Hellgate 100k Race Profile

Best Blood award from 2010 Hellgate. Photo: Keith Knipling

“*Be prepared for this section!!  It is long and tough.”

“*Be aware:  This is the second toughest section of the race.”

“*** This section will seem like it goes on forever.”

These are footnotes within the course description written by David Horton.  When Horton says something is tough and long, you best be listening and heed the advice.

This is the 9th running of the Hellgate 100k.  The race starts Friday night, er, Saturday morning at 12:01AM, so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the frozen ground, chilly water crossings, and 20 degree temps all while navigating through the pitch blackness, save for the ghostly hue from the full moon (given there are clear skies, that is).  Good for you if you’re fortunate enough to get some sleep Friday evening before the race.  For most, it will be a long time between rest from Friday morning until they finish sometime Saturday afternoon and into another evening for many.

The course is a monster point to point starting near Big Hellgate Creek in Rockbridge County, VA and traverses through the Jefferson National Forest, drunkenly following the Blueridge Parkway for 66 miles to the finish at Camp Bethel in (heh, heh) Wise, VA.  13,500 feet of gain and roughly the same amount of descent ensures you’ll have fond physical memories for days after the race.

Hellgate elevation profile. Credit: Keith Knipling.

For the men this year, watch for Frank Gonzales, Aaron Schwartzbard, and Jeremy Ramsey.  For the ladies, Amy Sproston makes the trip back East and should run uncontested.

Quad Dipsea – Stairway to Heaven

How do you improve the oldest trail race in America?  You run it four times, of course!

The Dipsea trail race began in 1905 and is still going strong after 106 years (missing only four years due to economy and war).  It starts in Mill Valley, CA and finishes at Stinson Beach.  With 671 steps leading up the side of Mt. Tamalpais to the highest point of Cardiac Hill, the course is challenging, to say the least.  A unique aspect of the race is the ability to choose from a variety of connecting paths to reach the finish, so familiarity with the area trails pays off. Lovers of the event were likely sitting around in November pining for June to roll around and the popular event to take place, so they came up with the Quad Dipsea in 1983, held initially as a fun run in ’83 and ’84.  The race is directed by UltraRunning Magazine publisher, John Medinger.

The Quad Dipsea, 28.4 miles, runs the Dipsea course in an out and back fashion, beginning in Mill Valley.  If you can believe it, there are 9,276 feet of climb packed into the bloated marathon-ish length course.  Imagine bounding down wet, wooden stairs after 4 hours of climbs and descents with your quads humming with fatigue.  Three men have run under four hours: Carl Anderson (four times), Erik Skaggs (twice), and just last year Leor Pantilat. Leor’s time of 3:54:29 was good enough to be the fourth fastest time in the event’s history, which has seen big named runners compete throughout the years.  Caren Spore, from Davis CA, broke the women’s record in 4:38:33 last year, a year that saw the additional challenges of a muddy, slick course.

A few of the 2,684 total steps in the race with Leor Pantilat. Photo: http://pantilat.wordpress.com/

This Saturday’s race will see both Leor and Caren returning to defend.  Last year’s 2nd place finisher, Gary Gellin, will again be in the mix, likely gunning to strip away the 2 mins 32 secs from last year’s finish to reach the coveted sub four hour time.  Consistently fast Leigh Schmitt should keep it interesting but the structure (CLIMB) of the course doesn’t play into his normal strength of fast, rolling courses.  Rumor has it that Leigh will pass up Quad Dipsea to be fresh for the North Face 50 the following weekend.

Unlike her “runaway” race last year, Caren Spore should be challenged by fellow Californian, Jennifer Pfeifer, and by midwesterner, Kim Holak, as long as Kim is healthy and fit.  She hasn’t raced much this year but is a fierce competitor when she does.

Happy Thanksgiving from Inside Trail to our American readers.  I’m thankful my resting month is almost over and I can begin training and racing again!  Have a great weekend on the trails.

 

JFK 50 Race Preview

Photo from Running Times 2003 article

49 years.  Other than some participants, not much is older in our sport of ultrarunning than the JFK 50 miler.  The event began as part of a series of challenges created by JFK to… well, you can read the brief history here.  The history of this race is remarkable, right down to the legends who loyally return most years for this classic, including Eric Clifton, Ed Ayres (In the 1977 photo left in the back with green singlet and 70 yrs old this year), and Ian Torrence.

Over 1,100 runners will be pounding the pavement, gravel toe path, and Appalachian Trail, starting in Boonsboro and finishing in Williamsport.  Weather in Maryland this time of year is unpredictable, at best.  Forecast  for race morning is a comfortably cool 50 degrees with partly cloudy skies, near perfect conditions for a fast race.  Race-addicted Michael Wardian returns this year presumably focused on redeeming himself for last year’s 6th place finish in 6:12.  Coming off two quick marathons run within seven days (2:26 and 2:22, both 2nd places), Wardian will toe yet another start line with a self-inflicted handicap, which must scrub at least some of his raw speed off his performance.  Poised to take advantage of the situation is last year’s 2nd place JFK finisher, David Riddle.  Riddle finished one minute off the win in 5:53, one of only two instances when he’s finished with anything lower than a win in his ultra career.  Of course, David will have to contend with several other speedy dudes, including Andrew Henshaw, who handed David his only other 2nd place finish earlier this year at Mad City 100k.

For the ladies, let’s ride the wave of Meghan Arbogast’s impressive season.  She’ll have her hands full in the rematch with the Blue Ridge Mountain runner, Annette Bednosky.  They did America proud at the 100k world champs, coming in 5th and 6th respectively.  The last time they raced JFK in 2009 they duked it out for 2nd and 3rd (behind Devon Crosby-Helms).  With the bulk number of participants, there’s always openings for new “unknowns” to break out.  One of my dark horse picks is Cassie Scallon.  Not an unknown by any stretch, but faded off the scene a bit this year until just last month with her win (overall) at Glacial Trail 50k.

Gook luck to all the runners at this classic!

Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Race Preview with Liza Howard

Photo: Event website

Finally!  Another 100 we can sink our teeth into.  With 384 participants, the Javelina Jundred has a solid depth of talent.  It’s been two years since Dave James blistered the six-loop course in his course record 14:20.  Last year saw Jamie Donaldson set the women’s course record of 17:11, nabbing 2nd overall in the process.  I’m not certain about Dave’s record but I feel good about Jamie’s record being eclipsed this year.  We’ll get to that in a moment.

Javelina gets under way at 6AM on Saturday November 12th in Fountain Hills, Arizona at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  The loop course is 15.4 miles, repeated six times reversing directions each lap.  A 9 mile loop adds up to the 101.4 mile total.  Though the total climb looks to be approximately 4,000 ft, the terrain includes several sandy wash areas, single track, and jeep roads.  The loop course lends itself to great spectating and easy crewing.  Ample food is on the menu with sub sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, along with all the staple ultra-fare.  Temperatures should remain comfortably between 75 for a high and 50 for a low.

The terrain. Photo: Sue Norwood

The event website is well laid out, comprehensive, and fun (even if the red on black layout cause your eyes to start twitching).  The only thing I noticed that could use some fixing is the outdated “blog/news” page.  It’s always a pleasure to be able to obtain all the information you may need directly from the website.  I’m always struck by the many event sites that omit important information.  It just increases work for the organizers by having to answer email questions.  Anyway, the JJ site is good, right down to providing the entrants list, which brings us to a very special treat here at Inside Trail.  Liza Howard, if you’ve forgotten about her after her early season injury, is returning to the race scene at the JJ100 and she is healthy, trained, and eager.  Bad for the other ladies.  Good for us fans!  Liza took the time (after some minor pleading on my part) to write up a preview on the women’s race.  My only regret is, like I told her, that her writing is so graceful, thorough, and humorous that it’ll be like Lenny (Of Mice and Men) trying to dance with Paula Abdul when I try to match her with my men’s preview.  I’ll get that out of the way quickly, so you can enjoy her take on the race.

Men:

Hal Koerner – Ashland, OR.  Hal has shown both speed (Rocky Racoon) and fortitude (UTMB) this year.  Watch for him to show us some speed again to cap off his year with a win.

Jay Aldous – Brighton, UT.  Jay is 50 years old.  Jay is faster than people half his age.  Jay just ran 15:06 at the Pony Express 100 two weeks ago.  If he hadn’t just raced the PE, I would pick him for the win here with a 14:45-ish time.  I mean, he did just come in a scant 18 mins (2nd place) behind Dave James (JJ course record holder) at the Burning River 100.

Jay Smithberger – Granville, OH.  This Jay has some speed too and, like Hal, has had a “character building” run this year as well (his 28:30 Wasatch).  He also ran 14:53 at Umstead 100.  He knows what he’s doing and could pounce for the win late in the race if Hal and Jay A. aren’t on their games.

Guillermo Medina – Santa Maria, CA.  To say Guillermo is a veteran ultrarunner is like saying U2 has played a few concerts.  Guillermo has had a prolific ultra career over the last 13 years, approaching 100 ultra races.  He’s only 37 years old.  I lined up with him (and Leigh Schmitt) in my first 50 mile race in 2007.  I bounded along with those two, leading the race for the first 20 miles before I realized that they planned to run that pace for the whole 50 miles.  I bonked and finished an hour behind Guillermo.  Since then I’ve been a fan of his as he methodically bangs out great races, including winning the Javelina 100 last year.  His consistency will pay off again.

Now please welcome Liza Howard, coming on board here at Inside Trail with her preview of the ladies’ race.  Note that she is too humble to say that she will win.  She’s my obvious pick, anyway.  Enjoy.

Javelina Jundred’s Women, Ladies, and Chicks

Liza Howard earlier this year en route to her win at Rocky Raccoon 100. Photo: Lynn Balard

Tim asked if I would write a short Who’s Who piece about the women who are running well in ultras right now. I agreed in a moment of insanity and then realized it was too big a task for an uneducated sportsperson such as myself. I told him I’d be happy to write something other than “And as for the women running, I have no idea” for any upcoming races he’d like instead. I sent along this Javelina Jundred preview because it was the first race that came to mind – as I’m running it.

So in case you weren’t in Fountain Hills, AZ last year, or following on Twitter, or you haven’t read all the females’ race reports, you should know that Javelina was a pretty darn exciting 100-mile race in 2010. And it looks like it’ll be the same this year. Jamie Donaldson broke the course record in 17:11, and while she won’t be there this year, the next four ladies will be. Take a look at their finishing times.

2. Brenda Carawan, 33, Virginia Beach, VA, 19:56:44


3. Ronda Sundermeier, 43, Tigard, OR, 20:07:14


4. Brenda Corona, 48, Escondido, CA, 20:20:41


5. Katherine Metzger, 30, Phoenix, AZ, 20:30:40

I asked RD Nick Coury about it and he said everyone was biting their nails when the Brendas, Ronda and Katherine left so close together on the last loop. (Javelina’s a 7 loop course. Six 15.4-mile loops and one 9-mile loop. Yes, that’s 101.4 miles.)

It was Brenda Carawan’s first time on the Javelina course and Nick said she started at a moderate pace and was able to maintain it until the end. She actually finished the last loop faster than Jaime did. Brenda wrote afterwards how coach Amanda McIntosh kept her on track for a finishing time of 19:56:44, 2nd place female overall, and 9th runner overall. You can read her race report here if you haven’t already. http://www.brendacarawan.com/race-reports.html

Since JJ, Brenda’s run a the Seashore Nature Trail 50k, the Rocky Raccoon 100 (2nd in 22:31) and her dream race, Badwater.

Ronda Sundermeier came in third and was “never too far behind Brenda” according to Nick. Ronda’s race report begins, “Beating my own expectations doesn’t happen often but Javelina 100M was so much more than I could have imagined… Racing a 100M is often the next step for many beyond just finishing. The word “racing” also has many meanings. It could mean winning, it could mean going for a PR or just simply putting your head down and focusing. That’s what endurance activities have to offer. An array of meaning for each individual and most of the time that personal meaning is respected among peers.” You should read her race report and her blog in general.

http://roosterruns.blogspot.com/2010/10/javelina-100m.html

Ronda’s been busy becoming a Leadwoman since Javelina. (That’s where you finish five of the following events: Leadville Marathon, Silver Rush 50 bike or run, Leadville Trail 100 run, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB and the 10K run.) Oh, and Ronda also did the Grand Slam back in 2007. Bring your autograph book.

2011 will be Brenda Corona’s fifth Javelina and her times have gotten faster each year. Nick says she “could be going for a sub 20 hour finish this year which would put her in the top ten all time for the race.” Brenda’s run three 50ks and the San Diego 100 (26:38) since Javelina.

And Katherine Metzger, who came in fifth, is a local runner who Nick says has been “training for the race while preparing and taking her medical boards.” (Now I feel like a slacker.) “Javelina was her first 100 last year and she kicked hard on the last loop to catch 25 minutes on 4th place, so look for her to be a competitor.” Since Javelina Katherine’s run two 50-milers and a 50km. She won the Deadman Peaks Trail Run 50-miler in New Mexico on Oct. 22nd in 11:25.

Nick also says Alexa Dickerson has great potential to do well this year. It’s her 3rd time at Javelina and she won the Mohican 100 in June in Ohio. She’s a lot younger than the rest of us, but maybe that won’t be too much of a handicap.

Brenda Carawan adds that Badwater runners Jess Mullen and Cheryl Zwarkowski are both very strong competitors. And Brittany Klimowicz, who also ran Badwater, just won The Gibbet 50-miler going sub-10. AND Jen Vogel is “on fire this year” according to Brenda. She set a new course record for the Double Ironman in March, placed 2nd female at Badwater, and won the Great Floridian last weekend. “Vogel could very easily sweep the field at Javelina.

As for me, I’ve had a broken foot most of the summer, but I’ve been healthy and on the trails since August. I haven’t run 100 miles since February at Rocky Raccoon, but I think I still remember how. And I’ve got all that running in the Texas heat going for me…

I’m thinking floppy-eared rabbit for my costume. Carrot-shaped water bottle? Maybe I’ll just stick to getting these ladies’ autographs.

Please comment if you think I’ve left off anyone. A friend will be tweeting the women’s race at lizahoward1 if you want to see who’s chicking whom on November 12th. 😉  

Enjoy more of Liza’s writing about running and daily life at her site, www.lizahoward.com

 

Hardrock: What will YOU Do When You Get In?

On Oscars. Photo: JT

“You will feel the worst when you are high on the passes so get off of them quickly, your condition will return to good quickly.  I know this.  I have sat there on the passes with death coming soon but just know it will be a matter of minutes before you feel better if you get down.”

This is just one of many pieces of good advice I received from Scott Jaime, multiple-time finisher and a 2nd place overall in 2009 at the Hardrock 100.  More fun quotes from friends may be found on my race report here.

The lottery drawing is near.  The entry form states “on or around December 1st” entrants will be selected.  Last year I applied and casually followed the lottery with faint hope I’d be among the chosen few (the proud, the brave, the insane?).  The starters emerged via Twitter updates one by one, groups of five, through to the final one.  My name didn’t appear but there was still the wait list.  I ended up in the cruel position of 29th on the wait list.  Of the 500 people I asked, some said I had very little chance of getting in, some assured me not to worry – that I had a good shot at it.  Most of them simply said I was “on the bubble” and may not know until race morning; the most difficult answer to swallow, in my opinion.  With that mix of advice, I was partly excited, fairly scared, but mostly just assumed I wouldn’t be on the start line in Silverton in July.  In that state of mind I never trained specifically for Hardrock but rather relied on my race schedule and regular training in between.  I did end up getting into Hardrock just two days before the race, finished, barely, and am now consumed with the event, just like veterans warned I would be.  Put it this way, in a sport where runners’ cars seem littered with race and product stickers, I have one sticker on my car, the “Wild & Tough Hardrock Endurance Run”.

This year will certainly be different if I get in.  My entire year of running and training will have the singular focus of July 13th.  In that focus lies the inevitable need for structure, so even though I normally shy away from structure, this year I say bring it on.

Descent to Chapman. Photo: JT

Several friends, who are Hardrock vets, offered their insight into training they did for the race.  What will you do if you get into Hardrock?  If this is your first time applying, what are you most concerned with about the race?  I ask because those concerns usually provide the answer to structuring training.  If you’ve run Hardrock before, what is it that draws you back?  What will you do for specific training to be ready?  Does your location/state provide you with ample terrain?  If not, how do you adapt to get ready?  How does Billy Simpson, six-time finisher of Hardrock, train at the low altitude and in the mellow hills of Tennessee?  Head to the Smokey Mountains twice a week?

What are your thoughts on Hardrock?  Do you have interest in running it?  Ever?  If you do and you get in, what will you do to ensure you kiss the rock?

Meltzer Invades Alabama: Pinhoti 100 Preview

Photo: Race website

Like a shark, the Speedgoat must keep moving to stay alive.  Even with a bulging disc, suffered during Hardrock this year, he continued to stay active during recovery with long hikes.  Karl is back this weekend to run the Pinhoti 100.

In its 4th year, the Pinhoti 100, is one of those secret gems.  The point to point course boasts 16,200 ft of climb on mostly (80 miles worth) singletrack trail, gnarled with roots and rocks hidden under fallen leaves.  It’s like a day/night-long run in a booby-trapped forest.  Karl comments about the race on his site, “It is very well organized to boot. Todd Henderson, the RD does a great  job marking and has great aid station personnel.”  The race is full with 132 registered runners ready to enjoy the Pinhoti trail as they “make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating over rocks, through creeks and across beautiful ridge lines of the Talladega National Forest.” [race website]  The high point of the course, Mt Cheaha at 2,413 ft, is also the highest point of Alabama. [Wiki site]

Karl Meltzer

Karl Meltzer set the course record here two years ago with a 17:12.  He says, “I feel great.  I’ve put in five weeks of training at 10,000′, so I’m ready for sure.”  The only person to have come within two hours of that time is John Dove from Georgia, who’s run all three previous installments of the event.  John’s best time was en route to his win here last year in 19:01.  John will have his hands full trying to fend off Pennsylvanian Angus Repper (past wins at Sawtooth 100 and Virgil Crest 100) and Kentuckian Troy Shellhammer  who’s had a nice little season with a 16:12 at Umstead 100 and 7th place at UROC 100k.

For the ladies, Jill Perry from New York looks strong coming off her win last month at Oil Creek 100.  Is she recovered enough to muster the power to race hard against young Tennessean Sarah Woerner?  Sarah is the defending champion at Pinhoti (24:42) and has put together a solid season filled with sharp performances at a variety of distances.

The weather forecast looks nearly ideal with partly cloudy skies, highs in the 60s and lows around 40.  Hope everyone has a safe, fast, and fun race.

Pinhoti 100 elevation profile. Photo: Race website

Mt. Masochist 50 Mile Race Preview

Friendly looking course profile...

Clearly, with the name “Masochist”, the Mt. Masochist 50 must be great for 50 mile beginners.  Right?  That’s what the website says in it’s intro: “The course itself is a challenging combination of roads, jeep trails, and single track that can cause even the most experienced runner to breathe a sigh of relief at the finish line in Montebello, VA. Ample aid stations and tried and true organization makes the race a perfect first 50 miler.”  A point to point course from Lynchburg to Montebello Virginia, climbing 9,200 ft with a cut-off of 12 hours means it would probably be a good idea to cut your teeth on another (maybe a few) easier 50 milers.  The Mt. Masochist 50 began in 1983 with David Horton turning over the race direction duties to the capable Clark Zealand in 2007.  They work together on a series of events aptly called “The Beast Series“.  With over 60,000 combined feet of climb in the 6 events, these races will break your heart and your feet.

Mt. Masochist is one of the unique races where consistency isn’t the norm.  It brings out the best in some runners you wouldn’t expect to do well and can cause otherwise speedy runners to sputter.  It takes guts, speed, smarts, and patience, just ask Scott Jaime, last year’s winner.  Geoff Roes owns the eye-popping course record of 6:27, which he set in 2009, blowing by Mackey’s course record by 21 minutes.  To run that time on this “Horton miles” long 50 mile course that starts at near zero feet elevation and climbs and drops continuously to over 4,000 feet is remarkable; a record that should stand for quite a while.  The women’s record hasn’t even been within shouting distance for the women’s winners since Nikki Kimball set it in 2006 (7:47).  I doubt we’ll see Nikki’s record go down this year but if anyone on the start list has the ability to break it, Sandi Nypaver is the one.  However, I’m going with my gut here and picking Alyssa Wildeboer for the women’s win.

Alyssa Wildeboer at Leadville. Photo: Alyssa's ultrasignup page

Alyssa has vast experience on the MMTR course, having run it six times.  More relevant is the fact that she has refined her ability in ultras over the years.  She cranked out a 3rd place 8:54 at MMTR last year and carried that momentum into 2011, her best year yet, with a 4th place in a tight women’s race at Leadville, 4th and just out of the money at Cheyenne Mountain 50k, and 1st at Devil Mountain 50k a month ago.  Unless either she or Sandi run into trouble, it’ll be a hell of an exciting race.

Those nasty green shorts either make Jon faster or the competition blind. Photo: his ultrasignup pic

Eco-X has “seedings” up on their blog but it doesn’t make much sense to me other than the picks for men/women wins.  The list has Eric Grossman as the #1 seed but doesn’t even list Ty Draney’s or Josh Finger’s names.  Ty hasn’t had much of a season racing in 2011 with just one event (Pocatello) but I know Josh has been active, which I witnessed personally at the Ice Age 50 mile where he took 5th (I was a distant 7th).  Josh also just (I mean like last week) cracked out a 6:33 at Tussey Mountainback 50 miler for 5th, which needs to be taken into account, since he takes a while to recover from what I’ve seen.  I’m not saying either has a shot at beating Grossman (except maybe a sharp Ty Draney) but those two would be on my top 5 or at worst top 10 picks.  To not pick Eric Grossman for the win here is swimming against the tide, going against the grain, going out on a limb, whichever silly cliche you prefer, but I’m going with Jonathan Allen.  It’s not that thin of a limb I’m going out on.  Allen did run for 5th in 9:26 at UROC, over a half hour faster than 8th place Grossman.  Mix in other speedy guys like Brian Rusieki and local favorite, Frank Gonzalez and you’ve got yourself a competitive race for top 5.

Either way, Mt. Masochist is a late season classic that’s sure to please both participants and us fans.

 

 

Chicago Lakefront 50 Race Profile

This weekend is the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 fall edition.  The current 50 mile World Record of 4:50 was set on the Chicago Lakefront by Bruce Fordyce in 1984.  This course is flat.  This course is fast.  On the current certified course, a 12.5 mile out and back repeated four times on concrete, Oz Pearlman owns the course record of 5:25, set in 2009.  In fact, he holds the fastest four finish times run on this course.  Ann Heaslett holds the women’s course record of 6:53, which she set in 2006.  True mountain runners need not apply; this event is for pure speed and a lust for concrete underfoot.

The only thing that may slow runners in any given year is the weather.  This is Chicago after all.  That won’t happen this year as the forecast is near perfect with highs in the low 50s and clear.  Like last year, Oz Pearlman isn’t on the entrants’ list this year, so the door is open for veteran 50 mile specialist, Mark Lundblad from North Carolina to make waves along the Lakefront.  A Browsing of the entrants, nicely provided to me by Race Director, Pat Onines leaves me to believe Lundblad will have his way with a solo effort.  He is, in fact, a mountain and trail specialist, to be specific.  However, he’s shown great speed on the road and flatter courses with runs at JFK and Tussey Mountainback that illustrate his flatland speed.

Mark Lundblad. Photo from his Facebook page

Connie Gardner during her 2009 winning run. Photo: event website

For the women… I’m going with Cathy Becker for the outright win and Rachel Arthur from Tennessee in her first ultra nipping at her heels until near the end.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a female write about the female predictions?

Weekend Wrap at Inside Trail Oct. 22-23

Let’s have a look at the always subdued yet relevant USATF 50 Mile National Road Championship at the Tussey Mountainback in Pennsylvania.

This event is like many “big” US ultra events.  There is extreme talent but depth is shallow as an Arizona puddle.  Last year we saw Todd Braje and Devon Crosby Helms rocket through to course records in the mens and womens fields (5:43 for Todd and 6:28 for Devon).  Aside from 24 hr specialist, Connie Gardner, no big names showed for the women.  For the men, Braje was back to defend but this time he would have to contend with the speedy and resilient Michael Wardian.  Braje had his hands full in the Rothrock State Forest in central PA.  While managing a time that would normally win the Tussey race, Braje’s 5:50 fell short of not only his time from last year but also the eye-popping new course record of 5:33 set by Wardian.

The course is 74% dirt, so it’s interesting that they deem it the “road” championship.  The undulating nature of the course compounded with the constant parade of the concurrently running relay race with vehicles included, makes Wardian’s time all the more impressive.  His efforts today almost guarantee his USATF Ultra Runner of the Year for 2011.  But wait a minute.  The USATF UROY only concerns itself with performances from November 1, 2010 to October 1, 2011, so Wardian’s run today goes into the bucket for next year’s title picks; just pointing out another oddity with the USATF awards.  Wardian will win the award and probably deserves it.  The guy excels at many distances over many surfaces and terrain with a robust schedule.

For the women, Connie Gardner topped the field for the women’s title in 7:04, 36 minutes off the course record.

 

Weekend Wrap at Inside Trail: Mackey 3-Peats and Slickrock Circus

There was a good assortment of ultra races over the weekend.  From the soft, rolling hills in the Bay Area of California, to undulating and abruptly jagged desert trails in Moab, Utah, to ankle crushing rock-lined, steep descents of Virginia, there was variety in both the race terrain and the weather accompanying the events.  The weather played the biggest role at the Slickrock 100 (50 mile and 50k), where the recent heavy rains washed out dirt roads and created quicksand circumstances that actually swallowed the race director’s 4×4 vehicle up to the windows.  Both the 100 mile and 50 mile courses were changed substantially at the last minute to avoid the dangerous areas.  More on that in a bit.

Dave Mackey's well deserved bib number

First, let’s start with the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile.  Dave Mackey made it three years in a row with his win in 6:34 (Hi, Ultra Runner Of the Year, meet Mr. Mackey).  He now owns 3 of the fastest 5 times ever run in this 29 year old event.  In a repeat of their last race, Chris Calzetta and Jean Pommier had a sprint to the finish with Calzetta (7:02:54) reaching the line one second in front of the speedy 47 year old Pommier (they tied for 1st at the Skyline 50k in August!).   For the women, Roxanne Woodhouse lead all day and crossed the line first in 8:00.  Jennifer Benna methodically picked off people all day, moving up to 2nd where she finished in 8:09.  Bree Lambert held on for 3rd in 8:26.

The transfer of race management to NorCal Ultras was seamless.  Lots of good feedback from participants commenting on the well-marked course, post race food, and terrific weather, albeit a bit chilly at the start.

6pm start of the 2011 Grindstone 100. Photo: Scott Livingston

The Grindstone 100 saw Neal Gorman take the lead early and run alone at the front for 93 miles, finishing in 19:41 (second fastest time on this course).  David Ruttum and Frank Gonzalez battled all day with David edging away in the final hours to take 2nd in 20:28 and Frank coming in just 9 minutes later in 20:36.  Debbie Livingston took the ladies’ win in 24:58, nearly two hours slower than last year’s winning time and course record but she got it done with style and a win is a win.  Kerry Owens came in second with a 28:43 finishing time and Zsuzsanna Carlson (Interesting use of the “Z”s?) nabbed 3rd in 29:31.

Though the finish times suggest the women’s race was without excitement, Debbie had a race on her hands and didn’t take the lead until the second half.  Her husband, Scott Livingston, said, “Debbie overcame a 25 minute deficit to Katherine Dowson at the 51 mile mark (turnaround), by coming on strong in the second half. Unfortunately Dowson succumbed to the course and dropped at the Dowells Draft Aid Station at mile 66.”  Scott also points out that many of the participants complained of quad pain.  With the climbs and descents of this monster mixed in with warmer temps, I’m can imagine the pain!

Both of the previous races are managed and run like a fine engine, everything in sync and predictable.  Unfortunately, for the participants, the Slickrock 100 had some backfires and sputtering and then just sort of died.  Weather was uncooperative, causing the race director (in consultation with Search And Rescue) to reroute the 100 mile and 50 mile course, which lead to all sorts of problems from leader (and eventual winner) Ben Hian running off course for 6 miles early in the race to other front runners getting lost after running 90 miles and dropping in the middle of the night due to long periods without food and lack of warm clothing.  I made the choice to switch to the “50k” (which ended up being 65k; the real course was long at 35.5 miles and I was directed by an aid station person to continue on for “4-5 miles” past the correct turn around) and officially came in second just 4 minutes behind the winner, but technically I ran 5 miles further than he did, so…  I’m just happy I switched races and wasn’t out on a wild goose chase “fun run” course that could have been anywhere from 90 to 105 miles, nobody knows for sure and nobody ran the same course.  It can be fun having some uncertainty in a race but not with 100 milers in the cold rainy weather.

The best info I’ve received has the top four in the 100 mile as:

  1. Ben Hian
  2. Rhonda Claridge
  3. Chris Boyack
  4. Leila DeGrave

There will likely be some fallout from this event.  Brendan T. was there to crew and support a runner and wrote, “Yeah it’s an inaugural event and he was dealt a bad hand with the weather — but zero communication to racers and volunteers about what the hell was going on?? Negligent and dangerous.  I don’t think the SR100 was received too well and wil be surprised if Grand County issues him another event permit in the near future.”

In a comment on my personal running blog (footfeathers.com) Jeremy Humphrey wrote,

Glen Redpath and I led by 30 mins to 1 hour for 80+ miles (after a 6 mile detour by Ben Hian). They made the course up as we went, thus rerouting us back toward the start/finish for another quick loop to add distance. Glen and I hit the last aid before the s/f and was instructed by aid staff on how to proceed. We proceeded as such and got incredibly lost coming to a stop 9+ miles off route and staring into a 1000′ canyon. Several hours without food and inadequate clothing forced the drop. Managed 91+ miles. My first DNF.

I can sympathize with the RD, Aaron.  It’s a very difficult job to begin with but all of the problems could have been avoided with better planning.  I have many thoughts and opinions on this specific event and poorly managed events in general but I would be grateful to hear from readers about their past experiences with mismanaged events and thoughts on this race.