Monday, October 29, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Endurance Athlete, Philanthropist, Documentary Film Maker, Motivational Speaker.
John Lacroix is a twenty-nine year old philanthropist, motivational speaker, documentary film maker, professional guide and endurance athlete from Boulder, CO. Known worldwide as "Sherpa John," he started his endurance career as a peak-bagger in New Hampshire's rugged White Mountains. In 2004 John completed hiking New Hampshire's list of 48 Four-Thousand Foot peaks entering himself into the Appalachian Mountain Clubs Four-Thousand Footer Club. During the same time, Sherpa John released a documentary film he wrote, edited and produced titled "48: A White Mountain Documentary Film." He sold and donated over 800 DVD copies of his film to various individuals and organizations; all the while raising over $20,000 for the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. In March of 2006, John completed hiking the same list of mountains during the winter season, becoming one of only a few hundred to do so. His peak-bagging continues as Sherpa has completed the list of 48 peaks a subsequent five additional times and is also the youngest person to ever complete The Trailwrights 72 Peak-bagging list and only person under 50 years of age to have done so.
In 2005, Sherpa John entered the world of endurance running, completing his first marathon at the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT. Two short months later, he completed his first 50 Kilometer Ultra-marathon at The Damn Wakely Dam Ultra in Upstate New York. Since then, Sherpa John has completed dozens of Ultra-Distance events across the country ranging anywhere from 1 Mile to 124 Miles; all the while raising thousands of dollars for various charitable causes included The American Diabetes Association, The LiveStrong Foundation, Conservation NH, and The Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire. In 2008, Sherpa became the first person in history to run across New Hampshire, 124 Miles from the western-most point to the eastern-most point. He repeated the journey in 2009. Sherpa is also the former race director and founder of The New England Ultras 200 Mile Ultra (Now the McNaughton in Vermont Peak.com Race)
John graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology: Outdoor Education; with a concentration in Hospitality/Recreation Management. As a philanthropist he has raised over $40,000 for charitable organizations on a local and national level and he continues to inspire through his various endurance accomplishments.
Sherpa John has been featured on WMUR TV's News Magazine: NH Chronicle as well as WMUR News 9. He has also appeared in various publications including Ultrarunning Magazine, The Manchester Union Leader, The New Hampshire Sunday News, Nutfield Times, The New Hampshire, The UNH Campus Journal, The Derry News, The Portsmouth Herald, Fosters Daily Democrat, The Boston Globe-North Edition, New Hampshire Public Radio's Morning Edition and National Public Radio's Weekend America.
Some Of The More Memorable Pieces:
Sherpa John is a product tester for Nathan Human Propulsion Laboratories and is sponsored by PowerBar, Headsweats, Osprey Packs, NEMO Equipment and Team Animal Camp.
Sherpa John's Career Highlights
Youngest Finisher in the:2006 Vermont 50 (VT)
2007 McNaughton Park 100 (IL)
2007 Grand Teton 100 (WY)
2007 and the 2008 Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathons (VT)
2nd Youngest Finisher in the:
2005 Wakely Dam 50K (NY)
2006 Wakely Dam 50K (NY)
2006 Breakers Nifty Fifty Miler (RI)
2007 Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge (VT)
2008 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (VA)
Youngest Male finisher of the:
2007 Stonecat Ale 50 Miler (MA)
2004: Completed Hiking NH's 48 Four Thousand Foot Mountains
2005: Wakely Dam 50K (NY): 7:57
2006: Completed Hiking NH's 48 Four Thousand Foot Mountains in Winter
2006: Rachel Carson 35 mi.(PA): 8:04 (3rd Place Finish)
2006: Wakely Dam 50K (NY): 7:02
2006: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 10:32
2006: Breakers Nifty 50 Miler (RI): 10:05
2006: JFK 50 Miler (MD): 9:47
2007: Disney's Goofy Challenge 39.3 mi.(FL): 5:59
2007: McNaughton Park 100 Miler (IL): 34:15
2007: PIneland Farms 50K (ME): 5:35 (PR)
2007: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 16:02
2007: Pemi Loop Challenge 50K (NH): 10:14
2007: Vermont 100 (VT): 23:19 (PR)
2007: Grand Teton 100 (WY): 30:44
2007: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:06
2007: Manchester City Marathon (NH): 3:37 (PR)
2007: Stone Cat Ale 50 MI (MA): 10:34
2007: One of the four fastest People on record to hike New Hampshire's Belknap Range: 8:11
2008: McNaughton Park 100 Miler (IL): 33:33
2008: Massanutten 100 (VA): 32:09
2008: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:20
2008: Vermont 100 (VT): 23:37
2008: Pisgah 50K (NH): 6:31
2008: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 8:58 (PR)
2008: Ran Across New Hampshire widthwise 124.4 Miles - 1st Ever: 31:50
2009: Pittsfield Snow Ultra 52.4 Miles: 15:07
2009: McNaughton Park 100 Miler (IL): 36:15
2009: Massanutten 100 (VA): 33:35
2009: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:27
2009: Breaks own Belknap Range Record with Two Others. New Time: 6:35
2009: Vermont 100 (VT) 23:27
2009: Becomes Youngest Person to Complete The Trailwrights 72 by more than 25 years
2009: Vermont 50 (VT) 10:14 - Survives another mudfest
2009: Ran Across New Hampshire widthwise 118.48 miles - 2nd Time: 34:26
2010: Finished 1 loop (22 Miles) of the arduous Barkley Marathons Course: 12:25
2010: One of the three individuals to successfully complete the Cross Rivendell Trail in one day. 10:25
2010: 8th Place Overall (50 Starters) - Pittsfield Peaks 54 Miler 11:22
2010: Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (CA): 28:29
2010: Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run (VT): 28:58
2010: Youngest Entrant in the 2010 Grand Slam of Ultra-Running (DNF @ Leadville)
2011: One of four athletes to start the Peak.com Snowshoe 100 Mile Race (VT): 22:22 (DNF @50K)
2011: One of four athletes to start the Peak.com Snowshoe 100 Mile Race (VT): 22:22 (DNF @50K)
Friday, October 5, 2007
Now seems like a great time to speak about how I got into Ultra-Running. Everyone has their own idividualized stories and the following is mine. So, while I recover from the VT50 and start to get into the swing of things again, sit back and enjoy my story of how I became and Ultra-Runner (aka. Crazy).
It All Started With The Discovery Channel
It was the Fall of 2003. Sarah and I had just finished repainting my bedroom when we began watching a program on the Discovery Channel called, "Architechture and Design of Man and Woman." "Watch as men and women mature and push their bodies to athletic extremes to demonstrate how biological differences impact physical performance and even mental agility. However, our differences have evolved not to answer challenges in athletic contests, but to provide advantage in the game of life." Watch we did and we were absolutely facinated by the program.
In the program, female Montrail ultra running athlete Francis Conte is profiled while she runs in the Badwater 135. The program was inspirational to me and veen brought back memories of watching many Eco-Challenges with my father and step-mother a few years back. I remember telling Sarah that I wanted to be an adventure racer and I started to do a little research. A few months later I went out and bought a DVD at EMS on the Primal Quest - San Juan Islands. We sat down and watched the DVD in its entirety, including the part where an unfortunate accident occurs and an athlete dies which descending a technical section of loose rock. The idea of me becomming an Adventure Racer was immediately squashed.
So Sarah and I took up hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Every weekend we'd hike multiple peaks in my quest to complete the list of "48." On some of the tougher days, we'd reach a summit and Sarah, who at the time had no interest in completing the 48 herself, would sit and wait for me to bag an additional near by peak. I'd drop my pack and take off running to the next peak and return. I immediately began falling in love with trail running during our peak bagging activities.
I also happened to be making a movie at the time on hiking the 48. One day as we were driving to the trailhead to hike the Wildcats, I asked Sarah a question that would change my life forever, "Do you think anyone has ever run all of the 48 peaks?? You know... the fastest?" We both agreed that this notion was inconceivable to us and shrugged it off as a joke. Later that day, after traversing the Wildcat Ridge, we were convinced that there was indeed no way in hell anyone had run these peaks.
But my curiosity got the best of me. I went home and started searching the internet for any trace of a formal speed record in hiking New Hampshire's White Mountains. To my surprise, I discovered that not one... not two.. but a whole slew of crazy folks had done the feat before. I found the info on a hiking website operated by Mohammed Ellozy. Here I discovered that the current record holder was a Tim Seaver from Vermont. Tim had set the record in July 2003 by going to the top of each of the 48 peaks in 3 Days 15 Hours and 51 Minutes. My jaw simply dropped to the floor in absolute awe. I continued reading about Ted "Cave Dog" Keizer who held the record before Seaver by doing the feat in "ultra-marathon style" in 3 Days 17 Hours 21 Minutes. And the record was fromally set in the mid 1970's by 2 young men from Massachusetts, the Fitch Brothers, who did so unsupported in 6 Days 15 Hours and 30 minutes.
I had to know more as I wanted to profile these guys in my movie. So I contacted Ted "cave Dog" Keizer via e-mail and he gave me some great information and photos. Ted told me how I could possibly get in touch with the Fitch Brothers and I e-mailed them. I then contacted Tim Seaver through his website. Before I knew it, I had photos from Cave Dog, and a day planned in November 2004, during the editing of my film, to meet with George Fitch and Tim Seaver in the same day. I met with both men and interviewed them on camera about their achievements. However it was during my interview with Tim that I began to question him about this "Ultra-Marathon Style" that they spoke of. Tim told me a bit about ultra-running and what it takes, "being able to put up with a lot of pain, patience and training." Sarah and I elft Vermont that night in an ice storm, and on the slow drive home I told her... this is what I want to do.
I wanted to become one of these ultra marathon runners and I wanted to challenge Tim's record. I wanted to be one of those gifted few who find their names on Mohameds website as a "hiking" legend here in New Hampshire. I had been running for a few months all ready, mainly since we had finished hiking the 48. My love of running had me going at home. When I started, I couldn't run a mile without walking for rest. It was a sad sight but now in November of 2004, after having met with Tim and George.. I knew that running was about to become a huge part of my life and hiking was always going to be.
So... from here.. I started training and the road to becomming a young Ultra-Runner.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Vermont 50 Mile Endurance Run
Brownsville, VT - Ascutney Mountain Resort
50 Miles - 10:06:26
"People should learn endurance; they should learn to endure the discomforts of heat and cold, hunger and thirst; they should learn to be patient when receiving abuse and scorn; for it is the practice of endurance that quenches the fire of worldly passions which is burning up their bodies." --Buddha
I woke up shivering after a restless night’s sleep in the upper parking lot of Ascuteny Mountain ski resort. We rushed here Saturday after attending 2 weddings in one day, pitched a tent and got as much frigid rest as we could for the next day’s impending adventure. I told Sarah that I wasn’t feeling 100%, 85% or 90% at best. It has after all only been 29 days since my last 100 miler and now I’m lining up for a tough 50.
The Vermont 50 is, in my opinion, one of the premier events in new England Endurance Sports. Mountain bikers of all ages, divide up into classes to take on the 50 Mile course. At the starting line we even spotted a few tandems! Then there is a 50K, 50 Mile relay and 50 mile solo running events which saw over 400 runners register for this year, making it the largest field in the events history. I was pumped as after all this is one of my favorite races to run and for various reasons. The course is challenging and the scenery is gorgeous. Cool temperatures combined with the changing colors of the leaves, make for one surreal experience.
34 Degrees was the temperature at the start of this year’s event. The sun rising in the east allowed us to see the fog nestled into the many valleys surrounding Ascutney Mountain Resort. The bikers took off in waves, one after another as I assembled myself for the race. Paul Kearney, who was on my spectacular crew during the VT100, was running the race today as his 1st 50 Miler on the road to his very own VT100 adventure. We started the race together and headed off down the main road talking to a few friends I had made at this year’s Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge.
As we found ourselves running past the first aid station and heading up the first hill on the trail, we settled into a great group of guys. Bikernate, Jeff from CT, and a guy from New Jersey whose name escapes me right now. The course was now run on mostly single track for the next few miles. Fog had lowered itself into the woods as we ran through cracking about as many inappropriate jokes we could think of. We even started to talk about favorite movies and tv shows. It was really rather enjoyable. We came across a female Mountain biker who was being carried out by medical staff. She had crashed her bike hard and broke her hip. As she rivaled in pain, she explained that it hurt worse than child birth. We all thanked the medical staff and lent some encouragement to the woman being carried away.
Soon we emerged onto the flanks of Garvin Hill. The fog was now actually BELOW us and this display of undercast was simply amazing. We watched as the clouds danced through the valleys below and it was turning out to be a simply gorgeous day. The sun now shone brightly for the remainder of the race, warming us up to a cool 65 degrees at best, and perfect running weather! As we looked back down the hill, we saw Nate and Jeff now behind us, we harassed each other a bit before taking off on our own pace.
Paul and I reached Smoke Rise Farm in 5 hours and 29 Minutes into the race. The mileage to here is just over 50K which made the time good enough for a 50K pr for me (5:35). I knew we were going way too fast but also that the next couple of miles was a long uphill section. We got our aid, watched a biker jump into the bond and continued on up the road at a good clip. Part of what makes the VT50 a tough course is lack of handler access. I saw my crew 3 times between the start to finish and I could have used them more. After Smoke Rise, I would have a difficult time staying “with it.” My hamstrings were really sore, the back of my left knee hurt and I knew I was falling apart. I put my head down and pushed as best I could from here to Dugdales which was still 2 aid stations and a lifetime away. I just needed to make it to my crew.
At Dugdales I found Sarah, Dad and my step mom Helen waiting for me.. and of course DREW. I got all the aid I needed and then some. I watched John Holt run ahead of me.. he looked so strong. Paul even left the aid station before me and it took my step-mom saying, “quite wasting time” for me to get out of the station. I felt a lot better with Boost, 2 gels, 2 S! Caps, a fig newton and water in me and a recharged bottle of Clip 2 in my hand. My wrist hurt from running with my hand helds today, I’m not entirely sure why.. I feel like I’m falling apart. However, I knew that if I was to make up for any lost time or to try and get ahead of the game, between miles 35 and 48 was the time to do it. So I once again put it to the me and the earth.
Somewhere in the woods around Mile 38, I lost Paul. He was mentioning feeling fatigued and I knew he just needed some time to snap out of the funk. So I took off ahead of him in the hopes that he’d catch me. I on the other hand, was having an amazing time running all of the single track and switchbacks on this section of the course. Shorts up and downs, we wind over and around various hills, cross roads, follow streams.. it really is an amazingly beautiful course.. quite peaceful even. At Mile 40 we popped out of the woods onto a dirt road where a group of spectators had gathered to cheer runners on. I became confused when I saw this because I thought it was the mile 42 aid station. I slowed down and started searching for the food tables.. then I saw Sarah and my Dad snapping photos.. “What is this?” Sarah told me nothing and to keep going.
I moved my legs as fast I could. My quads were finally starting to feel a bit tight. I was cramping up a bit and took some S! Caps to fix the problem. Like clockwork the cramps went away. I couldn’t remember if 42 was a handler station but I put my sights onto making it there. Jeff from CT came up behind me and we ran together until the station. This kid was great! 21 years old and full of immense energy, running his first 50 Mile race after having shattered his knee cap months ago. His energy was contagious and I really enjoyed his company. Upon reaching the station I was out of it.. I didn’t know what I wanted or what I needed. I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was my buddy Pete. He said Hi and I just stared at him.. he said, “John.. its Pete.” I had to think for a moment if I knew any Pete’s.. and then I came to. He got me some gummy bears off the aid table as I filled my bottles. Nate had caught up to me so I decided to wait for him before taking off thinking we’d run together.
Not long after we left the station, it was evident to me that Nate was in great shape. He was moving much faster than I and sounded a lot happier. I knew I was struggling and I let him take off. I hung back with another guy who had run Pittsfield Peaks. We talked a bit before we began to leap frog one another for a few more miles. Johnson’s was the next station and I knew Sarah would be there waiting with the rest of the crew.I got excited and moved as best I could down the winding trail. I was tired but still giving it all I had to try and break 10 hours like I had wanted to. Then came the signs that told us 5 miles to go… 4 miles to go… this played serious tricks on your mental game for sure. I saw a mountain biker who was companioned of cramps and told his buddy he was done. With 5 miles left, I handed him my S! Caps and told him to “Finish the damn thing.”
We come out of the woods and onto a dirt road, as we turn the corner to run through a local farm, Mount Ascutney appears before us and it looks huge! I knew I was almost home and tried kicking it in a bit more, but only to feel a couple of twinges in my legs. I was on the verge of more cramping and I was a bit frustrated. An entire year of racing, training and studying for this sport and I still don’t have it entirely right.. But I knew what I did have a lot of and that’s Heart… I had some left. I ran back into the woods and out onto the next road where I could hear traffic from the cars on Busy Rte 44. I glanced up ahead and saw Drew and Pete waiting for me at the corner. “Lets go Johnny!” They ran with me into the station where I tried to quickly refill with the absolute essentials. My crew was now Huge.. it consisted of Dad, Helen, Sarah, Pete and Bekah and her friend Carmen… I had 30 Minutes to run the last 3 miles to the finish and break 10 Hours.
I ran out of the station and hurried along as fast as I could up through Johnson’s farm. Paul came flying out of nowhere and passed me like I was standing still. Then came the biker I helped get back into the race.. he thanked me for the help and I congratulated him on his efforts. The last 3 miles seem to go on forever as we climb up Ascutney and run across parallel to the valley below about half way up. I started passing other runners and vowed to not let anyone else pass me from here to the end. I dug deep, reach down into my soul and kicked it in one last time looking for sub 10 hours. I turned the corner and started running down the ski slope. The crowd cheered and I happily crossed the finish line where I thank Zeke Zucker for his hard work… 10:08… DAMN! I put my head down and walked up the chute with my medal on. Sarah gave me a hug and congratulated me as did the rest of my friends and family.. but I was disappointed. 8 minutes too long..
I set a personal best on the course by bettering my time from 2006 (10:36). 30 Minutes off. I was 19 minutes longer than my 50 Mile PR (JFK 50 2006) and this now became my 3rd fastest 50 Mile time yet behind the JFK50 and 2006 Nifty Fifty in RI (10:05). Stonecat is my next Ultra… I think I’ll start training with some time off.
Notes: Great to see and meet so many great people again. Many thanks to you all for your continued encouragement and friendship: John Holt, Nate, Paul, Jeff from CT, that guy from NJ, The guy from Canada, Dave Delebec, Josh in NH, Chris Wile, Charles Dona and Leigh Schmidt. I also have to thank my crew and friends once again for come out to check out ultra-running. I only hope they have a better understanding of why I do what I do.
Click HERE for Pictures