Thursday, September 01, 2005
This is an article from the September 2005 edition of Los Angeles Sports & Fitness Magazine:
Trail runners Dale Reicheneder and Angela Brunson are
frontrunners in the nation's top trail running series
By Heidi Creed
Over the hills and through the woods, competing for the national title they go. That version of the classic song is quite appropriate for competitive trail runners Dale Reicheneder, 39, and Angela Brunson, 34, the leaders of North America's largest trail-running series organized by Trail Runner Magazine.
The Trophy Series, scheduled from March to September, consists of 120 races across the U.S. and Canada with distances ranging from 2.3 miles to 101.8 miles. The various races are not for the weary as they are loaded with courses that traverse mountains, cross creeks and meander through forests. The series is divided into two categories: Ultra Distance and Marathon & Shorter Distance, with runners earning points simply for finishing and bonus points for finishing in the top three.
Reicheneder is leading the men while Brunson leads the women, both in the Marathon & Shorter Distance series. While the races span the continent inviting trailrunning enthusiasts from across the country, we can be proud to have Reicheneder (Malibu) and Brunson (L.A.) call the Southland home.
WHO ARE THEY?
Sure, they are focused, eat sensibly and run with clubs, but Reicheneder and Brunson are not slaves to competition. Nor do they have sponsors or endorsement deals, they pay for 100 percent of their expenses. While they both thrive on the feeling of accomplishment and share similar careers as attorneys, the comparisons end there.
Brunson doesn't track points or keep a master calendar, while Reicheneder meticulously tracks distance, time, course and race information for each event. Brunson enjoys celebrating the experience, while Reicheneder won't settle for doing any less than his best. Reicheneder is a born runner, while Brunson became a runner later in life.
SHOW ME THE CHALLENGE
While genetic abilities probably have a lot to do with Brunson's accomplishments, she didn't start running until 1999 when she made a New Year's resolution to run a marathon.
"It all started with running around my .2-mile block once more each day," Brunson said. "By the 16th day I had to carry a box of wooden matches in my left hand and transfer one match to my right after each lap in order to keep count." This training was just the beginning. Brunson finished the 1999 L.A. Marathon in a respectable 4:09. She modestly chalks it up to her passion for travel and an addictive personality, but that year Brunson trained to improve with each subsequent race. Rock 'n Roll San Diego (3:45) and Chicago (3:29). By 2000, she dubbed herself a 'serious runner.' She no longer bought shoes for how they looked but rather how they performed. She read some books, joined running clubs Track Club LA and the Santa Monica Mountain Goats and finished the Boston, San Diego and New York marathons. Always seeking the next challenge, she attempted her first race longer than a marathon in 2001. At the San Diego One Day event she circled a track for 24 hours and logged 107.42 miles, earning first-place female honors.
In spite of her success, she still doesn't live to run. "I feel that my training is essential in reducing the stress associated with my job, so it is really more accurate to call it a 'natural fit' as opposed to a balance," said Brunson, an L.A. County Deputy District Attorney.
In her free time, Brunson skates with a female roller derby squad, is a goalie in a women's hockey league, rock climbs and does Pilates. In other words, cross training is "whatever sounds like fun at the moment," Brunson said.
While her accomplishments are a testament to her character, she says she stays focused by taking time to notice the little things. "For me, it is now about the journey I experience along the way," she explained. "Since this discovery, my events have become personally significant and much more meaningful on a deeper level."
She added that the Trophy Series has given her the opportunity to savor all that the local communities have to offer and visit friends in random parts of the country.
To learn more about Brunson, follow her through her blog at seeangelarun.blogspot.com.
BORN TO RUN
Reicheneder, on the other hand, has been running for as long as he can remember. He dabbled in several sports while growing up in Colorado, but running is what stuck.
"Running was fun for me, plus I had some success with it, which always helps," said Reicheneder, looking back on his high school cross country days. "I wasn't the best one out there by any means, but I was always one who was willing to train more miles than others who had more talent." He was logging 90 miles a week on average through college at Pepperdine University until he opted for a law career. The days of pounding the roads and trails for hours came to a screeching halt when he discovered the rigors of law school and the demands of the career that followed. His 90-mile running weeks were traded for 70-hour work weeks, and 10 bottles of water were replaced with 10 cans of Mountain Dew. Reicheneder's life went from healthy and active to vending machine diets and desk work.
In 2001, four years and 60 pounds later, Reicheneder entered the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge, a 14-mile event that was essentially in his back yard. He wanted to see if he still had it in him. He finished, but he sat at the post-race area for four hours, long after everyone else had left, before he felt able to drive a few miles to get home. That's when he decided something had to change, so he joined the Trail Runners Club, kicked the Mountain Dew habit and traded the marathon-like work week for marathon training.
Unlike Brunson, Reicheneder struggles to achieve balance. When he commits to something, he takes an all-or-nothing approach. "I admit that I run every race to win, but more importantly, I do my best in every race," Reicheneder said. "Racing is a gift that shouldn't ever be treated as anything less."
Reicheneder has traveled thousands of miles over the span of four months and 19 races for the Trophy Series. He has set four course records and has placed in the top five in 16 of the 19 races. And while he has a handsome lead, he is not about to let up. With this commitment comes a price. Reicheneder estimates his travel expenses to date at around $10,000, plus the necessary time off work to trek to those places and the rigorous training schedule.
You wouldn't believe Reicheneder can run the way he does after you see him limp to protect a broken toe on one foot and an outgrowth in the back of his other heel called Haglund's deformity. After the series, he plans to have them operated on by the same surgeon, on the same day, to avoid any extra time off.
So what draws him to trail running? "The mud, the blood, the verticals, the falls, the dirt, the grime, the snakes," he said. And when he's not being masochistic, he does have a softer take on why he runs. Among his favorite parts of the series is hearing about the "local lore," as he calls it. He also loves experiencing the different post-race parties and local hospitality, claiming they give a race that special character and charm. This bundle of experience that caters to all the senses has ultimately made him prouder to be an American.
While Brunson and Reicheneder approach the sport differently, they are on the same path and have become friends along the way.
For more info on the Trophy Series, visit trailrunnermag.com.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Earlier this year, a group of my friends thought it might be fun to climb Mt. Whitney. Joanna Lee, Michael Grosso, Paul Durant & Keith Gayheart twisted my arm and begged me to go one day after a particularly tough trail run where I was so whacked out that I didn't even realize I said yes. (Although their version of this part may differ substantially). In February, Joanna Lee was able to get the requisite amount of the coveted permits. Joanna, Mike and myself were Whitney rookies, while Paul Durant had come within 1,000 feet of summitting Mt. Fuji last summer and Keith Gayheart had summitted Whitney before, so I thought of him as our fearless leader (putting his fear of heights aside, he was pretty fearless). After standing in my own living room while wearing the full backpack, I knew the following day's journey was going to be the toughest thing I would ever attempt. My suspicions were confirmed around 5:15am the next morning during the first half mile of the climb. To begin, I am not a "carrier" - I don't like to carry water bottles, camelbaks, gel packs, nothing. I've even been heard to complain that my socks are too heavy. But all the experienced Whitney day hikers suggested that a minimum of two quarts of water is mandatory, as well as warm clothes, gloves, dry socks, hat, windbreaker, trekking poles and snacks. It seemed like I was preparing for a lengthy stay in Siberia, rather than a trip up and down a mountain, which made the task even more daunting. It took seven hours of frequent pit stops and snack breaks between intermittent bouts of sweating, freezing, and wondering how much further until I could take the next break. Considering some of my past undertakings, I suspect the rest of the group had some rather lofty expectations of me. If not for this thought, I seriously would have gone back to the parking lot within the first 45 minutes. Once I got used to sucking air and figured out how to manuever while using trekking poles without skewering the rest of my companions, I was actually able to notice just how flippin' pretty everything around me was. I had forgotten how beautiful snow is when it glistens in pure, unpolluted sunlight. Getting to the top became a slide show of one astounding postcard-like view after another. The best part of the summit was the "throne" where one could relieve themself without any walls obstructing their view. Our group napped, signed the summit book, posed for some photos, then reluctantly began the descent. When I think back, words really can't describe. Luckily, Joanna took some amazing pictures.
Until next time ...
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Sunday, May 08, 2005
After the Bulldog hill, the rest of the course consists of gentle sloping uphills with quite a few teeth chattering Kamikaze downhills. Then comes mile 12 - single-track switchbacks climbing up through a hot canyon. Remember how marathoners run into "the wall" around mile 20?
Somewhere around mile 12, I had slowed to such a crawl that it would have been physically impossible for me to "run" into anything, therefore it was "the wall" that actually ran into me.
In retrospect, I must admit that running this particular 14 mile event only six days after completing the Vancouver Marathon was not my most brilliant bit of race planning strategy... However, I actually managed to take four minutes off my Malibu time from last year for fourth place in my division. Naturally, today (Sunday) I've been horizontal on the couch, napping and eagerly awaiting my next dose of Advil.
Local Malibu resident Dale Reicheneder was present to run around his old stomping grounds. He won his division last year, but got fourth in his division this year, likely due to his extreme racing schedule. In his attempt to win a trip to Italy as part of Trail Runner Magazine's Trail Series, Dale seems intent on pushing his body's absolute outer limits. We ran together afterwards for a bit as part of our cool down routine. He mentioned he would be traveling to places like South Carolina, Colorado and Toronto - all within like the next few days as part of his racing quest. Suddenly, my poorly designed racing schedule didn't seem so bad...
Click here for Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Standings
Click here for Malibu Creek Race Results
Monday, May 02, 2005
Final time - 3:20:20 (eighth in division).
Click here for Vancouver Marathon Results
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Friday, January 21, 2005
3/05/05 - Palo Alto Vista Trail Half Marathon, Palo Alto CA
3/19/05 - Catalina Trail Marathon, Catalina Island CA
5/01/05 - Vancouver Marathon, Vancouver BC
5/07/05 - Malibu Creek Trail Challenge, Malibu CA
5/21/05 - Bishop High Sierra, Bishop CA
6/04/05 - Shadow of the Giants, Fish Camp CA
6/26/05 - Golden Gate Canyon Trail Run, Denver CO
8/06/05 - Plasses/Silver Lake Trail Run, CA
8/14/05 - Haulin' Aspen Trail Marathon, Bend OR
9/24/05 - San Pablo Bay Trail Run, San Rafael CA