Nick Clark and His Big Summer

The glory of ultrarunning, as demonstrated by Nick Clark at Western States.  Photo: Maxim Kazitov

The glory of ultrarunning, as demonstrated by Nick Clark at Western States. Photo: Maxim Kazitov

Join us today as we sit down with Nick Clark, fresh off his win at Wasatch 100 and completing a full summer of racing Ian Sharman for the fastest time over the course of four 100 milers (Western States, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch).  Hope you enjoy the show.

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2011 Wasatch 100, WMRC and IAU 100K World Championship Results and Wrap

A rare moment off his feet. Evan Honeyfield fueling to victory at Wasatch 100. Photo Duncan Callahan

At the Wasatch 100 the weather held with warmer than typical temperatures and Timmy Parr took it out hot himself, running splits that nearly matched Geoff Roes’ course record pace.  Unfortunately, the speedster faded with a sour stomach and low energy, eventually dropping at mile 62.  Evan Honeyfield capitalized on Parr’s falter and made his move.  Eschewing the “Lamb’s Canyon Rule” (leader at Lamb’s doesn’t win the race), Honeyfield pressed on and held the lead over hard charging Luke Nelson and ageless Karl Meltzer for the win in 19:31, the third fastest time in the history of the 32 year old race.  Meltzer surprized everyone with his appearance at the start after dealing with a back injury from Hardrock and then food poisoning/flu last week.

In the women’s race, Becky Wheeler shot off the start and ran in 1st all the way to the finish for the most part non-contended.

1st Evan Honeyfield – 19:31

2nd Luke Nelson – 19:52

3rd Karl Meltzer – 20:59

Women

1st Becky Wheeler – 25:53

2nd Emily Judd – 26:46

3rd Jody Aslett – 27:39

Full results found here.

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Via Matt at Inside Trail‘s Euro Bureau:  Americans feeling this globalization bug that’s going around.

@twitter/usmrt

To reiterate:  What a spectacular weekend for Americans in Europe.  Max King and Kasie Enman shocked the world on Sunday (yeah even the loyal teammate, coach, prescient prognosticator, grandma or cousin Vinnie was fairly surprised) with individual gold medals at the 27th World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana, Albania.  Although the men’s and women’s teams both finished fourth, just missing the podium, it’s safe to say  the USMRT and most racing fans can appreciate this .  On the men’s side, Joe Gray finished 11th, Ryan Woods 49th and Matt Byrne 51stInside Trail had a little preview and more or less overlooked the Americans.  Why?  A) take a look at results from previous WMRC trophy events, especially the last couple of years, which have been dominated by the Africans (Ugandan, Kenyan, and Eritrean runners to be specific) and Europeans;  B) have a gander at some of the recent race results of our two ringers, Max King and Joe Gray; and C) refer to the 12.47k  course, which set-up for more of “A”.

Although some certainly had their eye on Enman because of her return to health and consistent form, and her U.S. mountain running title at the Cranmore Hill Climb in New Hampshire, still this individual gold shattered her and her team’s expectations, especially considering she’s the first U.S. women’s world champ ever, not to mention her first participation in the WMRC.  Megan Lund-Lizotte finished 12th and Michelle Suszek ran into 21st for the American squad.

King’s result is also simply awesome.  Like Enman, he beat all comers at the Cranmore Hill Climb.  And he too delivered individual gold in Albania.  Max (52:06) was joined on the podium by Ahmet Arslan (52:41) from Turkey and one of the Italian Dematteis twins, Martin (52:57).  His brother Bernard (54:16) and Sierre-Zinal winner Marco De Gasperi (54:33) round-out the top 5.  So, what happened?  Since 2009 the Africans have largely smothered the top 10.  Not this year.  King actually recalls seeing one of the Ugandan runners late:  “[He] was 30 seconds ahead of me at the top of the third

photo: usmrt.com

climb and I passed him with about 800 meters to go. ”  Despite the pre-race odds, a little parity transpired in Tirana.

@twitter/usmrt

Quick spin: the course set-up was described as a mix of grass, dirt and single-track among a fairly typical amount of up and down (based on other WMRC trophy courses).  The rub was the less technical terrain;the faster African runners would enjoy the speedier conditions.  However, that sounds like a course that King might enjoy, as well.  “It was a good course for me having both the hard technical uphill and the fast and somewhat technical downhill. I had no idea I was in the lead until I crossed the finish line,” said King, who happens to be a seasoned and successful cross-country athlete.

What about his Sierre-Zinal 20th, or his DNS at Pikes Ascent?  Those (who know him or) perhaps caught Nick Clark’s interview of King prior to Sierre-Zinal might recall he talked about wanting to be ready for Worlds in September, despite sounding under the weather, maybe a bit uninspired.  To the contrary,  maybe he was simply finding his way to the WMRC start, a runner who had an A race focus, who executed to perfection, becoming the first American man to win the gold since Jay Johnson in 1987.

WMRC men’s and women’s results when they become available.

Either way, we have a couple of runners who knew exactly what was possible in Albania on that particular course,  in the face of so much international dominance.  Brilliant and inspired goods.  Congrats to Mr. King and Kasi Enman and American mountain running at large.  Let this inspire others to administer like carnage on the global stage.

Likewise, in the Netherlands Michael Wardian (6:42:49) and Andy Henshaw (6:44:35) ran 2nd and 3rd throughout most of the 2011 IAU 100k World Championships, trailing only Italy’s Giorgio Calcaterra (6:27:32), who also won this race in 2008.  Wardian and Henshaw, along with Matt Wood’s sixth place in 6:50:23, propelled the Americans to a team gold.  World travel at its finest.

The women’s team secured silver, highlighted by the incredible work of 50 year-old Meghan Arbogast’s 5th place in 7:51:10, Annette Bednosky’s 6th place in 7:54:59 and an 11th place finish from Amy Sproston in 8:10:11.  What are they smoking over there?  Especially Ms. Arbogast, who simply knows something the rest of the world is missing out on.  Congrats, ladies!  The race was won by Russia’s Marina Bychkova in 7:27:19.  Unfortunately, Ellie Greenwood recorded a DNF and was not able to repeat her victory from 2010, which shouldn’t dim her spectacular 2011 race season much at all, having already won the Frozen Ass 50, Chuckanut 50k, American River 50, Western States 100 and Powderface 42.

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 – After 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 – Consistent 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 – Thanks 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 – With 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