Latest Posts

Oct 01 | Featured Philanthropy :: Boarding for Breast Cancer

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B4BC is a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing education, prevention and support programs for young people and the action sports community at large. Through grassroots events, year-round educational outreach and the Survivorship Fund, B4BC is able to further its mission of promoting early detection + a healthy, active lifestyle as the best means of breast cancer prevention. B4BC) was founded over 15 years ago with the goal of making breast cancer awareness and breast health a topic of conversation among young people because, in fact, young women and men are not immune from the disease.

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Partnering with The North Face has allowed us to grow B4BC's Survivorship Fund, connecting breast cancer survivors with nature-based wellness experiences that enhance their path of healing and long-term survivorship.  The “Retreat Yourself” survivorship experiences, led by The North Face athlete and B4BC Wellness Ambassador Megan Pischke, fill a growing need to support the breast cancer community now with over 2.9 million survivors in the U.S. alone.

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B4BC has recently taken a new role and meaning in Megan Pischke’s life over the past year as she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been navigating her way through her own cancer journey, documented through B4BC’s blog.   By keeping a positive outlook and living a healthy, active lifestyle, Megan has been able to use her experience and challenges to better connect with fellow breast cancer survivors and inspire others to lead a healthy, preventative lifestyle.

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The North Face is also the presenting sponsor of B4BC's Check One, TwoTM Campus Tour.  B4BC partners with college campuses nationwide to deliver a unique outreach experience that not only reinforces healthful information, but also ensures student resources are in place year-round.   B4BC’s traveling educational booth is on the road 100 days out of the year at lifestyle and action sport events educating young people about the importance of early detection and living a healthy, active lifestyle through our educational materials and Be Healthy. Get Active. Ride! pro athlete ambassador campaign.  To find out where we’ll be next or get involved in one of our events or fundraisers, visit www.b4bc.org/events.

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Sep 25 | The North Face Celebrates Four Years of PPOS with 2014 Schedule

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It seems like only yesterday The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series (PPOS) held its first event at Northstar California Resort. Since that time, countless athletes have had the opportunity to compete in open format freeskiing events alongside top pro riders with the chance to improve their rankings on the global scale. Incredible names like Kentworthy, Wells, Hall, Riddle, Talkington, Bowman, Blunck and more have graced The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series roster.

Now, on the eve of a historic year for freeskiing, The North Face is pleased to announce the fourth season of The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series. The series will feature three stops during the 2013-14 winter including halfpipe at Copper Mountain, CO (Dec. 6-8), halfpipe and slopestyle at Whistler Blackcomb, BC (Jan. 14-18), and Stratton Mountain Resort (Feb. 22), which will feature a slopestyle competition and rail jam.

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All three PPOS events are part of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) competition schedule. The Copper Mountain stop will also serve as a last chance qualifier into the U.S. Grand Prix series, which is the Olympic qualification series for freeskiing athletes in the U.S., and will ultimately select the athletes who will compete for the U.S. Olympic Freeskiing team at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. The Sochi Olympics will be the first winter Games to include freeskiing halfpipe and slopestyle. The Copper Mountain stop will also be a NorAm Cup event. Athlete registration for all three PPOS stops will open November 5 at 10 a.m. MST on www.thenorthfaceppos.com.

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There is no doubt this season will enthuse more young skiers across the country to head to the slopes in the pursuit of personal exploration and athletic glory. Time will only tell what the future holds for Freeskiing, but The North Face feels privileged to have a front row seat to witness the action.

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Sep 11 | The North Face Wisconsin Endurance Challenge Photo Sharing Contest

Revised Draft 9.10.2013

The North Face Wisconsin Endurance Challenge Photo Sharing Contest

Sponsored by: The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., Alameda, CA 94502.

{The promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Vine.}

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

1. Eligibility. Open only to legal U.S. residents, 18 or older, who as of September 11, 2013 have registered for The Endurance Challenge Wisconsin to take place at Kettle Moraine State Park in Eagle, Wisconsin, on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. Employees, officers and directors of Sponsor, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries and agencies, or of any entities involved in the development, production or implementation of The Endurance Challenge Wisconsin, as well as their immediate families and same household members are NOT eligible for the Contest. In addition, members of the general public (i.e., all persons OTHER THAN legal U.S. residents, 18 or older, who as of September 11, 2013 have registered for The Endurance Challenge Wisconsin) are NOT eligible. Void where prohibited. Participation in Contest is subject to these Official Rules and Sponsor’s decisions, which are final and binding in all respects and not subject to appeal.

2. Contest Schedule. Contest begins September 11, 2013 at or after 12:01 a.m. PT and ends September 18, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

3. To Enter. Take an ORIGINAL photo or video regarding the theme of endurance challenge activities. Be sure to include the hashtag #ECSWisconsin and @thenorthface in the photo or video. To enter the Contest, post your photo/video on Instagram OR Twitter OR upload the photo/video to www.facebook.com/TNFECS OR Vine (video only) in accordance with the applicable posted instructions (which are made a part of these Official Rules and incorporated herein by reference). If entering via Twitter, you must follow The North Face Endurance Challenge Series, @thenorthfaceECS. If entering via Instagram, you must follow The North Face, @thenorthface. If entering via Facebook, you must first “like” The North Face Endurance Challenge Series page. All entries must be received by September 18, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PT. You may enter as often as you like but each entry must include a photo/video that is materially different from photos/videos that you have previously entered in the Contest (regardless of social media channel(s) used). DO NOT RESUBMIT THE SAME PHOTO/VIDEO MORE THAN ONCE. In addition, a given social media account may only be used by one (1) person to enter the Contest. Use of automated means of participation will result in disqualification. Any dispute as to the identity of any prize winner will be resolved by Sponsor in its sole discretion, based on the identity of the person who is the registered owner of the social media account used to submit the photo or video (as applicable) as a Contest entry. Message and data rates (and/or wireless Internet access charges) apply to use of mobile device for Contest entry. You may be charged by your wireless carrier for submitting your entry via mobile device. Be sure to check your wireless carrier's pricing plan before entering via mobile device. Not all mobile devices offer wireless Internet access; and, wireless Internet access may not be available in all areas.

4. Content Restrictions. To be eligible, photo (or video) must comply with all of the following requirements (as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion):

(a) Content must be truthful;

(b) Content must not violate the rights of any third party;

(c) Content must not be inappropriate or unfit for publication (e.g., include nudity, obscenity or hate speech);

(d) Content must not disparage Sponsor, its products or athletes endorsing Sponsor’s products or otherwise reflect unfavorably on any of the preceding;

(e) Content must not advocate any alcohol or drug use, irresponsible or reckless behavior or any illegal activity;

(f) Content must not espouse any cause/concern other than the Contest theme.

5. Posting of Photos/Videos. Sponsor may choose, in its sole discretion, to post photos/videos (or links to same) on www.facebook.com/TNFECS and/or @thenorthface on Instagram and/or @thenorthfaceECS on Twitter. Should Sponsor choose to do so, such posting is for entertainment purposes only and will have no bearing on the selection of winners. For winner selection procedure, see Rule 6 below. POSTED PHOTOS/VIDEOS REPRESENT SOLELY THE VIEWS/OPINIONS OF THE INDIVIDUAL ENTRANT AND DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS/OPINIONS OF SPONSOR IN ANY MANNER. SPONSOR IS ACTING AS A PASSIVE CONDUIT FOR THE POSTING/PUBLICATION OF PHOTOS/VIDEOS AND DISCLAIMS ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR SCREENING, MONITORING OR REVIEWING PHOTOS/VIDEOS PRIOR TO POSTING/PUBLICATION OF SAME. (NOTWITHSTANDING THE FOREGOING, SPONSOR WILL NOT SCREEN, MONITOR OR REVIEW PHOTOS/VIDEOS INITIALLY POSTED BY INDIVIDUAL ENTRANTS ON INSTAGRAM, TWITTER OR VINE.) SPONSOR WILL NOT EDIT PHOTOS/VIDEOS PRIOR TO POSTING THEM ON ANY WEBSITE IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE CONTEST.

6. Grant of Rights in Photo/Video. Subject to rights retained by applicable social media channel, entrant grants to Sponsor and its designees the non-exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, transferable, sublicenseable right and license to use, perform, exhibit, reproduce and/or otherwise exploit his/her photo/video in any manner and in any and all distribution channels, venues or media now known or hereafter devised, without further notice or any compensation to entrant. Entrant waives any “Moral Right of Authors” (Droit Moral) in the photo/video. Entrant further agrees, upon Sponsor’s request and without compensation, to sign any and all necessary and appropriate documents so as to effect, perfect or record such license rights. Entrant further expressly acknowledges that Sponsor does not owe him/her a duty of confidence (or fiduciary duty or the like) with regard to his/her photo/video and that Sponsor has wide access to ideas, stories, designs and other literary/artistic materials submitted to it from outside sources or being developed by its own employees and that such ideas/stories/designs/literary/artistic materials may be competitive with, similar to (or even identical to) a person’s photo/video and that Sponsor shall have no liability to entrant or any third party in conjunction therewith.

7. Selection/Notification of Winners. On September 19, 2013, Sponsor will select the winning photo(s)/video(s) based on (a) how well the photo/video captures the spirit of endurance challenge activities; (b) creativity; and (c) originality, taking into account whether the entry was submitted as a photo or video. The entrant with the top-ranked entry is the First Place Prize winner; the entrant with the second-highest ranked entry is the Second Place Prize winner; the entrant with the third-highest ranked entry is the Third Place Prize winner. All winners are potential winners until Sponsor has verified that they are eligible and in full compliance with these Official Rules. If winner entered via Facebook, he/she will be notified by e-mail. If winner entered via Twitter, he/she will be notified by direct message from @thenorthfaceECS. If winner entered via Instagram or Vine, @thenorthface will post a comment on the winning photo/video. Those initially selected as potential winners will be notified (or notification comment posted, as applicable) on September 19, 2013. It is the entrant's sole responsibility to assure that his/her social media account settings allow for Sponsor to contact him/her or for him/her to find posted notification comment, as applicable; and, Sponsor expressly disclaims any liability for failure of potential winner to timely receive, access or respond to any communication sent/posted by Sponsor. Regardless of method of notification, winner must respond within (24) hours of such e-mail/direct message being sent (or notification comment being posted, as applicable.) Winner may also be required to complete, sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release and a Publicity Release (where lawful) within indicated time period. If winner cannot be notified and/or fails to respond within specified time period for any reason or if winner fails to timely return completed and signed Affidavit of Eligibility/Release for any reason, prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner selected. In such case, the alternate winner will be the eligible entrant whose photo/video was ranked next highest by Sponsor after that of the disqualified person, as set forth above.

8. Prizes/Prize Restrictions: First Place Prize: Better Than Naked kit, consisting of shorts, singlet or T-shirt and jacket. Approx. Retail Value: $250. Second Place Prize: Pair of Hyper-Track Guide running shoes. Approx. Retail Value: $120. Third Place Prize: $50 The North Face gift card, redeemable at www.thenorthface.com or at any The North Face retail store. First and Second Place Prizes are subject to availability as to style and size; and, actual item may differ from prize depictions in advertising materials. Third Place Prize is subject to terms/conditions provided in conjunction therewith. No prize substitution except by Sponsor due to prize unavailability for any reason and then for prize of equal value. Prizes are not redeemable or exchangeable for cash, except for Third Place Prize and only where such redemption/exchange is required by law. No prize transfer except with Sponsor's written consent which may be granted or withheld in its sole discretion. Taxes (if any) and unspecified expenses in conjunction with prize acceptance/use are prize winner’s sole responsibility. Limit of one (1) prize per family/household/address.

9. Conditions of Participation. Where legal, by accepting prize, winner agrees (and will confirm in writing upon request) to use of winner’s name, likeness, image, voice and/or other indicia of persona for advertising/publicity/trade purposes by Sponsor without further compensation or notice. By participating, entrant releases and agrees to hold harmless Sponsor, its parent, affiliates and subsidiaries, any entities involved in the development, production or implementation of The Endurance Challenge Wisconsin and the directors, officers, agents, representatives, shareholders and employees of any of the above organizations, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine, from any and all liability arising from Contest. Sponsor not responsible for late, lost, garbled, incomplete, corrupted, inaccessible, misdirected, delayed or damaged photos/videos, which are void; for technological, programming, electronic, filtering by functionality of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or Vine or other error/malfunction/failure of any kind which interferes with the conduct of the Contest as intended by Sponsor. Sponsor’s failure to enforce any provision of these Official Rules in a given circumstance shall not constitute the waiver of such provision. Tampering with the Contest in any manner will result in disqualification (if applicable) and Sponsor may otherwise seek to protect its rights to the full extent allowed by law. If Sponsor determines in its sole discretion that the Contest cannot be conducted as originally planned due to any cause beyond its control (e.g., computer virus/bug, tampering, fraud), Sponsor may cancel, modify or suspend the Contest and make the prizes available to be won in a manner that Sponsor in its sole discretion determines is fair, appropriate and consistent with these Official Rules. Notice of such action will be posted @thenorthface on Instagram, @thenorthfaceECS on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/TNFECS.

10. Disputes/Choice of Law. To the fullest extent permitted by law, you agree that (a) any and all disputes regarding the Contest or these Official Rules shall be governed by the internal, substantive law of the State of California; and (b) any action must be brought individually (NOT as part of a class action) in federal or state court in Alameda County, California (and you expressly agree to the personal jurisdiction of such courts) and, in any such action, you are only entitled to recover actual costs involved in participating in the Contest (if any), with all rights to attorneys’ fees and any and all damages (including special, punitive, consequential damages) being expressly waived.

11. Winners' List. For winners' list, send an email request to tnfsocial@gmail.com, by September 23, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. PT, with TNF ENDURANCE WI in the subject line. Winners' list will be available after October 1, 2013.

Sep 09 | The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc Race Report : Rory Bosio

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Start of The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

As I sit down to write about The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2013 (UTMB) I instantly begin to smile. The elation I felt during and after the race seem too good to be true. Of course, I have a selective memory in regards to racing.  If things go moderately well I tend to forget  the low points. But there are always low points. Being able to minimize and ride through the darker moments is always a priority. It doesn't always work out.  But every so often, to my utter delight, it does.   

I arrived in Chamonix in July and spent the weeks leading up to the race training on the course and surrounding trails. "Training" sounds like a chore. It was more like living in paradise. I fully embraced the lifestyle here. Stopping at refuges for lunch, skinny dipping in glacial lakes, perfecting the art of French leisure with midday naps and indulgently long meals, using red wine and chocolate as gourmet recovery fuel, and berry picking my way around Mont Blanc.  All of these activities were good distractions from thinking too much about the race. Yet, as the end of August drew near I started to have a feeling I haven't had since I first started doing longer races: butterflies. UTMB intimidated me with its massive amount of climbing (+30,000ft ) and overall difficulty. The mix of nervousness & excitement persisted until the morning of the race when I was finally able to calm my mind.

 

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Rory mid-race. Photo credit: Damiano Levati/The North Face

 

The start of UTMB is unlike anything I've experienced in the US. Imagine a gigantic block party with swarms of people, blaring music and wacky dancing. Now imagine having +2300 runners stampede through the party.  To describe it as unique is an understatement.  I raced here last year and knew it would take off ridiculously fast. And it did. I saw no point in sprinting out of the start gate so I settled into a somewhat easy rhythm for the first couple hours. I tried to soak in the entire experience from the amazing energy of the crowds, to the beautiful scenery. The first 20 miles went  by in a flash.

My fellow TNF teammate Jez Bragg and I chit chatted our way up to Col du Bonhomme. I was grateful to have a climbing partner as the darkness set in. It was such a pleasant time that I practically forgot I was racing. It felt more like a training run with a good friend. Eventually I thought my incessant chatter was starting to annoy Jez (he will claim otherwise because he is a gentleman) so I decided to test my leg strength and pick up the pace over the summit. To my surprise, my legs felt better and better as the night wore on.  Not to sound too much like a hippie but things started to flow naturally both physically and mentally. (Nope, that definitely sounded like something a flower child would say!). There's a magical quality to running in the dark. I always imagine the secret creatures of the world, such as fairies and gnomes, coming out at night. (Not doing a great job of convincing the reader I'm not a fruit loop). The stars were bright and the temperature was warm. I was very happy. 

 

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Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

I steadily made my way up the next couple of climbs, alternating between running alone and with other racers. Since I do 99% of my training solo I love being able to run with people during races.  By people, I mean men. Here's where I get on my feminist soap box.  UTMB is roughly 10% women. The dearth of females in ultra-running, especially in 100 mile races, is a topic for another day but really, come on ladies! You are surrounded by fit, spandex clad men (great for checking out the merchandise) and the spectators & volunteers go bonkers whenever they see a chick. I think I ran all of thirty minutes with other women this year. For shame I say! Anyway……

I was feeling pretty peppy as I cruised into the Courmayeur aid station (77km). I was stoked to see my crew and TNF friends.  I took their enthusiasm with me as I headed up the rather challenging climb out of town.   At the Bonatti refuge I was greeted by none other than Lizzy Hawker, my running idol and dear friend.  Due to an injury Lizzy was unable to run this year. If it was me, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the race, let alone spend all night in the cold manning an aid station. However, Lizzy is in a category all her own. She is beyond a class act. Everyone in the sport could learn from her graciousness and humble demeanor. She gave me a giant hug and words of advice that turned out to be very helpful later in the race.  Someone snapped a pic of us, capturing a moment of true friendship I will never forget.  

 

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Rory showing her pep on her way out of the Courmayeur aid station (77k). Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

By the time I reached the top of Grand Col de Ferret it was pretty foggy and windy.  My headlamp started to fade drastically, probably because I had it on the max setting. Unfortunately my back up lamp had somehow turned on in my pack, leaving only a dim light. I tried fumbling with my extra batteries but I couldn't get them in properly. I ended up using the flashlight app on my iphone on the descent.  It worked surprisingly well. By the time I reached the bottom the sun was coming out. It was breathtakingly beautiful. A clear, crisp morning with wisps of mist rising out of the valley.  Tres magnifique! 

I was happy to see my crew and friends again at La Fouly (108km). If I'm feeling decent I try not to stop too long at the aid stations, usually less than a few minutes. It might have served me better to take a little more time because amidst all the chaos of coming in like a tornado I misheard my friend giving me an update on my position. I thought she said there was a woman 2 minutes behind me. Sacre bleu! I stared running like a fire had been lit under my bum. I booked it to the next aid station, constantly feeling like I was going to be passed at any moment. When I saw my friend again I asked her if the next woman was still a couple minutes back. No, she said, there was a man 2 minutes in front of me, not a woman 2 minutes behind me! I had ended up passing the dude when I picked up the pace out of La Fouly. Oh well! It was actually the kick in the rear I needed anyway.

 

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Taking aid in Courmayuer. Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

I was still feeling relatively good but was starting to get nauseous on the climbs. The last 50km were the hardest for me, but I dug deep and fed off the encouragement from my friends and spectators. Once I reached Vallorcine (149 km) I knew I would finish but I felt like it was taking me forever. The climb up to Col des Montets was a slog. I ran it before the race and knew it was going to be a challenge but ooof! Talk about false summits! It's also one of the more technical sections. All I wanted to do was stop and hang my head between my legs. There were too many people lining the course though. I felt like I had to keep moving.  Once I reached La Flegere I knew it was all downhill into the finish. Yahoo! I let my legs go and used gravity to carry me in.

 

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Check out that grin. On her way to a course record. Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

The last mile winds through town, lined with people cheering and clapping. The energy of the crowd was infectious. I felt like I was sprinting towards the finish. I've since seen video and what I was in fact doing was more like exaggerated jogging. My arms were making this bizarre karate-chopping motion. But I'm off on a tangent…..Once I saw the finish line I broke into an enormous shit-eating grin. I am not articulate nor self aware enough to describe the emotions coursing through my body as I crossed the line. Needless to say I was pretty dang elated.  Sharing the moment with the entire TNF family made it even sweeter. Running is an individual sport but I wouldn't be able to do it without the fantastic support I receive from family, friends, and The North Face.  I feel very fortunate that all the elements aligned for me and I was able to experience UTMB on a different level than I usually do at other races. I am immensely grateful to my crew, the race organizers, volunteers, spectators, fellow racers, and the mountains themselves for letting me be apart of such an extraordinary event.  Merci!

 

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Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

 

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Photo Credit: Alo Belluscio/The North Face

 

**Editors Note: Rory Bosio placed 1st in the women's category and 7th overall with a course record time of 22h:37m:27s 

Sep 05 | The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc : History in the Making

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This year’s The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® (UTMB®) will stand out from the many that have been, and maybe even those to come. Not only because it’s been the first one since 3 years that hasn’t been pestered by bad weather or course shortenings – perfectly blue skies blessed this year’s event – but also because Rory Bosio’s record-breaking performance will be one to remember, as was Xavier Thevenard’s.

Halfway through the competition things had taken quite an ugly turn for many of The North Face® team’s athletes. Sebastien Chaigneau, Helen Cospolich, Mike Wolfe and Zigor Iturrieta all had to quit the race due to various physical impediments. 

It was up to Timothy Olson and Mike Foote to gain a foothold on the lead runners, pressing them hard until the end. Meanwhile, Rory Bosio was leading the women’s category and advanced fiercely on the ten leading runners.

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It was, however, young Frenchman Xavier Thevenard who crossed the finish line first at an impressive 20h34min57secs, setting a new course record at the UTMB®. Xavier was joined on the podium by the two Spaniards, Miguel Heras and Javier Dominguez, who came second and third.

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It was then the two American The North Face® athletes, Timothy Olson and Mike Foote, who crossed the finish line, at 21h38mins and 21h53mins respectively (watch Timothy crossing the finish line here).

The crowds in Chamonix were then treated to another record-breaking moment as American, Rory Bioso, finished the race in 22h37min26secs – a new course record in the women’s category, and beating the old record by more than 2 hours. On top of that, it was the first time ever a female runner completed the race in the overall top 10, as she was the 7th runner to cross the finish line. We will look more in-depth into this incredible achievement within the next few days, so stay tuned.

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UK runner, Jez Bragg, having not taken part in any significant race events since his gargantuan Te Araroa expedition January this year (read about it here), came in 10th place.

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Aug 30 | The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc : Mini UTMB

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What's more fun than getting ready for a 168km (104.3 mile) running race with more than 9600m (31,500 feet) of elevation gain and loss?  Well racing with your kids of course.

Today was the mini-UTMB and by mini we mean it was for mini-people!!! The children all had a great time in perfect Chamonix weather as they emulated their parents and friends and got a start toward their own UTMB Dreams.

Here are some pictures from a fun day!

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Aug 30 | The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc : Update from Lizzy


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Lizzy running with Ama Dablam in the background Credit: Alex Treadway

When in the beginning of June, Lizzy Hawker injured herself, her plans to run the UTMB changed drastically. With broken ribs and a stress fracture of the foot, Lizzy had to shift the focus in her training races from finishing first to simply getting better. Here is what she ad to say about it:

“Lines. The ones that we cross and the ones that we don't. 

The start line of the 2013 UTMB is one line that I won't cross this year.

Sometimes life throws you a challenge that you weren't expecting. Sometimes those plans, those dreams get thrown into disarray and you have to pick up the pieces, start over again, learn to adapt your flow.

I tried. I really tried. After injury earlier in the summer, I tried to be patient, to wait, to swallow my doubts, to swallow my fears and to work back to the form I wanted to be in for UTMB. Things were just turning around, finally the foot was feeling solid, the fitness coming back. And then, a new pain. Back to the wavering uncertainties. The news that I didn't want to hear. Stress fracture. Of the femur. No question. No race.

Injury. It's happened before. It will happen again. But each time is new, each time you wonder 'what if'. But injuries demand respect. And perhaps give an opportunity to stand back from ourselves, to watch, to listen, to observe. To become aware. 

Simple awareness.

I am so disappointed not to be racing. But with the UTMB you become part of something that is so much more than just the incredible challenge of the race itself. Every runner, every volunteer and every supporter becomes part of something truly special. The shared passion and dedication make this so much more than just a race, more a journey that we share together, and I still really look forward to being a part of that.

For all of you on that start line of the 2013 UTMB, keep aware, stay in the moment and enjoy! That is why you are there! 

I wish each of you a beautiful race, and 'bon courage'.  

These are some words written earlier in the summer as I was recovering from earlier injury and preparing for the UTMB .... the irony ....

“Sometimes life throws you a challenge that you weren't expecting. Sometimes those plans, those dreams get thrown into disarray and you have to pick up the pieces, start over again, learn to adapt your flow. This is how it seemed to me, when at the beginning of June, injury destroyed the plans I had for the summer, and set me on a different course trying to heal and regain form in time for the UTMB.  

The world is as it is, and we are as we are. It will snow when it snows. The wind will blow when it blows. The sun will shine when it shines. We cannot make things as we want them to be, need them to be, or wish them to be. They are as they are. We have to learn to flow. To flow with the ups and the downs, around the twists and turns, into the corners, into the wide open, to turn ourselves inside out and stand on our head if need be.  We cannot bend, shape, fold the world into how we wish things were. Instead we have to bend, shape, fold ourselves to follow the course that life throws before us; when things feel harsh or difficult, as well as when they are gentle and easy. Being grateful for what is there, for what we have in that moment, rather than wishing for more, lest what we have in that moment is taken from us. One of the truths in life is that nothing is permanent; life is a constant ebb and flow. Things are as they are, and it is ok. That is the magic of life.

Sometimes life is about lines. The ones that we cross and the ones that we don’t.

I broke into a packet of my precious supply of Mustang (tsampa) biscuits today. And no I wasn’t running hard or fast. But, I did run long. That is, longer than I thought I could. Maybe those biscuits brought with them just a little of the magic and mystery of Mustang!

 

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Lines in the sky during the Mustang Mountain Trail Race. Credit: Lizzy Hawker

This morning I crossed a start line, and this afternoon I crossed a finish line. Less than 24 hours passed between deciding to race and reaching that finish line. But, it felt longer with its kaleidescopic medley of emotions, uncertainties, doubts, pain and effort.

 

From the outside it might have appeared to be an ‘off day’, well over an hour slower than I would have expected to run, had all things been equal.

But all things were not equal.

I had tears in my eyes crossing that finish line in 5th place, and probably felt more emotion than when I set the course record back in 2006. This was one start line I wasn’t sure I should be on. I was uncertain if the foot would hold. Or if the legs could carry me. Or if the mind would be strong enough. Or if I’d even make it through those fast early kilometres of tarmac and out of town, let alone the rest. The healing of that stress fracture that was so unequivocal in its demands has remained a little too tenuous for comfort. 

My plan was (thanks, Rich); to imagine I’d written on the back of my t-shirt “recovering from a stress fracture, please pass me to the right”, to take photos, to talk a lot at the refreshment points, to have fun, to walk a lot, to enjoy having company around me.

The reality? I felt the foot a lot during the first half, and with the recent hiatus in training, caution dictated a slower than normal pace. But, the legs could still carry me. And the head and the heart wanted to pull on towards that finish line. So it went … step, by step, by step.

It hurt. It wasn’t easy. But I ran harder than I thought I would be able to.

Just one short week ago my broken ribs were still giving enough pain to wake me from sleep, my legs were aching from two hour uphill hikes, and I probably hadn’t run even 8 km at a stretch. Three days before the race I’d tested myself with a walk run of 50 km. With considerably less of the running than the walking, it has to be said, and taking an unmentionable number of hours, due in part to copious amounts of very necessary ‘rock sitting’ and ‘crumpled heap staring at the sky lying’. Not exactly confidence building. Neither was it adhering to conventional ideas of tapering. But after all you can’t really ‘taper’ from near to nothing? And, at that point, racing was the furthest thing from my mind.

So, I’m not entirely sure from which ‘bag’ I managed to pull out finishing a 78 km mountain race. But somehow I went beyond what I thought was possible for my body and mind ‘today’.

It is doubtful, but if anyone that was here in Davos happens to read this, then a huge thank you to any of you who gave me a word of support (runner, volunteer or supporter). You may not realise just how much the encouragement means.

To those of you reading at home: please don’t do as I do, do as I say. The 10% rule of increasing intensity or volume is (probably) sensible. Just remember it refers to ‘by the week’, not by the day, or by the hour. I have no idea what I’m doing. I only ever go by ‘feel’. But with the 2013 UTMB fast approaching, I’m willing (within reason) to risk throwing some caution to the winds.

Our limits today may not be where they were yesterday, or where we hope they will be tomorrow. But it is today that counts. And sometimes even in ‘today’ we can go beyond what we think is possible!”

 

UTMB training
Lizzy Training on the UTMB route in 2012 Credit: Lizzy Hawker

 

Aug 15 | Featured Philanthropy :: American Mountain Guides Association

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The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) is a 501(c)(3) educational non‐profit that is dedicated to supporting the American mountain guiding and climbing instructor community. As the leading organization of America’s most vibrant, inspiring community of climbers and skiers, the AMGA offers you cutting edge knowledge and hundreds of years of collective experience that you won’t get from any other climbing organization. The North Face is a proud sponsor of AMGA, to learn more visit: http://amga.com/

Buster Jesik is a climber and guide based in Estes Park, Colorado, and a participant in the Alpine Mentors program. 

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In Spring of 2012 I participated in an AMGA Alpine Guides Course hosted in Boulder and Estes Park, Colorado. I was fortunate enough to receive the 2012 North Face Alpine scholarship, which covered the tuition of the course. Before the course I had 6 years of experience as a guide, 15 years experience rock climbing and mountaineering, and had earned certification as an AMGA Rock Guide. This Alpine Guides course was my first step towards certification in the alpine discipline, and having been through the rock program I had a good idea what to expect out of the course.
Mountain guiding is still an underground and mysterious profession in the U.S., even among climbers. Its much more then just leading the pitches and building good anchors. Its a highly complicated art that like climbing, takes a life time to master. During my Spring 2012 course,  myself and 9 other students we’re joined by 4 world class guides and instructors for a 10 day course in the art of mountain guiding. While there is a curriculum, the plan is flexible, and the students walk away with a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, how and where to improve to take their guiding art to the next level. 
After a few days of covering and refining basic skills in the crags around Boulder, we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. Besides just learning the nuts and bolts of guiding, I always walk away from these courses with a different perspective on what guiding and climbing could be, and renewed excitement for the mountains.
Meeting and learning from the AMGA’s top notch instructors is an awesome, inspiring experience that always leaves a mark. I felt honored to receive the North Face scholarship, which goes a long way in helping support aspiring guides make their goals and dreams come true. Personally, I see guiding as an opportunity to pass along an appreciation for nature, push people past their perceived limits, and promote a healthy lifestyle that guests can take back to their every day lives. As one of my mentors told me, “its the mountains that teach us”. The AMGA, along with generous support from the North Face, has given me that same opportunity to learn from the mountains, and make a living passing that on to others.
Buster Jesik is a climber and guide based in Estes Park, Colorado, and a participant in the Alpine Mentors program.  

To learn more about how The North Face is enabling the next generation of explorers visit: http://www.thenorthface.com/en_US/get-outdoors/

Aug 12 | Climbing Magazine Gives Thermoball High Marks

"This has changed the way I used to think about synthetics"... said one of the testers from Climbing Magazine when they got a hold of our new Thermoball Jacket. "I used to find them too bulky and not warm enough, but this jacket has down-like packability and warmth with all the benefits of synthetic".

Check out the full Climbing review below.

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Find out more about Thermoball here at The North Face

Aug 09 | Unearthed :: Renan Ozturk Video

Artist, photographer, and climber Renan Ozturk had a unique perspective as storyteller on the climbing trip to the Green River, Utah. Catch him in the final episode of Unearthed...

 

Green River, Utah is well known for it's world-class crack climbing and beautiful walls. The North Face athletes, Alex HonnoldDaniel WoodsRenan Ozturk and Matt Segal took a close-to-home trip last month to explore the area and teach Daniel, one of the world's best boulderers, a thing or two about what it means to trad climb. 

For the last 5 weeks we have cronicled their adventure through their own eyes and their words.  Read it here : www.neverstopexploring.com/blog/unearthed/ or check out their photos on Instagram using #greenriverrock

 

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