The Cleanest Line

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    See You Out There

    By Craig Holloway


    When I lived in Chicago I ran like there was no tomorrow. Sundays had me running long steady miles, Mondays were a set up for double-down Tuesdays, and Wednesday’s leg screaming repeats on the University of Illinois’s Circle Campus track provided the week’s endorphin highlight. A friend whom I trained with told me about ultramarathon running and thought I should give it a try. My first 50-kilometer trail run took place on a cool Kettle Moraine day. There were no cars to dodge, no pinballing between pedestrians, only bib-numbered souls encouraging each other along pine-scented singletrack.

    As I got more involved in the sport I learned that family and friends crewed and paced runners at 100 milers. Crews wait at aid stations with fresh shoes and clean gear. Pacers get their runners up big climbs, run with them through the night, and keep them running in the morning light. For most of the race, however, the runners are alone and it’s possible to take a wrong turn far away from any help. There is one runner I’d like to tell you about, a unique runner who found me after I had gotten lost during a 50K in the Sierra Nevada.

    Photo: Jeff Johnson

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    Red Shins

    By Craig Holloway


    Back in February, I started volunteering for the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), a nonprofit that protects open space through land acquisitions and conservation easements. They have a number of preserves scattered across the valley and the Valley View Preserve was their newest one. OVLC volunteers had already built two trails on Valley View and were now building Luci's Trail. While I was out on a hike I met Bill Brothers, a volunteer who said they could use my help building Luci's. I asked when could I start.

    On my first day, Rick Bisaccia, the preserve manager, had six of us clear a thick stand of poison oak. One volunteer cut the branches back with a chainsaw while I used a pitchfork to toss aside the leafy debris, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts. Two days later a bumpy red rash appeared on my arms and shins then spread to my back and face. The skin-crawling dermatitis stayed with me for a month.

    Above: I love Luci's. Ojai Valley, California. Photo: Craig Holloway

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    Dan Malloy’s Slow Is Fast – The Book and DVD

    By Craig Holloway


    Thumbing through my recently purchased copy of Dan Malloy’s Slow Is Fast paperback, I felt the same elation I had as a teenager buying new vinyl. Listening to Yes’s double album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, I would carefully examine Roger Dean’s ethereal cover art as Jon Anderson and Steve Howe’s highly energized rock transported this Jersey kid to another place. And that’s what creative types do. They grab a hold of you and take you with them. It’s what Dan Malloy does with Slow Is Fast. He creates a beautifully made visual tribute to his native California.

    Back in the fall of 2012, Dan and his good friends, Kellen Keene and Kanoa Zimmerman rode touring bikes along 700 coastal miles, documenting their trip with plenty of photographs and interviews. Some pictures are humorous, like the road kill one, where a beanie doll is added to the mix to soften death’s morbidity. Details are everywhere. The book’s front cover has a tiny, red bike-trailer icon and there are pages torn from a calendar scribbled with notes that say four shakas, zero middle fingers and two angry honks – a record of the day’s interaction with motorists.

    [“In the last month I have learned more about the people and places along the California coast than I had in 34 years and a thousand car trips.” -Dan Malloy. Photo: Kanoa Zimmerman]

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    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia St. Paul’s Kevin Alldredge

    Editor's note: Craig Holloway's interview series continues with some questions for Patagonia St. Paul store employee and ultrarunner, Kevin Alldredge, whose recent story about running 50 kilometers in a skirt generated a lot of smiles. Craig talked to Kevin about his job, family, passion for writing, and advice on how to run straight through Minnesota’s brutal winters.


    Craig – Are you originally from the Midwest?

    Kevin – I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, but have lived in St. Paul since 1989. Without editorializing, the two cities are pretty much opposites.

    Craig – Have you been working at the Patagonia St. Paul store since it opened its doors?

    Kevin – Yes, I’ve been at the store since we opened in the summer of 2005 and it’s been a great ride. It’s tremendously gratifying to see the local community embracing Patagonia’s ethics.

    [Above: One short bus ride, one long train ride, and a friendly smile got Kevin to the starting line of the Le Grizz 50 Mile Run. Montana. Photo: Kevin Alldredge Collection]

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    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s Chip “Chipper Bro” Bell

    Editor’s note: Craig Holloway continues his excellent interview series today with some questions for Patagonia’s receptionist and gatekeeper, Chip Bell. He is the first person you’re likely to meet when visiting the Patagonia campus in Ventura, California. Chip’s warm hospitality and easy smile make you feel right at home. Craig chose to interview Chip for his integrity, company knowledge and devotion to family and friends.


    Craig – Are you a Southern California native?

    Chip – Yes, I was born in Hollywood and raised in Santa Barbara.

    Craig – How did you come to work at Patagonia?

    Chip – I had just finished a ten-year tour with the Pro Frisbee® Freestyle circuit and was looking for a job. I heard that Patagonia was hiring, so I applied and they hired me. I was super stoked to find out that the company provided benefits because I was newly married with a baby on the way.

    [Above, pictured from left to right – Bud Light Pro Frisbee® Disc team members, Crazy John Brooks, Chipper Bro Bell and Danny Sullivan (with leg warmers), acknowledge the crowd before the start of the 1987 U.S. Open Championship. La Mirada, California. Photo: Scott Starr Collection]

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    Time On His Feet – A Former Runner Looks Back

    By Craig Holloway

    Sp05_Craig Holloway_3

    I ran my last ultra on a warm, spring day in Wisconsin five years ago.  The course was surprisingly tough – small roller coaster hills come at you like black flies. Crossing the finish line I didn’t feel the exhilaration that I normally do after a race. I chalked it up to burnout and decided to take the rest of the year off. I didn’t run the following year either and eventually packed all my running gear in a box and put it in the garage.

    [The serene one, Craig Holloway, trots the Timberline Trail toward Mount Hood, Oregon. From his 2005 field report "Lost on Adrenaline." Photo: Scott Jurek]

    Two years went by and I still hadn’t laced up my running shoes. I knew it wasn’t going to happen and decided to stop running – after twenty-six years. It felt like the right thing to do. Now I crew for friends and it’s satisfying to be a part of their race day experience. But I do miss pacing and the responsibilities that come with that role. I’d like to share a few stories about the experiences I had with runners on their 100-mile journeys.

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    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s Retail District Manager Brooks Scott


    Editor's note: Craig Holloway continues his excellent interview series today with some questions for Patagonia Retail District Manager, Brooks Scott. Craig chose to interview Brooks for his insightful knowledge and passion for retail. Brooks lives in Chicago with his family and oversees the Patagonia Chicago, St. Paul, Washington DC and Atlanta stores.

    Craig – How did you come to work at Patagonia?

    Brooks – I grew up wearing Patagonia clothes and love the company. After college I worked as a chef, but when my wife and I decided to start a family I had to change my lifestyle. I love to fly fish and got a job with Trout & Grouse, a Patagonia dealer. While working there I developed good relationships with some folks at Patagonia. When they opened their first store in the Midwest (Chicago) they hired me as manager.

    Craig – Were you born and raised in the Midwest?

    Brooks – I’m a native Chicagoan and it’s an amazing city. What I really appreciate is the sense of community I feel in the different neighborhoods. There are so many of them, some as small as a few square blocks. My family and I lived in the suburbs, but we missed the city, so we moved back. While we were unpacking our next-door neighbors stopped by with a pie to welcome us to the neighborhood.

    [Brooks shoulders the load during an internship with Conservación Patagónica. Valle Chacabuco, Chile. Photo: Brooks Scott Collection]

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    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s T-Shirt Line Manager Cheryl Endo

    T-shirts Cleanest Line contributor Craig Holloway is back with another installment of his employee interview series. Today, Craig speaks with Cheryl Endo, Patagonia's T-Shirt Line Director, about her job inside Patagonia and her interests outside the company.

    Craig – What made you decide to come work at Patagonia?

    Cheryl – In 1988 I decided to take a break from college and go live in Mammoth and be a ski bum. I was poor and had very little warm gear to withstand a cold winter in the Sierra. A schoolmate said that if you worked at the Patagonia Distribution Center (the old warehouse in Ventura) they’d give you free clothes from the “dog box”. The free clothes were well-worn returns from customers, and I wanted to work at Patagonia so that I could get free gear. I got a job there and hung out with a bunch of folks who loved to spend time in the outdoors.  We’d leave work early Friday afternoons, drive up to Mammoth and ski the entire weekend. We stayed at a Motel 6, eight of us stuffed into one room. Those were really great times and half of those folks still work here.

    Craig – What do you value most about the people you work with at Patagonia?

    Cheryl – My co-workers have incredible passion for their work. They have a wild-horse spirit, which allows them to work more creatively on design and business projects.

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    Ventura River Clean Up

    By Craig Holloway

    201003190066JJ On a chilly Friday afternoon I took the short walk from Patagonia’s campus to the parking lot for the Ventura River, where employees of Patagonia, Deckers and Horny Toad had gathered for our first Backyard Collective clean up. This stewardship event had been created by ConservationNEXT, part of The Conservation Alliance, in partnership with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, and the three companies. I checked in with a friendly volunteer, who reminded me to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants for protection against poison oak. I hurried back to my desk to retrieve a long-sleeved shirt, but had no pants. At least my arms will be protected, I thought. [Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    Arriving back at the parking lot, I caught Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan’s welcoming remarks. A few city employees got up in front of the crowd to talk about safety, letting us know what we would see in the dense brush by the river. They spoke about the hundreds of homeless people who reside in makeshift camps, and that we were not to disturb their belongings. The Ventura Police were there to make sure everyone felt safe.

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    Breakin’ Mama’s China

    By Craig Holloway


    The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains starts and finishes in the mountain town of Silverton, and has a total elevation gain of 33,000 feet. I’d met my friend Roch Horton at Grouse Gulch, the 42-mile mark, intending to pace him as far as Ouray. He’d already run the hardest stretch to the highest point (14,048 feet). I filled his water bottle and asked him how he felt.

    “No hail, rain or fog at the top of Handies this year,” he said, “but man it was warm up there. Ready to run, Craig?”

    “Let’s get to work.”

    Above: Roch Horton running down into American Basin after a long descent off Handies Peak at the Hardrock 100. San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Photo: Luis Escobar (

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