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Category: Trail Race

Ultrarunner Checklist Manifesto

Inspired by the book, The Checklist Manifesto, this checklist comes from my personal list after completing 6-100 milers and several 50/100K races. I reviewed my race reports to create this but wanted the input of the community. List items should be simple and self-explanatory so it’s quick to review leading up to your race.

Experience is king, so learn from the mistakes that I and others have made. If you think there is something I should add please let me know.

Click here or the link on the left to see the checklist.

Damn the torpedos! Blues Cruise 50K – 2022

What went right?
It was cold at the start so I took arm sleeves, gloves, and compression for my legs. This was my 9th time doing Blues Cruise, and I decided that I was going to throw caution to the wind. I didn’t really care if I got an age group award. I knew I had the training in the bank to PR and this was going to be the weather for it. I set the “virtual partner” on my Garmin at a 9:00-minute pace for the race. Only 4 out of the 31 miles were slower, either because of an aid station or a big climb. I was FAST at each aid station, no chatting, just grab n’ go. Things really started to pick up once I met Zach Landis. He was moving FAST, so the two of us shared some miles together pushing the pace. It was hard, but it never felt THAT hard. Eastern States 100 increased my propensity to suffer. I can hurt 10X more than I thought I was capable of. I ran with that mindset of, “this isn’t ES100 pain”. I also used music at the start and just stayed in my little world and kept grinding. Watching the pace of each mile and I kept hitting my target with relative ease and comfort. A large majority of that was related to the weather. The conditions of the day will dictate your performance in these things, and I think people sometimes forget that.

The list was light for what I carried:

This was an extremely light kit for this race. I think one of my biggest issues in past seasons is not utilizing aid stations. I tended to carry too much food/water. I would rather keep it light with just the bare minimum for weather like this. A first-time mistake is to take way more than you need, but I think I only realized that after 9 of these damn races.

Patrick Durante in Blues Cruise 50K 2022
Running with my little action cam on my head.
Photo Credit: AC Squared Photography

What went wrong?
I didn’t need my gloves. I forgot the race was cupless so I couldn’t take soda at one aid station. This was almost a perfect execution of a race, not much went wrong. My Insta360 Go2 died halfway and I missed some funny moments, that might be the extent of what went “wrong”. The camera is tough to shoot with because you have no screen. That’s why I also bring the pocket DJI camera as a backup.

What would I have done differently?
NOTHING! This was a year of a bunch of PRs and I attribute that to new running friends (Alex, Kellen, and John), a change in mindset, and gratitude to be alive and able to do this. My mantra this year is “I don’t mind what happens” and I just kept saying “Funk it! LET’S GO”! I told myself that racing is exciting but really doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things. Who cares if I bonk or blow up, it’s just another BC in the books, and in a few years nobody cares, hell a few days I won’t even care. Live in the moment! Live in the mile! SMILE because there’s only a handful of these types of races you will do in your life!

The best moment in the race for me was when someone said I was in 12th place. I knew it was only halfway and I could catch a few people. I started to visualize holding the oar. I WANTED to hold the oar! I would NOT be stopped from holding the GOD DAMN OAR!!! That just kept repeating in my mind, “OAR OAR OAR”! Does anybody need an oar? NO! WTH am I going to do with this thing?

This type of performance comes from perfect weather, good rest, and NO MENTAL DAEMONS! I had just read The Relationship Handbook, and this part really stuck out.

Insecurity is the source of distress and all counterproductive behavior. Thoughts of insecurity periodically pass through our minds. If we dismiss these thoughts, we will remain secure, our ideal selves: easygoing, joyful, compassionate and wise. If we harbor our thoughts of insecurity, we end up in a state of distress.

George Pransky

Another way of saying it is “Change your thoughts, change your world”. You actually don’t have to listen to what your mind is telling you. Realize that low moods pass. Just because you have a bad day or bad mile, doesn’t mean you will have a bad race. I kept this mindset with me the entire time and I think it paid off.


This feeling can not be described.
Photo Credit: AC Squared Photography

I have been recording almost all my races and throwing together a little montage for myself and my kids to enjoy. I do this to show them how running can change your life if you let it.

Trail Runner Nation – Tips for Racing and Running

My favorite running podcast is Trail Runner Nation.  If you haven’t heard of it stop now and go check it out.  I’ve listened to most of the shows in their library.  There are so many good quotes and tips for training.  Here are just some of the ones I’ve written down, and my thoughts on the different topics.  I’m sorry I don’t know what episode, or who said them, but just go listen and you’ll find out.

  • You never know where your last finish line will be. You are lucky to get to do this so enjoy it, smile, and have fun out there.
  • If you plan a quality workout also plan quality recovery. The day following a hard workout needs to be easy. You need more recovery as you age. Listen to the signs your body gives you!
  • Invisible training – it’s getting sleep and everything we need for recovery.  That could be lots of rest, yoga, foam rolling, etc…
  • Road and speed require more “invisible training” than trail.  The trail is not as hard on the body as road running and racing can be.
    • ** This made me think about giving up all road racing next year.  I really agree with this. **
  • Work on leg turnover, it needs to be in your schedule. Try the Yasso track workout.
  • If you put miles in the bank you will pay interest on them later. So go out slow in a race.
    •   Don’t be an idiot first half, and dont be a wimp the second.
    •  “Run with the mayor” at the start of the race. (Run in the back and work your way up through the crowds.)
  • Cramping occurs from dehydration , low electrolytes, or running at an intensity the body can’t sustain.  Train for race and test the pace!!!!!
  • Listen to your body. Take note of what you are doing during training. How much you sweat, pee, and how much food you need. It’s all rehearsal for race day. Adaptations happen over time and you need to know what you were doing when things go right, just as much as when they go wrong.  Have a change log if you modify things with your routines/training.
  • Even if it’s just 5 minutes a day try to start a routine. A body in motion stays in motion.
  • Save music for later in a race when you are not feeling good, or as a reward at a certain mile marker.  It may give you more motivation.
  • As mileage increases so should rest, stretching, good nutrition, and massage. Take care of the body more so it recovers better from the stress.
  • Have an “A” race and “B” race. Focus the effort and training to the more important race.  Have an “A” goal then “B” goal for the race itself.
  • More supportive shoe on race day.
    • You should have many shoes that work the foot in different ways. Race in a shoe with heel support because of added strain. Train in zero drop if you can work it in slowly.
  • Finish fast on long runs. Simulate what happens in a race. In training test running hard while you are dehydrated and have tired legs.  This will help you train for race day.
  • Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.
  • Drink to thirst.  Don’t be waterlogged and wash out electrolytes come race day. You should not be peeing clear come race day.  Don’t eat too much fiber. Take S caps before the race will prevent the need to pee. You need electrolytes to process fat and food, if you don’t you may have stomach issues. If you don’t have electrolytes then water and food that enters the body will be rejected. Take an s cap or hammer tab so you have the right balance.  (Really applies to longer races).
  • Visualize the race and how it will play out. Do it daily up until race day. See yourself successful and running the course to completion.  A good time to practice this is when you go to bed at night.
  • Race specificity – mimic the next race course and conditions during your training.
  • Don’t let your feet or arms cross over the middle of your body.  Perform an inventory check while running on your form every 10 – 15 minutes.  This is even more important as we start to fatigue.  When we get tired our form starts to suffer.  
  • Your training should be on a cycle.  3 weeks at regular intensity with the 4th week at 20 percent less mileage/intensity. This allows time for the body to adapt to the training.  The benefits from training come when you take a break.  It gives your body a chance to rebuild.  If you’re always going at 100% you never give your body a chance to repair.
  • Mental rehearsal before a big event increases chances of success.
  • Be autonomous!  Know everything there is to know about your body.  Know how much sleep you need, how much recovery, water, and food you need on a run.  You’re an experiment of 1.  Use your training to test different methods of fueling and pacing.  Practice!  This comes back to the idea of rehearsal for success.
  • Slow weights – see Phil Maffetone