The North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco, 50-mile Championships Preview (Ladies)

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50

The North Face Endurance Challenge continues to cause a lack of sleep and the red eye continues with a look at the ladies field. Without doubt, just like the men’s field, we have a line up here to create enough excitement to continue on through the Christmas period and into the New Year.

Emelie Forsberg Ice-Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg Ice-Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg returns and after the year she has had and in addition to being defending champion, how could we possibly not think that Emelie would not win this race! Emelie oozes talent and she’s one of the nicest people I know to boot. This makes the perfect trail running package. 2012 was a great year for Emelie; she burst onto the scene at Zegama-Aizkorri and then continued through ‘12’ going head-to-head with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. To be honest, you could have no better peers to learn from and learn Emelie did. By the end of the year she had progressed to longer distance racing at Cavalls del Vent and then followed that up with a sublime performance at San Fran for not only the win but also the big bucks prize money! 2013 saw the progression continue and Emelie is now regarded as arguably one of the best ultra/ mountain runners in the world. Transvulcania La Palma, Zegama-Aizkorri, Trans D’Havet, UROC and most recently a 2nd place in her first 100-miler at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). However, Emelie has not had it her own way in 2013. Twice she has been relegated by another star of the future, Stevie Kremer. Emelie post ‘Reunion’ was tired and quite rightly she removed her Salomon shoes and had a rest. Unfortunately she also picked up some illness which ultimately meant 20-days of no exercise. She recently got back on skis and other than the odd 30-minute run has done arguably no run training for the last 6-8 weeks. However, you can’t rule Emelie out in any race she enters, in addition, it looks like Emelie will have no other than Kilian Jornet on ‘pacing’ duty in this race. At least that is what she said last week… of course Kilian would need to agree and then decide if he can keep up with her!

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Steph Howe placed 2nd behind Emelie at UROC and placed 2nd behind Emelie at San Fran last year, without doubt, Stephanie would have been my hot tip for potential victory this year. However, this is all academic, word is on the TNF grapevine that Stephanie will not run. I have emailed Stephanie for a confirmation on this. From Stephanie: “Hi Ian, I’m not racing I’m taking a break to prepare for the 2014 season. I raced a lot this year and battled a lot of injuries. I want to give myself a break so I can kick butt next year.”

Cassie Scallon will push Emelie and everyone else in this race. Without doubt, Cassie is probably one of the best 50-mile female racers in the US at the moment. Anyone who can put 20+ minutes into Rory Bosio needs to be highly respected and elevated to ‘hot favourite’ status. Cassie hasn’t really excelled beyond 50-miles and I therefore wonder that even if Emelie is not her ‘best’ shape, she may well be able to pull on the power and experiences gained in some of her longer races and find that ‘extra’ that may just give her the win.

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio may well have pulled off female performance of the year after her incredible performance at TNFUTMB. Rory obliterated the ladies field and pretty much obliterated the men’s field. Her 7th place overall is really quite ridiculous and therefore one has to assume that if Rory is in good shape a place on the podium is secure. However, Rory can run hot and cold. She told me in Chamonix that she is not competitive, that she just loves to run… I am not sure about that, I saw plenty of competitive grit in and around Mont-Blanc but I also witnessed someone having a blast! The 100-mile distance may well suit Rory more and of course, with such a great UTMB done and dusted, Rory may well be happy to represent her TNF sponsor and have a fun day on the trails.

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

If Michele Yates pulls off a win at TNFEC50 not only will she have had an incredible final 3-months of 2013 but she will also have topped the podium on prize money. Her win at Run Rabbit Run, 3rd place at UROC and then of course possible win in San Fran could arguably provide $20K+ in rewards. That is serious money and just goes to show how the sport is moving. Ultimately though, Michele must be feeling a little tired and jaded. But hey, so are Emelie, Rory, Cassie and the rest… Michelle can win this race, no doubt.

Anna Frost La Palma ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost La Palma ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost has had a tough year. The 2011 champion of San Francisco 50 when in form is unstoppable. However, 2013 has been a tough year for Frosty, she has been plagued by health issues and ultimately if Frosty makes the start line here and has a trouble free and unpressured run, that is a bonus. Recently she has spent 6-8 weeks in Morocco and Nepal with Lizzy Hawker. Although participating in races, she has had no pressure and the priority has been to enjoy the trails and find inner piece and health. I think she has found it. All emphasis and priority at San Francisco must be about preparation for 2014. Run well Frosty, we all want to see you back in 2014 with the strength, dominance and force of your 2012 Transvulcania La Palma performance.

My wild card is Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. Who you may ask? Well, Magdalena gained my attention earlier this year when she raced in Poland at the WMRA championships. She placed 11th at that race but I don’t think that performance shows her potential. Magdalena is a 2:26 marathon runner and as far as I know, I don’t think any other lady in the San Fran field has a marathon time even close to this? In addition, Magdalena is a 2x Bronze medalist at the IAAF World Cross Country Champs (team comp). San Francisco may well provide the platform and the terrain to allow this Polish lady to let rip and cause some devastation.  In a side note, Magdalena won the San Francisco Marathon in 2002. Watch this space!

Joelle Vaught has had a great 2013 season with a string of wins; Foothills 50k, McCall Trailrunning Classic 40m, Pocatello 50, Silver Plate 50 and Wilson Creek 50. A recent 2nd place at Waldo 100k continues and confirms Joelle’s ability over the 50-60 mile distance. Joelle placed 13th at San Francisco last year which arguably is a below par performance that may well be attributed to just a ‘bad day’ or the conditions did not suit her. I am pretty sure that based on recent form she will be looking to come back and improve on her previous best of 2nd in 2009.

Aliza Lapierre with 3rd and 6th place at Western States in recent years has to be a contender for the crown in San Francisco. Aliza recently raced Vermont 50 and beat her old course record with a time of 7:01 so her form is good. Looking at her records, Aliza also has wins and CR’s at Bull Run 50, Stone Cat 50, Pineland Farms 50 and Bandera 100k in the last 3-years so the combination of distance and speed is going to suit her.

Finally, Ashley Arnold is the 2013 Leadville Champion and therefore gets a nod here. However, her 2013 results are sparse and on ultrasignup her only other result for this year is a win at White River 50m in 8:28. Your guess is as good as mine?

In a similar vein to the men’s field, although the top-3 is likely to come from one the ladies above, it is quite possible that one of the ladies below will pull something out of the bag and create a surprise

Keri Bruxvoort – 5th at UROC and arguably she should be in the list above considering she won Run Rabbit Run 50m too.

Melanie Bos – second at Hurt 100 in 2013

Megan Kimmel – more a short distance runner with 2 victories in 2013

Catrin Jones – notable result in 2013 was 2nd behind Steph Howe at Gorge waterfalls and a win at Squamish 50

So there you have it… if you missed the men’s preview, you can read it HERE 

  • Who are your picks for the ladies and men’s race?
  • Who will surprise us?
  • Who will under perform?

Ultra Race of Champions – UROC – Race Preview 2013

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All good things must come to an end and it is no different for the Skyrunner Ultra World Series. The five series long championship is four races down with just one to go. An incredible start on the island of La Palma with Transvulcania La Palma and victories for Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg was followed with the tough and challenging 100-mile, Ronda dels Cims seeing Julien Chorier and Francesca Canepa shine. Ice Trail Tarentaise in Val D’Isère tested all with altitude, snow and ice and once again saw the ever present and dominant duo of Kilian and Emelie take convincing victories. Speedgoat 50k in Utah saw and impressive course record by Sage Canaday and a ladies victory by Steph Howe.

So with one race left. It’s all to fight for. Arguably one of the most impressive fields of 2013 will line up in Vail, Colorado for the 100-km, Ultra Race of Champions (UROC). The fifth and final event will not only see two champions from the race but also two Skyrunner Ultra World Series champions crowned (three events for five award points).

Let’s be clear, UROC is not a 100-km world championship race it is merely the final race in the Skyrunning ‘ULTRA’ world series and is such will be a decisive race in both the men’s and ladies overall classification.

UROC sees the race as a championship event for the sport of ultra distance running.  This, I believe is a title they have imposed on themselves, for sure, they have a great line up and without doubt, the concept of an ultra race of champions rings true! The objective is to bring together annually the year’s best ultra runners in the first ever ‘formal’ ultra running championship event, but at the same time has the appeal of being open to one and all. It’s an admiral claim and one that ambassadors of the sport would seem at least in principal, to agree with.

“There is a growing demand for a trail ultra running event that celebrates and encourages as many top level runners as possible to come together on the same trail, on the same day, to compete in a true championship style race. In UROC, I think we finally have an event with a desire and a commitment to meet this demand. I can’t wait to toe the line in September with the field of elite runners this race draws.”Geoff Roes, UROC 2011 Champions, UROC Elite Advisory Council Member, Two Time Ultra Runner of the Year.

“UROC is an amazing opportunity for the best in the ultra running sport to test themselves on a course that favors no one. May the best all around runner win.”Max King 

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Of course, as ultra sport progresses, the desire for prize money progresses and UROC is do different. It has a very healthy set of cash prices available. The cash reward system is something that Skyrunning have had in place for some time and not only are prices award by the ISF at every Skyrunning race (VK, Sky and Ultra) they also award cash prices for the respective world champions, in each Skyrunning category.

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Cash Purse: (awarded by UROC)

Champions Male/Female:    $5000.00

Runner Up Male/Female:    $2000.00

Third Place Male/Female:    $1500.00

Fourth Place Male/Female:  $1000.00

Fifth Place Male/Female:     $500.00

Other Race Premiums will include $250 King/Queen of the Mountain, $250 First Male/Female to Copper MT Ski Area and $250 for the Winners of the Corporate Cup Challenge 

The course in detail (please note, the 2013 route is a ‘new’ route)

Overall Distance:  100K

Course Type:  Point-to-Point

Course details:

  • Section One (Mile 0 to Mile 13): Start in Breckenridge- Elevation 9600 feet.  The race travels toward Peak 8 to an elevation of 11,000 feet.
  • Section Two (Mile 13 to Mile 27):  Breckenridge to Frisco- Elevation 9100 feet.  The race travels over Ten-Mile range at an elevation of 12,408 feet on the Colorado trail between Peaks 5 & 6.
  • Section Three (Mile 27 to Mile 40): Frisco to Copper Mountain Ski Area- Elevation 9712 feet.  The race travels over Vail Pass at an elevation of 10,622 feet.
  • Section Four (Mile 40 to Mile 45):  Copper Mountain to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Vail Mountain at 9170 feet to Minturn, CO at an elevation of 7,861 feet.
  • Section Five (Mile 45 to Mile 51):  Minturn to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Minturn to Vail Mountain on the Game Creek Trail.
  • Section Six (Mile 51 to Mile 62):  Vail Mountain to Vail Village- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Vail Mountain to Vail Village at an elevation of 8150 feet.

Estimated Total Vertical Gain:  13,245 feet

Elevation loss:   12,379  feet

Maximum altitude: 12,408 feet or 3782 meters at the Ten Mile Pass between Peak 5 and Peak 6

Percent of paved road: 19%

Technical Features: The Ultra Race of Champions crosses 4 passes or peaks above 12,140 feet or 3700 meters.

Aid Stations: 9

Time Limit: 19 hours 30 minutes

Interactive Route Maphttp://www.mapmyrun.com/us/breckenridge-co/uroc-vail-2013-route-112588745

Content taken from UROC website ©

THE 2013 RACE

Stacked! It’s a word we have used multiple times in 2013 but if ever a race was stacked, it’s the 2013 edition of UROC. In the men’s race I have thirty-two names of note! Yes, thirty-two.

  • Max King
  • Dave Mackey
  • Sage Canaday
  • Anton Krupicka (not racing due to injury)
  • Dakota Jones
  • Cameron Clayton
  • Mick Donges
  • Rickey Gates
  • Pablo Crado Toca
  • Gustavo Reyes
  • Mike Wardian
  • Luke Nelson
  • Matt Flaherty
  • Trent Briney
  • Dylan Bowman
  • Troy Howard
  • Duncan Callahan
  • Ty Draney
  • Karl Meltzer (not racing)
  • Adam Campbell (not racing)
  • Paul Terranova
  • Josh Arthur
  • Ryan Burch
  • Gary Gellin
  • Michael Versteeg
  • Justin Ricks
  • Brian Tinder
  • James Walsh
  • Mike Wolfe
  • Joe Grant (possibility of not racing tbc)
  • Martin Gafurri
  • Rob Krar
  • Kilian Jornet

For the ladies race it is an equally impressive field with fifteen names that stand out and shine,

  • Tina Lewis (not racing)
  • Francesca Canepa
  • Kristina Folcik
  • Shannon Price
  • Jen Benna
  • Ashley Arnold
  • Helen Cospolitch
  • Michele Yates
  • Devon Yanko
  • Darcy Africa
  • Tracy Hoeg
  • Anita Ortiz
  • Fernanda Maciel
  • Steph Howe
  • Emelie Forsberg
  • Kerrie Bruxvoort

It would be quite possible to look at the lists above and say, take a pick. Anyone of the listed runners on the right day could come away with victory.

As with all previews, I have to put my neck on the line and look at the likely contenders.

Males

Kilian Jornet has gone from strength to strength and just never really seems to have a bad day. His list of results and achievements in 2013 is second to none. Not only is he performing at the highest-level at all three disciplines in the Skyrunning calendar (VK, Sky and Ultra) but he is also setting record in his ‘Summits’ project. In actual fact, as I write this he is in Russia for an attempt at Mt Elbrus. So, how will Kilian perform at UROC? He will be at the front, pushing and without doubt will be highly competitive. Can he win? Of course, it’s Kilian. However, the lack of really high mountains, technical terrain and 19% of road will not play to the Catalans abilities.

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

If ever a course was made for Sage Canaday, this course is probably it. The mixture of trail, road and climbing ticks all the right boxes and we all know after a disappointing performance at Sierre-Zinal, Sage took some rest and has been extremely focused on performing in Vail. Add to this his win and course record at Speedgoat 50k and a top placing at Transvulcania; Sage is also in a great place for the overall Skyrunning World Series title.

Previous winner of UROC, Max King will be looking to repeat his 2012 performance. A world mountain running champion and 2:15 ‘ish’ marathon runner, Max, like Sage has the ability to win once again. However, he is mixed things up in 2013 and he is short on racing long. UROC at 100-km may just be a little too long?

Rob Krar until recently was relatively unknown, however his FKT at the rim-to -rim-to rim rectified that. Having secured a place at Western States at a previous race he went to his first 100-miler with respect. At the finish, he had placed top three and in doing so is now without doubt a one-to-watch. For sure, the 100-km distance will suit all aspects of Krar’s running abilities and he won’t mind 19% of road too… his background is well established in road running.

Dakota Jones recently pulled out of TNFUTMB and has been pretty quiet in 2013. However, if Dakota is turning up, you can guarantee he is running to win. Nobody would question that Dakota may very well be standing on top of the podium come the 28th.

Cameron Clayton ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton will love the UROC course and as per usual he will be fired up and ready to race. He loves to push hard from the start and hold on. If he does this it at UROC, he will have no shortage of followers. However, the secret is to keep at the front! Cameron’s recent races have been a little mixed and he was nursing a foot problem. He came through Matterhorn Ultraks well and that must bode well for UROC.

Rickey Gates has already had a full season of racing and travelling. He is always a consistent top ten performer and as he has shown in Europe this year, he has had great results in France and Italy on some tough and technical European mountains.

Matt Flaherty has performed real well over 50m with a win at American River 50, fourth at Ice Age Trail and second at Cayuga Trail in June. He has been relatively quiet since then so maybe UROC is his ‘A’ race?

Dylan Bowman had a great Western States finishing just behind Ian Sharman; however, just recently he had to pull out of TNFUTMB with injury. The question mark for Dylan will be if he has the form after some time off.

Finally, Mike Wolfe. Wolfepaw is back, his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner was a great run. But turning up at TNFUTMB with all that running and time in his legs was just too much and he dropped relatively early on. With some RnR post Chamonix; with luck Mike will be fit and firing on all cylinders in Colorado.

I could go on… just look at the list above. So many names to choose from and so many could be in this preview, Mike Wardian for one has been a podium finisher at UROC before, don’t rule him out.

Ladies

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg has been dominant in 2013. Her performances and her ability over multiple distances and terrain are second to none. However, UROC will be her first 100km race, this will provide a new challenge for Emelie. Like Kilian, this course may well prove to be lacking altitude and technicality but Emelie does like to run fast, just as she proved at San Francisco last December.

Devon Yanko (Crosby-Helms) has had a quiet 2013, her only significant result was second at Chuckanut 50k. She has started a bakery and apparently that is the priority. But I am sure she will be coming to UROC with a win in mind. To be honest, Devon may well pull it off. She is a great marathon runner and the 100km distance suits her (4th at Comrades in 2012).  The road section will allow her to push and that may very well be all she needs to make a decisive move. Her list of results is impressive, very impressive.

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa has had quite a 2013. With a win at Ronda dels Cims, top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise and just recently a return win at the super tough, 330km, Tor des Geants. UROC for sure will be too fast and not hard enough for Francesca; she also may very well be just a little tired!

Helen Cospolich is a three times finisher at TNFUTMB, her best performance came in 2011 with 6th so she packs endurance punch. She recently returned to Mont Blanc but had to drop through illness. She has recently been training on the UROC course and has now covered the whole route; without doubt, Helen will be looking to put TNFUTMB behind her with a podium in Vail. In 2013 she already has had a string of top placing’s, second at Desert Rats, third at Miwok 60km, second at Silver Rush 50m and finally third at Power of Four 50km in early August.

Darcy Africa once again has had a string of top three places in 2013. At Telluride she placed second, second at Squaw Peak 50, third at Coyote Cohorts Backbone 68m but importantly she has won at Hardrock 100 (again) and Miwok 60km. Darcy has a little of everything and on her day could win at UROC.

Steph Howe has had two great results in 2013, victories at Speedgoat 50k and Gorge Waterfalls 50k. The big question mark comes if she can take that speed to double the distance?

Kristina Folcik will be smiling all the way around UROC that is for sure. She had a great race at Cayuga and will hope to bring that winning form to this race. She says on her blog (dangergirldh.com) that she is, ‘an ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life’.

Ashley Arnold placed 16th at Leadville 100 (won the ladies race) recently and 15th at White River 50m; so, one would think that she currently has the form to contend the podium. Ashley is certainly more consistent over the 50k and 50m distance so the 100km may just be a stretch for her considering the speed that this race will be run. Leadville is a very different race to UROC.

Kerrie Bruxvoort placed 1st at Run Rabbit Run 50 on Sept 13th so she must come to UROC a little tired and jaded. Earlier this year she placed 16th at Western States so that contrast between the two races is high. Despite this contrast, Kerrie has won Quad Rock 50 and Zane Grey this year, so, the 50m distance is her forte, can she stretch out her performance for those other twelve miles.

Tracy Hoeg has had a quiet 2013 but in 2012 she had repeated success over 50km and 50m with a fourth, two third places, a second place and a win. As far as I know, her results beyond 50-miles are sparse, so Tracy comes to UROC a relative potential dark horse.

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel has been racing a lot in 2013 but she has been plagued with a few niggles. At the CCC she was having a great race but an old injury flared up causing her to drop. Certainly longer races suit her but this may just not be technical enough.

Finally, Anita Ortiz, Speedgoat winner from 2008 will join UROC. She has quite a pedigree but it is almost impossible to say what her current form is like. She has been a US Mountain Running Champion several times, won Western States and she has also won Pikes Peak, so, she has a great mix of endurance, speed and altitude adaptation; she may be a surprise on the day!

One thing is for sure, UROC will certainly be an exciting race and great way to end the Skyrunner Ultra World Series.

Links:

UROC website HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Leadville 100 – Men’s Race Summary

Did you read the script for the 2013 men’s Leadville 100? It went something like this…

2011 winner, Ryan Sandes would return fired up for victory after missing Western States due to injury. Ryan, the outright favorite would be pushed by Ultra legend, Scott Jurek. Scott after a few years away from competitive running would return to the 100-mile distance and push for the win. Mike Aish, fast man from New Zealand would learn lessons from his 2012 blow up and contend for the podium. A race within the race would continue with Grand Slam leaders, Ian Sharman and Nick Clark would push each other to the limits racing the third 100 in seven weeks but due to added fatigue would not contend for the podium!

So how did I think the race would pan out? Well, I thought Aish would take the lead relatively early on. Using his natural speed he would gain a gap and then spend much of the first half of the race looking behind him…  Ryan Sandes and Scott Jurek would match each other stride for stride all the way to Hope Pass and then the race would start. They would pick up pacers and then Sandes would slowly move away, catch Aish, move past and then Jurek would pursue. In the process Aish would blow but not enough to stop the race. With Jurek in second place, Sharman and Clark would now pursue. They would both catch Aish and Clark would move away and reduce some of his time gap on Sharman and thus making the final race in the ‘Slam’ a really exciting nail biter. The podium would be Sandes, Jurek and Clark.

Well, you may as well rip that script up. The race is done and what a race. What initially appeared to be a race with very few surprises up at the front end, it actually turned into a really exciting nail biter and it just goes to show that the 100-mile distance and in particular, those that race the distance can never be counted on for being predictable.

The Race

With a 0400 start, the early pace was steady. However, at May Queen, mile 13.5 a lone Ian Sharman was in the lead by just under two minutes with all the main contenders chasing. Wasn’t Sharman supposed to be a little tired? This was his third 100n in seven weeks… either he knew something that we didn’t or he was on a suicide mission.

At mile 22 ‘Powerline’ we got back on script with Mike Aish taking the lead. He was alone and out in front. That’s more like it. We are back on prediction and this race is settling nicely.

Behind Aish the chasers had fragmented a little but we had no big surprises, well, no big surprises other than Scott Jurek was a little further back than expected, but with less than 25% of the race done, this was surely the experience of a master of his craft keeping calm.

Aish continued to push and at Twin Lakes he was 10 minutes inside Matt Carpenter’s CR split. Okay, we started to ask the question, how much had Aish learnt from his blow up in 2012 and were we about to witness and incredible performance? When second place arrived, Aish had an eighteen-minute lead. Wow, this was getting exciting.

It was early days but at 40-miles of the Leadville course covered and Aish having a commanding lead of approximately twenty minutes over Sandes, Sharman, Clark, Jurek, Catalano and so on, a counter move was going to need to come or Aish was going to need to slow.

At Hopeless Pass, mile 44.5 signs of fatigue started to show on Aish. Sandes, Clark and Sharman had closed to within fifteen minutes. The big news here came from Scott Jurek; he was thirty-four mins down on Aish and although in sixth place was obviously struggling. The pre race script was starting to be rewritten.

Winfield and the 50-mile turn point. A key moment in the race and an opportunity for runners to collect pacers. Of course, the other big advantage here is that you get an opportunity to look at the gaps between runners and also how they look. Sharman arrived in second place and had closed to within eleven minutes of Aish. Clark arrived five minutes after Sharman and the news came that Ryan Sandes was dropping from the race. He was in severe hip and back pain and took the wise choice to retire. It was a sad moment for Ryan, his 2012 season was incredible and 2013 has been plagued by problems. Ryan sent me a message; “I have had some bad luck the last few months. Never nice to DNF but was hobbling with my back …. Getting old;) thanks for all.” Of course, Ryan will be back and his decision to drop without doubt is the best long-term decision.

Scott Jurek was now in fifth place and just under thirty minutes behind Sharman. Were we going to witness a classic Jurek comeback?

Returning through Hopeless AS at mile 55.5, Sharman had closed to within six minutes of Aish. Was it really possible that Sharman and Clark racing the third 100 in seven weeks would contend the top slot at Leadville?

At mile 60, Aish and Sharman were together, Clark was third and Jurek was fourth fifty-five minutes back. The 2013 Leadville 100 was turning into an epic race and of course, we had the race within the race for the Grand Slam.

Returning to Half Pipe at mile 70, Sharman had taken the lead, Clark was second 16.5 minutes in arrears and Aish was third and obviously paying for his early efforts. We know had a scenario that in all reality, I had not anticipated. Of course Sharman and Clark had every possibility of winning Leadville but not during the Grand Slam with tired bodies. Would we really see these two battle it out?

At Half Pipe, Aish rested for fourteen minutes. Yes, fourteen minutes. I suppose the luxury of his time gap of Jurek allowed for this and the pace of Sharman and Clark made him realize he was fighting for third.

With twenty miles to go, Clark was just under seventeen minutes behind Sharman. It was all to play for… twenty miles is a long with eighty miles in tired legs.

May Queen, mile 86,5 and Clark had closed a little, the gap was just under fifteen minutes. Armed with the news, Sharman dug deep pushed, he later said on twitter, “Thank you everyone for all the messages. Overwhelmed by the responses about ‪#‎LT100. Hurt like hell at the end.”

At the finish, a victorious Ian Sharman crossed the line in 16:30. He had opened up his gap on Nick Clark by thirty-three minutes. Mike Aish most definitely had learnt from his 2012 experience and held on for third.

It was an incredible race and I need to give huge credit to Bryon Powell and the iRunFar team for providing the step-by-step action via twitter.

I wouldn’t normally write such a detailed account about a race that I had not attended, but the action that unfolded in Leadville may well turn out to be one of those iconic races we all remember. To see two runners, Sharman and Clark, perform at such a high level when so far into the Grand Slam is inspirational. In addition, it also provides a lesson for us all. A 100-miles is a long way, anything can happen and no matter how we think a race may unfold, every now and again, the book gets thrown out of the window and we are treated to an inspiring and iconic race. In addition, Mike Aish also showed that taking a break to recoup and recharge is no bad thing, his fourteen-minute break did him no harm and he still made the podium.

Many congratulations to all.

Attention now turns to final race in the Grand Slam, Wasatch. It will only take Ian Sharman to have a so, so day and for Nick to be flying… exciting!

I will be catching up with Nick for the next episode of Talk Ultra so make sure you check out Episode 42 out on Friday 23rd August.

What is the Grand Slam?

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning award is recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The “Slam” consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Award was established in 1986, when Tom Green was the first finisher.

Results:

MEN

  1. Ian Sharman 16:30 (4th fastest time)
  2. Nick Clark 17:06
  3. Mike Aish 18:28
  4. Kyle Pietari 18:37
  5. Andrew Catalano 18:43
  6. Timo Meyer 19:04
  7. Eric Sullivan 19:17
  8. Scott Jurek 19:21
  9. Bob Africa 19:38
  10. Javier Montero 19:45

LADIES

  1. Ashley Arnold 20:25
  2. Saheen Sattar 22:42
  3. Keila Merino 22:47
  4. Katrin Silva 23:16
  5. Becca Hall 23:43
  6. Kara Henry 23:50
  7. Abby Mcqueeney Menamonte 24:06
  8. Maddy Hribar 24:24
  9. Nicole Struder 24:25
  10. Maggie Nelson 24:37

TNF 50 Miler San Francisco

Just when you thought it was the end of the season and then low and behold a 50 miler rears its head on the calendar with a stacked field, yes, The North Face Endurance 50 mile Challenge presented by Gore-Tex. The race takes place in the Marin Headlands, north of San Francisco.

*update 27/11/12 Looks like the weather is going to play a major factor this weekend with a weather front coming in. This always shakes things up and you can expect this to influence the overall results considerably.

The Men

Mike Foote – UTMB 2012

Talk Ultra interviewee Mike Wolfe is returning to the race he won last year. Mike has had a mixed 2012 so he is going to be looking for a good performance here. He told me that training had gone well and that he is in good shape. Great to hear.

Good friend of Wolfepaw is Mike Foote. Footey placed 9th last year but after a great performance at UTMB (3rd), Bighorn 100 and the recent TNF EC in Chile I am sure he will be fired up for this race.

The last time I spoke to Tony Krupicka he told me he was running the race and that he was running to win. This was on the back of his 2nd place at Cavalls del Vent. I am well aware that Tony has been training well but I am not sure if he will be present on the start? I will update as soon as I know. *update 27/11/12 Tony has stated on his blog that he will not be racing.

Sage Canaday is without doubt a potential winner for the race and I originally missed him as he was not on my start list, He set a course record at White River 50 (incredible run) and ran very strong at UROC to finish behind Max King. We also can’t rule out Dave Mackey. Dave performs consistently well at 100k and was 4th at Western States. He races a little less than others so you can be sure if he toes the line it is to run hard.

Timothy Olson would have been mentioned here but has decided not to race and run with his wife. He is keeping his powder dry for 2013. Jez Bragg is off to New Zealand and Dakota Jones is resting, so that therfeore leaves the door open…

Fast man Ian Sharman will enjoy tho terrain but just the other weekend raced well at JFK so this may spoil his chances of a top 3, however, Adam Campbell will becoming into this race relatively fresh after injury issues mid year.

Dylan Bowman has raced super hard all year with some great results. His 2nd place at Run Rabbit Run behind Speedgoat Karl and 7th at Western States should mean he will be contending at the front but will he have that turn of speed to contend with Wolfe, Foote, Sharman and Campbell?

Hal Koerner has had a stacked 2012 and performed consistently well. I see him being in the top 10 here but not at the front of the race contending for the podium.

Rickey Gates comes to this race after some super strong performances in 2012 and may very well be a dark horse. Equally Chris Kollar (he had a disappointing Western States) comes to San Fran after some really solid results at Grand Teton 50k, Ice Age 50 and the The Bear.

Francois d’Haene is coming from Europe along with his Salomon team mate, Miguel Heras and Team Manager, Greg Vollet. Francois has had a great year and just recently won the ‘Trailwalker’ with his Salomon France team mates. He has the ability but I can’t help but think it is late in the year for him… Miguel Heras is finishing off his year well after early disappointments and he will be running hard here. Greg Vollet may very well be another dark horse to move up the field and take a few runners by surprise.

The mens field is stacked and by no means have I covered everybody here but I think we will see the podium come from the above names. One other mention, Martin Cox from the UK. Look out for him.

The Ladies

Emelie Forsberg – Trofeo Kima 2012

Firstly, Frosty and Ellie Greenwood are not on the start line. Frosty needs to recover and Ellie need to rest. So that does open things up a little… if we thought the mens race was stacked, the ladies is super stacked.

Emelie Forsberg is coming over from Europe after an incredible 2012 season. Emelie would have been my top tip but I wonder if this is either one race too many or a race too late in the year? She has all the potential to win this race but I see her top 3 and not on top of the podium.

*update 27/11/12 I just had confirmation that Silvia Serafini from Salomon Carnifast will be racing. This will add some additional spice to the race. Like Emelie, Silvia is moving up distances this year and 50 miles may just be a little of her radar at the moment. But she is a fast runner and really dedicated. A star for the future for sure. She has won Skyrunnning races, won the Royal Parks Ultra in the UK and recently placed just behind Forsberg, Hawker and Picas at Templiers. She has just come back from trekking in Nepal so it will be interesting to see how she performs in this top quality field.

Lizzy Hawker will be arriving from Nepal and has arguably had a golden few months with a 5th win at UTMB, a win at Run Rabbit Run and then a win, 3rd place overall and a new CR at the iconic Spartathlon. I witnessed her run first hand at Templiers when she finished a disappointed 3rd behind Nuria Picas and loosing the sprint for 2nd to Forsberg. She will be fired up for this race and is my hot tip!

Ashley Arnold may pull something out of the bag. She has a great ultra resume with 3rd at Leadville 100 this year but has raced shorter and faster too. She may well have the  speed and endurance required that will carry her to a win.

Megan Kimmel has raced the best in Europe and will come to the race keen to perform but this is a longer race than she is used too… this also apples for Brandy Erholtz. They both have potential to shake things up.

Joelle Vaught was 2nd in 2009, 3rd last year and 4th in 2010. This year she has won Waldo 100k and Lake Sanoma 50. She knows how to run in San Fran and will be keeping a close eye of Forsberg and Hawker.

Kami Semick hasn’t raced in the US in 2012. She pulled out of Comrades and Western States but recently race Trailwalker in Hong Kong. It’s difficult to say what her form is like but I know from previous conversations with her that she only races when she can win!

Finally, Meghan Arbogast. She has the endurance and the pace!
Like the men’s race, I could go on and to be fair I could list another 10 men and women and still be completely unsure of how the race will unfold.
The San Fran 50 is a great way to start December and finish a really competitive and inspiring 2012. Roll on 2013.
Race website HERE