Support!

I was browsing the facebook world the other day and happened to come across this post.

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I immediately reached out to Sara. I shared my story about Two Little Feet. I knew I wanted to get her story out!

I asked Sara to send me “Her Mission!”

Here’s a little mini bio on Sara!

I grew up back East, in New England, and had never heard of wildland fire until some NOLS student who picked me up hitchhiking in NV told me about it. Incidentally, I thought it sounded terrible. In 1998, I joined a volunteer dept in rural VT, and in 2000 joined a brush disposal crew and Type 2 handcrew on the Manchester Ranger District in Manchester, VT. I got my first taste of western wildfire, and was instantly addicted.

In 2002, I was hired by the Midewin Hotshots for their first full operational season; that winter I applied for several hotshot crews, but was accepted by the Wenatchee Valley Rappellers for my rookie season in 2003. After three seasons as an aerially-delivered firefighter, I returned to hotshotting as a senior firefighter with the Rogue River Hotshots in 2006, then transferred to the Baker River Hotshots in 2007. I accepted a squad boss position there in 2008.

In 2012, after over a decade in Region 6, I detailed as the Assistant Superintendent for the Craig Hotshots in NW Colorado. I accepted the position proper at the end of the 2012 season, and worked for the BLM until I returned to the Forest Service in October 2014, when I accepted my current position as the Assistant Superintendent for the Bitterroot Hotshots based in Darby, MT. I continue to learn and grow, and have found more joy in my career than ever as I help to mentor the new generation coming in today’s fire service.

I currently own a home in tiny Winthrop, WA, on the eastern side of the North Cascades. In my “off” time, I catch up on quality time with my patient boyfriend, patrol the Nordic ski trails and explore my local hills by snowshoeing, snowbiking, ski touring, and of course running. I read constantly, bake a lot of yummy stuff, and rediscover my crockpot…I also keep busy by finally visiting friends and family, blowing glass, trying to learn Russian…and ceaselessly annoying my two tiger-striped cats.

I asked for the best way to donate for her.

I do have a FB page at https://www.facebook.com/give5at2/ of course people can go there to donate.  If they go to the Foundation page at wfffoundation.org, they can donate there at any time, and tag it with “Give $5 At 2”.  The easiest way, I think, is the text link; they just text SKNAPP to 71777.  It will text them a mobile cause link to finish their donation.  That will be tagged as coming to my campaign.
I wanted to know her “why?” besides the obvious of being in wildfire herself.
As far as the why, I think that’s a little more complicated.  I was never a “runner” in school; really, wasn’t even that athletic as a kid.  In 1997, I through-hiked the Appalachian Trail from GA to ME, and when I got back I discovered suddenly that I could run, and it didn’t hurt.  I also discovered that it was almost a sort of meditation, a way to be alone with whatever issues I happened to be wrestling with.  As an added bonus, it was portable: it was something I could do anywhere with just a pair of sneakers.  This fit right in with my itinerant lifestyle.
In the last 20 years since I made that accidental discovery, I have worn out dozens of pairs of shoes and run thousands of miles, through city blocks and over rutted dirt roads, along winding trails and in deserts and forests and on three different continents.  It has become the great equalizer in all phases of my life, and at different points along the way has served as escape, release, conditioning, catharsis…and just plain brute punishment.  I have run to remember, and I have run to forget.  I have run through joy, excitement, fear, anger and bitterness…sometimes all in the same day.
In the fall of 2015 after the fire season wound down, I needed a new challenge.  As I trotted through the foothills of the Bitterroots, I realized that for all the miles I had put in, I had never done a race (maybe a 5k, once, ages ago…).  I was staring down the barrel of my 40th birthday in the coming February, so I decided I wanted to run 40 miles for my 40th.
After a lot of research, I couldn’t find a race to fit the distance, so I settled on the Antelope Canyon 55k, which comes out to about 34 miles.  I spent all of that winter training and figuring out fueling, aid stations, logistics, etc, and in late February, completed the race on a beautiful Arizona day. 
I was hooked.
This year, I have set myself to a new task: the Zion 100k, sponsored and run by the Grand Circle Trail Series.  You can find their race website here http://www.grandcircletrails.com/.   They do an excellent job of managing beautiful, zero-waste events in gorgeous places. 
This race is twice the distance, and has more elevation gain and loss than Antelope Canyon.  I am excited and nervous, and perhaps in part to channel some of that excess energy, I decided to turn it to fundraising for the Foundation, a cause that is near to my heart. 
I have spent nearly two decades in the fire service working for the federal government, and over the course of my career I have witnessed the incredible work that the Foundation performs on an (unfortunately) regular basis.  (Unfortunately only because when their services are needed, it usually means someone I know has been injured or killed.)  I have seen families genuinely cared for in the midst of their greatest tragedies; the awesome folks at the Foundation step up and do whatever is needed.
So, Two Little Feet nation can we help a gal out?! Go now! Share now! Donate NOW! I can’t wait to see Sara soar on the trails. You better believe I’ll be at the finish line waiting to meet her…the race is down by Zion!
Thanks for all the continued support for me and Sara!
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I’m Back!

Hey guys!

I kind of fell off the grid!

A lot happened in a short amount of time and I really dropped the ball on checking in, but I’m ready to get back to it!

Back to remembering the fallen. Back to running.

I have some fun things in store!

I’m building an army here, but more on that at a later date.

What HAVE I been up to in 2 years?

Well…shortly after I ran my last race of the year I learned that my family would be adding two little feet TO the family!

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We welcomed our little firefighter into the family August 29, 2015. He’s been such a blessing and a BLAST!

I knew I would be ok to keep running through a pregnancy, but I was burned out. I was ready for some time off. And time off I took!

I ran a little last year, but just couldn’t get back into it! So I finally signed up for a real race and I’m getting back into it.

I’ll be in Moab for March…something about that place is just plain awesome!

Since you last heard from me we made a move to Southern Utah also. So there was that big transition in the middle of the pregnancy! Phew. I’m exhausted just reliving all of it.

It’s been a blast and we’ve been out exploring.

I’ll check in again soon!

Hope all is well!

Las Vegas Rock ‘N’ Roll Expo and 5k

Last month I was in Las Vegas to run the half marathon that they offer.

It was a whirlwind weekend.

We were headed to Denver Friday to fly out to Vegas that night.

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A very uneventful flight. I was ancy to get to Vegas. We landed safe and sound.

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The cab ride to the hotel was probably more nerve racking than the flight.

We made it to the hotel and settled in for the night. We walked around the casinos and met up with the other part of our group that was running the race.

We crawled into bed about 1100 pm.

We were up around 8ish the next morning. Dad, the hubs and I were all running the 5k Saturday night. But we had to go to the expo that morning and pick up all of our packets.

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There was a line into the expo, but as soon as the expo actually opened everything went really quickly.

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The expo was HUGE. There was so much stuff going on. It was fun to experience, but secretly I really like my small local races. 🙂

The hubs and I came around this corner and saw a line of people and I thought I wonder what that’s for. Then I saw the sign and knew we needed to stand in this line!

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I was so excited. Then one of the ladies came towards the end of the line and said Meb was on a schedule and there was no guarantee that we would get to the front. I was bummed, but didn’t give up hope and the line moved really quickly and pretty soon I was standing next to Meb!

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Super nice guy! Super cool to meet him!

After the expo we got some lunch at Rainforest Cafe. Of course I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to see a giant fish tank!

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I love this picture…it looks like the fish is kissing me.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and took quick naps and then it was off the the 5k!

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We ran a little loop around area of Circus Circus.

It was neat to see all the costumes and people just having fun with this race. A lot of Elvis people and super heros.

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The hubs and I were in the same starting corral. As we toed the start line guess who jumped in again?!

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MEB!

I ran like the first couple of steps with him! Then we were off. Aron and I ran this race together. It was fun to just look around at the bright lights and be goofy with him. We took videos while running and just had fun with it. We even managed to negative split the race. He’ll tell you he beat me…at the finish…but only because I let him. 😉

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One race down. One to go.

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Somewhere along the course I apparently ran through area 51. I was glowing like crazy!

We went back to the motel and changed into dry clothes. Aron and I hit up the roller coaster at New York New York and gambled a little at our favorite Deal or No Deal game.

We were back tucked into bed around 1130 pm.

I was just hoping for a good nights rest.

I’ll be back later with a recap of the half marathon on Sunday night!

Running for the Fallen – December Edition

Hiddy Ho!

I know. I know. I haven’t recapped Vegas yet. I promise I will get there.

But first! I race this Saturday. My last one of the year. Oh geez.

This year has been full of victories and defeats (mostly victories though).

I have accomplished a lot this year, all the while doing it for something I am very passionate about.

Two Little Feet doesn’t stop in 2014. I just have to figure out where Two Little Feet continues towards in the future. Anyone have any ideas?

This Saturday we’ll be headed to Colorado once again for the last race of the season.

I will have two names carried with me this month.

Token Adams

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Token was killed last year in August in an ATV accident while searching for a fire on the Santa Fe National Forest.

Jeff Atkinson

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Jeffie has been a part of my life longer than I can remember. He was like the big brother I never had. Jeff worked at the BLM with my mom and dad when they started their careers. He was always there to help remember my uncle. Jeffie made the switch to city fire and work for the Casper Fire Department for a number of years. For the last 2 years, Jeffie had fought a very courageous battle with cancer. We lost Jeffie in September of this year. He has been behind Two Little Feet since the day it was born. He would always send me texts and tell me to “keep running.” Jeffie has been on my mind for every race since he passed away. I knew that I needed to carry him on my back this race since he has been such a huge support.

Jeffie we are all still fighting! I know you’ll be with me every step of the way on Saturday, and I’m sure you’ll throw in some of your humor just to make sure that I know you’re right there!

This may be the last race of 2014. But Two Little Feet will go on in 2015. Please consider donating to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!!

Running for the Fallen – November Edition

Goodness, you would think once fire season slowed down I would have more time on my hands.

Once again I am slacking!

I leave tomorrow for Vegas for race 12 of 13!

I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. Vegas will be a whole new experience with the amount of people running. I can’t say that I really have any time goals for this race because of the amount of people that will be running. I just want to go and have fun and honor the men on my back.

The hubs, my dad and I will be running a 5k on the strip Saturday night and then on Sunday night my mom and I and a group of our girlfriends are running the half marathon!

I have been able to connect with a few of the family members of this months honorees. I love being able to give them a hug and let them know their loved one will never be forgotten.

Members of Tanker 09

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Tanker 09 crashed on take off outside of Reno, NV while responding to the Smitty fire in 2008.

Pilot Gene Wahlstrom

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Pilot Greg Gonsioroski

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Mechanic Zachary VanderGriend

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Members of Tanker 11

Tanker 11 crashed in 2012 while working on the White Draw Fire in Utah.

Pilot Todd Tompkins

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Pilot Ron Chambless

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I have had the awesome pleasure of connecting with Zach’s family and Ronnie’s family.

I ask that you all take a minute and remember these guys. I know they will be with my the entire time I am running down the famous Las Vegas strip.

As always, you can still donate!

Crazy Horse Half Marathon Race Recap

I spent my weekend in South Dakota.

Hubs and I were on the road bright and early Saturday morning to make it to Hill City, SD in time to watch my family run in the 5k that the race was offering.

My sister, Eddie, wanted to run and honor our uncle and good friend on the same weekend that I was honoring them. So the 5k on Saturday it was! My mom and dad ran the race also.

The weather and wind was definitely not totally perfect. A nice head wind, cloud cover and cooler temps it what they faced. It was pretty ok as long as you were doing physical activity and it would have been really nice if there was no head wind.

They all looked fabulous and finished strong into the finish line! It was fun for a change to be at the finish instead of everyone waiting for me at the finish. It was awesome and inspiring to cheer for everyone coming into the finish line.

We headed back to the motel and relaxed for a brief second and then were off to get some food in our tummies.

Pasta for me and red meat for just about everyone else.

After dinner we all decided it would be best to ride a buffalo. Don’t worry though we all walked away scratch free.

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We were all tucked into bed and out like lights before 930.

I didn’t sleep well at all that night. I was constantly waking up worried I had missed my alarm. It was just not a good nights sleep for me. As soon as my alarm officially did go off though I felt the nerves set in. My stomach was just in knots. I hadn’t had race nerves like that in awhile.

I got up and got dressed pretty quickly.

Slowly got some food in my tummy and before I knew it we were headed to the start of the race.

As we walked out of the hotel it was overcast and spitting rain. I looked up into the sky and said “Really? Really?” I wasn’t prepared for rain, but it looked like it had potential to clear.

We made it to the start no problem, and I got to hang out with my crew for a little while before the race.

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It was chilly at the start and I waited until the last possible minute to take off all my layers. I wasn’t totally prepared for the cooler weather. It was welcomed, but not completely ready.

Before I knew it we were getting ready to head off on our 13.1 journey!

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Just before the start the skies it started raining again. There were rainbows everywhere. I took this as a definite positive sign that those boys were testing my mental toughness, but were also letting me know I wasn’t there alone.

Mile 1: 8:18 Mile 2: 10:21 Mile 3: 8:09

Mile 1 and Mile 3 were almost the same miles. Mile 2 had a nice long couple of climbs in them. I told myself, no matter how bad it hurt I wasn’t walking up the hills. You do a big loop around Crazy Horse Memorial. It was really cool to see. I had never been to Crazy Horse. The magnitude of that thing is unreal and to think I will never see it completed in my lifetime.

Shortly after mile 3 the marathoners split off and head toward Custer while the half turns and heads towards Hill City.

Mile 4: 8:43 Mile 5: 8:35 Mile 6: 8:25

I got to see the family right at mile 4 which was nice. Then as I watched my watch slowly click the tenths of miles by I found myself getting frustrated. I felt like this race was taking FOREVER. I was begging for an aid station to break up the frustration. I finally got one about mile 5. I found myself getting lost in the beauty of the trail. I also found myself thinking “I’m so glad they cancelled this thing last year.” If you remember I was signed up to run the marathon and then the winter storm hit with around 3 feet of snow. I kept thinking how frustrating it would have been.

My family surprised me again about mile 6 ish. Seeing them along the course did nothing but boost my spirits. This has been the first race that I have seen them multiple times along the course. Usually I see them at the start and the finish. I really needed the mental boost from them.

My sister’s boyfriend came along for the ride. This was the first race he had been apart of and I think I am going to hire him officially as my traveling aid station. He had water for me, even though I didn’t take it from him, almost every time I saw them.

Mile 7: 8:18 Mile 8: 9:10 Mile 9: 9:13

I was feeling really solid up until mile 8. The wheels slowly started falling off. My IT band on my right leg started throbbing, my left foot also started throbbing. I tried to run on the most level of the trail, but my hip and IT band definitely told me when I wasn’t running on level ground. I started walking through aid stations when they presented themselves. I felt like this race they were so spread out. Usually I am thinking, “another aid station already?” But not with this race. I couldn’t find the next one fast enough.

I saw my family again at mile 8. I ditched my gloves to them since the sun was shining and it was getting warm. At one point I reached down and rubbed my IT band only to discover that my legs were so cold I couldn’t feel the pressure of me rubbing it.

Mile 8 I started dedicating 1 mile to each of the guys. It took my mind off of the race the last time I did it and so I did it again.

Mile 8 was for Andy. I said hello to Andy. I told him that I was sorry. Sorry he was taken too soon. Sorry that he didn’t get the proper help. I was just sorry. I knew Andy was young. I knew Andy was full of life! I kept repeating to myself through this whole mile, “young body, strong legs.” The pain in my legs in that instant went away. I no long felt the funky twinge in my knees or hips. My foot was not throbbing. My IT band wasn’t screaming. I was using Andy’s young body and strong legs to power me forward.

Mile 9 was for Dan. As soon as my watched beeped at me and clicked over to 9 miles I got the biggest grin on my face. I was in the middle of the Black Hills smiling the biggest I had smiled all day. I knew that Dan was behind that smile. His spunky attitude. His full of life attitude. I just smiled. Ear to ear for the entire mile. That kept me moving forward when I knew that my body was telling me to stop.

Mile 10: 9:29 Mile 11: 9:55 Mile 12: 10:31 Mile 13: 9:49

I got to see my family one last time around the 5k mark.

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Mile 10 was for Trampus. I was running in his hills. I’m sure he knew the Black Hills like nobody’s business. I thought about his family waiting for me at the finish line. I kept moving forward. With each and every step taken for Trampus through mile 10. The sun started to shine a little more through mile 10. I knew Trampus was there smiling away. Showing me the beauty that the South Dakota Black Hills have to offer. They definitely are a beautiful place to call home.

Mile 11 was for Brett. I felt a surge of energy. I felt like I was back at mile 2. I felt good, I felt refreshed. It slowly started raining on us, but nothing too major. Brett was one tough guy, but he was that silent tough. That tough that he didn’t need to brag about. You saw it in the way he worked, the way he carried himself day to day. You saw it in his friendships and relationships. I knew that I wanted to finish this thing strong.

At some point during mile 11, out of the corner of my eye I see some horses. They are off in a pasture, calm, and as I watch them, suddenly they all get excited and a few of the rear up, a couple others turn and buck and kick. They look like they are playing and suddenly take off in different directions. Do you know how many horses I saw do this? Five. Five horses out in a pasture, enjoying life. As we ran closer to the fence that separated this pasture from the trail I was on, I looked for these same horses; and I didn’t see them. I even looked back after I was well past the pasture to see if I could see them. I never saw these horses again. I got the chills all down my spine. As I replay that instant in my head right now, I have chills and tears streaming down my face. Those five men I carried on my back were using those five horses to show me that they had been with me all day. That their spirits were still very much alive. They are with us every day. You just have to know where to look.

Mile 12 was for Ed. Boy, Ed threw everything he could at me, just to make sure I was still a Hutton. To make sure I was my father’s daughter. The clouds slowly started to roll in. I could see the rain coming. I tried with all my might to pick up my pace. I knew the finish line meant warm clothes. The wind started to pick up and blow straight into our faces. Then the rain started to fall. It wasn’t a warm rain either. At one point I could have sworn it as snowing, it wasn’t, but I felt that cold. As I pushed through that last mile thinking about my uncle, wishing I had my gloves back that I ditched at mile 8, I knew I had to keep pushing forward. A little cold, windy, rain never killed anyone and it sure wasn’t about to kill me in this instant. Thanks Ed for that little douse of mental and physical toughness that I needed to prove to myself that I was tough enough.

We ran right down into main street Hill City. I took a brief peak at my watch. I had roughly a minute to make it the last 0.10 if I was going to come in under 2 hours. I could hear the Hubs’ whistle as soon as I turned that corner. I found my family scattered through the finish line. At this point I couldn’t really feel my legs. I couldn’t tell how fast or how slow I was moving and I wasn’t too worried. As long as I made it across that finish line I was happy.

As I hobbled through the finishing chute I was hoping my family had found Trampus’ family. I turned to my left to walk over to sit down and I saw the Wildland Firefighter coat that they sell and I knew it had to be Trampus’ mom. Aron was coming to scoop me up about that time too. I hobbled over to her and she gave me one of the best finish line hugs I could ever imagine! I have never met any of them, but there is a bond that is unbreakable between us. They are part of my little Two Little Feet army. My family slowly trickled in to find us. I will always cherish those special moments I got to spend visiting with his family; and I can’t wait to get another chance to visit with them again!

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I still can’t thank them enough for being at that finish line! I can’t thank them enough for their support!

I can’t thank each and everyone of you for the support you have given me through out the year. I has been one heck of a ride!

Running for the Fallen – October Edition

I think this has been the month I have looked forward to since I started Two Little Feet.

Two of the honorees this month were the inspiration behind starting Two Little Feet.

I will have family members of two of the honorees this month at the finish line.

The last two honorees this month were requests that I have had on the list since February.

I will be running for my uncle this month.

I will be back in South Dakota once again. I will be on a different portion of the Mickelson Trail. I will start in Crazy Horse Memorial and finish in downtown Hill City.

In February I was asked how I pick names. I explained that I will run in memory of everyone we lost in 2014.

This particular person then went on to explain to me about her husband not only suffering one tragic wildland fire line of duty death, but two. That was all she needed to say to me and I was looking at my schedule to see where I could honor them. October seemed to be the perfect month.

Andy Palmer

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Andy was on his first fire assignment the day he was killed. They were removing trees when he was struck by a falling tree. He was 18 years old. Following Andy’s death, Dutch Creek Protocols were designed and implemented across the fire community. I had the pleasure of meeting Andy’s mother at Family Weekend at the Foundation. She was so loving, warm and welcoming!

Dan Holmes

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Dan Holmes was a member of the Arrowhead Hotshots when he was struck by a burning snag on a prescribed fire in California in 2004. When researching Dan, I came across danholmes.org. It will be 10 years exactly on October 2nd that we lost Dan. While browsing through the website I found tears rolling down my face. Looking through the gallery on that page, I felt like I was getting to know Dan. He looked like such a fun loving spirit. I know he is truly missed. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan’s mother at Family Weekend also.

I hope these family members know how much it means to me to get the chance to meet them. To show them the pleasure and honor it is for me to remember these young men and women.

Trampus Haskvitz

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Trampus was killed while fighting a fire in South Dakota. Trampus is a South Dakota boy. So I feel like I’m running for the home town boy! I feel like I have his home field advantage on my side. I just received confirmation that his family will be making the trip to Hill City on Sunday. I can’t wait to meet them! I can’t wait to share the finish line excitement with them.

Brett Stearns

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Oh man. Where do I start with Brett? He was just a young pup when we moved to Craig and my parents started working at the BLM. He was like a big brother to my sister and me. Always there teasing us and messing with us. But he was the kindest man I have ever met. He had such a kind and gentle soul. He would call and help my sister with her math homework when she needed help. He would be there in an instant for anyone. He was killed in 2009 while on a cutting project. He was struck by a falling snag. I was driving home for the weekend that fateful day. I remember my dad calling me. I was on the interstate outside of Point of Rocks, WY. I have passed that exact point on the road a few times this year, and every time I have thought of Brett. I remember the feelings. The hurt. The sadness. There isn’t a day that goes by that I know my family doesn’t think about him. I can’t wait to be able to honor Brett.

Brett, thank you for being such a huge inspiration. Thank you for being someone who I continue to look to for guidance. Thank you for being the man that you are! You are constantly around me. Everywhere I look.

Did I mention that Brett was runner too?

Ed Hutton

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What is there more to say about my uncle than hasn’t already been said?

Ed started this whole thing. Ed inspired Two Little Feet. The Foundation has always done so much for our family. I felt my dad was able to repay the fallen and the Foundation by being on the BLM Honor Guard. Seeing him be able to do that. I knew that I wanted to do something equally great!

You can pretty much read the whole story about my uncle here!

I have been to that spot on the mountain where he was picked up by the medivac ship. When I visited that spot a few years ago I felt numb. I didn’t feel any emotions. I know now when I go back I will cry and cry and cry. When I visit his plaque at North Crandall Trailhead, I cry. I cry thinking about him now.

I often look up in the sky at the stars and think about him. I think about him when the sunrise and sunset are extraordinary. I think about him every time we take a drive up Sunlight Basin in NW Wyoming.

So…let’s see I have Andy’s youth, Dan’s spunky attitude, Trampus’ home field advantage, Brett’s running, and Ed’s blood running through my veins. How could this weekend and race not be incredibly epic?

There are 5 incredible guys here that you should really think about donating in honor of! How can you say no?!

Of course, if you are in the Hill City area on Sunday, please come down to the finish! I would love to meet any of you!

Running for the Fallen – September Edition

Fall is in the air. We hit the mid 20s for a low last night here in Rawlins. Back home in Sheridan they were hit with the lovely white fluffy stuff.

I keep praying to wake up to snow.

Every time I mention to someone that I am racing in Billings this month their first comment is “oh boy its going to be cold.” My response is usually something along the lines of “couldn’t be any worse than February.” That was a cold race. Those are the races though where it takes more to be a spectator than a racer.

I am honoring 3 men we lost last year. Please continue to pray for their families as I know hearts still continue to heal.

Daniel Hall was 47 at the time of his death. He was working on the Springboard Fire last October when he was struck by a falling tree.

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Danny Gomez passed away while conducting the pack test last July. He was 53 at the time.

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Rodney Hardee died of a possible stroke after responding to a fire call the night before. He was 66 at the time.

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As always there is no better time than NOW to donate!

Leading Ladies Half Marathon Recap

Hope you all are having a fantastic week.

Last weekend I was in Spearfish, SD for my 9th race of the year. That’s just crazy to think that I have managed to race 9 races of at least 13.1 miles.

I had originally signed up to run the marathon at Leading Ladies, but somehow a little thing called fire season got in the way of training and before I knew it I had to make the call whether to struggle through the marathon on no real marathon training or drop to the half marathon. I made the choice to drop to the half. I’ll be back to run the full on this course some day.

I had left Rawlins late afternoon on Friday and made it to Sheridan to meet the hubs and my dad.

The race was on Sunday and I was blessed to have a 3 day weekend. We took our time getting over to the Black Hills on Saturday. Packet pickup was a breeze.

The race started at 0600 on Sunday morning. This race start was even earlier than the start time for my full.  The buses left the hotel for the race start at 415. We had an early dinner and then didn’t take too much time before we were back at the motel and tucked into bed. I think I had fallen asleep by 830ish. I was up by 330 and was getting some food in my stomach and getting dressed.

I couldn’t find my gels the night before and wasn’t too terribly worried about it. I figured I would be ok anyways.

I was on the bus by 415 and we were headed up the canyon to the start line. It was warm in town, but I knew that the same probably couldn’t be said for the start line and I was thankful I had throw away clothes on once we off loaded the buses. Watching all the girls walk around without an extra layer on was making me cold.

This was the first race that I have ran that was an all woman’s race. Surprisingly the lines for the bathrooms were pretty much non-existent.  So from here on out…I am blaming the lines on the men at race starts!

This race was a lot smaller than I expected also. I had assumed that the canyon road was closed. I was wrong there. We just ran the shoulder down and there was traffic coming and going. Thankfully it wasn’t rally week. 😉

The timers started the marathon further up the canyon at 6am and then brought all the timing equipment down to our start and we started closer to 630. The start was a little congested but once you got out of the crowd you basically had the whole shoulder to yourself.

Mile 1: 8:15 Mile 2: 8:23 Mile 3: 8:03

I went into this race hoping to hover right around 8:30 miles. I still wanted to go sub 2 hour half and even though I had no serious training. I was happy with mile 1 and mile 2 especially since usually in a big group you tend to go out faster than needed.

The first aid station I had grabbed a cup of water and took a sip and then poured the rest on my head. Even though we were still in the shade and in a canyon I knew I needed to keep cool.

Mile 4: 7:48 Mile 5: 7:57 Mile 6: 7:53

This race was flying by. I was surprised how quickly it was going especially for how much of this I was running alone and not in a big group of people. There was a pack of girls in front of me that I could catch a glimpse of around every corner.

I was slowly passing girls that had fallen off this packs pace.

At the halfway mark was a beautiful waterfall that I had been waiting to see since we started. Once I passed that I couldn’t believe I was halfway done already.

At the next couple aid stations I started taking powerade and water. I knew because I didn’t have gels I needed to get some calories in me or I was going to bonk hard. I had started to quickly walk through the aid stations about mile 6. I don’t usually mind the water sloshing all over me, but the powerade was a little sticky. The aid stations were stocked with food like pretzels and bananas, but I wasn’t feeling the need for any real food.

Mile 7: 7:42  Mile 8: 7:47 Mile 9: 7:45

I was really wishing I had a gel to get me over the hump at mile 8. I needed a little extra sugar. I wasn’t cramping. My legs and lungs felt great actually. I was trying to hold back just a little bit because I knew that when I came out of the canyon with a little over a mile and a half to go to the finish I was going to need the energy there.

I had passed a girl right before the mile 8 aid station. I had had her in my sights since I first spotted that pack of ladies. She had on bright orange shorts and I just kept my eye on her the entire time. I was chasing her down. She then passed me back right after the aid station. I had let up a little too much in this part.

I took the last 4 miles and dedicated each one to one of the individuals I was running for. I talked strictly to them. I asked them to give me some of their strength to get me through. I couldn’t believe how fast these miles flew by.

Mile 10: 8:21 (Dedicated to Oscar)

I had the girl in the orange shorts within striking distance again. I was going to pass her one more time and I wasn’t going to let her pass me back. We cruised through the aid station with just enough time to take a good couple sips of powerade and water and then get back on my pony.

Once we got to this point we were losing the canyon walls and the sun was starting to peak out over the tops of the trees.

Mile 11: 8:19 (Dedicated to Kevin)

I had passed the girl in the orange shorts shortly before we hit mile 11. I knew I could hold her off for two miles. I had to. I could hear another girl coming up behind me. I tried to hold her off and then I tried to stick with her only to lose steam once we hit the mouth of the canyon. Even though it was only 8ish in the morning, the sun was hot and it was humid coming out of that canyon. I was praying for shade, a breeze, anything to keep me cool. I asked Kevin for just a little bit of cloud cover and he delivered. I was so thankful when the clouds covered the sun.

Mile 12: 8:22 (Dedicated to Jesse)

I still had the girl in the orange shorts behind me. We were on a wide open road away from the confines of the canyon. I took a minute during this mile to look around at the beauty that surrounded me. That surrounded all of us out there on the road that day. Jesse was taken all too soon. A young life that had so much to live for. Thinking about Jesse made me push harder than I had wanted to push my body all day. I wanted to live free for him. I wished he was running next to me. I took in all the sights and sounds knowing that he was there. He may not have been next to me, but he was right behind me the whole way.

Mile 13: 8:22 (Dedicated to John)

As I pushed through the last aid station with less than a mile to go I managed to grab a cup of water and dump it down my back. We turned off the main highway and onto a walking path the went back through a city campground and popped us out right at the city park and finish line. I asked John to keep the blood flowing to my legs and help me keep picking my feet up so I didn’t trip. A few of the people staying in the campground were lining the path and cheering us home that final stretch.

I kept waiting to hear the party happening at the finish line, but I didn’t know how much farther I had to go until I turned that last corner and saw the hubs and my dad standing there. I had maybe 50 yards to go. Dad asked how I was feeling and I gave him a shrug and an “eh,” because I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel great. I felt eh.

I dang near tripped in a divot before the finish line, but thankfully I had help from above in picking up my feet.

I crossed the finish line (ahead of orange shorts girl) with a smile on my face.

I walked through the finish shoot. Since this was an all girls race, the had nice young men to give you a water, drape your medal across your neck, hand you a rose and take off your ankle timer.

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Official time: 1:46:29
20th female out of 249
4th F25-29 out of 28

I was very surprised and impressed with my finish! I was thrilled to have done so well. I know I couldn’t have done it with the 4 honorees though. It was their strength that kept me going through those later more painful miles of the race.

Running for the Fallen – August Edition

Geez. I’m a slacker.

I have 3 days to go until my August race and I realized I haven’t even sent out who I’m dedicating this race to.

On Sunday I will be running the Leading Ladies Half Marathon in Spearfish, SD.

I have been looking forward to this race all year. Its a gorgeous course. This whole course is run through Spearfish Canyon and into the town of Spearfish.

This is an early start race with a start time of 0600. And that means the bus leaves town to get up the canyon at 0400. Why do I do this? Oh right…I do this for the men and women that aren’t here anymore. I do this to remember them, to honor the fallen. To make sure no one is forgotten.

For August, I have 4 men I will be honoring.

Oscar Montano-Garcia of White City, OR

We lost Oscar last August when he suffered an apparent heart attack while working on the Nabob Fire on the Siskiyou National Forest near the border of Oregon and California.

Kevin Hall of Ontario, OR

We lost Kevin on the 10th of August last year. He also suffered an apparent heart attack while working on a dozer line on the  Grassy Mountain Fire, southeast of Rome, OR.

Jesse Trader of Albany, OR

Jesse was 19 at the time of his death. He was working on the Big Windy Complex in OR. He was killed when the water tender he was driving rolled over an embankment.

John Hammock of Madras, OR

John was killed while working on a felling crew outside of Sisters, OR when the top of a tree broken off and struck him.

Please! Think about donating in honor of these 4 men. It has been a year since we lost them and I know their families are still healing. Take a minute out of your busy lives to say a prayer for each and everyone of them. Support is always needed and welcomed.