USA 100k Champion, Camille Herron

Join us today on Elevation Trail as we welcome newbie ultrarunner, Camille Herron. She chats about the blend and transition from elite road racing to ultrarunning and she makes her own beer (we think that is equally important to note). Please feel free to comment and/or ask her questions here or on our facebook page.

Thanks for listening and if you feel like supporting the show, please click on the paypal button over yonder on this page.

US 100k Champ Camille Herron

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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!

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.

 

USATF MUT Nominations (the-not-so soft pour)

USATF MUT Award

Thursday, we at Inside Trail tossed up one of those big neon softballs in the form of “Here’s the USATF MUT nominations. What do you think about it?” It was an intentional trial attempt at not laying out thick commentary of our observations in the hopes of drawing comments and thoughts from readers.

Regurgitating existing conversations or reposting current thoughts found elsewhere isn’t Inside Trail’s style, so we want to augment our last post with some IT-type questions and offer a bit of “substance of competition”. To begin, though, we need to understand what the criteria for the award is and how to interpret it. It seems that the qualifications have evolved over the last ten years. For instance, international competition was merely “encouraged” whereas it’s now a specific requirement.  As we’ll see, that turns out to be the doorman bouncer that keeps otherwise qualified candidates out of the party.

We’re not ones to sugarcoat things, so when I say that the USATF website is as jumbled as their year-long search for a new CEO, I’m simply pointing out facts. For example, the “History” section covers 133 years of history in approximately 100 words and thats for the overall history. There’s nothing other than an overview of the “joint subcommittee” of MUT being established in 1998 and annual meeting minutes from which to glean historical information regarding the MUT and, frankly, I’m not that interested to where I’ll spend a couple hours reading through meeting minutes. So, we’ll just start the discussion…

Tim: As I’ve pointed out above, there’s yet another weakness in the establishments attempting to manage our great sport. I don’t covet their task and assume it’s like trying to manage a wet bar of soap on tile. I did receive a response from Nancy Hobbs regarding the USATF MUT annual awards. The most important clarification I needed was whether “international competition” means competition off American soil or any race that has an international field, e.g. Western States. She confirmed that it means off US soil. That alone excludes Dave Mackey from contention for the USATF MUT Ultra Runner of the Year award. So, who does that leave? Obviously, the Mountain Runners of the Year have to be Max King and Kasie Enman. I’d like to focus on the ultra classification. Wardian is everyone’s obvious choice but let’s introduce Nick Pedatella into the mix. Heck, let’s talk about Pedatella for both USATF MUT Ultra Runner of the Year and UltraRunning Magazine’s UROY award. He flies low, under the radar with no blog, no sponsors, and a self effacing nature that screams “ah, shucks, I just run and that’s it.”  Matt, you actually pointed out Nick Pedatella’s stout season and obvious qualifications for consideration for BOTH of these awards. What’s your take on all this?

Matt: We quasi-academics like to complicate things. Before we get to an epic 10%ABV bottle of irony, let’s shore-up our superficial understanding of USATF, adding to what you said very well above. First of all, Matt Carpenter’s critical view of the USATF back in ’07 in an interview in Running Times seems to have a lot of traction (among the abundance of criticism out there). You allude to the lack of leadership, the organization still looking for a CEO for over a year, and just the simple lack of information that exists seems pretty indicative of how important these sports are to USATF discourse.

We might add that the MUT moniker was coined by Nancy Hobbs at a USATF convention in Florida in 1998 and two years later at a conference in Albuquerque the new MUT subcommittee was “elevated to the status of a Running Council.” Prior to that, USATF did have an Ultra Subcommittee, but no representation of mountain running. So, going on 11 years now, USATF has “supported” the mountain, ultra and trail running sports. The argument that the organization has a stake in American off-road racing does not possess much of a statistical argument (beyond some race results). In other words, if we’re going to be really honest here, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence that one might consider enough to engage the audience with a clear, articulate national (and even international) argument for trail and mountain running. And based on our requests for information from current USATF leadership being unequivocally denied, the organization does not appear too concerned either about its MUT ethical argument (“don’t you want us to like you?”). Nonetheless, the organization has had a huge presence in road and track, as you point-out, Tim, for over one hundred years. And even if the folks at USATF embrace MUT with their fingers, it’s, I guess, better than nothing.

On their website, under MUT Records & Lists, they provide some records of past USA Champions for the various ultra and trail distances. Please excuse the attention here on the men’s side. I will list here the men’s champs. Each distance category provides past winners. The road categories go back to the 60s whereas the trail races go back to the mid-to-late 90s.
· Michael Wardian is the 2011 50k road champ
· Todd Braje is the defending 50 mile road champ
o The 2011 50mile championship is next weekend – October 23, 2011
Tussey Mt. Ski Area – Boalsburg, PA
· Andy Henshaw is the 2011 100k road champ
· A 100 mile road championship hasn’t been run since 2003
· Max King is the current 50k trail champ (although this result is not listed)
· Jason Schlarb is the current 50mile trail champ
· The trail 100k category doesn’t exist, but Dave Mackey won that event back in January at Bandera
· The trail 100 mile link is dead (no records), yet Dave James won the 2011 100 Trail Championship at Burning River 100. The Mohican 100 appears to have been a venue used in the past, as well..
· Max King is the 2011 USA Mountain Champion (Cranmore Hill Climb)
· Max King is the defending Trail Marathon Champ
o The 2011 championship is Nov. 5th at the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon
· The 2011 10km Trail Champion is Joe Moore

Why did I list all of those? It’s informative, so go ahead and start nominating though you’ll have to wait on the trail marathon results and the 50mile road ultra results, as they have yet to run.

One thing seems pretty clear about the USATF: the 100mile distance doesn’t get the press that other trail and ultra distances do. Maybe that’s just me. Now, for your 2011 USATF Runners of the Year nominations, go back to the criteria in our previous post and start making your case for a mountain, ultra and trail runner.

Since the USATF winner of any MUT category must have raced abroad, Max King is clearly the 2011 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year (and indeed Kasie Enman is the women’s winner). As for the USATF Trail Runner of the Year, King looks suited for that too having added the ½ Marathon Trail Championship, the 50k Trail, and most likely the Trail Marathon in Nov. Joe Grey won the 15k trail. So, maybe Max doubles.

And then we have the 2011 USATF Ultra Runner of the Year award.
Front runners:

Michael Wardian: Look at his results. He’s raced abroad, nabbing 2nd at the 100k Worlds and he won the USATF 50k road championships. He also won the NFEC Kansas City 50miler, 3rd at Badwater, 3rd at NFEC Washington, and 2nd at UROC.

Andy Henshaw: 3rd at 100k Worlds, 4th at White River and a 1st at Lost Lake 50k and a stellar win at the 100k road championship.

Beyond that, you’re pretty stuck (though do complicate, please).

Dave Mackey is not eligible because he did not race abroad. Nick Clark’s Sierre-Zinal isn’t an ultra and his 100 miler podiums don’t seem like USATF material although his Jemez and Speedgoat wins seem admissible. But the international race criterion I think nips him in the bud.

Footfeathers and Nick Pedatella

We like a runner named Nick Pedatella for USATF Ultra Runner of the Year, too. He was 2nd American at UTMB (I believe 13th overall). He won Oil Creek 100, The Bear 100, was 2nd at Big Horn 100, 2nd at Speedgoat 50k, and 4th at Jemez. His international entry is HUGE. And he faired extremely well at 3 other 100s to go along with shorter ultra results in big races. The guy raced a lot. And podiumed a lot. We like him. A lot.

But the USATF may look elsewhere. Michael Wardian has won three straight Ted Corbitt Memorial USATF Ultra Runner of the Year Awards. Although last year he had a win at The Comrades 98k and a 3rd at Marathon de Sables, his 2011 looks pretty impressive again. I would only say look at Henshaw as well; though Wardian did beat him head-to-head in The Netherlands. Wardian seems a natural pick for USATF ultra award, again.

That’s the men’s USATF UROY.

I hope you’ve been doing the math because although Pedatella’s phenomenal year doesn’t seem to measure-up to the spirit of the USATF Ultra Runner of the Year award, we would like to take this opportunity to suggest that he might be the perfect dark horse for the other big ultra award, UROY.

This award, it is widely known, loves it some mountain 100 milers! The fact that Nick Clark is clearly one of the favorites based on two third places at two very prominent 100 milers is another indication of this trend. If you just look at the results, the comparison between Mackey and Clark isn’t quite that compelling. Mackey has had a HUGE year (And had he made it to the UTMB, even to run the CCC, that would have been his international entry and the USATF ultra runner of the year would be his). It’s tough to compare Mackey and Clark only because Mackey has more wins in some very prominent American ultras. The ONLY reason there is still a conversation is that Mackey doesn’t stack-up on the 100 scale. He only ran one. And he finished 6th. And Clark finished 3rd in the same race, the one between Squaw Valley and Auburn, California. Otherwise, Mackey won just about every race he entered (American River, Miwok, Waldo, Firetrails, etc.). There is nothing soft about Mackey’s race schedule. He had a mammoth year. Please, don’t get me wrong: Clark’s WS/HR double podium is epic, as well. His Jemez CR, fantastic. But I would give the nod to Mackey just on the statistical argument.

However, the other Nick (Pedatella) submits a resume for UROY that is unmistakably UROY-like (other than the fact that he did not race WS100). Try this: compare the Geoff Roes 2009 year with the Pedatella 2011 year. Although Roes was bagging course records at 100s (HURT, Wasatch and The Bear) and winning some smaller ultras, Pedatella ran 4 100s this year, won 2, finished 2nd American at a BRUTAL UTMB (juxtaposed with the slew of DNFs we all witnessed), 2nd to Clark at Speedgoat and 4th at Jemez.

So you say the Roes ’09 and Pedatella ’11 don’t quite compare? There isn’t the same level of dominance that Geoff displayed back in the day? I beg to differ, especially given who Pedatella is up against this year. For UROY, the 100 is the golden egg. It’s what’s holding-back the brilliant year of Dave Mackey. How is Pedatella not in the conversation? Talk about mind-boggling.

Here’s your exercise to narrow-down the running for UROY:

1. Look at the UROY past winners. Look at those winners’ race results.
2. Compare the 2011 Nick Clark to the 2011 Nick Pedatella. Look at their race results, especially in the 100.
3. Once you’ve decided between those two;
4. Compare Nick to Dave. Look at their race results, especially in the 100.

In the end, we have a problem here. I (along with others) assume the 100 is the main currency for the UROY judges. That’s what they like. It’s indisputable. However, we don’t really know. You know what happens when we assume things.

Another observation that I may as well mention, which ultimately hurts Nick Pedatella, is the sense that the UROY award seems to also value an athlete’s visibility, or even popularity. I sure hope that’s not the case; granted, I know visibility comes from an active racing schedule, racing big buzz events, and getting results. But it’s just something we’ve noticed and that seems to be a factor negatively affecting Pedatella. Based on the numbers, there’s no way he should not be in the UROY conversation (or even the USATF UROY conversation).

And what about this bottle of irony I’ve opened. It’s the fact that based on all the factors and flawed ultra awards processes, Dave Mackey could be empty-handed when it’s all said and done. Most likely he wins UROY, but if that’s the case, then what happens to the “criteria” UROY has subtly conveyed to its audience over the years? Sure it’s that magazine’s award and they can do whatever they want. But not really.

Luckily, we won’t be thinking about this later this month when the 50mile Road Championships goes off, nor in November when Max King tries to defend his trail marathon championship. We certainly won’t give a rat’s ass when the boys line-up in the Marin Headlands in December among all the rest of the great trail racing taking place in the next few months.

I’m not sure what Dave Mackey will be thinking, but maybe even the prospect of such a turn of events with these hokey awards will light a little fire for this little race in December. Awards or not, he and the rest of these elite runners are having incredible years, enjoying the ups and downs of the literal and proverbial trail.

Nick Pedatella in his iconic striped green racing shirt. Photo: Jeff Montgomery

In closing, keep your eye on Nick Pedatella. His numbers have a lot of class. He can not be discounted. Do the math. As for Inside Trail’s “little darling,” [DM] I think 2011 is a win-win. He most likely wins the coveted UROY. Or he gets [N]icked in the final vote count. And comes back pissed and hungry for an even “insaner” 2012.

That’s what I think, Tim.

USATF 2011 MUT Nominations Forum

You’ve probably seen or heard the announcement for 2011 USATF MUT runners of the year awards.  Certainly a lot of talk has circulated regarding UROY.  Let’s here focus on the USATF awards, which seem significant and should be more significant since there seems to be a broad, diverse collection of voters looking at relatively clear assessment criteria and the awards cover a variety of open and masters men’s and women’s race results.

This is absolutely a call for comments since so many of you have a great deal of experience with USATF, some of its races, who know some of the eligible athletes, and may even have a bit to say about this awards process.

Does the USATF do a good job supporting the sport and its athletes (does it do enough)? Or is it more an unfortunate case of a token recognition process made by an organization that’s merely established “a council […] called MUT (Mountain/Ultra/Trail) — an appropriate moniker since USATF treats these sports like mutts and feeds them bones” (Matt Carpenter, Running Times, 2007).  Let’s give USATF the benefit of the doubt and say it’s still coming to grips with a more fringe sport still making its way to “prime time” or the “big screen” (either way I didn’t say mainstream).

Here’s the announcement.  Take look and tell us what you think.

Nominations open for 2011
USATF Mountain Runners of the Year – Open andMasters
USATF Trail Runners of the Year – Open andMasters
USATF Ultra Runners of the Year – Open andMasters
USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail Contributor of the Year

TheMountain/Ultra/Trail running (MUT) council of long distance runningwill select the
2011 USATFMountain Runners of the year and Ultra Runners of the Year based on
nominations received from interested athletes, coaches, and administrators involved in the sport.
The following is the selection criteria for the 2011 USATFMountain and Ultra Runners of the
Year:

1) Nominated athlete must show top results in U.S. mountain/trail competitions for 2011
(November 1, 2010 through October 1, 2011) – this will include mountain races (these may
be on paved/gravel surfaces as long as there is significant elevation loss or gain) and trail
races of varying lengths below the ultra distance. USATF ultra runners of the year results on
trail and ultra road courses above the marathon distance in both national and international
competition.
2) The nomination window includes the period: Nov 1, 2010 through Oct 1, 2011
3) Show top results in international competitions for 2011
4) Be an ambassador for the sport – athlete promotes and supports mountain running
5) Be a USATF member for 2011 – athleteMUST have a current USATF membership
6) To be considered for the masters category, athlete must be a minimum of 40 years of age.

To nominate an athlete, send BYOctober 25, 2011, the following information to
trlrunner@aol.com and dave.dunham@comcast.net .
Nominated athlete’s name, age or birth date (if you know it), athlete contact information, brief
bio, reason for nomination in 2011. Anyone and everyone is welcome to nominate an athlete (or
in the case of COY – an individual, company, etc.). An athlete may also nominate
himself/herself.

Nominations received by October 25 will be considered in the selection process. After all
nominations are compiled, the MUT council will vote (by October 30) for the mountain runner
and ultra runners of the year from nominations received. The USATFMountain Ultra and Trail
Runners of the Year will be announced at or before the annual convention in St Louis in
December. Should you have any questions about the procedure, please contact: Dave Dunham at
dave.dunham@comcast.net

We also will accept nominations for contributor of the year for mountain, ultra, trail. Past
Contributor of the Year recipients have been: American Ultra RunningAssociation, Teva, La
Sportiva, North Texas Trail Runners, the Mad City 100 km, theWhiteMountain Milers, Scott
McCoubrey, Paul Kirsch, and Bob and Anita Teschek.

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!