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Animal Athletics Blog

Ultra Trail Torres del Paine 109k


  The Ultra Trail Torres del Paine 109k (as well as the Patagonian International Marathon) is the brainchild of race director Stjepan Pavicic (pictured above in orange), held in one of the most unique places on Earth. I was so fortunate enough to participate in the 63k ultra in 2013, and it was an experience that I will never forget. I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to return in 2014, especially after hearing that they were adding a trail ultra distance. Running through Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile is surreal, and a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts, but that is not the sole reason this event is so impressionable. It is the congregation of likeminded adventurers from all over the world running for a cause, and thoroughly enjoying our time together, before, during, and after the … Read the Rest.

Rocking the Rock (of Ages…)


  A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of hitting the Gorge with a couple of my favorite clients, Michelle Morris and her dad Steve.  They are both in full training mode for the Elk-King’s Mountain Traverse (an extremely tough and technical 15 miler) on Oct. 18th, put on by our friends at Go Beyond Racing, followed by the inaugural Silver Falls 50k on November 2nd. Steve and I went out and had a great time on the Elk-King’s Traverse at the end of August but it was even more fun this time with the father-daughter duo in full effect.  The 10 mile Rock of Ages-Oneonta loop is amazing and it’s always a challenge climbing ~2,800 feet up the ROA trail in 2.3 miles!  Another awesome day.  We ended up a little stronger, a little tougher and more prepared … Read the Rest.

A Thursday morning on the Elk-Kings Traverse


  Just a few days before leaving town for Tahoe I snuck in one last outing with Steve Morris, a client and burgeoning trail runner from Tillamook.  We met up at the Elk Mountain Trailhead at 6:30 am on Thursday and started up the steep stuff. Steve (and his badass daughter Michelle) are training for their first true trail races: the 15 mile Elk-King’s Mountain Traverse and the Silver Falls inaugural 50k (why start easy?) The ~10.8 mile route we did that morning covers the “meat and potatoes” of the 15 mile race and is a tough and beautiful loop.  It was great practice for Steve to see the course and know what he and Michelle are in for. It was a glorious morning!  Always a true pleasure to share time in nature with clients and good people.  Steve’s a … Read the Rest.

One More Time as the Winds Change


 In my taper for the Tahoe 200, I realized what I’d been missing all summer: mellow camping/hiking trips with friends.  Not focused on running, not trying to go fast, not treating it like a training trip for something else, not worried about how long you’re out there.  Just chilled out, campfire time, car-camping, enjoying nature, enjoying friends (even those who aren’t runners–gasp!) I had been up South Sister a couple weeks before during my last big training weekend for Tahoe and loved the route up it.  Such a great hike, a perfect objective for folks to push their limits without too much difficulty and to cut their teeth in the mountain environment.  With free camping right at the trailhead at Devil’s Lake it doesn’t get much sweeter or more convenient.  I called up some peeps and roped ‘em in.  With … Read the Rest.

Split Second

Looking down into Ape Canyon.

Last night on my birthday (August 28, 2014) I spontaneously decided to drive up to Mt. St. Helens to sleep in my car, wake up at first light, and then run around Mt. St. Helens as my “birthday run” on Friday August 29th. I turned 36, but I figured it’s a tough 32-ish miles so… close enough! The birthday solo runs are a great time to reflect on the last 365 days and give thanks for all the blessings. The Loowit Trail is a classic run that I’ve done several times including participating in the inaugural  Volcanic 50 (<—Check out this event…It’s awesome!) I really love this route, even just doing it solo. It has it all from beautiful views to varied terrain to a rich history. Similar to the Mt. Hood round-a-bout I did last year for my “birthday run”, … Read the Rest.

The Guardian Peaks

That little bean pole on top of Mt. St. Helens is Yassine!

Following the 2014 Western States 100-miler  I took some much needed rest, but then,  like always, got restless! I had remembered what local legend William Emerson had said as he raced past me while I was spectating during the 2014 Gorge Waterfalls 50k this past March. He said, “hey Yassine, we’ve gotta get back up on Mt. Adams!”  You see, the two of us tried to summit it a couple years ago and were turned back about 1,000 feet shy of the summit due to inclement weather, and cold hands and feet. It was the right thing to do, but we knew we had unfinished business up there! We checked the weather and set the date to make it happen. This time we were afforded much better conditions, but we left our skis and snowboards at home. It was a … Read the Rest.

Ah the Sisters, how wondrous they are!


A couple weeks ago I headed south for a big 3-day training block, my last large effort before tapering for the Tahoe 200.  The first event was the Crater Lake Marathon on Saturday, followed by hiking South Sister (10,330 ft.) on Sunday and finally circumnavigating all 3 Sisters (~50 miles) on Monday.  Epic three day weekend! I was fortunate to have some wonderful people along the 2 of the 3 parts.  Renowned Portland hardcore runner and badass Heather McGrath did the Double (South Sister & the 3 Sisters loop) and “Duo of Hell Fire” founding members Ann Wallace and Susan Kelly joined us for the 50 miler (and straight up crushed it like it was no thang!)… What a pleasure to have such a plethora of strong and exemplary women in PDX and beyond! I’m thankful for good people, injury-free training, … Read the Rest.

Western States 100 – #3rdTimesAcharm


The good (and sometimes bad) thing about doing the same course repeatedly is that you know what’s coming. The 2014 Western States 100 would be my third running (in a row) of the iconic event, and I felt very excited and honored to be making the journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn. This year was really special for me as my mother joined me from Pennsylvania (as she did in 2012), as well as my wife and daughter who also joined me in my first running. Additionally, my sister made a last-minute decision to come down from Portland to join Willie, Joe, Jeff, Brett, Jamie, Tony, and other friends along the way. It was truly heart-warming to see all of these beautiful people when I popped out of the wilderness into the aid stations. A few days before the race … Read the Rest.

Up in the Air

2014 Colorado Climb-32

 This past April I accompanied Animal Athlete Steve Hopkins on a training trip to Colorado to gain some more climbing experience at high altitude.  We summited Quandary Peak (14,265′) on a perfect day (after getting turned back the morning before by blizzard conditions) and overall had an excellent 5 day trip to the good old Rocky Mountains.  There’s nothing better than seeing the ecstatic smile of a satisfied client, especially on the top of a tall, snowy peak. These are the photos I took.  Enjoy!                                                                                        

12 Animal (Athletes) on the Lewis River


    This past Sunday we had an amazing group outing on the Lewis River in southern Washington with 12 badass Animal Athletes and 2 dogs.  Everyone met up in NW Portland at 6:30 am and carpooled the hour and half out to the Curly Creek Falls trailhead.  We left 2 cars there and all piled in to the other two vehicles, shuttling to our starting point at Quartz Creek to begin a blissful ~16.5 mile point to point run in unbelievable weather. It was a true and excellent adventure.  We saw large herds of elk, encountered boulder-strewn roads, reached impassable snow while driving to the start and had to ditch the cars and walk the last mile, found a rope swing and used it (can you say COLD?!), were stunned by epic waterfalls most of us had never seen, blissed-out on miles … Read the Rest.