Very important disclaimer

Please be advised that the contents of this blog are opinions only (my opinion, the opinions of my family and the opinions of anyone else directly or indirectly involed in this blog). This is not an accredited training blog, nor is it an accredited anything blog. If you (and you) do anything that this blog says, or don't do anything that this site says not to do, and you get injured, sick or killed, you cannot blame me or my family or blame anyone else directly or indirectly involved in this blog. By reading anything on this blog (including this message) you are saying that you are a person who makes thier own choices in life and does not hold the writer of this blog, the writers family or any one else that may be directly or indirectly involved in the production or writing of this blog, responsible for your stupid and irresponsible behaviors, injuries, sicknesses or deaths. With that said, please enjoy my fun blog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

K-100 Report–The Mayfield Toy Yodas. Part 1

We didn’t do anything with the name. we just liked it as our sponsor was Mayfield Toyota in Edmonton. Thanks to them for covering the guaranteed entry portion of the race fees, as well as lending us a cool Scion for a support vehicle.

K-100 Results here. Last years race report here, here and here. 

Tina did wear a shirt that said ‘May the course be with you”, unfortunately the course wasn’t with her, as she was late getting to the race and missed her leg. The main reason she missed was our team was awesome. We were ahead of our projected times by about an hour after 5 legs. More on that later.

So I left the house at 4:30 to get to the start line. I was leg 4 last year, so being at the start made more sense, but this year I was running leg 9, a full 12 hours after the start. I wanted to be there. I like energy of a short race, let alone this monstrosity of a race. I had every intention of being early, however out of the rainy skies of the pre-dawn, this happened and side tracked me for a half hour while I shot photos on the side of the road.



It was all of a sudden 5:25 and I was a half hour away from the start line in Longview. I resigned myself to not seeing the start and just puddled my way along. Turns out I was a bit closer and was able to get there on time. I parked the car and found Clint and Kraig right away. It was much easier this year as I knew these guys. We exchanged friendly banter and then Clint got ready to run leg 1. It was pretty rainy out, but it let up for the start, at least for a while.


Before we knew it, the 6:00 runners were off. There is a 7am and 8am start for the faster runners. This is done so the race org doesn’t have to have Leg transitions spread out over many miles on the course. Doesn’t matter tho, as the fastest runners make up the 2 hour deficit in the first 4 hours of their run.

Kraig and I hung around, used the now empty PoP’s before heading out on the road. Our superstar dedicated support team were already out on the road and waiting for Clint. The route runs through town before heading towards the mountains, so fans and teammates can see everyone in the first click.


The rain picked up again, and for the duration of the race it went from raining, to raining hard. It was also very dark and moody out. It really created a unique atmosphere that sort of compartmentalized the area of the race you happened to be in. You couldn’t focus on the distance as there really was no distance, just mist and tail lights initially.


The first leg, and the forced start legs near the end of the race has the most congestion. with 300+ support vehicles on the road, there are time the runners are making better time than us in the cars. Everyone is eager, anxious and fresh. heh. except the runners on leg one. Lost in the initial excitement is the fact that the first leg is 18kms and pretty tough. I think the racers that do Leg 1 are a bit overlooked. or not. It just feels like the feeling-out leg, but no less running for the runners out there (was that sentence a little wordy?). The support crews are figuring out their patterns, traffic is tough and it’s easy to just say, let’s be done with leg one and move on. I spent a lot of time shooting this leg as it’s vistas are amazing and the runners are still relatively grouped together. here are a few of the photographic highlights for me.


Since I am not an actual support person on our team this year, I just sort of wander up and down the course in my car, shooting photos, checking in with our runners, just generally taking in the race. As I approached the first transition, I went past the finish and had to walk back about a mile. I try to shoot the hand off of each of our runners, but I knew I was going to be close and was hustling down the road when I found Terry in the Scion. Terry looks at me with a bewildered look. “where’s Jackie?’ I ask. He says he doesn’t know. He says that the our leg 2 runner tried to check in but they said someone already handed off from Clint.

Jacinthe pops her head up from behind the Scion, where she had been tying her shoes and says ‘Yeah, they left already'. WHO left? I asked? Jackie?. “Terry, is Jackie running? Did she pass here already?” He says he has no idea, probably.

Whelp. What to do. Well, she must have gotten by us, so we decide that Jackie must have gotten by us and that Terry needs to go up the road and find her. (hindsight: why the eff would she run past us without coming to the vehicle?).

As Terry leaves with Jacinthe to track down Jackie, I turn and see Jackie running toward me.


Now she has the wild eyes, wondering where the eff they are going. I tell her they are looking for her and that our leg 2 runner is in the car. Jackie reminds me not so calmly that she hasn’t run for a month. We see Terry get a bit caught in the traffic so I bolt after him, and I hear Jackie scream at the top of her lungs “STOP THAT CAR!!!”

made me laugh to myself as everyone within a half km turned to see what was going on (except Terry in the Scion). I was a little embarrassed, as I thought I was running at a full sprint, to turn and see Jackie jogging along keeping up to me. Oh well, such is the way it is in my world… Terry drives off into the mist as I get to my car to try and chase him down. Well that went sideways too as I get behind the one scared tourist travelling at 15 km/hr. I ended up driving all the way past the lead runner, before realizing Terry must have turned around while I was cursing the guy in front of me. I drove back a few Km’s and park, then saw Terry with Jackie in the car, so that was good. I hadn’t seen Clint and Kraig yet, knowing Clint would be beside himself, I could give him good news once we did meet up again and that was a good thing.

While I waited I did take some cool shots.


Once Kraig and Clint found me, and realized everything was fine, I drove Clint back to his car in Longview, then we headed up the road to catch up to our team. Jacinthe appeared to be doing fine, but Jackie let us know that was far from the case. So Jacinthe put off some internal organ surgery to run in this race and was struggling quite a bit. I caught up to here with about 5km left in the leg and asked her how she was, and she said ‘I’m done’. Ok. well. since Jackie had already ran this leg, I guess it was up to me. I drove up a bit, changed into my running gear, took my shoes off , grabbed the bib and was off! Woot. I was stoked to be running barefoot in the K-100, as my leg later was on trails and not barefoot friendly at all. All Jacinthe asked was that she could have the bib back with a few hundred meters to go so she can finish the leg.


So with about 400m left, we traded back and off she went. Jackie had driven my car up, so I got changed again and headed up to the transition. Everyone was there. Clint, Kraig, Terry and Jackie. Where was Jacinthe? Our leg three runner had checked in, but was no where to be found! Gaaaaaaaaaaa! Wtf is happening?!! Jacinthe just kept running since there was no one to hand off to! So. After a hunt around the area, he shows up! He was in the PoP lineup! sheesh. Once we got that figured out, we sent him in the Scion to rescue Jacinthe. They found Jacinthe a mile up the road, running the extra distance that she didn’t think she could (or should) do earlier. #superstar.

Here she is on her leg.


Here she is going through transition, only to have to keep going…


That’s about  all I can handle in part 1 of our ‘interesting’ race. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

My K-100 Flickr Photos here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

K-100 photos

Here are some of my favorite shots I took during the K-100 Relay.

Like this.


K-100 Thank You Mayfield Toyota!

K-100 Results are here. I will have a post or two up about this years race, but wanted to say two things first.

First. Thank you SO much to Mayfield Toyota for the guaranteed entry and the use of the shuttle car for our team. Much Appreciated! Cool car btw...Also, thanks to Joyce Jackie and her dude Terry for being the dedicated support for the event. Our day was far from perfect, but was made awesome by this car and these two amazing people.

Second. I finished ahead of 22 runners on the very hard 9th leg. I am so amped by this you can't even imagine!! Last year I finished only ahead of 4 runners on my leg. soooooooo happppy.

Not me, just a cool shot I took.  (one of 800 on the day)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Millarville Half Marathon (or Hillbilly Half, as dubbed by others)

I have been quasi training, which is way more than I can say about my last half. Andrew and I have been going on nightly outings shooting photos and scaling huge hills to do so. I have been running sporadically and even catching the even more sporadic TKO class. I have been losing weight.

It was an inspiring ride out to the Millarville Half.


I left it ALL out there on the race track yesterday. You know how I know? I know because of the general and total disrepair of my body today. And it feels great.

I ran 15 minutes faster than my half in April on a course no less hard. And that was the key to my success yesterday. The course was billed as net downhill (it was) point to point (it was) with one big hill in the middle. Um. it had a number of big hills. That was fine, it became a mental test for sure, but wow those were some long hills. at one point in the race you are standing (running) on top of one of the hills, looking 4km across the valley to the top of the next hill. 3kms away is the next aid station. that you can see. forever. it seems.

The good news was I ran the race barefoot. I took my old KSO’s with me, but on the shuttle to the start I was able to loosely determine that the surface was good enough for bare. I was right.


In all race courses there is some rough stuff, and this track was no different, but was by far the best barefooting course I have run on in all of my races. Smooth to very smooth for most, 50 feet of gravel to start the race, 100 feet of gravel at the 9km mark, a rough patch of pavement at 18kms and 200 meters of gravel at the finish. Today my feet feel fine. no issues at all. My calves are tired and sore, the rest of my body is generally race sore.

The start line was fun as always. I got to be the first user of the PoP. Stoked for sure!


There were a great number of friends at this race, and with my barefeet I made a bunch more friends as usual. I have been reduced to really corny responses when asked ‘Where are your shoes?’. Like. ‘What? oh shit, wife forgot to put them on me’ or ‘Is this a race? I am trying to catch the guy who stole my shoes’. The other one when on the run ‘How are your feet?’, I respond “Great, how are yours?’, always gets a quizzical, then Aha look.

Back to the race. It’s a good one. 300 runners for an inaugural event, very organized, very friendly, and great volunteers. Nice shirt is always a bonus. (bag of wellness tea and coupon for free beef jerky in the package too!) Thanks to Dave O for this shot as he passed me on his way to a 2:30 min negative split!


The course is a chug tho. Combining the hills with very long straights of the second half. wooo. Mind games for sure. This course is at least half in the mind because of that. Better runners than me seemed to mind it less. Such is the way it is. Again from Dave O, as he caught me up this long hill.


I got to the finish line all alone. No one for 200 meters ahead or behind me. “Here comes Neil Zeller the Barefoot Runner” Lots of oohs and aahs and clapping. I soaked it all in and even did a fist pump at the end. I was actually that happy. Not to be done (well yeah, to be done) but that it went really well. I battled in my head and my competitor won this time. I talked myself out of some cramping in my hamstrings at the 19km mark, but didn’t have the will to stop them once I got back to the car. I battled in my lower hamstrings for the rest of the day. Such is the way it is. Badge of honor stuff, right?

Met up with great friends at the end and had some food. David wears a GoPro camera when running, and it shoots an image every 30 seconds or so. Here is the awesome result.

On my way home the Chinook Half Ironman was going on. I stopped to shoot some pictures of the riders. As soon as I stepped out of the car my right hamstring broke off. Just the worst cramp ever. I was standing on the side of the road jumping up and down yelling F**k over and over again. Some of the riders got a kick out of that.


Next weekend is the K—100 Relay, which I am looking forward to. then a summer of training. Time to get serious. I just love running and racing too much to not work at it.

Till next post.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cypress Hills Provincial Park

I’ve been enjoying the Twitter for the last number of weeks and months. I’ve been posting photos I have taken all over Western Canada from the past number of years and having a great time meeting wonderful Travel and Tourism groups as a result. One of the Groups I have been corresponding with is called Go Here Destinations. They are a dedicated team of bloggers and tweeters, promoting Southwest Saskatchewan. My interactions with this fun group has me thinking about the area, and the reasons we love it.

We love Saskatchewan (I grew up there), and for us, is the most accessible area of Saskatchewan from Calgary. Just a 3+ hour drive from our home, down the TransCanada Highway and you cross the border into Saskatchewan, Naturally.


I grew up in North Battleford, just a few hours North, but to be honest I only spent 1 weekend in this area of the province in all the years I lived up there. The highways weren’t the easiest to travel and due to our abundance of recreational opportunities around N.Bford, there wasn’t much call to head south. The one weekend I did spend there was great and truly burned an image into my mind of clean, clear and wide open spaces that I have since fostered into a true love of the area.

Traci and I moved from Prince George BC, where we spent less than a year, to Calgary in 1998 and settled into our life as we know it. For the first year or so we explored Southern and Central Alberta, getting to know our own backyard. We loved tent camping, but always had a healthy fear of bears, and as a result the prairie campgrounds that offered a wilderness experience were hard to find.

Enter Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan.


I can’t remember the exact year that we started to head for the Center Block Campgrounds, but our annual (at least) trips were always incredible, with the perfect mix of wilderness and civilization. The Campgrounds are located in the most remote stand of Lodgepole Pines in North America, provide huge camping sites with lots of room between groups and along with clean and well maintained washroom/ service centers, the area offer a 9 hole golf course, a small lake, outdoor pool and convenience store.

The recreation activities available are as varied as the people who frequent the area. Along with the activities noted above, there is Horseback Riding, Hiking, an interpretive outdoor theater, and like any good Saskatchewan outdoor attraction, Sky-watching. IMG_3017

Cypress Hills Geography is amazing. Rising 600 meters/ 1970 feet above the surrounding plains, the area was missed by the last great ice age, leaving the unique area intact. The surround prairie is a true semi-arid desert and in stark contrast to the topography up top. It is cooler and clearer most days, and on some occasions are actually in the clouds. Where the plains below are normally brown and dry, the hills are green and lush, being home to Moose, Cougar, Deer, and much flora and fauna found normally far west or north of here.


Our favorite pastime when camping here was stargazing. Cypress Hills is now designated a World Dark Sky preserve and is the only place I have ever seen the milky way with the naked eye. You have never seen more stars, I guarantee it.


We have camped in Cypress Hills at least a dozen times in the 14 years since moving to Calgary. Part of our enjoyment of the area is, well, the area. We have taken day trips from the campground to explore the surroundings. Maple Creek is the service hub, and on more occasions than not we have shopped for our groceries and supplies at the friendly Co-op Grocery store right in town. The unique shops, Museums and the Ice Cream shop draw us back to this vibrant ranching town on every visit. We haven’t spent much time North of the Trans Canada, only because there is so much to do on the Park side of the Highway, but on my Bucket List is the Great Sand Hills, with the park headquarters about an hours drive north in the village of Septre. I understand the sand hills are a hoot to explore via crazy carpet, a-la downhill sliding!

On one occasion, we toured the entire area, visiting towns such as Eastend, the home of Scotty the T-Rex, Shaunavon, and Gull Lake. One feature of that tour is the abundance of really cool abandoned arch concrete bridges all along the route.

On 3 separate occasions we stayed at the Cypress Hills Resort. We had never explored this very nice lodge until we got rained out in the campground on an extended weekend, so we rented a cabin. It was a nice experience, so in the fall of 2007 we booked a relaxing weekend in one of the townhouse style loft units.


While not a 5 star beach front resort, it is clean, warm, well appointed and extremely quiet. The location sits up above the lake and is nestled comfortably in the Pine forest, providing a retreat experience found no where else on the prairies. The Resort is open year round and has an activity schedule to satisfy all family members. This past February, we spent Family day weekend in a 2 bedroom Cabin. Our son was excited as this was the only place on the prairies that had any snow. We spent a good part of each day sliding an laughing in the wonderful scenery.




Saskatchewan is world renowned for it’s friendly and relaxed people and places, and the Cypress Hills area is no exception. A portion of our annual vacation allowance is always planned for this wonderful area. We never seem to run out of new things to do or see here, giving us many reasons to return.


Our next trip will include a visit to Ft Walsh National Historic Site and the Cypress Hills Winery and Vineyard (really!).

And incidentally the area is as good as anywhere I have found for shooting photography.


Monday, June 11, 2012


I won a photo contest! with this photo.


And here are some more cool things I have shot lately.


And some more.


And a few more.


Half Marathon this weekend. I feel pretty good actually. Seeya!