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Stay warm when it’s wet: How to protect down insulation from moisture

By Andrew Skurka / November 7, 2017 /

When shopping for a sleeping bag, insulated jacket, or insulated pants, you will have a choice of insulations: Down, which is a commodity product measured by fill power, e.g. 800-fill; or, Synthetic, which is normally made of interwoven plastic fibers and which may be marketed as Primaloft, Climashield, or a proprietary version like TNF Thermoball.…

Tutorial: Dead-reckoning navigation | Basic but oft-used skill

By Andrew Skurka / September 11, 2017 /

Dead-reckoning is the simplest navigation skill. It’s much easier to learn than reading a map, or operating a compass, GPS, or altimeter watch. Yet I find it to be one of the most useful and frequently used, especially when hiking on well-maintained trails where a consistent physical effort yields consistent results. Such trails include well-known long-distance footpaths…

Training program for UTMB, my 2017 apex race || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / August 27, 2017 /

How have I trained for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the world’s premier ultra marathon? As part of an ongoing series, I interviewed again my coach, David Roche, transcript below. But to fully understand the context of this training, it may be necessary to read similar interviews prior to my two other big races…

New FKT: Pawnee-Buchanan Loop || Take note, UTMB

By Andrew Skurka / August 16, 2017 /

The Pawnee-Buchanan Loop has become a classic among ultra runners and backpackers. It’s about 27 miles long, includes two 12,000-foot passes over the Continental Divide, and the starting trailhead is a 60-minute drive from my front door. (Side note: To spice up this loop, use the Pfiffner Traverse to connect Buchanan and Cascade Creeks, rather…

Pace Chart Tutorial || Step 3: Split gathering & goal time correlation

By Andrew Skurka / June 28, 2017 /

Before I jump into the third and final step in creating a pace chart for an ultra marathon, I thought it would be helpful to review the process so far. Step 1: In a spreadsheet we created a list of key landmarks on the course, and added pertinent information like distances between these landmarks and where…

Pace Chart Tutorial || Step 2: Establish a goal finishing time

By Andrew Skurka / June 14, 2017 /

The scariest part of creating a pace chart for an ultra marathon is the need to settle on a goal finishing time. I say scary because: A goal time, and the associated splits, are something of a commitment; It requires an honest assessment of physical and mental preparedness; and, It’s difficult to account for all…

Pace Chart Tutorial || Step 1: Landmarks & course data

By Andrew Skurka / June 14, 2017 /

Unless you have created a pace chart for an ultra marathon before or found a template online, the process begins with a blank spreadsheet. Personally, I use Google Sheets, a free platform that is easily shareable and that I can access from all of my devices (e.g. desktop, Chromebook, smartphone). Critical data I start by importing…

Tutorial: Create a pace chart for an ultra marathon

By Andrew Skurka / June 13, 2017 /

During every ultra marathon, I carry with me a homemade pace chart that looks something like this: My process and end-result continually evolve, due to past learnings and to the particularities of the next race. But I feel confident now in sharing a framework for creating a pace chart for an ultra marathon. Ultras versus…

Strength AND speed: 100-mile ultra training philosophy || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / June 10, 2017 /

On Friday I toe the line for my second race of the year, the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. Like the Boston Marathon, Bighorn is an endurance running event. But the races are different animals in nearly all other respects. Most notably, Bighorn has 100 miles of singletrack and jeep roads, features 20,000 vertical feet of climbing, and reaches a…

Mailbox: My impact on crap

By Andrew Skurka / June 8, 2017 /

Recently, I received an email from Luke G., who had attended a gear & skills clinic at the flagship REI in Denver. It’s worth sharing: I field many emails from readers, most hoping to get some additional information, some expressing thanks for something that I had shared or done. But Felix’s story is one of…