Monday, August 27, 2007
Above is a photo of my good friend Phil Rosenstein. I want to congratulate him on his heroic finish at the Leadville Trail 100 Miler "Race Across the Sky." Phil's participating in the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running as well as the Last Great Race, both a series of our nations oldest and toughest races. Phil Adds, " Following the race, one of the medical team diagnosed me with a mild case of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). Apparently it's common to a lot of the runners. She asked me if I ever had any difficulty breathing during the race and I just laughed and said "Only since I got to Colorado three weeks ago!". I also experienced some blood in the lungs as well. And extensive muscle damage due to the lactic acid - non-runners do not want to know how I know this. Experienced ultrarunners know what I'm talking about."
Here is Phil's remaining schedule for 2007:
Sep 8 - Wasatch Front to complete the Grand Slam
Sep 15 - Angeles Crest to complete the Last Great Race
Oct 13 - Heartlands 100 (maybe even more?)
Nov 9 - Great North Walk 100 (probably)
Dec 30 - Across the Years 48 Hours
Phil continues to inspire me and motivate me to achieve great things. I thank him for his tutilage and friendship!
It was a HOT weekend in New Hampshire. Friday I enjoyed my first day of vacation by joining my sister, brother-in-law and 2 nephews at Hampton Beach. The sand was hot for sure and the surf was up. Waves were topping out at about 6 feet as the lifegyards raised the red flags and warned of rip-tides. Portions of the beach were blocked off from all swimming. We had a great time as I dove for whole clams and gave the shells to my nephews as souvenirs. We even found a hermit crab living in a shell inside one of the clams. Very cool indeed and always nice to spend a day with the family.
Saturday Sarah and I spent our entire day at Water Country in Portsmouth. The place was packed as the temps rose to record highs of near 100 degrees. The evenning Thunderstorms never reached us but a cooling wind blew through over night. Sunday... us and a few friends hiked to Franconia Falls out of Lincoln Woods where we enjoyed an entire day of swimming in the frigid waters of the Pemi.
So I went from Salt, to chlorine to the baptising waters of the Pemi all in the same weekend. Now its a few more days off.. maybe some light running to keep the legs fresh... and then I'm off to the Grand Tetons for the 100. I'm very excited about the whole adventure. I'll be flying and running solo out there... which is good... perfect for soul searching.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I don't usually post so quickly after my last... but I've got something to share with you all. Recently on my blog you'll notice I have placed my 2 sponsors names, complete with link to their websites, on the left side of my blog. These folks are great and I appreciate their support. However, as I'll explain later in this post.. their partnership goes above and beyond what a typical sponsorship does.
At any rate, I recieved an e-mail yesterday from my sponsor at Peak Adventures. He wrote:
"John, Who doesn't like you? We recieved a letter in the mail today stating that we should re-think sponsoring you. They mention "questionable activities" in the past where you stole fund money from the ADA." I'm not even associated with the ADA anymore!
Pretty good stuff huh? So I called Joe and asked him about the letter. There was no return address on the envelope and the letter wasn't even signed. Completely anonymous..... or a better word is GUTLESS.
So then I called up Crawford Notch General Store and Campground and asked them if they had also recieved a letter as of yet. They hadn't but assured me they knew what "file to put it in."
Some of you folks have questioned why I took the time to write a 4 part series about my adventure in fundraising for the ADA. THIS is exactly why... because 2 years after I made an honest, non-malicious mistake... some gutless punk is continuing to take it upon himself to spread the word that I'm some kind of thief. They continue to tell others in person that I'm a thief... it's gotten to the point of being beyond ridiculous. Whoever you are, (and I will find out), you have WAY too much time on your hands. Imagine if you just took your negative energy and put it somewhere else for a change.. perhaps why don;t you show ME how its done. I challenge YOU, Mr Sherpa John Stalker, to raise some money of your own. Go ahead... see how "easy" it is... and while you are at it.. show me how its really done. But writing anonymous letters?! Seriously... you're in your 30's writing letters in studyhall and passing it along so teacher doesn't see it. GET A LIFE!
About my sponsors:
Peak Adventures: Peak intends to become the premier provider of Adventure sport, travel and entertainment experiences to business executives and adventure seekers worldwide. Peak is run by my good friend Joe Desena. Joe is a very successful semi-retired businessman living in Pittsfield, VT. Joe and I ran in the 2006 Vermont 50 Miler side by side the entire way. I am also a volunteer for Joe. I've worked with him and our good friend Andy Weinberg extensively on creating the Pittsfield Racing series. With Joe in tow I designed the Pittsfield Snowshoe course. Together we marked the Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge course. I've stayed in his home and this past 4th of July... he gave me the honor of climbing to the top of his mountain and being the grand marshall of his 4th of July fireworks Display. Joe and his wife courtney are like family to me. Sending a written letter to him has done nothing but pissed him off at Mr. Gutless Stalker...
Crawford Notch General Store and Campground: A family owned and operated campground nestled in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I've been camping here since I was 10 years old with my dad and later Sarah. We've spent MANY weekend here as it acts as my training "base camp." I've also enjoyed a few spring vacations working for Marvin at the campground helping him do spring cleaning to ready the campground for the years guests. I've also stayed in their home and have broken bread with them on many ocassions. We're not "like family" with these folks... We ARE family.
I called the campground and asked them if they recieved a letter like Joe did. They told me they hadn't but knew "what file to put it in."
I'm not angry about all of this.. I think its actually quite comical that someone would take the time out of their day to write a letter that has done nothing but given myself and my sponsors a reason to laugh. And I'm glad I've got a reason to explain to the others who visit my site, why exactly I took the time to write about my fundraising for the ADA. Why?? Because a small group of gutless jerks are still taking the time to drag it through the mud and lie to you all.
Now... I spent yesterday at the beach and today Sarah and I are going to Watercountry. Tomorrow we hike and the race taper continues. Life is so good, relaxing and fun. I love it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I ran last night and my legs felt sluggish... I was supposed to run 10. I managed to run 4.32 miles.. SLOWLY and patheticly. I get so frustrated when things aren't working as I went them to. "How the hell am I going to get my legs to turn over again" I thought as I so often do. I really ravage my body on the weekends and I know I don;t take as much rest as I should. My schedule is a mess... I need to discipline myself. So... off to Rye for a 10K. It wasn't my fastest time (52:10ish) but I felt good after 3 miles in. Funny... I feel horrible on short runs now. 5k's are worthless.. as are 5K training days. I'm trying to get rid of them all together. Anyway... Josh found me at about Mile 2... Josh and I have seen each other at far too many races this year but hey... he is a REALLY great guy and I'm glad I finally got to run with him. He actually kinda saved my race tonight. Was also nice to meet his dad Rick and another runner named Chris. Chris... if you read this.. e-mail me! Sherpajohn@gmail.com.
So... the hardest part of the race was getting a beer. Long story!
I'm always thinking ahead.. I'm tapering for Tetons, looking forward to an amazing fall of 50 Milers and thinking about next year. Last week I sent in my application for Western States. Today... I switched my 100 Mile Registration at McNaughton 2008 to the 150 Mile Race... yup.. going to push the envelope again! I'm pysched and scared to death... just the way I like it.
So... here's to a gorgeous weekend. Going to go hiking with Sarah and continue to the taper. Happy trail everyone!
Monday, August 13, 2007
Ok.. Back to Business...
LAST weekend (8.4.07) I helped with the boys up in Pittsfield, VT put on one hell of a mountain bike race. The 666 Mountain Bike race was a GREAT success! 6 Miles, 6 Hours and 6 pigs was the theme. Mountain Bikers rode their bike on a 6 mile loop course for 6 hours while 6 pigs BBQ'd at RIverside Farm below. Ok.. the loop was actually 5 miles but the first 3.2 miles sported a cool 1,200' of elevation gain followed by 1,200' of loss in the last 1.8 miles to the farm. The course was killer.. and yours truly dressed up as the Devil Himself and ran the course.. for 6 hours. I put in a cool 6 laps, 30 miles, and ran further than almost half the bikers rode that day. We all enjoyed the BBQ and it was a great time! You can read my report here: http://www.rocksontop.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3180
Now this past weekend (8.11-12.07) I had a great weekend trashin the ole legs and enjoying some confidence boosting. Saturday, thanks to a car spot from Bob and Geri, I did a Presi-Traverse solo in the fog. I had a great time and it was such a wonderful experience as it always is. Though, I find it to be getting kind of boring.. it was my third time doing the traverse and its time I start spicing it up a bit. I completed the loop in 9 hours 48 Minutes and you can read my report here: http://www.rocksontop.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3180
Lastly.. Sunday, Adamiata and I tackled South West Twin. A peak in the Pemi I needed for the Trailwrights list, of which I am now just 7 peask away from becomming the youngest finisher of. I'm getting real excited even though I have a few tough bushwhacks remaining. You can read my South West Twin Report here: http://www.rocksontop.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3221
So.. after all the whacky running around, its taper time all ready as August spins into oblivion and I get ready for the Grand Tetons 100 Mile Endurance Run held on September 1st. I'm VERY excited about this race and I'm ready.. Sub 28 Hours.. here I come!
Lastly.. for those who followed the last postings about my journey with the ADA. I am a strong believer that both sides should have an EQUAL share of space in explaining their sides of the story. For those interested in reading the other side, you can visit www.viewsfromthetop.com and searching for "Team Sherpa." There is a thread titled "The Truth About Team Sherpa," reading that thread will give you the other sides explanation of events as THEY see it. Its only fair.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Part 4 - Railroaded, Websited and Resurrected
(The Final Installment of a 4 part series.)
I was banned from VFTT right before Sarah and I headed for the White Mountains for vacation. During our week long vaca it was my goal to take on the Fitch 46 Record Attempt. I wanted to re-enact the exact routes the Fitch Brothers used in the 1970's, in the same way they did, unsupported. My head was not in the adventure but I tried it anyway. I made it 43 Miles with over 11,000' of elevation gain in the one day I was out there... but high on Mount Whiteface I was reduced to tears. I cried and cried at being such a failure. As I tried to run through these mountains, I was no where near ready to break ANY record yet people were donating to my cause in a few North Country Stores even as I sat there and cried. I was quitting, heading down the mountain to start over... and so I did.
When I returned home, my return to VFTT was delayed by Darren with no response when e-mailing him. Finally an e-mail came. IN the e-mail Darren spoke about how hard it is to do the kind of fundraising I was doing and he was curious to see how things were going. Where the money was coming from and where it was going to. He was very nice and discreet when asking... and I knew the info was public knowledge.. so I shared what I had with him. I sent him a vague e-mail that was only the basic's that I had from the last Team Sherpa Meeting. Next thing I know my phone rang.. it was Darren. While on the phone, at 11:30pm, he asked me what seemed to be a million and a half questions pertaining to the money we had spent on the bike, copies, office supplies, gas, etc... Business expenses. Darren was not only furious but acusatory. He told me how he called a few folks from the website and they all ready wanted to post on VFTT Team Sherpa's financials and put me out there for the whole world to see. He even mentioned that one guy wanted to "phyiscally hurt" me. I was pretty nervous on the phone and answered his questions as best I could. Darren kept me banned from his website until I could e-mail him EXACT numbers from Team Sherpa. As the days ticked by I kept sending Darren bits and pieces of more financial info as I found it... he continued to lambast me calling me a thief and a liar in e-mails. I gave him my reasoning that I had done nothing wrong because they were legitimate business expenses.
I called PJ that night and we talked on the phone for a bit. He then called Darren himself and spoke with him. However, details from that conversation were never divulged to me. The next day I called my sister and she e-mailed me all of the exact numbers as she had them in her ledger in terms of the funds coming in and out. I placed all of the info in a microsoft spreadsheet and word document and then sent it off to Darren. For whatever reason, Darren was not satisfied and was convinced that I was a crook and had "stolen" money for my own personal gain. He then let the dogs out. I was unbanned from VFTT and what seemed lik a whitch hunt began. Immediately on VFTT was a thread that was created by a guy whose real first name is Tim. Tim painted an evil picture of me on the web calling me a thief and a liar.. having taken everyone who donated to Team Sherpa, or whom bought a DVD, for a ride. I knew it wasn't true... but people believe everything they read and are easily persuaded.. especially in large groups.
Tim had also called the NH Attorney Generals office and found out that I was never registered as a Non-Profit organization or as a 501(c) organization. I recieved an e-mail from the AG's office demanding I contact them to resolve the issue or I face jail time. I was a nervus wreck, I had no clue what the hell was going on. Except I knew I had been set up and taken for a ride. Tim even posted on VFTT that I was not a registered non-profit and that now people had donated money to nobody but ME. As the replies to the VFTT thread poured in.. it was obvious that everything I had worked for and built from January to August was now crashing down in front of me. PJ promised to help me with Darren and Chomp in getting them the numbers... he did nothing and left me to the vultures (if you will) and simply said, "John, there's a poison in VFTT and you're drinking from the wrong cup." In a hast frenzy I e-mailed the forum in trying to explain myself to the many members.. but the damage was done. Nothing I could have written was going to help me. I was a sucken ship.
I immediately set up a meeting with a CPA, the ADA and the AG's office. I met with each one by one and the AG's office last. The CPA and I looked over all of Team Sherpa's records and told me that the only thing I did wrong was not properly establishing Team Sherpa as a non-profit. And even if I had resigistered properly, I still did nothing wrong as all of the expenses were indeed business expenses. I met with the ADA and the director told me that I also had done nothing wrong and that I still had their full support in my fundraising ventures. I then met with the AG's office and provided her with proof that I was raising funds on BEHALF of the ADA, had not registered as a non-profit properly and would do anything to fix any future issues. The only issue at hand was DVD sales... I was required per advertisement to donate 100% of all DVD proceeds to the ADA... of which I had done. I even repayed all ear-marked items to the Team Sherpa account and paid the ADA every penny we owed them. I even paid PJ his $2000 back for DVD creation.. and one very upset friend of mine whom wanted to be sure his money was going to the ADA.. I donated in his name from my own pocket. Now not only was Team Sherpa broke, all monies had been forwarded to the ADA.. but I was also broke.
Tim, who started the thread and contacted the AG's office about me had also contacted all of the Newpapers who had run a story about me. The Portsmouth Herald ran a story about everything.. I stole money, as not a non-profit, etc and also painted a bad picture of me. I called the reporter and told her the person who called was simply making a personal attack on me.. that I had met with the AG's office, the ADA and a CPA and I had been cleared yet.. she refused to run a story clearing the air. Tim told everyone he was simply "trying to help me.. sincerely." Almost a month later.. the same Tim who wanted nothing but to help me had created a website dedicated to me: www.sherpajohnisadouche.com What great help he was.
After all of the fiasco was done (it took the whole month of August), Team Sherpa was now nothing more than me and my family and a few close friends who knew the truth. We only accept money for the ADA in the form of a check and DVD's were no longer sold via cash or online. Check only. BUt it didn't seem to matter... we went from selling DVD's like hot cakes and raising thousands of dollars to NOTHING. We were sunk. No one was buying DVD's and no one was donating. People on the trails while I continued to train would stop me and ask, "Hey.. aren't you that kid who stole everyones money??" Some hikers even threw rocks at me as I ran buy. I had a website dedicatd to me calling me a douche, newspapers running negative stories about me and one huge headache. Needless to say.. I was going back to therapy.
But what about Cannon Mountain and the record attempt? I called PJ and asked him one more time if he had sent in the $150 application fee to Cannon to use their facilities.. it had been over 3 months since our meeting with them. Turns out he never sent it in. Team Sherpa met and I broke the news to them. We were free and clear with the ADA and the AG's office but we no longer had an event location. We were WAY behind in planning the event.. so we dropped it. No more Cannon Mountain Festival. PJ stopped returning my calls and he even stopped e-mailing me. To this day I'm not sure if he is the one who was the mole in Team Sherpa.. but he certainly is a top suspect. In fact there are a few suspects... and to this day it is hard to determine who I can even trust. Darren on VFTT, took the original thread and edited it so that people could read "just the facts." However.. he and Tim got in some last words without myself being able to rebute them. Their last words once again painted the wrong picture, was based on hearsay and what THEY believed to be the truth and nothing more. It was to say the least a "witch hunt."
Since August of 2005 when all of the VFTT drama went down, I have continued to raise funds on behalf of the ADA. In the first 8 Months of fundraising we raised over $8,000 for the ADA. In 2006 we raised another $5,000 and in 2007 we have raised another $4,000. Our grand total is over $17,000 towards the ADA Research Fund. Not to mention the awareness we have raised which is just as important. What was important to me was not giving up on our mission to raise the funds especially after everything that happened. I wanted to help in any small way I could and we did. After 2005, Team Sherpa had held a Hike-A-Thon in the White Mountains of NH. We have held 2 Annual Indoor Soccer Tournaments. We have Walked in America's Walk for Diabetes Twice and I havd run 100 Miles in One Day. Nothing or nobody will ever take away the true satisfaction I feel in helping as much as we have. Through all the heartache it has been an amazing journey. I have my family and close friends to thank for it.
However, the time has come for Team Sherpa to move on to other charitable causes. There are MANY other organizations and causes in need of a hand and I wish to extend the hand we are capable of lending. The ADA has benefited greatly from our projects... and It has been fulfilling. It has also been heartaching, and depressing at times. I know Sarah appreciates what I've done for her, as well as other diabetics in her family. It is with a happy heart that I am eternally greatful for having the ability to do what I have done. I am certainly not a quitter... It may not be pretty but I finish everything I set out to accomplish. We did our best for the ADA and I am yet to do my best towards the 48 Speed Record. But I'll get there... if even slowly.
The reason this story was put on my blog is because 2 (TWO) years after everything happened on VFTT... people are STILL telling folks who have never heard the story that I "stole donated funds." This is a gross mis-representation of the truth. I neevr stole anything and was acting under the advice of those whom I was benefitting. I have admitted and still admit to my flaws in not establishing a proper non-profit organization.. however the return check of all those who donated in any way has always been their reciept. All monies that were spent on Gear such as the bike or running shoes.. has been paid for and returned to the ADA regardless if I felt it was needed or not. In other words... the couple that donated money for me to buy running shoes... I used THEIR money to buy the shoes and then donated the same amount out of my pocket to the ADA. Some folks continue to argue that "ear-marking" the money was my biggest mistake. And I always felt it was my good faith promise to continue to give the ADA what they were owed. REGARDLESS... two years later and people are still painting me as a thief and crook. I cannot make your opinion for YOU.. I can only tell you the very basics of this story in my own words in the hopes that it will better assist people in creating their own unbiased opinion of it all.
To those whom are faithful readers of my blog, I sincerely applogize that you once again have to hear of this topic. It is my every hope that a day will come that I myself will never have to hear it again myself. I'm tired of it, I'm done with it.. it's over. I appreciate your loalty to my endeavors and hope you'll continue riding along with me on this journey through life. We have much to accomplish and many places to visit... we'll get to where we're going.. one foot at a time.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The Premier, The BIKE and The Money.
(Continuation of a 4 part series)
As things for the premier night started to come together so did the movie. It was obvious to Panama Jack and I that this fundraiser had a lot of potential. I spoke to Panama Jack quite often on the phone and we e-mailed frequently. We were becomming great friends. He suggested to me that I investigate creating my own non-profit organization to "cover my ass" in case anything went awry. So I hopped online and did some google searching about starting a non-profit organization. I found a great deal of info, much of it was very vague and what literature there was included a lot of BIG WORDS. So I made a phone call to the IRS... the individual on the phone there told me what I needed was a Tax ID Number. I went online and filled out the appropriate information to get my tax ID Number.
In the process of doing so.. I discovered that I needed to have a President, VP, Treasurer and a few other members. So in came my mom, sister and again... Panama Jack. I put their names on the application and gave my "group" a name: Team Sherpa. I continued to research the rules of being a non-profit in New Hampshire and I couldn't find much. In what was reading online, I thought I understood that unless we were being paid or raising more than $50,000 a year we didn't need to register with the State of New Hampshire.. I'd find out much later how wrong my assumption was. So... I left everything as is.. I had my Tax ID number and thought I had everything I needed. I didn't need to register with NH because we weren't going to make money off of it, or raise enough to begin with... and we carried on as is.
January rolled in and I finalized the film 1 week from the Premier. I had to crunch big time, I finalized the audio, had DVD copies made, Stickers and inserts made, I stuffed the DVD cases, labeled the DVD's, placed them in the cases and we were ready to go. Except, the first premier night was cancelled due to a Blizzard. So.. the following weekend the day came. We set up in the lobby with drinks and food for our guests. I had a table set up for the ADA who showed up to dispense information, another table is where we sold the DVD's and accepted donations. Nobody had any idea of what to expect. Only Panama Jack, Myself, Sarah and Her Family and the folks at "The Troupe" had seen the film...
The night of the Premier I asked Sarah's mom, a diabetes educator, to speak about the disease. Then Panama Jack spoke about what the film meant to the hiking community, then I came out to introduce my film. After thanking the some 200+ people for coming, I walked off stage and let the film play. As it played I walked around and watched everyone's emotions and really took in what was happenning. By the end, my family and many others were in tears... and blown away by a film they had no idea was going to be done so well... It was one of my proudest moments for sure. We sold many DVD's on Premier night and raised over $2000 for the ADA.. the money was sent right away. Team Sherpa was born, and so was a monster.
As the months rolled on by I went on tour with my film. I went to colleges and Universities all over New England. I went to gear/outdoor stores and AMC Destinations. I was the first and only person (still) to have a standing room only event at the AMC's Highland Center. I sold copies and donated copies.. even gave some away. I sold them in AMC locations and north country book stores.. even a few local EMS stores. It was a busy time for sure. It didn't take long for me to run out of the first batch of 200 DVD's and I had to make another batch of 200. We sold the DVD's online via paypal where the money flowed into our Team Sherpa Bank Account. From there.. we forwarded it on in spurts to the ADA.
A few months into fundraising, I met with the District Manager of the ADA again. We ate lunch in Boston and talked about the project. The money raised to date, the DVD, the premier and the future event in the Wild Whites Ultra-Marathon where I hoped to break Tim Seavers Record. During this lunch conversation, I asked Michael Curren what was a "business expense." He explained to me that it was really up to ME to decide what a business expense is. HE defined it as, "an expense through purchase of an item that helps you raise more funds in the future." I told him I wanted to buy a bicycle to help training for the record... an event I planned on using to raise more funds. He said, "sounds like a business expense to me." So.. after I went home, I thought more about it. I felt bad... it didn't sound right.. but I had his reassurance. So I went to a bike shop and paid for HALF of the bike with my own money and the other half with funds donated to Team Sherpa. I called my sister and talked to her and she told me.. "yeah, and when Team Sherpa is done.. you'll either have to sell the bike for the half you paid for with donated funds.. or buy it for yourself." The money was now earmarked for repayment by myself. I later used the road bike to not only train.. but to live up to the deal I had with Darren.. to ride for The Brain Tumor Society on behalf of VFTT.
We continued to use some of the donated money through individual donations to buy things that would, "help us raise money in the future." Most of it was all literature we passed out to tell folks about Team Sherpa, the DVD's and whatever else we could think of to help raise awareness of our little organization and our fundrasing goals. Some folks even donated to Team Sherpa with a note on the checks memo saying, "FOR RUNNING SHOES." I'd cash their check, and head to the store to buy new shoes. I saw nothing wrong with this since they were donating to our cause for a specific purpose. And it was through their intended purpose that I used the money.
Team Sherpa began to grow, some of my new friends in the hiking community wanted to help so they jumped on board. I continued to sell DVD's at a feverished clip.. selling over 500 in the first seven months! We were raising a lot of money for the ADA.. after our initial purchases of items that helped us promote our cause.. we began to focus on spending less and raising more. It was hard work and stressful. My sister was treasurer and she kept the books by writing everything in a ledger. We had to start planning the Big Record Breaking Extravaganza... so we started having monthly Team Sherpa Meetings where everyone involved showed up to start working together.
It didn't take long for us to see how much work lay before us. But we got right to it. Panama Jack and I met with the State of NH at Cannon Mountain Ski Area to ask them if we could use their mountain for the huge Diabetes Fundraiser to take place during my record attempt. They said yes immeditaely and we took account of what it was they were going to give us. Use of land, buildings, parking lots and food services, Emergency MEdical Services as well... it was all coming together but the "Team" was so overwhelmed. How was 6 people going to put on such a huge event with only a year of planning...
I started running more... as I toured with the film, worked a full time job and kept working on fundraising.. I found a little time to Train. I ran my first marathon on May 2005, followed by my first ultra in July. It was very painful and I was doubting my chances at breaking this record. Shortly after I ran my first ultra... I knew I had to try to do something... Most everything I had been doing in the on-line hiking forums was marketing myself to fellow hikers. Marketing myself to them so they would continue to buy my film and donate.. continue to support our cause. I still wanted to make it on Mohamed Website, I wanted to be know for something.. I wanted to help the ADA and I needed people to continue to donate and follow my progress... The more I trained the more I wrote trip reports. I found great joy in sharing my new adventures with those in the hiking commmunity... but some of those folks didn;t find it enjoyable at all. People started sending my harassing and volitile e-mails. Some hikers were threatenning, some just down right rude. I was very hurt... I cried alot.. people didn't like me and they all publicly stated their opinion that everything I was doing.. I was doing for MYSELF and no one else.. they called me a phony... I was so hurt, I cried and once again began to slip into thoughts of suicide.. I wasn't good enough at ANYTHING it seemed.. and things were starting to fall apart...
I started to hear less from Panama Jack and I began to wonder if he was still "IN." He had all of the Cannon Mountain Paperwork and he told me he sent in the application to use the ski resort WITH the required $150 fee. That was a relief... but as time went on... the more problems I began to have on VFTT. A new reputation system was installed on the site and people could anonymously send nasty comments to one another. I couldn't take it anymore... I wanted it all to be over. One day I reached the end of my whits and lost my cool while deleting a post stating, "I'm sick of these assholes.. Screw your reputation system." I was subsequently banned from VFTT. Some hikers asked why and Darren told them, "Because he swore at other members of the site and then criticized the way I run it." I felt like he had just lied to all these people in saying I "SWORE AT MEMBERS." What crap.. and he painted the wrong picture of me.. this in essence would be the beginning of the end. I wrote to Darren asking for help and what I got in return was a long e-mail that was more of an insulting tirrade about how he and many others can't stand me. I was banned from VFTT for a week or 2... I was at what I thought was a low point...
After much success in selling DVD's and making new friends. I had discovered that a few "trolls" were very much against me. People were taking my posts and trip reports the wrong way and others were using their personal power to paint the wrong picture of me. As I grew frustrated, I began to lose my cool and many couldn't help believe what they had read.. it was a tough time and things were only going to get worse...
Proceed to Part 4
Monday, August 6, 2007
Continued from Part 1 of a 4 part series
As I started editing my film I was hit with the sharp reality of how huge a task it was going to be to whittle 5 hours of video footage into a 1-hour film. I had no script, no story... just footage. I watched it all over and over again and then sat down and began piecing the footage together writing the story as I went. It was assuredly a labor of love. However, it didn't take long before I started to get sick of it all.. Seeing the same stuff over and over and over again.
Back track to August 2004: Sarah and I were painting my bedroom when a program came on the Discovery Channel about how the human body works... Kinesiology of athletes. They profiled baseball and basketball players. What happens in their body to get everything to work from head to their toes. It was an interesting program.. During which they profiled a female athlete who was running this race in Death Valley California called the Badwater 135. I was so intrigued that as we went hiking that month, I began to wonder if anyone had set out to hike the 48 peaks the fastest... like a formal speed record. I was amazed at how the human body worked when people pushed their limits. I started to do some research and discovered through Mohamed Ellozy's website that indeed a record had been set. I knew that this could be for me... a way to be remembered in life.. be famous even... have my name in a record book or on Mohameds Website.. I had a new goal.
Fast Forward to November 2004: After much research I contacted Ted Kaizer (aka. Cave Dog) and he informed me that his 48 record had been broken by Tim Seaver from Vermont. Cave Dog sent me photos for my film and I then contacted Tim. Tim was a great guy and invited me to his home to interview him for the film. Sarah and I sat in his living room and asked him many questions about his record setting journey of 187 Miles, 48 Peaks in 3 Days 15 Hours 51 Minutes. I was appreciative of his honesty as he spoke about the many negative attitudes on the online hiking forums but also how he spoke about this "Ultra Marathon Running." Early that day.. before I met Tim.. I hiked with George Fitch, one of two brothers who were the first to set a formal record of the peaks back in the 1970's... after I left Tim's, having met he and Mr. Fitch, I knew that I wanted to break this record and becoming an Ultra-Runner was my new goal.
The gears kept turning as I made the film. I bought some running gear and started to run. I couldn't even run a mile without walking but every night I was out there starting to work towards my new goal. Running gave me the chance to dream big.. and dream big I did. My plan was to finish editing my film and make an actual sell-able DVD film out of it and sell copies for Diabetes Research. Then, in July of 2005 when I set out to break Tim Seavers record, I was going to have a huge festival at the Cannon Mountain Ski Area. I figured people would come off the highway and monitor my journey through the mountains, they'd enjoy gear demo's, arts and crafts, shows and other fair like activities with the BIG catch being that they'd donate money for the ADA while they were there. This is what I HAD to do...
As the months went on I contacted the "owner" of the Views From The Top Website (VFTT), Darren. A few folks on the site had suggested I contact him before advertising my film on his site. I contacted him and asked him if I could advertise my hiking film on his hiking website and direct folks to my website where I'd be selling the film from. He agreed under the condition that in the Spring, I'd ride on his team and raise money for his annual fundraiser, a 50 Mile Bike Ride for The Brain Tumor Society. I agreed and I began to advertise my film and "opening night!"
One day. an e-mail came from a member of VFTT.. he went by Panama Jack. Panama wanted to donate $1000 to the ADA of which I was most grateful. I still had no finished product.. but all ready someone wanted to donate. But that’s not all. PJ wanted to help out in anyway he could. As December rolled around.. I was getting really close to my release date. But what I lacked was Money. Money to produce the DVDs and Money for the Venue for Opening Night. I told PJ what I needed and before I knew it he donated the $2000 it was going to cost to create the first $200 "48" DVD's and pay for the venue for the night. I was a bit leery about taking a strangers money, but we agreed that I could pay him back when we reached my fundraising goal of $48,000. I had made a great new friend... and his help was more than appreciated.
As the weeks ticked by, my professor from Hesser came over and looked over my film on a weekly basis. She's comb through it meticulously and then create a list of things I needed to fix in the film to make it better... she'd leave and I'd start fixing. I worked 8 hours a day and then edited for 10 more to get the job done.. I was tired of it.. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. But once I had the finished film, I contacted a video production company who agreed to put music on the film and work the audio to perfection. I re-recorded all of the voice over/script with them, chose the songs... it was so tiring but my film was finalized. I then used PJ's money to make the purchases of blank DVD's, cases, cover art and inserts.. etc. The production company made the 200 copies at their place.. and then I stuff the DVD cases, put the stickers on the DVDs and put them in the case. I wanted to make 500 copies.. but my professor said, "There is no WAY you'll ever sell 500 of these. Think Small John" 200 it was.
Then I met with the folks at the High School I graduated From.. Pinkerton Academy.. I had to pay them to use their brand new state of the art theatre for the night of the Film Premier.. I had to pay for a Police Detail, water and food for the patrons and put it all together. I used what was left of PJ's borrowed money and we were well on our way to making this Film a reality.
One would think that through film editing, interviewing, writing a script, re-interviewing record holders, fixing mistakes, getting venue squared away and actually making the DVDs... that this would all be enough... well it wasn't. My family was "supportive" but they though nothing of my big project.. they were unsure what to think. To them it was just another one of "Johns crazy ideas." I was doing 95% of the work alone.. I all ready wanted to quit... but I had to get the ADA involved...
As all of the above was coming along.. I contacted the ADA's Manchester Office and spoke to Pam. Pam was the area coordinator of the Diabetes Walk but also worked with the various grass roots programs that came along such as my film and the to be record attempt. But as I tried to meet with Pam various times.. it seemed she was much too busy for me. She blew me off twice and changed two other appointments. I felt like the ADA wanted nothing to do with me and like I was some kind of joke.. so I contacted the District Manager in the Boston Office. He (Michael Curren) and another person who he worked with in his office (Angel Jackson), set up a dinner meeting with me in Derry where I lived. They drove up from Boston, we sat down and had dinner. By the end of dinner I had their attention and full support of my major project to raise $48,000 for the ADA through my film and record attempt. Things were going great and they were to be on hand the night of the film premier. I filed out all of the proper paperwork with the ADA and called Panama Jack... things were getting very hectic and the true potential of this project was shining through... but more work lay ahead and advice was now coming in from everywhere... The next steps I took, in the end, proved to be the most costly..
Proceed to Part 3
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Note: Through my running the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, I set out to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association Research Fund. This was the final of MANY fundraisers I have organized or helped organize since January of 2005. Since then, myself and the rest of Team Sherpa have raised almost $17,500 towards the ADA Research Fund and we've also raised awareness for this incurable disease. It has been great fun raising money for the ADA... but also a lot of hard work and headaches. Definately a worth while experience, I'd like to take a few moments to re-cap my fundraising story with the ADA.
It seems that there are still some out there who are telling tall tales without the proper facts. Even after 2 years have past, some have tagged me as a thief. Its been a long hard road, an emotional roller coaster of sorts.. and now its over. Please continue to check back here for the parts to follow in the series of posts I am about to put up here. My intent is to only keep you well informed of the truth as I know it.
Part 1 of a 4 Part Series
I went back to college during the fall/winter of 2003/2004. I started taking courses towards an Associates in Radio/TV Production and Broadcasting. I knew I wanted to get into TV and become that guy who edited the TV commercials. But during the same time that I decided to go back to school.. I started hiking again after a few years off. As the wheels started turning.. I knew that I wanted to finish hiking the 48 four thousand foot mountains of New Hampshire... but I also knew I wanted to tell the story of it all. I wished there was some way to share it all...
Then my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I jokingly told her I wanted a brand new Mac computer so I could work on my video editing with it. What started out as a joke became a reality... mom bought my the computer and I was surprised an elated. So now I was back in school, taking radio and tv classes and all the rest.. and hiking again. The summer/fall of 2003 quickly turned to winter. It was during the winter that I finally came up with the plan to put my new computer to use.. I was going to make a hiking video based around my quest to finish hiking the Peaks of NH.
During 2004, Sarah and I headed out into the White Mountains every weekend, equipped with a Sony Handy-Cam and a lot of patience. We hiked up and down every mountain left on my list, recording the adventure as it unfolded. We got scenic shots, wildlife shots, interviewed folks we met on the trail. And we took video of each other on the summit of each peak. There was no story line, no script.. just us hiking. As the year wore on, I was a first hand witness to the daily struggles that Sarah had to endure with her Type 1 Diabetes, and I was amazed that she dared to hike all these peaks with me one by one. It became a part of the story.
In the fall of 2004, I had finished filming, I had finished the list and I had asked Sarah to marry me all on the same day. Now it was time to get to work in putting this footage into an actual movie/story. But before I went through the trouble, I joined a website called www.viewsfromthetop.com and posted a simple question in the online forum... "Who would be interested in seeing a movie about hiking the 48?" I got great positive feedback and I found out there was indeed a "mountain" of interest. I knew that this would work, now i just had to tie it all together. But how would I sell the film and why would anyone want to buy it?? It was during this brainstorming session that I decided the right thing to do was to sell the film to raise money for Diabetes Research in honor of Sarah. Sarah who's courage completely undermined my own.. SHE and many others like her were the true story in the mountains.. the proceeds would benefit her in finding a cure for her disease.
If I only knew then what I know now about the work involved, the mistakes not to make and the trouble it was going to be.. I may not have made a film at all.
Proceed to Part 2