.  Have a sense of humor about the conditions.  If you let the cold, the wind, and the pain get to you it’s going to be a very long day.  Nothing makes the time go by faster than a smile and a good laugh.  We had a good group who helped each keep their spirits up when things got tough.  We never feed the trolls.

And finally, Embrace the pain…”if it was easy, anyone could do it.” It’s called an Ultra-Marathon, not so much for the distance but for the ULTRA-CRAZY people who do what we do.

Running 2017, a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathons

2017 was a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathon success and coming up short.  I’m not going to use the word “failure” instead I’ll say…”coming up short.”  Coming up short of your goals is still a degree of success if you, got to the starting line, dared to dream big and gave it the best you had.  I ran 1,959 miles in 2017, I stood on the starting line of 11 race, all 26.2 miles plus and managed my way through three different minor injuries.  Not an excuse for coming up short, just some simple facts.  I also had an outstanding year!

Yearly Mileage: 2500/ Came up short 1959.4
Avg. Monthly Mileage: 200+/ Came up short 163.3
Avg. Weekly Mileage: 50+/ Came up short 37.6
Set Monthly PR 250+ / Came up short 220.6
Run Two, 100-mile Races / Done
Set 100-mile PR / Done
Run another sub-4 hour marathon / Done x 2
Set marathon PR / Done

2017 running graph

Aside from the running goals, I wanted to get my book “Running to Leadville” out into the world.  I wanted to get the story in the hands of runners and non-runners alike to inspire, entertain and to motivate others to live an epic life.   At the end of the year I’m overwhelmed by the success.

In turn, you have inspired me to keep writing, keep dreaming and to keep running.

Thank you.  You can pick up a copy on Amazon or a signed copy from my blog.


JANUARY: The year started off great with the 4th running of Brian’s Ultra Crazy 50 at William B. Umstead state park, in Cary, NC.  This event started as a training run for my very first 100-mile race back in 2014.  Facing the 100-mile race I needed a long run and a group of friends came out to help me.  This ultra crazy long run has has since grown into an annual event.  2017 saw five finishers…


Joshua D. 2017/002
Eric H. 2017/003
Randall W. 2017/004
Elisa S. 2017/005
Andrea M. 2017/001 with Horace the Horse Ist Non-human Finisher


Each 50-mile finisher walked away with a custom finishers award.

FEBRUARY:  The mixed bag of success and coming up short began when the injury bug came a calling with a calve injury days before the race.  During an easy slow run my right calve cramped so bad I was forced to drop out of the Uwharrie Mountain Run, a 40-mile trail race in Asheboro, NC.   From the lows came some highs!  Bryan S. and his great staff at Run-N-Tri Outfitters of Wake Forest, NC hosted my very first running seminar on “Surviving your 1st Ultra-Marathon” and a book signing for “Running to Leadville.”

MARCH:   After some down time because of the injury bug, Michele and I were off to the Beach.  At the Myrtle Beach marathon expo I was able to team up with Shane M. of Roanoke Island Running Company for a “Running to Leadville” book signing.  It was a great day hanging with Shane, talking about the race and meeting new friends.  Then on a cool morning, with a flat course and some fresh legs I was able to set a new marathon PR (3:53:47).  Looking for a spring race that is fast…I would highly suggest you run the Myrtle Beach Marathon, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. booksigningWe had such a great time we will be back in 2018….use code BBMBM for a discount on race entry.

APRIL:   After the marathon success it was time to face the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run once again.  I ran the first 50-miles with my good friend Eric H. as he took on his first 100-mile race.  AND with a ton of help from friends I was able to score a 100-mile PR of 21:36:36.  Then it was time to get ready for the annual 24 hour run at Sandy Bottom, in between I joined the Peninsula Track Club in Hampton, VA for a seminar on “How to tackle your first ultra) and Running to Leadville book signing.  In my 8 years running this race I thought I had run in every weather condition possible until it got hot….hot, hot….and HOTTER still.  Team RUN4LIFE not only did not melt, they melted the course record Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer, in Newport News, VA. 18192458_1591195744224909_1614413725968285807_oRUN4LIFE took the team Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years with a course record 914 miles.

MAY:  2017 only got busier…I took my running shoes on two road trips in May.  First linking up with Shane and Heather at Roanoke Island Running Company for a Saturday morning run and Q&A session on tips for “ultra-marathon success” and “Running to Leadville” book signing.   2017ClevelandexpoweekendThe second road trip started with a stop in Fredricksburg, VA where I got to hang out with the wonderful folks of Lucky Road Running store.  After a great talk with Jeff and his super customers we traveled to the Cleveland Marathon for a two day book signing at the Expo and a 26.2-mile run along the roads of Cleveland, Ohio.

JUNE:  The heat of the summer kicked in and it was time to hit the mountains.   My friend Josh and I headed to Northern Virginia to run the Eastern Divide 50k, in Pembroke, Va.  Great mountain race with tons of climbing and an equal amount of heat. 19223054_10213592637955862_93835527902490611_o JULY:   The summer theme seemed to be “run up a mountain,” when George N. RD of the Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer talked me into running the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, in Boone, NC.  It was hot, hard and well worth it… Summer 2017 would be known for three hot summer races.19787083_1674797045864778_8793944937478573483_o AUGUST:  A local favorite got my goat last year.  The 2016 edition of the meltdown saw me DNF’d while running in the lead two-some.  This year it was time for some revenge at the MEDOC Mountain Meltdown 50kplus. 20604591_1708158732528609_8623512576372602280_n SEPTEMBER:   When you click the registration button on a 100-mile race, it just kind of of lives in the back of your mind haunting you until race morning.  Such was the case with the Yeti 100.  I thought about the race all year…  Standing on top of White Top Mountain it was finally time to look for the Yeti and run my second 100-mile race of the year and my 4th 100-mile race overall.

The Yeti 100, on the Virginia Creeper Trail, is a great race, and captures trail running at it’s roots.  Jason G. and his gang at Yeti Trail Runners put on a great race with some one-of-a-kind flair to keep you moving.  At the end of the trail I was so very happy to get a big hug from Mr. Yeti himself and score my very own sub 24-hour belt buckle.  That’s four sub-24 hour 100s if your counting…hot dawg.  Hot YETI….IMG_20170930_055539731_BURST000_COVER_TOP (1)OCTOBER:  No rest for the Yeti in all of us, road trip time again…Michele and I headed to the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN.  On Saturday we spent the day hanging out at the expo, launching my newest book, 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter).

Tips front cover

Sunday, Michele ran the 5k and I took on the 7 bridges challenge….and got an extra .63 mile to boot.  The marathon carried a special meaning for me, I ran to honor a little boy who only lived seven days…I ran for Isaiah. 22528073_1860912847256576_8573685712116066337_n NOVEMBER:  Regretfully I had to drop out of the City of Oaks Marathon, in Raleigh, NC…this is a great race, but coming off the Yeti 100 and a marathon two weeks later my legs were fried.  I needed some lower mileage days to get some zip back in the wheels.  Next up would be the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina.   OBX Marathon ExpoWhat a great two days I got to spend in the Outer Banks.  I got to spend a cold, and windy Saturday indoors hanging out with good friends, new friends and other Yeti finishers talking about running and pedaling books at the Outer Banks Marathon EXPO  Then on a near perfect Sunday, a goal of simply finishing turned into an unexpected sub-four hour marathon performance. MTC shirt run7November saw another big running accomplishment come off the board.  After years of trying, after countless times when my friends got me into the run, only to have life get in the way, I was FINALLY able to join the Mangum Track Club completing the 14+ mile shirt run.  What a great day it was….  It won’t be my last shirt run!


Over the Thanksgiving holiday I got to run with a great group in Cleveland, Ohio…the Trail Tribe.

DECEMBER: As in life everything was going great until it wasn’t.  Maybe my favorite 50k, the Seashore 50k, Virginia Beach, Va was my entry into the ultra race world.  This year I was going back for my 5th finish and my 5-time finishers belt buckle.  UNTIL my left IT band decided it wasn’t the right day to claim my prize.  With great regret I dropped out at the half way point. 25398821_1848850338459447_5375417104049472144_n (1)I didn’t get the finish I wanted or the belt buckle…but I did get some awesome pictures.  At this point I was trying to keep it all together.  I was also disappointed as with this race I was running for something bigger I was running #sidneystrong to support Sidney Povish a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with (B-All) Lukemia.   Her father Brian was one of the four hour marathon pacers who helped me reach my goal at the OBX marathon.  Pls help if you can.  

I hope you had a great 2017 and wish you an outstanding 2018 and beyond.

What awesome 2017 running high lite do you have to share with the world…post it in the comments section below.

Running – Racing – Marathon – Ultra Marathon Community

No other athletic community is like the running community.  Whether running for fun or racing a ultra-marathon, full or half marathons and right down to the 5k, runners a special breed of people.

What other community toils away at their craft in near obscurity?  Would Arron Rogers pay to play football in an empty stadium?  Would Michael Jordan have played for free in the middle of a city park, unnoticed by anyone?  Yet 99% of all runners, even world class athletes train and run unnoticed by the majority of the world.

2016GrandCanyon climbing NR

In what other sporting endeavor does world class talent compete on the same course, play on the same venue, and run the same miles as the last place finisher.  The average baseball player will never be able to take the mound and pitch an inning in Yankee stadium.   The weekend tennis player will never be able to serve at Wimbledon.  Yet week after week the average runner toes the same line as the Olympic qualifiers, world record holder or world major marathon winner.

The “community” of runners is part of the story I tried to capture in my book Running to Leadville.  For those unfamiliar to the sub-culture of ultra-marathon this book uncovers the unique relationships in the running world.

The running community is unlike any other in the world.  We run the same races, cover the same ground, run against the same clock as the professionals.  The last place finisher will cover the same 26.2 miles as the winner of the Boston marathon.  The last person to cross the line in Placer High School in Auburn, Ca would have ran the same Western States 100 course as past winners Ryan Sands, Kaci Lickteig, Rob Karr or Hal Koerner.

The Golden Minute – Western States Endurance Run 2015 from Western States Endurance Run on Vimeo.

In what other community would you see the final finisher, just beating the cut off time celebrated as much as those who won the race.

The running community is (in my opinion) the most supportive community I have ever been associated with.  From the local running clubs, to the regional elites to the world famous runners who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. 


Each has been very humble, supportive, welcoming and down right wanting you to do your best, 


Running – It’s Going to Get Tough

Running and racing, whether it be a marathon, ultra-marathon or your local 5k, can at times get difficult or down right seem impossible.  In these moments of conflict you might think about tossing in the towel.


Do Not Do It…..

It will get better, I promise.

If you ever feel like you have had enough.  If you ever feel like your legs are about to explode and you can’t take another step.  If you have felt like you have the will power of Pee Wee Herman and just want the show to end.  Just hold on.

Seven steps that can take a near Did Not Finish (DNF) experience and turn it into another notch on your running and racing belt.

1.  Simply keep moving.  If you feel like you just can’t go on….keep going on.  You can’t stop if you keep on moving.

2.  Walking is okay.  There is no shame in walking.  Some days your legs or lungs just don’t have it.  Maybe you’ll have to give up on your goal time, but if you take a simple walking break, you may regain enough strength and commitment to continue to fight to the finish.

3.  Never quit where you at.  If you’re going to drop out of the race, do it at an aid station or the start/finish line.  If giving up becomes an option, make your way back to an aid station or the start/finish line…you just might find out that the bad patch has passed and you can continue on to the finish.

tips cover

Do you want to run faster, run your best marathon, or any race for that matter?  26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) bridges the gap between training for a marathon and the race day tactics that can shave seconds, minutes or hours off your finishing time.

4.  Just one more mile.  I once got my son to finish his hamburger after he said he was full by asking him to eat “just one more bite. ” The same tactic can work during a race, just one more mile, and one more mile until you find yourself running to the finish line.

5.  Keep some run in it.  If there comes a time when you have to walk, mix in some run segments no matter how short or slow they may be.  It’s hard to give up when you can still run.

6. Walk if you have to but walk with purpose.  There is a big difference, not only in time, but mental focus/strength between a 18:00 mile and 14:00 mile.  If you go into the death walk, “aka dead man walking mode” it is so much easier to drop.  Keep up your pace the best you can and sooner or later you’ll cross over that finishing line and into victory!

7.  Hitch hike if you have to.  When I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve survived a race by staying in touch with the runner or walker in front of me.  Trying to not be dropped helped me focus on moving forward and not on the pain, fatigue or the mental weakness I may have been going through.

A good race and a bad race are sometime separated by staying in the game.  Never give up while you still can move forward no matter the pace.



Running A Sub Four Marathon – Running, Racing and Training


I’ve had a few, but too few to mention.  If there was a pop song about my quest for the sub-four-hour marathon that would be a key line in the ballad.  In the world of marathon running a sub-four-marathon to some is a routine benchmark.  To others it’s a goal still on the horizon.  To me it has always been a waterline of marathon success.



I ran my first marathon in April of 2005.  When I began my marathon journey I believed it would be a fair bet to say one marathon would be enough.  17 years later with 23 finishes I’ve run four, sub-four-hour marathons.  I’ve read that less than 1% of the population have completed a full marathon.  That got me to wonder what percentage have run a sub-four?  It took me eight years to reach this milestone, running 3:56:57 in 2013 at the Niagara Falls International Marathon.

What I’ve learned running five sub-four-hour marathons.

Niagara Falls Marathon, 2013 – 3:56:57

City of Oaks Marathon, 2016 – 3:56:06

Myrtle Beach Marathon, 2017 – 3:53:47

Outer Banks Marathon, 2017 – 3:59:22

Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon, 2018 – 3:54:12

Cleveland Marathon, 2018 – 3:58:57

  1. Pace is key.  When I look back at my successful sub-four-hour times my pace was very steady and predictable.  In reviewing the data from the race what I saw was a steady pace with no high patches and no low patches.  This proved to me that a steady pace wins the race and runs a successful sub-four-hour marathon.
  2. Make effective use of the aide stations.  During a 26.2-mile race you need to take advantage of the aide stations but what you can’t do is waste a lot of time in the process.
  3. Have something left in the tank to fight for at the finish.  Somewhere around mile 18, I normally can tell if I have fight left in me.  I believe this is different than hitting the wall.  To me, hitting the wall means that a finish may be in question.  Comparing my four sub-four finishes with when I came up short, finishing was never an issue, fighting to the finish was.  A successful sub-four meant I had fight left in me at the end.
  4. Never give up on the dream.

Want to run your best race, check out my book – 26.2 Tips to Run Your Best Marathon (or any race for that matter.)

What I’ve learned coming, but did not get to open the sub-four-hour champagne.

Windermere Marathon (2014) – 4:04:05

Air Force Marathon (2014) – 4:07:08

Cleveland Marathon (2017) – 4:04:06

  1. I tried to run too fast.  In some cases, I did not watch my pace, I went out to fast or I fell in love with a faster finishing time.
  2. I failed to run my race, and my plan.  At some point in the race I got caught up in the number of people passing me.  I began to believe I should be able to run with this person or that person and I ended up running their race and not mine.
  3. I could not stop the bleeding.  Once I got off target, I could not get the ship righted.  Once I started giving back time to the clock, I simply could not stop the bleeding, things either got worse or the got no better.

A sub-four-hour marathon is not a judgement of your marathon ability.  We each bring our own value to the race.  Some run to BQ, some run to finish and some run to get what “they” value as a benchmark time.