Thursday, 23 July 2009

More from the BankingBakke side - how to build an oil company in a week

The last few weeks have been interesting, with the crescendo coming earlier this week. I wouldn't say a blow by blow recap is needed or appropriate, but let's just say I'm impressed at what has been pulled together by the Glamis (Legacy) team in short order.

What does this mean from FirstEnergy's side? We've helped a client, made some revenue, and there's a handfull of us that have a file that is calmer now that earlier this week/month/year. From Sunday till press release, instead of quoting how much I worked, let's try the reverse. I was only out of office for about 10 hours in 3 days. That doesn't leave much time for commute home/sleep/shower. I changed suits only once over that time. That's not easy on the body or mind. Needless to say, I didn't bike much. Bunnin spotted me pre-coffee one morning during this period, and let's just say without putting words into his mouth that it was probably pretty rough.

July 23, 2009
Glamis Resources Ltd. Announces Asset Acquisition, Private Company Acquisitions and $75 Million Bought Deal Financing
CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 23, 2009) - Glamis Resources Ltd. ("Glamis" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:GLM.A)(TSX VENTURE:GLM.B) is pleased to announce an asset acquisition and two private company acquisitions (the "Acquisitions"). Glamis is also pleased to announce a $75 million bought deal private placement of 60,000,000 Glamis class A shares ("Glamis Shares") at a price of $1.25 per share (the "Financing"). The Acquisitions are a key step in furthering the Company's business plan of being an aggressive, high growth oil weighted junior oil and gas company.


Through the Acquisitions, Glamis is acquiring high quality, high netback, light oil assets focused in the Company's southeast Saskatchewan core area for total consideration of approximately $281.6 million based on a deemed price of $1.25 per Glamis Share. The producing properties are predominately operated with high working interests, 3D seismic coverage, control of key producing infrastructure and are associated with a large, light oil prospective undeveloped land base.

The Acquisitions provide Glamis with conventional high impact, high netback light oil assets and a significant position in the Bakken light oil resource play. More than 50 percent of the production from the combined assets is from the Bakken, making Glamis the fourth largest independent producer in the play.

The Acquisitions have the following characteristics:

Current Production: 3,675 Boepd (93% light oil, average 38
degrees API)

Proved plus Probable Reserves(1): 12.65 MMBoe

Proved plus Probable RLI: 9.4 years

Undeveloped Land: 195,000 net acres

3D Seismic 245 square miles

Total Development Drilling Locations: 187 gross, 118.7 net

Bakken Drilling Locations: 109 gross, 67.4 net

Operating Net Back(2): $40.75 per Boe

Assumed Debt(3) $33 million

(1) Reserves evaluated by Sproule Associates Limited with respect to the
Bonavista assets as at June 1, 2009, GLJ Petroleum Consultants Ltd. with
respect to Medora Resources Inc. as at March 31, 2009 and Paddock Lindstrom
& Associates with respect to Renegade Oil & Gas Ltd. as at December 31, 2008,
in accordance with National Instrument 51-101 and mechanically updated to
June 30, 2009 in each case.

(2) Based on US$60.00/Bbl WTI and US$/CDN$ exchange rate of 0.89 and
calculated by subtracting royalties and operating costs from revenues.

(3) Represents the estimated assumed debt of the acquired private companies.


The Acquisitions and Financing are accretive to Glamis on a per share basis on all key metrics. Net of undeveloped land at an estimated value of $25.7 million, the transaction metrics are as follows:

Production $69,600 per producing Boe
Proved plus Probable Reserves(1) $20.23 per Boe
Proven plus Probable Recycle Ratio(2) 2.0 times

(1) Reserves calculated as disclosed above.

(2) Utilizing Netback shown above


Glamis has entered into an agreement (the "Asset Acquisition Agreement") with Bonavista Energy Trust ("Bonavista") to acquire Bonavista's southeast Saskatchewan assets (the "Bonavista Acquisition") effective June 1, 2009 for consideration of approximately $91.3 million of cash and 3,947,368 Glamis Shares. Glamis has deposited $9.1 million under the terms of the Asset Acquisition Agreement, which is refundable to Glamis if the Bonavista Acquisition does not close, except in the event of default by Glamis. Closing of the Bonavista Acquisition is expected to occur on or about August 31, 2009 and is subject to certain conditions and the receipt of all regulatory approvals, including the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange (the "TSXV").


Glamis is also pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters, co-led by GMP Securities L.P. and Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd. and including FirstEnergy Capital Corp., BMO Capital Markets, Cormark Securities Inc., National Bank Financial Inc. and Scotia Capital Inc. (collectively, the "Underwriters"), providing for the private placement, on a bought deal basis, of 60,000,000 Glamis Shares at price of $1.25 per Glamis Share for gross proceeds of $75 million. In addition, the Underwriters have been granted an option, exercisable prior to closing, to purchase a further 12,000,000 Glamis Shares at a price of $1.25 per Glamis Share for additional gross proceeds of $15,000,000. The net proceeds of the Financing will be used to fund a portion of the purchase price payable by Glamis for the Bonavista Acquisition, with the balance funded from working capital. Closing of the private placement is subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals, including the approval of the TSXV. Closing is expected to occur on or about August 14, 2009 and, in any event, will occur following the record date for the Company's previously announced rights offering such that subscribers under the Financing will not be entitled to rights pursuant to the rights offering.


Glamis is also pleased to announce that it has entered into an amalgamation agreement (the "Amalgamation Agreement") with Renegade Oil & Gas Ltd. ("Renegade"). Pursuant to the Amalgamation Agreement, Glamis has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Renegade by means of an amalgamation between Renegade and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glamis. Glamis will, subject to adjustment based on the net debt of Renegade at the time of the closing of the transaction, issue a total of approximately 44.1 million Glamis Shares to the shareholders of Renegade under the transaction on the basis of 1.6 Glamis Shares for each Renegade share. The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of Renegade. Holders of 12% of the common shares of the Renegade have entered into agreements with Glamis pursuant to which they have agreed to vote their shares in favour of the transaction and the board of directors of Renegade has unanimously approved the transaction and recommended that the shareholders of Renegade approve the transaction. The board of directors of Renegade has received a verbal opinion from Peters & Co. Limited that the consideration to be received under the amalgamation is fair, from a financial point of view, to the Renegade shareholders. The Amalgamation Agreement, among other things, provides for a mutual non-completion fee of up to $1,500,000 in the event the transaction is not completed in certain circumstances. The transaction is anticipated to close on or about September 4, 2009. Completion of the transaction is subject to certain conditions and the receipt of all regulatory approvals, including the approval of the TSXV.

Glamis is also pleased to announce that it has entered into an arrangement agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement") with Medora Resources Inc. ("Medora"). Pursuant to the Arrangement Agreement, Glamis has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Medora by means of an amalgamation between Medora and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glamis within the context of a Plan of Arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta). Glamis will issue a total of approximately of 93.4 million Glamis Shares to the shareholders of Medora under the transaction. The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of Medora and the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. Holders of 68% of the common shares of Medora have entered into agreements with Glamis pursuant to which they have agreed to vote their shares in favour of the transaction and the board of directors of Medora has unanimously approved the transaction and recommended that the shareholders of Medora approve the transaction. The Arrangement Agreement, among other things, provides for a mutual non-completion fee of up to $3,000,000 in the event the transaction is not completed in certain circumstances. The transaction is anticipated to close on or about August 18, 2009 in the event that Medora is able to obtain written shareholder approval or on or about September 11, 2009 in the event that it is required to convene a meeting of its shareholders. Completion of the transaction is subject to certain conditions and the receipt of all regulatory approvals, including the approval of the TSXV.


BMO Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Glamis with respect to the Bonavista Acquisition and Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd. and GMP Securities L.P. acted as financial advisors to Glamis with respect to the private company acquisitions.

FirstEnergy Capital Corp. and RBC Capital Markets acted as financial advisors to Medora.

Peters & Co. Limited acted as financial advisor to Renegade.


The Acquisitions dramatically increase Glamis' operational presence and opportunity inventory in its light oil focus area of southeast Saskatchewan and Manitoba. As a result of the transactions, pro-forma Glamis will have production of 4,000 Boepd, proven plus probable reserves of 14.3 MMBoe, more than 215,000 net acres of undeveloped land and an inventory of 200 development drilling locations, all for light oil (corporate average 37o API). Almost half of Glamis's production will be from the Bakken, giving the Company significant exposure to the benefits and upside of this light oil resource play.

Glamis will now be at a size to undertake a full-cycle exploration program and effectively develop a light oil resource play. The Company anticipates the Financing will result in an under-levered balance sheet, providing certainty to the execution of a capital program and the ability to better weather any commodity volatility, with the flexibility to be opportunistic on future acquisition targets.

In our short history, the recapitalized Glamis continues to differentiate itself from the rest of the junior sector with our light oil, high net back production base, concentrated assets, strong balance sheet, significant light oil resource play exposure and successful consolidation strategy.

Glamis Resources Ltd. is a uniquely positioned, well-capitalized junior oil and gas company with a proven management team committed to aggressive, cost-effective growth of light oil reserves and production in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Glamis' Class A Shares and Class B Shares trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbols GLM.A and GLM.B, respectively. Glamis currently has 47,390,474 Glamis Shares and 922,500 Class B shares outstanding. Glamis anticipates that it will have approximately 273.4 million Glamis Shares outstanding following the completion of the Acquisitions, the Financing and the previously announced rights offering and private placement.


The securities offered have not been and will not be registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or applicable exemption from the registration requirements. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.


This press release contains forward-looking statements. More particularly, this press release contains statements concerning the anticipated dates for the closing of the disclosed transactions and the anticipated accretive impact of the transactions on Glamis.

The forward-looking statements contained in this document are based on certain key expectations and assumptions made by Glamis, including: (i) with respect to the anticipated closing dates of the transactions, expectations and assumptions concerning timing of receipt of required shareholder, court and regulatory approvals and third party consents and the satisfaction of other conditions to the completion of the transactions and (ii) with respect to the anticipated accretive impact of the transaction on Glamis, expectations and assumptions concerning the success of future drilling and development activities, the performance of existing wells, the performance of new wells and prevailing commodity prices.

Although Glamis believes that the expectations and assumptions on which the forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because Glamis can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. Since forward-looking statements address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks. These include, but are not limited to, the failure to obtain necessary regulatory approvals or satisfy the conditions to closing the transactions, risks associated with the oil and gas industry in general (e.g., operational risks in development, exploration and production; delays or changes in plans with respect to exploration or development projects or capital expenditures; the uncertainty of reserve estimates; the uncertainty of estimates and projections relating to production, costs and expenses, and health, safety and environmental risks), commodity price and exchange rate fluctuations and uncertainties resulting from potential delays or changes in plans with respect to exploration or development projects or capital expenditures. Certain of these risks are set out in more detail in Glamis' Annual Information Form which has been filed on SEDAR and can be accessed at

The forward-looking statements contained in this document are made as of the date hereof and Glamis undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless so required by applicable securities laws.


When used in this press release, boe means a barrel of oil equivalent on the basis of 1 boe to 6 thousand cubic feet of natural gas. Boepd means a barrel of oil equivalent per day.

Boe's may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation. A boe conversion ratio of 1 boe for 6 thousand cubic feet of natural gas is based on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead.


Monday, 20 July 2009

Pursuit of Athletics down, Work up...

Two press releases below should explain why.

Numero Uno:
Jul 20, 2009 07:01 ET - TransAlta proposes an all-cash offer to acquire Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. for $4.55 per share

Numero Dos:
July 20, 2009
Canadian Hydro Comments on TransAlta's Announcement of Intention to Make an Unsolicited Offer and Advises Its Shareholders Not to Take Any Action Until Further Notice

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 20, 2009) - Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. (Canadian Hydro or the Company) (TSX:KHD) confirms that it is aware of the announcement by TransAlta Corporation (TransAlta) that TransAlta intends to make an unsolicited offer at $4.55 per share. Canadian Hydro advises shareholders not to take any action until further notice.

"Consistent with its fiduciary duties, the Board of Directors of Canadian Hydro has formed a Special Committee of independent directors," said Kent Brown, Chief Executive Officer. "In consultation with its independent financial and legal advisors, the Special Committee will carefully review and evaluate the formal take-over offer when it is made by TransAlta, and will recommend to the Board the course of action that is in the best interests of Canadian Hydro and its shareholders."

Canadian Hydro advises shareholders not to take any action concerning the proposal until shareholders have received further communications from the Board of Directors. After the commencement of the offer by TransAlta, as required by applicable securities laws, the Board will issue a Directors' Circular. The Circular will contain important information for shareholders, including the Board's recommendation regarding the offer for the action it believes is in the best interest of shareholders. The Directors' Circular will also be filed on SEDAR and with Canadian securities regulators.

Canadian Hydro has retained FirstEnergy Capital Corp. and Societe Generale as financial advisors to provide financial advice in connection with the offer. Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP are Canadian counsel to Canadian Hydro. Laurel Hill Advisory Group has been retained as information agent.

About Canadian Hydro

"Recognized as one of Jantzi/Maclean's Top 50 Responsible Corporations in Canada"

Canadian Hydro is committed to Building a Sustainable Future(R). The Company is the largest and most diversified developer, owner, and operator of 21 renewable energy generation facilities in Canada totaling net 694 MW of capacity in operation, 185 MW in and nearing construction, and 1,624 MW in development. The renewable generation portfolio is diversified across three technologies (water, wind, and biomass) in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. This portfolio is unique in Canada as all facilities are certified, or slated for certification, under Environment Canada's EcoLogo(M) Program.

Questions may also be directed to the information agent: Laurel Hill Advisory Group
Common shares outstanding: 143,661,223
Advisory Respecting Forward-Looking Statements:This news release contains certain forward-looking information and statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws.The use of any of the words "expect", "anticipate", "continue", "estimate", "objective", "ongoing", "may", "will", "project", "should", "believe", "plans", "intends", "confident", "might" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking information or statements. Various assumptions were used in drawing the conclusions or making the projections contained in the forward-looking statements throughout this news release. The forward looking information or statements in this news release relate to, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the results of any evaluation of the take-over proposal by TransAlta and any course of action Canadian Hydro may undertake in response to the take-over proposal by TransAlta. The forward-looking information and statements included in this news release are not guarantees of future performance and should not be unduly relied upon. Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated and described in the forward-looking statements. Such information and statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking information or statements. The forward-looking information and statements contained in this news release speak only as of the date of this news release, and the Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revised them to reflect new events or circumstances, except as may be required pursuant to applicable securities laws.

Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.
Investor RelationsKathy Boutin, Chief Financial Officer
(403) 298-0256
Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.
Media Relations
Darryl Warren, Manager, Marketing & Communications
(403) 806-8143
INDUSTRY: Energy and Utilities - Utilities, Energy and Utilities - Pipelines

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Cold Turkey Canmore Triathlon

Today I completed my first triathlon, an olympic distance one in Canmore. I thank people who are into tri's for encouraging me to try one. It was fun, the three sport mix was a neat departure from what I usually do. Results of the event are here. I hope to use this knowledge, and a little prep time if I can fit it in, to make the upcoming Calgary 70.3 more fun, and have it feel more like an athletic accomplishment, than just feeling like I got dragged through it like a rag doll.

Shawn and I survived the swim, I did a slow and plodding transition then hopped on the bike, which felt like autopilot and home sweet home. I actually didn't ride well as my overall energy is low, but considering where I came out of the water, it wasn't hard to feel like a rock star. Shawn and I rode into the second transition basically at the same time, as he rode faster.

The run transition was snappier, and after the first few kilometers, settled into the pace that would work. Eventually Shawn passed me at his sustainable rate... and before I knew it, it was over.

Shawn was 2:45 ish and I don't know mine, but 5+- mins more a decent guess.

We watched Claire on her run lap and finish, and cheered her on. She says her day felt good but was slower, either way she looked good out there, some people look so overstrained.

Hooper was our moral support and alpha male for the day blazing it like the well rounded athlete he is, compared to us fish out of water cyclists. Matt Aufricht was all smiles this morning and cheered us on, and apparently there were Cindy Koo sightings, but not by me... maybe I was to waterlogged to see straight.

That's the outside view, and a good intro to the sport. Fun time, nice doing it with friends, good organization (maybe too organized in a few ways for my tastes, but it seems necessary I admit), pretty straight and narrow meal after (tri people don't do fat content apparently). Some took it very seriously, but some were conversational yet competitive. Nice day, and at least the early start meant most of it was done before it heated up too much.

The inside Erik view was a little different. Last Friday, I was so tired from my week that I slept from just after 6pm to 9am Saturday. I really wish I could have done the same last night. Instead we retired at near 11, and were up just after 5. Somehow when I signed up for the race, I was oblivious to the morning start requirements. To be honest, I wouldn't want to do that again. My life is under rested as it is. My athletic life this year is a total joke, working excessively before and after every race, inability to prep, blah blah. I love sports but this is making me love it less having everything by default be an "odds stacked against you" suffer fest. I like the "odds with me" suffer fests. When I'm prepared. When I'm not beaten down. I haven't even done a single weekday bike ride this year other than commuting - my "training" is either 20 mins a day crap or stage races. Whatever, I'll work on it, it's my life afterall. This stuff just speeds up the timeline for the "solution".

Whether today was a bike race, or something new like a tri, I knew it was gonna be slower and hurt. I thought I started near the back, and waited for people to go, but once we were swimming, more people were behind me than I could figure out. To avoid the logjam I just moved over to the side.

The wetsuit was pleasant, I loved lake swimming. That was my favourite part, although probably toughest. But somehow my belly got full of air and miscellaneous water "inhaled" which didn't feel good. Made me slow and uncomfortable relative to the pool thing the other day. Anyway, it's of course the kind of back of pack performance I'd expect considering the lack of preparation.

Bike was nice, other than my saddle "fix" to get the stripped tilt adjustment on the seatpost didn't work, so I had tilty saddle. The belly full stuff didn't seem to alleviate on the bike.

The run was fun, I just did some slow plod pace. Hilly, my legs will be sore.

I have to drive back, maybe do some packing, and join Tori for one of her going away parties... as long as I can stay awake.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

M&A, Triathlon - not really training

I'm doing my first ever triathlon, an olympic distance this Saturday in Canmore. Shawn Bunnin lured me into this, and I believe his girlfriend lured him in. It was an easy sell as I figured doing an olympic distance a couple of weeks ahead of this half iron man I signed up for would probably be wise.

Tori expressed great loving concern that I a) have not swam in probably 15 years, which may seem like an exaggeration, but it's not. Tori can attest to the fact that I don't even like getting wet if I can help it, which was interesting on our prior Hawaiian vacations, and b) didn't want me to drown. "Practice" hasn't entered my life as before and after BC Bike Race I've been a) working 18 hour days, and b) moving my house.

Those a's and b's are a far cry from the regimented brick workouts popular among triathlon circles, and anyone with half a brain who's also not employed as an investment banker.

Tori is right that I shouldn't drown. I don't know why, either hubris or niavetee, but I figured I could swim that far. She wanted me to prove it in something other than a deep lake.

The deal was for me to swim first. But the other deal, that's been on the back, front and side burners in varying arrangement for a long while, was coming to a head today. Tori waited for 45 minutes past my expected arrival time because she understands. Good news is, the drawn out meetings ended with a handshake deal. Perfecto.

Tonight we went to Bankers Hall club, and I managed to swallow water, tire out muscles I haven't used in ages (if ever) and in the process, swim 40 minutes of front crawl uninterrupted. When I say uninterrupted that needs to be qualified with the fact that I don't remember from teenage swim club how to do those fancy end of pool turns. I have recollections of "being made to swim forever" or something to that effect when I was 12 and 13. I bet it wasn't actually very much total time, it probably just felt like it. I hazard to guess this may have been the longest swim of my life. Tori was faster than me every single lap.

Provided my arms don't fall off, which feels like a real possibility at this point, I think I can avoid drowning.

Further to this, I ran at lunch (only on a treadmill) which was more of a challenge getting away from my desk than the actual running. A few intervals were thrown in, and (by treadmill to reiterate and qualify) I ran a 48 minute 10k. I've done quite a bit better than that in the past, as I calculate my best 10k ever was actually a pro-rated portion of a 16k I did once. I don't have a bloody clue how it feels to do one after swimming and biking. Under an hour would be nice ; )

These are doing nothing for my performance Saturday at this point, they're just alleviating potential uncertainty and post race soreness. I know I can ski, tele ski, snowboard and bike on a second's notice. Running is just running, you can't really wipe out or drown, you can just be sore after if you haven't ramped up. You can be slow and poor and injured, but it's not often that you just can't make it 10k. Swimming was a question mark of sorts.

Triathlon seems to require way more trying than cycling. But I'm biking home soon just to complete the trio of events.

Norma Bastidas

I had the opportunity to meet Norma Bastidas a few times over the last year or so at various FirstEnergy functions and socials - she was Brett Wilson's date/guest or whatever that fine line is for a while. We hit it off on the idle conversation front - first thing you may notice is the pretty face and smile... often in business settings that equates to the stereotype of trophy girl... but the old don't judge a book by it's cover didn't take long to come through. Norma is motivated and hardcore... which I began to understand when we got to talking endurance events. The endurance events I pursue are sort of like drops in her bucket! I don't consider my pursuits to be too out there, as every time I line up at a start, there's hundreds next to me, but in a corporate setting, it's not overly often I fall into the subjugate category of those conversations.

I take many things from this story, as will others find their connection to it. One I hope to follow more is not to use percieved difficulty or bodily strain as a screening tool for potential courses of action, events, etc. Shying away from physical duress is analagous to bordem in this guys view... humans are resilient, and we can do more than we think we can. The size of a body as observed from the outside is no measure of what's inside... as this petite (~100lbs!) Mexican demonstrates. Nike was right on one thing... just do it.

I've pasted the below article from the Calgary Sun today, link is here, but if they change their archiving later I don't want to link to some dead link I can't find in the future, so sorry for the plagarism. If you read their version, it has more pictures, and proper paragraphs and such.

Six in the City July 14, 2009 - Kelly Doody

The story of single mom Norma Bastidas and the 777 Run for Sight

“So many people are raising kids with visual conditions while being legally blind themselves, so I hardly feel like I’m the hero in this story. My mission is to spread the word about these amazing individuals.”Truly life-changing interviews don’t come along all that often. I’m talking about the kind that leave you wondering whether you could ever have an impact on the world that would compare to the person you’re speaking with. In the words of my mom, shortly after I finished telling her the tale I’m about to tell you, 'it almost doesn’t sound real.'It begins with the ending, in an internet cafĂ© in Italy. The place Page Six caught up with a lady we’d like to proclaim the Calgarian of the Decade, if we may. Her name is Norma Bastidas. You may remember her as the local mom who was setting out on a little series of long runs a few months ago to raise funds towards fighting her 13-year-old son Karl’s degenerative eye condition called Cone Rod Dystrophy – a devastating diagnosis for which there is currently no cure. As it turns out, Ms. Norma didn’t just go for a few runs, and she didn’t just raise a few dollars. As of Saturday, she became the second person in history to have successfully completed seven grueling ultra marathons on all seven of the world’s unforgiving continents in seven short months. And so far, she has also managed to raise close to $140,000 in support of Operation Eyesight Universal, CNIB and Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“Today, July 11th about 12:58pm Switzerland time, I crossed the finish line of my last race in the 777 Run For Sight.”Far from unfamiliar with hardship, Norma was born in Mazatlan, Mexico, became a twenty-something daytime television star in Japan, escaped an unhealthy marriage in the United States, landed in Canada in 1993 with her two sons in tow and hasn’t looked back since. The single mom on a mission dealt with the emotional stress of her son’s diagnosis two years ago by starting to run. And once she started running, well, she never stopped.A self-described ‘Mexican running wild’ but too humble to ever call herself an athlete, Norma registered for her first ‘ultra’ in 2007 with only one half and one full marathon under her belt. It was a grueling 125 km trek with 17,000 feet of elevation change over three mountain summits that left her hypothermic on a mountaintop and unable to finish. But it also managed to plant the question in her mind: If she could run 94 km without any real training, how far was she capable of going with a little preparation? Everywhere from the thickest tropical jungles to the windiest tundra plains to the driest deserts in the world, as it turns out, all in support of the blind and visually impaired.

“I felt like Forrest Gump in his movie where he is being chased by the bullies and he literally runs free from his leg braces. All of a sudden the heaviness of my legs lifted allowing me to run and run.”No. 1: South America“I could barely stand up, fatigue just overtook me. I hit my first major low when I reached 160 km, my toenail now ripping from my toe and I thought I was going to pass out from the excruciating pain.”The Brazil 135 Ultra Marathon began on January 23, 2009 and ended two days later, where the plane leaving Sao Paolo that would take Norma through Cape Town, South Africa to a Russian research station in Antarctica was waiting. Antarctica, after all, was where the next 100 km – ultra marathon number two – was waiting to be run. But finishing all 217 km of the Brazil Ultra had to happen in less than 48 hours for her to make the flight south. No. 2: Antarctica“The worst thing I could do was to be beaten mentally. Then and there I decided to fight hard until the end. I also decided to be smarter and not to try and keep up with everybody, just to run my race.”Nothing like a quick recovery to successfully complete a blistering cold 100 km run four days later.Marking the course and officiating the one-woman race at the South Pole was Richard Donovan – the only other person on the planet to run seven races in seven continents in a single calendar year. No. 3: North America“I had many emotions during my run today, doubt has been consuming me more than ever, maybe because I didn't anticipate the ripple effect of such a quest.”Number three took Norma north, but nowhere near a jungle this time. It was the 6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon in the Arctic from March 13-16. Proclaimed as the ‘toughest, coldest, windiest extreme ultra marathon on the planet’, it was a non-stop, self-sufficient 193 km race across the Arctic Circle, with racers pulling their provisions on sleds while running from Eagle Plains, Yukon to the banks of the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk.No. 4: Australia“When I was planning the races, I wanted it to be the most difficult challenge my body and my mind could ever imagine. I lay here in my sleeping bag feeling sad with the possibility of not being able to accomplish this.”Australia was the next continent to be conquered, which had Norma embarking on a 160 km, 48-hour race known as the Mind Alpine Skyrun Ultra Marathon from March 28-30. In Australia she repeats Bon Jovi’s line ‘Wake Up, wherever you are, this is the life you are supposed to be living,’ forces herself to be a pillar of positive thoughts through the constant pain and discomfort, and wraps her head around the race at hand. No. 5: Africa“Like my best friend from Calgary Nadia Larsson said once when I had a hard time in a race, ‘Run strong and when your legs can't carry you any longer, run with mine.’ Well Nadia, hope you are ready for tomorrow.”With four down, three to go, Norma jetted to Africa for the Namibia 24-Hour Ultra Marathon from May 17-23. For 126 km she ran day and night across a vast expanse of desert, gravel plains, distant ridges and mountains. Barely breaking a sweat, we think, the faces of her kids squarely in her mind and her determination never faltering for a moment. No. 6: Asia“I told myself it’s only pain and to stop thinking of it as a 240K race. Just think about the next check point.”The Gobi March was next up. A run that saw Norma cover 242 km across Gobi, China from June 17-20. As in the Gobi Desert. What Norma calls a ‘tough day in Gobi’ involved a 41.2 km run with a climb in elevation of 1,175 feet, a canyon with ladders, river crossings, narrow mountain ridges, winds so fierce they’d pick up her 105 lb frame and throw her over and a debilitating virus and antibiotics to top it all off. Then there was the blistering heat followed by frigid cold, the blisters, sprains, injuries and dehydration. There was the reality of a seven-day race with no shower, bed, toilet, food or water stations and 49-degree C heat. Just a tent and the dehydrated dinner she carried on her back. No. 7: Europe“Through the three hours of my run, the last few months played out in my head like a movie. Sleep deprivation in Brazil, the pain in Namibia, the laughter in the tent in Gobi, all the amazing moments I have experienced – it was too grand to ignore.Which made last week’s Swiss Jura Marathon from July 5-11 – sweet number seven – seem like a walk in the park. Well, sort of. It was, after all, still a rather daunting 175 km jaunt through the Alps.But with slightly fewer desert-induced blisters to lance, less mush-in-a-bag for dinner and no endless sand dune expanse out front, to Norma it was home free…

“I now feel this is as much a part of my life as being at home with my kids is, and I’m sure I can never go back to an office job again.”An instrumental player in getting Norma’s 777 Run for Sight mission off the ground was Calgary businessman Brett Wilson. At the time she took off for race number one, the two were dating. Today the pair share a friendship that runs a lot deeper than most, including a sense of accomplishment in one truly remarkable fundraising feat.“What she set out to do was change the world in terms of awareness around blindness related causes,” Brett told Page Six following Norma’s final race. “She’s done her part, and she’s done an amazing job. Now it’s up to the viral world to step up.”A great deal of the money raised to date came from Wilson’s recent Garden Party – a 600-person affair in his Mount Royal backyard featuring singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, who treated guests to a performance so intimate and uplifting it left the girls teary and the boys gape-jawed. “We raised double what I had expected,” said the Dragon’s Den star. “Some said it had to do with Sarah, but it was entirely Norma and her cause.”

“I arrived from Geneva to Basel seven days later forever changed. I am still the same mom worrying about her son who has an incurable eye condition but instead of feeling despair I am now full of hope.”While Wilson did his part to call on friends and colleagues to take note of the cause, it was The Bolt Supply House and owner John McCann who’s been Norma’s key sponsor from day one. “Now here is an amazing story,” said Norma. “Bolt Supply sponsored my series not because they wanted to convince people to buy their fancy products, but for the simple fact that they believe in investing in the community.”Thanks to the sponsorship, the pressure came off and she was able to properly train to complete the feat. And by train, we’re talking running a marathon or two a day. Lililime Boutique co-owner Denise Browne-Vervloet counts herself among the legions of Norma Bastidas mega-fans across Calgary and beyond. “What she’s doing is letting everyone know that in order to beat this disease for her son, she’s fighting it with her heart,” said Denise. “What he’s going through in one sense, she’s going through in a physical sense.”

“In the end, somehow instead of feeling like it's the end of a story I am left feeling like this is the beginning of something wonderful.”And for Norma, it certainly does come back to the story of her kids. The moment she was finally able to call home after running the ultra in Antarctica only to hear her younger son Hans excitedly announce he’d just shaved three seconds off his freestyle swimming race, she said, made her forget all about her own frostbitten feet. “I have been going all over the world just to reinforce what I already know. The best place in the world for me is home. Just like Nelson Mandela once said, the world is truly round and it seems to start and end with those we love.”For a woman whose favourite poem is Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken,’ it’s no surprise which way she went when the two roads diverged in a wood. Norma took the one less traveled, and it has already made all the difference. To show your support for this amazing Calgarian and her incredible accomplishment or to read more on the 777 Run for Sight in Norma’s own words, head to

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Moving Weekend

Tori and I spent this weekend shuttling back and forth moving the numerous belongings we've picked up over the years that we probably don't need. After a full day of that on Saturday, I worked Saturday night till 10pm then woke up at 7am to put some finishing touches on materials needed for an 8am conference call that went for 2 hours. This generally felt un-awesome.

After moving for another 6 hours, I crashed uncontrollably on the couch for 3 hours of deep sleep that felt needed.

It feels weird not even touching a bike this weekend.

What is moving like with Tori? Great, as long as you abide by a few rules, such as proper treatment for Tori's friends.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

House Renovation 1

I'll officially call this house renovation post number one, as finally there are tangible items that look like a house renovation might actually be under way. In reality we're 18 months into it already between lawyers, architects and the city, and my family and Tori and I have already put in a lot of work. Trust me, I'm a guy who likes tangible action more than that kind of waiting around stuff.

It looks like in the next 10 days or so we'll be out of our house. A big new garage will house up to 2 cars and a workshop, but really you know this will be one car, a motorcycle, a dozen or more bicycles and various outdoor gear.

The house will be stripped down to the 2x4's. Currently its a 1952 quality of insulation, windows and wiring structure with one real bathroom, one crummy downstairs bathroom, an office, two small bedrooms, and one master bedroom. Our doors don't fit shut well anymore as the hinges are old and crooked in many places. It's cold in the winter. Our 1950's kitchen with friction sliding drawers just doesn't seem up to snuff with what's available these days.

We'll update everything to 2009 mid to upper end quality, including 3 full bathrooms, a workout room where our existing garage is, a master bedroom with attached master bathroom, and much of the original layout in similar fashion. The kitchen should end up much nicer than before, with more modern cabinetry. Insulation and windows should be much more snug during Calgary's winters. Tori definitely hopes our future roof won't leak.

We won't be going over the top, as in the end, it'll still be only about a 1,900 square foot of livable space split level versus about 1,400 now (both including downstairs) in a modest community near the university and a busy road... if we wanted to go over the top there's plenty of ritzy areas of the city to move to. That's not us, we'll focus our dollars more on future free time and adventures on two wheels. I promise.

I'm probably going to cut back on my riding for a couple of weeks, hard to fit moving in with riding and my work. I'm glad I have some stage race fitness - today was 8 hours of non-stop motion - hauling, chopping, carrying, pulling, pushing and general energy exertion in the house, moving things to the car, and in the yard. I'm bagged.

Mess waiting to be organized and moved.
Kitchen contents in the process of being organized and moved.

Living room being moved.

No more side gate (on either side, this was the easier one to move as I didn't put in the posts).

View of where the future garage will be from the roof... lots of mess right now.

No more window well bricks.
No more trees at the back wall.
Two big pine trees gone from the back, and a big mess instead.
No more patio bricks.

But here's some new landscaping on one side, a surprise after BCBR courtesy of mom and dad who bought a bunch of new plants, moved some trees and bricks in my yard, and contributed a lot of sweat to the project!

And a new hedge in the making.

The rest of the plants from the front of the house are gone too.
The bike room no longer has bikes or the rubber gym floor.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Back from the BCBR/Back in the BCBR

The financial train wreck has hit my bottom line, but one of the first orders of business upon returning to the dreaded "real world" was my 6 month review. Bonus pool didn't turn up empty... always a good thing.

After that it was work till midnight, which happened again the next day, and I fear may happen again tonight. You know how I start "rough" at stage races? Try transitioning between two very different lifestyles on a moment's notice. Not easy... not easy at all. I often need a few days to get revved up.

Anyway, my 2010 calendar is firming up. I have officially registered for BC Bike Race 2010 as a solo, but that's really just a placeholder for the earlybird pricing. That's an awesome event. I'm indifferent between solo and a great partner, since I've had the pleasure of riding with many of my friends. Having said that, this race certaily isn't one that "needs" a partner as much as some of the others. Either way I know I'll be in the accompanyment of many deadgoats, and maybe even a Bici guy.

I've also signed up for the Wildside 2010 in Tasmania in January. Long flight, but hey, life is short. Should be fun. If not, I'm probably doing something wrong.

I've been emailing with the organizers of the Glacensis MTB Challenge in Poland. Their entries are only 25% of the 2008 version right now, and he's contemplating a reduced course for 2010. We'll see, but I'm definitely interested. Trans Provence was brought to my attention too...

I don't have much interesting to say post BCBR as I'm working too much... nothing like coming home from a riding vacation and facing three back to back 18 hour days. Crappy... but do yourself a favour and check out Cory Wallace's blog from the right hand link. Cory is a machine if there ever was one... who else finishes treeplanting, takes a week or whatever off, then rides from Jasper to Bragg Creek to do our club's Summer Solstice race and places third, then heads down to Breckenridge to dish it out in the Breck Epic. Stage 2 time 5 minutes behind Jeremiah Bishop for a guy that was treeplanting as training? Nothing but badass...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

James Larter, March 4, 1976 - July 6, 2009

I grew up next door to little brother John Larter (meaning my age) and his older brother James for 15 years when I first moved to Calgary. I never beat him in a kids wrestling match, go figure. He, John and I took turns at Calgary city championships in wrestling for years, different weight categories of course. A true competitor and good motivator at that point. It seemed to grow to be more than sport for James, he probably loved fighting/combat analagous to my love of cycling. Last time we spoke he was recovering from a broken neck and sinus cavity from one of the full contact fighting matches that have become popular... and I think I have bad days when my legs are bleeding after miscellanous mountain bike scrapes. I have no idea what happened in the end, all I know is that my time in the vicinity of physical conflict/combat, whether it be sport or otherwise, has been very small in comparison to the time James spent exploring that realm. Similarly his time spent in the vicinity of traffic on bicycles is infinitely smaller.

My condolences to the Larter family and especially buddy John. Will see everyone Friday.

Am I surprised? Hey, one day I may be mowed down by a car while riding my bike. Would that surprise anyone? Shock and sadness? Yes. True surrprise? I guess I can't say so, but that's just my view of the world.

Same end, different path, guided by passion.

James, Rest in PEACE.

LARTER , James Dale March 4, 1976 - July 6, 2009 James Dale Larter of Calgary went to be with his Lord and Saviour on July 6, 2009 at the age of 33 years. He will be lovingly remembered by his daughter Monique; father John and mother Matilda; sister Tara and her husband Evan; brother John and his wife Danit and his nephew JohnJohn; as well as numerous relatives and friends whose lives he truly touched. Although our hearts are broken beyond repair, because of our faith in Christ we declare "Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" I Cor. 15:54b-55. Memorial Services will be held at CALGARY CREMATORIUM CHAPEL, 3219 - 4 Street N.W., (within the valley of Queen's Park Cemetery) on Friday, July 10, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

CALGARY - A downtown resident critically wounded in a stabbing early Saturday has since died of his injuries. James Dale Larter, 33, died in hospital Monday, police confirmed this morning.
There are few details about the case, which began about 4:50 a.m. Saturday when police responded to a disturbance inside a condo building in the 1000 block of 6th Avenue S.W. When they arrived, they found Larter lying in a hallway. The killing is Calgary's 15th homicide of 2009.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

BC Bike Race Day 7 and wrapup thoughts

Whistler's day 7 is very much like a cross country race - lots of climbing, less gnarly technical than other days, and fast overall.

We start with a 30 minute climb, and just a few minutes in we're hike-a-biking up some steep gravel pitch. I took this as my one opportunity to walk up to Craig and Shawn this week to say hi. We were flying on the descent, passed a few teams who'd yield after hearing how quick we came up from behind on the switchback descents. Fun times.

About half way into the stage, we came around an easy smooth corner in the single track, and the guy in front of me braked quite a bit. I jammed mine on to avoid bumping him, and the combination of having my wheel turned and the sudden braking burped the air out of my front tire. Darn. Tried airing it up, but needed a tube as the tire bead had too much soil and pine needles in it.

We lost a few minutes, but picked much of it up again by increasing our pace. Lots of little power climbs, fun singletrack, etc.

We saw nobody ahead of us or behind us at the end, so took the last 1.5km downhill pretty easy, no sense having something easily avoidable happen.

We ended up 12th for the week, which is good for us, especially given a few mishap stops along the way. Speaking from the side of the equation that I can - I had fun this week, enjoyed the riding, and enjoyed riding with Devin. We didn't try to wrap used inner tubes around each others necks in the middle of the night, so I guess that's evidence of a positive partner experience. Having the gang there is icing on the cake too always.

Tori was second for the week, and Craig and Shawn 7th. Pat and Geoff were second.

This race is a true mountain bike race moreso than any I've done. This can't be won on pure aerobic capacity alone, you need to be able to ride a mountain bike nimbly on challenging terrain. Regardless of anyone's finishing position, we all feel like we've come out of this a better mountain biker. Smoother, faster, and able to ride more difficult terrain without hesitation. I love it. There's no better singletrack experience I've had packed into 7 days of riding than this event.

Race Organization:

I mean this as constructive observation from the eyes of a guy who's seen quite a few of these things, especially since this is a high price bracket race. The basics here are covered. Absolutely unparalleled course, although I'm surprised at how much it has been shortened overall - this is more like multi day long-ish XC racing than a typical "stage race", and there were a few course marking issues. One spot in particular could have had a marshall - when you have the potential to easily cut off a large portion of the course... probably should keep everyone going the right way. Markings were good enough to keep me on course the whole time at least. Good race aid stations, good start and end camps. Bike washes were good and a non-issue. Bike transport/security were good and a non-issue.

There was a lot of change in other items, moreso than I've seen in a year over year normal race change before. Sign in on day 0 was long and crowded. Legal waivers can be done online, and racers can print off barcode pages from their computers afer all their info is collected - other races run this way so you just show up with a piece of paper to scan by the organizers - collecting handwritten info is redundant and unnecessary in this day and age. The Costa Ricans at La Ruta have excellent sign on procedure - you're in and out with all your swag, race bag, registration items and so forth in mere minutes, including any extras, not 2-3 hours. This should be standard practice at races of this size (and cost).

Basics like timing and awards were off - this is a third year event and this should be nailed now, no questions asked. Right times, right podiums, and for crying out loud, some of the overall podiums for the week weren't recognized and their rightful trophies given to the stage 7 podium... are you kidding me? This is a stage race. Lowest cumulative time over a week wins. Who cares about day 7 times, I thought the racers were going to riot until they started getting it right half way through. That still meant some had no recourse. Some exchanged trophies to their rightful owners on their own... cheers to them.

Logistics of this one are tough by nature, which has added difficulty of booking massages that jive with race finish, dinner and transportation. More accurate info on the logistics allows better informed bookings so people don't lose their spots or miss things. Racers understand economic cycles and the need to have a race be economically viable - school busses over highway coaches makes sense. One leader jersey style so all categories look the same which cuts back on number of jersey sizes printed makes sense. Only one shower truck which seemed to need operator attention somewhat continually to run vs. two reliable trucks last year is something most people wouldn't want to see happen again. Those trucks were "nicer" inside in some ways, but really, the other two truck, 5-6 stall ones were clean, hot, uninterrupted water, and were therefore better overall.

Food changed a bit, last year was excellent, this year was good. Put salt out - we're sweating under 30C+ days... it was hard to find. Two meals were cut out - day zero dinner (or was this an optional add on last year?) and the final banquet were cut. Very light overall on photos/slideshows/race briefings by anything other than voice. I'm mixed on this - it's neat to see what can be done with google earth at some of the other races, but really it's just get out and ride. But cutting both the prepared racecourse book out and the daily course briefings was a bit harsh - keep at least one. Most people want to know where they're going and how long it'll be. I acknowledge the course queue sheets - they were good most days but a few (one at least, maybe 2) were quite off.

A finishers t-shirt? Standard and missed on that one.

These events are costly for racers and costly to organize - a tough proposition, and perfection isn't attainable. However it's fair for someone paying these kind of entry fees to expect a few more of the basics to be executed better. That's a few thoughts, hopefully they're constructive. Organizations grow, have economic conditions both internal (they're funding structures) and external (general economy and people's willingness to pay), but generally, improvement should be seen year over year in the basics.

I'm generally price insensitive on these - all the above aren't issues if you come in fast each stage. The price of admission for me is worth it just for the riding alone - it'd be impossibel to replicate such quality and quantity of exposure in 7 days otherwise.

Friday, 3 July 2009

BC Bike Race day 6 - Squamish technical

After Shawn talked us into walking to find the river last night, our legs were all feeling good.  Unfortunately Devin woke up with a sore throat and cold, so we rode whatever pace he wanted to ride today.  It worked out well, we had a good day of riding, reeled in people until we were at "our" place in the group. 

Todays trails were great, hard climbs and hard downhills.  Loved it.  Heat played a role today, emptied a few people out.

Towards the end I buggered up my prescription glasses, so rode in last few kilometers without correction - that ratcheted up the challenge a little.

Tori had a harder day, looks like Tom Ebbern broke his collar bone, Craig and Shawn had another good day.

I love this kind of technical that divides the group out.

Wound up doing another trip down to the river, then watching Ryan Leech do a trials demonstration which was awesome to watch in person.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

BC Bike Race Day 5

Today was shortened either for logistics or to please those who found yesterday too long, so we slept in a half an hour which was much appreciated.

Neutral start let us warm up a bit before the first climb, at which time I found out I was feeling pretty good today as I climbed with a good group.  Usually on the climbs its a safe assumption that Devin is just softpedalling behind me at half throttle, but today he was feeling more fatigue so for the remainder of the day the pace we rode his comfortable pace. 

Really nice singletrack climbing in shaded forests which made the heat a non issue.  We rode about an hour with Alyson Sydor and Leaha Davidson, they ride a smart pace and are fun to ride with.  Alyson (btw, no idea if I'm spelling that right, but I know a few spelled that way) is smooth as silk on the flowy singletrack, as is Leaha, but Leaha didn't have the love of skinnies quite the same so she walked a few. 

Fortunately the last 45 minutes is beautiful singletrack descending on Highway 102 which is super fun for everyone - it's all rideable, just people will take their own pace (versus some other parts like north shore day 1 where not everyone is comfortable).  I suspect the bee might like it quite a bit.

Devin and I had probably close to our best day in some respects - no bike issues and just steady pace.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

BC Bike Race Day 4

Here's the short and sweet for Canada day.

Woke up way too early after a surprisingly cold night to start our bus-ferry-bus-ferry voyage.  Tried to sleep along the way a bit, had a nice breakfast, and upon final arrival, did have a little warmup time.

Started well today, just held a pace up the hill, and ended up staying in a better group.  The other day we rode singletrack behind Alyson Sydor for a while, that was a treat.  Today on the hillclimb start they dropped off earlier, as did Hestler on a road bit.  Funny.  Felt nice to be riding better.  I'm learning a lot about sodium this year.  Ran down my stores to low again, getting better at recognizing symptoms and more importantly, prevention tricks.  Too bad I'm a slow learner.

We hammered through a lot of power climbs, endlessly so.  Rode with Ryan Trebon and Georgia Gould, for quite a while until...

Devin flatted again.  That's ok, only a few minute fix, but never fun having people whizzing by.  We put ourselves back together and trucked on, caught a bunch of them right away.  Few more on a hike a bike section, few more on the singletrack.  Got to riding with Ryan Trebon through the trees again, good stuff, fun to ride behind him. 

The day had two remaining salient points.  The race ended up being longer than represented by the organizers, which I'm ok with as you should never count on a short finish, just consider it a blessing when it comes and always keep energy reserves... but most people didn't like it.  Second, Devin flatted again.

We fixed that and sped in, so again it looks like "sans flats" we're roughly 10 mins behind Craig and Shawn, and we're in 12th still.  Better yet we rode solid and I felt pretty good.

Good karma is due though as I lent my backup pedals to a lady today who broke hers.

Craig and Shawn had their best day yet, Bee survived again in third, Geoff and Pat in second.  Mical and Jeff looked "challenged" when we passed them, but they held it together and came in very shortly past us.  My favourite part now that we're halfway in and 4 days of branding has taken effect is all kinds of people coming up and asking just who these deadgoats are, and why they're so fast.  Tori, Geoff and Pat are doing podiums daily, Craig and Shawn are seen regularly at the front, and Devin and I are doing what we can.  Awesome!

Aside from bike race banter, the weather has been awesome, our travelling caravan is in its midweek gel period, and everyone seems to be having a blast.