Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The New Year is fast approaching and with it comes The 2011 Running Streak Challenge.

The challenge is for you to get out and RUN AT LEAST 2 MILES every day in the month of January.

Anyone who runs all 31 days in January and then continues their streak into February will become eligible to win a Human Potential Prize Package!

Human Potential Prize Package
One Team Sherpa Headsweats Hat or Visor
Two 22oz. Nathan Hydration Bottles 
$15 worth of coupons for PowerBar Products
NEMO & Darn Tough Stickers
DVD Copy of "48: A White Mountain Documentary"

To Enter, send an e-mail to Sherpa John at

Once accepted into the contest, it is your responsibility to do the running and report to Sherpa every Sunday informing him if your streak is alive or not.
Anyone still streaking After February 14, will have ONE ticket in the drawing for the Prize Package.
Extra Tickets are given for the following:
5 Extra Tickets for a Naked Mile on January 31.
[Backside picture required for verification and may be posted ;)]
3 Extra Tickets for Most Total Miles in the month of January
2 Extra Tickets for Running a 50K or Longer during time frame
1 Extra Ticket for copy of a Western States 100 Rejection Letter
1 Extra Ticket for Registering in a PEAK Race during time period.


Monday, December 27, 2010

A Gift

Kancamagus Run 2005 - Sherpa & Nephews 

Many years ago, back when I was in the 9th grade (circa 1992) I had an assignment. The assignment was to write a one page paper about who it is in my life that inspires me. So, I sat down and typed up a riveting paper about how at the time in my life, and still today, my grandfather was my inspiration. He had had a major stroke, was now living in a wheelchair but refused to give up. He lived as normal a life as he could until the day he died and it was his courage, determination and faith that inspired me most. 

So when I got to my mothers house Christmas Eve I spotted a paper rolled up and wrapped with a bow placed in the Christmas Tree. I wondered what it was after seeing that it had a gift tag indicating that the gift was to me. A few hours later, with a sea of wrapping paper adding up all around the living room floor, after I had opened up a new pair of shoes, a calendar and a webcam... My nephew Timmy handed me the rolled up paper and told me that it was from his older brother Kenny.

I sat in the chair, unrolled the paper, and read what my nephew wrote. Almost 20 yeas after I had the assignment, my nephew Kenny had the same assignment as I. His paper was about who inspired him.. and why. As I read I felt that knot in my stomach, that feeling you get in your throat before you begin to cry. My eyes welled up as I continued to read. Here I was.. lacking motivation, gaining weight, feeling like a slob and now, in my hands was the best Christmas Gift I've ever received. Of all the times I've put my feet to the dirt or the road.. I've had it in my mind that I can only hope that my nephews will see my example and know that they too can do anything they put their mind to. And after 5 years of running.. I finally had in my hand, proof that it had worked.

Kenny wrote an immaculate letter about how I inspire him and the many ways that I have. From his examples to what it means to him and in living his own life, I was humbled, shocked, choked up.. and suddenly inspired once again. Every time I lace up my shoes.. I'll know that my work, my craft has worked. I've succeeded. Someone in my family got it.. and is living from the example.. there is no better gift to someone who strives to inspire others. I got the best gift of all though.. I heard it from family. A young, mature 13 year old boy with more talent at 13 then I think I've ever had in 29 years.. and in the end I had the Best Gift Ever.

Thanks Kenny. Merry Christmas
Uncle John

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 In Pictures - Part 2

Part 2 in a 2 part series. To read part 1 GO HERE.

Another year another presi-traverse in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Nothing beats the rock hopping up high and anyone who things Massanutten is the only place with rocks can still... think again.
It was hot as hell at the Vermont 100 and we survived, barely. Fourth year in a row running in the VT100 and my fourth finish. First time we didn't break 24 hours but we still earned every step.

Headed to Leadville Colorado for my third 100 in three months. I made it up and over Hope Pass, twice, before timing out at Twin Lakes II. I'll be back!

Helped a newcomer reach the finish line at the Vermont 50 on the most perfect day in race history.
Picked up an old passion of mine and casted a line a few times even managing to catch a few keepers.

The Run Across NH was held on trails this year. After 25 hours and 100K, the team just couldn't stand getting lost anymore. So we called it a day... but a heck of a day it was to get people moving in New Hampshire.
Made it to some lesser travelled places to take in the fall foliage of NH one last time.

At some point you just gotta relax. I spent November at home, finishing up the fall semester of Senior year and curling up next to our kitty Buttercup.

While I don't have a picture for December I can't say that life is without adventure. Trying to get back into running again, losing weight and trying to relax. The end of the semester has been crazy, and looking ahead to 2011 is even crazier. While I won't be racing as much... the types and amounts of adventure I look forward to having are both countless and different. Yet I am sitting here looking at these pictures thinking back to all the adventures we were capable of in 2010 and I am nothing less then grateful. It's been one hell of a year. From sea level to 14,000 feet. To all 4 corners of America. From the mundane to the extreme. I feel like I've accomplished a lot and have once again spent a year living the dream. Human Potential is about being ALIVE and a life has been well lived in 2010.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I can continue to provide the blog-world with some exciting news about my future (ie. Career) and welcoming back sponsors for 2011. So until then, Happy Holidays to you and yours and a very Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 In Pictures - Part 1

My annual year in review, in pictures. 2010 has been nothing short of an amazing adventure. As I look back on it, I am humbled by the kinds of things I've been fortunate to experience. Here's a stroll down the year that was, 2010.

How do you forget "the streak" I managed to string together in January which was completed with the naked mile on the 31st of the month. Could 2011 see a repeat of the feat?
Then there was the Hammy Slammy in Hillabammy 50K run. Just a typical Sherpa John fat ass training run amongst friends. I even managed to lose a glove to the snow gods... we won't get into why.

We spent 24 hours on the streets of Boston, MA investigating social justice and how experiential education theory works. Found a place to sleep in Harvard and discovered the sadness that is homelessness in America.
Then I had a little winter camping out in Barrington in preparation for our upcoming trip in the whites. The dance party was the best part and we had an absolute blast!

No Power? No Problem! We ran 50K around my town of Epping while jumping over downed power lines, under hanging limbs and then through blinding snow squalls. Epic!
Then it was the backpacking trip to Greely Ponds off the Kancamagus of NH. On a weekend of 50 degree temps, we camped on top of 10 feet of snow, created an amazing snow kitchen, did some x-country skiing and dragged 3 pounds of beef stew into the wilderness. Good times!
The month was completed by heading to Tennessee where I completed a long time dream of running in and finishing one loop at the Barkley Marathons. I survived the loop but not without paying my penance to the ultra/Barkley gods.

Three of us ran the Cross Rivendell Trail from Vermont into NH. The 54 Mile run was the first time anyone had run the trail from end to end.

If Andy Weinberg is involved, chances are its going to rain. After 60 miles of downpours and the onslaught of Snow, I dropped out of the McNaughton in VT 100 Miler focusing my sights more on the upcoming Grand Slam.
We finished May off with an 8 day backpacking trip around the Eastern Half of the Pemi-Loop in NH's White Mountains. Along the way the class was able to assist Randy Pierce and his trusty guide dog Quinn along the way. One of the toughest yet more rewarding experiences of my life.

I set a personal best on the Pittsfield Peaks 50 Mile course coming in 8th place. One of the best performances of my running career and exceptionally meaningful.
Then after 4 years.. I finally had my chance to run Western States where I finished, got my buckle, then spent a week in Vegas and the Grand Canyon celebrating life.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sherpa Christmas

Because Christmas is all about the gifts right? Right... so here is the list of items I've put on my Christmas list this year and how your outdoor pursuits could also benefit from choosing wisely. Keep in mind, it's not always all about running, this years list echoes those sentiments as I look to strengthen my outdoor horizons. It's so much more fun with the right gear.

Garmont Momentum Snow GTX Winter Boots
Garmont's Momentum hiking boot is a lightweight design built for wintery weather. The roomy toe box provides space for thick socks, while Gore-Tex lining wards off water and 400-gram Thinsulate keeps you warm in sub-zero temperatures. This boot also includes specialized lacing to accommodate snowshoe bindings, and a D-ring for attaching a gaiter. Garmont's G-Grip dual-density outsole features soft, textured lugs that remain pliable for reliable traction no matter how cold it gets. The upper is abrasion resistant suede with mesh to allow foot cooling airflow through the waterproof membrane TPU spine cushions and stabilizes in the mid and rear while flexing easily in the front Vibram TSO sole wears hard and aggressive lugs maintain traction on everything from steep climbs to off camber corners.

Hey... No more Plastic boots! YEE HAW!

Salewa Firetail GTX Hiking Shoe
The Salewa Men's Firetail GTX Hiking Shoe represents an evolutionary step forward, the missing link between a technical approach shoe and a lightweight trail runner. Specially-designed Vibram outsoles, climbing lacing, protective rands, and a customizable fit enable the state-of-the-art Firetail to handle approaches and descents on the most technical trails with ease and, thanks to the Gore-Tex insert, in any weather. They weigh 15 oz. and are lined with micro-fiber. Hot Damn!

Petzl Gri Gri
The Petzl Grigri Belay Device's self-locking system has made it a staple item at sport crags from Smith to Rifle to the Ceuse. Its internal cam locks when a sharp pull occurs to help you catch your partner's monster whipper when he skips one clip and botches the next. It also makes it much more comfortable to hold tension while he hangs and works out the moves. Aid climbers love the Grigri for belaying long A4 leads. The Petzl Grigri Belay Device's lever releases the cam to allow smooth lower. It's 7.8 oz and auto-locking with a 3 year warranty.

Petzl Ecrin Rock Helmet
Shock from falling debris will by absorbed by the durable polycarbonate shell. Keep your cool with the 14 ventilation holes while your is cushioned by the 2 foam headbands. Adjust the headband fit with the adjustment wheel while you adjust the position of the strap at the nape of the neck with a second adjustment wheel
Specifications: Weight: 156 ounces
Head circumference: 21-25 inches

Flip Video
If you don't have one of these yet, get one. The 8GB model comes with image stabilization and 2 hours of recording time and battery life. This camera is the size of a smartphone and fits comfortably in any pocket. They're customizable and come with editing software all ready loaded onto it. Check them out here!

Want to spend your money on quality races. Here are a few amazing options I highly recommend.
50K = Pineland Farms in New Glouchester, ME
50 Mile = Grand Teton Races in Alta, WY
100K = Laurel Highlands in Penn
100 Miles = Spend it on The BEAR!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goodbye Friend

Tonight I read some very sad news about the passing of my dear friend Alyssa Skye.

Some of you may know that in November 2008, I checked myself into a psychiatric ICU to do battle one on one with severe depression. And so began a very turbulent time in my life which included... and still includes.. a very tough daily struggle to climb out of the ditch. But I fondly remember the time I met Alyssa Skye out in San Francisco.. in March of 2009.

Alyssa and I had started playing e-mail tag with each other through e-mails and facebook. We started having conversations off list from the ultra-list during the time of my personal incarceration. I remember those months talking to her being very soothing and helpful. She seemed to understand me and what i was going through. She listened with an open heart and an open mind and then one day she said.. "You need a vacation.."

Without blinking an eye, I got an e-mail from Alyssa that she had bought me a plane ticket to visit her in San Francisco during my spring break. So, that March I hopped on airplane and flew to San Francisco, alone, to see my new friend. She picked me up in the airport and brought me to Pier 39 where we had lunch and some Fat Tires. Then it was up to me where to go. We ran back and forth over the Golden Gate Bridge then ran in Muir Woods where we ran underneath the giant Red Woods, along the Dipsea all the way to Stinson Beach where I soaked my legs in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.. and just stared out at the water.

She even paid for a hotel room.. and every meal we ate, every beer we drank. We talked for hours about running and hiking and rock climbing. The next day we went to the the Marin Headlands, checking out the Miwok 100 Course and the Beach down at Tennessee Valley. Down there I watched in awe as Alyssa free climbed on the rocks that the waves crashed upon. The next day we made it out towards Point Reyes and ran on the trails up there. We made it all the way out to that famous light house where we looked for whales.

Four days of my life... during my darkest days... a complete stranger who never batted an eye at flying me to California all expenses paid to simply LIVE. I will always remember this trip as a life changing experience, as a trip that put some sunshine on my darker days and when someone... or something.. greater showed me that people do love in this world. Even strangers.
It had been a few months since I had heard from Alyssa. I talked with her last week. As always we talked about her children and how much she loved them. How much she grew to hate SAR yet enjoyed the work she did in looking for those in trouble. But I'll always remember my friend Alyssa... telling me that once I moved to Boulder she was coming over to teach me to climb lead on those Flat Irons out there... we were both so excited..

I leave you with this.. While out at Point Reyes.. we made our way to Arch Rock and headed down to the seashore where we walked along the sandy shore searching for creatures and shells. I'll never forget the huge starfish and sea anenomes. I found a huge chunk of quartz down there.. that was too big to take home on the plane. Little did I know but my friend had picked it up and hid it in her bag... I got it in the mail a week after returning home with a book titled, "Everybody Needs a Rock."   I guess I'll read before bed tonight...

Good Night Alyssa... I'll miss you friend. Keep bringing me that sunshine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hell Week..

Sorry I've been off and on these last few weeks. It's the end of the fall semester in my Senior year at The University of New Hampshire. As you can imagine, I've been really busy wrapping up the semester with no room for errors. While I'm struggling with my own bout of senioritis, I'm doing my best to bring it all together. This semester I was retaking Accounting in an attempt to bring my grade up... after it was clear it wasn't going to happen I stopped going to the class about a month ago now. That left me time to pay very close attention to three other classes this semester. Resort and Spa Management, Wilderness in American Society and Leadership Practicum. All 3 of these classes tied together well for me as Wilderness in America took a close look at how wilderness helped shape who we are as a people which included the various movements towards cherishing wilderness to recreating in it and current climate issues. Resort and Spa management is just that but a good deal of time was spent on Ski and Mountain Resorts. Finally, In leadership practicum I spent a fair chunk of my semester traveling all over the Northeast, Job Shadowing at such resorts as The Baslams and Mount Washington in Northern New Hampshire; and Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills of New York. Through my practicum research I studied the varying ideas of resort recreation in the mountain settings and how we as Americans have started to flock to more "extreme" resort activities such as Zip lining, canopy tours, etc. It's been a great semester but as we get to the last week of it here, I've got plenty of writing to do in the form of reports which wrap it all up.

I also had a job interview the other day which I am BEYOND excited about. It's with a guide service in the Rocky Mountains. Yup, my dream job. After graduating in May my hope is to be living in the Front Range guiding a variety of activities in the Rocky Mountains. Hiking, back packing, biking, rock climbing, fly fishing and team building. The mountains will be my office.. and life will have once again come full circle. I can't wait for the 2nd interview with the hopes of continued success. The owner of the company has thoughts of me doing multi-peak adventures in the Rockies with guests which include 30 mile days on ridge lines... can you say heaven?!
My weight has not fluctuated much over the last week. I got out for 3 runs last week and have yet to get out since. After last Friday's 6 mile run around town, I felt a sharp pain in my right shin. It hurts to the touch and sometimes... it doesn't even need a touch. So I've opted to ice it, rest and continue with some shin exercises that I know to help strengthen the muscles in the area. This is the down side of the month of rest. Everything that secretly hurt... is now letting me know that it hurts. Good news is.. There's tomorrow and the next day to get back at it. I just need to remember to take it slow and slowly get back into the groove. I'm ready... with Hardrock and Leadville on my mind. I also bought a new pair of boots for winter hiking that finally came in. Man are they light and I'm excited to give the 48 in One Winter a go.. finally.

Congrats to everyone who got into Western States. As much as I complain about the cost of the race, etc etc.. I understand the thrill of running it and wanting to get in. So.. good luck to all of you who got chosen, Especially our good friend Nate Sanel. I can't wait to help Nate get prepared for America's Oldest 100 with whatever knowledge I have.

Here is what I've got coming up on the blog!
Sherpa's Christmas List
2010 Year in Pictures (2 Part Series)
2010 Official Adventure Recap
Winter Preview
Other Misc. Extras!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day One...

I stepped on the scale and it read 174. I've never weighed this much in my life. As I look down with my belly hanging out, I know I need to get it in gear to rid of it. It's a cancer, I can't stand it. If one more person comments on how much weight I've gained I'm likely to freak. I know that nows the time to start, it's as good a time as any and it's my only hope that there are others out there who have regressed who'll join me on getting back into the groove.

I put my running clothes on and stepped outside. It's a horrible night. 51 Degrees and it's raining buckets. The wind is whipping from the SE at 25 MPH and gusts are blasting me at 45. The windchill it near 40 and when the rain hits you it stings like hell. It might as well be sleet, which I'm sure will eventually come when winter decides to arrive for good. I put my headphones on and my Garmin watch and head off down the street. Today is Day One.. and it's time to set some goals.

As I run my 5K loop, I'm running at what I call Threshold -1. This is just shy of threshold pace. I'm pushing slightly, running at conversation pace. Having to breath but not enough to pant or gasp for air. It's a time trial and every 1st of the month I'll repeat the run to test my progress. It's all about collecting information in order to set my goals for the month and over all. With my iPod blaring tunes in my head, Metallica's Bleeding Me came on. How appropriate this night seems to me. I know this process is going to be tough and I'll have to weather the storm. I know I'm going to have to bleed, and cry and be in pain. It's all a part of the game. The rain came down in buckets, lashed my face and headlights from on coming cars lit up the steady stream of water dripping from the brim of my hat. I ran focused and know I'll have to repeat tomorrow.

December Goals:
Weight: 174 to Sub 170
Time: 5K in 26:07 to Sub 25:00
Days: Run on 20 Days

3 Month Goals: (Testing March 1)
Weight: Sub 165
Time: 5K in Sub 23:00
Two 50K Runs in Feb

I'm currently reading Ultra-Metabolism to get into a new eating mind set. I'm quitting Fast Food and Soda again. It's time to get Busy. I hope you'll all join me for this ride to better your lives, feel great and meet your goals. Together we can do this. This is a photo from April 2007. I look emaciated.. but I was in great shape. 153 Pounds. I want to be back here and I have 21 Pounds to go
If you're in... post a comment with your goals for the next 3 months.. and lets do this together!