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.

 

 

Weekend Wrap at Inside Trail (Sept 23-25)

Lizzy Hawker breaking the 24 hour world record. Photo: CMUDC

Though Inside Trail’s passion lies with off-road competition and adventure, we cannot overlook outstanding performances in our cousin sport, road racing.  First, congratulations to Lizzy Hawker in her jaw-dropping run at the 2011 Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Running Championships 24 hour race in Llandudno (North Wales).  Just four weeks after winning the grueling UTMB, Lizzy covered 246.4 km (just over 153 miles) in the 24 hours, breaking the 18 year old world record held by Germany’s Sigrid Lomsky by three kilometers.  Of course, we must also tip our trail hats to Patrick Makau (Kenya) for setting the new marathon world record with his 2:03:38 run in Berlin, beating Haile Gebrselassie’s record by 21 seconds.  Also racing in Berlin, Haile must have instinctively sensed that Makau was having a special day because after Makau made his move, Haile backed off, bent over, then resumed running and finished.

Photo: Davy Crockett

Here in the US, the Bear 100 trail race continues to evolve into one of the classic hard-nose races on the 100 mile calendar.  An exciting race from the start saw a group of eight pull away on the initial 4,000+ ft climb to the first aid station in just over two hours.  As contenders dropped away from the steady Nick Pedatella, Ben Lewis and Gary Gellin, who seemed to focus more on tactical racing than pure speed with each of them also getting lost at times.  In fact, near the end of the race, Pedatella ran off course, allowing Ben Lewis to take the lead.  Pedatella recovered the correct course and the lead, winning in 20:55.  Lewis came in shortly thereafter in 21:18, and Kelly Lance put in a breakout performance and a study of perfect pacing to take third in 21:29.  Remarkably, both Lewis and Lance had never run a 100 miler previous to Bear.

For the women’s race, Nikki Kimball dominated from the start en route to a substantial new course record in 22:19.  Jane Larkindale, in her first 100 miler since her 2010 San Diego 100 win, came in fresh and obviously well-trained to take 2nd in 23:25 and Ellen Parker rounded out the top three with a solid 23:53, also earning the Wolverine Club sub 24 hour buckle.  Full results here.

A happy and triumphant Geoff Roes. Photo: Justin Radley

The UROC (Ultra Race Of Champions) took place this weekend and though many elites were not in attendance, it didn’t stop the ones there from having an exciting race.  Huge congratulations to Geoff Roes and Ragan Petrie on their wins.

Men:

  1. Geoff Roes – 8:58:04
  2. Michael Wardian – 9:20:01
  3. Matt Flaherty – 9:22:42
Women:
  1. Ragan Petrie – 10:11:05
  2. Devon Crosby-Helms – 10:25:50
  3. Anne Riddle Lundblad – 11:01:44

The noticeably low-key, at least in terms of exposure, USATF 50k National Trail Championships took place Saturday in Bend, Oregon with recently crowned World Trail Champion Max King taking the men’s title by a comfortable margin in 3:27.  In a more tightly contested race, Stephanie Howe took the women’s national title in 4:19.  Both King and Howe live in Bend, OR.

Mike Morton tearing through the miles at Hinson Lake 24

On the East Coast Mike Morton braved the 90 degree heat index in North Carolina to win at the Hinson Lake 24 hour event.  The final mileage and results are not posted yet but another competitor, Brett Welborn, had this to say,

“Mike was at 156+ miles but was still moving well with 1 hour left…I would estimate he had sped back up and was doing 8 minute miles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at 163-164 miles when the final results are posted…within just a few miles of the American Record (which are typically chased on flat pavement with much fewer runners in the way, and in better temperatures).

His first 25 miles was ~2h58m. He hit 50 miles ~6h15m. He went through 100 miles ~13h10m.”

Welborn goes on in reference to Ultra Performance of the Year,

“A lot of people have been talking about Ian Sharman’s 12h44m Rocky Raccoon 100 as Ultrarunning’s performance of the year. But I think after this weekend some folks should take a look at Mike. It was 40F warmer at Hinson Lake. So yea, his 100 was ~20-25 minutes slower, but then he ran ANOTHER 63-64 miles in < 11 hours ON TOP OF THAT. AND it was on a 1.5 mile loop trail, so he had to contend with constantly passing 250+ other runners.”

And finally, check out Go Trail Magazine’s October issue, released today.  Inside Trail has a monthly column beginning this month.  The magazine is top notch with terrific articles and stunning photos.  Hope you enjoy it!