Sept 2018 - Michael Traub (USA)
1. Please introduce yourself (where are you from? what do you do? Your race experiences?).
Michael Traub – Denver, CO, USA
I work as an independent contractor in the Information Technology sector where I generally work to supplement a corporation’s internal IT department to help design, develop, manage, and report on their internal data systems to help better understand and execute their primary business functions. I currently contract with a consumer-packaged goods holdings company out of St Louis in the US called Post Holdings. I am able to spent 98% of my time working remotely from my home (or wherever) within the US.
Race Experience –
I started out with endurance racing as an adult around 2005 when I started doing triathlons. For several years I would train primarily through the spring and summer and participate in a half and/or full Ironman race each year. I enjoyed the challenge and having a clear goal to work towards, but really found something I genuinely enjoy more when I started doing more trail and ultra racing as I never truly enjoyed the swimming or cycling aspects of triathlon. In 2011/2012 I started training for and focusing on ultras. I did my first stage race in early 2012 in Chile and loved the experience and the people I met. I enjoyed it so much that it motivated me to make a move I had been considering for some years and I moved from Chicago to Denver where the volume and availability of trails and mountains are seemingly infinite. Since that time I have completed 6 stage races around the world and have been able, the last couple of years in particular, to finally start completing some longer distance races that are completed in 1 “stage” like 50 miles, 100k, and 100 miles.
2. What is your experience with GlobalLimits races?
I first became aware of GlobalLimits around the time I completed my first stage race through social media. The locations and descriptions of the races sounded interesting and they were on my radar as possible races I would like to do at some point. I also liked the idea that I would not have to carry all 10kgs (or whatever) myself throughout the week. For 2017, it seemed that Bhutan would fall well in with my plans and schedule, so I signed up. The race was a fantastic experience overall and really met most of the criteria I was truly hoping for going in. The smaller number of runners makes the experience much more intimate and you can become quite close with most, if not all, the other participants. It also seems to me that a race in this format is about the best way to visit the countries. After enjoying the experience as much as I did I knew it was likely I would try and do Cambodia later that same year (2017). It was a very different physical race experience (flat, hot, humid), but the same non-race experience as the people and the country itself were amazing. Finally, I just completed Albania in September of 2018.
3. Which GlobalLimits race is your favorite race?
My favorite race is a tough question to answer, but I felt that Albania probably was. It just beats out Bhutan for me. The course is quite tough, but it fit the type of course and terrain that I am most used to (and most enjoy) in Colorado. It is rugged with plenty of climbing and descending. Too much flat is difficult for me mentally and tends to cause me more physical injuries and issues as well, so I greatly prefer the climbing. I also truly loved the reunion feel of the race for me as I knew at least half of the participants from the previous races completed. Plus it is hard to beat a few days in Corfu afterwards!!
4. How do you choose your equipment for a multi-stage race? Any "secret" tips?
One of the best parts of having now completed several races is that the equipment is largely known and I don’t have to buy a whole lot of new stuff, other than food of course. But doing an inventory before each race is still time consuming. I think the biggest variable is the weather that you are expecting. This drives clothing and, for me at least, which sleeping bag to bring.
Food is something that each individual needs to figure out and practice for themselves, but a couple of things I’ve found for myself:
- For dehydrated food, I empty the contents for all my meals in to a Ziploc and just bring a few of the containers to cook in. This seems to eliminate some weight and space.
- I have to keep breakfast basic and minimalistic. I just have something cold and easy to eat almost immediately once I wake up. I will then have some powdered mix that I will consume slowly out of a bottle and I use this as the rest of breakfast as well as to get some calories (200-300) to the first cp of the race. I make sure to force myself to consume this by cp1.
Take care of your feet – this is a common note mentioned and is critical. My main goal each race is to survive with clean feet after big struggles in my first 2 stage races. Know how to deal with blisters on course and after each stage and have the proper supplies. I take a very small blister kit with me during the actual run, but have plenty of extra tape, etc in my big bag. I have fortunately not needed it much I the Global Limits races (a little in wet Cambodia), but there are few things that will make a race more miserable than blisters. Even if you “never get them”!!
5. How do you choose an ultra race?
Phew – there are so many variables to take in to consideration now. I spend a lot of time through the year thinking about this and considering what I want to do and what is possible so hopefully I do not become too long winded here. I returned from Albania this year with something like 15-20 races on my radar for next year and it is obviously impossible to do that in 1 year or even 2 or 3!
I like to combine races with travel to interesting locations so normally choose my primary races based on the idea that I can do 2 or 3 “big” races and hopefully can do a significant trip (outside of the US) for at least 2 of those. There are also a huge number of races available in the western US as well so I am always looking at and considering some of those as well as those are a little easier to get to obviously. I am also always considering if a race can help me get in to a future race. I am generally looking to try and qualify for other races such as the UTMB races, Hard Rock, Western States, etc. So if a particular race can help me accomplish one of those goals, then that generally helps in the decision making process.
Lastly, I have to make sure that the “big” races I try to do in a year are spaced well enough to get the necessary mental and physical rest between them. I know some people can just go from 1 big race to another, but I have enough trouble managing various aches, pains, and injuries that I must be careful.
One last factor in choosing races is, of course, the social factor. If a race will allow me to spend time with friends from anywhere in the world, then that is a huge benefit as well. Whether it be that they are participating in the same race or if it just allows me to visit them, then that helps in choosing races as well.
6. any additional comments?
Without question the best part of these races are the people you get to spend your time with. It is nearly impossible to spend 6+ days with a group of people in such a challenging and bonding experience without coming away feeling as though you have made many new and lifelong friends. Getting to meet so many people from around the world and sharing this experience is truly the best reason to do such a race. And I would add that pretty much anyone can complete one of the races. Many people go out and simply walk the entire race and have an amazing experience.