Ray Zahab, Marshall Ulrich and Bart Yasso in a Chi Running class!

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Sun Oct 18th, 2009, 12 comments

I had the great pleasure of being surrounded by three men who are legends in the sport of running. I was invited to teach Chi Running at a running camp organized by Marshal Ulrich and Ray Zahab. It was the first in what they hope to become an annual event. Bart Yasso (of Runner’s World) was also invited to do a presentation. In case these names aren’t familiar to you I’ll give a condensed version of their accomplishments in the world of endurance sports.

Ray is a remarkable human being. I remember him calling me back in 2004, when the Chi Running book first came out. He had just started running after being a pack-a-day smoker and was totally excited that the book was helping him enjoy his new-found sport. Since then he has: run the 1130km to the South Pole, run 4300 miles across the Sahara desert, and founded an interactive educational program which allows school kids to track the progress of his adventures in their classrooms as a way to spread awareness of some of the countries he travels through. He has helped us immensely by helping to spread the word about Chi Running and injury-free running all over the world.

Marshall Ulrich is equally remarkable. He’s the only person to run four laps on the infamous 135 mile crossing of Death Valley from the lowest point in the U.S. (282′ below sea level) at Badwater to the highest point in the contiguous United States (Mt. Whitney – 14,505′) in one effort. He’s climbed the highest peaks on all seven continents, and he most recently ran across the U.S. in a record-setting 55 days (that’s about 60 miles every day for 55 days!). He’s also a formidable expedition-length adventure racer and has run 121 races over 100 miles. He also raises money for various charities that help to spread peace and justice in the world.

Bart Yasso is a household name when it comes to running. He’s been on the staff of Runner’s World since paper was invented. He has been inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions. He invented the Yasso 800′s, an ingenious way of predicting your finish time for a marathon by averaging your times for ten consecutive 800m intervals and then converting minutes to miles and seconds to minutes (i.e. a 3:15 average for all 800′s would mean that you could expect to run a 3:15 marathon). He is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents from the Antarctica marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon. In 1987, Yasso won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship and in 1998 won the Smoky Mountain Marathon. He has also completed five Ironmen and the Badwater 146 through Death Valley, as well as cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.

Needless to say, it was very exciting to be surrounded by three of the “big guns” in the world of endurance running. The workshop was held at Stovepipe Wells in the middle of Death Valley…a place that could be quite easily mistaken for the surface of Mars. In fact, there are still rumors that the Mars Rover was really just driving around somewhere in Death Valley. For as stark as the landscape is, it is equally beautiful and stunning to behold. On the last day I was there we did a run up a canyon that was sensuously sculpted and polished by millions of years of erosion (average rainfall is 2″ a year!) through solid marble, if you can imagine that. It was truly magical. The humidity hovered around 3%, so it was a welcome change from the high humidity of the North Carolina tropics.

If I were to pick a high point of my trip I’d have to say that it was something Bart Yasso said to me at the top of our run up Marble Canyon. After being led through a full morning of Chi Running classes and an afternoon of trail running, he smiled and said to me, “I’ve learned more about running today than I have in my 33 years of running.”

After wishing everyone safe travels Ray and I took off, half running and half dancing our way back down the canyon for a mile and a half to the parking lot. I drove directly from there to Las Vegas for my flight to NYC to teach a Chi Running class to forty five wonderful New Yorkers in Central Park. I’ve been through some abrupt changes in scenery before, but none have topped this week’s Chi Running classes which were only two days (and worlds!) apart.

Happy trails,
Danny

 

Tags

  • injury-free running,
  • ultra running,
  • adventure racing,
  • running camps

12 CommentsLeave a comment below

Remarkable stories.  Wow.  Thanks for sharing !

What a fantastic experience!  Thanks for sharing your journeys through your blog, Danny.  You already know this, but you don’t have to be an ultra-runner to benefit from your book and video.  Reading and watching ChiRunning, along with a 2-hour session with one of your certified instructors, has made a world of difference in my new-found hobby.  My instructor was Sarah Young in Michigan—she’s excellent!  All the best, Steve.

Heather Ulrich Oct 20th, 2009 07:13am

Danny, It was our honor to have YOU at the camp. I know all of the participants learned so much from your training session and, simply, enjoyed meeting YOU. You are an amazing person and gifted teacher.
Heather Ulrich

Kevin Williams Oct 20th, 2009 07:45pm

Hi Danny,  it was such an honor to spend the day with you last week.  Watching you and Ray run down that Canyon was just awe inspiring. 
We were truly on top of the World in Death Valley!
I am re-reading your book and can’t wait to get out their and work on my form… “C-shape, C-Shape, peel, peel…”

Hope to see you soon.
Kevin.

Hi Danny,
I hear your wearing Newton running shoes, what do you think of them and are they really worth their asking price?

Another great post.
Thank you for the information, Its good to see such quality posts.
Im subscribing to your blog.
Keep them comming.

Craigslist Posting

here is a video to show that New York marathon winner was doing chirunning long before you danny!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJhhvIrR0ms&feature=channel

Thank you for sending this link of Rod Dixon, one of my personal favorite runners. He was arguably one of the greats. The video shows that great runners share some of the same technique described in parts of the ChiRunning form…i.e. lean, bend elbows, look at a point ahead. But, there are still many differences between what Rod is demonstrating and what we’re teaching. Remember, ChiRunning is just as concerned about preventing injuries as it is about getting runners to become more efficient. Here are two points that come to mind immediately:
1. In ChiRunning, the only time you drive with your arms forward is on hills and during faster, race-pace running. That’s because, for most people, swinging the arms forward brings your legs too far forward and you risk landing with a heel strike.
2. He mentions nothing about the use of the pelvis, which will significantly reduce the impact of the oncoming road, and act to lengthen your stride at higher speeds.

As I’ve told many runners in my workshops, I didn’t invent good running technique. It’s probably been around since the cavemen chased down deer. But, I have done my best to offer ideas, drills, principles of movement and classes to help any runner who wishes, to stay injury-free and highly efficient for as long as they decide to remain a runner.

I ran my last half marathon in the new Isaacs and shaved 2 minutes off of last year’s time on a much hillier course. They absolutely do what they say they’ll do…make you run faster. I call them my “performance enhancement shoes.” Are they worth the asking price? I guess that depends on how much you’re willing to pay to let a shoe make you a faster runner. Personally, I don’t think any running shoe is worth more than $100 and I’m still a firm believer that it’s not the shoe that makes the runner. But, that being said, I like the feel of the Isaacs. They’re still more of a shoe than I prefer for everyday use, but I’d recommend them if you’re interested in running faster than your body itself can carry you.
DD

What an incredible experience.  I thought I spotted Ray Zahab doing some Chi Running in “Running the Sahara”.  I have always hated running, in fact I have joked that there is no reason to run unless something is chasing me.  However, after reading the Chi Running book and seeing “Running the Sahara” I was inspired to start training and now I am proud to say I will be running my first half marathon in two weeks.

Cheap health insurance quotes >> Tips on get Nov 27th, 2009 03:58am

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Hi Danny, what a great blog and keep up the good work smile

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Frank and I attended the week long Chi Running program in June.  We have been diligently practicing our Chi Running form and are loving it.  Frank just ran a tough half at 1:40:44 almost effortlessly. 

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