Preview of Monster Energy Supercross Round 4, Oakland, CA

tomac and roczen

Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen. Photo: Hoppenworld

In a small, selfish effort to both lure ET listeners into dirt bike sports and dirt bike fans into Elevation Trail’s community, here are some things I’ve written up for you to watch and be engaged in tonight’s race.

Overview:
This is the 4th round of the 2015 AMA Supercross season (Rd 1 Anaheim, Rd 2 Phoenix, Rd 3 Anaheim). Today’s race takes place in the Coliseum in Oakland CA (lock your car doors if you’re attending! ūüėČ
Race coverage begins live tonight (Jan 24) on Fox Sports 1 at 7pm PT ‚Äď 10pm ET.

Things to keep an eye on:
The murmurs that the season is early and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Factory Suzuki’s Ken Roczen may not stay as hot and fast as he was in round 1 are quieting and fading. After the first three rounds he owns two first places and a second place, has led 52 of the 60 laps raced, and holds a 12 point lead in the standings over 2nd place Ryan Dungey. The rest of the field simply cannot let this guy get an early lead because he may not always have the fastest qualifying lap times but he’s consistent with his speed and will check out and say bye-bye if he gets a gap on everyone.

Ryan Dungey absolutely has the ability to win but it seems he can’t do it on his own terms, meaning that whoever is in front of him will need to slip up. Dungey NEEDS to get more aggressive. Listening to Red Bull KTM’s manager, Roger DeCoster, in interviews, you’d expect him to be thrilled with his rider sitting in 2nd overall but he knows Dungey’s talent and work ethic and knows he is capable of owning these races. He simply rides too conservatively.

Meanwhile, Coloradan, Eli Tomac (son of one of the greatest mountain bike racers ever, John Tomac) sits in 3rd overall after his win in Phoenix, where he controlled Roczen, and his 3rd last week in Anaheim. Tomac has the ability and aggressiveness to win every week. I’m guessing we’ll see him on the podium several times over the next 14 rounds. The only question is, does he have the consistency of Dungey and the speed and drive of Roczen to stand on the top step of that podium?

Speaking of aggressiveness, the big talk over the week following last Saturday’s race was Chad Reed getting black flagged after intentionally running into Trey Canard after Canard basically landed on top of him in the previous turn, causing both of them to go down hard. Most opinions I’ve heard and read feel the black flag was uncalled for. The AMA race official (John Gallagher) was standing right in front of the incident when Reed crossed the track and ran into Canard (who was riding one handed while clearing his goggles), causing him to endo and somersault over the tough block barriers. Gallagher almost immediately called for the black flag on Reed, which means ‚Äúget off the track, your racing night is over‚ÄĚ. Reed was stunned and words were exchanged between all three parties after the race.

Most seem to feel that they should’ve just let everyone finish the race, then evaluate possible penalties and fines. Comments have also voiced concern that this ruling may set precedence and influence aggressive riding in the future races. I personally am on the fence with the black flag. I’ve watched the incident (the whole thing from the previous lap through Reed’s black flag) a few times and feel that it could’ve gone either way (flagged or not). I don’t believe it’s going to influence anyone’s riding style or aggressive racing and I don’t think it will set a precedence for future flagging. In fact, I think it may have the opposite effect, where we see a reluctance to flag riders because of the heat they received over this one. We shall see.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Canard and especially Reed bounce back from this. Reed really suffered a hit with the black flag with him being the team owner and rider of 22 Motorsports Discount Tire. The loss of any points essentially knocked him out of the the overall running in the standings (he sits 15th now). Just to rub salt in the wound, Reed’s team rider, Josh Grant, DNF’d, so the team went home with some things to think about.

I won’t cover the 250cc class but Cooper Webb is on a tear, Tyler Bowers is a classy, aggressive rider who’s ready to mix it up for the championship, and Malcolm Stewart (James Stewart’s little brother) is really fun to watch.

So, that’s it from a novice fan of the sport. Let me know if you watch the race and what you thought of it.

Here’s the Trey Canard / Chad Reed incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uidvHFB2jf4

Advertisements

FM Show – What is a Sport?

Alissa from San Francisco stylin' hard in her Elevation Trail hat.

Alissa from San Francisco stylin’ hard in her Elevation Trail hat.

Welcome to Elevation Trail and the FM Show. ¬†This week Gary David and I discuss sociology stuff like asking what makes an activity a sport or play. ¬†We also talk about the pitfalls and benefits of organization in sports, rules, morals, and growth, while fitting in a little about the San Diego 100 coming up, Skyrunning’s Ronda Dels Cims 170k in Andorra (Lizzy Hawker is out of race due to injury), and other stuff. ¬†It’s a long show!

Leadville 100 Preview

This Leadville 100 Run preview will be like Liza Howard, short and sweet.

Fot once, we have a women’s race that is far more interesting than the men’s. ¬†I say this mostly because women at the top level seem to know, and, more importantly, remember race after race how to run these things without exploding at mile 75 like a male front runner brimming with testosterone. ¬†The ladies have a stacked field up front. ¬†In order of how I see it breaking down at the finish line on 6th Ave…

Tina Lewis

Lynette Clemmons

Liza Howard

Becky Wheeler

Darcy Africa

Aliza Lapierre

Ashly Nordell

For the guys it’s a mixture of pure speed (Aish, Aldous, Arnstien), consistent grinders (Clark, Torrance, Jaime), and some wildcards (Krupicka, Tiernan, Waggoner).

If Tony Krupicka tries to run at the front with Jay Aldous and Michael Aish and hits Winfield (mile 50) any faster than 7:25, he’ll be in trouble later. ¬†The only reason Tony is a wildcard is based on two things: ¬†He hasn’t run Leadville smart since 2007 and he hasn’t raced a 100 in a year and a half. ¬†If¬† he runs smart with the intent to win (as opposed to a race against time), he’s the one to beat. ¬†Michael Aish definitely falls into the wild card slot as well. ¬†Of course, if he runs his 10k PR pace at Leadville, he’ll finish in 7 hours 26 mins (wow.). ¬†Aish’s Leadville run may seem like a publicity stunt but the Kiwi went to college in Gunnison (8,000+ ft elevation), where he ran to national titles. ¬†He also competed in two Olympics (’00 and ’04) and ran his first ultra, the Silver Rush 50 miler this year (Leadville) for the win in 6:54 (just 4 mins off course record time). ¬†If he runs to Winfield at a reasonable effort (like 7:30-ish) and holds the fueling together, this guy is the one to take down Carpenter’s course record of 15:42.

Another interesting competition playing out is the Leadman Series (look it up). ¬†Currently, Tim Waggoner leads the series by a scant 3 mins 39 secs with just the 100 mile run left to determine the victor. ¬†Troy Howard, a dominating, albeit quiet, force in ultrarunning (one of the top 10 fastest Hardrock 100 times) is lingering behind Tim W. in 2nd after beating him in the 100 mi mtb race last Saturday by 24 mins. ¬†Troy has a solid chance to run 18:30-19 this weekend, so Tim W. ran 19:19 for 6th overall here in 2010 in his first 100 mile attempt but that was with an epic meltdown (I saw it live after pacing him for 50 miles) and being forced to walk slowly for the last 5 miles, so 19:19 is soft for him. ¬†He will have to pull out all his knowledge and speed and any other tricks up his sleeve to hold off Troy. ¬†Look for Tim Waggoner to be lurking near the podium. ¬†I’ll be pacing him again for the last 50 and, frankly, hope to hang on.

The way I see it.

Nick Clark

Michael Arnstein

Tim Waggoner

Anton Krupicka

Jay Aldous

Jason Koop

Scott Jaime

Zeke Tiernan

Patrick Stewart

Troy Howard

Sean O’Day

Ian Torrance

Please feel free to comment with opinions on who you think will be ripping up the fast out-n-back course. ¬†Check out Footfeathers’ guide to “How to Run the Leadville 100”

Slickrock 100 Race Preview

From "course area photos" on http://www.runmoab.com

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:

Women:

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 РEvergreen, 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.

Men:

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.

Wasatch 100 Preview and Predictions

Photo Matt Galland

In the true spirit of American ultrarunning, when you do something tough, you look for something tougher. Inspired by the Western States 100, five entrants ran the first Wasatch 100 in 1980. ¬†Two of them finished after 35 hours. ¬†The next year saw a 40% increase in participation with seven people starting the race. ¬†No one finished. ¬†Now, after 31 years, one of the most difficult 100 mile runs in the US will see 250 “lucky” lottery winners lining up at 5am this Friday morning to start yet another odyssey through the jagged, rocky trails of the Wasatch Mountains.

The Wasatch 100 has nearly 27,000 ft of climb and about the same descent. ¬†The temperature can range from freezing to smoldering. ¬†The rocky, technical trails can leave you begging for pavement. ¬†It’s a true mountain 100 that can break the will of even the most experienced ultrarunner.

For very few, like course record holder Geoff Roes, the pain ends in less than 20 hours (he ran the current course record of 18hrs 30mins in 2009). ¬†Everyone else enjoys two sunrises on the course and many ramble through most of the second day. ¬†The cut off is 36 hours. ¬†Roes gives his perspective of the race, “The Wasatch 100 is basically two¬†separate¬†runs. A 75 mile warm up to Brighton and then a 25 mile race from Brighton to the finish. The route has so many tough climbs, rutted; dusty; sandy; rocky trail, and shockingly steep drops in the last 25 miles that it almost feels like you’re not running in the some mountain range anymore.”

Photo Wasatch100.com

With that description in mind, let’s take a look at the contenders for this year’s edition, in predicted finishing order:

Timmy Parr – For the majority of events, one can simply pick the fastest runner to win. ¬†Timmy Parr is the fastest runner entered in the Wasatch 100. ¬†However, the gritty mountain 100 specialist wins this race… usually. ¬†Timmy is due for a big run (again) and with the help of two-time Leadville 100 champion and friend, Duncan Callahan, crewing and pacing, I’m going with Timmy for the win.

Evan Honeyfield – Evan has been racing well and infrequently this year and, in his first and only 100 miler, the Bear 100 last September, he nailed the race with a 19 hour 2nd place finish. ¬†Bear is the sister 100 to Wasatch, so I’m giving him the same finish he nabbed at Bear.

Jared Campbell РAfter his DNF at his focus race, Hardrock, in July, Jared has to be fired up to run well.  Not many people know these trails and the mountain range better than he does.  He, along with the other grizzled vets will be on the heels of the two guys above, one mistake and they eat them like hungry wolves.

Erik Storheim – The tough workhorse of this group, which is what works for this race. ¬†He always shows up ready and fit. ¬†Erik cracked the top 10 in 2009 with a 7th place in 22:49. ¬†He’ll PR this year.

Troy Howard – I ran with Troy for 6 hours in the Indian Peaks region of the rockies a month ago. ¬†He’s mountain trained and ready.

Luke Nelson – Had a knee injury take its toll on him at last year’s race but still finished 13th in 23:30. ¬†With the knee healthy, he’ll be flying this year.

Christian Johnson РConsistent and tough.  Knows the trails well.

Peter Lingren – 9th overall in 2010 in 23:05. ¬†Has only raced one ultra since then and it was a mediocre finish, so we’ll see whether he can repeat with another strong one here.

Women:

Becky Wheeler – Should have an easy time (if anything about Wasatch can be called easy) with this one.

Suzanne Lewis РThanks to an astute reader of Inside Trail for pointing out my omission of Suzanne.  She nabbed a distant 2nd place behind Darcy Africa last year and should be able to improve on that time.

Emily Judd – Sub 24 hour at Bighorn shows she has what it takes to contend.

Linda McFadden РWith over 200 finished ultras, her consistency and tenacity should carry her in for a solid run and propel her to the win if  others have a rough day.

Sarah Evans – Has finished this race sub 30 hours, so she knows what to expect and how to deal with it.

“One Hundred Miles of Heaven and Hell.” ¬†The race slogan makes sense to those who’ve finished it. ¬†Enjoy.

One Hundred Miles of Heaven and Hell. Photo mrc-ultra.blogspot.com