2011 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc Aftermath

Like a cog train steadily grinding up one of many summits, the Salomon team gets the job done. (photo: The North Face)

Tim:  First, believe it or not, there were other events taking place this weekend, besides UTMB.  I have to mention Cascade Crest 100, where Rod Bien broke the course record set last year by fellow Oregonian, Jeff Browning.  Rod finished in 18:27.  Top woman finisher was Shawna Thompkins in 21:15.  Big props to those solid runners.

Nick Pedatella fueling up en route to 14th place overall (photo: Meghan Hicks)

However, if you listened carefully anytime on Saturday, you could hear a rumbling, like an approaching double, sometimes triple, engine train.  That would be the Salomon Express at the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, roaring over single track trails, leading some 2,300 runners over France, Italy, and Switzerland.  The difficulty of the race is evident in part of an email I received from my friend, Nick Pedatella, 14th place finisher, “The course is brutal, unbelievably steep climbs and downhills. The rerouted course had 34-35k of climb so definitely was pretty beat by the end.”  The rerouted course was necessary due to storms that also delayed the start until 11:30pm local race time.  For those with short attention spans, the two big stories that lie before us post race are Salomon’s dominance and the startling number of Americans who dropped from the race (DNF).

Lizzy Hawker finishing her dominating run (photo: The North Face)

It wasn’t all Salomon.  In fact, arguably the most impressive run of the day came from The North Face’s Lizzy Hawker, who took the lead early and continually built on it, finishing in 25:02 (13th overall).  The 2nd place woman, Nerea Martinez (Salomon), wouldn’t cross the finish line for nearly three hours afterward (27:55).  Pearl Izumi’s and top female American, Darcy Africa took the third step on the podium in 28:30.  For the men it was the Salomon two engine train of “King” Kilian Jornet covering the lengthened course in 20:36, Salomon teammate, Iker Karrera 2nd, and Sebastien Chaigneau rounding out the podium in 20:55.

Matt: There were other “events”?  Definitely, congrats to Mr. Bien.  Nice to see him continue his very productive season.  He seemed like a pretty cool customer at this year’s hot SD100 where he finished tied for second.  A nod to team Patagonia.  And, of course, we haven’t forgotten about the Trans Rockies.  Last year Max King (and Andy Martin) of Team Bend outlasted Jason Wolfe (and Eric Bohn) of Goretex/Salomon/Run Flagstaff.  This year Wolfe equalized with a solid win in the men’s open division with new partner Mike Smith, the pair representing Run Flagstaff.  They beat King and his new partner Ryan Bak, still of Team Bend.  Someone might want to tell Jason Wolfe to try his craft on the ultra circuit, the one that has a kind of consensus world championship starting and finishing in Chamonix, France.  Tracy Garneau and Nikki Kimball of The North Face won the women’s open at Trans Rockies and Rickey Gates and Anna Frost of Salomon won the mixed division.  So, some solid runners certainly had fun out there in what one competitor called a “great time.”  Mr. Teisher went on to say that the race actually, “felt more like a hash weekend with a few epic ballbuster trails than an actual race.”

On that note, let’s turn to the business at hand.  There’s so much that still needs to be flushed-out on blogs and internet rags, etc.  But the superficial “results” are in, and their pretty consistent with what we started talking about last week.  Only the news is worse than expected.  Last week, we simply remarked that a few trends are developing on the mountain/ultra running circuit.  I pointed-out Salomon Running’s dominance here in the states.  I also wondered what American runners might be ready to competitively meet this considerable collection of (primarily) European elite mountain runners over the next several years.

Going-in to TNFUTMB 2011, I picked Geoff Roes to win.  Indeed, I need to accentuate that.  I picked Roes.  I absolutely wanted the excitement of an American bucking this international trend, of that low-key Alaskan ultra spirit rising up and unleashing serious carnage on the world’s best around Mont Blanc.  Definitely this was a wild card and nothing of the sort transpired.  I’ll just get it out of the way here: the perception of American ultra running continues to take a digger.  Denying this is silly.  Granted, the world is not ending, nor does one even have to invest in the very competitive vibe that surrounds the sport (focusing instead on the love of mountainous exhaustion in the heart of nature’s fierce beauty); but for those paying attention, the trend is undeniable.

The blogs are on fire with this competitive banter, and some of it’s become down-right nasty.  So, let’s do the right thing, here and now, and remind ourselves that there’s more racing on the horizon.  Our elite’s just need to get back to work, shake it off, have a beer, and onward and upward.  TNF50 San Francisco in December is a great place to start (or end, however you want to look at it since that’s where it all started).  That’s where the Salomon reign began; let’s stop the bleeding there, regardless of whom shows-up.  Yes, this is only getting started, readers, and we’re not just talking about Inside Trail.

Tim:  I hear you on the hopeful pick in your preview.  We’ve seen a range of emotions and shoot from the hip comments either bashing Americans for burying their heads in the ground or looking for reasons (excuses) for dropping out of a race most knew would be brutally competitive.  The blaming of race organization is not the way to go.  The winners and the ones who finished ran the same course under the same rules.  The complaining and sandbagging (as you know) is a sour spot with me.  I’m tired of reading that “I have jet lag.”  “I’m a little tired.”  “My training hasn’t been perfect.”  I have noticed that many of the international runners (specifically, Miguel, Kilian, Julien and Ryan) we’re talking about seem to be pretty upbeat, admit they are ready and excited, never complain.  It’s like it’s become a chore to race for some of the American runners we follow.  If you’re not into it, then don’t bother showing up.  It’s harsh, but as a runner and fan it’s aggravating when you want to get behind these guys and support them and they drop from the most competitive race they’ve been pining for all year.  Sure there are legitimate reasons in some cases to drop, but the list of “elite” American DNFs at UTMB is pretty incredible.

On a bright note, I want to call out to my buddy, Nick Pedatella who moved up throughout the race, starting in about 100th position and finishing in 14th overall.  Same goes for Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe who grinded it out with the top 20 and flirted with top ten finishes.  And, what about Hal Koerner?  39 hours to finish.  Got it done and deserves respect.  Jack Pilla, 52 years old and finishes in 27:35, dominating the V2 (over 50 category) by three hours.

Matt:  That’s right; there are some great results from some runners that unfortunately weren’t in the spot-light, per se.  Nick Pedatella and Mike Foote are fantastic outcomes for the Americans.  Jack Pilla finished 22nd!  Darcy Africa podiumed and finished 31st overall.  Congrats to perennial stud Scott Jaime (40th), Helen Cospolich (51st), Jason Poole (81st), Hal and Rock, Todd Hoover and Rob Stafford, Colleen Ihnken, Mark Christopherson, Chad Piala.  Of course much respect to all who participated, who got themselves into position to face the music under some pretty severe conditions.  It appears that these conditions had something to do with the DNF bug that took a bite out of the American squad; that’s what has the blogosphere a buzz, for sure.  Geoff Roes, Scott Jurek, Joe Grant, Nick Clark, Dakota Jones, and Krissy Moehl come to mind.  On the surface it’s very disappointing because the American contingent seemed very well represented.  These runners make headlines all over the 50 states in ultra results that garner tons of praise and accolades.  Fierce competitors, all of them.  And now the fall-out of a different kind of trend.

This is huge debate, the DNF, whether or not finishing a race like this hurts a runner’s trail cred.  We talked about this when I brought-up the idea of mountain ethos on another blog and how maybe if conditions get too risky like in HR100 2011, a DNF might be absolutely acceptable (to even the hardcore enthusiast) because continuing on is a literal health hazard (breathing problems, stage 5 rapids, lightning storms, etc.).  I finally reconciled that by saying that dying on the mountain is probably what the true hardcore mountaineers include in their approach to adventure objectives.  The real mountain genre, so to speak.  There’s a bit of humor in that, but also a genuine read on much of the “logic” that develops in the wild.

The answer to the question of what’s right or wrong about DNFs can be answered and debated all day and night.  There are great anecdotes and race reports that probably best put this thing in perspective.  The Matt Carpenter 2004 Leadville report is one way of looking at it.  Here’s a runner with tons of pride, much success in his running career to that point (2004).  He decides to take a break from Pikes and take a shot a 100.  At his first attempt, he fails.  He suffers and feels a lot of embarrassment crossing the finish line, wrecked, humiliated.  He could have quit.  He had every reason to DNF; this isn’t for me, fuck it, back to Pikes and some 50 milers.  But he endured and I have read him say that finishing 2004 (no DNF) fueled his epic CR in 2005.  At the same time, you’ve heard stories about DNFs fueling redemptive comebacks, as well.  To each his own.

Be that as it may, the number of DNFs on the American side is just going to linger for a few fans and athletes who follow this sport.  There is the amateur comic that someone linked in the comments on this very site, yesterday (it seems to be surfacing in several places).  I call that a drive-by, meaning it’s only meant to hurt, is pretty cheap, and who knows who orchestrated that cheap-shot.

No way does Inside Trail condone those kinds of views.  However, we do support the open and honest discourse about this sport we love.  And it’s those kinds of views that can fuel the competitive juices we’re all looking for in some future epic trail races.

Tim: I like the focus on the future.  But to do that you have to understand the past.  Ezra Pound wrote, “Make strong old dreams; lest this, our own world, lose heart.”  DNFs are a separate issue than the dominance of non-American runners this year (beginning late last year).  I’ve personally DNF’d and felt disgusting afterward for quite a while.  I feel that ego has a lot to do with it.  For some reason, both voting in the Ultra Runner of the Year and sites like ultrasignup.com don’t seem to value DNFs in gaging performance.  Say a runner wins 4 races and drops out of 2 others; ultrasignup has his “score” or ranking as 100%.  It’s like DNFs don’t exist.  Of course, a valid reason to drop, like a serious health issue is understandable for most.  Simply because you’re getting manhandled in a race is not a valid reason to drop, in my opinion.  Moving on…

Kilian’s new name needs to be King Kilian.  Those who don’t like it can try to take him down from his throne (good luck with that task).  Really, the performances of him, Iker, and Sebastien are special.  Business-like, with heart, twisting the valve of training depth to full-on.  Regardless what backwoods view some may have that “them damn foreigners are takin’ over the sport,” these guys and gals are tremendous athletes who have the focus and training to perform when it counts.  There are no excuses for those who want to compete but don’t for some reason or another.  They need to shut up, look at what works, and emulate the process.  Jogging around in the woods when you feel like it isn’t going to get it done against these guys who are showing us how to do it at every race.  Give credit where and when it’s due.  And it is due, now.

Matt: I agree with you on the credit that is due.  But let’s reiterate: these results and even the subsequent trash talking should only spur the competitive fire in our elites.  At the same time, since there really isn’t a solid, organized race circuit, or even an official championship, you’ll have runners focusing on their own goals.  That’s where this is definitely different from much more organized sports where defined rivalries can develop through scheduled competitions.  Who knows who gets in to many of the lottery-based races.  And something tells me that UROC won’t quite have the feel of a championship race.

To finish with some thoughts on the UTMB (what many are calling a kind of mountain ultra world championship), big props to Mr. Jornet.  His desire to run seems only matched by his natural talent.  One of the comments from yesterday mentioned Kilian’s seeming denial of a taper, of a willingness to “rest;” he just loves to run, literally “training” or running right through organized races.  Granted, it does appear that the young king of the sport is running amok all over everyone’s previous perceptions of what is typical of a competitive mountain short and long course athlete, but we should assure ourselves that his program is organized and being executed to perfection.  I don’t think Salomon would have it any other way.

His win this weekend along with his WS100 win has to raise questions about the UROY award as it’s now defined.  The sport is clearly international (there is no need to have to explain that).  So, why have an award that only recognizes a North American man and woman?  But I digress.

Iker Karrera Aranbaru’s incredible 2nd has to be keeping the Salomon grin shiny, as well, especially given the quite tumultuous Mont Blanc race that saw so many runners fall off the front for good or DNF.  Karrera’s 2011 results at the Transvulcania, Citadelles and Zugspitz ultras had many believing in this guy.  Salomon’s Miguel Heras succumbed to knee issues, but Karrera was able to stay with Jornet for the entire race.  The pictures blasted across the interwebs often showed 2-4 runners in Salomon white galloping off the front.  Karrera only adds to that team’s international supremacy.  And kudos to Tony Krupicka who really sold Karrera’s stock going into the weekend’s festivities.  Of course, the Frenchman Sebastien Chaigneau’s 3rd just enhances his UTMB portfolio and certainly makes The North Face team proud.  This year’s brilliance adds to his 2nd to Kilian in 2009.  Hungarian Nemeth Csaba did well for himself, too, by improving upon his UTMB 7th in ’09 to finish 4th.  Again, congrats to all of the runners and fans who certainly witnessed quite a mountain running scene full of volatile weather, massive culture and the unbelievable beauty of the 2011 Chamonix Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.

Where do we go from here?

Left to right: Sebastien, Kilian, Iker. (photo: The North Face)

28 comments

  1. What a fantastic, honest post! Some of the comments on peoples blogs are pretty harsh (Clarks, for instance) and maybe a little out of line for a personal blog so thanks for not sugar coating anything. Have you guys thought about a podcast?

    That picture of everyone that someone edited/captioned is horribly funny, but I think some fans were a little upset that they supported a bunch of runners who dnfed and appeared perfectly ok with it.

  2. Joe, thanks for the comment and yes, we intend to do podcasts, soon!

    The doctored anti-American “flier” is really really in poor taste, but it does reflect some of what people are thinking/feeling out there. This is competitive sport and quite frankly a bunch of “oh shucks, we’ll get’em next time” comments wouldn’t be very appealing either.

    All this to say, I’m really looking forward to some future races!

  3. Awesome commentary and back-and-forth. I really appreciate it. I find myself agreeing with Tim. It seems that lining up your excuses before the race even starts has become a bit of a habit among some of our elites. Also, I don’t recall hearing any of the top finishers complain about the course change. The course change impacted everyone and anyway, this is the mountains! Sh@t is going to happen! If you want a predictable, perfectly laid out course, run a road marathon. Part of venturing out into the mountains is the spirit of adventure, the unknown and unpredictable, and the risk. I wonder what some fo the old school guys mountain guys like Matt Carpenter, Tom Sobal, and Rick Trujillo would say about all of this…(and yes I realize not all of them are considered ultra runners but they are all “mountain men” and we need more of them right now).

    Jeff C.

  4. It may actually make for some good reading to interview Matt, Tom, and/or Rick (or someone else of similar caliber) about the history and current state of mountain running. Rick especially could provide some interesting commentary and history.

    Like you guys said, we need to understand the past and I think many of our current runners have little idea about those who blazed the path before them. Those old guys probably have a lot to teach us about being tough, hardcore, no-excuses, bad-asses.

  5. I like that name, King Kilian. My son asked me how much a mountain weighs. I said about a gazillion pounds. He said, I think it weighs a killion pounds.
    On a much shorter note any word on who’s the new US 10k Trail Champion?

    1. Hey Rick, what did you do to Anonymous? I’m worried. . .

      1 Joe Moore (with the upset)
      2 Ryan Woods
      3 Bobby Mack

      David Roche 6th + 2min
      Dave Dunham (47) 14th + 5min
      Tim VanOrden (43) 19th + 6min

  6. There’s some pretty infantile anonymous posters out on the blogosphere. Dollars to donuts those people are American folks and not European. Pure speculation on my part. Sure, Kilian knows who Geoff Roes is, Nick Clark, etc. But what about the general population over there? Probably not much mind share. Many US racers DNF’d. How many Europeans DNF’d? 10x more. Because there were 10x as many registered. Hal Koerner finished 371st I think in just under 40 hours. Nearly 2,500 people started. What does that lead to then for drops and final cutoffs missed – 1,500+ DNFs? That means well over 1,000 European runners DNF’d, including the likes of Heras and others.

    We are more ‘sensitive’ to the American DNFs over here (again my speculation) because it was the only people we knew/followed for the most part. Not too many average American Joes travel over to races like that. I could be way off base, but thats how I see it, and thats whats in part behind my speculation on the Anonymous posters and on the cartoon.

    How did the Europeans do at Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (many came over)? Were any sarcastic cartoons created? If so, I bet they were Europeans back home to poke fun at their own racers.

    On the UROY, if it can be international, then I think Kilian has to be at the top of the list. If its more US centric and Dave Mackey finishes top 5 at UROC 100k, then he has to be at the top of the list. If not and not, then Nick Clark should still be at the top.

  7. Rick Trujillo would probably kick you in the crotch and then drag you up a 5,000 ft climb by your hair if you ask him what he thinks about softness creeping (crashing) into the ultra/mountain scene. I’ll definitely reach out to those guys, as I wholeheartedly respect each of them and would love to spend some time getting their opinions.

  8. Kilian: Totally next-level. He’s the complete package: upbringing (Pyrenees), genetics (92 VO2Max), training (massive volume and vert), corporate support (you didn’t see Iker or Heras pimpin’ perfectly streamlined custom Skin packs/custom compulsory gear did you? or custom 6oz shoes? or custom non-lycra shorts?), mindset (humble and yet the consummate competitor, deep respect and appreciation for the land). He jogged UTMB, just like he jogged WS this year. Both races were similar in that a first-quarter change (off-route at WS, Martigny re-route at UTMB) shifted the mindset from CR-attempt to just run easy w/ the leaders and then sprint away the last 10km for the win. I would bet he could’ve run UTMB an hour faster had he given it a full-on effort. And yet, the dude is (maybe not so obviously?) human. I’ve seen it, first-hand, maybe even helped inflict it. He’s mortal and is capable of making mistakes, and will again in the future. Which is why racing is so much fun!

    Iker: It is worth noting that this was Iker’s debut 100mi. Highly highly impressive. I hope Salomon sends him over for the TNF50 in December.

    Seb: I feel like an asshole doubting him so much pre-race. 2nd in 2009, 3rd this year. He ran to Champex over 90min faster than he did in 2009 and 13min faster than Kilian did in 2008 (Kili’s previous fastest year). So, that front group was moving very well, Kilian is just so much better that even an improvement over his previous self was jogging for him now.

    Miguel: I hope the knee injury isn’t too serious and that he can still return in December to defend his TNF50 title.

    TNF vs. Salomon: Salomon just kills it with volume, saturation. They sponsor SO MANY fast dudes. TNF has the women’s scene mostly cornered, just look at the ladies WS results this year (Nikki, Kami, Tracy, Rory+Lizzy obviously). TNF has a very solid men’s team–Chaigneau, Wolfeman, Hal, Zigor Iturrietta, Wardian, just picked up Sharman–but just not quite the same quantity as Salomon. TNF’s high quality, nearly race-day vids up on Youtube show, in my mind, that they are definitely starting to competitively respond to the marketing that Salomon has injected into the sport. Salomon’s influence on the sport goes even deeper than most people probably even realize. They purchased an entire extra trail-centric issue of Runners World last year. That is not cheap. They almost single-handedly bankroll Running Time’s online trail content. I think they’re fantastic for the sport.

    UROY: Ultrarunning Magazine is a North American publication. I see it picking UROY like USATF/IAAF tracks American Records versus just World Records. Having said that, much like the distance ARs vs the WRs there is the possibility that the Yanks are now nearly an order of magnitude behind the best in the world (Spaniards instead of East Africans)? I don’t really believe that. I think our top tier is quite competitive with Europe’s top tier over long course mountain ultras (and short-course stuff, too–the middle ground of SkyMarathons is a different, unexplored story for whatever reason), but to think that there aren’t improvements to be made (and that UTMB doesn’t deserve one’s full attention in a season) is willful denial. As one would expect WS still holds considerable sway on the NA scene, and I think it’s tough for the top guys to get up again for a really high-level effort a second time in the season. Kilian is a gigantic outlier in this regard. You didn’t see Julien at UTMB. Iker’s last race appeared to be Zugspitze in June. Heras’ was a fairly non-competitive 170km run in mid-July. But it might’ve blown out his knee?

    Lizzy: Inspiring stuff. Damn. 13th?!?! Within minutes of the CR on a longer/tougher course with a gimp hip? She’s sterling on the roads, too. Not even Kilian can claim that (or doesn’t care to try).

    Nerea: So psyched to see her have some redemption after her HR fiasco. Really wish she could’ve made it around the loop back in July.

    Darcy: Exactly what I’d expect from her–no nonsense, gets it done in the mountains, surging finish. Boom, podium.

    Fun stuff to think about and an enormously exciting time in the sport.

    1. Thanks, Tony, for your typical full-on clear comment (I hate to even downplay It with the term ‘comment’). You add a lot to our original posts and it’s appreciated by many, I assume.
      You called it on Iker.
      Any chance you’ll be ready to compete by sf50 in December?

  9. I don’t think Mr. Teisher put forth quite the same effort as the top guys at TransRockies. He did steal the leader shirt from Justin Ricks and wore that around for a while though. My hat is off to those who hammer all six days, it’s gotta hurt.

  10. Something I have to say with regard to the Euro (and South African) v. Yank debate: while the Euros (and Sandes) certainly appear to be dominating the scene (as everyone knows, they’ve won TNF50, WS100, HR100, Pbville, and UTMB), it seems that they are doing so in a much more conservative (albeit sustainable) manner. With the possible exception of TNF50 (I’m not sure who owns the CR there, or what it is), it seems like the Americans have gone more “balls-out” in terms of chasing CRs. Kyle Skaggs, of course, had (arguably) THE game-changing run of ultrarunning in the 2000s at HR100 in 2008, Geoff and Anton’s back-and-forth last year at WS100 led to Roes’ new CR and the advent of sub-15 speculation, and Matt Carpenter’s 2005 dominance at Pbville all indicate that while the Euros feel comfortable “jogging it in” with a win in the bag, they aren’t necessarily comfortable with going out hard in an attempt to obliterate a course record.

    This may just be me bullshitting, but it seems like this theory has some credence. I wouldn’t be surprised if some relatively unknown American goes over to UTMB next year and nabs the course record. InsideTrail, you guys have been doing a great job with this site so far, keep it up!

  11. Tory, that is a great point. This really is a separate article (one of MANY), but I remember looking around this little sport and seeing the ultra young Skaggs brothers, this guy Anton, Koerner, glimpses of a Max King, the older but still dangerously productive Jurek and Mackey, Carpenter. . . then a guy named Roes (among others). Think of the CRs getting handed-out in that crowd alone.

    This Team Salomon dominance is very recent and like you said, fairly methodical and (I like your term) conservative (other than Kilian’s brilliance – nothing conservative going-on there). The team concept is really interesting in that they seem to have a genuine team mentality and strategy that some have directly linked to product marketing. I won’t go that far, but it’s definitively TEAM. That’s more the issue, and less that it’s a bunch of guys from Europe (and SA).

    This is great for the sport, all of it. People upset about some of the trash talking, it’s going to be okay.

    Tony, to echo Tim, thanks for the contributions and hopefully we’ll see you in SF in Dec. with or without shoes, witnessing a terrific trail race. Keep it coming!

  12. There’s a link on the iRunFar site in the comment section of the post UTMB report and results from a Greek runner that is very insightful(computer noob,no idea how to link it here!) It goes into depth of his views of the comparison between U.S. and Euro elite runners,very well done article.

  13. Nick Clark provides some great insights and reveals what an awesome guy he is in his reponse(s) to all the comments he received in his last post on his blog (he provides his response in the comments section of that post).

    David T.

  14. Open letter to Salomon Scheduling Office:So you have a pretty decent stable(er,group)of runners,King Kilian,Iker,Frosty,etc,so they might be ready to move up to the big-time.What do i mean,isn’t Hardrock,UTMB,WS,Trans-
    Rockies,big-time?Child’s play! Double those,throw in bizarre weather patterns,and enough humidity to run in swimming trunks,and you have……Barkley 100.A 20 hour finishing time,hahaha.Few tips just to be fair. #1.Practice on hills,you say you have hills like Barkley to train on,hahaha #2.Have your nutritionist create a raw chicken gel.(kinda a local joke from Barkley creator Cantrell) #3.Record the bugle tune Taps,It will become your runners favorite music after April 1st,hahaha. #4.And finally,if you send your runners over in their pretty outfits,have your development crew add some kevlar to the material,bwahahahahahahahahaha. Sincerely,15 time starter/finisher of Hardrock,4 time top 5,.and “only” 60 mile finisher of Barkley,Good Luck,Bwahahahahaha.

  15. Course this is Tennessee we’re talking about,and if you stray off-course and stumble onto a funny looking plant crop,maybe kevlar suits would be a good idea,not sure how the locals over there would view your compression tights either! lol

  16. All in fun Tim,it’s been a rather serious week for comments and commentary on the blogs lately,thought i would throw a lighter fare out there,Ultra-running is one of the last sports for the masses that still holds on to it’s family,we are all in this together,rooting for each other ideals.Slowly losing some of it,but it’s still there,but might be good idea to add a lighter touch now and than.And no offense to Tennessee,any state than can produce Elvis,Cantrell,and Billy Simpson can’t be all bad………………..can it?

What say you?