Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

©copyright .iancorless.com._1080607

Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

©iancorless.com_RichtersveldRaceDay32015-0235

One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1030584

It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

©iancorless.com©iancorless.com-0463

Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

©iancorless.com.IMG_2560

Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1120584

Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747

Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6958

Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE

Rob Krar and Stephanie Howe win Western States 100

WS100_3_TNF

ALAMEDA, California — June 30, 2014 — The North Face athletes Rob Krar, 37 of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Stephanie Howe, 30 of Bend, Ore., outpaced a field of the most elite ultrarunners in the world to earn first place at the renowned Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Saturday. Krar, who placed a close second at Western States last year, won in a smoking time of 14:53:24—the second-fastest run in the race’s 40-year history. The course record belongs to The North Face athlete Timothy Olson, who ran a 14:46:44 in 2012. Howe, edged into the top 20 overall, placing first in the women’s division in 18:01:42.

As the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race, the Western States 100 has reached iconic status as one of the most challenging, competitive and prestigious 100-mile races in the country. Nearly 400 runners began the run at 5 a.m. Saturday in Squaw Valley, Calif., ascending more than 18,000 feet and descending nearly 23,000 feet through high country wilderness and steamy canyons, before reaching the finish line in Auburn, Calif.

A competitive runner in high school and college, Krar started running ultra distances on a whim in 2012 “just to see what it would be like.” Aside from his top finishes at Western States, Krar is best known for holding the fastest known time for both the single and double crossing of the Grand Canyon. Additionally, he earned the top spots at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k and The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships 50-mile in 2013.

“Last year I was sitting at the finish line next to Tim [Olson], and maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision at the time, but I knew in my heart that the goal for 2014 was to come back to Western States and run the best race that I could,” Krar said shortly after crossing the finish line. “The training I put myself through preparing for a race like this isn’t just hard on me, it is hard on the people around me. I am so grateful to have the love and support that I do.”

Krar trailed Max King, 34 of Bend, Ore., by mere minutes most of Saturday, but passed him around the Peachstone aid station, 71 miles into the race. Seth Swanson, 35 of Missoula, Mont. took second-place finish in 15:19, and Dylan Bowman, 28 of Mill Valley, Calif., rounded out the podium with a third place finish in 15:36:41. King ultimately placed fourth. The North Face teammate Jez Bragg, 33 of the U.K., placed an impressive 11th in 16:45:36.

WS100_8_TNF

Despite never running more than 65 miles before Saturday, Howe rounded the historic Placer High School Track with a 28-minute lead on her closest competition around 11 p.m. on Saturday. Starting out slow and steady, Howe came into the Dusty Corners aid station around mile 38 in the lead. In her first 100-mile race, Howe earned the fourth fastest time for a woman in Western States history.

“I was nervous to see how my body was going to react,” Howe said of her longest race ever. “I just fueled well and kept pushing myself. I had great mentors who gave me tips on how to run a 100-mile race.”

WS100_10_TNF

Howe, an exercise physiologist who earned her spot in the race the traditional way through the lottery pick in December, said her knowledge of maintaining a proper diet and fueling was a huge advantage for her. Running with her pacer and fiance, Zach Violet, Howe said they were just “savoring the moment” as she closed in on victory.

Howe edged out Larissa Dannis, 26 of Stafford, N.H., who finished as the second woman in 18:29:18, and Nathalie Mauclair, 43 of France, who came in third in 18:43:57.

content ©thenorthface

Western States 2014 – Race Preview

Western_States_Endurance_Run_patch

An incredible weekend of trail and mountain running will unfold on the 27th – 29th of June. In Europe, the Skyrunning World Championships will take place on the trails of the endurance capital of the world, Chamonix.

Across the pond in Squaw Valley, the super bowl of trail will take place. The best male and female trail runners will arrive to do battle over the 100-mile distance in what is arguably, the most iconic ultra race in the world, Western States.

One could say that WSER has come a long way since the 70’s when Gordy Ainsleigh blazed a trail, but in reality, little has changed. WSER is still a relatively low key 100-miler that gains worldwide attention due to the history and the quality of the competition.

2014 will not have previous winner and course record holder, Ellie Greenwood on the start line. Equally, we will not have 2-time winner, Timothy Olson. So, does that mean it’s wide open?

Unlike me, I am going to make a prediction from the off!

Men’s champion 2014 – Rob Krar

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Ladies champion 2014 – Nathalie Mauclair

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

 

The Ladies

I can hear the gasp! Nathalie who?

You may be right, I am sticking my neck out here and although Nathalie Mauclair hasn’t run Western States before, I am going to go on my gut feelings, the love of a dark horse prediction and basically put it all on the line and say, Nathalie can do it! Nathalie was a relatively unknown last year and a quality run at Transvulcania La Palma placed her on the map. Winning the World Trail Running championships proved it was no fluke and then to top it all, Nathalie only went on to win Raid de la Reunion, arguably one of the toughest 100-miles races on the calendar. Those three results alone show fast running over technical terrain, just good old fast trail running and the ability to endure, hike and last on a trail for a long time. Nathalie may well turn heads at WSER and although UTMF didn’t go to plan earlier this year, if Nathalie has good form and she has no injuries I am going to stick to my guns and say, Nathalie for the win!

Last years winner, Pam Smith has experienced both ends of the WSER spectrum and understands what it is like to be on top of the podium and way down the field struggling just to finish. Post WSER in 2013, Pam went on a blitz with a 14:11:26 at Desert Solstice for 100-miles, a win at ORRC Autumn Leaves 50m and 5th at Run Rabbit Run. A relatively quiet start to 2014 can only mean one thing, Pam has been in hiding and training; training hard!

©iancorless.com.IMG_2710MDS2014

Nikki Kimball cannot be ruled out in any race, especially WSER. Nikki knows how to run the race, loves the heat and although she may not be the fastest lady, (on paper) experience counts for so much. This came to fruition last year with 2nd place. I remember Nikki crying at the finish of Transvulcania, she said, ‘I am back!’ Injury issues put to one side, Nikki now races less but when she races, she makes it count. Great proof of this is her win at the 2014 edition of Marathon des Sables. Nikki will be in the mix.

Stephanie Howe if the early 2014 performances are anything to go by,  is on a roll. A 2nd place 7:33:24 at Lake Sonoma 50m and a win at Mesquite Canyon 50km  must have the female competition looking over and thinking, ‘we gotta keep an eye on her!’ They do. I think Stephanie will move up and almost certainly break top-5 and to be honest, any podium place is for the taking if it all comes together on the day. A 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at UROC and a win at Speedgoat 50k just proves the potential.

Kaci Lickteig is not a runner I know a great deal about. But what I do know is that she ran 6-races in 2013 and won every one! In 2014, Kaci placed 2nd at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile, 3rd at Sonoma just 10-min behind Steph Howe’s first place and recently won Ice Age Trail 50m in May. That is a lot of racing and will either mean that Kaci will be in the form of her life in Squaw or just a little jaded. If it’s the former, I see top-5!

Emily Harrison placed 7th last year in 20:28 but on recent form at Lake Sonoma 50m (7:26:15 for the win) and Casumett 50k (3:15:01), one has to think that Emily will break top-5 and stir things up. One year on with more experience, Emily will potentially have a break through performance.

Meghan Arbogast like Nikki Kimball knows WSER like the back of her hand and to put this in perspective she placed 4th last year and 2014 will be Meghan’s 8th WSER. A recent 5th place at Tarawera in New Zealand shows good form but in reality, it may well mean nothing. Meghan now lives on the WSER course and in 2014 we may well see her in the best form ever. Can she get the coveted sub 18:30 time she so desires? It may not be politically correct but you have to take your hat off to this lady, not many 50+ runners can kick the butt of runners considerably younger.

Rounding out the top-10 or maybe sneaking top-5

Liza Howard in 2014 was 1st at Umstead 100-mile and 2nd at Bandera but I don’t think will race?

Denise Bourassa has finished WSER twice and placed 8th in 2013

Leila Degrave placed 9th in 2013

Beth Cardelli arrives from the Southern Hemisphere where she is a consistent top performer. Beth run WSER in 2011 and placed 12th with 22:16:28. If she has a good day, top-10 is within her potential for sure.

Shaheen Sattar took her WSER slot with 3rd at Rocky Raccoon and backs up her place with 2nd at Leadville in 2013.

Ones to watch:

Larisa Dannis in 2014: 3rd Ice Age Trail 50m, 1st Land Between The Lakes 50m and 4th at Rocky Raccoon

Tera Dube in 2014: 4th at Miwok 100k, 9th Lake Sonoma 50m. 4th Ray Miller 50m

Sally McRae in 2014: 6th at Lake Sonoma and 2nd at Ray Miller 50

Silke Koester in 2014: 2nd Zane Grey 50m. and 4th at Bandera 100k

 

 

The Men

Rob Krar was on fire in 2013. Relatively unknown until that incredible win at Leona Divide and then the FKT in the Grand Canyon. I remember interviewing him post that incredible rim-to-rim-to-rim and he spoke about WSER and how the 100-mile distance was a complete mystery to him and how he would give it the utmost respect. Well, the respect worked and he took out 2nd place. Following that up with a stomping UROC win ahead of Dakota Jones and then TNF50 victory gave Rob the award of Ultra Runner of the Year and rightly so! With no Timothy Olson in the race, Rob along with Ryan Sandes will have huge targets on their backs. Rob can handle that pressure and for me is the hot favourite.

©iancorless.com.IMG_1766

Ryan Sandes missed WSER last year after getting injured and what followed was a year to forget for Ryan. However, he has more than put that annus horribilis behind him with an incredible start to 2014 with a win at Transgrancanaria, a FKT on The Drakensberg Traverse and quality run at UTMF behind Francois d’Haene. Ryan knows how to run WSER and his 15:03:36 behind Olson’s 14:46:44 in 2012 shows he has all the potential to top the podium, providing he isn’t too tired. Krar ran 15:22 last year against Olson’s 15:17 so a battle royal is predicted.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1080370

If in form, Miguel Heras could very well upset the apple cart. Miguel has had a real rollercoaster with injury and just earlier this year had to miss Marathon des Sables with injury. Word is, that Miguel is in great shape and ready, if that is true, watch out! Looking back to 2011, Miguel had 6-victories that included Transvulcania La Palma, Ronda dels Cims and Cavalls del Vent, that is some result sheet. Add to that his incredible 5:33:13 at San Fran 50 in 2012 and 2nd at UTMB in 2013 and Miguel can win WSER, no doubt!

Ian Sharman has been very quiet, sacrificed a quality run at Comrades and for one reason only, to have the best run possible at WSER. Ian has a great record at WSER and has continually moved up through the ranks, 5th in 2012 and 4th in 2013. Pulling off 4th whilst continuing on for ‘Grand Slam’ victory and a new Grand Slam record was nothing short of miraculous. Ian will have his work cut out in 2014 against a top quality field.

Nick Clark

Tough guy, Nick Clark needs no introduction. He’s pushed and pushed at WSER and last year pushed Ian Sharman for the Grand Slam and actually held the combined CR, albeit for just 30-min or so before Ian took it over! Clarky is focused on WSER once again and so desperately wants that top slot. He has placed 3rd twice and run under 16-hours a couple of times. Now a vet, statistics would say that in this field he would be hard pushed to podium but you can NEVER rule him out. He would be a popular winner!

Along with Nick Clark and Ian Sharman, British hope will rest in Jez Bragg. I had actually forgot what great results Jez had had at WSER. In 2009 he placed 3rd in a time of 16:54:35 and 4th in 2011 going 1-hour quicker in 15:55:08. Placing 15th male in 2012 was a blip and of course since then, Jez had a little ‘jolly’ in New Zealand. The Te Araroa expedition needed considerable rest and recovery. Placing 10th male at UTMB in 2013 shows us that Jez is on his way back. However, WSER has moved on in the last couple of years and Jez is going to need to be in great shape to contest the top-5.

Dylan Bowman

Dylan Bowman has changed his training and outlook since the 2013 UTMB, a race he was forced to miss with a last minute injury. Getting back in shape and improving fitness gave D’Bo 5th at San Fran 50 in December 2013. Following this up with a great 9th place at Transgrancanaria, Dylan was truly devastated with the effort that Canarian race took. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so affected by a race. Jump ahead and for sure, we can expect a prepared and ready D’Bo for WSER. His recent win at Ray Miller 50 in 6:23:17 means a great deal and his WSER record of 5th in 2013, 7th in 2012 shows that a break through performance is due. 2014 may well be the year?

Excitement will circulate around the 100-mile debut performance of Max King. Max is super talented with incredible depth and ability over a variety of distances. A WMRA world Champion, a fast marathon runner and consistently performant over the 50k and 50m distances, Max potentially could be an unstoppable force over the WSER route. However, I don’t think it will be this year! Records show that as the race gets longer, Max starts to slow a little and more importantly has terrible trouble with his stomach. I think Max is going to need a consistent WSER run just to find his feet. The difficulty will be if Max can hold back the reigns in the first half of the race. If he does, we may well see him in the top-10. If not… it may be a struggle to finish. In 2014, Max has already had to great results with a win at Ice Age Trail 50m in 5:41:07, 7th Lake Sonoma 50m in 6:37:20 and a win at Chuckanut 50k in 3:35:42. I wonder, could he hold that pace for 100-miles?

Rounding out my potential top-10: Thomas Lorblanchet, Brendan Davis and Jorge Maravilla.

Thomas Lorblanchet seemed to disappear after his victory at Leadville. He left Salomon and joined Asics and then just recently the click started to happen. Thomas won Course des Templiers, arguably one of the biggest trail races in France at the end of 2013. His recent 6th at Trail Du Ventoux 46km in March provides little information on his current form. But I often assume, no news is good news and he has the potential to be a surprise package.

Brendan Davies is so focused on WSER. I posted a recent photo of him training on a treadmill, fully dressed with a face maravillamask on and heaters blowing on him. Pure dedication! Maybe too dedicated? He races a lot and races fast. Already this year he has toed the line Narrabeen all nighter 12-hour, MSIG Sai Kung 50, Tarawera, UTMF and TNF100 in Australia. Brendan likes to run and prefers trail if it’s not too technical. So, WSER will play into his hands.

Finally, Mr. Smiler, Jorge Maravilla will be looking to improve on his 8th at WSER from 2012. Jorge had a blip in 2013 placing 23rd but his recent win at Bandera 100km and US Trail Championship title must go a long way in boosting his confidence.

To be honest, WSER has so much depth that a winner and certainly a top-10 finisher could come from anywhere, so, although the following names don’t make my top-10 prediction, anyone of them could!

Chris Price may well be the big surprise after 4th at Hardrock and 2nd at Zane Grey.

Karl Meltzer is preparing for the AT and lacks the speed of many of the other guys but he can run 100-miles with his eyes closed, knows how to pace the perfect race and loves to sweep up as everyone crumbles.

David Laney has already raced a great deal in 2014 – 2nd at Chuckanut 50k and Bandera 100k. This will be his 1st 100-miler.

Matt Laye won Rocky Raccoon 100 in February… should he be in the top-10 prediction?

Vajin Armstrong has been a dominant force in the Southern Hemisphere running for some time and in 2013 he ventured to Europe and placed 2nd at Swiss Alpine Marathon and Zugspitz. A win at Bedrock 50 in 2014 is backed up with 3rd at Tarawera, 4th at Hong Kong 100 and 13th at Transvulcania.

Yassine Diboun placed 9th at WSER in 18:44.

Dominic Grossman winner of Angeles Crest 100 in 2013.

Ones to watch:

Paul Terranova

David Eadie

AJW

And a notable mention for Steve Spiers.

 

Who have I missed and what do you think?

One thing is for sure; it’s going to be quite a race.

ULTRA RACE OF CHAMPIONS (UROC) 2013 Race Report

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

All images are available to purchase for personal or commercial use HERE

The 2013 Skyrunner Ultra World Series came to an exciting conclusion in Vail, Colorado on Saturday as many of the top ultra runners in the world lined up against each other for the Ultra Race of Champions. Starting at 0700 in the small town of Breckenridge and concluding in the center of Vail, some 100km later this race was always going to be an exciting nail biter and it didn’t disappoint.

Sunny skies the day before the race turned to dark grey, light rain fell and then snow. So much snow that on the highest sections of the course, particularly in the early stages of the race; eighteen inches of snow covered the ground. At 12,000 feet temperatures in the wind were around -14 deg. It was cold! However, Colorado has never looked so good. Deep blue skies, beautiful sunshine and so much snow it made one feel like Christmas.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1190949

The buzz in the small town was tangible as runners wrapped up in puffa’s and beanies waiting for the 0700 ‘GO’. It soon came and the 200+ strong field departed in a rush. Two early cash primes were won by Sage Canaday and Emelie Forsberg, a pattern was unfolding and as many had thought in pre race predictions, two outright favorites had taken the bull by the horns and were starting as they meant to go on.

UROC start ©iancorless.com

However, Emelie was certainly suffering from the altitude and had to ease off allowing Stephanie Howe to take an early lead out at the front. For the men though, the field was very much a who’s who of ultra running and Dakota Jones, Rob Krar, Kilian Jornet and Jason Wolfe reeled Sage in.

At Frisco, 14-miles into the race a front group had formed and then the climb to the highest point of the course came. At an altitude of 12,000 feet and freezing temperatures, a winter wonderland awaited the runners. Kilian Jornet and Dakota Jones arrived first, running together matching stride for stride. I was convinced that if conditions remained like this Kilian would for sure dominate!

 

Less than a minute behind, Rob Krar followed and then Sage Canaday. Sage looked less relaxed and calm in the knee-deep snow; his arms were outstretched as he tried to balance. A string of other top contenders followed, Ryan Ghelfi, Cameron Clayton, Luke Nelson, Mike Versteeg and so on. The descent from the summit was tricky in places as running water had turned to ice.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg used the snow to her advantage and reclaimed some time from Stephanie Howe, as she ran past me on the descent she shouted, ‘I feel better now, the altitude was making me feel very uncomfortable’. However, Emelie was still one minute in arrears.

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Vail Pass at 33-miles was a significant turning point in the race, Rob Krar used his speed and took hold of the race and started to push. Dakota Jones followed. A flat road section that covered approximately 19% of the course demoralized Kilian; confident that his World Skyrunner Champion title was secure he eased back and allowed Cameron Clayton to run ahead of him.

Emelie Forsberg UROC ©iancorless.com

Emelie reclaimed the lead at Vail Pass and never looked back. She continually pulled away from Stephanie Howe and at the finish in Vail she had secured UROC victory and the Skyrunner Ultra World Championship title with 23-minutes to spare in a time of 12:06:34 (her first 100km). Stephanie Howe ran a great race and considering she very nearly didn’t start due to a potential injury issue, she looked super pleased with her 12:29:26. Third spot for the ladies podium went to Michele Yates in 12:46:24, considering Michele had won Run Rabbit Run 100-miler just two weeks prior, this was an incredible result for her.

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

The men’s race however was less formulaic. On the descent to Minturn, Dakota Jones came charging through the forests with Rob Krar 1min in arrears. He looked strong and focused.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Minturn, mile 52.5 saw runners turn and head back up the trail. Jones appeared running every step of the way and then 90 seconds later Krar appeared with hands-on-knees powering up the climb. He looked less relaxed than Jones and at this stage one would have most certainly put money on a Jones win.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton was 3rd at this point, he was way too far back to contend the top slot and Kilian Jornet was far enough behind in 4th not to contend the 3rd place on the podium, so, barring a disaster, Clayton had 3rd guaranteed.

Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com

With less then 4-miles to go, Krar and Jones were together and then Krar unleashed a break neck descent to the line that Jones later went on to say, ‘jeez, that guy was an animal on the descent. All respect. It was a great race, a pleasure to run with one so talented and the better man won’.

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

The better man did win; Krar broke the Skyrunner tape and then covered his face with his hands. ‘I can’t believe what just happened’. Exhausted, shocked, elated he was embraced by his wife and the victory sunk in. 2013 has been an incredible year for Krar, to put this in perspective, just a couple of years ago he thought he may never run again!

On the line, sitting in a chair, buckle in his hand, cowboy hat shadowing his face he said, ‘It was the hardest effort in my life, possibly the hardest course I have run. The course had a great mix of terrains making it a fair course’ I asked Rob, about the final climb when he was 90-seconds in arrears, ‘I caught him (Dakota) at the top. I was really hurting in Minturn I thought I was down and out but with a mile to go I caught him and pushed.’

The 2013 Ultra Race of Champions was without doubt a great race. It was a fitting finale to the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and of course, excitement now builds as the 2014 calendar in finalized. However, we do have a Vertical Kilometer and Sky Running World Champion to announce at the final race of the 2013 Skyrunner season in Limone, Italy.

All images are available to purchase for personal or commercial use HERE

Results – Men

  1. Rob Krar – The North Face – 9:29:00
  2. Dakota Jones – Montrail – 9:32:26
  3. Cameron Clayton – Salomon – 10:06:24
  4. Kilian Jornet – Salomon – 10:19:16 2013 Skyrunner World Ultra Champion
  5. Ryan Ghelfi – Rogue Valley Runners – 10:24:38

Results – Ladies

  1. Emelie Forsberg – Salomon – 12:06:34 2013 Skyrunner World Ultra Champion
  2. Stephanie Howe – The North Face – 12:29:26
  3. Michele Yates – Ultimate Direction – 12:46:24
  4. Francesca Canepa – Vibram/Montura – 12:55:06
  5. Kerrie Bruxvoort – Salomon – 12:23:39

Skyrunner Ultra World champion Classification 2013

M

1° Kilian Jornet                  292 points

2° Sage Canady                 255

3° Cameron Clayton       208

F

1° Emelie Forsberg         320 points

2° Francesca Canepa        266

3° Stephanie Howe        206