Tune of the day: Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
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At the present time it is just an occasional sign – Folks with a start number pinned on their vest. Joe DiNoto of infamous New York Underground running powerhouse Orchard Street Runners is a man that makes things happen. One of his most prominent races, the OSR30, an unauthorized 30 miles contest round Manhattan was one of many race annulments in the mist of the Covid-19 epidemic. Last weekend saw yet another turnout of this raw and self-navigating competition. Even with basic knowledge of the New York running scene, a look at the start list made clear that the stakes for a thrilling showdown were high.
And race day delivered. With favorites David Kilgore and Alex Burks surging away early on, it seemed clear who was battling for victory. But then again after missing a checkpoint, the lead changed, and it was Travis Hawkins who crossed the line in first place. His 3:17:44 for 51,90 kilometer (Strava) was not the fastest time of the day, but he was the fastest runner to reach all the necessary checkpoints along the course.
The father of two (Rafaela 7 & Mathilda 3) and Brooklyn resident is definitely no stranger to this competition. He won it on two occasions, but this time his stakes were unquestionably the lowest. Travis grew up in Leonia, New Jersey which is exactly 1,5 miles from the George Washington Bridge a checkpoint in the OSR30. Travis has a 08:51:10 Ironman PB (Challenge Roth 2019) to his name and owns a personal training and endurance coaching business. I caught up with him in the aftermath of last weekend’s win.
Runssel: Congrats to your three peat at this year’s OSR30. How does this victory weight in in comparison to your first two successful excursions around Manhattan?
Travis: Thanks so much. All my three OSR30 races are all pretty unique. In 2018 I was 100% confident that I was going to win. When Erik Reitinger put a gap on me 10 miles in that I couldn’t seem to close I was kind of devastated. I was as shocked as he was when I passed him by taking the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the Manhattan, for the win. In 2019 and 2021 I had no reason to think I could beat David Kilgore, or Alex Burks. I do know that these races are about so much more than speed. I have a ton of experience navigating around the city. I am comfortable in traffic. I ride my bike through it all day. This years victory was the biggest shock of all though. After the year we’ve all had and the level of competition on the day, it was definitely the most rewarding.
Runssel: As we all know, Covid-19 knowingly slowed down the racing the last couple of months. How did you keep up the motivation and when did you fully commit to another OSR30?
Travis: In late February of 2020 I tore a calf muscle, training for the OSR30. The race was cancelled etc… I moved my entire business to Zoom in one day. I had no confidence in coaching my clients via video chat, so I did every workout with them as they did it for the first few weeks. This meant essentially doing 8-12 hours of resistance training with bands each day. I was back running in less than a month and was able to slowly build to more volume than I have ever even considered.
Without a race on the calendar, I was really able to be patient with strength training, yoga and Physical Therapy, slowly accumulating tons of fitness. To answer your question though, I didn’t have a goal in mind. I was just running because I didn’t know what else to do. Balancing school from home with my 2 kids, my wife is studying to be a nurse and I’m on my computer coaching clients from an office all day. I can usually carve out 60-90 minutes to go run and clear my head, so I do. Without it, I don’t know how I would have survived the year. Joe DiNoto sent me a text in early February, asking if I would be interested in running the 30 sometime towards the end of March. I said yes but wasn’t really sure if I was going to want to put in the speed work required. It turned out I had accumulated a lot more fitness than I thought.
Runssel: This year’s OSR30 start list was perhaps the best it’s ever been. What battle scenario did you assume and how did you plan for it?
Travis: It was definitely the strongest field! I knew there were going to be at least 2 guys capable of running way faster than me (It turned out that I was right). I also knew that I had the fitness to put together my strongest race. My strategy was to run my strongest race and hope that they pushed each other beyond their limits or got lost trying. I suppose it worked. I definitely ran my strongest race.
Runssel: Do you have any key workouts leading up to a race like this? How do you approach training towards such a race?
Travis: I am a strong believer in running hard on long days for races like this. I can usually accumulate a decent amount of weekly miles with a bunch of light runs, but there is always a hard long run and a harder short run. I do most of my running in similar conditions around Brooklyn, so I suppose that helps too. There’s typically a ton of concrete in these races which I think tends to do more damage than people realize. If you’re doing all your training on blacktop, it’s not great preparation for a race that’s on a lot of walkways and paths made of concrete and slate.
Runssel: Knowing the city is a huge advantage. How do you prepare the navigational part of the OSR30?
Travis: I know the city intimately. I ride my bike around all day from client to client. I like to make a game of finding the fastest routes. Riding and running in traffic are fun and adds a level of adventure to training and commuting. Finding the shortest route for OSR races and practicing them on my bike has been part of the fun since the first midnight half I did in 2016.
Runssel: Another indefinite year of racing is ahead. Do you have any goals planned out?
Travis: I don’t have any goals this year. I’d love to get lost in the woods at some point- in a race or on a long adventure run. I’d also like to get on my bike for a race since I haven’t done that since 2019. Who knows?
Runssel: Will there be a OSR30 four peat next year?
Travis: The target on my back keeps getting bigger. I don’t think it would be fair to take it down prematurely.
While swimming in the ocean, the apparent question hit me: How tall is the highest point of this islet?
It didn’t take a long time to find out that the Pico de la Zarza is the main peak that Fuerteventura has to offer. With an altitude of 807 meters this appeared to be the plausible center of a day long sea to summit exploit. After a quick google search, a proper planning session began. Heading out from our home base, Playitas, it was a 50 Kilometer bike ride along the coastline to reach the trail head that lead up to the mountain top, just above Solana Matorral. As soon as we found a bike shop that wanted to store our bikes for the time of the run, we were set to go. And properly hyped!
The aim was to travel as light as possible. That meant for me that I planned to run in my bike outfit. The bulkiest chunk of the needed gear were the running shoes. The easiest and safest form to travel with them turned out to be a meek fix on the rear side of the saddle frame. Some old bike inner tubes out of the bike rental trash bin and the actual shoelaces turned out to be the finest and safest combination. Our little DIY packing system turned out flawless and the quest was on.
As the name suggest, winds on Fuerteventura are quite solid. A strong NE breeze (28 km/h) meant that we had the gales in our favor for the first part of the trip down south. We set of to make it before the bike shop shut down for siesta. Besides a simple puncture, the ride was uneventful, and we literally surfed down the shoreline. After we changed at the bike shop and stowed all our needless goods, the run was on. We treated us to a quick espresso at the local bar and then attempted the scramble straight by the beach. The Strava segment teached us that an average of 10% climbing was waiting for us on the 8 Kilometer uphill.
Running off the bike is never easy and it took a bit to get into the groove of running. The sharp uphill at the beginning didn’t really help but the clear views to the top made everyone excited about what was ahead of us. We spread out a bit and appreciated the incredible views of the neighboring vales and the mountains. A stony dirt path led us up the mountain and took its toll. Lucky enough the weather was on our side as the sun was not beaming in full effect. We jogged on as the track got more technical and the top closer and closer.
The diversity of the run and the final technical and precipitous part paid of as soon as we figured out that we hit the very top. What was lying in front of us was a remarkable view of the isolated and less inhabited east coast of the Island. An incredible backdrop with an enormous clip just right in front of our dizzy eyes. The scenery blew us away. I didn’t know what to expect but what we saw was just stunning. We stayed at the top for a while and then gradually made our way back down to the shore where we replenished properly at the local Burger King before altering back to the bikes.
As we left the bike store, we felt instantly what we already knew was waiting for us. Wind from the front. Strong wind from the front. As we tackled a rolling 50 kilometers back home, we knew we are in for some suffering. And hell, we hurt. But the enjoyable thing with happenings like this is that once it’s over, the simple enjoyment is very hard to beat. As soon as we hit the bike path back to Playitas the spirit was high as we perceived the sun going down behind the mountains. The last day of our little training camp was precisely the epic one we were hoping for.
Tune of the day: Moderator – Midnight Madness
Tune of the day: Fred The Godson – Garcias
YouTube of the day: Kengo Suzuki’s 2:04:56 National Record to Win Final Lake Biwa Mainichi
Pod of the day: Tommy Hughes joins the Spring Snyggt Podcast (Start at 53 Minutes)
Sometimes it gives the impression that not too much has happened this last year. Notwithstanding, the time undoubtedly passed away quickly. Though I hate the term “the new normal”, it feels strange that in comparably monotonous times, the time is essentially moving pretty fast. At least that is what it feels like to me. And so, it did since the last time I sat down to reassess the past twelve months. Despite the fact that the Corona ponderings are not getting quieter, I’m certainly over it.
That doesn’t mean that I do not respect and treat it seriously, I mean it is more important than ever to continue and focus on what’s right in front. And whereas a lot of people seem to fight with a limited lifestyle we still have to retell ourselves that the most people who read this chunk of internet, are in a fortunate position and probably haven’t had to deal with much restrictiveness in life. Essentially that is a good thing and somewhat that we need to retell ourselves and focus on positives. Although it now and then seems to hard to find, it is still there. That doesn’t mean that I do not respect and treat it seriously, I mean it is more important than ever to continue and focus on what’s right in front. And whereas a lot of people seem to fight with a limited lifestyle we still have to retell ourselves that the most people who read this chunk of internet, are in a fortunate position and probably haven’t had to deal with much restrictiveness in life. Essentially that is a good thing and somewhat that we need to retell ourselves and focus on positives. Although it now and then seems to hard to find, it is still there.
To reflect and prompt myself on what has occurred I try to reflect on my sporting happenings once a year. Like inscribed previously, I used to do that recurrently but with less time on hand one post per year need to do. And this is the one.
Number 1 – ÖTILLÖ SwimRun Catalina
Earlier than ever I got sucked into the racing spell with the first ÖtillÖ competition in America on Catalina Island. What feels like luck now, was just one big coincidence. I wrote a bigger blog about the race in California which can be found HERE. My family and I were fortunate to get one of the last planes out of Los Angeles before the first big shut down set in. Robin and I couldn’t take part in the Ötillö World Champs for apparent reasons. The week after she knew that it is impossible to travel over to Sweden from the US, the competition got cancelled. First time in history.
Then the big Corona break set in. Not so much in Sweden as the country chose to take a more liberal take on the whole thing. But still most races got cancelled and that meant that there was a lot of training on the schedule. That wasn’t too bad, and it appears that I never really lost inspiration. We organized some unsanctioned 5.000 and 10.000 club champs on the local track to keep things candid and daily training went on as normal.
Number 2 – YO Super Sprint Triathlon
As a group we even managed to get some triathlon action going. On a gorgeous summer evening in Stockholm we went back to the triathlon origins and organized a fun little encounter. Great fun with a pleasant hang out afterwards. Some images by Henrik Kindgren can be found HERE.
Number 3 – Langholmen Swimrun
With an inventive and senseful concept, it was one of my favorite races that managed to get a permission to go ahead. Creativity harmonizing with some eagerness goes a long way and a brilliant race was set up. While the long-distance event had to be annulled the sprint distance was set. I raced two heats with Ebba and Johan, and it was remarkable to put on a bib and have fun. Some more words and pictures can be seen HERE.
Number 4 – Åre Fjällmaraton
With the summer sun serving to keep the Corona spread to a minimum and one more creative race organizer another iconic competition in the Swedish calendar was about to go ahead. What seemed to be a bit of a mystery show before the race, played out to be a wonderful day up in Åre with a bunch of great friends. My boludo Mauri made sure we all got a slot for this one and we certainly enjoyed this trail rollercoaster around Jämtland.
Number 5 – YO DIY Half Marathon
It all started with a hasty conversation during a training jog. Now and then you just need to set up your own reality and, in our case, that was some sort of contest. It doesn’t take much, but it takes some keen people and power to organize something like this. Hallbäck scouted a flat loop and we organized what needed to be prepared. Set up three start groups to keep it Covid safe and gave our people a clear goal in the calendar. A half marathon at the start of December. It turned out to be a heck of an happening that left some informal PBs and keenness to continue with self-made racing.
Number 6 – Stockholm Virtual Rogaining
Looking back this was a super fun day out with Fredrik Axegård. But we need to confess that both of us are no orienteers and we also do not like to read a race manual. Still some fun to try something new and get the hands on an orienteering map for a long and sluggish day on good-looking trails around South Stockholm!
All over this ambiguous year the sport gave me so much and I’m completely grateful for that. No lack of motivation and plenty of inspiration through friends or simply checking Strava made sure that I kept grinding. Looking back, this makes me happy and just shows me how much this simple endurance sport bustle means to me.
After years of running and swimrunning, I wanted to take on the Ironman distance once more in 2020. I signed up for the inaugural Ironman in Kazakhstan in November last year but the competition as most of the other races got annulled. When the organizers finally called it a day, I didn’t feel any disappointment and happily took the slot for the 2021 race on the 15th of August. I still enjoy the process of getting fitter and heathier. Will there be a race in Nur Sultan next year? Who knows? Will there be plenty of training and adventures. That’s for sure. Its nice to keep and build fitness. Though it is nice to have a goal to train for it is also enjoyable to just advance and learn on a daily basis. That is what this year showed me straight forward.
Onto the next one.
It is the end of a weird and uncommon year.
A lot has transformed and things possibly won’t be the same again. Well, some things undoubtedly do never change. It’s exercise in fresh air alone or with good friends. At least in the last couple of demanding months, this has been a life saver to some. Also, for me.
Crushing and chatting away on my childhood paths in southern Germany feels virtuous and at least it is some sort of consistency in these December times.
Stay healthy, stay sane!
Special times call for special actions.
With no races in sight we made sure to create proper motivation for serious training. Some flat loops around the local park, paired with several start groups made sure that there was no lack of motivation and COVID-19 safety.
Our little DIY half marathon turned out to be an amazing happening and left some empty tanks together with tired but smiley faces all around.
All pictures by Henrik Kindgren!