Tuesday, 11 June 2019 10:28

Desert RATS 2019 – Racer Updates

Desert RATS Kokopelli 150 Stage Race – Updates


Live Tracking

Live Tracking – We’re working with Adventure Enablers to offer 2019 racers optional cell tracking for the race. The goal is near-real time tracking for every stage but it is not 100% guaranteed. Please don’t be concerned if there are lags or drops in coverage. The tracking will catch up!



Stage 1 – Salt Creek – 19.8mi, 2040′ Gain

Evening storms at camp delayed our racer posting. Check out day 2 for the recap so far!

Stage 2 – Milt’s – 39.1mi, 2520′ Gain

Racer Posts

Day 1 and 2:

CHRIS WARD- The last two days have been awesome! The weather has been pretty cool, but not as cool as Phil Pinti’s day two shorts. I’m really enjoying the course and hanging with everyone at camp. To Lindsey, thanks for letting me head out into the desert for year of this adventure. You mean the absolute world to me! To Millie, Zoe and Harper, thinking of you will always get me through any low moments I may have out here. Love my Ward girls very much!

RICCARDO ZACCARIA – Sono gia passati 2 giorni e questi grandi spazi mi hanno catturato. L’organizzazione e fantastica, presente ma non invadente.
Il percorso e duro un continuo saliscendi e particolarita assoluta non e segnalato quindi e necessario orientarsi continuamente per non perdersi.
Stasera il campo e a bordo de lColorado e siam oriusciti a fare un bagno rigenerativo. Un bacione a Sabry Matty Mamy e Mia non smetto di pensarvi un minuto.
Oggi ho visto una moltitudine quasi infinita di farfalle di ogni colore possible e ognuna ha corso qualche metro con me.

MORGAN HALL: The fist stage was a great way to start the race. I was able to keep a good pace and finish in a good time. We got luck that the weather wasn’t as hot as it could have been. I loved the single-track parts of the trail and the views were awesome. Stage 2: I set out with a 7 hour goal. I was able to keep a good pace until about mile 20. After that the sun came out and it got a little hot. I was able to keep going at a good pace despite not feeling great. Finally made my goal with some time to spare. After the finish I got in the river and cooled down and took a short nap. Can’t wat for stage 3!

[Editor’s note: people get wacky in the desert. Enjoy.] There’s a Zord On Me: Colonel Mustard, in the dining room, with a knife. Obviously. Colonel Mustard is a gentleman, he’s not about to eat his bratwurst in the drawing room like a moron. How do you think he got to be a Colonel? And of course he uses a knife. He’s not a footsoldier. He’s Colonel. He doesn’t mess around with basic yellow mustard in a squeezy bottle.

PHIL PINTI: Day one was fun, day 2 was too. These folks… (runners, Gemini Adventures Staff, race voluteers) are unparrelled at any race, anywhere.
The comraderie and community at camp is the thing we wake for, and then the thing we run for. Perfect strangers… running for our own reasons… and yet willing to give another the water from our packs or the shirt off our back. This year’s group is smaller and we are fully bonded by day 2. It’s exciting to witness other runner’s achievements and see folks push beyond their comfort zones. If you wanna do hard things… you gotta do hard things… Keep On Keeping On.

ULLA WESTERMANN: Happy Birthday to my wonderful daughter Sadie! A quarter century! You’re awesome! Love you! Been thinking about you all day while running. I’m always awestruck when I come back here how beautiful it is. Running along the canyon rim enjoying the views while trying not to trip, amazing rock formation, and everytime you turn a corner there is another beautiful view! We’ve been very luck with the weather: not as hot, some clouds, and even a sprinkle of rain.

PAUL SCHEURING: The expectation going into the race was the same expectation this race meets with every year: take the Utah desert, add a healthy and unrelenting dose of summer sun, and one can expect to be running through something akin to a pizza oven for 6 days. But Nature as always is a cagey lady; these first two days have seen rain, wind, lightning, and impossibly, runners complaining at aid stations about being *cold*. The storm cell that hit us last night at camp came so ferociously that I half expected our tents to be borne up in the winds and end up, after a certain amount of hours lost in the clouds and perhaps briefly confused for UFOs by NORAD, in Colorado. Being a Californian, lightning is a rarity at best for me; to see it strobing relentlessly around us last night was a treat…until the medical staff called the racers into a hasty meeting to detail the wide-ranging effects of being struck by lightning. Amongst other things, one’s ear drums get blown out, apparently. So we had that to look forward to. The arcs of lightning got so close that we repaired to the vehicles–rubber tires, etc–and waited it out. Being the same Californian I was earlier in this piece, I confess to being quite thrilled. Could it be, possibly, that we could be struck in the very vehicle I was sitting in? Would that be a cool thing? Or would we just feel a hot buzz in the air, the bolt of lightning more interested in bypassing us than barbecuing us, disappearing into the desert soil beneath our wheels? Would everything flash white around us
with nothing more than our collective hair being blown out porcupine-style? Alas, we were not hit by lightning. Tomorrow the heat returns, so in some sense to race returns to its more recognizable form. I guess the only thing I’m holding out for at this point is the forecast for Thursday, our long day, the icon for which is neither a sun, nor a cloud, nor rain or lightning. But instead what appears to be a wind gust. So will we have high winds, the sort that might bear up our tents as hoped and deposit them in Colorado, thereby forcing us to sleep under the stars and appreciate their infinite beauty? We can only hope. All will be revealed Thursday.

KAYLA HOWELL: Day 1 started a little fast but I was able to hold on to Race Lead after running out of water on the Monster Hill. Such a great crew to run & camp with. Lots of laughs and a little bit of unfortunate puking. Two miles to the finish was extremely tough….mentally. Hearing the entire staff and other runners cheering you on from a distance helped me pick up the pace for a strong finish. Stage 2 I started out feeling surprisingly fantastic. At about mile 14.5 my knee took a turn for the worst. A previous knee injury caused the opposite knee/IT band to compensate. Cory with the medical team wrapped my knee with an Ace Bandage and I was able to run
to the next aid station. Camaraderie and support from other runners pushed me to an even stronger finish. Amazing weather, and light rain included! The food has been over the top. No one eats this well camping, trail running, and especially in the desert! Thank you, Howard!!! Looking forward to tomorrow.

Stage 3 – Sprint – 9.3mi, 761′ Gain


MORGAN HALL: Stage 3 was a lot of fun. Mostly because it was shorter and the trail changed frequently. We started on pavement and then on to dirt road and then hiking trails. The fast day gave a chance to get ready for tomorrow’s big stage. After the race we went swimming in the Colorado River and rested. Things are going well and the experience has been wonderful.

PHIL PINTI: Every day has unforeseen obstacles. . . stuff is gonna happen. It’s not the things that happen to us, that we should concern ourselves with,
it’s what we do with what we’ve be given that counts. Day three was a blast, camp is really starting to mojo-nate, these folks are family.
To Penelope & Nolan, I Love You to the moon and back, and I’ll see ya soon!!

KAYLA HOWELL: Stage 3 was a super slow start after some knee pain the day prior. Paul kept me company and we had tons of laughs for the next 11ish miles. They
started ringing the cowbells too early which meant we had to run faster for longer than anticipated. Watermelon with lime & sea salt greated us at the beautiful
campground at Dewey Bridge. Took a “bath” in the CO river, which was very much deserved. Julie came to visit me from Grand Junction. Legs are painful, but I’m
looking foward to the beautiful views tomorrow. After 42ish miles, it will be only a marathon home (of course with a rest day in between). Thank you to the whole Gemini
Adventures staff & the medical team!

RICCARDO ZACCARIA : Ciao ragazzi qui tutto bene il gruppo e affiatato anche se in gara ognuno si esprime al massimo. Oggi il Basecamp e sulle rive del Colorado con un panorama stupendo,
il caldo non manca e al sole ci si cuoce per bene. Un elogio allo Chef Howard che cerca sempre di farmi sentire vicino a casa anche con il cibo. Domani tappone di 70km e 2300m di dislivello.
Sara una lunga calda e grande giornata.

THERESA: I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It should be quite the adventure. It’s fun to know we’re halfway done. Also, burritos. I’m always going to be in it for the food.

ULLA WESTERMANN: Great day today! “Short run” in the morning, then hanging out in camp, taking care of blisters, cooling off by the river. Tomorrow is the long stage!

CHRIS WARD: Day three was my favorite so far. Maybe it was the hours spent laying on a tarp under the cottonwood tree or possibly it was the massive amount of food that we all consumed.
This race is so unbelievably memorable and is the adventure of a lifetime. I have an excited nervousness about the long expedition day tomorrow but I know that at the end of the day
we will all leave with a new view on what we are capable of. Linz, Millie, Harper, and Zoe I love you all very much. Dillon I’ll be running with you tomorrow my love.

Laurie Miller: Three days of unbelievable miles. Beautiful country and an incredible race! Tyler I miss you so much !!! Wendy thank you for all the support!! Tomorrow is the big day! High mileage, heat and elevation. Here’s to adventure!!!!!!

Stage 4 – Expedition – 41.4mi, 7810′ Gain

Stage 5 – Marathon – 26.0mi, 3150′ Gain

Stage Race Sunday!
Who’s coming to play in the desert this year?

Just a hop down the road in Glenwood Springs, Allison Christie joins us in the midst of a lifelong adventure with her son to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14ers (nearly halfway!)

Marital Status: Married   
Number of Children: One son, will be 13 in June
Occupation: Anesthesiologist
Years running: 5
Years running ultras: 3

Ultras I have done: Goblin Valley 50k, Utah, 10/15 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica, 6 days, 2/16 The Four Pass Loop, CO, 8/17 The Golden Ultra, British Columbia, 3 days, 9/18

Favorite race and why: Fourteener trips with my family. My son’s goal is to climb all 54 CO 14ers by the time he finishes high school. He’s currently 12 and has done 25 of them. I love the family time, shared experience, and seeing him working towards his goal when when we’re able to go together and do a cluster of them over a few days. Plus my favorite place in the world to be is in our tent with my boys, and those trips incorporate some quality tent time!

Best results in races: I’m slow so don’t race for results, just to finish within time cut-offs, which I have accomplished in every Ultra I’ve done so far.

Tell us something about yourself, running related or other: I enjoy doing a lot of different things, which gets me in trouble with time management. In addition to running (which I wouldn’t necessarily say I “enjoy”) they include spending time with my family, hiking, travel, cooking, gardening, reading, playing oboe, and decorating baked goods.

What’s your favorite way to train for Desert RATS: Any run that leaves from my front door. I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of options in that category!

What are your goals for Desert RATS: To successfully complete each day within the allotted time without getting seriously injured. To meet new friends and have a great camp/race-life experience. To learn the things one learns when pushing physical and mental limits, and to have that raw kind of experience one can only have when doing so.

Stage Race Sunday!
Who’s coming to play in the desert this year?

A 20 year Army vet who got his ultra career started at one of our Gemini races, John Bezou represents the Mississippi Gulf Coast at 2019 Desert RATS.

Marital Status: Married   
Number of Children: 0
Occupation: Educator/Administrator
Years running: 20+
Years running ultras: 8

Ultras I have done: Brew to Brew Gemini Adventures 50K Bear Chase 50 mi Bear Chase 100K Rattler 50K Pikes Peak Ultra 50 mi Salt Flats 100 mi Children of the Cane 50K

Favorite race and why: I really enjoyed the Gemini Adventures 50K. It was the first ultra I trained for and the people / course was excellent.

Best results in races: My best results were in the 10K and 13.1 at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2017. I came in 2nd place in the male masters 10K then came in 4th overall in the 13.1 the next day. In ultras I have consistently been in or around the top of my age group.

Tell us something about yourself, running related or other: I served 20 years in the Army. I retired in 2018 then moved home to Mississippi to teach at my old High School. When I was a kid I competed in equestrian sports which was really different from what other kids were doing in south Mississippi. Years after I stopped riding competitively, I joined a Foxhunting Club in Kansas and was awarded my colors after only one year of riding. I actually love training more than I like racing. I love the idea of putting all the pieces together in the right combination to get a great performance. I listen to Native American flute music while running…is that interesting enough?

What’s your favorite way to train for Desert RATS: I would prefer to train in the mountains and deserts of Colorado, but since I live on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi I spend a lot of time in the gym lifting and walking up and down the beach with a weighted vest on.

What are your goals for Desert RATS: The Desert RATS Stage Race is a practice race for me. I am registered for the 4 Deserts Grand Slam in 2020. My goal for the Desert RATS is to refine my packing list for 2020 and to try different strategies.

Increasing muscle mass is a common goal for many endurance athletes. As it should be, an increase in muscle mass will bring an increase in strength and performance.  Strength is what separates those at the top of the hill with those at the bottom. Although genetics plays a large role in how much muscle mass an athlete can acquire, proper workouts and nutrition will support or negate an athlete’s efforts to increase their muscle mass and therefore strength.  Today we’ll discuss the important of supporting strength training workouts with proper protein ingestion, timing and type.


Recommended Dietary Allowances for endurance and strength athletes ranges from 1.2 to 1.7 gram of protein/kg of body weight/day.  For example a 120lb women needs between 65-93gr/PRO/daily, and a 160lb male requires 87-124gr/PRO/daily.  This is a significant amount of protein that needs to be ingested daily. The timing and type of protein consumption is yet another matter in this equation.


Recent research supports the consumption of 20gr of whey protein every 2-3 hours over a 12hr period. Studies found this timing and type of Protein feeding to significantly stimulated protein syntheses throughout the day compared with other feeding regiments.  Studies were conducted with casein, soy and whey protein ingested varying amounts and timing. Muscle biopsies were taken 5 times during a 12-hour period.  The researchers concluded that “the effect of modulating the distribution of protein intake…has potential to maximize outcome…. for attaining peak muscle mass” (Areta et el).  Although the research suggested that whey protein is the best source for increasing muscle mass, all protein types will produce an increase and preservation of muscle mass. Research often leaves out the daily limiters of real life athletes. Whey protein is the fastest digestible type of protein, making it a good choice for post workout consumption.  But eliminating other protein sources from ones daily diet can be impractical and unhealthy.


If you’re like most endurance athletes the idea of eating every 2-3 hours is already a well practiced ritual. You’ll just need to rethink a few of your food choices.  Protein sources with whey include but are not limited to: Milk, Chesses, Eggs, and Greek Yogurt.  My go to post workout food choice is a big bowl with fresh fruit, blue berries or seasonal,  ½ cup of Greek yogurt (11gr/PRO), and 1 cup of High Protein Kashi Cereal (9gr/PRO).  So eat up and support your hard earned muscles!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019 09:26

Telescope Peak – Death Valley National Park

Telescope Peak – Death Valley National Park

By Reid Delman, Gemini Adventures Race Director
Telescope Peak
21mi – 11k’ Gain
Attempted 2/10/2019

11,000 feet of vertical rise?!? In one hike?!? That’s right, Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park. The standard route starts from a parking lot at 8,000’ but if you want a real challenge you can begin at Badwater Basin 200’ below sea level. So that’s what we decided to do

Looking at the logistics of it, it’s a hard one to figure out. If you do it in the summer you’ll start off with Death Valley temperatures well over 100F. If you attempt it in the winter, the start is nice but the upper section is usually windy with temperatures close to 0F. We were making our attempt in January and were going to be facing some cold temps. We would need to carry layers and a bivy option and be prepared for some suffering. 

Our day began at 4:30am in the Badwater Basin with lots of food and water and ice axes and spikes in our packs. Eight miles of following the dirt road on the alluvial fan brought us to the first turnoff through a wide canyon finding our way while following a stream through rocky terrain and sometimes through thick river scrub.

At the end of this section we began following an old mining road up a steep grade along beautiful exposed ridges. High winds, blowing snow and big drop offs raised our anxiety but checking our supplies and time we decided to press on until there was a real reason to turn around.

At mile 13 we began looking at the summit, the amount of distance we had already covered and the route ahead. We were at 6,000’, had another 5000’ to go, a smaller summit between us and the final climb and only four miles to go. Something wasn’t making sense. Even with a steep climb there wasn’t enough distance to make that kind of gain. Double checking our maps and GPS we realized we were off route. Continuing along this route was not a viable option to the summit. It was time to turn around.

Where did we go wrong? Picking our way through the valley we were happy to see the mining road and couldn’t resist the pull of the path of least resistance. Instead of the road we should have continued in the valley to a gulley that lead up the summit! It was a long day with a lot of climbing and we barely made it halfway up. I knew it was going to be a big challenge and it was even more than I expected. I would need to train more, go in with larger expectations and stay on route. I have no doubt I’ll give it another go.

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