Constellations and Supernovas

For me, two dates rise above all others in the world of trail ultramarathon running over the past 30 years.

June 24, 2006 and July 12, 2008.

Why, you ask?

Well, on June 24, 2006, Tim Twietmeyer finished his 25th WS 100 and on July 11, 2008 Kyle Skaggs ran what is, in my opinion, the greatest single race in trail ultramarathon history at the Hardrock 100.

What makes these events so similar and so different is the reason for this article. And what happened after the fact makes them even more compelling.

Tim Twietmeyer’s accomplishments at Western States are downright staggering: 25 sub-24 hour finishes, 15 consecutive top-5 finishes, and 5 wins. In 2006, going into his 25th race, Tim was battling a serious knee injury and talking to many of us about just running the race under the cutoffs. Then, of course, the weather turned ugly with record high temperatures in many areas of the course and Tim ran an incredible race finishing in 11th place (9th male) in a time of 20:33. At the awards ceremony that year Tim was presented with a beautiful framed box with all 25 of his silver buckles on display. That occasion marked the end of an incredible string of consistency and longevity that I cannot imagine ever being matched.

Kyle Skaggs’ run at the Hardrock 100 miler two years later was, quite simply, extraordinary. Leaving Silverton, Kyle had a 2-minute lead before they even were out of town (7 minutes into the race!). Kyle then proceeded to run as if he was on fire arriving at aid stations before they had been setup, traversing 13,000 foot passes as if they were at sea-level, and finishing in an astounding 23:23 – a full six hours before Scott Jaime, the 2nd place finisher. Upon finishing Kyle showed his shoes to the assembled crowd and determined that he had literally run the shoes off his feet! Kyle’s record may some day be broken as runners continue to push the envelope, but it will take a Herculean effort to do so. In one day, Kyle simply changed the paradigm.

Following the race Kyle ran a couple more low-key events and then slowly slipped off the ultrarunning map. Word is that Kyle still runs and is busy with his farm in New Mexico, but his life has moved away from ultramarathon running for reasons that are entirely his own.

What, then, is it about a sport that can produce both Tim Twietmeyer and Kyle Skaggs? On one end of the spectrum is the model of consistency and longevity and on the other end is the outright single performance of a lifetime. Is this the same as comparing the 300-win baseball pitcher to the one-year phenom who strikes out 300 batters in a season and then is never to be heard from again? Perhaps.

But there also could be something deeper. Ultramarathon running requires a tremendous commitment of time, energy and passion. Can you imagine what life was like in the Twietmeyer household every year for 25 years? Kids were born and raised, jobs were done, houses were remodeled, etc, and along the way, every June, Tim ran the race and ran it very well. By contrast, in the early spring of 2008, Kyle put his life on hold, moved to Silverton, and over the course of 5 months whipped himself into the best shape of his life. He learned the nuances of every climb on the Hardrock course and internalized every rock, twig and creek crossing. Then, with the calm and deliberate focus of a monk, proceeded to run what could go down in history as the perfect race. Tim reached the top of the sport through a long, consistent devotional to what makes him tick. Kyle made it to the top with one sharp sweep of the sword and then stepped aside.

Of course, there are likely many more personal characteristics that come into play here and I do not pretend to know what they are. In fact, in my imagination I prefer not to know. Rather, as an observer, I like to think that both of these incredible men have had an impact on a sport that will change it forever. And, that impact is what inspires more people to the sport. In this time of great growth and evolution for ultramarathon running I hope that both longevity and individual excellence bring people out to the trails. I cannot think of two better people to represent these dual ideals as Tim Twietmeyer and Kyle Skaggs. Thanks guys!

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
What do you think of Tim’s and Kyle’s contributions as runners to the annals of ultramarathon history? What do you find most compelling or fascinating from each of their performances? What’s more impressive to you (this isn’t to say that either is “lesser”) years of top-end performance or a Bannisterian performance that changes what the world believes is possible?

If you had to add a date to AJW’s list, what would it be and why? Whose other performance – be it career, year, or single event – redefined what is possible in ultrarunning?

There are 60 comments

  1. Roger Henke

    If I had to add to the list I would go for Bruce Fordyce's Comrades performances. He's obviously in the consistency category with 9 wins (preceded by a 3rd and a 2nd place), 8 consecutive, then a year in which he didn't participate but set the 100k world record, and then another win. To remain the best for such an incredibly long period of time is mind boggling.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Fordyce

  2. Jon R

    One season of absolute focus and concentration vs. 25 years of constant and consistent effort seem equally impressive to me. Each show amazing ways to achieve a goal.

  3. Average Runner Shann

    I don't pretend to know the history of ultramarathoning or understand what either of these accomplishments really means for the sport. Would either lifetime performance draw me to the sport of ultramarathoning? Yes, I suppose Tim Twietmeyer's years of running would influence me. I am always drawn to people who seem to be enjoying what they are doing, and if you keep at it for a quarter of a century, I have to believe you love what you are doing. By contrast, Kyle Skaggs' story doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. While impressive, it leaves me feeling kind of sad. He obviously had talent, but it doesn't seem he enjoyed the experience enough to stick with it. For me – someone who would never run fast enough to rack up awards – it's all about the experience.

  4. Jim Blanchard

    I seem to remember one year when Tim won WS and had to hurry from the Sun. awards because he had to play softball that afternoon. Running WS seemed to be a part of Tim's life and he was able to run at a winning level for 5 years. However he seemed to run with as much joy before he became a contender. Tim, you've always been one of my Ultra idols maybe because I relate more to consistent quality rather then laying it all on the line in one performance. Excellence found in both.

  5. C W

    February 13, 1956. Mark the calendar. Yiannis Kouros is born. The 'Big Bang' is you will. Is there a record from 12 hours to 1000 miles on the road or track – that he has not held at some point in his career?

    The best day ever? 24 hrs on the track: 303,506 KOUROS Yiannis (GRE) 13.02.56 T AUS ADELAÏDE 4/05.10.1997

    1. Brett

      Yiannis' 24 hour effort was 188 miles…meaning he ran a 7:39 pace for 188 miles straight. In the words of Space Balls, that is Ludicrous Speed.

  6. Tim Oliver

    For me, one of the most mind-boggling runners in trail ultra-running history is Marco Olmo. For those of you who have never heard of this man, what is probably his most famous achievement was to win UTMB…. twice (in '06 and '07)… at the age of…. wait for this… 59 and 60. To merely finish a 100-miler at that age is hugely impressive; to finish the UTMB at that age is even more so; but to win UTMB at the age of 60 is one of those stories that, when I first heard it, thought had to be wrong! A truly staggeringly impressive performance! If I can run even a fraction as well as he can in my 60s I will be a very happy man :)

    If you're interested, here's a brief video of the guy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pGSNzcuzvQ&fe

    1. Jeff Faulkner

      Thanks, I was going to mention Ann Trason.

      AJW, would it be possible to get an interview with Kyle to find out what's changed for him? Perhaps he sated his racing appetite and is now content with just enjoying the trails in solitude. Or maybe he's just too busy with his farm – agriculture is a tough life, very demanding of the farmer's time.

  7. Jay

    Interesting discussion. I wonder where people think Killian fits into this. Granted he's very young and none of us know where his career will take him. But it seems to me he has the ability to run mind-boggling performances, like challenging Skaggs' record (and he has hinted at the desire to do so) and the ability for long term, consistent success. And he's already starting to do that with 3 UTMB wins.

    GZ, I definitely agree on Transon's performance.

  8. David T.

    I think Carpenter's Leadville record setting performance also opened up an entirely new world in ultra running (similar to Skaggs's Hardrock performance).

    1. Shane Jones

      Yes, I think Matt Carpenters Leadville 100 record blew peoples minds not only then, but now as well. Probably just as impressive as Skaggs Hardrock. Matt Carpenter could also fill the other role (of longevity and consistency).

  9. Rob Youngren

    I can't believe nobody has mentioned Yiannis Kouros! Unforgivable! ;) This guy is perhaps the best ultra runner of all time; just look at his list of world records and wins and you'll see why. Nobody is even close! And he's still at it having recently finished a Double Spartathlon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartathlon)! For the uninitiated that's 2 x 153 miles (Athens-Sparta-Athens) in something like 60 hours! So whatever the dates were when Kouros set the World 24 Hour record, 6 Day Record, 1000 mile record etc… would be on my list.

    1. Rob Youngren

      Oh, and I'd like to say I was one of the fortunate ones to sort of "witness" Skagg's awesome 2008 HR100 race. I say sort of because all I saw of him was his backside and even then only in the first half mile or so! All throughout my race I kept getting tid bits about how Kyle was tearing it up. Almost unanimously everybody thought he'd crash and burn! They were all wrong!

      Also, that year we had quite a bit of snow/ice on the course. Given some more favorable conditions I'd suspect Kyle could have been even faster if that's possible.

      1. Roland

        Rob,

        You are right, Kouros is the unchallenged "King", at least for now.

        Among North American males, I think AJW has the spectrum ends well characterized, at least for now.

        I will also wonder exactly how close Skaggs was to a DNF…. likely he was dancing on the edge and "daring greatly".

  10. CraigR

    And I'm guessing "Ann Trason" didn't come to mind when this was written. She not only pushed the limits, but took down many male runners in the process.

    1985 – 6:09 at American River 50M – Age 24

    1994 – 18:06 at Leadville Trail 100M

    14 Wins at the Western States 100

    In both 1996 and 1997 Trason performed the "double" of winning the Western States 100 just 12 days after winning the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

    And the list goes on!!!

    She in my eyes is the greatest athlete male/female to lace up a pair of trail shoes.

    Twiet is a legend and definitely deserves his due. 25 Years! Unmatched except for maybe a guy named Bill Finkbeiner at Leadville.

    Skaggs – So much talent it is scary. Get a healthy Krupicka and him together in the mountains and they literally could push one another to the brink. 23:23 will be broken, but it may take a guy like Kilian to do it. Guys these days focus so much time on so many races it is hard to say when it will go down.

    1. Brett

      Kyle basically ran a sub 6 hour Pikes Peak Marathon (a pace that would put him finishing inside the top 15%) … 4 times in a row back to back to back to back.

  11. Tony Mollica

    Great article AJW! Thank you for sharing this with us! Both feats are great in my not so humble opinion. I am more drawn to the longevity of Tim's 25 WS finishes under 24 hours. To finish any race, even a local 5K, 25 times in a row is impressive to me. It means that you managed to stay healthy at that time of year for 25 years in a row. As a runner who has battled some injuries I really appreciate that. Obviously when that race is the WS and you've gone sub-24 25 years in a row; that makes it an amazing and incredible accomplishment.

  12. Matt

    Great stuff, AJW. Both are very inspiring runners. I have to go with the longevity here, but I have gotten a sense that running HR like that seems a definite outlier and will be tough to beat. His living there and prepping like that opens another discussion. How do you really compare efforts that transpire in such contrast.

    I wonder about the 100 as an event that one can compete in for years. Twit and Meltzer (and Jurek) seem like the exceptions. Skaggs was racing quite a bit leading up to his HR100, no? I think he may have felt the effects of so much long up and down. Just thinking of guys more recently who seem to have "hit a wall," so to speak, Anton and Geoff. Sure this doesn't seem like a lot of runners, but I just think the 100 will wear people out, especially those competing at that high level, and racing regularly. Jornet may have hit a wall at least for 2011. N.Clark did definitely. Does that mean their running careers are jeopardized? Probably not.

    But I think running 100s like that (competitively often) has to take a huge toll.

  13. Scooter

    August 13, 2009. Suprabha Beckjord completes her 13th Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Race.

    "Suprabha is the only female athlete to complete the race and the only runner to complete all 13 editions. Her total distance in the last 13 races is a staggering 40,302.226 miles/ 64,622.160 km. Which is close to running twice around the world. When not running the 3100 mile race, Suprabha owns a small gift shop in Washington D.C."

    Here's some additional results from S.B. 1986-2006:

    1986 200 Mile Race 200 Miles First Place

    1987 Five Day Race 347 Miles First Place

    1988 Seven day Race 521 Miles First Place

    1988 700 Mile Race 700 Miles First Place (US Record)

    1989 Seven Day Race 470 Miles First Pace

    1989 1000 Mile Race 1000 Miles First Place (World Record)

    1990 Seven Day Race 500 Miles First Place

    1991 Seven Day Race 523 Miles First Place

    1991 1300 Mile Race 1201 Mile Third Place

    1992 Seven Day Race 484 Miles First Place

    1992 1300 Mile Race 1300 Miles First Place (US Record)

    1993 Seven Day Race 490 Miles Second Place

    1993 1300 Mile Race 1300 Miles Second Place

    1994 Seven Day Race 502 Miles Third Place

    1994 1300 Mile Race 1300 Miles Second Place

    1995 Seven Day Race 508 Miles Third Place

    1996 2700 Mile Race 2700 Miles First Place (World Record)

    1997 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place (World Record)

    1998 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place (World Record)

    1999 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2000 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2001 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2002 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2003 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2004 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2005 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

    2006 3100 Mile Race 3100 Miles First Place

  14. Dan

    Andy, great stuff. Being a Northern California guy and a committed back of the packer, it boggles the mind that probably 50% of the time I get up to Auburn/Cool/Foresthill, I run in to Twietmeyer on the trails. I don't know the guy, but I certainly know of him and for someone who has gotten the trail bug, the idea that I have had the privilege to share the trail with the Lou Gehrig of our sport will continue to be an inspiration. I still love that North Face ad in Runners World a while back, "The most coveted award in ultra running is the silver belt buckle you get for finishing the Western States 100 mile endurance run, only Tim Twietmeyer has 25."

    1. El Jacob

      It's funny you mention UTMB, he actually did mention someday doing UTMB in an interview after his 2008 HR win :)

      I definitely don't think we've seen the last of Kyle.

  15. james @reddirtrunner

    A long and distinguished career and on the other hand capturing lightning in a bottle. Tim shows an undying commitment to an event over 25 years and Kyle a laser like focus on a single race. Hard to pick one over the other. Not saying one is better but throwing down the gauntlet like never before (or since) and walking away on your own terms has a strange appeal for me. In both cases, truly the stuff of legend.

  16. Jim P.

    Great piece, AJW. The tone and content are a fine salve for all the grumpy rumblings about UROY, U.S. vs. the world, prize money and other nonsense circulating around the ultrarunning interwebs these days. Looking forward to hanging around the Taproom more often. The conversation is great.

  17. Robert A

    I agree with Jim P.

    Back of the packers like me love to read about not only the years of consistent training and results but also those unforgettable, once in a lifetime performances. These fuel our own humble efforts, and quite frankly on some days- just get us out the front door.

    Keep these articles coming AJW.

  18. Alex

    Stories and characters like these are what makes ultras so appealing. They're covered lightly enough, and the history is short enough, that it's like we're living in the age of tall tales. In any other sport, we could hop on youtube, and watch every second of Kyle's Hardrock dissection. But we can't do that, of course. We can only imagine, marvel at what it must have taken. Even then, our minds fall inevitably short. There are countless other great runners, and as many great stories, ranging from victory to a courageous back of the pack finish. The fact that we will never hear most of those stories makes the ones that do get circulated all the more vital.

  19. patrick stewart

    Alex, well said. I often times think this when I'm searching for race reports and photos of races. The only way to truly experience this sport is to get out there and do it for yourself.

  20. AJW

    Thanks so much, everyone, for all the great comments for this second article in AJW's Taproom. I am really enjoying this new project and the conversation has been great.

    In addition, thanks to all of you who have submitted logos for the logo contest. It's going to be really hard to pick the best one but there are a few more days left so if you want to submit an entry please do.

    And, I thought I'd offer two personal anecdotes about the two great guys who are the subject of this article:

    Six years ago I was pacing and crewing for a buddy at Wasatch and it turned out that Kyle was doing the same. Since our runners were more or less on the same pace we decided to share a car to drive around the course. As is often the case in such scenarios we ended up having a fair amount of time to chat and get to know one another. It was great for me to get to know Kyle in that context as he was just out of college (Evergreen State) and had just returned from completing a 9-day Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Course in Colorado. We talked about running, life, and the future and I couldn't help but think, "This guy would make a great teacher someday." In the end, Kyle left Brighton with his runner and I was left there to support my runner through his dnf (loss of will) but Kyle and I had established a relationship and I knew I had met a great guy. I am not sure if Kyle has become a teacher but if he ever wants to apply to any school I'm running I'd hire him in a second.

    Then, fast forward to Placer High School, June, 2006. I had just finished the most brutal WS100 ever (even Tim's mom said so to my wife Shelly at Michigan Bluff) in 7th place (6th man) and a few minutes later Tim strode in. It just so happened that we were together in the medical tent answering questions in the context of the medical study. Right then and there, I learned how amazing this guy was. The Q and A went something like this:

    Nurse: On a scale of 1-10 how much pain do you feel right now?

    Tim: 2

    Nurse: During the race, how much water did you consume?

    Tim: 40-50 oz an hour during the first 16 hours and 30 oz an hour after that.

    Nurse: How much salt did you take during the race?

    Tim: One S! Cap an hour on the hour.

    Nurse: How about calories? What did you eat?

    Tim: 300-400 calories an hour. Solid food when I could and gels the rest of the time.

    Nurse: Do you want to know your resting heart rate now?

    Tim: Sure

    Nurse: 47

    I was in awe. The detail, the science, the absolute confidence was mind boggling. Tim had broken down the race into a completely manageable exercise and from that day forward I set about to do the same thing. I am only part-way there but I have Tim to thank. In that little exchange I was inspired beyond what any magazine ad, blog post or marketing scheme ever could. For that, I am forever grateful.

  21. CJ

    I've had the pleasure of meeting both Kyle and Tim on separate occasions and they both seem like great, quality guys. What an incredible talent Kyle is! I would agree that his 2008 Hardrock is the single greatest ultra performance on U.S. soil. The only way someone breaks that mark is to live and train on the course for 2-4 months beforehand.

    I would rank Matt Carpenter's record Leadville up there near the top. His was also an example of laser beam specific focus and training for one race.

  22. Nemocamino

    Hello everybody,

    I think Tim Oliver is absolutely right when he speaks about Marc Olmo an italian ultrarunner. He is such a discret and humble man and his motivation, his life and his runs deserve a great respect. Watch the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pGSNzcuzvQ&feature=fvst) and even if it's not in English you will understand the man just when you see his face.

    KABURAKI Tsuyoshi, is also a great runner, he made a lot of good races, Western state and UTMB this year.I think is a very important man for japonese people.

    And is it possible to forget Killian Jornet ?

    Scott Jurek ?

    Many good runners all over the world !

    Good runs every body and hope AJW's foot is better now.

  23. Scott

    Andy, Is that 40-50 ounce number for the first 16 hours correct? That's an impressive amount of fluid per hour. Enjoyed the discussion!

  24. William Swint

    First off very good disscusion, thanks iRunFar and AJW. Both Kyle and Tim's feats are super impressive and inspirational. It's hard to imagine running the same race 25 years in a row,let alone being a top contender all those years. Does anyone know if Tim Twietmeyer ever had a dnf?

    Leadville 2004 stands out to me. For some reason reading about Matt Carpenter struggling and then walking it in is very inspiring to me. Of course the story doesn't end there. 2005 was pretty good too!

    To this day I am not happy that I finished but I am very proud that I didn’t quit. That may sound like a contradiction but I am just trying to be honest. A runner once told me you don’t know who you are until you run a 100 mile race. Now that it is over I can’t say I know who I am any more than I did. I can say however, that it did test what I thought I knew about myself to the core. It took me to the edge of my beliefs and I am happy that I did not fall off. – Matt Carpenter

    http://www.skyrunner.com/story/2004lt100.htm

    1. Ben Nephew

      That quote is a perfect example of why DNF's are neither a badge of courage, nor a necessary side effect of testing one's limits.

  25. Craig T30

    I think Tims accomplishment is amazing (both are of course but his blows my mind). To me its a michael jordan like consistancy (but longer). I worry nowaday with some of these sponsors if that type of consistancy can ever be acheived again. I see some amazing young talent (Jornet comes to mind) and hope to see that kind of thing again but worry about their ability to go over many years because of the rigers of running for a team. I have know knowledge or experience that causes this worry but wonder if it may be the case. Maybe its easier with a team I dunno

    1. Ben Nephew

      For the vast majority of sponsored runners, the benefits are not enough to justify a great deal of risk. From what I have read, many team leaders seem to understand that the runners need to call the shots in terms of their training and racing. Many of them are runners or athletes from other sports. As many have said, Kilian is a very wise runner considering his age, and his own motivation for training hard is probably more of problem than any sort of pressure from Salomon.

      However, your worry about the effects of very hard training and racing is justified. Although everyone talks about how the history of ultra trail running is short, trail running is not unique enough to justify ignoring road running to learn from other's mistakes. There are plenty of examples of top road ultrarunners who had very short careers, likely due to the overall intensity of their training. A good example is extremely high mileage. There are certainly examples of marathoners and road ultra runners who have had success with this type of training, but these runners typically have short careers. I would hope that softer trails would make high mileage more sustainable, but steep trail downhills are probably hard on the legs.

      We'll see what happens with Kilian, but I do wonder about the progression of runners that get into ultras very young, as opposed to those who start with shorter distances and move up. I can think several runners who had success when they were young, and then their performances declined. I can't really think of anyone who started young and had a long period of great performances.

      1. AJW

        Ben, good points.

        By way of clarification, Tim ran his first WS in his early 20's and got to 25 finishes before his 50th birthday. Ann won her first WS when she was 25. She then went on to win 13 more before stepping aside in 2001.

        Since then, the young ones have largely been more "Supernova" than "Constellation".

        Time will tell with this latest bunch…

  26. Darthrunner

    While AJW seems to have a clear preference for anything Western States, I cant help but see his(and Tims) obsession with one race as a bit sad really. Sure, you should do what makes you happy but isnt life also about exploring new vistas and new opportunities as well? I hope I'm able to run ultra distances (race and otherwise) for a long time to come but life is too short to be all OCD over one over-hyped, over-priced run. There's being in a groove and then there's being stuck in a rut.

    Not to mention "hoarding" of race slots. I have no desire to run Western but wouldn't it be nice to give others the opportunity to experience something that is in limited supply?

    Kudos to Kyle for setting a goal, getting it done and moving on.

  27. AJW

    Dear Darthrunner,

    I understand your comments about obsession and OCD in the case of my relationship to WS but I do hope you know that I have run many 100 mile races in addition to my 8 WS finishes (21 others including all of the Grand Slam races, Angeles Crest, Hardrock, Rocky Raccoon, Coyote Two Moon, and Javelina). In addition, I have tried for several years to gain entry into Hardrock and have not been pulled in the lottery (except for 2009 and I am trying again for 2012). So please, before accusing me of having OCD and being obsessed with one race, do your homework.

    As far as "hoarding spots" is concerned I am sure you are aware that in six out of my eight WS starts I earned the spot through a top-10 finish the previous year not a sponsor exemption or other special consideration. And, I have made it known to many that following my 10th finish in 2013 I plan to stop running WS and will attend the race as a volunteer for the subsequent ten years.

  28. Darthrunner

    AJW, I am well aware that you have run races other than Western (did i say otherwise?) and Im sure that you have interests and goals outside of running. However, the heading on your blog and (much of its content) might lead some to believe otherwise.

    Im just voicing my opinion, seemingly contrary to most on this topic, that doing the same thing 10 or 25 times just doesnt strike me as all that spectacular in comparison to doing one thing exceptionally well.

    As for hoarding race slots, I really dont think it matters if you've "earned" it or not. Running the same race 25 times when others wait years to get a chance is, in my book, more selfish than admirable. Yeah, Ive run Hardrock and will probably try for one more time. Then Ill let someone else have a turn. And, if you manage to get your coveted 10th finish at Western, then good on you for stepping aside and volunteering.

    Just my opinion. Like it or dont. Im gonna go for a run.

  29. Erik Skaggs

    When the sun spills over the Mogollon Mountains and flows down into the San Francisco river valley Kyle has already been up for quite some time. He smiles at his dog as they walk through the furrowed fields of freshly planted garlic and he thinks about harvesting sweet potatoes. His tall sinewy frame bends and he massages some of the soil deposited by the San Francisco River with his callused hands.

    As coffee slowly percolates, Kyle and his girlfriend talk of cover crops, digging a root cellar and eventually building a small straw bale house. He doesn’t need much. He makes a living with his hands and the vegetables of his labor go to the good people of the surrounding communities. Hard work. Long hours. Not much reciprocity.

    When he finally retires with the sun, the warmth of a small but capable wood stove beckons. As the sweet juniper crackles and throws shadows about the room he might drink a beer, or read a book, or strum a tune on an old guitar. What he doesn’t do is read blogs, worry about what others think of him or participate in conjecture regarding his Hardrock run.

    I hope this gives some insight and clarity into what Kyle Skaggs has been up to lately. Above all else, Kyle would probably just want all the good folks reading this blog to stop spending so much time reading blogs and actually get out on the trails of life and pursue their passion…whatever that passion might be.

    The best to all of you,

    Erik Skaggs

    1. Great North

      Good on TT, Kyle and anyone who finds something they like to do and/or knows when it is time to move on (or return).

      How much can be said (or needs to be said) about ultrarunning? It's a simple sport and above all a participatory sport. You need a little bit of knowledge(a very little), some basic equipment (very little) and a whole lot of training and the toughness that training brings to get an ulta finish.

      The focus on the 'stars' of the sport and their disappointments, their accomplishments and their paydays (or lack thereof)is good entertainment I suppose but if it takes more than a few minutes a week, well, for me, that is when I know I am not using my time well. I think I'll take Kyle's advice …

  30. Dominic

    I'm inspired equally by Tim and Kyle. Success comes in many forms, but Kyle's incredibly high quality performance at Hardrock and Tim's strong performances year after year are indicative of success over varrying time periods. At the end of the day the sum of Kyle's work and the sum of Tim's work are equally inspiring in my book.

    As ultra running gets a little more popular each year, fans seem to start to think of the sport as entertainment more than inspiration. Sure, the great battles at WS over the years have been exciting and entertaining in the moment, but none of the athletes trained to compete at that level for entertainment purposes. They did it for themselves, to discover what they could do, and to be the best they could be. Entertainment that arrises out of races is purely secondary, and it's important to remember this.. Even on blogs with fans hyped up on caffeine and endorphins, hungry for the next great intercontinental show down.

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