Superior 100 2016 Race Preview

©iancorless.com-1025Superior100

SUPERIOR 100, USA

I knew very little about Minnesota and the Superior 100 in 2014 when I first came over to experience the most rugged, relentless and remote 100 miler there is. The area and the race was a revelation. You see, too much information in advance can lead to disappointment and more importantly, it can cloud judgement.

Running brings people together, together in a way like no other; it crosses boundaries, crosses countries and binds like a harmonious family. I’d been in Minneapolis for just over an hour in 2014 and I already knew that I was going to love this place.

The Superior 100 race follows the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior, a ridgeline of the Sawtooth Mountains. Race director John Storkamp said in 2014 at the race briefing, “It’s gnarly, tough, rutted and many of you won’t finish.” He was correct. It’s a tough race.

John Storkamp - race director

John Storkamp – race director

But like any race, a runner needs to be on the journey with a chance of completing and if they make the finish or not, the experience will be remembered because Superior 100 is so much more than a race.

Founded in ‘91’, Superior 100 is one of the oldest 100-mile trail races in the country. Way back in the day it was one of an elite band of 10-12 100-mile races in the US. Founded by Harry Sloan, the race did have a name change some time back when it was called, Sawtooth 100, however it was changed back to its original name and that has stuck to present day.

©iancorless.com-1801Superior100

A point-to-point ultra-marathon that is 100% trail! The race route traverses the Sawtooth Mountain Range (hence the old Sawtooth 100 name) on the Superior Hiking Trail in the far reaches northern Minnesota.  Lake Superior, the greatest freshwater lake in the world provides a stunning backdrop to a race that climbs to near 2000′ peaks with breath-taking vistas of the lake and inland forests. Crossing countless whitewater rivers and serene streams the 100-mile route meanders through mystic Boreal forests. Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitors’ Center, MN hosts the start of the race and a welcome finish awaits each and every runner at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN.

©iancorless.com-1700Superior100

The 2016 edition of the race, like in all years has some notable starts and you’ll have to forgive me here if I maybe miss a few potential podium influencers…  this race is a long way from the UK!

©iancorless.com-1607Superior100

With 2015 winner and course record holder, Jake Hegge running the marathon distance race, this opens the doorway for the 2014 champion, Adam Schwarz Lowe. In 2014 he had his race dialed and he ran with tunnel vision controlling his pace until the last marathon when he broke away to a solo victory.

But the presence of Joe Uhan is no slouch and when one compares Schwarz-Lowe’s Western States time to Uhan’s, there is a considerable difference. Uhan was 4th at Bandera 100k in 2015 and recently was 2nd at McKenzie River 50k and 3rd at the Elijah Bristow 24 hour.

Ultrasignup founder, Mark Gilligan is also running. He placed 9th recently at Salt Point 50k and 22nd at Cruel Jewel 50.

Joe Fejes has a string of top results over a variety of distances – 100 miles, 24 hours, 6 days and so on… For example, in 2014 he ran 580.3 miles in Anchorage at ‘Six Days in the Dome.’ His most recent 100-mile result came at Desert Solstice where he placed 6th in 15:50.

Gary Davis has had some good results recently with a victory at Kat’cina Mosa 100k and 2nd at Salt Flats 100 and Skyline Mountain Marathon 50k.

Brian Klug was 3rd in 2015 in 23:07 and his last race was Minnesota Voyager 50 where he placed 55th.

Scott Hoberg and Marcus Berggren recently placed 2nd and 3rd at Arrowhead 135 (Scott won in 2014) and in July Marcus went on to run and finish Badwater 135.

Other notable mentions are for Frank Pipp, 3rd at Quad Rock 50) and Stephen Graupner who was 5th at Minnesota Voyageur in July.

©iancorless.com-1284Superior100

Mallory Richard was 10th at Superior in 2015 and overall First Lady. Winner of Blackhills 100 in June 2015, pretty sure she will be looking for a victory again. A recent win at the Falcon Fatass 50k in August shows good form. 

Tina Johnson is a favourite after placing 2nd last year. Recent results also show Tina is in good form, 4th at Bunk House Trails 50k in May and in August 2015 she won Marquette Trail 100k.

Casey Ullman is running Superior for the first time I believe and is coming off 4 solid results in 2016 at Capt’n Karl’s Colorado Bend, Mulshoe Bend and Pedernales Falls 60k and Hells Hills 50k. In 2013 Casey won and placed 8th overall at Mark Twain 100.

Crystal Hutchings placed 32nd at Zion 100 in 2015 in 32:29 but recently won the Yankee Springs Trail Run (104 miles) in 29:40, so, an outsider for the podium?

Susan Donnelly is the most experienced lady in the race with 15 finishes, yes, 15! 2016 is hopefully the 16th. In 2015 Susan was 11th lady in 33:03. This lady races a great deal and has been running ultras since 1994. In 1999 she placed 3rd lady at Superior in 29:48.

Janet Hausken has 3 good results in 2016 with 2 2nd places and a 13th at Zion 100. In 2015, Janet was 7th at Superior in 31:15.

Finally, Shelley Groenke was 9th at Superior in 2015 and recently placed 3rd at Zumbro 50m.

©iancorless.com-1874Superior100

The action will unfold on Friday but in the spirit of Superior let’s give a nod to some key elements of the race… Runners can’t run without aid stations and volunteers. It just can’t happen. Those who are passionate about the sport often pay back with a volunteer stint at an aid station, marking the course or manning road crossings.

“If you get to the Crosby-Manitou Aid Station this year and you are feeling a little down and thinking you might want to drop out, consider this… the volunteers comprising that aid station have 17 Superior 100 finishes amongst them, you may not get a lot of sympathy – instead a good motivating kick in the butt! – John Storkamp

©iancorless.com-2061Superior100

Despite the difficulty, despite the fatigue, despite sore legs and being mentally tired, only one man and one lady can top the podium. So why run? Superior 100 provided many answers to this question on my first visit. Staff, volunteers, supporters, each runner – first to last, all came together to make a collective gathering of many individual passions to create one wonderful whole. Storkamp repeatedly touches on this and on the race Facebook page and just recently he said:

Storkamp

Tom and Nancy have been with me since the beginning, from the beginning of my ultra-running and from the beginning of race directing and they are still here now, heading up the Beaver Bay Aid Station with their great friends the Stocco’s – Jim Stocco was on the original Superior Trial Race Board of Directors circa 1991. These guys have volunteered at and run more ultras than most and they still love it. Friendship, history, tradition, togetherness – these are out values – this is what makes us great. Thank you being there for me, for the race and for our awesome runners!

Minnesota the Superior Hiking Trail, Superior 100 and the amazing people involved were all told by Storkamp before the race in 2014 that ‘this’ experience would change them, it did!

I am pleased to say that after missing 2015, I am back in 2016 to experience another dose on Minnesota nice!

©iancorless.com-1049Superior100

 

Information:

Course records are 19:30:37 and 24:49:06 for the 100-mile race, held by Jake Hegge and Kristina Folcik set in 2015 and 2012 respectively.

Stuart Johnson and Susan Donnelly have an incredible 33 100 mile finishes between them, 18 for Stuart and 15 for Susan.

Race tracking – http://www.ultralive.net/superior100#tracking/overview

100-mile information:

Start: Gooseberry Falls S.P., Minnesota

Finish: Caribou Highlands / Lutsen, Minnesota

Start Time: 8:00AM Friday

Point to Point 103.3 Miles

Elevation Gain 21,000 FT

Elevation Loss 21,000 FT

NET Elevation Change 42,000 FT

13 Aid Stations

38-hour time limit

Complete 100MI Info HERE

 

Please note that during the weekend a 50 mile and classic marathon distance race will take place.

 

50 Mile:

Point to Point 52.1 Miles

Start: Finland Rec Center, Minnesota

Finish: Caribou Highlands / Lutsen, Minnesota

Start Time: 5:30AM Saturday

Elevation Gain 12,500 FT

Elevation Loss 12,500 FT

NET Elevation Change 25,000 FT

7 Aid Stations

16.5-hour time limit

Complete 50MI Info HERE

 

26.2 Mile:

Point to point 26.2 Miles

Start: Cramer Road / Schroder, Minnesota

Finish: Caribou Highlands / Lutsen, Minnesota

Start Time: 8:00AM Saturday

Elevation Gain 5,500 FT

Elevation Loss 5,500 FT

NET Elevation Change 11,000 FT

3 Aid Stations

14-hour cutoff

Complete 17MI Info HERE

Western States Endurance Run Preview

images

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.

copyright iancorless.com

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.

copyright iancorless.com

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!

copyright iancorless.com

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

Waterlogged – Tim Noakes, MD, DSc

Taken from the book – ‘Waterlogged’ by Tim Noakes

“Drink as much as you can, even before you feel thirsty.”  That’s been the mantra to athletes and coaches for the past three decades, and bottled water and sports drinks have flourished into billion-dollar industries in the same short time. The problem is that an overhydrated athlete is at a performance disadvantage and at risk of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH)–a potentially fatal condition.

Dr. Tim Noakes takes you inside the science of athlete hydration for a fascinating look at the human body’s need for water and how it uses the liquids it ingests. He also chronicles the shaky research that reported findings contrary to results in nearly all of Noakes’ extensive and since-confirmed studies.

In Waterlogged, Noakes sets the record straight, exposing the myths surrounding dehydration and presenting up-to-date hydration guidelines for endurance sport and prolonged training activities. Enough with oversold sports drinks and obsessing over water consumption before, during, and after every workout, he says. Time for the facts—and the prevention of any more needless fatalities.

An excellent article written by Joe Uhan is available on iRunFar and I recommend you read it as a follow on from the above ‘teaser’.