Please Help in making TSP a reality for me. and Donate to my GoFundme: https://gofund.me/000d4fc7
So what is the Speed Project?
I only heard about the event through the social media web a couple of years ago and only soon learned about the Solo edition when David Kilgore set the record in 2021. Without ever experiencing TSP first-hand, these are only my initial thoughts about the event from more of an outsiders’ perspective. It will be a fun experiment to recap this epic saga at the end of March after I hopefully have completed the Solo mission.
The event now in its 10th year started as a relay race which still goes on to this day. It is like Hood to Coast, a Ragnar Relay, Reach the Beach, Bourdon Chase and lives in that family of relay events but is entirely cut from a different cloth. It is an unsanctioned event. Meaning there are no permits and all of the regalia of most events. It has an “underground” event type of vibe and one that is all about self-exploration and pushing the limits of human speed and endurance out in the Mojave desert. The Instagram handle: @thespeedproject is the main spectator-friendly entrance into this wild and epic event.
All of the videos and recaps of this event are mostly of the Relay race. The Solo edition has only been going on for a few years now and being in its infancy, it has not fully caught on in the mainstream…YET. TSP is simple on paper, but complex in execution.
“No route”, “no rules”, “no spectators” are the taglines seen throughout social media about the event. TSP is simply a point to point adventure. With my record run of New Jersey, point to point routes are in my DNA now. Starting from the Santa Monica Pier near Los Angeles and finishing at the “Welcome to Las Vegas Sign” at the gateway to Vegas, that is your route. How you get there is up to you. Just plan on not running on any highways as that is illegal and do not run on private property and you should be fine. It is simple right? Use your own two feet to get from LA to Vegas as fast as you can.
The Solo mission is unique because instead a relay of 6 or 8 runners, you have only 1, YOU. Racers are allowed to have a crew usually driving along in an RV to help runners with fuel, moral support and a place to rest their weary eyes late into the night. For most runners, the route they take is around 300 miles. The “OG” route is the original route for the race. This route spans a more northern track through the San Gabriel mountains and into the Mojave desert before touching a sliver of Death Valley, known for the historic Badwater 135 mile ultra race. The “OG” route is what many of the relay teams complete. As a Solo runner, none that I have been informed about have ever completed the OG route. I hope to be the first and the fastest.
For me, the challenge in the Speed Project is about running one of the longest distances a runner can do in an “event” format in the country. If you can survive TSP, no distance is off-limits. The race is as much an adventure of self-discovery than anything else. After my epic adventure running Cocodona, I learned a lot about myself and my crew. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to.
How do I enter into TSP???
Now this is why I had never entered TSP before. Just like the Barkley Marathons, you have to know someone that knows someone in the “inner circle” with the race. I was lucky to meet someone through a mutual friend at the Boston Marathon that knew the creator and RD of TSP. That connection gave me an “IN” to apply and then at that point your application is reviewed and then hand-selected.
TSP is also a celebration of the running community. TSP pulls athletes with diverse backgrounds, levels of experience, and rich storylines. I think the collection of unique people is what makes TSP the special event that it is. I am truly honored to be a part of this event. While athletes are chasing Golden Tickets, UTMB qualifiers, I will be out there pushing the limits of what we think is possible. That mantra as a trail-blazer rather than a podium-chaser is something that makes TSP unique. World-class athletes do compete at TSP, but it is not just a competition full of the “whose who” of ultra running. It is more about the depth of the individual than the surface accolades. So if you are looking for that type of unique atmosphere and challenge, then TSP might be for you.
Why the Solo Run Cole?
Well why not right? Ultimately for me, Cocodona 250 was an incredible adventure. I was challenged beyond what I thought I could endure as well as my crew. Cocodona taught me a lot about how to race these long distances as well as further validating my “true” community in the sport. Cocodona brought so much joy to me, making me truly feel like I belonged. The runners that run these long multi-day ultras are special people. Not only do they love running, but they crave adventure, exploration and experience. These are all reasons why I still run and race today. My Cocodona result on paper was far from my ability, but the depth of my journey is what made this one of the richest experiences of my life.
The Solo run at TSP will be an extension of my Cocodona experience. I finished Cocodona battered but stronger than ever. I have a unique desire to push limits and 340 miles sounds like a challenge I am up to. TSP will combine aspects of my NJ run and Cocodona in a longer format. I am thrilled to learn more about myself, about nature, and pushing through the extremes this March 20th.
How Do you Train for this?
I think I take a different approach than most. I have a life-time of miles that I can bank on. While some try and run super long days to prepare, I stick to consistency, some long runs and working on building strength and running economy. Running for days on end is not about how fast you go but rather how you trouble-shoot things that slow down your forward progress. 12 minutes a mile seems to be my pace that I can move no matter how I am feeling and regardless of the distance. I try and run some miles at my goal pace, envisioning myself running through the desert. I focus on consistent mileage: 70 to 100 miles a week. I have been doing that volume since my college days. It keeps me strong but also does not put me at a line of severe injury risk. I have become more fat-adapted in how I train and fuel so I continue that process as it has helped me in these long efforts when your gut has a hard time taking in calories. I can now eat foods like cheese, olives, hummus and other savory foods most ultra runners cannot tolerate. I work full-time and do not stress about having the “perfect” training. I know that if my mental game is sharp and continue my physical progression, I will be ready.
Having strong legs, hips, and core I will say make a huge difference. Because in a multi-day effort, you fight sleep deprivation and swings in your energy systems; having a body that is strong allows for you to move more efficiently even when you are at your most tired.
My goals and motivations to run this is to extend my own personal limits of what I think is possible. It gives me an arena to run 340 miles, my longest distance to date. One of my major career goals is to win the Iditarod trail winter ultra race in Alaska where 380 miles is the short distance and the 1,000 mile distance is ultimately a major career goal. TSP is a building block to progressing further. I have found that my craft is running really far. Like an artist, TSP is my canvas that I hope to paint on, using my legs, heart, and mind to paint an incredible work of art.
A call for help. TSP is no easy project to pull-off. The cost alone for an RV for the week is $3,000. And with the current state of the world with inflation, what was once an affordable trip has now become extremely expensive. I am asking for financial assistance to help me even afford to be able to run this adventure. If I do not reach a certain mark, I will not be able to run TSP. I started a GoFundMe to help me cover the costs of this trip. The link is below. What you may not know is that I have had to put dream events like this on the back-burner for more than a decade because I simply could not afford it. I have applied for grants, talked with companies, searching for any form of support and have not come up with anything so I am asking You to help support me go after making history.