Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NEO Trail Member Spotlight: Nick Billock

We are reviving a feature from the early days of the NEO Trail Web Site, short interviews with members of the NEO Trail. We are still waiting on The Professor to fill out his homework, so we are starting with Nick Billock.

Nick is pretty well known in the running community for being the man with the camera. Nick had an impressive 2009 ultra season, with finishing 3 100 miles in the year. Nick is responsible for the famous Waterfall runs (this was the 4th year) in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Please check out Nick's two blogs:

Running the Race Set Before Me

Nick Billock Photography

Why do you run trails? Trails, unlike the open road, allow me to fully immerse myself in nature and everything great about it. No cars, no interruptions (except for the occasional running deer), and no beating on my body are just a few of the benefits of being on the trails. In a society that is moving extremely fast with very little down-time, simply stepping foot on the trails strips it all away and the only thing left is you, the dirt, the roots, the stream-crossings, the sky-reaching trees, and scurrying wildlife all around you. Mentally, it's the best way to relax (and burn some calories) that I know of.

How did you first hear/get involved with NEO Trail? The 2008 YUT-C 50K was my introduction to NEO Trail. I had grown up rolling down the grassy hill at the Fellows Riverside Gardens up above the starting line but never knew of trails within Mill Creek Park. After that race and how it was put on, I was sold on NEO Trail and what they were doing in the community.

Do you have a trail name? Can you share it with us and tell us where it came from? The crew from NEO Trail refer to me as "Admiral." I think it's simply a name fitting for someone who is currently serving in the Navy. While the rank of "Admiral" is the highest rank and an extremely far cry from my current rank, I really do love the nickname and appreciate the crew bestowing it on me. Pretty cool to connect the trails with another very significant part of my life.

What do you do to pay for the trail shoes? My full time job is as a Social Insurance Specialist with the Social Security Administration. I take disability claims from the public and also care for those already on disability out of the Canton, OH field office. My other job which is involved a little bit every day is that of a Navy Supply Corps Officer. After serving on active duty from 1991-2001, I returned in 2007 but this time as a Reservist. It's much more than a "weekend warrior" time commitment but I love it more than any other "job" that I do.

What's your favorite trail to run? Tough question. I think I'll give you a few. Mill Creek Park is easily in my top 3 trails. Mill Creek offers everything: waterside running, rocks, roots, sky-high evergreens, lots of waterfalls, and of course, the Monkey Hills and the Love Log. I also love the trails of West Branch State Park, located in southern Portage County. While only 12min from my house in Rootstown, it is a highly ignored park from the bulk of the local trail running community. The mountain bike trails contain more rocky running than any other trail system in northeast Ohio, hands down. Also, most trails are near West Branch Reservoir which never disappoints with the views year-round. Lastly, I know the trails of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park like the back of my hand. Anyone could easily spends hours upon hours out there and never cross the same piece of trail twice. Fantastic resource right on our doorstep that many non-runners don't even realize is here. We should be very thankful for our very many trail systems in Ohio!

What is your most memorable race? That's an easy one...but I'll have to answer it in two parts. The first one is my first 100-mile finish at the 2009 Kettle Moraine 100 Miler in Wisconsin. I traveled solo to the race with no friends, family or crew and seeing that red finish line banner in 25hrs, 39min is an image and memory that will never fade. The other one was my 3rd 100-mile finish 18 weeks later at the Inaugural Oil Creek 100-Mile Trail Run in Titusville, PA. Around mile 20, I ran into some serious issues physically and for the final 80 miles, I ate ibuprofen like candy and only my mental fortitude got me to the finish line. The icing on the cake was my wife surprising me at mile 92 and me crumbling emotionally like a baby. 30hrs, 49min after the start on Saturday, I got my 3rd 100-mile finish and the "mack-daddy" of 100-mile buckles.

What are your goal races for the 2011 season? In 2011, I have no goal races due to a lot of time to be spent with the Navy. The bulk of my time with them happens right in the heart of trail racing season, including all of my favorite races. I hope to return in time for NEO Trail's URINEO in December.

What is your dream race? I am a big believer in running local races that I can wake up in my own bed and drive to. We have a countless supply of them in NE Ohio, many of which didn't exist 5 years ago. However, I'd say that a few races do stand out as must-do's some day: Bear 100, Wasatch 100, and the Leadville Trail 100 are all on my to-do list...lifetime to-do list. I really don't have any big "dream" races and focus more on the very short term and just getting out on the trails.
Any advice you could give someone just starting out to the dirt side of running? Take it slow and let the trail come to you. It's a completely different kind of running and in time, it'll get easier and more enjoyable to you. Forget about the pace and what your Garmin is telling you and just have fun out there. When you run, lift up your feet over the roots and rocks and when walking those steep hills, walk with a purpose!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bartram 100 Mile Race

Congratulations to Dan Kuzma-winner of the Bartram 100 Mile Race, in 19 hours, 40 minutes!

Congratulations also to Gary Sexton, who took 2nd place in the 100K in 11 hours, 18 minutes!

The Bartram 100 Mile and 100K Race was held in Bartram State Forest, outside of Milledgeville, Georgia.

Glacier Ridge Ultras

As happens to a lot of Ultras lately, Glacial Ridge Ultras are filling up.

The 30K appears to be full already.
Limited spots left in the 50 miler.
If this is on your list for 2011 events, act soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Picture of David Horton.

Congrats to David Peterman who ran Hellgate Friday night and into the day on Saturday.
Dave finished in 15:33:58.
126 runners started and 111 finished the race, which began at 12:01 am on Saturday.

Dave also competed in the BEAST series.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MMT 100 Lottery Results


Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed UP at 11,372.48. Since the last 3 numbers of the closing DOW are used as a starting point, the starting number was 248. Then, 205 entrants are selected by counting up. Therefore, if your random lottery number was between 248 through 751 then you will be eligible to enter the 2011 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Miler on Friday. For a more detailed description of this process, click here.

The following NEO Trail members are now eligible to enter the 2011 MMT 100:

Cam Baker
Kim Boner
Bob Combs
Kim Love-Ottobre
Brian Musick
Joe Novicky
David Peterman
Brandon Russell
Gary Sexton

The following NEO Trail members are currently on the waitlist in the following order (waitlist # in parenthesis):

Roy Heger (3)
Paul Lefelhocz (30)
Bill Losey (34)
Jim Harris (38)
Rich Vrboncic (71)
Desiree Cowie (198)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bigfoot 50K Race

NEO Trail represented quite well at the inaugural Bigfoot 50K Race held Sunday, December 5, at Salt Fork State Park, Ohio.

Big congratulations to Jim Harris, for finishing 1st Masters and 6th Overall Finisher. Jim's finish was eclipsed by the 5th overall finisher, his son Eric Harris, in a smoking 4:55:59, his ultra running debut!

Mike Keller, with Jim Harris yelling at him, managed to get under the wire for a sub-six hour ultra finish, at 5:59:08!!

NEO Trail Member Results:

Eric Harris 4:55:59
Jim Harris 4:58:54
Michael Keller 5:59:08
Julie Bowen-Miller 7:43:23

Congratulations to all finishers. Thanks to Ron Ross for volunteering while his daughter completed the 50K. Congratulations even to NEO Trail Member Don Baun who ran one lap and then decided a hot shower sounded better than 2 more loops!

Monday, December 6, 2010

MMT Lottery Selection – This Wednesday


Good luck to the following NEO Trail members who are entered into this year’s Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile lottery that will take place this Wednesday:

Bill Losey - #013
Roy Heger - #103
Paul Lefelhocz - #222
Brian Musick - #273
David Peterman - #289
Gary Sexton - #398
Brandon Russell - #405
Kim Love-Ottobre - #435
Joe Novicky - #465
Bob Combs - #476
Cam Baker - #590
Kim Boner - #684
Jim Harris - #886
Richard Vrboncic - #919
Desiree Cowie - #952

Cilck here for a detailed explanation of the MMT 100 lottery procedure.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Western States Lottery

Congratulations to NEO Trail member, Eric Deutsch, for getting selected in the Western States Lottery. The Western States Endurance Run is the oldest and original of the 100 mile foot races.

By being selected in the Western States lottery, Eric could also contemplate the Grand Slam of Ultra Running: The Grand Slam is a set of four of the most prestigious 100 mile races contested in the United States, compromising the Western States in Califorinia, The Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run in Vermont, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run in Utah, and the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010



WHO:  All NEO Trail Club members, and anybody running the free URINEO FA
  First ever NEO Trail Fest
WHERE:  Old Log Cabin - (YUT-C Start/Finish) Mill Creek Park (Youngstown, OH)
WHEN:  December 18th - 1:00 PM
WHY:  Why not??
RSVP:  By December 13th to Bob Combs (

The first ever NEO Trail Fest will be held in conjunction with URINEO in Mill Creek Park on December 18th, at 1:00 PM.  The party is open to everybody in NEO Trail and also anyone running the URINEO FA.  With the party scheduled to start at 1:00, everyone who is running is encouraged to adjust their start time so that they will finish their run at 1:00.  There is no set distance, but the "official course" is an 8 mile loop, that runners do 1-6 times, depending on his/her preference.

Please RSVP to the NEO Trail President Bob Combs ( if you are planning on coming to the Fest no later than December 13th.  We need to get an accurate count for the mass consumption that will occur during the afternoon.  Please bring a dish to share with everyone.  A stove and oven are available in the cabin, as well as electric outlets for crock pots and what not.

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