Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gear Review: Honey Stinger Gold Gel by Robert Whitaker

Product: Honey Stinger Gold gel – 1.3 oz

Ingredients: Honey, Water, Potassium Citrate, Salt, B vitamins

Nutrition Information: 120 calories, 50 mg Sodium, 85 mg Potassium, 29 g Total carbohydrates (from sugar)

Pricing: $1.29 for a single packet and $30.96 for a box of 24 from

Impressions:  I first used the Honey Stinger Gold gels for my long training run of 15 miles. The "honey" taste is the first obvious advantage over other gels – it tastes great! It has a thinner consistency than other gels I've been using and that makes it so much easier to swallow while running. I was most impressed with the energy in the gel. It really sustained me during the run and my energy level was excellent throughout the entire run. The Honey Stinger gel gave me no problems with my stomach and with recent problems using other products it was nice to run without digestive issues.

Summary: My overall impression with the Honey Stinger gel is – OUTSTANDING! I'm looking forward to using it in competition.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Robert is a new member of the Fleet Feet Racing Team from Huntsville in the 2012 season.  Robert began running in 2002 and moved here in 2008 with his wife Sherry.  His team biography can be found here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Results

The Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team had a great weekend of running in Monte Sano State Park at McKay Hollow Madness 25km trail run, directed by team mate Blake Thompson.  Katie Maehlmann took another female victory with Lynn Curry rounding out the podium for 3rd female.

On the men's side, Eric Charette was 2nd overall, followed closely by George Heeschen in 3rd.

Out on the course volunteering were Rob Youngren, Eric Fritz, Randy McFarland, Erik Debolt, Brett Wilks and Christy Scott.

Official Results

2 Eric Charette, 36 - 2:06:08
3 George Heeschen, 25 - 2:06:43
4 Brad Schroeder, 27 - 2:11:58
5 David O'keefe, 38 - 2:20:11
7 Eric Patterson, 39 - 2:22:23
9 Tim Vinson, 47 - 2:24:39
14 Timothy Pitt, 33 - 2:29:34
15 Katie Maehlmann, 34 - 2:30:34
29 Lynn Curry, 36 - 2:42:38
63 Dana Overton, 37 - 3:06:20

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Savage Gulf Trail Marathon

2012 Savage Gulf Trail Marathon
March 17, 2012
Race Report by Timothy Pitt

This was by far the toughest and most beautiful race I have done to date. I really put in some great weeks of training over the past 4-6 weeks and felt confident in my fitness. This course was just tough. The climbs, the technical difficulty, the heat and humidity it was all tough.

The race starts in the parking lot of the Stone Door ranger station and quickly hits a service road. I started in the front pack and tucked in right behind Randy Whorton from the Rock Creek race team out of Chattanooga. There was about 8 guys ahead of us including three from the Chattanooga area one being Brian Costilow who is also on the Rock Creek race team. I held back and just kept it under control. I knew the first section was flat and easy. The service road dumped us out on the Big Creek Rim trail heading to the Stone Doors decent. This section is very runnable and includes some breath taking overlooks. Around mile three we arrived at Stone Door! The trail begins the drop down into the gulf through a massive stone formation crevasse!! After the three hundred foot drop via stone steps through the rock we were dropped back onto the descending trail.

It doesn’t take long before you begin to feel the humidity increasing as you run deeper into the gorge. The big bolder fields showed up early, and right before our first stream crossing. I had taken a gamble on my shoe selection, opting to run in a brand new pair of Brooks Pure Grit. I found out really quick that these shoes do not grip moss covered rocks!! My first slip/fall was the worst of the day mostly due because I was not expecting it! I yelped pretty loud as my left foot slipped and my ankle rolled!!

Once the first main decent was complete we turned onto a connector trail that followed the beautiful gorge floor. This section included three suspension bridges that crossed over deep flowing mountain streams!! I found out on the first bridge that running them was not easy. These bridges have a natural harmonic that does not match my running pace! I quickly felt like I was just jumping straight up and down!! Randy and I had a pretty good laugh about it, and I told him how stupid I must have looked trying to run across the bridge. The last part of the connector trail climbs out of the deepest part of the main gorge and onto the Collins Gulf trail. This climb was long, but included some level sections on a couple of switch backs. Coming out of the deep gulf I was surprised at how much I had sweated already. Most of this was due to the high humidity, but the temperature was already climbing and the sun was out in full force.

This section of the course was the most beautiful, and included a huge waterfall. It was breathtaking! We crossed over the rapids and stream on another suspension bridge right at the base of the falls! WOW!! I had to stop and soak in the view! The bridge ended at an enormous rock overhang with the trail continuing on under it. After another short climb the first aid station appeared at 9.4 miles. I threw back a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade and after smiling and thanking all the volunteers took off again (I try and follow the example of DeWayne Satterfield!!). Just shortly after the aid station we get to the biggest boulder field that we will encounter all day. This was slow moving for me, I had already fallen several times on rocks. At this point Randy took off and said he was going after the front runners. He had no troubles on the rocks with his Hokas.

The Collins Gulf trail turned into the Collins Rim trail, and I was happy about that! Finally some nice flat fairly smooth trail to run on, I was ready to move! This section of trail follows the East side of Collins Gulf and offers many beautiful views out into the main gulf! Up to this point the race had been going pretty smooth. At around mile 14ish I was crossing through a small stream about mid shin deep and bent slightly to place a hand on a rock. Yep, that bend was just enough for me to feel the first twinge of a cramp in my quads!! I had taken 2 s-caps before the race start, and two more right around the first aid station. I quickly took two more and kept moving, now focusing on shorting my stride some to keep from bending my legs much.

Around mile 15 the course starts another decent to cross the deep gulf again via the Stagecoach Road Historic Trail. This beat my already cramping quads pretty good! Just before mile 16 the course follows a slick washout/creek. Luckily there was a ranger giving out warnings to take it real slow due to the very slick rock. As I was getting closer to the aid station I pushed the fluids hard, draining my camelback. This aid station was a life saver!! They had a tub of salt and cooked potatoes!! It was a flash back to mile 24 of Mountain Mist!! I handed off my pack to one of the worker who filled it with Gatorade and began scooping heaping mounds of salt into my mouth with the potatoes. You should have seen how big the aid station workers eyes got when they saw how much salt I ate. I knew it was exactly what I needed. I thanked them in words and with smiles and continued on my way.

Shortly after the second aid station we returned to the Connector Trail. This was the only section of the course ran on twice. It was here that I caught back up with Randy who looked to be struggling from the heat. This connector trail took us back across those three suspension bridges and through several stream crossings. Just before the third and last bridge my stomach took a bad turn. I was reduced to walking. Lucky for me a ranger was waiting at that bridge and provided me with exactly what I needed!! When I returned back to the trail after a pit stop he informed me that only one person had come through. I took off feeling much better. I could also tell the salt was helping my cramping muscles!

I made pretty good time and quickly caught the guy that had passed me. I was expecting it to be Randy, but it wasn’t. We made a quick conversation and asked how each other felt. I quickly went on. The connector trail came to the Stone Door and Big Creek Gulf trail intersection. This is where the course continued on new section with the Big Creek Gulf trail. The name was clear as this trail followed the main stream through the deepest part of the gulf. It was a huge stream that was flowing with an abundance of clear mountain water. I pasted several cascading waterfalls that fed into the main creek. The sun had been baking down pretty hard all day it was hot! I wanted to stop and jump into a few of the deep refreshing pools of water I went past, but did not.

The Big Creek Gulf trail turned into the Greeter trail, which was a straight steep climb out of the gulf and back up to the top of the ridge. This climb was the worst of them all!! This section offered no switch backs, only straight constant rocky climbs. I hiked out of the gulf as hard as I could knowing there was the final aid station at the top and only a three mile section that was pretty flat to the finish line. I was so happy when I make it to the aid station!! What a climb!! I handed off my pack to be refilled again with water and thanked all the workers for the time and effort. I quickly took off and pushed the pace.

This last section was tough. It was so hot and my legs were cooked!! I just kept telling myself to keep my legs moving. The aid station works told me that I was currently in fifth place. I wasn’t sure how far the next guy up was, but I was going to push this section as hard as I could. This section was not scenic at all and seemed to go on forever! With about a mile and a half to go I caught a glimpse of someone ahead of me! I quickly caught him and took him by surprise. I think he had head phones in because when I called out on your left he did not move. I jumped off the trail to the left and bounded past him just as he started to walk. He gave a jump, and started looking around. By the time he realized what had happened I had put a gap on him. He quickly started running again. I put a surge in to make him think I was running stronger than I was so he would give up. Luckily it worked. He faded back and I was soon by myself again, and not a moment too soon. I started feeling my quads cramp up again. I suspect they were not happy about the pace or the surge.

I soon saw another person ahead and quickly realized it was a volunteer. As I approached I heard him calling into a radio runner. Just past him the trail dumped out on the road that leads into the park. I turned right and saw the finish line up ahead!! I unbuckled and tossed off my pack! I put my head down and turned it into an all out sprint to the finish. I had been watching the time and distance since the last aid station and thought I could finish under five and a half hours. I pulled the typical Pitt style finish and crossed the finish line in 5:30:03!! So close. I smiled and walked back to pick up my pack.

What a great race! It is the toughest and most beautiful courses I have done to date! I am already looking forward to running it next year!!

Tim started running in the  spring of 2006 to get fit and healthy and since then has run every distance from 5km to 50km.  He is heavily involved with Fleet Feet Racing and in the promotion of running in his hometown of Arab, Alabama where he holds the distinction of being the fastest man in Arab.  His team biography can be found here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Results

The temperatures are heating up in North Alabama and so are the times from the Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team. This weekend was headlined by Katie Maehlmann taking the overall female win at the Instant Classic Marathon at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, VA. Katie ran a scorching 3:36:41 and Rick Maehlmann ran 3:42:38.

Official Results

In Mooresville at the Rocket Run 10-miler, the team took 6 of the top 10 overall places lead by Andrew Hodges who ran 56:30 and earned 2nd overall place.  Kathy Youngren was 2nd female overall.  Numerous team volunteers were out in force helping out, including David Rawlings, Brandon York, Lynn Curry, Victor Brown and Eric Patterson.

2 Andrew Hodges 28 - 56:30 5:39
3 Blake Thompson 30 - 58:55 5:54
4 Donald Bowman 44 - 59:31 5:58
5 George Heeschen 25 - 59:42 5:59
6 Eric Charette 36 - 59:48 5:59
8 Dink Taylor 46 - 1:02:23 6:15
11 Greg Reynolds 29 - 1:03:08 6:19
12 Tim Vinson 47 - 1:04:06 6:25
13 Robert K Whitaker 53 - 1:04:32 6:28
16 Randy McFarland 51 - 1:07:37 6:46
27 Kathy Youngren 37F - 1:12:04 7:13

Official Results

At the 34th Annual Lake Guntersville Wild Irish Run 10km, Dana Overton was 2nd female overall in a time of 45:16.

Official Results

At the inaugural Savage Gulf Trail Marathon, Tim Pitt finished 4th overall in a time of 5:30:03 in a race he said was one of the most difficult courses he had ever run!

Official Results

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Weekend Results

What an amazing weekend for Fleet Feet Racing, starting in Decatur where the team was busy setting records.  Kathy Youngren broke her own record by running 6:56:29 for 50 miles, making her once again the fastest woman to ever run that distance in the State of Alabama.  Only 4 women have ever ran under 8 hours and Kathy has the two fastest times (7:06:59 last year and the first woman to break 7 hours!) and with her time this weekend is now faster  than any other woman in the state by 41 minutes, 29 seconds.

The team also put together a relay team looking to break the existing record (also held by the Racing Team) of 103 miles.  They easily ran past that mark and went on to total 117 miles in 12 hours!  That is an amazing 6:09 pace on average for George Heeschen, Brad Schroeder, Erik Debolt and Tim Vinson.

The team also had two more relay teams running at Delano that notched high mileage marks.  The Roundabouts (David Rawlings, Lisa Rawlings, Lynn Curry and Andrew Hodges) ran 94 miles (7:36 pace for 12 hours) finishing as 2nd relay team.  Christy Scott ran a relay with her entire family and they totaled 72 miles!

Official Results

Out west, Eric Charette and Tim Pitts set out to run under 12 hours for the 41.8 mile rim to rim to rim (20,000+ feet of elevation change) in the Grand Canyon and when the day was over, they finished their epic adventure in 11 hours and 9 minutes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gear Review: Honey Stinger 20 gram protein bar by Tim Pitt

Date: Monday, March 6, 2012

Product: Honey Stinger 20 gram protein bar

Details: Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta Pro™

Pricing: $2.99 for a single bar, $35.88 per case, available online at or locally at Fleet Feet Sports Huntsville

Description: Not your ordinary protein bar! Honey Stinger protein bars are gluten free and contain no trans fats. This protein bar contains over 30% organic ingredients, 20 grams of whey protein, and 23 vitamins and minerals.

Impressions: I recently tried one of these Honey Stinger 20 gram Protein Bars after a long grueling trail run.  I knew that after +3 hours of tearing and breaking down my muscles I needed something to help them recover. Overall I was extremely pleased with the taste of this product. I am a big fan of peanut butter, so it was a natural fit. The texture of the bar was very smooth. It reminded me of a 3 Musketeers candy bar, but maybe a little denser. I felt like I was eating a candy bar in comparison to some of the other brands of high protein bars that I have had in the past. I found the bar to be quite filling and satisfying.

Suggestion: Although this bar has 20 grams of protein it also has 350 calories and 140 of those are from fat. This is not a huge consideration on my part since I typically only consume these type bars right after a run of 15 or more miles. Just be sure not to start using this delicious protein bars as a snack food, because once you taste them that is exactly what you will want to do!

Summary: Nothing beats a great tasting high protein bar made with quality ingredients after a tough workout! This is a bar you will want to keep in your running bag for sure!

Tim started running in the  spring of 2006 to get fit and healthy and since then has run every distance from 5km to 50km.  He is heavily involved with Fleet Feet Racing and in the promotion of running in his hometown of Arab, Alabama where he holds the distinction of being the fastest man in Arab.  His team biography can be found here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Results

What a great weekend of running for the Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team!

Staring on Saturday in Albany, Georgia where Eric Patterson realized his running goal of breaking 3-hours in the marathon by running an outstanding 2:59:19 and finishing 15th overall.  The conditions were less an ideal as the picture shows the rain, but the look of joy on Eric's face says it all!

Also on Saturday, Marty Clarke fresh off of his 50th birthday, took the overall win at Crestline 5km in 18:33.

Sunday brought more racing, starting in New Orleans where Kathy Youngren ran a 3:17:12 which placed her 162nd of 3657 total, 2nd in her age group and 19th female overall. David Rawlings ran a strong 3:44:51.

Official Results

In Huntsville, new racing team member Andrew Hodges ran away from the field early and despite a great second half charge by Brad Schroeder, was the overall winner of the UAH10km in a time of 33:52.  Caitlin Morris was the female overall winner (and 9th overall) in a time of 37:46.  Out volunteering on the day where Rick and Katie Maehlmann at the aid station, Dink Taylor, Eric Fritz, Jim Clemens, Brandon York, Blake Thompson and Rob Youngren at the finish line and Lynn Curry as a split timer on the course.

Official Results

1 Andrew Hodges 28 - 33:52 5:27
2 Brad Schroeder 27  -  35:17 5:41
4 Donald Bowman 44  -  35:55 5:47
5 Eric Charette 36  -  36:12 5:50
7 Erik Debolt 29  -  36:37 5:54
8 Greg Reynolds 29  -  37:27 6:02
9 Caitlin Morris 27F  -  37:46 6:05
10 Candace Jacobs 31F  -  37:51 6:06
12 Tim Vinson 47  -  38:16 6:10
14 Robert Whitaker 53  -  39:01 6:17
35 Dana Overton 37F  -  44:57 7:14
45 Christy Scott 38F  -  46:31 7:30

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gear Review: Swiftwick Pursuit Zero Compression Socks by Tim Pitt

Product: Swiftwick Pursuit Zero Compression Socks (low ankle height)

Pricing: $14.99 per pair, available online at or locally at Fleet Feet Sports Huntsville

Details: Made from Australian Merino Wool

Technology Information: Merino Wool is a nature’s original technical fiber and has proven insulating and wicking qualities.

Impressions: I recently wore a pair of Swiftwick Pursuit socks at a local 5km race. The last two miles of this 5km were run on an open field that had some pretty sloppy and muddy sections. Because of the wet muddy conditions I wore my trails shoes and put on my brand new pair of socks. My immediate feel for the socks were unbelievable!! It was as if I had wrapped my feet in the softest material ever. Swiftwick describes the sock as “itchless,” I think they are down playing it!! I am a big fan of merino wool but I would not typically describe it as extremely soft. I laced up my shoes tight; I was almost paranoid my foot would move around in the sock. The first mile of the race was on sidewalks and I immediately forgot all about my feet and socks. It was not until I started running through water and mud and felt my feet get wet that I gave them any thought. However, just as expected, the wet and cold feel quickly left and my feet were dry and warm. Despite having trudged through two miles of water and mud, my feet were very comfortable at the end of this race. I even kept the socks on for the cool down!

Suggestion: My only suggestion, and this may simply be a function of the low height version, is that they could use a bit more compression around the top of the sock.

Summary: Swiftwick merino wool socks have to be the softest most comfortable pair I have ever put on. Even with all that comfort, the merino wool performed flawlessly and kept my feet dry and warm so I could focus on the race. I have worn them on several trial training runs since.

Tim started running in the  spring of 2006 to get fit and healthy and since then has run every distance from 5km to 50km.  He is heavily involved with Fleet Feet Racing and in the promotion of running in his hometown of Arab, Alabama where he holds the distinction of being the fastest man in Arab.  His team biography can be found here.