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

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50

My head hurts… it’s December, what happened to the ‘off-season’. Not only do we no longer have an off-season but The North Face have arguably assembled one of the most competitive fields in the 2013 season. Way back in April I was writing about the ‘race of the year’. Of course, it was Transvulcania La Palma. This was followed by another ‘race of the year’, Western States. I then followed this with another race of the year, Zegama and so on… you get the picture! Ultra running and mountain running is booming and as such, we are all seeing the benefits, not only from a watching and a following perspective but also from a racer perspective. It is now possible to have several peaks in one year and TNF may very well have hit on a winning formula with such a competitive race in December.  It’s late enough in the season to have recovered from recent previous efforts, such as UROC or Run Rabbit Run and equally far enough away from ‘key’ races in 2014 to allow for adequate RnR.

Okay, deep breath… here we go.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras returns after winning the race in 2012. His time of 5:33 in lousy conditions confirmed his ability if any was needed. Having said that, Miguel is used to rough-n-tough weather and as such, may very well have excelled in the conditions over his US contemporaries. Also the 2012 race did have issues over course marking which did lead to several runners going astray. I take nothing away from Miguel, he is a class act and although 2013 has been a difficult season for him, his second place at TNFUTMB proves that he is back. He followed this with a quality performance at Cavalls del Vent so without doubt he is a contender for the win. However, this field is stacked.

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones is back racing and embracing the trails after a quiet start to 2013 and some escape in the mountains. In addition, Dakota became an ‘RD’ in 2013 which primarily caused him to miss TNFUTMB and refocus on UROC. That refocus nearly worked and certainly with 5-miles to go at UROC he looked as though he had the race in the bag. However, Rob Krar pulled something out of the bag and relegated Dakota to second that day. In fine form, Dakota departed for Japan to repeat his 2012 win at Hasetsune Cup, however, disaster struck and he had a tough day and a dnf. Without doubt, Dakota will be recovered and focused on winning at San Francisco. He will be looking for a repeat performance similar to San Juan Solstice 50m when he broke Matt Carpentar’s record.

Sage Canaday UROC ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday UROC ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday will bring his speed to this race and along with Cameron Clayton and maybe, Max King. They will be out at the front pushing the pace. Sage has had a mixed 2013 in the sense that he has occasionally pushed and failed below his own demanding standards. His great runs at Tarawera, Transvulcania La Palma and Lake Sonoma may well fall into insignificance in Sage’s own mind as I feel he may well dwell on his performances at Sierre-Zinal and UROC. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big Sage fan. He has all the ability to go out and win San Fran but I just wonder what effect recent performances will have on his confidence. In real terms, caution may well prove a huge bonus allowing him to hold back early on and keep his powder dry for the final 30% were he can use all that natural speed and ability. Unfortunately Sage has Flu – will not start

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton will be feeling somewhat inspired and motivated coming into San Fran after his 3rd place at UROC behind Rob Krar and Dakota Jones. Cameron was 3rd at this race last year and although he has had a full season, you can’t rule him out from pulling something special out of the bag for that $10,000 prize. His 2013 season has been fulfilled with top placing’s at Transvulcania and Lake Sonoma, however, he has had a few below par performances which I think ultimately were more due to a niggling foot and other health issues. All looks good now though.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar, wow, what can we say about Rob that hasn’t already been said. Arguably, one of ‘THE’ ultra runners of the year after his rim-to-rim exploits, Western States run (his first 100) and then his incredible win at UROC. He raced just the other weekend at JFK50 and dropped leaving question marks in his own mind. However, the ‘drop’ may very well have just saved his legs and without doubt, don’t be surprised if he is on top of the podium at the end of the weekends festivities.

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timmy Olson repeated his victory at Western States, always the sign of a true champion when you can go back to a race and do it again…! He raced at Tarawera and made the podium, he just missed the podium at Transvulcania and dug real deep at TNFUTMB. Surprisingly after such a tough TNFUTMB he then raced Run Rabbit Run on what must have been a tired body. He certainly has an autopilot but I can’t help but think this race will be all about fulfilling sponsorship requirements and showing face. Having said that, showing face will probably still result in a top-10 and should he get his race face on, don’t be surprised if Timmy gets a podium place.

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes has had ‘one of those years’ that he will be keen to get over! I was with Ryan in Gran Canaria in March, he was all fired up for an exciting season ahead and then injury hit forcing him to miss Western States. Healed, Ryan returned to Leadville in the hope of repeating his 2011 victory, however, injury reappeared. He has tackled some personal projects in South Africa and recently raced in Patagonia. Ryan will be looking to finish 2013 on a high and may just well go under the radar after a quiet year.

Max King La Palma ©iancorless.com

Max King La Palma ©iancorless.com

Max King has not had a repeat of his 2012 season. Winner of the 2012 JFK and UROC, Max was an unstoppable rollercoaster and along with sage Canaday was just on fire. In 2013 he had planned to mix things up and race at different distances and represent the USA in multiple disciplines, it didn’t go to plan and he has been plagued with an ankle problem. If he is recovered and inform, Max will be up at the helm with Cameron and Sage dropping fast minute miles an looking to be the last man standing at the end.

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols placed 5th last year and will come to this race confident after a great 2013 season racing in the Skyrunning calendar. In particular, he has plenty of speed uphill and has improved his down hill speed. 2013 may well just be the year that he moves a couple of places higher on the podium.

Francois D'Haene UTMB ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene UTMB ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene was last years 2nd place, approximately 13-mins behind his Salomon teammate, Miguel Heras. Francois has raced less in 2013 due to the pressures of owning a vineyard, however, when he has raced, he has been in top form. His was 2nd at Ice-Trail Tarentaise behind Kilian Jornet, he was joint winner at Mont-Blanc Marathon 80k Ultra with Michel Lanne and his recent dominance at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale de Fous) means that his presence at San Fran surely means he is a podium contender. *Update “Finally my season ends sooner than expected …since my fall in Death Valley tuesday with a shock in the ribs I hope but I have finally abdicate … So I would support the team tomorrow.”

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne is another consistent performer who may well do very well at this race. He had a great run with teammate Francois D’Haene at Mont-Blanc but then picked up an injury. In addition, he has also become a dad! December may well prove to be a great time of year; his life will have settled a little, he will be over his injury and without doubt he will be excited to race in the US.

Dylan Bowman UROC ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman UROC ©iancorless.com

My final hot tip for a podium place goes to Dylan Bowman. Dylan had a great Western States and turned up at TNFUTMB in the form of his life but had a freak training accident, which caused him to miss the race. He has a new coach and he is going to be looking to release some of that UTMB frustration.

So who else… it seems crazy that I am not writing about the names below in more depth. But I have previewed above who I think may well take out the top-3 slots

  • Mike Wolfe – was 11th last year and set an incredible FKT this year with Hal he could win this race!.
  • Adam Campbell – 4th last year and I may regret not adding him above?
  • Mike Foote – great 2013 UTMB but been quiet recently.
  • Hal Koerner – Think he will be on TNF duty.
  • Karl Meltzer – Karl says he has no chance in such a fast and ‘short’ field. If it were a 100-miles he would be listed above.
  • Matt Flaherty – another who should maybe be above but he was 2nd at JFK just a week ago, maybe a little tired?.
  • Mike Wardian – anything can happen…. Mike is an unpredictable phenomenon.
  • David Riddle – may or may not race with injury?
  • Gary Gellin – 9th last year.
  • Ryan Ghelfi – 5th at UROC and I may regret not adding him above too.
  • Rickey Gates – mixed 2013 but always a contender.
  • Jorge Maravilla – top 20 in 2012.
  • Martin Gaffuri  – great season on the Skyrunning calendar.
  • And finally, Greg Vollet who continues to amaze and surprise every time he races.

So, there you have it. A super stacked crazy race to end the year, the top-3 are any bodies guess. I have tried to provide a little insight but just don’t be surprised if we see a completely unexpected performance and a surprise win.

Ladies preview HERE.

Western States Endurance Run Preview

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In a recent interview with Rob Krar about his incredible ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim we discussed the up and coming Western States. Humble and respectful he called it the Super Bowl of ultra running. You have to agree, Western States is the Super Bowl of 100-mile events.

 

June 29th in Squaw Valley, once again an incredibly talented male field will toe the line to do battle over probably the most iconic 100-mile race on the calendar. It may not be the hardest but it has history. Way back in ‘73’ when Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse went lame, he had two choices; not to take part in the iconic 100-mile horse race called the Tevis Cup or run it… now of course, way back then running the course was the most ridiculous idea ever. But Gordy, ever the maverick, brushed caution aside and tackled the heat to arrive in Auburn. The stage was set and the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run was created.

 

The race – Male

 

So, Ryan Sandes wont join the party due to injury, shame! However, the men’s field has enough quality names to make the 2013 edition of the race an exciting one. We have a champ and previous course record holder returning after a 16 year gap, we have last years champ and course record holder, we have the new and the old. This year could be an exciting race because of the variables and unpredictability of those involved.

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Timothy Olson as the remaining champion and course record holder, of course gets top billing. His recent 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma was a real indicator that his form was coming. I went out for a run with him just days after the race and he was moving fast and effortless, no sign of a tough 80km race in his legs. He said, “I could have done with the finish line being a little farther away, I was just getting warmed up”.  Early 2013 season form wasn’t too shabby either with win at Bandera 50k, 2nd Ray Miller, and 2nd at Tarawera behind Sage Canaday in New Zealand. His relative silence post Transvulcania should worry the competition; he has been training and training hard. Can he go faster than his incredible 14:46:44 set in 2013?

 

Brit, Nick Clark in a recent interview with me ahead of this year’s race said, “I am running to win, I feel good this year. I have started my three week taper and I don’t know, maybe this could be my year!” Nick is super consistent over the 100-mile distance and demands respect from his peers. He ran 15:44 last year for 3rd place and almost certainly he is going to need to run that quick, if not quicker if he wants to be in contention for a podium place. Even more impressive is that Nick is taking on the Grand Slam. However, it’s one race at a time and he plans to run all of them as hard as he can. A win at Fuego Y Agua he says was so long ago that it has no real meaning for Western States but his 10th at Lake Sonoma recently was a little disappointing by his standards. However, as we keep saying, 100 miles is a different race altogether.

 

Sixteen years ago, Mike Morton set a course record at Western States and then disappeared into running wilderness. A combination of injury and work commitments took him away from the sport. However, just a couple of years ago he came back on the scene with a comeback not dissimilar to that of Robert Redford playing Roy Hobbs in the film, ‘The Natural’. Mike seems to be able to churn out 100-mile races in 13:11 and win them. He had an incredible 2012 with multiple 100-mile wins, a win and missing the CR at Badwater 135 and then setting an American 24-hour record of 172+ miles. He has been relatively quiet lately which can only mean one thing, he is preparing! You would say that age may well be against him, but this is Mike Morton… will 2013 have one of the greatest comebacks in sport ever, a win for Mike Morton? It is a distinct possibility!

 

Hal Koerner has been quiet recently and it is impossible to gauge what his form is like. Having said that, his reputation precedes him and his list of palmares confirms that he will always be in the mix. His win at the 2012 Hardrock 100 confirms that he can always pull something special out of the bag when required.

 

Ian Sharman has consistently improved at WSER and last year placed 5th with a great run. However, by Ian’s standards he has been very quiet lately. He pushed himself a little too hard in the latter stages of 2012, basically, one race too many and he has had some niggling knee issues. He went to Fuego Y Agua but didn’t run. He has had a couple of top 5 placing’s in recent months and most recently he raced a multi-stage race in the rainforests of Peru. Although lying in 2nd place overall he didn’t finish the last stage as he felt niggling pain in his troublesome knee. So, the jury is out. In addition, like Nick Clark, Ian will run the Grand Slam. His original intention was to run each race to the best of his ability and see what happens. He prepares well and understands the demands of each race so you can’t rule him out of the top 10.

 

Dave Mackey 4th in 2012 and in doing so broke Tsuyoshi Kaburaki’s ‘Masters’ time with 15:53:36. He has always raced consistently over the 100km distance but has never had quite the luck over the 100-mile distance. In early 2012 he was second at Bandera 100k behind a storming Sage Canaday but a great indicator of form is the recent San Diego 100. Dave was blazing a trail at the front of the race until he went of course at around the 60-mile mark. Although initially disappointing, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for WSER. He definitely has podium potential if his day goes well.

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Cameron Clayton young, brash and bold has laid it all on the line and said he plans to just run! No caution for the demands of 100 miles, he will go for glory. Cameron, like Sage Canaday is new to ultra running, he has enthusiasm to take on the best and see what happens. I have to say I like his approach. In an interview with him post Transvulcania (he placed 7th) he said then that his intentions for Western States would be to go for glory, “I may not get the chance to run at Western States again so I need to run for the win. If I don’t top the podium, that is fine, at least I will have tried”. So there you have it, WSER will be Cameron’s first 100 outing, it’s a fair prediction to say that we will see him at the head of the race in the early stages, question is, will he pull along some others or will they allow him to head on up the trail on his own?

 

Rob Krar like Cameron is new to the 100-mile distance but he is giving it 100% respect. He is a little daunted by the distance and as he said in my interview with him, “I just don’t know what to expect, my rim-t0-rim-to-rim is my longest ever run at just over 40 miles, Western States is a completely different experience”. Rob, like Mike Morton is also a come back story, originally a track and field athlete he ran 1500m and holds an impressive 1:06 for a half marathon. He has only ever run one road marathon and that was around 2:30, so, he has speed. His win and CR at Leona Divide 50 turned heads but his Grand Canyon double crossing time took breaths away… if he brings that speed to WSER anything is possible. He is a real unknown but I can’t help but think we will see a surprise!

 

Karl Meltzer needs no introduction! He has wanted to run at WSER for years and now he finally he has the chance, however, his build up has not been ideal with a problematic calf. Last week he told me that he is pretty sure it is all cleared up now and that he had just had 10 days of consecutive running. Karl said, “I finally feel that a top 10 place is now possible, we will have to see”. With over 30 wins at the 100-mile distance, Karl brings experience to the race. Just like Run Rabbit Run last year, he will allow the main contenders to head off up the trail and as he gets warm (around 60 miles) he will then slowly but surely start to pick them off. A podium place is unlikely but a top 10 is a distinct possibility. I certainly hope so! Top 10 will give him a guaranteed slot for 2014 and then he can run the Grand Slam.

 

Dylan Bowman placed 7th at 2012 WSER and has had a couple of great performances at Ray Miller 50 and Miwok 60k. Considering the depth of the 2013 field a top 10 placing is highly likely, the question is, can he embrace early season form and move into the top 5.

 

Jorge Maravilla and Joe Uhan placed 8th and 9th respectively at the 2012 race but both runners have had relatively quiet times lately. Jorge placed 3rd at UROC in late 2012 and recently was joint winner at the Great Wall Marathon in China with his Salomon teammates, but it’s difficult to predict what form Jorge and Joe will bring to this years race. It is fair to assume that no news is good news and that they will arrive on the start line ready to push hard.

 

The list could go on but here is a selection of other notable names that will almost certainly drift into the top 20 and of course, on a good day, they may even make top 10.

 

Yassine Diboun, Trent Briney, Andy Jones Wilkins, Gustavo Reyes, Nick Pedatella (also going for Gran Slam), Paul Terranova (ran the Grand Slam last year) and finally, Jacob Rydman.

 

Notable non-starters for the 2013 are as follows:

 

Ryan Sandes who pushed the pace at the front last year, placed 2nd overall and in doing so, also broke Geoff Roes old course record. Needless to say, we are all disappointed that Ryan can’t make it. He unfortunately twisted his ankle on a training run and needs to allow for recovery. Fellow South Africa, the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce is also a no show due to injury. Bruce would not have contested the overall placing but to have 9x Comrades Marathon winner on the WSER course would have been special. He told me via email that he has carried over his place for 2014.

 

 

Notable no-racers:

The 2013 race has a quality field, however, we have notable omissions: Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Geoff Roes, Sage Canaday, Julien Chorier, Max King, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Joe Grant and so on.

 

The race – Female

 

With no Ellie Greenwood, no Lizzy Hawker, no Kami Semick, and no Krissy Moehl I have to say I can’t help but feel a little cheated with the ladies field. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great talent ready to toe the line but I do feel as though it’s about who is not here than who is…

 

Having said that, Rory Bosio was 2nd in 2012 and she returns this year as odds on favorite. At 28 years old she manages to go about her run life with very little fuss or exposure. She keeps herself to herself but she has some impressive results that we should all be shouting about. She has run WSER three times; 4th in 2010, 5th in 2011 and of course, 2nd in 2012. Do you see the progression! 2013 may very well be the year the she has a 1st next to her name. She placed 4th at Lake Sonoma recently and was 2nd at Way to cool earlier in 2013, not results that you would predict a WSER win on, but she knows how to run this race!

 

I am going to stick my neck out here and say that Cassie Scallon has every possibility of not only making the podium or winning the race! The only question mark comes from a fall she took at Cayuga Trails a couple of weeks ago. Had she not pulled out of that race and been in tip top form she would have been my prediction for the win. She earned her WSER slot at Lake Sonoma and after missing the race last year; I can’t help but feel that she will be fired up for this edition. Of course, she hasn’t run this race before and experience counts for a great deal!

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Talking of experience, Nikki Kimball has plenty. Nikki placed 5th in 2012 but look at her history; she won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and she was 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2011. That his some history! Now in her early 40’s you may well say that age is against her but you just can’t rule her out. She has been troubled with injuries but without doubt the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma was a turning point for her, she finished that race in tears. Not because of pain but joy that things had gone well. Her recent form is difficult to predict as she too pulled out of Cayuga Trails.

 

Another newbie, Emily Harrison brings speed to the WSER arena. She has a marathon PB of 2:32 and although that may not be a prediction of a good Western States performance, it does show that the speed is available if needed. She earned her place at JFK50 when she placed 2nd behind Ellie Greenwood and recently she has had a win at Moab Red Hot 55k. Emily has the potential to pull something out of the back and may very well make the podium.

 

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd last year and it almost feels disrespectful to wait this long before mentioning her but she has had surgery and only returned to running in late April, early March of this year. Her form for WSER is an unknown but if one thing in her favor is that she will be fresh and keen to perform. That counts for a great deal when it gets hard.

 

Tina Lewis, Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell and Meghan Arbogast all return after placing 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th respectively in 2012.

 

Certainly I see Ashley Nordell moving to a higher place for 2013 and she has the potential to make top 5 should all go well.

 

Tina Lewis placed best of the bunch in 2012 and although injury has caused serious issues in the build up to this years race, her win at Leadville in the latter half of last year has to mean that, if fit, she will improve on her 7th.

 

Amy Sproston won Ray Miller 50, Iznik Ultra 80k and was 3rd at Lake Sonoma all in the first half of 2013. A 100km champion she has speed and although 100 miles may not be her distance you have to say that in this ladies field, should things go right, a placing higher than 8th awaits.

 

Meghan Arbogast may well be a dark horse of the race… you just can’t rule her out! She proved this by beating Rory Bosio to the top slot at Way to Cool 50k. Last year she ran just under 20 hours (19:54) and I think she will need an ‘18’ time to contest the front of the race but she can do it, don’t rule her out.

Joelle Vaught has been top 10 at WSER before in 2010 when she ran 20:19. Certainly if she wants to place top 10 in 2013 she needs to be looking at sub 20. Her win at Pocatello 50 (to put things in perspective, she beat her own course record by just over 20 minutes) recently would suggest that a surprise may well come from Joelle.

 

Jennifer Benna recently turned up at Transvulcania La Palma and dropped early on saying that it just didn’t feel right. To travel that far and drop so early shows some real commitment to the bigger picture, that being WSER. She has already won a 100 this year at Zion 100 way back in April (probably why she didn’t feel great in May) I think Jennifer has the potential to make the top 10 but she will need a good day.

 

My final tip is Pam Smith, she has run WSER before and has placed 10th in 2010 and 2011. She hasn’t run under 20 hours but if she managed to match her previous best of 20:40, another top 10 may well just be hers, just!

 

Ones to watch:

 

Kerrie Bruxvoort, Denise Bourassa and Rhonda Claridge.

 

Provide us with your feedback:

  • What are your predictions for the men’s and ladies races?
  • Who will surprise us this year?
  • Will the course record go in either race?
  • Who isn’t racing that you had hoped would be?

LINKS:

WSER website HERE

Skyrunning 2012 Elite Listing

ISF

ULTRA

The Ultra distance races selected in 2012 were held in the following countries: Andorra, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Réunion, Italy, Spain, USA.  The ranking is based on the best three results of the year – or two results, plus one from 2011, taking into account the top 15 men’s and 10 women’s results in each race.

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The athletes are listed in alphabetical order according to their nationality.

ELITE MEN

AUSTRIA

Wagner Thomas

CANADA

Campbell Adam

FRANCE

Antolinos Fabien, Bringer Patrick, Buffard Sebastien, Camus Sebastien, Chaigneau Sebastien, Chorier Julien, Clavery Erik, Court Sylvain, Curien Yann, D’Haene Francois, Durand Maxime, Gault Emanuel, Guillon Antoine, Lanne Michel, Le Saux Christophe, Lejeune Arnaud, Lorblanchet Thomas, Martin Nicolas, Pasero Mikael, Pianet Nicolas, Rancon Julien

GERMANY

Reiter Philipp

GREAT BRITAIN

Conway Terry, Symonds Andy, Sharman Ian, Grant Joe (?)

HUNGARY

Nemeth Csaba

ITALY

Cavallo Giuliano, Dapit Fulvio

JAPAN

Kaburaki Tsuyoshi, Yamamoto Kenichi

NEPAL

Sherpa Dachhiri Dawa

PORTUGAL

Sa Carlos, Teixeira Armando Jorge

SOUTH AFRICA

Sandes Ryan

SWITZERLAND

Rey Jean-Yves

SPAIN

Bes Jordi, Castanyer Tofol, Jornet Kilian, Karrera Iker, Heras Miguel, Merillas Manuel, Perez Lopez Oscar, Sanchez Sebas

SWEDEN

Buud Jonas

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Bowman Dylan, Clark Nicholas, Clayton Cameron, Foote Michael, Gates Rickey, Grant Joe, Jaime Scott, Jones Dakota, King Maxwell, Koerner Hal, Krupicka Anton, Mackey Dave, Maravilla Jorge, Meltzer Karl, Olson Timothy, Pedatella Nicholas, Tidd John, Tiernan Zeke, Wolfe Mike

ULTRA

ELITE WOMEN

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BRAZIL

Maciel Fernanda

FRANCE

Chastel Veronique, Combarieu Maud, Favre Corinne, Gobert Maud, Herry Karine, Lecomte Emilie, Martin Sandra, Motto Ros Sandrine, Valero Anne

GERMANY

Bottger Julia, Calmbach Andrea

GREAT BRITAIN

Hawker Elisabeth, Greenwod Ellie

HUNGARY

Wermescher Ildiko

ITALY

Canepa Francesca, Fori Katia

NEW ZEALAND

Frost Anna

SPAIN

Fraile Uxue, Iruretagoyena Leire, Martinez Nerea, Picas Nuria, Roca Emma

SWEDEN

Forsberg Emelie

USA

Africa Darcy, Bosio Rory, Bruxvoort Kerrie, Claridge Rhonda, Howe Stephanie, Howard Elizabeth, Kimball Nikki, Lewis Tina, Moehl Kristin, Nordell Ashley

See the 2012 élite listings: Sky and Vertical

Updated January 16, 2013

Skyrunning Logo

The Runner

I was posting on Facebook about two incredible films that are currently available for ‘download’ to your laptop or home computer. The first is a new film called ‘A Fine Line‘ and is the first film that will document Kilian Jornet‘s ‘Summits of my Life‘ project (available here).

DOWNLOADTHEFILM

The other is ‘Unbreakable‘, JB Benna’s inspirational film about Western States (available here). I guess it’s a movie that many of you will have seen but it’s ‘download’ release is a great opportunity to have it with you for viewing when travelling.

Unbreakable_The_Western_States_100_Poster_v1_13.5x20

The release of the two above films prompted me to look back and think on one of my favourite run movies of all time. ‘The Runner‘.

the runner

Journeyfilm’s THE RUNNER follows Extreme UltraRunner David Horton through the desert sun, the high snowbound mountain passes, the pain, the emotion, and his revelation. Join him as he runs more than 40 miles per day for 66 consecutive days in an attempt to set the speed record on the 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.

I interviewed David Horton on Episode 4 of Talk Ultra so if you haven’t listened, check it out. He is an inspirational character in the ultra world. Available in iTunes HERE

Director and former PCT thru-hiker JB Benna follows Horton’s journey and discovers who he really is. Learn about UltraRunning, the PCT, and the history of this amazing person through interviews with today’s best endurance athletes, his family, and David himself.

A great adventure, a movie that makes you laugh, and a movie that makes you cry.

What drives David to such extreme challenges?

What does it take to become THE RUNNER?

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

Leadville 100

What a weekend of racing ahead! Leadville 100, Waldo 100k and Pikes Peak Marathon. Three classic races that contain some ‘classic runners’. Timmy Olson and Hal Koerner are heading to Waldo and Kilian Jornet and Sage Canaday are going to be going head to head at Pikes Peak. But what about Leadville?

For me, Leadville is the ‘real’ one to watch this weekend (no disrespect to Waldo or Pikes) but we all know from results this year that Timmy, Hal, Kilian and Sage are in form; no doubt. Although these races will be great showdowns the one person that we all have great interest in is Tony Krupicka.

Tony returned to racing after an 18 month lay off due to injury at Speedgoat 50k, didn’t have a great race (his words) and still placed up at the front of the race, However, Leadville and 100 miles will hopefully re establish him and confirm that he is back on the scene.

In the words of John Colley, Race Director:

2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the first Leadville Trail 100 “Race Across the Sky.”

Things were a lot different back then. The course description was basically word of mouth, with only four or five major turns actually marked for racers. Search and Rescue consisted of a little plastic whistle included in the racer packets. You were truly on your own. Running through the pack of 50 to 100 racers seemed like a lot of work. Through the years, there have been a lot of changes. Nutrition has evolved, training has become more scientific and our athletes are evolving. Cell phones and Internet give people a sense of security in the backcountry. Aid stations are now stocked with everything you need to complete your race. Rather than spending lonely miles secluded in your own thoughts, you will now be cheered on by hundreds of excited fans spread over the entire race. Some of the most important elements of this race have not changed, however. The course is still offering the same monumental challenge it always has, and Ken and Merilee still welcome you home at the finish line. As the innovators of this wonderful event, Ken and Merilee have helped thousands of athletes commit to and achieve a common goal. As in the past, they continue to be here for each and every one of you. Your Leadville experience is their highest priority.

The will of the athletes has transformed Leadville into what we see today. Year after year we welcome a group of the most dedicated racers to gather on 6th Street and put everything  on the line. There is no stopping their positive attitudes and desire for success. This race has the power to change lives and mold personalities. I have experienced this myself as a past Leadville competitor. I can’t imagine Leadville without this race, or this race without Leadville. It is great to see our past champions continue to be involved in our races while the new crop of young athletes are eager to write their names in the record books.

As the start grows near, there is an excitement in the thin air. The llama crews are hauling supplies up to the Hope Pass aid station. Your personal journey is approaching, and your buckles are here waiting for you.

Leadville_Run_Course_2011

2012 Race

MEN

The mens race has Tony Krupicka at the top of the pre race favourites. Lets face it how can you not tip Tony for a top slot… he won the race back to back in 2006 and 2007 but the big question on everyones mind is will he go for Matt Carpenter’s record?

Troy Howard has performed well at Hardrock 100 and certainly Leadville will hold no fear for him. He has run just over 26 hours at Hardrock with the 5th fastest time. He will be up at the front for sure.

Nick Clark from the UK can never be ruled out of the 100 mile distance. He is tenacious and tough. For me his two third places two weeks apart in 2011 at Western States and then Hardrock show what an athlete he is. At Western States this year he went through a bad patch and seemed to go off pace but he rallied and then moved up the field to podium once again for third. Something that looked unlikely earlier.

Salomon athtlete, Thomas Lorblanchet will be representing Europe and is having a great season so far.He was fith at Speedgoat, raced will at Transvulcania La Palma and has also placed highly in Salomon 4 Trails.

Mike Aish  I guess is somewhat of an unknown . Mike is from New Zealand and is a fast marathon runner and comes to Leadville as a 2 x Olympian over the 5000 and 10000m distance. To learn the ropes of ultra endurance, he’s befriended Frank Bozanich, a 44 time ultra-marathon winner. To improve on his hiking skills, Mike gave his ear to Ben Clark, who has spent the past 10 years pioneering routes up the tallest mountains in the Himalayas. In July, Mike finished first overall in the Leadville Silver Rush 50, a grinding warm-up to the main event so although the 100 distance will be new to the New Zealander, one can’t help think he may surprise us!

Mike Aish credit The Runners Tribe

At Leadville we also have a race within a race with Grand Slam runners, Australian Mike Le Roux and Paul Terranova going head to head for honours. Mike currently leads but these guys have been churning out some quick 100’s and with the tough Wasatch 100 to follow this could be anyones race.

LADIES

Darcy Africa, Liza Howard and Aliza Lapierre have to be the three names that jump of the page for the Ladies race. Lynette Clemens the defending Leadville champion who ran 19:50:06 in 2011 would be the ‘hot tip’ for the race win but rumours are abound that the local lady will not be on the start.

Darcy has won Leadville in 2006 and 2009 which confirms her ability on the tough terrain but Liza won the race in 2010 and is fast over the 100 mile distance. If Lynette Clemens doesn’t turn up I would place my money on Liza.

Aliza Lapierre will be up at the front and should Darcy or Liza have a bad day or should Aliza have a great day, she may well top the podium. In real terms I see her placing 3rd.

Liza Howard, New Balance credit McDowell MountainMan

Fresh from a second place behind Anna Frost (Frosty) at Speedgoat 50k is Salomon Athlete, Kerrie Bruxvoort. She is un-tested over the distance but may be one to watch!

FACTS about Leadville

But how much do you really know about Leadville? Here are some fast facts. We can’t give you a buckle for knowing this stuff, but it will take your mind off those hundred miles.

  • Leadville has multiple nicknames, including Cloud City, Magic City and Two- Mile-High City.
  • Leadville is North America’s highest incorporated city.
  • Even though Leadville was founded during the Silver Boom, there were too many other cities around that same time with “silver” in their names, so founders decided to name it after the ore.
  • Leadville was founded in 1877 by mine owners Horace Tabor and August Meyer.
  • Leadville’s population at the height of the mining boom is said to have been close to 30,000. Leadville’s population today is 2,700.
  • Leadville’s past was filled with legends, eccentrics, entrepreneurs, dreamers, and other characters famously euphemized as “colorful,” including Horace and Baby Doe Tabor, Molly Brown, Texas Jack, Frank and Jesse James, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
  • Leadville is one square mile and its 70 square blocks of Victorian architecture have been designated a National Historic Landmark District.
  • Leadville had the highest unemployment in the nation when Ken Chlouber, determined to bring Leadville back from the brink, organized the inaugural Leadville Trail 100 Run in 1983. The mountain bike race was added 11 years later.
  • The Climax Molybdenum mine, shuttered in the 1980s, is set to officially reopen this summer and employ 300 people.A live race feed will be available from iRunFar 

Waldo 100k

Oregon Ultrarunning Stars Olson, Koerner to Headline Waldo 100K RaceWomen’s field includes Joelle Vaught and Denise Bourassa

Race Day Aug. 18, 2012

 WILLAMETTE PASS, Ore. — Western States 100 champion and Montrail Ultra Cup winner Timothy Olson and Hardrock 100 winner Hal Koerner top the start list for Oregon’s premier ultramarathon,Waldo 100K.

 

They will be joined by Waldo women’s course record holder Joelle Vaught and 2011 second place finisher and Montrail Ultra Cup champion Denise Bourassa, along with some of the nation’s finest ultrarunners. The demanding 62-mile race takes place on mostly single-track trails southeast of Eugene, Ore.

“We’re fortunate to have deep fields on the men’s and women’s sides of the race,” said Craig Thornley, Waldo race director and Western States 100 assistant race director. “However it goes down, we can guarantee there will be some exciting competition.”

The excitement of the race is ratcheted up a notch by the fact that Waldo, once again, kicks off the Montrail Ultra Cup race series, and the top two male and female finishers will earn automatic entry spots into the 2013 Western States 100. Top finishers will earn cash prizes thanks to event sponsor Sunsweet Growers. The first place male and female finishers will each earn $500.

Top talent on the men’s side includes Joe Uhan, winner of the 2011 McKenzie River 50k, and 2012 McDonald Forest 50k winner Nick Triolo. 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 mile champion Ian Sharman will also be competing, along with 2011 Forest Park 50k winner Yassine Diboun and young gun Jacob Rydman, who was third at this year’s American River 50 mile race.

On the women’s side, Ray Miller 50k winner Jen Benna will be in the mix, along with Mountain Masochist 50 mile champion Alison Bryant. Blackhills 100k winner Helen Lavin and Capitol Peak 55k champ Kathleen Egan are both on the start list.

About Waldo 100k

Founded in 2002, Waldo 100k is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization supporting the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol. The challenging mountainous race takes runners over three major climbs of more than 2,000 feet each for a total of 11,000 feet of elevation gain and an equal amount of loss. Sponsored by Sunsweet Growersand Mountain Hardwear, Waldo 100k is funded in part with room tax funds from the city of Oakridge/Westfir Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is part of the Oregon Trail Series and the Montrail Ultra Cup. For more information, go to waldo100k.org.

Episode 14 – Hal Koerner

 

Episode 14 of Talk Ultra is now available and I interview a legend of the sport. Hal Koerner has been running ultras since 1999 and has a list of results second to none.

He recently won Hardrock 100 making him one of only two runners (Scott Jurek the other) to have done the Western States and Hardrock double.

On the show we discuss Hardrock and take a look back over his stunning career.

Hal is owner of Rogue Valley Runners

The show is available on iTunes, Libsyn and talk ultra.com