My new neighbor crossed the street into my driveway, holding up the recent issue of the Sierra Sun “Is this you?” Prominently featured on the front page of the newspaper was my 2018 finish at the Western States 100.
My wife and I had moved into the small purple house across the street from Denver at the end of 2017. This was the first he’d heard of the iconic Western States 100, or that I was an ultra-runner. “I want to do this race,” he said. I told him he better get in line.
A fellow Irishman, Denver and I naturally hit it off. But it wasn’t just our shared heritage that drew us close. His new interest and passion for running, combined with a determination to achieve what some would deem impossible, fostered an unexpected relationship: one of mentor and student.
In my early days with DPMR, I’d leveraged the collective wisdom of experienced runners like Helen Pelster, Jenelle Potvin, Peter Fain, Betsy Nye, and Chaz Sheya to help me train for and run my first ultras. I don’t consider myself in the same category as my mentors, but the opportunity to pass on their guidance to another runner was truly an honor.
I started inviting Denver to my weekend runs, introducing him to my training partners and good friends. Denver joined DPMR, bringing his family to club runs and events, and he even signed up for DPMR’s signature race, the Castle Peak 100k as his first ultra-marathon. He “only” placed 6th at one of the toughest 100k’s in the country, and his first attempt at the distance—ever.
I am sure it was a result of his neighbor’s advice. Yes, Denver is fast—very fast—and not just with his pace, but also with how well he has adapted to the sport. He’s an intelligent runner who puts body maintenance over miles, something I’ve recently learned (sitting here with a torn meniscus) is far more important than hitting your weekly mileage goals. So at the same time I was being asked to teach the ways of the trail, he was also showing me the proper way to train before getting on the trails.
Training can be a burden for some, but Denver makes it a priority, and it fits in naturally with his day-to-day activities. He has laser-focused goals, and I have no doubt he’ll meet them. He’s a great running partner to pass the miles with and an even better neighbor, hosting dinners or taking care of shitty kitty while we are away. He’s also Irish, and that’s just a bonus! Our club mission is to “Inform, Inspire & Connect” and if there’s a summary of the relationship with my neighbor and friend, it’s exactly that.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone N. Ireland. I have been living in Kings Beach, CA since June 2013.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
Throughout my life I ran as a part of playing team sports. Since giving up team sports in 2010, I had been in search of something to stay in shape physically and mentally. I started boxing at a local boxing gym and I signed up for the San Francisco 1/2 marathon and Tough Mudder in 2011. I ran the San Francisco 1/2 marathon placing 23rd overall and also completed Tough Mudder that year. After moving to Kings Beach in 2013, mountain biking became my only source of exercise. It wasn’t until 2019 that I began trail running with an ultimate goal of running longer distances. My neighbor is an Ultra runner which helped me consider trying ultra running. I began going on longer runs with Sean Flanagan, Alex Humenetskyj, Jeff Reifers and others in 2020. It wasn’t until 2021 that I entered by first Ultra race.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
Yes, my first Ultra marathon was the CastlePeak 100K in 2021. Racing is a great motivator for me. I’m constantly expanding my knowledge of the sport while enjoying the outdoors.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
At present I enjoy participating in local races with hopes to obtain a qualifier for Western States.
What was the best running advice you’ve received?
Start slow then go slower.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
I currently am using Spring Energy, liquid calories and electrolytes while on the trails. I have a post run/workout protein shake. Two that I use are Orgain and Hammer nutrition. I believe in eating a whole foods diet and try to minimize the amount of processed foods consumed. I enjoy a big bowl of granola and oatmilk to help replenish after a big run.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
The experience of running the Castle Peak 100K was unique for me as I had never ran that far before. Prior to Castle Peak, the furthest distance achieved was running two individual 50k runs, therefore I was uncertain if I could finish a 100K.
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
Currently I am signed up for the Canyons 100k and the TRT 100 miler.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I am a water Treatment Plant operator here in Tahoe. I’m able to train everyday thankfully.
What led you to join DPMR?
Meeting other DPMR members encouraged me to join.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
The Newbies Runs with Steve Buelna. Best decision of 2021. I brought my family with me so that we could meet new people and learn more about the regions trails and what they have to offer. Winning a pair of new running shoes was a big plus also!
Favorite local trail?
The Kings Beach multi trail system and the TRT.
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run?
I’ve learned that there are always difficult moments during long runs/races. I believe that preparation for tough times on the trails begins by training in similar conditions. A mantra I use is “You’ve got this”.
Do you listen to audio while you run and if so, what have you been enjoying lately?
No, I’ve been trying to train without audio.
Recovery technique(s) that you swear by?
I incorporate a mix of different techniques. I roll out religiously using various trigger point devices, I incorporate daily mobility workouts and yoga. My favorite recovery method is a post run/race 90 minute massage.
Do you have a favorite piece of running gear (hydration system, shoe, clothing layer, sock, etc.)?
Probably my Coros Vertix watch. I download running routes on it regularly.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I enjoy hiking with my family, camping, biking and visiting national parks. All things backcountry really.