Gear Review: LifeProof iPhone 4 Case

Sunday, Oct. 5th 2014


Awesome case! Protects my iPhone very well. Expect to replace after 18 months or so.


I carry my iPhone into some fairly extreme conditions. I run a lot; and I run on trails a lot. I wanted a case that would protect my iPhone in these conditions – and from my toddler! This case does that superbly. When around the town it keeps it nice and dry; when I’m on the trail I do put it into a small dry bag just for extra protection.


The first LifeProof case I bought did break. However, this was my fault as it had the charging door open and fell from a chair.

The second LifeProof case has been doing very well and has dealt with being dropped on the floor countless times by my toddler. It has started to fail after 18 months or so of use. The rubber around the screen is degrading and the adapter you plug in for earphones to work is also starting to fail.

Buy again?

Yes, definitely! In fact, I plan to shortly.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Gear Reviews | No Comments »

Gear Review: Yurbuds Inspire

Sunday, Oct. 5th 2014


Comfortable for very long runs. Not overly durable; will fail after time.


I have bought quite a few pairs of Yurbuds Inspire earphones. The silicone earpieces and the twist-lock design do work well for comfortable long distance running. By long distance, I mean multiple hours. I have worn Yurbuds while running a 50km race.


According to my records, I bought a pair of Inspire Pros in October 2013 (which have just failed after 11 months of use); Inspires in August 2012 and, from memory, a pair before that. What I find happens is that the wires going into the Y-shaped item which contains the mic and the controls starts failing. I hear crackling and eventually one side just completely stopped working.

I could suggest that this is down to the constant motion of running. The wires go up and down and that’s bound to cause physical wear and tear. However, it seems that including the remote controls provides an opportunity for this wear to cause a failure.


Would I buy again? Probably not. While replacing the earphones every year or so is possibly okay it is still annoying. I plan to try a pair of wireless earphones next. I hope that the lesser number of wires will lessen the opportunities for wear. It also allows me to keep my iPod Nano or iPhone securely wrapped up in a dry bag or similar.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Gear Reviews | No Comments »

Site Update: Course Photos

Saturday, Sep. 6th 2014 can now display photos on a course map. As a race director, you can add a photo of what the terrain looks like, what a fantastic view racers can expect at a certain point or what a particularly difficult turn looks like.

To what this looks like in action, visit the Mountain Madness Hallow’s Eve Marathon course and click on the camera icon near Mt Fromme in the west of the course.

If you would like this for your race, please contact me at

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Site News | Comments Off

Site Update: Google Maps API v3 and some feature removal

Wednesday, Nov. 27th 2013

Two weeks ago, the site was updated. The update included ensuring all maps use the Google Maps API v3 as this is the version that Google is maintaining. The course maps were unaffected as they already use that version but the individual trail maps and the area map were updated.

As part of this, I also removed some features that are not as useful as we like. The workout log has been removed – I recommend Strava as they do what I had envisioned only better. The route planner has also been removed for now. It was limited in what it could do (no out and backs, no rings, no saving) and not worth upgrading to the new API. I would like to bring it back in a better version at some stage.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Site News | No Comments »

Coliseum Mountain

Tuesday, Sep. 25th 2012
Coliseum Mountain Signboard

Coliseum Mountain Signboard

On the way to Norvan falls, north of Lynn Headwaters in North Vancouver, BC, just before you get to the falls there is a sign pointing up hill to Coliseum Mountain.
Every time, every time, we go pass the sign I keep wanting to turn up the hill and find out what’s at the top. So, one day, my friend Ross and I did!
The answer, dear reader, is a very long uphill. The elevation goes from 400m to 1440m in 4.5km. The trail, Coliseum Route, starts off by going straight up hill with about the same grade as the Grouse Grind and with much the same kind of forest. After about a kilometer it levels off a bit but still continues up. For much of this part of the trail you can hear or see the Norvan Creek beside you.

Ross and the view into Seymour Valley

Ross and the view into Seymour Valley

After a while there is a fork in the trail. The main trail goes clearly left up the hill but there is a little fork to the right which has a very nice lookout across Seymour Valley and down to the Seymour Dam. I’ve been told that there is a way up Coliseum from the Seymour Main Line road and I suspect that it meets the trail here.

The bush does start to clear out a little and you can see up the mountain and some interesting rock slopes. Near the top, the vegetation clears out and becomes scrub and then bare rock. There is one annoying, but short, scramble that will require hands and a bit of bravery to overcome.

Cornett Lakes on saddle between Coliseum and Burwell

Cornett Lakes on saddle between Coliseum and Burwell

The view at the top is rather nice – although on the day we did it we were hidden in the clouds. You can see down to the Grouse Lodge and, on the other side, are some small mountain lakes (Cornett Lakes) on the way to Mt Burwell.

This is a recommended hike for those with the fitness to handle it. The trail is pleasant and there are some great views at the top and a tremendous sense of achievement of having completed it.

To do this route, park at Lynn Headwaters. There is a small carpark there but two overflow carparks on the approach road. You cross the bridge and then turn left and follow Lynn Loop and then Lynn Headwaters Trail beside the river until you get to Third Debris Chute. At the top of the rubble that forms the chute you turn left and continue following Lynn Headwaters Trail towards Norvan Falls. After 2.7km you will see the Coliseum Route signboard on your right. Turn up the hill and follow the trail to the top.

Note that this route can only be done in summer. The backcountry routes beyond Norvan Falls are normally closed once snow falls – take this warning seriously.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Trails | No Comments »

Site Update: Printable Course Maps and Improved Course Downloading

Friday, Aug. 10th 2012

We’ve recently made an update to the site and now support printable course maps and have improved the course download to Garmin.

Printable Course Maps

These show the terrain and surrounding roads just as the online maps do as well as showing the complete course, many trail names and the surrounding trails. The start, finish (or start/finish) and aid stations are also shown.

These can be licensed for use by Race Directors whereas the online Google Maps cannot be. These are available on our new Professional plan. If you would like these for your race then please contact

Many thanks to Suzanne Stromotich for providing the graphics design.

Here are some examples from the 5Peaks Salomon Meet Your Maker 50 race.

Meet Your Maker 50 - 50 mile course map

Meet Your Maker 50 - Relay Leg 1 course map

Course Download Improvements

We have also improved the course download to Garmin. The Garmin watches limit the course name to 15 characters. Previously, we took the first 15 characters of the course name; for relay courses these names were often identical leading to the course being overwritten. We can now override that name for the Garmin to make suitable name for relays, etc.

We also now use a different method for the actual download. These downloads are done using the Garmin Communicator plugin. The method we were using would, in some circumstances, not allow error messages from the Garmin software to display so we have now changed to a different one which does.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Site News | No Comments »

Site Update: Embedded course maps and elevation profiles

Friday, Apr. 13th 2012

This week we released a new site update. now supports the trail race community with course maps, elevation profiles and downloads to Garmin watches which can be embedded into race websites directly. These are the same maps and profiles which we use on this site.

Embedded course map

Dirty Duo 50km Course Map

Embedded course elevation profile
Dirty Duo 15km Course Elevation Profile

The Dirty Duo race shows these in action with four maps.

We now have a Developer Documentation Site explaining how to use these in your site.

These products are a paid service. We can provide:

  • embedded course map
  • embedded elevation profile
  • course download to Garmin watches

If this is something you want for your site then email


Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Site News | No Comments »

William Davis’ “Wheat Belly”: Selected link review

Sunday, Feb. 26th 2012


My girlfriend gave me a copy of Wheat Belly by William Davis. Being a science guy I wanted to read it critically and gather some other evidence of my own. I tend not to trust faddish diet books. Co-incidentally, the same question came up on the Ultra mailing list and I was lucky enough to get a large number of references. This review is only selected because it’s based on the links I received (which might be selected by senders who wish merely to convince me). Sadly, I do not have access to  a scientific literature database nor the background to use it well.


Masterjohn: Cholesterol and Health Blog

I posted a question on the Fitness StackExchange site which yielded a link to a blog post by Chris Masterjohn who is “pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition at the University of Connecticut.”

According to his bio, Mr Masterjohn is a former vegetarian whose failing health lead him to start eating organ meats, butter, eggs, etc. in order to regain his health. Hence, he would appear to be not on the side of the nutritional mainstream when it comes to a low fat diet.

His blog post is a chapter by chapter review of the science, including references, and is critical of some of the science (most especially around whether advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) are merely useless debris, as Dr Davis suggests, or perhaps a signalling mechanism.

Quoting from his conclusion,

Despite disagreeing with some of the points in Wheat Belly, I think Dr. Davis is essentially correct that modern wheat products are representatives of the type of hubris that is destroying the health of modern humans…

While there is no doubt that there are people who should avoid wheat altogether, I am left with doubts about whether all wheat past the point of einkorn and emmer must be banished from the human diet in order to lead the majority of us back to health.  McCarrison’s belief that it is primarily “the enforced restriction to the unsophisticated foodstuffs of nature” combined with a healthy dose of wisdom that is required for “long life, continued vigor, and perfect physique” remains compelling to me.

But I do agree that the processed junk Dr. Davis calls “wheat” should be purged from the diet, that the development of dwarf wheat has taken its toll on us, and that we should steer clear of the packaged foods and meet Dr. Davis for a pow wow in the produce aisle.

Noakes: Sorry but carbo is really a no-no

Dr Noakes is a professor of exercise science and sports medicine at the University of Cape Town is well known for his book The Lore of Running which is considered the bible of all things running. He is also a recognised world expert in exercise-associated hyponatremia. He was recently quoted in a newspaper article in the Sunday Times of South Africasaying that he had been tested as being carbohydrate resistant and had lost 15kg on a low carbohydrate diet.

Phinney: Ketogenic diets and physical performance

Henry Baker calls this the classic paper on athletic performance in a non-carb diet. Ketogenic refers to a diet which produces ketosis – which is how fat is burned. The abstract reads,

Impaired physical performance is a common but not obligate result of a low carbohydrate diet. Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis.

This paper is interesting for how it starts with the diets of some traditional hunter-gatherer diets and how this knowledge came to be known by Western science through such things as an expedition to find the lost Royal Navy Franklin expedition. The author proceeds to show how he tested the diet including controlling the diet of competitive bicycle racers to be very low in carbs (2% of energy), very high in  fat (83%) with 15% of energy and protein supplemented with additional sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and a multi-vitamin.

The result was the the bicycle racers’ performance got worse for a week and then their aerobic performance was fully restored.

Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes is an American science writer who has written two books on diet (as well as other science books). There were a number of reviews of his work and an article from the author himself.

Tierney: Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

This is a review in the New York Times of Gary Taubes’ bookGood Calories: Bad Calories. It provides a history of the political machinations by which the current carb-heavy food pyramid came to be. However, it provides no real critique of the underlying theory itself. . Mr Tierney says:

As Mr. Taubes notes, the most rigorous meta-analysis of the clinical trials of low-fat diets, published in 2001 by the Cochrane Collaboration, concluded that they had no significant effect on mortality.

The Cochrane Collaboration is a not for profit organisation which aims to organize research information in a systematic way. They are known for systematic reviews of randomized trials. This means they are a good source for summaries of the evidence on a given medical question.

When I searched their website I couldn’t find anything which seemed to match the quote above. However, I did find asummary from 2011 which said (emphasis mine),

Modifying fat in our food (replacing some saturated (animal) fats with plant oils and unsaturated spreads) may reduce risk of heart and vascular disease, but it is not clear whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are more beneficial. There are no clear health benefits of replacing saturated fats with starchy foods (reducing the total amount of fat we eat). Heart and vascular disease includes heart attacks, angina, strokes, sudden cardiovascular death and the need for heart surgery. Modifying the fat we eat seems to protect us better if we adhere in doing so for at least two years. It is not clear whether people who are currently healthy benefit as much as those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (people with hypertension, raised serum lipids or diabetes for example) and people who already have heart disease, but the suggestion is that they would all benefit to some extent.

Bubnoff: Still against the grain and high on fat

This is a Q & A session with Taubes to promote is book in the LA Times in 2007. Taubes is quoted,

It’s never been demonstrated that people who eat these “healthy” low-fat diets live longer, which is, after all, what we all hope to do. The latest example was the Women’s Health Initiative trial — published two years ago — of 49,000 women. It cost upward of half a billion dollars, and it simply failed to confirm the idea that if you eat less fat or more fruits and vegetables or more fiber or less meat you will live longer.

That statement is (largely) true. From the press release from the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,

Following an eating pattern lower in total fat did not significantly reduce the incidence of breast cancer, heart disease, or stroke, and did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in healthy postmenopausal women, according to the latest clinical trial results from the National Institutes of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).

Taubes: Is Sugar Toxic?

This is an article by Taubes himself in the New York Times discussing a 2009 lecture by Robert Lustig. Taubes then goes on to examine some of the science linking sugar consumption to a fatty liver which leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. His conclusion is,

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do.

Gadsby: The Inuit Paradox: How can people who gorge on fat and rarely see a vegetable be healthier than we are?

This article, from Discover Magazine, discusses the traditional Inuit diet and the effect of a traditional Western diet on the health of Inuit communities.

Bird Studies

There have been a number of studies of how migrating birds fuel themselves to travel incredibly long distances with very little, if anything to eat. The answer given is large amounts of fat. I would argue that these studies are interesting but not convincing because birds and humans diverged around 160 million years ago. We are too dissimilar for much about diet to be convincing.

Brown: Wind tunnel helps show how birds fly so far without water

This 2011 article from the LA Times discusses a small study of fuel usage by birds during migration.

But the results gathered from the compliant birds demonstrated uniformly that the thrushes were burning muscle and organs to get water, Gerson said.  No birds became dehydrated, and all burned significantly more protein tissue under dry conditions than under wet conditions.  Blood tests confirmed the measurements.

Zimmer: 7,000 Miles Nonstop, and No Pretzels

This is a 2010 article from the New York Times discussing long distance migration by birds:

As Mr. Gill observed when he first observed bar-tailed godwits, a long journey requires a lot of food.  It turns out that long-distance migrators will enlarge their liver and intestines as they feed, so that they can convert their food as fast as possible.  They build up large breast muscles and convert the rest of their food to fat.

By the time the birds are ready to leave, their bodies are 55 percent fat.  In humans, anything more than 30 percent is considered obese.  But as soon as the birds are done eating, their livers and intestines become dead weight.  They then essentially “eat” their organs, which shrink 25 percent.  The birds use the proteins to build up their muscles even more.

Jenni-Eiermann: Fuel use and metabolic response to endurance exercise: a wind tunnel study of a long-distance migrant shorebird

This is a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The abstract reads,

This study examines fuel use and metabolism in a group of long-distance migrating birds, red knots Calidris canutus (Scolopacidae), flying under controlled conditions in a wind tunnel for up to 10 h.  Data are compared with values for resting birds fasting for the same time.  Plasma levels of free fatty acids, glycerol and uric acid were elevated during flight, irrespective of flight duration (1­10 h).  Triglyceride levels, the estimated concentration of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) and b-hydroxybutyrate levels were lower during flight, while glucose levels did not change.  In flying birds, plasma levels of uric acid and lipid catabolites were positively correlated with the residual variation in body mass loss, and lipid catabolites with energy expenditure (as measured using the doubly labelled water method), after removing the effect of initial body mass.  The plasma metabolite levels indicate: (i) that the rates of
catabolism of lipids from adipose tissue and of protein are higher during flight; (ii) that low ketone body
concentrations probably facilitate fatty acid release from adipose tissue; (iii) that low triglyceride and VLDL levels do not indicate the use of an additional pathway of fatty acid delivery, as found in small birds; and (iv) that the relationships between energy expenditure, body mass loss and metabolic pattern suggest that a higher individual energy expenditure entails a higher rate of catabolism of both lipids and protein and not a shift in fuel substrate.

Schulman: Fuel On Fat For The Long Run

This is an article published in 2002 in Marathon and Beyond discussing optimal diet for long-distance running. From the article,

At issue, however, was the intensity of exercise used for the tests. High-fat diets improved endurance at relatively low-intensity levels. When the intensity was increased to mirror race situations, the advantage disappeared. The higher- intensity exercise required more carbohydrate, and the subjects simply lacked adequate glycogen to continue for extended periods. The lesson is that you can reduce your reliance on carbohydrate, but you can’t eliminate it.

We now know that both high-carbohydrate and high-fat diets cause fatigue and poor performances. The best diet is probably somewhere in between: one that supplies enough fat to stimulate fat metabolism and maintain production of testosterone and estrogen and also supplies enough carbohydrate to keep the brain and nervous system happy and the glycogen stores filled. Many sports scientists are recommending a basic diet that supplies 50 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat, and 20 percent protein, with additional carbohydrates after hard or long-duration training.


The science in Wheat Belly is at least credible. While some of Dr Davis’ claims are contestable there is good evidence that a low-carb diet can support athletic performance and has benefits in losing weight. However, there appears to be not enough science to be firm in that conclusion.

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Orcas Island (Moran State Park): New trails and race courses

Monday, Jan. 2nd 2012

Many of the trails in Moran State Park on Orcas Island are now up. Orcas Island is an island off the West Coast of Washington State. It is accessible by ferry from Anacortes. The park is distinguished by Mt Constitution (731m, 2399ft) which has spectacular views in to the United States and Canada.

This park is also the site for the Orcas Island 25km and Orcas Island 50km races. These are a fantastic running holiday. The race takes over Camp Moran and, because of the time it takes to travel, there are parties the night before and after. From personal experience, the 50km is enjoyable but hard. The climb up Powerline at the half way point is very tiring and heartbreaking because you do all that climbing and never actually get to the summit. The run around Mountain Lake is beautiful and the views coming up to Mt Constitution are spectacular. Race websites for the Orcas Island 25km and Orcas Island 50km.

View towards Washington from Mt Constitution, Orcas Island, Washington

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Courses, Trails | No Comments » boycotting GoDaddy over support for SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)

Friday, Dec. 23rd 2011

Up to this point’s domains have been on GoDaddy have just come out with support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which is decried by almost every other internet company in the world.

SOPA is very bad because any site can be taken off the internet because of any piece of content posted by anybody. This means that site owners will have to vet every thing that is written by any user. This is too labour intensive and will shut user generated content down. For more see American Censhorship or read the links at the bottom of this post.

If you are a US Citizen then please read the information about SOPA and contact your local Congressperson and Senator to express your views. This act is being pushed through because the movie studios and music companies are paying for it to go through. You can help stop this by convincing your representatives that they will lose support because of this.

Therefore, we will be taking our domains off This transfer has just been setup and will proceed over the next 5 days.

Jeff Epstein has posted some useful instructions. I will note that the bulk data from GoDaddy never arrived so I got the authorisation codes manually by clicking on the email link on every single page.

For the record, the domain has gone to EasyDns (our DNS provider) for safety. All other domains have gone to

Interesting links:

Posted by Edward Sargisson | in Site News | No Comments »
  • Get Trail Mapping Tips

    1 email every 1-2 months
    * = required field