Gobi Wrap-Up, Intro to Verbier

Thanks to everyone for following along while Team Stray Dogs GoLite raced through the high mountain desert of China during the 2007 Gobi March organized by Racing the Planet. A special thanks to all of you who sent the Stray Dogs e-mail messages during the race, posted your comments here, and sent your personal e-mails to me while Marsh was away. Your interest and support are GREATLY appreciated! Truly. Our sincere thanks.

The Stray Dogs, Marshall Ulrich (Marsh), Mark Macy (Mace), and Bob Haugh (Dr. Bob) all returned to the States on Monday June 25, 2007. All reported having a GREAT time, in a beautiful place with spectacular scenery, warm and welcoming locals, wonderful people – racers, volunteers, and race organizers all. They were impressed with the race organization, including a well marked a course with a variety of terrain and scenery; plenty of water, both at the aid stations and hot water at night to cook with; great local entertainment at various locations; and good accommodations, as the tents were more than sufficient, and who else would ever get to stay in the homes of locals in a small village in the middle of nowhere in western China!?! They were also impressed with the Charity work that Racing the Planet does through Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgery to children born with cleft plates and other deformities. Without this organization, these kids would never have surgery at all.

The bug that had hit Mace, and then Dr. Bob, during Stage 4 (remember the 11:30 minutes to complete 29 miles?) and into Stage 5, the Long March of 50 miles, which they were able to complete in 18 hours, hit Marsh on the way home. Oh, and I go it too on Wednesday night and Thursday. While it didn’t last very long, it was very intense! I have no idea how Mace and Dr. Bob continued to race when they had it!!! Or, how Marsh managed on the plane rides home. Icky. That’s my professional medical comment ;-} It proved to me, yet again, that these are TOUGH and DETERMINED guys. Anyway, with the timing and the spread of the bug, it was apparently some kind of virus not necessarily related to under-boiled water. I hope the other racers, and their families, are feeling okay!!

Marsh continues to fight a bit of jet lag, but doesn’t want to get too used to the time in the States, as we’re off on Monday to France and Switzerland for 16 days! That’s right. There’s no stopping Marsh! So… what’s this adventure all about?

Well… first, we are very excited that Marsh’s youngest daughter, Ali who is 17, will be joining us! We will flying to Geneva, Switzerland, and then drive to Chamonix, France to stay for a few days. Ali had expressed some interest in mountaineering awhile back, so Marshall did some training with her on the glacier just above our house (how convenient is that?), including roped travel, using crampons and an ice ax, and self-arrest. Depending on Ali’s fitness level (Marshall had made a training schedule for her) they may attempt to climb Mount Blanc! Marshall reached the summit of Blanc last year, but is thrilled about the possibility of introducing Ali to mountaineering… and, in the Alps no less! What a lucky kid (as another example, she got her SCUBA deep water dive to complete her PADI training in Cancun and Cozumel, Mexico a few years ago). I’ve also heard rumors of parasailing… hmmmm. A drive through the tunnel to Italy (near Torino, where the 2006 winter Olympics were held) for a different view of the Alps may also be in order. Whatever Ali wants to do, we’re delighted that she will have the opportunity to see a bit of Europe, as travel is such a great learning experience.

After Chamonix, the working part – and the real focus of the trip – begins. We will drive to Verbier, Switzerland for an Olympian training camp and the Verbier Ultra Run. Marshall will be working with host Betsy Magee as a coach at the Verbier Olympian Training Camp. Betsy, through her company Extremeworkout, sponsors the camp and has invited Olympic candidates from distant parts of the world to train for their dream. The camp is invitational and Betsy works with the Olympic Committees of the countries represented in order to offer this experience to the young Olympic hopefuls. Assistance with travel and accommodations is provided and runners are encouraged to bring family and friends to enjoy the Swiss Alps. Marsh is honored and delighted to have been invited to coach this Olympian camp and to work closely with his dear friend, Betsy who makes it all happen. Other coaches include Lahcen Ahansal from Morocco, 10 time winner of the Marathon des Sables, and Jackton Odhiambo Wasiema from Kenya, marathon champion and coach. Many of you already know of Jackton since you have so generously sent shoes for his runners! THANK YOU!!!

The young Olympic hopefuls will culminate their training by competing in the 20km Verbier Ultra Run. On race day, July 14th, camp participants and ultra runners from around the world with enjoy the most scenic quality of any race course in the world traveling along the breathtaking mountain tracks and pathways. There are frequent aid stations and there is a pasta party the night before the race and an awards ceremony after the race. To learn more, please go to http://www.extremeworkout.com/verbierrace2007k.htm.

Marsh’s hero and mentor, Ted Corbitt, the father of ultra running in the U.S., will also be in Verbier. What an honor it will be to spend more time with Ted, a true legend and a gentleman. To paraphrase a post on the UR list recently, Ted never had to make up categories to be winner. He just went out there and got it done. You will not meet a more understated, humble, kind, focused, or accomplished ultra running champion anywhere.

Ali and I will assist with the Olympian Training Camp and Verbier Ultra Run as we can, and simply enjoy the amazing opportunity to meet young runners from places like Kenya, India, and Morocco, as well as elite ultra runners and champions from around the world.

After Verbier, we will spend a few days in Zermatt, Switzerland, in the shadow of the Matterhorn. Ahh… such a beautiful place!

We’ll try to post a few updates from Europe to let you know how it’s all going! Maybe Ali will have a story to tell about her first climb!? Stay tuned!!

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