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December 20, 2009

The Year That Was; La Sportiva Hobnail Giveaway

Today's post is a mishmash of sorts: three giveaway winners, another giveaway opportunity, and a recent Monterey Herald article.

First, thanks to everyone who entered my GU giveaway - the response was pleasantly overwhelming. Also, thanks to my friend Richard, who pointed out that Berkeley isn't just the home of CLIF and GU; the PowerBar company originated there in the late 1980s as well. So what in the heck was going on in Berkeley 25 years ago? That town is to sports nutrition like Seattle is to grunge music. Someone really needs to break this down for us; I'm certain that Malcolm Gladwell could get at least a couple of good chapters out of such an anomaly.

As for the winners: Michael, trailmomma, and Pinkcorker, email me (info@runningandrambling.com) your addresses: you've won the GU holiday gift boxes. (Also - mweston, I'm still waiting on your e-mail from the CLIF giveaway.) And thanks again to everyone else for participating.


Today's giveaway is the second part of a two-step process similar to what I've done a couple of times already: go read a review on FeedTheHabit.com, then return here for a follow-up post. This time, the review involves footwear, and the giveaway will only be open to a select group of readers.

Here's the deal: go read my review of La Sportiva's Wildcat GTX, a hardcore trail running shoe built to take on the harshest winter conditions. As part of the review, I also discussed La Sportiva's hobnail kit, a set of removable metal studs that you can screw onto the outsoles of your shoes for super traction on ice and snow. Obviously, this coastal California boy doesn't have a lot of use for hobnails, so that's the prize in today's giveaway: if you'd like my hobnail kit (a $45 value), leave a comment below this post.

La Sportiva hobnail kit

When I mentioned that this giveaway is only open to a select group of readers, here's what I meant: these have to go to a cold-weather runner - so in your comment, tell me the town you live in. If it's not someplace icy or snowy, I'm disqualifying you. I'll pick a winner on Tuesday night and mail the kit out after Christmas. Good luck!


Finally, the substantive portion of today's post: it's my Monterey Herald article from last week, which served as a year in review for the local running scene. Much of the content may not make sense to anyone outside of Monterey County (and for those who don't know, the Mike who is mentioned is one of my fellow columnists), but there was just enough "geographically neutral" stuff that I figured I'd post it here just for kicks.

Running Life 12/17/09 "The Year That Was"

December is just as popular for year-end reviews as it is for menorahs and Christmas trees – yet somehow, running news typically goes underreported. We’re correcting that trend today, with a 2009 retrospective specifically for the running community:

January: Hundreds of runners participate in Rio Grill’s Resolution Run, and over a delicious post-race pancake breakfast, discuss the annual question: “How long do you think the race was this year?” Several hours later, thousands of slackers groggily roll out of bed and postpone their New Year’s Resolutions until 2010.

February: Pacific Grove’s Together With Love run triggers a collective awkwardness to rival a junior-high prom, as runners choose “partners” for the competition. Conversations like “I really like him, but I don’t want to give him the wrong idea,” or “Do you think she knows I even exist?” become frighteningly commonplace.

March: The Big Sur International Marathon’s JUST RUN Youth Program increases to over 6,000 participants for the school year. Appropriately, all of them get to wear bib number 1 in local races.

April: A huge month for running! At the Boston Marathon, Kara Goucher turns in the best American performance in 25 years, missing victory by a mere 9 seconds, then politely stands shivering in her singlet through an attempted interview from an incompetent camera crew and a TV reporter who calls her “Sara”. Mike finishes 1 minute slower than his son at Boston, and suddenly feels old, but proud.

Meanwhile, back in Monterey County, the Big Sur marathon enjoys its most successful year ever, and will later be ranked one of the top 3 marathons in America. Afterward, a Herald columnist makes fun of the race’s periwinkle race shirts. Columnist gets in big trouble.

May: Christopher McDougall’s landmark book Born to Run is released, inspiring thousands of runners to ditch their shoes and run barefoot like the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. In a related story, stock prices for Band-Aids and blister relief kits reach an all-time high.

June: Donald runs in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, finally confirming what many people long suspected: “Has he lost his mind?”

July: The Spreckels 4th of July 10K is as traditional as barbecues, parades, and fireworks. Veteran runners suspect the course is short, but nobody says anything so they can all enjoy their PRs.

August: The first-ever Carmel Valley Fiesta Run delights hundreds of trail runners in Garland Ranch, as well as dozens of yellow jackets who enjoyed a much heartier than usual breakfast feast. A few runners complain, skittish park officials panic, and the race is in jeopardy for 2010. We’re hoping this one stays on the calendar.

September: On-line entries open for next year’s Boston to Big Sur challenge; two marathons, two coasts, 6 days apart; 300 people sign up the first week. Mike’s son Bryan gets married, making Mike feel even older, but even prouder.

October: Birth and rebirth: the first ever Just Run for Peace takes place in Salinas, and the Big Sur River Run returns after a one-year hiatus due to wildfires. It’s good to see both races on the schedule.

November: Southern California-raised, UCLA-educated Meb Keflezighi becomes the first American in 27 years to win the New York Marathon – prompting a handful of idiot sportswriters nationwide to publicly ask “Wait … Is Meb really an American?” We wish we were making this up.

December: Tiger Woods hits a fire hydrant with his SUV at 2AM – and absolutely nothing else newsworthy happens anywhere in the world.

We hope that you had more good miles than bad ones in 2009. Thanks for sharing the year with us!


Jon (was) in Michigan 12/21/09, 3:30 AM  

Ooh! Now you're talking about my kind of running gear! We definitely have the ice and snow up here in upstate NY (Albany area). I would love to try that homemade hobnail shoe gadget. :)

Marvelous review of the year. Particularly the assessment of December. What is wrong with people?

Jonathan 12/21/09, 5:04 AM  

Hello Donald, from a very snowy Inverness, Scotland. I ran/slithered my way to the office this morning through about 6 inches of snow, which is quite hard work after a few miles - good training for the upper leg muscle groups!
I've never heard of those hobnail gizmos before, but they could be quite useful in Scotland - I do a lot of ultra mountain running over here, and ice is the one thing that gives me problems when trying to run on the big slopes.
Nice to get an insight into the long distance running scene in the US - thanks for your articles.

Anne 12/21/09, 5:51 AM  

Such a great retrospective of the world of running, especially that little ding at the end.

Anne 12/21/09, 5:52 AM  

And obviously I'm not entering the contest this round unless sand rivals snow this winter, and it most definitely does not.

RD Jim 12/21/09, 7:52 AM  

I think Syracuse counts. Those spikes might be handy before the snow gets too deep. then the snowshoes come out

Ray,  12/21/09, 7:53 AM  

I'd love the Hobnail kit! We got our first significant snow in NJ over the weekend so I went to the hardware store on Friday to get some sheetmetal screws for my shoes. Unfortunately, they only had 1/2 inch ones, which proved to be a tad too long, as I found out walking down my driveway (ouch!!!).

Darrin 12/21/09, 8:25 AM  

They would definitely come in handy for me.

stronger 12/21/09, 9:52 AM  

Hobnail! I never say my exact location...and you know where I live, so Vail is good enough.

eme 12/21/09, 10:14 AM  

I am in - cold and snowy Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. We even have a Half Marathon in February named the "Hypothermic Half"!

Our forecasted high for today is a balmy -8°C (17°F).

Richard 12/21/09, 12:15 PM  

Quebec, Canada! I have studs on my bike wheels, now let's put some on my running shoes(not on my five fingers though!)

Happy Holidays!


P.S.: bought some Sanuk on your recommandation and love them! thanks!

Josie 12/21/09, 3:59 PM  

I'm in Hartford, CT and could sure use some traction on the ice and snow!!!

Kim 12/21/09, 7:41 PM  

Barefoot season is over. It's cold and there's snow and ice up here in Boise. Those hobnobs look much better than the sheet metal screws we used to put in our shoes years ago. Please enter me in the drawing. Keep up your awesome blog. And one of these days I will join your group for a run at Garland when I'm visiting my mom in CV.

Barefoot AngieB 12/22/09, 12:29 PM  

uugghhh Snow and Ice...getting ready to get some more tonight in Des Moines Iowa!

Notleh,  1/7/10, 12:25 PM  

Too late to get in on this one? Would love to try these out around Lake Tahoe Nevada,

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