Xterra Boney Mt. Half Marathon – Race Review – by Coach Steve Mackel

I'll let the video do the talking but I love this race. In fact, I think it may be the premier trail half marathon in Southern California. Located in Newbury Park, these trails offer challenging climbs, steep decents and beautiful views. It has some technical parts but most of the trail is straight forward.

It starts out in the base of the parking lots with bathrooms. Once you get running you go about a 1/2 mile until you hit “Concrete Hill” which is straight down for 3/4 of a mile. From there it is a single track until mile 5. At the water station you open up onto a fire road down to the ranch. It flattens out here. There are porta-potties and an aid station.

After taking gel head up toward Boney Mt. The next 4 miles are straight up at a gain of about 500 feet per mile. At mile 10 you reach the top and you hit a fast down hill section. At mile 11.5 there is one more real hill with an aid station at the top. Then it's back home.

The trails are on National Park Service land and the race is managed by Generic Events. This race, as with most the Xterra races brings out strong runners and people who love the trails. This was my second year running this race, plus I did the preview training run two-weeks before. I can't recommend this race enough but be warned, It Is Tough.

Put this race on your schedule for 2014. Below are my Garmin stats. When reviewing my stats, please remember I ran the New Year's Night Half Marathon the night before so I kinda fell apart around mile 9.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Founder MarathonTraining.TV

Join the Newbury Park Sole Runners and So Cal Coyotes to Preview the Boney Mt Trail Half Marathon Course

The Sole Runners always come out in force to support the Xterra Trail Races. This weekend in conjunction with the So Cal Coyotes were are going out to Newbury Park for the official run/preview the Boney Mt. Trail Half Marathon course. As you can see by the map and elevation chart, this is a difficult and rewarding course. It has views of the Channel Islands, beautiful single tracks and unique fire roads.

This Saturday, December 22, is your opportunity to run the course before the race. If you can’t make it race day, come Saturday you can still run these beautiful trails with a group.

It is a tough course and takes most people between 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours. The Sole Runners will also offer a shorter option around 10 miles.

We will meet a 8 AM at the Rancho Sierra Vista/ Satwiwa Park Gates, which open at 8.The run starts at 8:30 AM

Main entrance – cross street is Via Goleta and Potrero Road, Newbury Park, CA, 91320

Directions:
Take the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Lynn Road exit. South on Lynn Road. 5.25 miles to Via Goleta. Park Entrance on the left.

For more information email Coach Steve at: Steve@MarathonTraining.TV

Use this link for a larger version of this map: http://www.trailrace.com/maps/boney_map.pdf

Here’s my video from last years race

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs

Topanga Turkey Trot 15k – 2012 – Earn Your Bird with Coach Steve


A great race under any circumstance. They offer a 5k, 10k and 15k all which are difficult. This is classic trail running with the 15k featuring the 3 mile Garapito trail. The Garapito trail is a single track that winds under branches, tight turns, up and down hills.

This is also great training for marathons, half marathons and ultras. The course is well supported. These races are on Thanksgiving Day morning, allowing you to Earn Your Bird. The people who attend this race are always very cool and the field is very competitive.

After the race they serve a light breakfast with eggs, tortillas, fruit and rolls. This is a must do race especially if you live in So Cal.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Certified ChiRunning® Instructor

Trail Running the Topanga Turkey Trot 15k

Generic Events’ Xterra Series is in full swing now. The Topanga Turkey Trot the the second race in the series. I ran the 15k. They offered a 5k and a 10k too.

This Thanksgiving Day provided perfect weather for running. This race starts straight uphill for almost 2 miles before you hit the rolling single track. This is real single track. There are some technical spots. You have to beware of low branches and roots. Once on the single track it is almost impossible to pass other runners. I used it as a slight recovery section because at mile 5 the trail opens onto a fire road and the race is on. What do you you have left for the final 4 miles of up and down hills? You’ll find out.

The last mile is a screaming downhill. I didn’t get any finish line footage because I was running way too fast and in a neck and neck race with some other runner. My overall time was 1:26:35, 66th OA (overall) and and 6th in my AG (age group). Not bad considering I was filming this race but the competition was tough.

This is a must do race for trail runners and a great way to burn calories before you eat your T-Day dinner. Put it on your 2012 calendar and don’t forget to sign up early because it sells out.

Race Focused, Steve Mackel Certified ChiRunning® Instructor

Earn Your Bird at a Local Turkey Trot – Happy Thanksgiving!


Steve, Christy and Bruce Finished on the Podium in the 2007 Run for the Hungry

As I write this I am not feeling a fast race in me for this Thanksgiving’s Topanga Turkey Trot 15k, but sometimes I run fastest when I am not “feeling it.” I feel like hanging out and running with friends, enjoying the trails and getting in touch with nature. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but no matter what I’ll be out there early Earning My Bird.

There are lots of great local Turkey Trots. The Long Turkey Trot offering 10/5k and Kids Run and Run for the Hungry in La Canada, So Cal, are two of my favorites and have same day registration.

Run for the Hungry is a great race. You bring some canned food for a food bank, pay a small entry fee, run a up Foothill Blvd., turnaround and run back. This 5k makes

anti aging skin care

you feel good and get ready for the big meal. If you run in a Local Turkey Trot, please send me a picture and race report. I’d like to hear about all the local So Cal Turkey Trots.

Running on Thanksgiving is a true way to Earn Your Bird.

*I have to give props to Coach Steve Ilg for starting the Earn Your Bird tradition. Years ago he had his own Earn Your Bird triathlon which consisted of meditation, yoga and running. Trust me this was hard and that’s how I earned my bird for the first time. Now I carry on the Earn Your Bird tradition in some way.

Join this time tested tradition and Earn Your Bird!

Eat Focused, Steve Mackel – Certified ChiRunning Instructor

Havasupai Camping Aug. 2011 – A Great Workout and Better Experience

I talk a lot about cross-training but not enough about getting back to nature. Our camping trip to Havasupai, the Havasupai Falls and west end of the Grand Canyon was as expected, spectacular both cross-training and getting back to nature.

This video will give you a good idea of what you are in for. I show the hike, the campgrounds and fun things to do. Below are a few extra tips for your Havasuapi experience.

Our destination was the beautiful waterfalls and turquiose waters Havasupai offers. The trail is difficult in the summer heat but did offer shady spots so we weren’t exposed the entire hike. The hike back up to your car is even harder after days of exploring. Please make sure to stay well hydrated and wear sunscreen.

The hike to the campground is 10 miles. Between pictures, lunch, a long stop at the village and moving slow in general, it took us about 6 hours to get to the campgrounds.

Once in the Havasupai Falls area we probably walked 10 miles a day exploring. I used the Addizero Trail XT shoes for the hike then water shoes for the rest of my exploring. You are getting wet all the time. water shoes allow you to scramble around the rocks, whether you are in the river or hiking around it.

The entire Havasupai area was changed by a flash flood in 2008. This was my first time visiting this area so I can only imagine the pristine grotto the campground used to be. In August of 2011, you can still see the ravaging effects of the flash flood. Dead or dying older trees, new falls, loss of the old ones, changes in the river and streams, are all part of the Havasupai rebirth experience.

Highlights are general exploring. Mooney Falls at the end of the campground is awesome and as I show in the video. The hike to the bottom of Havasupai’s Mooney Falls is worth the trip all by itself. As a warning, the hike down and up can be scary for many but as long as you take your time it is safe.

Playing in the water is funtastic. Scramble around in the river. The rocks look slippery but actually provide decent footing considering you are in water.

I didn’t need a sleeping bag but I wished I had brought a tent instead of a REI Bug Hut. July and August are monsoon season and it rained on me two of the three nights. The last night was thunder, lighting and hard rain for a couple of hours. I had to crowd into a friend’s tent.

The easiest way to do The Havasupai trip is to let the mules bring your heavy gear down and you hike with a daypack. Check for the per bag charge and weight limitations but this allows you some extra luxuries.

I have read some on-line reviews of the Supai Village that I didn’t think were completely fair. You have to realize where you are, the farthest city from an actual road in the United States. The village and animals are not pristine, in fact parts are dirty but it is a difficult way of life and the hikers are probably a dirty demanding bunch too.

The only bummer is the lack of respect many campers have for their surroundings by leaving trash on the trail and in the campground. Some trash must fall out when the mules carry it up to the top and flash floods push trash in to weird place but campers, please remember where you are and treat it with respect.

We made the hike back our training day. Moving quickly, stopping in the village for a quick snack, limiting stops on the trail and I even ran the last, steepest mile I made it from campground to car in 3 hours and 46 minutes. It was hot and I was sweaty but buying a couple of ice cold waters to pour over me and a Otter Pop made it worthwhile.

I will be back because Havasupai it provides some very unique potential camping, hiking and fun experience that you will be hard pressed to find any other place in the world. Be respectful and don’t forget to get an icee at the General Store in Havasupai Village.

Hike Focused,

Steve Mackel, Sole Runners Marathon and Half Marathon Training Programs Head Coach

Mt Baldy 2010 Run to the Top – Race Report

Mt Baldy
Another tough part of the course. It is straight down on the right. photo by Ivan Buzik

For those you that don’t know, this is my favorite race in So Cal. It is what I call a “Baby Race”. A “Baby Race” is a race that is super tough, puts you in pain, so you wonder why you even decided to participate in it in the first place. But, an hour, a day, a week or a month later, you have forgotten the pain, can only remember the view from the top and are ready to schedule it on next years race calendar.

I skipped it last year because of the Station Fire and had forgotten just how steep some of those section are. This is a tough race, considered one of the toughest in all the states.

It was business time. I needed a test to check my inner strength and this is that annual test. This time, I never questioned myself out on the course. I ran my race, which is to stay consistent for the first four miles, no walking, take a gel at the ski lodge and run every part that is not super steep, quickly walk/hike up the steep stuff and keep a positive attitude. I succeeded.

When the race started many people ran past me. This happens every year and I know many of them will break down. I just have to stick to my race plan. But this year was different. Fewer people were breaking down I was and getting passed by some strong athletes. I think with the popularity of the Ultra scene, and the book “Born to Run” more people are up for this type of challenge and training harder.

I didn’t get discouraged, I had set a goal of 1 hour and 32 minutes to get to the top. If I could do it, it would be my second fastest time ever. I have done this race at least 6 times. It was a personal battle against Baldy’s unrelenting single track, technical climbs and altitude.

In the last four miles you get surrounded by athletes of similar ability. This is where I wanted to gain some ground, hoping my course knowledge and recent training was going to let me be stronger and know when to attack. Well, not much attacking happened, so my next thought was not to get passed and with 2 miles to go and I didn’t.

The last half mile is a climb, straight up. This year the group took a steeper but more direct route and I wasn’t thinking as much as following. At one point I passed this man, and the five steps I took to pass him took more energy out of me than I could imagine so I just got back on pace and settled back in for the last 400 meters.

Finally, I saw the finish line and heard the race official yell out 1:32:25. I did it, It wasn’t my prettiest race, but my second fastest time up that hill and 55th overall.
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The plaque proves it. Dave made it to the Top for the first time

I walked up to the 10,064 ft, elevation plaque and once again was on the top of So Cal. I took in the 360 degree view, then kept walking as my body was adjusting to the altitude and cooling down.
IMG_3690
Sole Runners long time Mentor Vern does it again and PRs

I spent the next hour and half welcoming runners to the Top and talking to new and old friends. I was proud to see Sole Runner mentor Vern PR by 1 minute. I greeted runners Kevin, Dave, Kris and Carolyn cross the finish line for the first time. They had listened to me talk about Baldy for months and now knew what it was like to join this elite club.
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Carolyn and Kris emailed me last week and asked if they would be able to make it to the Top, they did!

It was time to go back down, the 4 mile walk to the ski lift, that they don’t tell you about in the brochure. Roberto grabbed an empty water jug and I grabbed a trash bag. The first mile down took 27 minutes. The trail going back to the ski lodge was like the 405 at rush hour. Over an hour later we were at the bar lifting a pint in celebration of another great Labor Day at the Top.
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Roberto and I get the annual picture at the Top

Look for the video soon,

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Co-founder SoCalRunning.com

Trail Running with the Sole Runners

What an unbelievable weekend in So Cal.

i am looking forward to a fantastic 2010. Join us

Sole Runners

Train Focused, Coach Steve, Sole Runner Head Coach

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Catalina Marathon Saturday, March 14, 2009

Here it is, up only 48 hours after the race. I never know how it is going to turn out while I am filming and I wanted to show the whole day, because the Catalina Marathon is so much more than just a race. I hope this video does it some justice.

As usual, I had a great time and wished I could have interviewed more people. I was going for a PR which makes it difficult to pull the camera out in some sections, when I was pushing through some pain or flying down hills. Sorry if I missed you.

Remember, if you see me come up and say hello. I will pull out my camera and film you.

Steve Mackel – Sole Runners, Head Coach

Los Angeles Trail Running: New Years Day 2009

The SoCalRunning Tribe goes trail running in Los Angeles on a foggy New Years day in 2009.

Hear the best wishes from many of the runners that day.

Wonderful video. Lots of love to everyone.

To a happy healthy 2009.

Coach Gary GoBliss

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