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Showing posts with label 24 hour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 24 hour. Show all posts

Friday, April 30, 2021

Combating Exercise Induced Immune System Suppression With Science In Sport Immune Tablets - Bibrave Product Review



"Disclaimer: I received Science In Sport Immune Tablets to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!"


I remember the first time I experienced it almost immediately after one of my long training runs preparing for my first marathon in 2009. It was probably a 17 or 18 mile run in some cooler temperatures in late February or early March. Soon after arriving back home, I started sniffling, sneezing, and just suddenly feeling like I was hit with a very sudden and quick onset of a bad cold. In all my years of running I had never experienced this before. However, I was also running a greater volume and the longer distances than I had ever run before. Little did I know how much impact endurance training and workouts can have on the performance of your immune system. In fact, Nieman (2007) reports that exercise induced changes can adversely impact the immune system in multiple ways and may last between 3 and 72 hours. Thankfully for me, my initial experience with exercise induced immune system suppression was nearer the shorter time period of that range and all of my symptoms seemed to disappear as quickly as they presented themselves, just a few hours after I got out of a warm bath.

So what do us runners who enjoy running for prolonged periods do to combat having constantly suppressed immune systems due to our running habits? Nieman (1998) reported that the data from two studies examining carbohydrate ingestion of marathon runners and triathletes suggest that overall physiologic stress is diminished in the groups of athletes that were given a carbohydrate ingestion treatment compared to athletes receiving a placebo treatment based on hormonal and immune responses. The carbohydrate treatment in these studies was consumed in the form of a carbohydrate beverage (think Gatorade or Tailwind) while running or cycling. The data (Figure 2) supports the hypothesis model diagramed in Figure 1 showing that carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged workouts results in high plasma glucose levels and reduced cortisol levels which ultimately helps to counter negative impacts to immune system function (Nieman, 1998).








That’s great to know, but most of us runners are already hydrating during our long runs with some type of carbohydrate beverage. Is there anything post workout that can help lessen the negative impacts of prolonged exercise on the immune system? Step up Science In Sport (SIS) immune tablets, it is your time to shine! These effervescent tablets quickly dissolve in water and are designed to maintain healthy immune system function after intense or prolonged physical efforts. Each SIS immune tablet provides vitamin C (200 mg) and iron (2.5 mg) in addition to key electrolytes that help aid rehydration following exercise. Vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant that contributes to immune defense in a multitude of ways by supporting cellular functions (Carr and Maggini, 2017). Zinc is an essential trace element that affects the integrity of the immune system in many ways including acting as a cofactor in over 300 enzymes that influence organ functions and have indirect impacts on the immune system (Dardenne, 2002; Rink, 2007).


So the science behind Science in Sport immune tablets checks out, but how did they work for me. I began using SIS immune tablets daily about 3 weeks before my first 24 hour race. I always tend to get nervous about getting sick leading up to a race, so this was the ideal time for me to take any and every precaution to avoid any kind of cold or respiratory issues. The first item to note is the taste. Like all the other SIS products I have tried, the flavor of their immune tablets impressed me compared to workout supplements produced by other brands. I usually find the flavor of most supplements to be overpowering or too sweet. That was not the case with SIS immune tablets. I began looking forward to a tall, cool glass of their light orange flavor during my runs.


But did they work? Did they do what they claim to do?

Well, I didn’t get sick at all leading up to the 24 hour race I was preparing for while using SIS immune tablets daily. Additionally, I didn’t get sick at all following the 24 hour race where I put my body (immune system included) through some pretty serious stress considering the length and intensity of the effort and the sleep deprivation. While I can’t say that my good health was solely the result of using SIS immune tablets, they very well likely played a role and at the very least they gave me the mental comfort of knowing that I was taking additional precautions to protect myself and set myself up as best I could to achieve my goals on race day. So at the end of the day, SIS immune tablets will likely become a standard pre race and post race practice for me.

Literature Cited


Carr, A.C. and S. Maggini. 2017. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients 9(11): 1211.

Dardennene, M. 2002. Zinc and Immune Function. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (56): 20-23. 

Nieman, D.C. 1998. Influence of Carbohydrate on the Immune Response to Intensive, Prolonged Exercise. Exercise Immunology Review (4): 64-76.

Nieman, D.C. 2007. Marathon Training and Immune Function. Sports Medicine (37): 412-415. 

Rink, L. 2007. Zinc and the Immune System. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 541-552.












Friday, April 23, 2021

Adventure Trail Run - 24 Hour Event 2021


My first place overall finisher award!

It’s been about 3 days since the finish of the Adventure Trail Run - 24 Hour Event as I begin this report. Other than some sore toes from a few blisters that developed under my nails and minor muscle aches in my quads and calves, I’m feeling mostly recovered. For a 24 hour effort, the physical recovery seemed pretty quick and not too painful. It’s more the mental recovery that’s a little harder to move past with this race. It’s not that I’m not proud of the effort I put forth or what I did achieve. The truly stinging part of replaying all the scenes in my mind of how those 24 hours were spent is how close I came to nailing my top goal while just falling a little short. I had a very specific goal for this race: to break the course record of 108 miles. My final official mileage was 103.1 when I stopped with about a half hour left on the clock. When it’s that close for a nearly 24 hour effort, the “what if”s and “if only”s seem to breed and multiply in your brain.

The night sky the whining before the race.

The Adventure Trail Run is a timed trail running event held at Prince William Forest Park (National Park Service) in Triangle, VA. This year was the 15th anniversary of the event and they offered 8 hour solo, 4 person relay 24 hour, and solo 24 hour options. While I chose the solo 24 hour because I had never run that race format before and I wanted to test myself with that style of race, the 4 person 24 hour relay option definitely seemed like a fun way to spend a weekend running with friends.

Just before the start!

The course was basically a lollipop design with a 1 mile out and back to a 4 mile loop. The 1 mile out and back section was definitely the most challenging in my opinion. It was probably the most consistently technical section of the course with seemingly endless stretches of jagged rocks and ankle breaking exposed roots. It also had many short but steep climbs and descents to deal with. During the first mile of the race, I immediately thought I’d have to reevaluate my goals as I wasn’t expecting that technical of a course. Thankfully, the 4 mile loop was far more runnable. In addition to the technicality of that entirely narrow single track section was the fact that it was also the section of the course where you had to deal with two way traffic of runners. Since this was a relatively small event (around 100 runners) it didn’t present a major problem, but with 50k and 100k runners on the course at the same time as the 24 hour runners, it did feel a bit congested to me on a few occasions.

My gear for the race.

The 4 mile loop section of the course was a totally different story. Even the more technical sections, climbs, and descents were more runnable than the initial 1 mile out and back. This year the loop was run in a counterclockwise direction. Apparently the race reverses direction of the loop every year. From the start of the loop to the halfway point fluid only aid station was nearly all smooth, buttery, flat single track trails with the exception of a short climb with a couple switchbacks and few technical rocky sections where you had to be careful of your footing. Immediately after the aid station was a short stretch of boardwalk to run on and then the longest sustained climb of the course. The climb followed a stretch of what appeared to be a fire road for about a half mile and up about 150 feet. The rest of the loop was all single track trail with a few technical rooty sections and a few short climbs, but nothing too intense.

My cabin for the night before the race.

I alluded to it earlier about how the race went in my first paragraph, and I’ll expand on that now. I set what may have been a lofty goal for myself: to break the course record of 108 miles. Obviously, I came up a little short with my final official mileage of 103.1. It’s an especially disheartening form of failure when you’re on pace for your goal for so long and come so close to your goal, but it just very slowly becomes more and more apparent over the course of 24 hours of hard effort and battling exhaustion that it is increasingly unlikely of being attained. For the first 50k I was maintaining a pace faster than necessary and building in a bit of a cushion as I was pretty sure I would slow down for the last 12 hours and the early hours of the morning. As the day wore on and fatigue and exhaustion began to build, I checked my overall pace on my watch ever more frequently hoping to stay under that 12:48 pace that I had calculated I needed to hit my goal. I wasn’t exactly sure if or when my pace would roll over that threshold, so I continued to push on in hopes that I could fend off the ever slowing pace that my watch was reporting.

The inside of the cabin.

Initially it was mostly the aid station stops between loops that seemed to be the primary cause of my slowing pace. I’d check my watch going into and leaving and consistently find my pace slowed by about 10 seconds per mile with each pass through. I tried to get through more efficiently, but filling bottles, emptying gel packages, grabbing more gel packages, and eventually eating some real food all takes time. I was great through the 50k mark when all my calories came from gels and hydration, but when I started feeling the need to add some real food for calories my aid station stops tended to take a bit longer. The data shows that my slowest mile (with an aid station stop) up to the 50k mark was 15:55 and my overall average pace was 11:25 per mile.

A temporary tattoo I tried it for the race.

I still felt good and had hopes of hitting my goal even at the 50 mile mark. I was still at an overall pace of 12:31 per mile. I knew it was going to be close and a struggle at that point, but I thought it might still happen. But then around the 100k mark my pace began to suffer a bit more and my aid stops became more damaging to my overall pace. It was right around that point that my overall average pace rolled beyond my goal threshold and jumped to 12:50 per mile. Although this was a disheartening point for me, it didn’t crush me or make me want to quit. Even if I wasn’t going to hit my goal, I still wanted to get as close as possible. I held on to hope that things could still turn around. I was only about 13 hours into a 24 hour race at that point.

Most of my gel packaging.

Unfortunately, things never really turned around. I never got that major energy burst that I hoped for to put me back within reach of my goal. Things never got really bad either. I continued to move steadily and well, just not well enough. With about 8 hours left in the race the race director let me know that second place was only about 40 minutes behind me. That gave me a bit of a boost of motivation to pick up my pace for a couple laps, but it still wasn’t enough for me to get back to my target pace. As the 24 hour clock began to wind down, I finished my last full lap to hit the 100 mile mark with about an hour and 20 minutes left. I knew I wouldn’t complete another full loop, but I could get credit for a half loop if I made it to the midway aid station before the clock ran out. There was no reason not to keep going, so off I went for three more miles. I reached the midway aid station with about a half hour left in the race and called it there.

Preparing for the drive home.

With that half hour left to burn at the end of my race, I immediately began thinking about how many more minutes I would have needed to run the last 3 miles to finish that final lap which would have tied the course record. I thought another 15 would have gotten me damn close; 20 would have pretty much guaranteed it. After looking at my data, those thoughts turned out to be pretty accurate. My average pace for the last 20 miles without aid station stops was just over 15 minutes per mile. An extra 15 minutes may have gotten me back home to tie the course record. But where would that time have come from? I know I could have saved some time during my aid station stops. My 7 slowest miles included an aid station stop and clocked in at an average of 21:05 per mile; there is definitely room for improvement there.

At the finish!

And then that’s where the brain games start getting out of hand. If only I had changed shirts faster. If I had packed a 2 liter of Coke in my cooler instead of wasting time to have a cup filled at the aid station I would have saved a few minutes there. If I had eaten those 2 perogies while walking instead of while standing at the aid station I may have shaved off another 2 minutes. It’s all enough to drive you crazy at some point. It’s also enough to make you question why I can’t just be happy with a first place finish at my first 24 hour race. It’s not that I’m not happy about my performance or the win I managed to get. I’m proud of both of those accomplishments. But I don’t think it would be a healthy reaction to set a goal, not reach it, and then not at least be somewhat disappointed about it. It’s kind of the point of a goal. You set it, you aim for it, you work for it, you struggle to reach it. And after all of that, if you come so close but fall slightly short, you should be disappointed in my opinion regardless of other circumstances such as overall race placement which was irrelevant to my goal anyway. Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I’m ungrateful. Maybe I set my expectations too high. Whatever it is, this one is taking some time to process completely. Regardless of failing to reach my goal, I am happy with my performance and what it indicates about my fitness level and ability to endure and continue to move forward despite a mentally challenging circumstance. It gave me an indication of what I may be capable of at my next race, Pennsylvania’s first backyard ultra, the Keystone Backyard!

Recovery time.





Scott Snell

April 22, 2021












Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Taper Week and Calling My Shot For My First 24 Hour Race



It is Monday and less than a week out from my first 24 hour race which makes this a taper week. Along with taper week(s) come a few changes, some good and some not so good. The greatest positive in my opinion is just the additional free time that was spent running and training can now be reallocated to other areas. For me this means more family time and being able to help out more with all of the household chores. While I see this as an overall positive, I probably end up wasting a decent amount of that extra time just scrolling on social media. It takes far more discipline for me to put the phone down and do something productive around the house than it does for me to not even pick the phone up when it’s time for a run. 

So, what about the negative aspects of tapering? Well the most obvious is of course less running. I think it’s true of most runners, I know it is for me, but when I don’t get to run I can get grumpy. My wife may even go as far to say that I have a shorter temper when I go for too long without running. Not benefitting from the mental health aspects of running definitely affects my overall mood. During tapering it’s not so bad for me as there is an end date in sight and it is all in preparation to have the best race day possible, so it is a good trade off. Not running due to injury, that’s a completely different situation. 

Which leads to the second negative I’ve noticed more during this taper period than past ones; I’ve found that I’ve become a bit more anxious. Maybe part of this is just build up to race day nerves after not racing in so long and the lack of the relaxation and mental health benefits that come with running, but a decent part of it is due to becoming overly concerned with injury just before race day. In the past week I’ve paid far more attention to every little twinge of pain and ache anywhere on my body. Especially any area where I may have dealt with a previous injury. A little extra tightness in the calf and I’m worried it’s that calf flare up that took me out for almost a whole month of running last year. A sharp pain in the arch of my foot and I’m immediately thinking I’m going to be sidelined with plantar fasciitis. I’ve mostly been able to calm myself and realize I’m overreacting, but talk about unnecessary stress! 

My final long training run before my first 24 race.

And to close this blog post, as the title suggests I have a very specific goal for this race: to run 112.5 miles before the end of the 24 hours. This equates to 18 loops on the 6.25 mile race course and an overall average pace of 12:48 per mile. This distance would also increase my single run distance PR by about 6 miles completing one of my running goals for the year. Since the current course record is 108 miles, maybe my goal is a bit over ambitious or not necessarily within my capabilities. But why not aim for a greater goal rather than a less challenging one that I’m sure I would be capable of reaching? Obtaining painless goals for the sake of completing goals is a meaningless pursuit in my mind. Shooting for the pinnacle of individual success is one of the most motivating aspects of ultrarunning for me and I don’t plan on that mentality changing. 

Scott Snell 
April 12, 2021

Friday, April 2, 2021

Runderwear Festival of Running and Countdown to My First 24 Hour Race


Beast Coast trail runderwear bib

As I begin this blog post we are quickly approaching the weekend of the Runderwear Festival of Running half marathon. Additionally, this Saturday is exactly 2 weeks out from my first 24 hour race! I am so excited and pumped to have an “in real life” race on my schedule and happening so soon.

I hope to use this weekend’s Runderwear Festival of Running virtual half marathon as a portion of my final weekend of training before rolling into taper mode until my 24 hour race. I’m excited to attempt to run a faster half marathon as it feels like it has been so long since I have pushed myself to run hard for any distance longer than up to a mile. Part two of my plan to use this half marathon as part of my final training weekend is to get out for at least a medium distance run the day after on what I expect to be either tired or sore legs. The thinking behind this is of course that at some point during the 24 hour race my legs will be tired so I want to be prepared and mentally ready to continue to move on those tired legs.


My pace goal for the half marathon is to run an average pace of 8:15 per mile. It’s not shooting for the stars or a PR for me, but my training for the last 5 months hasn’t been focused on speed; it’s been focused on building volume and endurance. Additionally, even if I thought a faster pace was within my reach, I don’t want to overextend myself with only 2 weeks to recover before the 24 hour race which has been my top running goal for the last couple years.

Based on my monthly mileage build up, I feel mentally and physically ready to run for 24 hours straight. I have built volume and endurance with this single race in mind. My last long run to prepare for it was 42 miles at what I considered a comfortable pace. Near the end of that run I wanted to test my legs and see what I had left at that point. I ran my forty-first mile in just a little over 7 minutes. This gave me a huge confidence booster for the 24 hour race. Now I just can’t wait to be on that starting line!


Scott Snell
April 2, 2021


Friday, March 12, 2021

Birthday 41 Miler and St. Jude Charity Campaign Kick Off



I’m just a day away from running my final long training run in preparation for my first 24 hour race (Adventure Trail) which will be my first race since August 2019. For that reason, it’s a bit of a monumental run but there are a few other reasons why this run will be of particular significance. For one, I’ll be running 41 miles to celebrate my 41st birthday. Additionally, I’m using this run as the official start of my charity campaign to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


Running my age in miles to celebrate my birthday is something I’ve thought about doing, but never committed to until this year. It will be a bit different than my standard birthday celebrations with exuberant amounts of singing, dancing, and drinking with hundreds of my closest friends (yes, that was sarcasm; I don’t have a hundred friends). In the age of COVID, we just can’t do that anymore. So what’s the next best thing? A long solo run of course! Usually a training run longer than 50k just doesn’t make sense for the shorter distance ultra spring races I’ve registered for in the past. With this year’s first race being significantly longer, a 24 hour in which I hope to cover over 100 miles, an easy paced 40 mile training run seems much more sensible to me.


My training goal for this run is to complete the 41 miles at or slightly faster than my target pace (12:48 per mile) for the 24 hour race. I hope to do this comfortably and feel like my legs still have plenty of life left in them when I finish. If I can pull this off it will be a huge confidence boost in the final stages of race prep and will hopefully require minimal recovery time considering I’m not trying to push the pace.


My charity campaign goal is simple, just to raise some funds for a good cause while I selfishly run. Yes, running does seem selfish to a degree to me. At least long distance running does. I know it improves my mood and keeps me more mentally and emotionally healthy which makes me a better father and husband, but is it really necessary for me to disappear for 3 hour training runs on the weekends? Is it essential to my well being for me to be absent for entire weekends when I go away for a race? Ultimately, would I get the same benefits from running as I do now if I just ran 3, 5, or maybe 10 miles on a long day? At least part of me believes that to be true. But I’m starting to meander off on a tangent now. Maybe this topic deserves its own blog post; I just wanted to explain part of the reason why I have wanted to raise money for a cause as a result of my running, in part to feel less selfish.


I’m hoping to achieve these fundraising goals through a few avenues between now and the end of April:
  • Run-A-Thon as a St. Jude Hero
  • Charity Miles App
  • Head Shaving and Hair Donation
Trail Run-A-Thon - Pledge X Dollars Per Mile for My 24 Hour Race

I am asking donors to pledge whatever amount they want for each mile I run during the 24 hour race (Adventure Trail) on April 17. Decide how much you’d like to give per mile then make the donation after the official final mileage is posted. Pledges can be made using this Google form. You can donate directly at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising site or on my Facebook Fundraiser page
You may ask why I chose St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The answer, I’m a strong supporter of their mission “to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.” Additionally, they seem to be an efficiently run nonprofit. They received a 4 star rating and overall score of 91.42 from Charity Navigator (call me a cynic if you want, but I feel better about researching a charity before donating).


Earning Additional Funds Using the Charity Miles App


Since I log all of my running miles anyway, I figured why not raise some additional funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital every time I run. It’s pretty simple to set up an account with the Charity Miles App and once it is connected to my Strava account it requires no additional effort on my part to earn funds for my chosen charity. With my Strava account synced to the Charity Miles App, for every mile I log, I help earn money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from Charity Miles’ corporate sponsorship pool.


Hair Donation and Head Shaving

So this one isn’t really running related, but it provides the background story that motivated me most to do this whole fundraising endeavor. I started growing my hair out a little over 2 years ago in order to donate it to the nonprofit Children With Hair Loss. The main motivation for me to do this was after learning that a friend of mine from grade school did the same. His motivation was that his young child was being treated for leukemia. Thankfully, his child responded well to treatments and is now cancer free. After hearing his story and wondering why it happened to him and his only child while I have been lucky enough to be blessed with three healthy children, I figured the least I could do to help one of these kids out is to grow some hair to donate.  #CutPassLove


Thank you for reading! Any support you can provide is very much appreciated!


March 12, 2021

Scott Snell

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Batona FKT Announcement

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
--W.W. Bartley--


Later this month, at a yet to be determined date, I plan to run the entire 53 mile length of the Batona trail in a single out and back effort in an attempt to set the self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the route. As I write this (2 August 2020) announcement, the only existing official out and back FKT for the Batona is the supported record held by Denis Streltsov set on 1 November 2015 with a time of 1 d, 3 h, 2 m, 36 s. So, as long as nothing goes terribly wrong and I finish the route, I will at least have earned the self-supported FKT. If everything goes well, I hope to finish faster than the existing supported FKT. 


If you weren’t aware of what FKTs were before pretty much all of racing was cancelled due to COVID-19, you probably are now. If not, you can learn all you want to know about FKTs at https://fastestknowntime.com/. Everything from existing routes, how to submit a new route, the three variations of support (supported, self-supported, and unsupported), and basically all other guidelines regarding FKTs can be found at the website. 


I’ve never attempted an FKT before. Why am I starting now? Probably for the same basic reason so many other ultrarunners have been submitting new FKT routes and trying to better the times of existing routes, we miss the thrill of racing. We miss being pushed by competition to achieve more than we thought we were capable of and racing the clock on a standardized route is one of the best replacements we have right now. I’m not trying to speak for all runners, but for me personally, these are some of the primary reasons. I had been interested in FKTs before, but the current situation and lack of organized races are what really motivated me to seriously start planning this thing and give it a go. That along with the fact that watching a lot of my trail running friends bettering or establishing new FKTs had me experiencing some serious FOMO.


The other factor that really pushed me to take a crack at this attempt is the uncertainty of the fall racing season. Since all of my spring and summer race plans were either deferred to next year or cancelled, planning for the fall, which should be fun, has become a painful extension of the last five months of disappointments. The first thing I checked for every race I was considering was whether it had already been cancelled. And if it hadn’t, I would pessimistically wonder to myself how long it would be until they do. The situation is upsetting, but it made me think about what I wrote near the beginning of the COVID pandemic:  “When so much of your world changes so drastically and suddenly, fear and panic are natural emotional responses. Focus on what is still under your control:  how you respond.” I realized I should take my own advice. I decided I would not plan on the uncertainty of races which are completely out of my control. I would set a goal that is still completely within my control as to when, where, how, and if I accomplish it. 


The next question to answer is why go for the Batona FKT. There’s a few pretty simple answers. It’s the nearest established FKT route to my home. I’ve had a history of running the Batona Trail. The first time I set foot on the trail was when I ran it in its entirety during a fat ass event. Since then, I’ve done some training runs on it and run it from the north end to south end one other time. So I’m familiar with the trail. And finally, I think it’s doable. I believe the existing supported out and back FKT is within my ability to improve. 


Which brings us to the final question to answer, what are my goals for this attempt? I’ve written before about how I like to have what I call cascading goals. That hasn’t changed for my first FKT attempt. My first goal is to finish the FKT attempt in the self-supported fashion. My next tiered goal is to finish it faster than the existing supported FKT time (27 h, 2 m, 36 s). And my top tiered goal is to do it in sub 24 h. Maybe I’m being a bit arrogant for my first FKT attempt to think I can run a self-supported, 106 mile route in under 24 hours, but I like having an upper tier goal that could very well be out of my reach altogether. Maybe I’m underestimating the additional challenges that a self-supported FKT attempt entails:  the loneliness of the overnight hours, the lack of competition and comradery found during races, the lack of route flagging, the lack of encouragement from aid station volunteers, etc. But the fact remains, I know this is a possible time and I think I have a chance of being able to pull it off if I have a good day. Otherwise, it would not be on my goal list. We’ll find out if I can do it or just how much I have overestimated my abilities later this month. 


Scott Snell

August 5, 2020


Saturday, May 16, 2020

High Desert Drop Bag Gear Review - Ditty Drop Bag


Update! The owner of High Desert Drop Bags recently contacted me to share this limited time discount code with all of my readers. Use code "BCTR-21" to receive 20% off of your order. Offer is valid 9/2/21 - 10/1/21.

I received a High Desert Drop Bag (Ditty Drop Bag) as a part of a swag package included with my entry to the inaugural Mines of Spain 100 mile trail race in October 2017. Since then it has become my “go to” and favorite drop bag I’ve used at any ultramarathon. It’s durable, keeps my gear dry, and cleans up easily after a day of getting tossed around and thrown in the dirt.

Some Quick Stats:
  • Front Identification Panel
  • Water resistant 400 denier nylon packcloth
  • #8 nylon coil zipper for easy access as well as security
  • 1/2" nylon webbing carry loop
  • Available in four easy-to-see colors
  • List price: $22.00 Plus shipping
  • Weight: 3.7 oz
  • Dimensions: 13.75 in × 16.75 in × 1 in

The Ditty Drop Bag is the smallest size drop bag offered by High Desert Drop Bags (Bishop, CA). They offer two larger size drop bags: The Dirt Bag (18.5 in x 19.5 in, 21 liters) and The Ultra (28.25 in x 19.5 in, 39 liters). Even though it is the smallest drop bag they offer, I have found the Ditty Drop Bag has plenty of room for everything I have wanted waiting for me at an aid station. I most recently used it at the Blackwell aid station (mile 80) of the 2019 Eastern States 100. For that race I easily fit all of the following in my Ditty Drop Bag.

In addition to the Ditty Drop Bag’s tolerance for rough handling without showing any signs of wear after a couple years of use, the other feature that stands out to me about this drop bag is the identification panel. It’s an aspect of the bag that may seem like a big fat nothing burger. At first take that was my thought about it as well. After using it a few times though, I realized how handy it was and how much more convenient and dependable it was than my previous methods of labeling my drop bags. In the past, I had attached some type of paper tag with all of my pertinent information to my makeshift drop bag with safety pins. To waterproof my homemade tag, I would seal it in box tape. This worked fine, but was a bit cumbersome and I always worried about the tag getting caught on something and ripped off or being made unreadable from rain seeping through my waterproofing. My other drop bag method was to just use a large Ziploc bag. This was super easy and completely waterproof, but I always worried about the bag tearing and losing some of my goods. The High Desert Drop Bag identification panel resolves all of these concerns. Now I just slap some duct tape on the panel and write my info on with a sharpie. Quick, easy, and no worries!

For me, High Desert Drop Bags have set the standard for other drop bags. No other bag I’ve used has worked as well or as conveniently as a drop bag than the Ditty Drop Bag. If you’re frustrated or even just kinda irked about a few issues your drop bag has caused you, I would recommend at least looking at what High Desert Drop Bags has to offer.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

What I hope to accomplish at my first 24 hour race and how a virtual challenge helped jump start my training for it




"Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Challenge as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"


Having run races slightly over 100 miles in distance and lasting over 30 hours, the time and distance that I want cover at my first 24 hour race do not worry me. My lowest tier goal (to run further than 105 miles) is definitely achievable for me given my past performances. My main concern is where my fitness level is at this point. After Eastern States 100 last August, I didn’t do a lot of running. In fact, I took much of November and December off, running only 102 and 48 miles respectively. I can’t exactly explain what happened leading up to Eastern States and shortly after. Maybe I was a bit burnt out on running altogether after a summer of training and more racing than I had done any previous year. Maybe it was more mental exhaustion from the summer long cycle of training to racing to training to racing over and over. Maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself to perform at a certain level at every race I ran. Maybe it was just that running wasn’t cheering me up like it used to. Whatever it was, it affected my relationship with running and just over the last two months I am beginning to feel like I’m getting back to a healthy place and a happy relationship with running.


I needed to feel good and be happy about running again if I wanted to have any chance of reaching my goals at my first 24 hour race. The motivation to run had eluded me longer and more successfully than it ever had since I had taken up running. I credit at least part of my renewed motivation to the 465 Challenge. This virtual challenge began on New Year’s Day of 2020, which is the point that I decided I needed to get my lethargic arse back into gear if I was going to be ready for the 24 hour race I had picked to run. The 465 Challenge lasted two months with the goal being to accumulate at least 53 miles in any form of self powered movement. The 53 mile challenge wouldn’t be enough to get me prepared, but the virtual event also offered incentives to do additional miles through their looper challenge. For the looper challenge every participant tracked how many 53 mile loops they could complete during the challenge. As I write this,I am currently at 300 miles or a little over 5.5 loops. Honestly, I do not know if I would have dove into my training with such commitment if it weren’t for the virtual challenge. The support and encouragement from other participants has been great for the last two months and I will miss it as I continue to train for the next month leading up the the 24 hour race.

What do I want from this 24 hour race? Obviously to reach my bottom tier goal of a distance personal record (greater than 105 miles). But there is more that I hope to have achieved when the 24 hours have passed after the start of the race. I want to be happy about my run. I want to feel proud of what I did. I want to be excited about the other races I plan to run this year. I want to put all of the negative thoughts and feelings I had towards the end of last summer behind me and I hope that running will be a tool to help me achieve that.



Scott Snell
February 27, 2020

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2020 Running Goals


My top nine photos of 2019 from Instagram.

Shortly after finishing the Hyner View Trail Challenge 50k last year, I made the decision to change up my race selections for 2020. It wasn’t because of how Hyner went or because I don’t want to run Hyner again. I love the Hyner 50k and definitely want to run it again, but the catch for me is that once I’m registered for Hyner I end up following the inevitable path of running the entire PA Triple Crown Series. I figure if I’m doing Hyner, I might as well run Worlds End 100k and Eastern States 100 as well. I decided the best way to avoid getting caught in that trap and change up my race schedule was to not register for Hyner 50k. I have nothing against any of those three races. It’s just that after three consecutive years of my race schedule revolving around the three same “A” races, I felt it was time for a change.

For 2020 I want to make my “A” race a 24 hour timed event. A 24 hour event has been on my to do list for a few years now, but never a high priority, so it never happened (hence one of my favorite quotes below). I hope to change that this year and see what I’m capable of achieving in a 24 hour race. If things go well at whatever 24 hour event I decide to run, I should be able to finally achieve a second running goal that has eluded me for the last two years: to PR my longest distance in a single run. I’m hoping that if I choose a 24 hour event with an easy course I will be able to average at least 12 minute miles or 5 mph for a total of 120 miles at the end of 24 hours. This will easily be my longest distance run as my current longest distance is finishing the Tesla Hertz 100 miler which was actually about 104.8 miles. 




An additional goal for this year is to run another “last person standing” event. After running my first two events (Run Ragged) of that type last year and for the most part enjoying them while doing pretty well, I want to run some more of these types of events. Ultimately, I hope to get a chance to run at the original last person standing race, Laz’s Big’s Backyard. I realize it may not happen at all considering the growing popularity of those types of races, but I figure if I run races that build my running resume geared towards last person races it will better my odds to hopefully run at Big’s some day. Running Big’s Backyard definitely isn’t strictly a 2020 goal, but more of a long term goal to work towards year after year until it happens. In my opinion, it’s good to have the late game goals working in the background while having the short term goals mixed in to keep things interesting.



A non race related goal for 2020 is to run all the streets of my hometown, Egg Harbor Township, NJ. This goal was directly inspired by Rickey Gates’ project to run every single street in San Francisco. I started on this goal at the end of October this year with the intention of making it a longer term goal and hopefully completing it before the end of 2020. I’ve posted a couple blog posts specifically about this goal and plan to update with posts throughout the year as I make progress. You can get more details and background about the project from those posts (here and here), but the overall concept is just as the project name suggests, to run every single street of the town.

Another somewhat running related goal I have for this year is one just for fun: to run a Twinkie Weiner Sandwich Mile to celebrate the movie UHF. My plan is to do this the same way as I do the Annual Hot Dog Run every year, just with Twinkie weiner sandwiches in place of the hot dogs. If you’re not familiar with the Annual Hot Dog Run, just think beer mile with beer replaced by hot dogs. If you’re not familiar with UHF, go watch it. I plan to do this run either July 21st to celebrate the UHF release date or June 2nd in honor of Channel 62 (6-2), the focal point of the plot of the movie. If you have an opinion on which date is more appropriate, please vote!


My final running related goal for the year isn’t about any race I want to run or hitting a new running time or distance PR. It is to volunteer at a local race with my son and any of the other members of his scout troop that want to come along to help out. This is an idea/project that I had a while back, but have never acted on. I put it off for some time because I thought that he was a little young and having him and a few of his scouting friends volunteering at an aid station would be more of a hindrance than a help to the runners and the other aid station volunteers. I feel like he’s matured enough in the past few years to be able to handle some of the aid station tasks and at least help out and encourage some runners for a portion of a race if I stay with him to provide some guidance. I hope it happens and goes well as I see this as being a great fit for service projects for scout troops. The scouts get to help others stay fit and enjoy the outdoors responsibly while also contributing to another community (trail runners) that values the outdoors and our shared public natural areas. If you’ve brought kids to volunteer at a race, I’d love to hear about how it went for you and would greatly appreciate any kind of tips and advice you can provide that would have improved the experience.

2020, sure to be another great year as a BibRave Pro!


2020 Goals

  • Run at least one 24 hour event
  • PR longest distance in a single run (>104.8 miles)
  • Complete my "Run Every Street" of Egg Harbor Township project
  • Run at least one “last person standing” event
  • Volunteer at a local race with my son



Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019 Goals Reviewed



As we enter the holiday season of 2019 it is prime time to take a look back and assess goals for the past year. After much thought and consideration, I had three running goals this year:
  1. PR a marathon
  2. PR my greatest distance run
  3. Improve my cumulative time for the entire Pennsylvania Triple Crown Series
With time running out to complete any unfinished tasks on this list, it appears that I will have missed the mark on two of my three goals. Things looked great to start the year. At my first race of the year (Rat Race 50k) that I was mainly using to check my fitness level I hit a 50k PR. That wasn’t even one of my goals, but I’ll take it! I managed to smash my marathon PR by nearly 20 minutes at the NJ Marathon only one week after running the Hyner 50k checking box number 1 off my list of goals. Goal number 3 seemed to be just a matter of time as I improved my times at Hyner 50k and Worlds End 100k, but the ultimate goal of improving my cumulative time would fall out of reach at Eastern States 100. I still can’t fully explain it, but something was just off with me leading up to and during that run. That only leaves goal number 2 left, to PR my greatest distance run. Unfortunately, after Eastern States 100 I was just feeling a bit burnt out on running altogether. My original plan was to tackle a supported 200 mile trail run after recovering from Eastern States. I thought that my fitness would be there and this was a great plan, but I hadn’t accounted for the unexpected burn out (and possibly the disappointment that played a role) I would be facing at that point. So in the end, I scrapped the 200 mile attempt and accepted the one out of three goal completion rate.


Although that seems like a low completion rate which may upset some people, I am still pleased with how my 2019 running season played out. I may have not hit all of the targets I set for myself, but I had some pretty big, unexpected successes in other areas. The first being the aforementioned 50k PR and the amazing end to the race where I got smoked by Rich Riopel a quarter mile from the finish. The second major accomplishment for the past year that I am super proud of is the success I’ve found in ‘last individual standing” (LIS) races. I registered and ran my first LIS race (Run Ragged) in June just two weeks after Worlds End 100k hoping to do well, but feeling pretty uncertain about how well with the lack of recovery time between the two races. Surprisingly, I turned out to be the last one standing. I followed that race up with my second LIS race, a true backyard race organized by a running buddy of mine with the start and finish in his backyard. This was a smaller race with only around twenty some runners. I went into it intending to stop at the 50 mile mark because Eastern States 100 was just four weeks away, but by that time it was down to me and one other runner. I decided to stay in it a bit longer and the other runner ended up timing out after finishing only one more lap. Again, I was the last one standing. With those two results, I’m excited to test myself next year at a more competitive LIS race and see what I’m capable of there.


So that more or less wraps up my goals and their outcomes for 2019. Now it is time to look ahead to next year and decide which endeavors I intend to tackle. I still want to PR my greatest distance run and take a shot at a 24 hour race, so I’m thinking I should be able to hit both of those targets in a single event. As for what else is on my to do list next year, I’ll have to give it some thought.




Scott Snell
November 27, 2019


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Were CEP Compression Socks Responsible For My 50K PR?

"Disclaimer: I received a pair of CEP 3.0 Tall Compression Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"



When my CEP 3.0 tall compression socks arrived in the mail I was excited to try them out to see if they lived up to the hype I’ve heard. When I say hype, I don’t specifically mean just CEP compression socks, but the running benefits of compression socks in general. I see them being worn by many ultrarunners and shorter distance runners and have heard many runners rave about them. My experience with them is limited. I’ve only worn a single pair for a couple days immediately following my first 100 mile race. Maybe they helped with recovery a bit, but it is hard to say as it was still somewhat painful and a bit rough on my body as a whole. Although, if the recovery from my first 100 miler didn’t hurt to a certain degree, in my opinion I would say I probably did something wrong for it.


My first reaction to my new CEP 3.0 tall compression socks was eagerness to get outside and run a hard paced 10 miler. The fact that this was my first non-treadmill run in awhile and the weather had finally warmed enough to be comfortable to run in shorts in early March may have contributed to my zest to get out and run on this particular occasion. My second impression of these new socks was “Dang! These things are really tough to put on!” Well that ten miler went really well, even earning some Strava Best Effort medals (https://strava.app.link/dGqJLCdEjV)! Everything felt great for the entire ten, including my feet and calves. And after a few more trial runs, managing to put the socks on became much easier with a little practice and learned technique.


After a few more weeks and test runs, it was time for the real test: wearing my CEP compression socks for my first race of the season, Rat Race 50k. I figured if 31 miles of trails with a few stretches of semi technical terrain went well wearing CEP socks, I would be a convert as well. I'm happy to report that the race went wonderfully (improving my 50k PR from 4:54:29 to 4:15:24) and the socks performed beautifully (race report). My greatest concerns when trying new socks for long runs is comfort and blister prevention. I was relieved to find CEP compression socks kept my feet feeling good for the whole distance and I went home without a single blister. I’m not naive enough to credit any pair of socks for a nearly 40 minute improvement in my 50K PR nor am I too bashful to claim that it was my hard work that was the primary factor that made that degree of improvement possible. However, I am willing to admit that a quality pair of socks never hurts the cause and if a placebo effect improves my performance, I’ll take it. 


So that is just my anecdotal experience with CEP compression socks, but as a skeptic I always ask what the research shows when I hear anecdotal evidence. Many claims are made by companies selling the socks: improved blood flow, reduced swelling, muscle stabilization, and decreased recovery time among others. All sound like great benefits, but does the research support these claims? Armstrong et al. (2015) found in a randomized, replicated study that the wearing of compression socks for 48 hours immediately after running a marathon reduced recovery time. This conclusion was reached based on the data showing a significant difference in the amount of time it took for participants to reach exhaustion during a controlled, incline treadmill run two weeks before and after running a marathon. The time until exhaustion for the treadmill run after the marathon for the group of runners wearing placebo socks decreased by 3.4% while the time increased for the compression sock group by 2.6%. A similar study performed by Kemmler et al. (2009) came to similar conclusions, finding that running performance was significantly improved by calf muscle compression.

If I haven’t sold you on them yet (not that I’m trying to), here are three quick points that may close the deal:
  1. They look and feel good (at a very minimum cover bad calf tattoos)
  2. Six Month Guarantee: 150-200 wears before compression lessens
  3. Thirty Day Return Policy: No questions asked money back guarantee

If you would like to try out a pair of CEP compression socks for yourself, they are available on Amazon. The 3.0 socks I tested are currently available for $59.95. If you want to give just the calf sleeves without the socks a try, they are available for $39.95.

It's not everyday you get to run trails with Rich Riopel, some NJ ultrarunning pride showing here.

Works Cited:

Armstrong, S.A., E.S. Till, S.R. Maloney, and G.A Harris. 2015. Compression Socks and Functional Recovery Following Marathon Running: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 29(2):528-533. 

Kemmler, W., S. Stengel, C. Kockritz, J. Mayhew, A. Wassermann, and J. Zapf. 2009. Effect of Compression Stockings on Running Performance in Men Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(1):101-105.