Slickrock 100 Race Preview

From "course area photos" on

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.

Weekend Wrap at Inside Trail


And from our Euro Bureau (with an obvious focus on Skyrunning):

The 2011 Skyrunner World Series concluded Sunday, with British Team Salomon mountain runner Tom Owens claiming victory on the Italian slopes of Sentiero delle Grigne. A heavy electric storm with torrential rain had race organizers actually shorten the original steep mountain marathon course. Runners still battled amidst the wet and thunderous carnage with Owens and Italy’s own Emanuela Brizio (SWS winner in 2009 and 2010) crossing the line first.

Owens victorious

This is sweet pay-back for the Brit’s great dual with Kilian Jornet at Spain’s Zegama marathon back in May where Owens finished 2nd. His win yesterday only adds to an already terrific year. Along with Zegama, he claimed 3rd at the Gore-Tex Transrockies Run in Colorado teaming with fellow Brit Ricky Lightfoot. In 2011, Owens also records a 1st at Mournes Peak Race, 1st at Yorkshire 3 Peaks, 1st at the TransGrancanaria Marathon, and a 1st at Carenthy 5 Hill Race, meaning he didn’t forget to return home to do some work on his more local turf.

As for the final rankings in the SWS, Spain claims the men’s and women’s world champion titles as Luis

Spainish Champions

Alberto Hernando and Oihana Kortazar put the finishing touches on their stellar 2011 SWS campaigns. Hernando was third in yesterday’s race and Kortazar took second in the women’s race. The two Spaniards are now invited to the Skyrunner Super Cup on Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu where they will contend with other skyrunning champions and record holders for the Super Cup trophy. This takes place on October 22nd and 23rd.
In the final SWS rankings, Mikhail Maamlev of Italy was 2nd and Spaniard Jabi Olabarria took 3rd. The women’s podium was completed by Emanuela Brizio and Corinne Favre of France.

Inside Trail is eagerly looking forward to covering the entire 2012 Skyrunner World Series. Stay-tuned for that.

Leadville Trail 100 Run – The Inside Trail Chat

Start line of the 2010 Leadville 100 Run

There is a lot of blogging going on regarding the Leadville Trail 100 Run, so, instead of just rehashing much of it, we here at Inside Trail thought we’d roll out some back and forth commentary that is typical of the hours we spend in our respective “offices” researching and discussing with one another every day.  We obviously would love to have some insight from readers following the event and participating in it.  Looking at past results of racers to gauge ability is one thing but who knows exactly how an individual is feeling about his/her chances in the days leading up to the big event.  Regardless, it’s still fun to discuss.  From an altitude standpoint, Leadville is a monster, undoubtedly earning it’s inspiring nickname, “The Race Across the Sky”.  The massive start, with roughly 1,000 runners adds to the excitement and personality of Leadville, making it more reminiscent of the European ultra events where one gets goosebumps from the energy at the start line.  I will be racing it myself and my crew will be covering the race for Inside Trail via our twitter account.  Hope you enjoy this race preview format in today’s post and remember, please share your opinions!

Tim: Of course, this week’s Pikes Peak is a big deal in terms of mountain running in the US (our preview coming on Thursday) but just over the hills, in the highest incorporated town in the US, is the Leadville 100 taking place the same weekend (4:00AM Mtn Time, Saturday, Aug 20).  You’ve looked over the start list, Matt, basking in glory from your accurate prognostication last week that Marco De Gaspéri would beat Kilian Journet and the field at Sierre-Zinal; so, who stands out in your mind to take the win at Leadville?

Matt:  Yes, Pikes.  I look forward to that preview in a couple days.  My take on Leadville is going to be pretty haphazard compared to the 31k Sierre-Zinal.  I’m completely relying on blogs and talking to runners like you who have endured these beasts, as well as studying results.  Then there’s that gambler’s intuition, which I’m sure has been informed by my own competitiveness.  I’m torn right now.  Part of me likes to see Ryan Burch have a break-through race — a lot of people acknowledge this.  I think his recent FKT of Longs Peak (3hr 26min) is good news for the Burch camp.  I think anyone associated with Nick Clark means business (and I think Nick likes Burch’s chances at PB); but in this case the results don’t support a Burch win, I’m afraid.  But who the hell am I?

His 2011 is a Collegiate Peaks 50 course record win, Pocatello 50 4th, and 5th at American River 50 among a few other results.  His 100s are: Grand Mesa 2010 (1st, 23:26), Ozark 2010 (4th 21:49) and Leadville twice (’08 26:58 and ’09 20:51). He did win the Leadville marathon in 2010, I think, but I just don’t see enough to pick him to win, other than the “break-through race” factor.

So, before I get to my picks, what do you think of Burch?

Tim Parr, Duncan Callahan, Ryan Burch (photo: Rob O'Dea)

Tim:  First, nice job on your prediction at Sierre-Zinal.  Marco made a statement in that near course record win.  I agree with much of what you’re saying on Burch, mostly.  But, something seems different this year.  His times at American River, 6:09, just 14 mins behind winner, Dave Mackey and Collegiate Peaks, where he set a course record at 6:37 give me the feeling he’s moved to another level, like we’ve seen with other runners (Roes in 2008 and Nick Clark in 2009).  A win for Burch would certainly confirm that.  My gut feeling is Dylan Bowman for the win.  He’s young at 25 and just started running ultras two years ago but has steadily improved and shown tremendous maturity in races.  I’m sticking with him, even with the stacked field.  Other contenders after Bowman for top 10 in my mind are:

Parr, Gorman, Callahan, Burch, Sandes, Browning, Vega

I only have eight listed because there are probably 10 other guys who could legitimately sneak in there.  South Africa’s Ryan Sandes is my dark horse pick for the win.  Those guys coming from adventure racing backgrounds are monsters in ultras.  The women’s field is scarce with the omission of last year’s champion, Liza Howard (just beginning to ramp up her training after a broken foot).  I have to go with Jenny Capel from Reno, NV for the win and Leila DeGrave from Evergreen, CO for second.

Dylan Bowman giving the thumbs up at San Diego 100

Matt: Indeed, Burch seems to keep raising his game, but running a low 17hr Leadville 100 seems a tall order.  That’s a big leap.  Roes and Clark are great examples of this kind of improvement, but I guess the big tell-tale for me is the experience at 100.  Roes and Clark have been gobbling those up for a few years now.  Redundant and final note on Burch: waiting to see him put 2 50milers together in spectacular fashion.  I’m certainly rooting for the guy.

I like your picks.  Tim Parr seems a bit of a mystery to me.  But he’s won before.  Here’s a case for Dylan Bowman: He just set a CR at SD100, finished 2nd at CP behind Burch and won the Antelope 50.  In 2010 he finished 3rd at Leadville, running 18:36 (I think that was his first 100?!).  But the kicker is this guy’s ability to improve, to learn from the experience.  3rd at Leadville, then CR at SD100, which, as you point-out, is a tough 100.  Lastly, he ran a 7:45 Silver Rush 50 in 2009, but then ran 6:52 to finish 2nd last year.  Huge jump and he’s running 100s and he’s podiumed at Leadville.  I like Dylan Bowman, too, unless Tim Parr is mysteriously coming out of “nowhere” and running everyone into the ground.

Gorman looks pretty impressive, too (2011: 16:16 at Old Dominion 100 in June; 2010: 2nd at Wasatch and 4th at Leadville)

Callahan has to be considered top 5 since he seems so consistent, especially at that race, and he just finished 8th at HR100.

Personally, I don’t see Browning in the mix for a win.  Other than a 2010 Cascade Crest 100 win, which has 20k vert but sits ~5k elv., I see lack of high altitude running (despite the tent) and age (sorry) playing a factor.

Bowman, Parr, Burch, Gorman, Long (partly because of the Brownie factor)

Tim:  Ha! Unless Brownie brings bags of steroids for me, I won’t be doing much other than running my own race.  Timmy Parr, like the last time he ran LT100, will probably run people (who go with him early) into the ground for the first 70 miles, then the wheels get wobbly.  The difference is there will be a larger group of others ready and capable to pounce this year.

Neal Gorman was my boy last year!  Setting the Grand Slam record in impressive fashion with consistent fast times and high placings.  I think by Leadville last year his hip was hurting him and he still ran a fast race, so he’s a tough nut to crack.  This year he seems more focused on the individual efforts and it’s showing in his results.  He’ll definitely be in the mix for podium in my mind.

Neal Gorman with his fresh Grand Slam trophy after Wasatch 100

Poor Duncan Callahan gets overshadowed again at Leadville.  Let’s see whether he can stay patient as usual and sweep in to tag the red carpet first once again.  He owns the race – he’s the returning champ, but this year is packed with competent competition.

Rod Bien is insistent on Jeff Browning.  Says he’s been “in an altitude tent for the last 6 weeks…”  Browning is one tough, fast guy that I would never want to tangle with (if I were at his level) in 100 mile races.  He’s a fierce competitor.  I would be surprized, though, to have someone living below 5k feet win Leadville.  Like we discussed, it’s what makes Leadville difficult compared to true tougher courses like San Diego 100 (the new course where Bowman just ran 18hrs flat for the win).  Someone, like Bowman’s (living at 8,000 ft) time can be extrapolated from San Diego’s relatively low altitude course and a projection of performance can be made for Leadville because altitude is a non factor for him.  So, Bowman at 18hrs at San Diego equals 17hrs at Leadville.  Browning at 18:31 (screaming time) at Cascade Crest 100 equals 19hrs at Leadville because of the altitude.  Does that make sense?

Jeff Browning thumping the course record at Cascade Crest 100 (the crowds are electrifying!)

Matt:  Yes it does though I certainly couldn’t have come to that myself.  Another reason to like Bowman’s chances.

And I do agree with your sentiments toward Callahan.  I’m rooting for Callahan because, like you said, he seems overshadowed and he’s won the damn thing twice.

One of the guys casting a big shadow is the South African Ryan Sandes.  I don’t have too much insight here.  He’s with Solomon, he finished 3rd in the North Face 100K race in Australia that Kilian Jornet won prior to winning WS100.  I guess the problem I see here is related to experience: at the 100 mile mountain distance (not exactly a multi-stage adventure race) and at that altitude.  The guy looks impressively togged, running in a variety of exotic locations and racing quite successfully.  But experience seems a big factor.

Granted, he did some high elevation climbing recently at The Zugspitz Ultra, where he finished 3rd.  This takes place in the German Alps with, I think, about 17k ft. of vert.  However, in one report I read Sandes admitting, “There were a few times when running up a 1200m climb that I thought to myself bring back the heat, sand and flat of the deserts.”  I hope he was kidding!

So, officially I like Parr for the win and Bowman and Gorman filling out the steps.  That’s with my head.  Burch is my dark-horse in dramatic fashion!

What do the rest of you mountain running fans have to say about this big race?  The forum is open!

Remember to follow @Insidetrail on twitter for live race day coverage at the Leadville Trail 100 (#LT100).

Leadville Trail 100 Run

Ryan Burch

Dylan Bowman

Duncan Callahan

Neal Gorman

Jeff Browning

Ryan Sandes