click on photos for enhanced chi hits…
all photos by; www.myracepics.com

The First Annual Agassiz Uphill, sponsored by Kahtoola and Arizona SnowBowl.

original event idea by steve ilg.

“Actions mirror a man’s personality better than his words.
The yogi has learned the art of dedicating all his actions to the Lord,
thereby reflecting the divinity within him.”
– Iyengar

8:00am, Agassiz Ski Lodge, near Flagstaff, Arizona. elevation 9,600′.
i toe, sadly, the final Start Line of my ’08 winter racing season.
uncommon emotions push and pull my cells as i take my final few warm up minutes…as my well worn lungs attempt yet again to efficiently assimilate the stingy O2 up here, images and sensations of this most rewarding winter season dance throughout my mindscape…Tour de Ski nordic marathon, USSA National SnowShoe Qualifier, Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon, the Arizona Cup Nordic Series, and now, this 2,000′ dead run up my backyard ski hill…an event that i originally approached the sponsors with as a bike/snow climb duathlon back in August.

Not a half-baked season at all for this rookie father of a newborn who, at this time last year, was entering a 3-month battle with Cold-Triggered Exercise Induced Asthma after winning the world’s highest Nordic Ski race.

using Zazen Mind, i hit my inner Delete Button on such sentiments. Not room for emotional overlay or burden of any sort for the next half hour or so…
for i’ve got a Race Line to toe…and more Inner Dragons to certainly slay within moments…

an excerpt from:
as reported by John “Hakado Ru” Kuhlman:

Honor thy locals.
The Flagstaffians milling around the ski lodge prior to the start race must have been descendants of the Scandinavian gods. I swear, not one, male or female, must have weighed more than 150 pounds. Plus, just about every one of these people were damn good looking folks. I later learned that the second place finisher actually ran up the mountain from the highway as his warm-up. By my calculations, that’s 6-1/2 miles starting at an elevation of 7,300 feet and ending at 9,600 feet.I’m not sure what my coach Steve Ilg did as a warm-up, but I saw him running down a steep ski run and heard the other locals talk in hushed tones about him.“Who’s that crazy guy running down the mountain.”“Dude, that’s Steve Ilg.”After the race where he thinks he finished near the top ten out of fifty racers (no official race results as of today), he went telemark skiing for 3 hours…still without a meal for the day. When we caught up with him a couple hours later, guess what his post race & ski nutrition was? Some of his “MAP”Amino Acid capsules and what looked like a bottle of the SUNRIDER Herbs Fortune Delight tea.That’s it.

“Just move the breath into the pain,
into the restriction…
into the Doubt,
into the Fear…


where there is breath,
there is Pran
where there is Pran
there cannot also reside Pain.”
– steve ilg, upcoming book on yoga

above photo:
“Grand Junction” about 3/4 mile and 800′ into the 2-mile, 2,000′ race.
i had skate skied for a hard hour and a quarter yesterday and from that workout plus the way my heart rate was behaving, it was obvious that i was well into my physiologic ebb from my planned peak fitness for the 10k Classic Race and Mt. Taylor. When the initial separation from the Big Guns happened, i tried to respond. My heart rate refused to venture above 184, that’s 10 bpm below what i can hammer along at when fit. nothing to do
no place to hide
no body to be…
just breathe, ilg,
and get on with your mantra

When you look deeply, you realize there is nothing that is permanent and constant, nothing, not even the tiniest hair on your body. And this is not a theory, but something you can actually come to know and realize and see, even, with your very own eyes.


Halfway Point; 1,000′ conquered, another 1,000′ screaming up in front of me:

i’ve fallen out of the top ten, yet my Heart is so happy even if the poor thing is thumping around like a rabbit having a seizure. Why so happy? Because 7 of my local HP Yogis have entered this race as Sacred Pilgrimage for the sake of their Pranic Empowerment and 200′ in front of me (which mathematically equates to nearly 5 minutes in this slow-motion vertical drag race)and Ben “Patki Dass” Sullivan is on FIRE! As i use my ‘patented’ “San Juan Scrabble” Technique (fists-and-toes claw up the steep snowfield, pelvis in ‘dog tilt’ feet nearly exchanging space with the hands…very similar to my “Gorilla Technique” in my SnowShoe DVD) speed crawl up “the Waterfall” – a supremely steep 180′ wave of snow that seems to overhang itself, i see Patki already topped out and running! Patki would go on to finish 4th overall! the first words he said to me back down at the Ski Lodge?
“Green Tara, baby, Green Tara,” referring to his choice of early winter season training courtesy of my book, TOTAL BODY TRANSFORMATION.

“Hey, The Path Works When YOU Work The Path.”

Airplane High; breaking through 11,000′ with another 500′ left to go:
i’ve been at this effort for 35 minutes. i really wanted to break 40 minutes, yet, even my foggy mentalworks at this altitude and effort tell me that i have only a sliver of chance to do so; i MUST move my legs faster! however, they don’t seem capable. i am breathing now like a race horse down the stretch…to make matters more interesting? Beside me is my boss;
John Doskicz who owns Flag’s fantastic indoor climbing gym, Vertical Relief Climbing Gym as well as the new Practice Cave for 4 Classes per week of HP Yoga: Northern Arizona Yoga Center

John is one of these classic mountain mutants that are so unassuming and kind in daily life around town, yet can crank off a 15-mile mountain peak run, bike to work, lead a 5.11c climbing route all in a day’s work. He ‘grew up” and “was fueled by” my first book, THE OUTDOOR ATHLETE, when he lived out of the back of his pickup for three years as a climbing vagabond.

Now, our Sacred Hoop has reConnected; i teach yoga for him and now here he is, beside me, sweating up our Sacred Peak together. i had already passed John at the start and again down near Grand Junction and yet, here he is passing me on the final summit headwall. as he lays the wood on me, he gives me a high-altitude dosage of my own medicine using my lingo i use in HP PROP CLASSES to train these young guns to do exactly what John is now doing to me; kicking my ass!…hey, if you are brave enough to do my yoga classes? i am brave enough to take my own medicine:

“C’mon ILG!” shouts John through our raging breath up the final pitch, “THE SUMMIT IS IN SIGHT: 15 MORE SECONDS! ADD FREQUENCY, GO! GO! GO!”

“I’m going, Teacher! I’m going!!” is all i can manage back…John gets 10′ in front of me…i dive deep into my spiritual corridors to come up with a response to his slow-mo attack on my heaving carcass; anything, ilg…anything!

the answer comes from within…like Scotty on Star Trek, “I’m sorry Captain…but she ain’t got no more power, sir!”

John, doubled over, hands pressing on this top thighs to try to push more upward propulsion into this effort gains another 5′ on me…the 15′ he has put on me might as well be 15 friggin’ miles! all within arm’s reach this drag race…yet such pain!

you KNOW you live in cool town when your boss shows up outta the blue for some gnarly ass snowclimb and kicks your butt!

i summit out in high winds, gasping like a dying man, yet the Mantra has cemented itself in me…i feel like i was just now getting my second wind…coulda gone, NEEDED to go upward another 1,000′!!! darn these sprints!

41 minutes and 49 seconds; less than a minute behind my boss and only good enough for 12th in Mens and 2nd in my age. sure, i wanted a better showing from the “State Nordic Champion” yet, in this dead heat of run/hike/crawl which requires no real kinesthetic skill beyond putting one foot in front of the other, ilg did what he could and there is never any complications of thine spirit when you KNOW you’ve done your best. i know i can upgrade my power and speed; i know where i can change strategy for next year to remain within even closer reach of the alien beings in front of me. sometimes i do desire to pamper a sport-specific skill, then again, my heart rests easy and confident that sure, it ain’t so hard to beat ilg in one sport…however, the moment you start lining up sports across the physiologic and mental disciplines?

that there is the versatile, wholistic terrain where this mountain yogi still remains very tough to beat…

John later told me that he was sick for 2 days after his Agassiz effort. i told, well, that’s a common side-effect of those who lay down the wood on me! i reassured him that as long as he continues to keep his HP Yoga Practice strong, his immunology will be able to handle such threshold efforts with ease…maybe next year, he’ll go tele skiing with me after the race?!

riding the chairlift down (very peculiar thing for me to do, however, Event Liability mandated it), the cheery faces and back thumping among all the 50 competitors was like to me a big Italian feast; such love and nourishment. great prizes from sponsors and all in all, i felt like the grandfather; for if ilg had not moved to this beautiful little mountain town, this event of sweat-based love for breath and movement may not have ever happened. now, it seems, it’s gonna be a Flagstaff Tradition.

will you come?

Whoever you are,
Whatever you do…
May my humble effort in racing this winter across the Realms of the human capacities
serve to deepen your Practice,
your support of my Path,
most of all,
may all your Sweats be Sacred…

where is my bicycle?
all this beautiful snow is melting…

oh yeah,
i wish to dedicate my effort up the Sacred Peak and my help in making this Pilgrimage an official event to the best training buddy i had this winter:

My Beloved Dewachen and

My Beloved AnandaMayaMi

Om So Ti,
your coach who tries hard so you do as well

Leave a Reply