The growth of ultrarunning means so many things. One of the benefits is the addition of new race events. The Slickrock 100 kicks off its first year this Saturday at 7AM mountain standard time. It will offer three race distances of 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile. Aaron and Jenna Kissler have done a fine job so far with a solid event website, meaningful updates, and challenging course designs. For their efforts, the race is nearly sold out at all distances. Glancing at the elevation profile at 7,800 ft climb for the 100 miler, one may think this is an easy course. Anyone who’s run the slickrock, sandy, exposed trails around Arches National Park near Moab, UT knows better. This will be a challenging run, no doubt. The course rolls, totally exposed to the elements, through red rock, over mesas, and by natural rock formations that inspired names such as, Coffin Rock, Crystal Geyser, Gemini Bridges, Poison Spider, Dead Horse, and the charming Hells Roaring.
Somewhat rare for a first year event is the amount and quality of awards. Relax, there’s no big prize money, so Salomon won’t be sending over their hit-men and women but there are some big guns traveling from both sides of the US and from many places in between. Awards for the 100 mile event include (from the website): “1st Place Men’s, Women’s, and Masters receive pair of Salomon shoes, free entry into next year’s race, free entry into Mohican 100 M and more. All finishers receive shirt, 100M belt buckle and more.” The 50 mile and 50k have similar awards – even finisher buckles for the 50 mile.
Some of the participants to watch for in the 100 mile race include:
Rhonda Claridge – Ophir, CO. Rhonda’s coming off an impressive 2nd place finish at Leadville as well as a 2nd place at the Bighorn 100 earlier this year. She’s consistent and tough and, as shown at the very runnable Leadville, should do well on this seemingly runnable course at Slickrock.
Leila DeGrave – Evergreen, CO. Leila also had an impressive run at Leadville, going sub 24 hours for 6th place and is a regular on the podium at shorter events like her solid Collegiate Peaks 50mi this year where she ran 8:25 for 2nd.
Ben Hian – Carlsbad, CA. Ben has been around the ultra scene since 1992. After an eight year leave of absence, he returned in 2008 and picked up right where he left off, which means fast and competitive. He won the San Diego 100 in 2009 but dropped from the same race in June this year. Earlier in the year he raced to the win at Rocky Road 100 in 16:42. He’s a little erratic but when he’s on, he’s on.
Glen Redpath – New York, NY. When I see or hear Glen’s name, I think “consistently fast”. Glen seems methodical in his racing. When he shows up, it matters. Just looking at the first six months of this year is illustrative of what I mean. He ran 14:47 at Ulmstead 100 (ran 14:27 there last year) for 3rd and, to show his strength in diversity, he spun a 16:57 at Western States. He has solid 100 mile experience and no terrain or elevation seems to affect him. I have no idea why I don’t have him picked to win. It will be a great race.
Ryan Burch – Fort Collins, CO. I’m not certain that Ryan is running. I’ve seen his name on one list but not another. If he does, he should run well coming off his breakout 100 at Leadville.
Corey Hanson – Bellvue, CO. Corey’s had a big year with solid runs that indicate a good shot at a podium finish here.
Scott Dickey – SLC, UT. Scott is a wild card. He has speed (3:36 at Red Rock 50k this year) but his longest race is just one 100k, which he won. 100 miles is a different world, so we’ll see whether he can transfer his light experience and endure the new distance.
After jinxing myself for Bear, I’ll leave myself off any predictions. I can say that I train every day on trails and environment exactly like Slickrock’s course (only I do it in 90-100 degrees) and I have a good “track” record for desert-style running. The key will be whether my body shows any wear from the heavy racing this summer. I feel good and ready but 100 miles has a way of exposing any weaknesses and then grinding you into the ground with steel-spiked shoes.
Comments welcome! Please share your thoughts and predictions.