Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Claire Weustenraed

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

Next is Claire Weustenraed who currently lives in London and joined us in Morocco last fall. Claire is one of those people who bursts with enthusiasm for just about everything, and her energy is infectious! Though relatively new to running when we met her, she dove in headfirst and set a personal weekly distance record on our trip (no matter that it was the most challenging terrain she'd ever attempted), and she has continued to push her limits with a newfound love of mountain running.

 

Which trip did you do and when?
Morocco: Mountains & Coast (October/November 2016)

Describe your running background:
I started running around the end of November 2015 after moving back to Europe from Asia. Friends convinced me to join a social trail run with North Face (10km) and from there on I was hooked! I then joined the AdventRunning December run streak where I met great people who inspired me even more. Seems like since then I never looked back, and running is now a part of my life. 

How did you end up on that trip? What led you to the decision?
I was looking for a run-holiday and Rogue Expeditions popped up on Google. With Frostie [Anna Frost] being a run leader on the trip I was sold!

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
I didn’t know what to expect so … I just jumped into an adventure .. and OMG .. what a super duber great adventure …

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
I didn’t know anyone on the trip, but Rogue Expenditions made me feel welcome from the first minute I stepped foot in Morocco ..  super friendly bunch of crazy badasses!

What was your favorite run and why?
My favourite run - that’s a really difficult question. Every run was great and different .. run in the rain / sun / more flattish … crossing rivers … running up and down .. and always supported by the team of running friends and the lovely drivers who carried water and super food snacks!

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favourite thing that you ate?
Really, I don’t know where to start .. the Rogue Expeditions cooks are AMAZING !!! Every single meal, every single dish is just like heaven on earth … I loved it ALL !!!

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What was your most challenging moment or issue during the trip? How did you overcome it?
No issues at all as it all is soo well organized by Rogue The heat sometimes wasn’t easy, but then again our lovely drivers were there with water whenever you needed it and there is always someone who waits for you to help you to finish together.

What surprised you the most about the experience?
This was the first time that I ran a week of 100km. I was soo overwhelmed and happy to have done this with such a great bunch of friends, and while running in such an amazing country! Please take me back …

Claire and Joel finish sunset bonus miles on the last night in Morocco, wrapping up a personal weekly distance record (100km!) for Claire!

Claire and Joel finish sunset bonus miles on the last night in Morocco, wrapping up a personal weekly distance record (100km!) for Claire!

Runcation vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
I don’t think its comparable. It's a different mind set .. different vibes … I learned soo much on this trip about mind-over-body, food and rest. I’m seriously thinking on taking another trip … Allison and Gabe are just … AWESOME !!! They made me feel welcome and they are such great runners. They take the time to talk to you, listen to your experiences and always help you to push your limits. Since my Morocco trip I’ve run 2 mountain races (Spain and Italy) and I couldn’t have done it without them as the runaction gave me so much confidence. Oh and I met some great friends on this trip!

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
ABSOLUTELY SMASHINGLY AWESOME !!!

Take Better Photos: Smartphone Photography Tips

On our trips we always encourage runners to carry a camera with them, as the photo opportunities are endless and so unique - we encounter so much when exploring on foot! Of course, everyone wants great #travelpics, but no one is running with a big DSLR and a bag of lenses on their back - everyone is running with a smartphone. We reached out to Jeff Genova, a pro photographer who shot our spring Morocco trips last year (yes, he really did go running with a DSLR and a bag of lenses on his back) and asked him for tips on taking great photos using only the devices that we carry in our pockets.

So you want to take better pictures with your smartphone? Easy. There are a few things I tell my students when they ask how I get such good photos with my phone, starting with these rules:

1. The best camera in the world is the one you have with you, so make the best of it.

2. Never pass up a shot. Don't say that you'll come back and take it later; the lighting,
people, timing and mood will never be the same. It only takes a couple of seconds,
minutes at the most, to snap that shot. Even if you do come back, things will have changed. Take it now.

3. Make your picture tell a story. We read a photo just like a book - top left to bottom right. So, keep that in mind when you set up your shot.

4. Give your picture a subject, something for the viewer to focus on.

5. Use the rule of thirds. Don't center your subject, offset it.

6. Take a picture that evokes emotion, tells a story without words and that makes people stop when they see it.

With all of that being said, rules are meant to be broken. The most important thing is to take the picture. If you have time and the perfect setup, great! But remember - you'll have nothing if you never take the shot. Learn to look at the world differently, through the lens of your camera - and yes, this includes your smartphone.

Now that you have some guidelines on what to look for and how to compose your shot, here are some tips to help you take sharper pictures:

1. Brace your camera or phone against something like a bench or tree for stabilization.

2. Use your volume buttons as a shutter release so that you don't jar it so much by tapping on the screen. With an iPhone you can also use the volume buttons on your headphones as a shutter release.

3. Shoot a quick burst of three or four photos. The first will be blurry because the pressure of pushing the buttons moves the camera ever so slightly, but the second or third will be sharper.

Got it? Now that you have a sharp, well-composed image, let's talk about how to make it even better with post processing. I use two apps to enhance the images I take: Snapseed, and Photoshop Express. Both are free and available through the App Store and Google play, and both have lots of tools and filters to help enhance and personalize your images. You can pull shadows out, darken highlights, remove elements, soften skin and more! I primarily use these apps to bring out the natural colors that tend to be muted when you take a photograph.

Here is an example of a "before" shot:

And here is the "after":

For this image I used Snapseed and started with the Drama tool - a little goes a long way with this one! Next, I used the Details tool to add structure and sharpen, then I used Image Tune, which allows you to adjust contrast, highlights, shadows, warmth, exposure and more. Finally, I used the Glamor Glow tool to warm and soften the image:

Once you've perfected your photo, save a copy and then you are done. Remember that this image is yours: You took it. You kept it. You edited it. You love it!

Now, go out and take some pictures. Try both apps. Use all the different tools. Figure out which ones work best for you. The more you play, the better you will get and the better your photos will become.

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Check out Jeff's photography website here, and make sure to check out the photos that he took for our Gorges & Sahara trip and Endurance Adventure Morocco!

Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Katelyn Sandy

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

Next up is Katelyn Sandy from San Francisco who describes herself as a careful planner who took an uncharacteristic chance on Rogue Expeditions: she first heard about us at a Sunday morning trail race, registered for Patagonia on Tuesday and was sailing the Strait of Magellan with us just a couple of weeks later!

 

Which trip did you do and when?
Patagonia (February 2016)

Describe your running background.
I first started running in high school when I joined the cross country team. I developed a love for the sport and had the opportunity to run on the Women's Cross Country team at the University of Evansville for four years. During graduate school I started running half marathons.

How did you end up on that trip? What led you to the decision?
A friend invited me to a local 5k race. After the race, I came to a table with information about Rogue Expeditions. Once I found out they offered running vacations I was very excited about the idea and I remember thinking, "I have got to go on one." I went home, researched the trip, and booked the adventure a few days later. Later that month, I was exploring Patagonia with a group of adventurous runners!

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
I was a little uncertain about the cost of the trip, however, once the trip started I appreciated the value of the experience.  Allison and Gabe answered all my questions via email, accommodated my last minute sign up, provided snacks, laughter, and expert guidance throughout the trip. It was a treat to have someone else taking care of all the details.

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
I did not know anyone else beforehand. Everyone I met on the trip was friendly and easy to connect with. I enjoyed getting to know runners from all over the country as we all shared common interests of running and adventure.

What was your favorite run and why?
My favorite was a 10 mile run into a headwind which I enjoyed with Jenny from Austin alongside. The final destination was lunch at a sheep ranch called Estancia Olga Theresa. It was challenging because we were leaning forward so much to account for the headwind, that when it intermittently let up, we had to catch ourselves. It took determination and perseverance and most of the time we could not hear each other. Running alongside my new friend, at the bottom of the world, with the white noise of the Chilean wind was quite the experience!

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favorite thing that you ate?
Ceviche at La Marmita in Punta Arenas.

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What was your most challenging moment or issue during the trip? How did you overcome it?
The most challenging moment came while trekking on Glacier Grey. It was my first time wearing crampons but I quickly got the hang of it on the flatter areas. We came to an area where we needed to walk down, I looked down and was met with a lot of fear. The person behind me asked if I was going to go and I started to cry. As a physical therapist, assessing safety and potential for injury are second nature. I was not going to give up though and with some encouragement from Gabe and the guide Pedro at my side, I was able to safely make it down the hill to take a closer look inside the glacier.

What surprised you the most about the experience?
I was surprised by how well-balanced the trip was.  It was a nice combination of guidance and freedom to choose the running distance and activities I wanted to participate in. I just had to show up with my running gear and Gabe and Allison provided the itinerary with the next time and place to meet at.

"Runcation" vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
The two are similar as they both involve a challenge. They are different as the runcation involves opportunities to connect with other adventurous runners and was completely different than the experience I have had throughout my racing career. It reminded me of my time as part of a cross country team!

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
The most incredible trail runs of my life.

 

Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Jessica Gagne

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

Today we're highlighting Jessica Gagne, who we first met when she and her husband came to Tahoe in 2014. She told us that she hadn't run more than 5 miles in many years and that she had never gone trail running before, but on Day 3 she shocked us all by knocking out a 14 mile trail run at altitude!

Tahoe Rim Trail.jpg

Which trips have you done and when?
Tahoe (July 2014)
Bend (August 2015)
Morocco (Oct 2016)

Describe your running background.
I ran cross-country in high school and continued running to maintain my fitness in the military. I started running with Rogue Running in 2013 and haven't looked back. I've run two half marathons and am hoping to cross a marathon off my bucket list once recovering from an injury. 

How did you end up on your first Rogue Expeditions trip? What led you to the decision?
My husband Jason and I heard about Rogue Expeditions when Gabe and Allison did a small presentation at Rogue Running following a workout. We both enjoy running and traveling and decided to make it our next vacation. We wanted to start with the stateside trips first and Lake Tahoe sounded like a beautiful place to visit. It didn't let us down. 

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
Definitely! I was only running 5 miles consistently at the time (our first trip in 2014) and felt like I would be the tortoise and slow the group down. But as soon as we went on our first run any nerves or worries went away. Allison kept checking on us and everyone else in the group was so fun and supportive that I stopped worrying about my pace and enjoyed myself.

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
Traveling with my husband was a fun adventure because Gabe and Allison made it so easy! . It was great meeting everyone the first day and I felt like we made new friends right away. This went for all of the trips we've done but was especially true for our Morocco trip. After many hours of traveling it was so nice seeing a familiar face (Allison) to greet us and meeting our guide and driver (Hamid) who also became a new friend. It was so fun meeting everyone at the riad the first day. There were people from six different countries and it was so much fun to learn about difficult cultures and norms and tease each other about which is better: kilometers or miles?

What was your favorite run in each destination and why?
Tahoe - My favorite run was surprisingly the 14 mile long run. Even though I was nowhere near that fitness level I couldn't pass up the views and ran/walked it. It was worth the pain! I'm not sure if my husband would agree as I was sometimes a grumpy runner! 

Bend - My favorite run was actually a rest day to Smith Rock. We enjoyed a hike to the top with beautiful views, a short optional jog, and an amazing picnic. 

Morocco - My favorite run was the run in the Souss Valley. I wasn't quite up to the fitness level to do the entire long run so I rode with the crew until I felt comfortable. It was a great run with just me and the beautiful scenery and occasional local. It ended with a gorgeous palm oasis with lunch waiting. 

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favorite thing that you ate in during each trip?

Tahoe - Everything that Gabe and Allison cooked was wonderful! My favorite meal was fajitas, and we even made homemade margaritas! 

Bend - Just like Tahoe everything that Gabe and Allison cooked was delicious! My favorite meal that trip was the pasta night. 

Morocco - The food was amazing and I can't choose just one favorite meal! We did have a special birthday celebration and we sang and danced with the crew! That was a special treat!

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What has been your most challenging moment or issue during a running trip? How did you overcome it?
One of the more challenging issues for me was the firmness of the beds in Morocco. I would gather all of the blankets from the room and sleep on them. It was quite the nighttime ritual and reminded me why I enjoy the quirks of traveling. 

Pick one trip. What surprised you the most about the experience?
Definitely Morocco!! The guides were awesome and friendly! The food was wonderful and the hospitality at every riad we stayed at was unbelievable. I was definitely surprised by the amazing cultural changes from the mountains (Berber culture) compared to those who lived in the cities and coast. 

Runcation vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
I think a runcation and race are similar because I have that nervous, anxious excitement. I feel nervous before a race and that was the same feeling when getting on a plane for Morocco. Am I prepared? Am I in good enough shape to keep up? 

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
Rogue Expeditions: A running vacation that is sure to change you!