If money, time, and recovery between events were not an issue, what races would you run? This is the short-list from Jade and I, your coaches at Lightfoot Coaching. Huge shout out and credit to Sarah Lavender Smith for posting the OG version of this idea on her blog, here.
Nick's Dream Events
Jade's Dream Events
The Barkley Marathons: I won (aka finished) the race in 2013. I've been curious ever since going through heart surgery in 2018 to go back and understand more about why no one finishes this race anymore. What has Laz done that is so horrific?
Baja Trail 50K: This race, held outside of Tijuana, Mexico, boasts about 8,000 feet of climbing—which is very attractive to someone who loves 50Ks that pack a punch. In the past I've run 50Ks on nearby weekends, making this too difficult to double-up on. However, I'd love to get out there ASAP!
Sunapee Scramble Vertical Mountain Race: After running the Vertical K at Broken Arrow last summer and placing much higher than I anticipated, I'm curious what I can do at this event. Held outside of Newbury, New Hampshire, the Vertical race is 3.6 miles in length and and climbs roughly 1700 feet. Plus, it's the qualifier race for the USATF Vertical Mountain Running Team!
West Clear Creek FKT/ OKT: a personal project of mine I've been working on for several seasons out in Arizona. This is a beautiful and pristine watershed. It also happens that it is nearly impossible (no matter your skill level) to move anywhere in it faster than 1mph. The traverse is 28 miles; I suspect it would take me nearly 48hrs.
Meet the Minotaur: nearly 10,000ft of climbing in just 21 miles through the beautiful mountains in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada. Jade's been out this way before, but I never have and I'd really love to see this region with her.
Meet the Minotaur: Similar to how Nick feels, this race sounds thrilling! It's also the only race in the Skyrunner World Series—an international skyrunning circuit that I'm very interested in—that is held in North America this year.
John Cappis 50km: It's been on my radar for a long time, I just always seem to be doing something else when it comes around. 50km with 19,000ft of climbing, mostly above 12,000ft...sounds like a blast!
Badwater 135: I'm pretty sure I promised my parents that I would never do this race, but I'm keen to try it out within the next year or two! Held in Death Valley in July, this 135-mile road race is so hot your shoes might melt!
Trans Japan Alps Run (TJAR): Held every other year, the event traverses Japan on roads and trails covering nearly 415km in the process. It's required that you be able to speak Japanese fluently in order to sign up for the event.
John Muir Trail FKT attempt: There are so many beautiful places to see and go to around this time of year, I get overwhelmed almost every season. Although I have my doubts about actually being able to get Francois D'Haene's time, trying to go fast as heck through this beautiful landscape with no sleep just sounds brutally fun.
Fat Dog 120: Nick ran this race in 2015 and still hold the course record, but what actually draws me to this one is the fact that I grew up very close to Manning Park, BC where the race is held. I have memories of hiking the Heather Trail with my best friend, spending my 16th birthday at Lightning Lake with my mom (after picking up fruit in the Okanagan to later can), and going on ski trips in high school at the Manning Park Lodge. How cool would it be to come back and run 120 miles through the area—something I didn't think was even possible—half a lifetime later?
Tor des Geants: I finished in second place back in 2014, at the age of 24. I've been training my butt off the last few years and at least feel fitter than I was back then. Could I beat my PR here? Plus, these people, this course are near and dear to my heart...I love you, Courmayeur!
Diagonale des Fous: I've wanted to do this race for years! It's right up my alley in terms of difficult terrain and lots of elevation gain. With the finances of getting to Reunion Island, however, it's continued to be a pipe-dream.
Canyon de Chelly 50K: This beautiful 50K is owned and operated by Navajo, with the goal of supporting indigenous youth. Winding through Canyon de Chelly in northeast Arizona, the race holds a lottery each year for a select number of runners. I haven't been chosen yet, but would love the chance to run this special race!
Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim: This classic route across the Grand Canyon and back is one I always come to, and one that I don't think I've reached my potential on yet. With nearly 11,000 feet of climbing in 42 miles, it's always a hard day. I would love to give this another go with the goal to hit sub-8 hours!
Buckskin-Paria Canyon Traverse: I originally hopped on this with my wife and a few friends back in 2021, only to discover December was a terrible time of year to do this. Maybe wear a wetsuit this time and send it? It's a big slot canyon with infinite river crossings.
ABC 50: I got it in my mind last year that I wanted to run every trail race in the San Diego region. After running Oriflamme 50K, Noble Canyon 50K, San Diego 100, Old West 50K, The Peaks Marathon, PCT 50, San Diego Marathon, and Sycamore Canyon over the last few years, I'm on my way but not there yet. I'd love to run the Anza Borrego Cuyamca 50-Mile (not to mention Cuyamaca 100K and Laguna Trail Marathon) one day!
Salton Sea to San Diego FKT: though not officially complete, the Trans-County Trail connects the Salton Sea 135 miles east of San Diego, CA to Torrey Pines State Beach on the coast. It's my hometown and this one's been on my radar for a long time.
HURT 100: After dropping out of the race in 2019 when Nick when to the ER, and having to claim a Did Not Start in 2020 when Nick went into a residential treatment program last-minute, I don't feel hopeful that I'll be given another chance anytime soon to run this race...but I'll still cross my fingers for next year's lottery! I love the climbing on the course, and bring on the humidity, please!
Coastal Challenge Costa Rica: We had the intention of going down there during the pandemic a few years back but things didn't work out. I'd love get down there for the birding, the running and the jungle adventuring.