Earlier this year, off the back of a stunning run at Lake Sonoma, Jim Walmsley said he was going to go to Western States, his first 100, and not only win it but potentially set a new course record. It was quite the statement and of course it turned heads. What followed was one of those golden days on the trail when Jim looked to float over the course. With every step he creeped under the old Western States course record. A new record looked almost certain until disaster struck…
I caught up with Jim just a week after the 2016 Western States and delved into his mind about maybe one of the most memorable runs of the year.
IAN: I’m joined by Jim Walmsley after an incredible, memorable, inspiring, heart-wrenching, everything Western States. How do you feel Jim? Do you feel good?
Jim Walmsley: Right now? or during the race?
IAN: No, now that you’ve had an opportunity to recover.
Jim Walmsley: Now is going good. I started shuffling again. I called just my shuffle recovery. It’s what I try doing until my legs start coming back to me a little bit, I have started that process things are good. Yes.
IAN: Yes. Okay, before Western States, a lot of people particularly over in Europe and in the UK won’t have really known who you are. You were definitely a dark horse. People in the sport like myself who look at names and follow trends were looking at you. In all honesty some of the claims that you made prior to Western States, were very bold.
I love it when somebody comes into a race and they say, “You know what, I’m going to go hard, I’m going to go for the course record and that’s it.” And deep down you think brilliant, absolutely brilliant I hope he does it. But the reality is, he’s possibly going to crash and burn. Up until about 92 miles it looked like you were just going to make probably one of the most memorable Western States ever. First of all, what gave you the confidence to be so bold with your predictions?
Jim Walmsley: First and foremost, it was my training; it had been going so well. I did a big 50-mile race in April and I ended up getting a course record at Lake Sonoma 50 mile. A lot of big guys have run that in the past. Basically, I felt like I’d only built off of that. As far as confidence wise I knew I was more fit than I ever have been at least in my ultra-career.
I could feel in my training runs that faster paces were feeling more comfortable. I thought I would surrounded myself with a good team to go on a Western States and go knock that out. I guess the other thing with it being my first hundred, it’s one of those things that everybody has got to make that jump from whether it be 50 mile or 100K up to a 100-mile distance. That’s the next benchmark of distance up. I mean, everybody’s got to do it, some people do great with it, some people don’t but I think my journey had been ready to make that jump.
IAN: If we look back at your results and really from my perspective looking at your results they only really go back one year. Back to say May 2015 where you ran Don’t Fence Me In Trail 30K, and then you did Speedgoat, and then you won JFK, 3rd at Moab, 5th at Lake Sonoma, 1st at Black Out Night Run 13K, then Flagstaff Extreme Pine.
There’s a whole list of other races but for me when I was looking at the race there was a couple of significant results. JFK 50 miler you won that in 2014, 2015 Bandera 100K and then of course that Lake Sonoma run in April. You look and you think, “Wow. This guy is fast.” But like you’ve just said, fast at 50 miles and then coming to the 100-mile distance is a big difference. How did you prepare yourself physically for the unknown?
Jim Walmsley: I start knocking out the most miles I’ve ever tried before Lake Sonoma, I did my first 140 mile weeks not sure what that is in kilometres.
IAN: It’s a long way, 200+K.
Jim Walmsley: Okay. Yes. It’s 200K thereabout, and then from Lake Sonoma up to Western States my big training block ended up being back-to-back 140 mile weeks, followed by 120 and a 100, and then I went into my taper for two weeks. The first 120-mile week I did all in single runs. Probably the point where I knew I was feeling really good was when I was climbing and running really good at the Grand Canyon. I have a loop I do in Grand Canyon. I go down Bradenton it’s about seven to nine miles of mostly downhill and then you come back up South Kaibab, it’s about a seven mile up hill and then you finish on a four-mile flat kind of finish so it’s about a 21-mile loop.
That went really well, but then the next day I did a big workout on or just by Pace in Arizona. That was 30 mile run with 8,000 feet of vert up and down. That was huge back-to-back days, even at the end of that week I still did a long run with a bunch of the marathoners in town. I think this one might have been the one that I ran with Andrew Lemoncello, he’s a Scottish guy that lives in Flagstaff. I think we came through in like 2:01 for 20 miles but we went out in the first half and maybe like 65 mins. We were really cooking on the second half, kind of finish that big long run that week end was super huge. That was one of the main things too is that long run in my training it has just became comfortable to start running those 20 miles in about 2 hours. Things were really clicking.
IAN: I mean 120, 140 mile weeks that is huge. How do you maximize your recovery from those types of training sessions? Is that something that you’ve built upon year-on-year or have you just suddenly pushed the envelope and find that you can adapt to it?
Jim Walmsley: In high school I ran 90 miles a week for the last two years, I was a big mileage kid when I was young. But then I look around even less than that in college. I had won 1500 oriented coach. It’s been the first time where I felt comfortable to try to add on more miles and experiment with that. The only main thing I really did to try to help out with recovery, I started trying to take just calories and proteins stuff right immediately after races. I just have a little recovery shake after a run. That’s all I really added in after Lake Sonoma for the most part it’s just kind of being a bit lucky of staying healthy because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
IAN: The recovery side of things seem to be working well. Is there anything else that you did in terms of nutrition? Anything that you’ve found out that works well for you or if you are just eating the normal healthy balanced diet?
Jim Walmsley: I mean, that is the only thing that I have changed recently. The other thing is I don’t eat meat but it’s not dietary reasons, it’s just a whole bunch of reasons of why I don’t necessarily want to support a lot of those bigger companies in the industry here in the US. I don’t eat meat for good and for bad but I don’t worry about making up that protein deficit. A lot of people think that I need to make it up somehow. I just eat whatever, I mean I do eat a lot! I eat a ton of junk food. I kind of joke that the amount of junk food I do eat and processed sugar actually gives me just a super rock solid stomach on race day. I’m taking a bunch of gels and a bunch of processed sugar on race day and I eat a lot of that pretty regularly. It almost helps me with having a more solid stomach on race day.
IAN: Okay, you’re very much booking the trends of the moment of low GI and low sugar and going paleo. You’re old school?
Jim Walmsley: Yes, I guess I am?
IAN: Okay, let’s talk about the race, Western States. You were very bold with your pre-race predictions and that puts a big target on your back. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying this, but I think a lot of the favourites for the race, respected the fact that you said what you were going to do. You did sort of say that you would try and take it easy early on. That didn’t really seem to happen. Sage Canaday and David Laney and yourself were pushing right from the start. Did you feel comfortable with that?
Jim Walmsley: Yes. I did feel comfortable with it. I was probably 30 something place at the first climb. I was trying to just slow down, walk and almost even stop a lot on the first climb out of Squaw Valley, to try to basically get some of the other favourites to get rolling and kind of run their own race. I mean I could see them and they were looking back a lot.
It was just one of those things where I felt it was almost pointless to slow down more and more and more, because I was either going to run their race, or my game plan would be to try to go off a feel and start running some splits. Those splits that we initially had started with the course record splits. Can’t understand how those felt, if they felt easy, if they felt hard and kind of base things off the feel from that.
IAN: Yes. I mean, it’s unusual in ultra-running for somebody to come into a race with an idea of splits with a real intention of breaking the record. Course records tend to come because it just turns out to be one of those days, when everything clicks and everything aligns and then course records happen.
You’re almost bringing into this marathon running perspective we’re it’s easier and more consistent to run the minute mile pace, because the terrain is more uniform, more predictable, whereas here, Western States. You’ve got elevation, you’ve got trail, you’ve got heat, you’ve got so many variables, but yet you seem to be very well planned and very well controlled that’s quite unusual.
Jim Walmsley: Well, how I did it was… I’ve never ran a marathon, but it’s a little different than just splits. Between each aid station I had average pace that I needed to hit, for that section. It was very course dependent and terrain dependent. I figured things were at least close enough, when you’re going four mile splits.
If you’re going up a hill, it’s okay to lose some time on that. That’s how I based it off, then it kind of ended up being where I was just able to taking chunks and chunk off of those average splits that I already had.
IAN: Now, the other thing that you seem to be taking in your stride and I loved the retro shirt look…. The heat! You’d obviously come into this race acclimatized to the heat. Was that something that you’d really concentrated on?
Jim Walmsley: I’m originally from Phoenix Arizona. I live in Flagstaff, which is about two and a half miles north. I have lived in flagstaff for the last year. But before that, I lived in Colorado, California and Montana. A little cooler, but as far as heat, I know I can handle it. I know I can run really well in it. But the main question was whether I can handle running in the heat all day, during the middle of the day. WSER was going to be the first big test. Being from Phoenix there’s a lot of people that have their little tricks and tips to stay a little bit cooler on their arms. I kind of pick up on those, just kind of keeping your wrists cool, always staying wet. I wore a hat and sunglasses the whole time.
Jim Walmsley: I think both of those contribute to a perception that it’s a little cooler. I try to keep my shoulders covered with the crop top shirt I had, rather than going on with singlet with skinnier shoulder bands. The shirt in general was kind of it held water better, the holes helped ventilation and then, it also helped with sun protection. Yes. You’re just trying to find different elements of what’s making you hotter and trying to mitigate those, and then always staying wet. If you see a creek lie down in the creek, it’s worth that time.
IAN: Yes. You went out to WSER for a running camp, is that correct?
Jim Walmsley: Yes, it is.
IAN: Was that a double edged sword? Or it was an opportunity to be on a training camp, an opportunity to go and heat acclimatise and also to get some training in?
Jim Walmsley: It was really nice weather, as opposed to anything uncomfortable. I wasn’t getting out on the actual Western States trails. It was more run in the Tahoe Rim Trail and a couple trails more in the Flume trail and stuff, but I hadn’t really spent time like that out in Tahoe. It’s just this wonderful beautiful place that was really awesome to do for sure.
I really enjoyed working with John Fitzgerald and Stan Myers, now at the mountain post running camp. The initial debate was whether I go back to Flagstaff for two weeks and then come back, or whether I stay out there… I had a couple friends that were supposed to do the Broken Arrow race in between those two weeks, and they ended up both dropping out, or scratching and not doing it.
But, I had made plans to just stay out there and kind of stuck with trying to stay out there. After that, I think next year I would really like to stay in Flagstaff, stay where I can get some bigger climbing consistently, because I just know that all the different runs where I live. I can just really dial it in on what I want to focus on most.
IAN: Yes, I see the logic in being in Flagstaff and then it’s easy to go down to Phoenix. I guess.
Jim Walmsley: Yes. Phoenix or if you want to get in a big running day the Tetons. I like heat training in the canyon because it gets pretty high and then also it has a similar reflection of the heat down there off of the rocks. The rocks really release a lot of heat out of them and make it feel a lot hotter than what it might– the ambient temperature might be.
IAN: Yes. Let’s go back to the race. By the time you got to half way, you had around about 20 minutes under the course record. Everybody was getting super excited and of course it was that 50:50 scenario. Is this going to be the most incredible run? Or at any point is he going to blow up and it certainly didn’t look like you were going to blow up? You were keeping yourself cool, like you said you put in plenty of water on yourself. You were submerging yourself in the rivers and water whenever you possibly could. You did almost end up going for a bit of a long swim… Do you want to just touch on what happened there? I mean, that was what, mile 70 something?
Jim Walmsley: It was mile 78, 79. I heard that Rob Crow last year swam across and that was the fastest most efficient way to cross the river. I started holding on to the rope and paddling with one arm and then, before I knew it, I gave it a couple swim strokes to get across. And then, before I knew it like I looked the rope was right there on my left and then it was 7 to 8 feet away and I couldn’t reach it. It became basically me against the river. You have this life vest on which is great that keeps your float but at the same time, it’s a big old kite in the current and it really pulls you downstream.
I think actually Rob totally ran passed the life vest which might help swimming if he did swim. I’ll definitely keep my hand on the rope next year. I basically started to get swept downstream. Eventually, I had to try to basically figure out how I can get some floating on some rocks.
Then there was that boat that came out and they posted a video online. I guess that boat wasn’t part of the race at all. It was a spectator and they weren’t supposed to be down there. They had different separate safety boats that they weren’t worried about it in this situation. But at the same time, people’s reactions were dramatic at the time. But probably the biggest thing from that is the one bottle… I had two bottles when I got in the river and I filled one at the aid station on the bank before the river and that’s the one that ended up floating off down the river. I didn’t have any water going up from the river up to Green Gate which is only a 1.8 mile climb out but it’s really exposed in the sun and then it is a steep climb and just not having something to drink there, was a little rough and I just took my time… I think that’s the one split that I did lose I think a minute or two.
IAN: Yes. I was going to say, I think probably by the time you were in America River you had to run about 30, 32 minutes under the course record. By the time you got a Green Gate you’d probably given away about five or six minutes but I guess that was with the swim as well.
Jim Walmsley: Yes, part of us just maintaining composure. You just need to maintain composure and make sure that you don’t over exert if something like that does happen. It’s all just relaxing, take your time it’s not a big deal. I think at that point course record starts really playing more and more of a factor and almost working out where I have time.
IAN: Was your plan to have that big buffer of say 30 minutes or 20 minutes? Whatever it might have been so that you could slow down… because you anticipated slowing down, because one of the things that I always think of in these scenarios is you actually only need to beat the old record by one second. You don’t need 30 minutes. Where you just having an amazing day?
Jim Walmsley: No. I don’t think any of that was pre-planned at all. If you told me that I was going to be even 20 minutes up on the course record at any time. I think I would have had a laugh… that would be a pretty good day. I remember seeing my crew ready to the station and just going like I’m trying to slow down but I’m trying to run comfortable and this is just comfortable… I know I’m running too fast based on time and stuff but at the same time I feel like I’m running easy and I’m running comfortable. I was just trying to go with that.
IAN: I remember speaking to Ian Sharman when he had that amazing run on Rocky Racoon, Timmy Olson re Western States, Rob Krar re Western States, Kilian Jornet with this countless records. I’ve often said there is one day for every runner where everything aligns and it becomes the perfect run. Sharman has gone back to the Rocky Racoon and never found the same day and the same form that he had when he did that blistering 100-mile time. I just wonder for you, was this that day? Was this that time when everything was aligned apart from the 92-mile void of going off course? We’ll come into that. But do you think now looking back that it was just the most incredible day?
Jim Walmsley: It definitely was an incredible day. Whether I’m going to be able to replicate this next year or in the future, I’m not sure? I think I have to approach it as why shouldn’t I be able to? But that was one of the first things of reflecting on the race is just, I don’t know if I’ll ever have… because so many little things have to go right. In nutrition, your stomach there is so many just unknown valuables. I didn’t step and twist an ankle or anything. I don’t know if I will ever have as good of a chance as that to break the course record again.
At the same time, I was able to take away a lot of experience, a lot of tips from the course. I know I’m going to be planning to go out there probably for a week earlier in the year to very much scout the course and make sure I’m getting everything on detail right about what I want to do for 2017. I think I can meticulously attack it next year. It will be interesting. I don’t know about trying to get another half hour up on the record though…
IAN: [laughs] I mean, sometimes you can’t plan these things. I think the thing is you went into this race saying that you’re going for the course record. The fact that you got 30 minutes under the course record is significant and it shows that your form, shows your ability is there. You said sometimes you can’t account for certain things that happen on race day… so tell us about the disaster.
Tell us about going off course and I know obviously you didn’t realize that you’d gone off course, otherwise you’d have turned around pretty damn quickly. But what was the point where you realized, “Shit, I’ve gone the wrong way.” Then was it panic, distress? What happened?
Jim Walmsley: It was probably three and a half miles after Bar Aid station that I really had the sinking feeling that I missed the turn. I ended up probably going on another three-quarter of a mile to the actual highway because at that point I could see it. I could see a hill and I’m on such an obvious dirt road at the time. I was like maybe this section is just much less marked than most the other course but things started to not make sense and that sinking feeling started getting in my stomach. I think it started with missing this turn off – it’s this huge wide like 20 to 25-foot dirt road that two cars can totally pass on and then you go up this little tiny trail to the left. I was told it was about three miles past the aid station. In reality, I think it was about two and a quarter or two and a half. That’s about three to four minutes’ difference, probably closer to four minutes’ difference?
I just wasn’t looking for the left at that moment! I remember seeing three miles and going, “Crap, the turn should be right here”. Then after that I’m like, “All right. I haven’t seen a flag in a little while”. I thought, I’m going to give it another half mile and just look for flags. I wasn’t seeing any flags, at that point that was the three-and-a-half-mile mark of “oh crap, this might not be good”. But at the same time I was able to see were the road I was on connects with the high way that I’m supposed to get to. I was just like trust it, hopefully it works out, it might not, but hopefully it works out. I wasn’t able to convince myself to turn around yet. It’s a really hard thing to do when you’re having that day.
I think when I got to the road and I stop and I look down the road. There’s a bunch of cars parked on that road that you can see as you’re approaching it too. There’s a ton of cars up here maybe there is an aid station? But I think it’s a recreation area where a bunch of just random cars parked. Yes. It was when I really popped out on the road that I just had this demoralizing feeling of I had missed something. I wouldn’t tell you what the trail was marked when I went passed it, because obviously I didn’t see it. Initially, people were saying that flags might have gotten pulled, from what I’ve heard flags weren’t pulled. The 2nd and 3rd runner made the turn…?
Jim Walmsley: Both of them made the turn with the same flagging that was there… but I missed the turn. But at the same time I’ve also seen heard other things… some guy posted that he remarked it? He was running back to Brown Bar Aid Station. He saw Andrew Miller and he knew that it was going to be Andrew Miller’s day, sort of thing. It was one of those things that chronologically doesn’t make tons of sense. It was really odd; I just don’t know… All I can say is that I had my head down and was just trying to crank away. I think I was still running under nine minute miles at that point. I was moving really well. Yes, I can’t explain why I missed that turn necessarily other than; I don’t think I was looking for it yet.
IAN: When you back tracked and when back to the turn point you obviously would have seen the marking of the direction you should have gone. Was the marking good then when you managed to re-navigate yourself back?
Jim Walmsley: Yes. They re-flagged everything and they made it extremely obvious and well-marked by the time I got back there and saw it for the first time.
IAN: Right. Is that because they knew you had gone off-course?
Jim Walmsley: Yes. They just exaggerated the left hand turn a lot more because I ended up going of course. Basically, everyone else had it very, very, well marked by the time they hit that.
IAN: Right. By the time you got back to that point, how much time had you lost?
Jim Walmsley: I don’t know… probably one of my biggest regrets about it is I really felt the competitive side of me really quit when I came out on Highway 49. I wished I had more fire and hunger in me. I wish I had hit highway 49 and just turned around, and said, “I’m not letting this ruining my day”, I wish I had attacked it a lot more. The information I had at the time was that I was only 12 minutes up. I was only 15 minutes under course record. In reality I was still about 25 to 30 minutes up on the course record, almost a full hour ahead of second place. Hearing that now – that part really sucks of just how missed informed I was. Having everybody… or should I say, thinking that everybody was so close, and then knowing that I went off the trail by a mile and a half or two miles.
That really crushed me, just crushed my spirits. My reality at the time was, I’m not winning, I’m not getting a course record, this whole sinking feeling. I just need to take a break really quick, try to get your composure again and refocus. At that point I was just not doing good. I was out of calories completely, it just became a negative, I thought I’m going to just walk it back to the next aid station. Between some of the medical staff, and the two photographers that found me on highway 49, I’m actually friends with them. They just encouraged me to start walking back. At the time I’m not a hundred percent sure I would have made that decision by myself. But in retrospect I’m really glad I did. As far as competing for top three or top 10. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for at the time.
IAN: It’s interesting, I can’t imagine the frustration.
Jim Walmsley: It was just wasn’t important to me of how things were going, how things went. Yes. I ended up winning two of the golden races, or golden ticket races, to get in the Western States. To race in the Western States is not a big — I don’t view it as a big deal, obviously it is. I feel very capable of racing back in next year. Top 10 in that stuff just — It was more.
IAN: You wanted to win?
Jim Walmsley: I definitely wanted to win.
IAN: Yes. You wanted to win.
Jim Walmsley: Those spirits were crushed.
IAN: Yes. Once the win wasn’t there I guess it was a case of second is not good enough, third is not good enough…
Jim Walmsley: A little bit, but I don’t know, I was in the lead for so long it’s just… I guess maybe at the time second, third wasn’t enough, but I don’t know, it become just making it more manageable, or whatever… I don’t know?
IAN: I had to look at your river splits. It seems as though from that point where you started to back track that you hardly run a step. I was looking at it and I was trying analyse it. Of course, you’ve gone in many ways explaining to what your thought process was. It’s easy for me for me from the outside looking in and thinking why didn’t you just run and chase down? You had that 30-minute buffer, or maybe 25 minutes’ buffer.
Jim Walmsley: Yes. The information I had was 15 minutes.
IAN: Was it just mentally so demoralizing for you that you just couldn’t get yourself back onto your game, or was it other factors? Yes, mentally you’ve been crushed, but also you were lacking the energy. Maybe you had burned yourself out a little bit? I’m just trying to get an insight into the mind of what it was like at that point.
Jim Walmsley: Yes. I would say mentally I was crushed. But then between taking a little bit of a break and mentally not focussed, somewhere I was just not wanting it any more. My muscles and body started really wanting to be done. Just the walking and trying to jog after that was extremely difficult. After that moment and realizing that everything slipped away. Yes. I definitely did bonk after that. I think if that didn’t happen I absolutely don’t think I would have bonked. But it’s one of those things… I think the mental thing had to happen first, and then my body soon followed that… it was just extremely hard to rally.
When I got back to my crew and stuff, they could see I was just completely demoralized. They were totally okay with just walking it in with me. That just became my game plan. At that point it became about the silver buckle more than anything. Not being out there for the longest period time it just became just one step at a time, and we’ll just get to the finish and we’ll take those positives.
IAN: You got the buckle, and that’s super important.
Jim Walmsley: I think this also goes back to in retrospect of ”Now I think about the race”. That is one of my bigger regrets of it. I wish I did react better mentally, and then I did go and actually try to still race again. I do regret that a bit.
IAN: What I’m interested in here is the duality of you as a person, because I think pre-race a rookie 100-mile runner saying, “I’m going to go to Western States and I’m going to go for the course record.” Of course people in the community look and think, “Who’s this guy? Gees, who’s he to say this?” But then what I’ve witnessed afterwards, and what I’m witnessing now in this interview is an incredible humility, an incredible respect, there’s no bitterness. You’re not actually bitter, you’re not questioning course marking. You’re questioning you not noticing the course marking, but you’re not blaming anybody. You’re only blaming yourself I think that’s absolutely fantastic.
I think that would really warm you to the audience. Have you thought in depth about that process of how you’ve handled pre-race and post-race?
Jim Walmsley: Well, I totally get how pre-race it rubs people the wrong way, but just pre-race and post-race I feel like I’m honest guy and I’ll tell you my goals and what I think I can do pretty blatantly. Pre-race too I would also say it’s a mental approach of trying to convince myself that I can do it. It’s also mental tricks with myself of, “I can do this.” Saying that out loud, saying that publicly does set up for a lot of scrutiny, but at the same time I think that goes so far as far as mentally how you’re going to be in the race and making you tougher to stick to that.
Post-race, I would like to think that I’m just being me and being honest. I don’t think getting bitter about things is going to make anything better or positive. At the end of the day, it was an amazing run. It was an amazing experience. It was a great adventure. I finished my first hundred. There are so many positives to still take away from that day. As an athlete, I think two things are important as well, one, short term memory loss. You get to forget about it and move on as far as bad things that happen like that especially in running. That’s part of our sport. I think most people can relate to making a wrong turn at one time or another.
IAN: For sure. They just don’t make it 92 miles into Western States when looking to set the course record. [laughs]
Jim Walmsley: It’s pretty tough when that happens for sure, yes. The other thing too about being a more competitive athlete is I think you have to focus and build off of the positives rather than beat yourself up about the negatives. I don’t think it’s beneficial for you to dwell on the mistakes. I think it’s beneficial to say, “Look, you did this really well.” One of the biggest things that I am extremely happy about that I think I can take forward into a lot more races is just how well I did in that heat. I think I surprised myself a little bit with that. It was almost 30 degrees warmer than 2012 when Tim Olsen ran his course record.
Yes, little things like that are huge just building off of those and it’s all a process. It’s a learning process, but it’s something that I want to make a career. Yes, it’s going to building off of this to hopefully running even better next year.
IAN: The next question is you had 93 miles of really good running where you were functioning the way that you wanted to in your first hundred-mile race. It was a complete learning curve, and it was an incredible learning curve. You were almost… it was almost a textbook run. Is there anything that you’ve learned that will improve your running for next year? Other than a recce of the course and making sure you know where to turn is. But physically, if you’ve done 120, 140 mile weeks, you can’t really add anymore volume? Will there be more speed work? How will you reflect on this and improve, or maybe you don’t need to improve, what you just need is another repeat performance like this year?
Jim Walmsley: Yes, you’re spot on with that. The biggest thing is going to be able to try to at least replicate what I was able to do in my training next year. With those 140 mile weeks, one of the weeks was 22,500 feet of vert. One thing personally, I think I can do a bit more consistently is getting out to that Grand Canyon and run in it maybe twice a week instead of just once a week. It’s huge to be able to do those long, long down hills. I know it’s something I’m very interested in. I’ve done it once, and it completely punted me on this day. We called it double tapping South Kaibab. South Kaibab is the steepest trail in the Grand Canyon, and basically FKTs go through South Kaibab because it’s just shorter, but it’s steeper.
My friend and I we went down it, up it, and then one more time down it, and up it. It ended up being over 11,000-foot vert day in less than 30 miles. It was just a massive, massive day. I think that was much earlier in the year, but I think focusing days like that. You can only train as hard as you can recover, and it’s a lot about mitigating stress in other parts to your life so that you can recover better on the running stress. Yes, I think a really important part of this year was that I was able to do longer tempo runs that I haven’t been doing since I’ve gotten into ultras in the last 2 years.
I am doing these long runs with a lot of the marathoners in town. If some of these guys they’re like, “Hey, I got this workout today, anybody want to hop in?” I just say like, “Yes, I’ll do that with you.” They’re not planned workouts, but hopping in with guys that are doing sessions works out. That’s been really beneficial as well in getting that foot speed going. That’s where like I’m running these splits and I’m trying to slow down, but look I’m efficient and I don’t feel like I’m over exerting. I think that’s how those things happen. It’s just foot speed wise, I was so prepared almost where things were just butter smooth and I was able to chip away at it a couple of minutes you’d split.
IAN: It was an incredible run, and it was an inspiring run. You have the Ultra community just sitting there aghast at the performance. The question is now, where do you go from here? Obviously a priority will be getting qualification for Western States next year. I quite like the way that you said that’s not really an issue. That’s that confidence side of you that I really like. You’ll prepare yourself, you’ll choose your race, you’ll get your slot, and I’m convinced you will be at Western States next year. Now, with this run, people have got an eye on you. I’m sure races are sending you some invites to attend their races. Where do you go from here? What’s lined up for the rest of 2016?
Jim Walmsley: Well, I was just really hoping that I would nail a hundred miles out of a hundred miles, or 100.2 out of 100.2 miles at Western States, because one of the biggest things is I do want to travel on. I do want to take opportunities to do all these great races across the world but the way that things went this year and my own personality and just realizing what I can do at Western States, 2017 is totally going to be about… at least giving it one more shot of having that perfect day. Maybe things fall apart again and I need to step back and maybe I’ll revisit it in a couple of years but it’s going to definitely build towards that. Right now, I’m trying to stay pretty disciplined and not put on too many races on my plate.
It’s extremely easy to do that. I don’t want to fall into the trap that a great deal of runners fall into. No matter what happens, because sometimes its injury, sometimes it’s over-training syndrome, but people are stereo-typing that all the elites are getting into this over-training syndrome. I don’t think that’s quite accurate. I think if you do look at the marathon world, their training is so much harder for so much longer.
You just don’t see that topic come up in that side of the sport. This year though, I kind of have a little bit of a gap right now, what I’m going to be racing. I’m taking advantage of it. I’m taking some really good down time. I’m going to try to get little things that had been bothering me for the last six months fixed and be hopefully healthy.
I’m going to try holding out until JFK to do another big race, but at the same time my plan for this year is to try to do a really big block of training in the fall and try to pull out a JFK North Face San Francisco Double. They are two weeks apart, they’re both 50 Milers which JFK being first in November and then the North Face 50 in San Francisco being the first weekend in December. I would like to try doing that double and seeing how that goes.
IAN: Okay, big difference in prize money between those two races.
Jim Walmsley: Yes. Yes, a little bit.
IAN: You’re not tempted by the Run Rabbit Run 100 for the prize money?
Jim Walmsley: I definitely am. I’ve been talking to the race director and it was even something on my radar before this. Run Rabbit Run this year though hinders that block of training and this is the biggest reason not to do it this year… I guess what I’m saying is I want to do the double, I want to try to win both.
To get in the fitness required to be competitive and to recover so fast and then to run again, you’re talking a couple months of big mileage, hard running training to get ready for JFK where it’s not going to dig you in that big of a hole that it takes weeks and weeks to get out of that sort of thing but I want to be able to recover quick and then be able to race in two weeks.
That’s the biggest reason not to do Run Rabbit Run. The other thing I guess is what’s maybe keeping me from falling down that slippery slope is I’m kind of hoping a contract works out soon but we’ll see.
IAN: How’s that process going? I’m assuming that with you saying that there’s been some interest.
Jim Walmsley: Yes. Things are really positive. There’s definitely interest which more than that I ended up getting an agent because when I’m contacting these companies, it’s more in ultra-world. It’s kind of a weird thing because athletes are a lot of times trying to contact companies to ask for sponsorship, ask for this and that. A lot of times what I found out is I’m getting connected with the wrong people or people too low on the totem pole to really make decisions.
They’re like, “Look, we just have to wait until the end of the year” sort of thing. I ended up getting an agent after the race. The best part about that is that he’s able to work with people much higher up that if they want a contract done, they’ll get a contract done now instead of waiting until the end of the year when most people are renewing their contracts and stuff.
IAN: Well, it’s an exciting time. Certainly, the ultra-community is going to be very interested to see what happens over the coming months and year right up to Western States 2017. I just want to thank you so much for giving us an hour of your time and talking in depth about what has been quite an inspirational Western States.
Post Western States, Jim went on to set a Rim-to-Rim record in the Grand Canyon and a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record, smashing the previous record set by Rob Krar to a new level of 5:55:20 – 26-minutes faster than Krar’s 6:21:47. As Jim eluded to in my interview, his main objective for the end of the season was the ‘double’ at JFK50 and San Francisco 50. Just last weekend, the first race took place. Jim ran the JFK50 and smashed the old course record setting a new time of 5:21:28. The stars are aligning for Jim Walmsley, San Francisco and a potential huge pay day awaits… Is Jim Walmsley the next big thing in the ultra world?
The 2017 iancorless.com calendar is now available to order.
“Within the landscape…”
Price £20.00 (free postage UK)
The calendar provides a new perspective, of runner within the landscape. Countries featured are:
Canary Islands, USA, Spain, Andorra, Australia, UK, South Africa, Norway, Costa Rica and Morocco.
Delivery of all calendars will take place in November with the last orders posted on or before November 29th.
Delivery is guaranteed for Christmas and the print run is limited.
There will be no re-print.
To order a calendar please use the contact form below and choose your postage option. You will be invoiced via PayPal.
I have been very vocal lately about the doping scandal around Gonzalo Calisto and his positive test for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. Outside Magazine contacted me and and asked for my input based on my articles and research as listed below.
Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE
Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE
Post 3 IAAF HERE
Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE
Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE
Post 6 ITRA statement HERE
You can now read an article by Meaghen Brown published on Outside Online
Over the past few years, rumors have swirled in ultrarunning circles about how some frequent podium finishers seem so resilient to the endless, hard, mountain miles. But when news broke in mid July that Ecuadorian ultrarunner Gonzalo Calisto had been busted in a positive EPO test and subsequently disqualified from the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, it marked an important turning point for a sport that has thus far maintained a pretty wholesome image.
“To be honest, it breaks my heart,” says professional ultrarunner Mike Foote, who’s twice placed in the top five at UTMB. “The ultrarunning community prides itself on a deep we-are-in-this-together mentality, and Calisto being busted for EPO undermines this culture and this mutual respect and celebration of one another.”
You can read the full article online HERE
I am pleased to say that my new book, RUNNING BEYOND is now available on pre-order at Amazon (HERE). English version will be available November 3rd and Spanish, Italian, German and US versions will be available tbc.
Foreword is by Kilian Jornet.
“Ian has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved in many different aspects, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian has immense enthusiasm, and his commitment to following a race knows no bounds.” – Kilian Jornet
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
by Ian Corless
Foreword by Kilian Jornet
Published by Aurum Press
Available in the UK from November 3rd 2016
Translated into French, Spanish, Italian and German (release dates to follow)
“Ian has been documenting trail running since I can remember. His images, writing and podcasts have played a major role in showcasing our sport and growing it into the global sport it has become today… Ian is extremely passionate and really understands what trail running is about, and this you can see in his incredible images. Ian’s images capture the runners emotion; the natural beauty and race atmosphere – making me want to put on my shoes and head out the door for a run. Running Beyond is a must get book for all trail runners.”
– Ryan Sandes
This morning I posted the long awaited statement from Gonzalo Calisto after testing positive for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. If you are new to the story, please read the posts below.
Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE
Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE
Post 3 IAAF HERE
Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE
Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE
Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:
July 25th 2016
On June 29th 2016*, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) published on its web-site in newsletter 174 a list of athletes who had been sanctioned for doping. On this list figures M. Gonzalo CALISTO for a positive test of EPO on August 29th 2015 at the finish of the UTMB®.
ITRA HEALTH POLICY
The term «health policy» designates actions which aim at increasing the prevention and the protection of the health of the sportspersons.
The ITRA, in particular, offers organisers the chance of setting up a preventative action concerning health matters. This action has neither the vocation nor the competence to be a substitute for current national and/or international regulations regarding the anti-doping fight but has the aim of strengthening the medical supervision within the framework of the health security plan set up by the organisation. This action is led by a Medical Counsel, uniquely made up of doctors, who are able to take advice from experts of their choice and who are charged with giving consultative advice to the Race Jury on the medical state of participants.
More information about the ITRA health policy : http://itra.run/page/261/Politique_sante.html
HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE ITRA’S HEALTH POLICY
Within the framework of the health policy set up by the ITRA, M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a first blood sample on May 28th 2015 at 13:077 (World Trail-Running Championships in Annecy (France) organised by the IAU in collaboration with the ITRA)
M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s haematological profile presented several abnormal values which led to the athlete being summoned, on May 29th 2015, before the start of the race, to a meet with the event’s medical commission of 2 doctors and an expert from the Association «Athletes For Transparency» with a more specific responsibility for aspects concerning the anti-doping fight.
The Ecuadorian origin of M. Gonzalo CALISTO, which according to scientific literature, maybe be responsible for specific haematological profiles (Quito, altitude of 2850m), as well as the argument put forward by the athlete of having very regular exposure to very high altitudes (>5500m) were retained to classify his haematological profile as « atypical » (rather than « abnormal ») and so authorised him to take the start of the race for the World trail-Running Championships in Annecy.
The information relating to M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s « atypical » profile was transmitted by telephone on May 29th 2015 to an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight. The two possible options were retained by the Association «Athletes For Transparency» to explain this « atypical » profile knowing that a specific genetical profile or the taking of EPO were then evoked.
The « atypical » profile of the athlete was once again brought up in a telephone conversation in June 2015 (no precise date) with an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight.
M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a second blood sample on August 27th 2015 at 13:45 before the start of the UTMB® within the framework of the ITRA’s Health policy. His haematological profile once again showed several abnormalities.
With the reason, of the always possible specific genetic profile linked to his Ecuadorian origins, the athlete’s haematological profile was again classed as « atypical » and he was authorised to take the start of the UTMB®.
The ITRA learnt, on August 29th 2015 the urinary anti-doping tests at the finish had been able to specifically target M. Gonzalo CALISTO.
On April 21st 2016 information relating to M. Gonzalo CALISTO were sent by email to the Association «Athletes For Transparency» by an organisation in charge of the anti-doping fight.
THE ITRA’S MANAGEMENT OF A POSITIVE TEST
The role of the ITRA following a positive test is:
– To ensure the disqualification of M. Gonzalo CALISTO from events in which he would have been able to participate in during the period of disqualification (as from August 19th, 2015).
– To ensure the non-participation in any race which is a member of the ITRA during the period of M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s period of suspension, from March 17th 2016 to March 17th 2018. (The start of the period of sanction (March 17th 2016) is determined by the “test authority” in relation to the provisional suspension, interviews, appeals made by the athlete, etc….)
Patrick BASSET – President of the ITRA Health Commission
Pierre SALLET – President of the Association Athletes For Transparency
ITRA performance profile – Gonzalo Calisto HERE
I would welcome clarification and statements from Gonzalo Callisto’s sponsors, MOVISTAR and COMPRESSPORT. I would welcome clarification from races that Gonzalo Calisto participated in after August 2015 – how will they proceed?
As usual I welcome your thoughts in this story and process
It has been a whirlwind 36 hours and I would like to make one thing clear, I have grabbed this positive EPO test at UTMB® by the horns not because I wish to humiliate the guilty runner, cast doubts on UTMB® or UTWT but because this is the first official EPO test of a runner in a trail running event (as far as I know).
I believe strongly that if we get it right NOW then this can only help in the future. For me and yes, I may be naive, but it appears that the current process has huge flaws!
See my original post HERE
The positives are obvious:
- Testing at the world highest profile event
- Finding a positive test ‘in competition’
- This test being confirmed, listed on the IAAF website and a ban put in place.
However, the test was taken on the day of UTMB® and ‘we’ the public have only found out on July 18th/ 19th and this was down to the eagle eyes of UK ultra runner Robbie Britton.
I picked up the case and contacted all the relevant people and within 24 hours we had a UTMB® release stating disqualification. See HERE.
The above are positives but how was it possible that the UTMB® did not know of this positive test? I asked for clarification and Michel Poletti at the UTMB® provided a response HERE.
Michel Poletti eluded to the facts:
- Indeed, the anti-doping procedure is so discreet that :
The organizer has no information about the doping controls operated on his race.
- When a national or international federation make a decision, this decision is published on the web site of the federation, with no other announcement.
- Thus, if an organizer want to know something about the anti-doping controls which were made on his race, he should need to look every day on the web site of the federations…or to wait to be warned by someone else…
It seems crazy to me that a race (any race) would not be informed of a positive test. How are the race meant to action on this? Like Michel Poletti implies above, he or the race would need to check monthly, weekly and/ or daily for results to be posted? This is a major flaw and I hope that we can somehow instigate from this a better procedure so that races and those in charge receive results asap!
I must stress that I don’t think that this positive test is a negative thing for UTMB®, on the contrary, it’s a positive! They have had tests, the tests have worked and the sport is a little cleaner.
What I am worried about is the protocols and procedure.
This morning I emailed the IAAF and I also found out that AFLD provided the testing procedures at UTMB®. The procedures are HERE but importantly look at the screen shot below:
By the above ‘After Controls’ one has to assume that Gonzalo Calisto was informed of his positive test in September 2015 (the above says, within 3 weeks maximum.) Calisto lives in Ecuador so if he requested a B sample this would take us to the middle of October but lets assume the worst and it was November.
What has happened since November 2015?
Luckily as I was asking theses questions (somewhat bemused and flabbergasted) the IAAF emailed me and they clarified the following points:
Information regarding the positive test and sanction for Mr. Calisto was included in the June 2016 IAAF newsletter. http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/iaaf-newsletter
The athlete is also added to the IAAF list of athletes currently serving a suspension: http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/anti-doping
In this case, the Testing and Results Management process was performed by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD): https://www.afld.fr/ Normally we would expect that they would have informed the organisers but in this case as it was handled at a national level we do not have confirmation of this.
As you will see, some major flaws in my opinion. This is bad for the UTMB®, UTWT and ALL runners who want to compete on a level playing field.
It’s time to lobby for a change and YOU as runners, followers of the sport or whatever capacity you have as a fan need to ensure that we all act now and make sure that the following happens:
- Positive tests are confirmed to the athlete asap
- Due process is allowed for a B sample
- The race, race director and management team are notified immediately
- A press release is issued by the race and or organisation
- IAAF, WADA, AFLD and so on list and make results public asap
I am still struggling to understand how it has taken till July for us all, UTMB® included to find out of a positive test and a ban that must have taken place in November, December at the latest.
I welcome your thoughts
This is Episode 103 of Talk Ultra. A very happy new year! Talk Ultra is 4 years old and to signify this landmark we are bringing you 4 interviews from our back catalogue, one from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In addition, we may well bring you a few sounds, music and memories.
Niandi is back with me….
The La Palma story continues – watch our GoPro story of tackling the Transvulcania route (GR131) over 2 days HERE
La Palma, (Transvulcania) photo galleries can be viewed HERE (more to follow)
00:01:31 Show Start
00:28:30 Remember the 10 Commandments?
00:32:16 Remember the Christmas Do’s and Dont’s from 2013? Don’t mention Mingling
Guess what, very little news… but hey David Laney and Magdalena Boulet were voted ultra runners of the year via UltraRunning Magazine.
The incredible Ed Ettinghausen aged 53 ran 481.86 miles at the Across the Years 6-day to beat David Johnson’s 450.37. Full results from the weekend are HERE
00:50:49 MUSIC The Comrades special is still maybe one of our most popular shows and I am pleased to say we have had countless messages about how we inspired so many to run this iconic race. Episode 8 way back in 2012. A magic show and too long to replay here but due to popular demand here is Shozolossa – I can’t listen to this without a tear in my eye and we interviewed the Comrades King –
00:53:01 INTERVIEW Bruce Fordyce
In episode 48, we featured Nepal and the Everest Trail Race, hiking down a mountain on the 2nd day I was joined by Nepalese children who sand for me… pure magic!
And in the last episode in the wee hours of a December morning I walked the streets of La Palma with Niandi listening to the amazing sounds of Divinos san Francisco.
01:24:19 INTERVIEW Okay our first interview comes from 2012 and it is from Episode 12 and the inspiring and mind blowing story of Timmy Olson.
02:16:44 INTERVIEW It may come as no surprise but in 2013, episode 43 I interviewed Kilian Jornet just a day after his incredible Matterhorn Summit record.
02:52:21 INTERVIEW Episode 57 in 2014 provided an inspiring interview with David Johnston about his incredible Iditarod Trail Invitational record breaking run.
03:42:24 INTERVIEW And finally, the Jureks from episode 95. Scott and Jenny nailed the AT and provided one of the most insightful and entertaining interviews ever.
Believe me, choosing 4 interviews from 4 years has been incredibly tough. I can’t tell you how many amazing memories and moments there are. It has been incredible to refresh my mind by looking back. Please go back to the archives and take a look – Ryan Sandes, Marshall Ullrich, Gordy Ainsleigh, Eliie Greenwood, Max King, Lizzy Hawker, Anna Frost and so on and so on…
05:01:35 INTERVIEW Considering Niandi is co-hosting it only seems appropriate that we give you a bonuss interview from Episode 78 with legendary, Sir Ranulph Fiennes
UP & COMING RACES
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website
- Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website
Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss
Website – talkultra.com
Australian Capital Territory
Cape Cod Trail Race – Run Forward. Give Back – Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website
Race Across Mississippi – Border to Border (7 Marathons) | 192 miles | April 10, 2015 | website
The Mountain/Ultra/Trail running (MUT) council of long distance running has named the 2012 USATF Mountain Runners of the year, Ultra Runners of the Year, Trail Runners of the Year, Trail Championship Series winners, and Contributor of the Year.
Who is the MUT?
The Mountain, Ultra and Trail (MUT) Sport Council’s main charge is to give the runners it represents a voice within USATF, our sport’s national governing body. A love of the outdoors and extreme distances are what bond these runners together.
In order to make their mission a reality, the MUT council and volunteers focus on promoting the sport. Some tasks include team and management selection for major races, fundraising, and developing greater awareness of the sport. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the MUT Council Chair or any member of the MUT Council. You can also become involved through your local Association.
The Mountain, Ultra and Trail (MUT) Joint Subcommittee was established in 1998 to assist USA Track & Field with the sports of mountain, ultra, and trail running. Prior to that time, the USATF Ultra Subcommittee represented the ultra community’s interests within USATF but there was no parallel group for the country’s mountain runners. With the idea that these two disciplines attracted many of the same athletes and shared many of the same concerns, and with the growing popularity of trail running, the Joint Subcommittee was established. Ultrarunners Tom Johnson and Lorraine Gersitz were asked to serve as Co-Chairs and facilitate the creation of an athlete-centered resource within USATF for mountain, ultra, and trail runners. MUT member Nancy Hobbs coined the MUT moniker at the USATF Convention in Orlando Florida in 1998, the first convention attended by the newly appointed subcommittee members. Two years later, MUT was elevated to the status of a Running Council at the 22nd annual USATF Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 3, 2000. The Council status gives MUT higher visibility and recognition within the USATF organization, which in turn will help MUT to better serve it’s running communities.
THE 2012 AWARDS
this information is taken from Scott Dunlap and the original post may be viewed here
Tune into Talk Ultra this week (30th November) for interviews with Stevie Kremer and Max King
Mountain men open: Sage Canaday, Boulder, CO, is the recipient of the Lyndon Ellefson Memorial Award as the Runner of the Year in this category. Canaday won the 2012 USA Mountain Running Championship by winning the Mt. Washington Road Race, clocking the fastest time ever by an American. He finished in 5th place at the Jungfrau Mountain Marathon, leading the USA mountain team to a second-place finish in the Long-Distance World Mountain Running Challenge. And in his debut 50-mile trail race, Canaday won the White River 50, breaking the course record by nine minutes.
Mountain men master: Dave Dunham, Bradford, MA, dominated his 45-49 years age group in mountain running and cross country in the Northeast in 2012, as demonstrated by his winning his age group in the USATF New England Mountain Running series and taking first place in his age group in USATF New England Mountain Running Championships. Dunham also excelled in running on trails, roads, and track.
Mountain women open: Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, achieved her Runner of the Year award by winning – with but one exception – every race she entered in 2012. The exception was a stellar achievement in itself: the individual bronze medal at the World Mountain Running Championships; Arritoa led the USA women to the team gold medal.
Mountain women master: Laura Haefeli, Del Norte, CO, led the master’s field at the USA Mountain Running Championships at Mt. Washington, where she was the 4th place woman overall and set the age 44 course record. She was the top female master as well at Loon Mountain, finishing 7th overall and qualifying for the USA world mountain team.
Ultra men open: Mike Morton, Lithia, FL, has won the Ted Corbitt Memorial Award for his selection as the USATF Men’s Ultra Runner of the Year. “Ultra” does not begin to describe Morton’s impressive season in 2012. He won the World 24-Hours Championships, breaking the American record with a distance of over 172 miles. Morton also won the notorious Badwater ultramarathon, a race of 135 miles in Death Valley, California. In addition, Morton had multiple sub-14-hours finishes in other 100-mile races, breaking course records along the way.
Ultra men master: Roy Pirrung, Kohler, WI, competing in the 60-64 years age group, once again won multiple USA titles to become Runner of the Year in this category. Pirrung won the national championship in the USATF 50km Championships at Caumsett Park, Long Island, NY, then came back to win another national title in the Burning River 100-mile USATF trail championships near Cleveland, OH.
Ultra women open: Connie Gardner, Medina, OH, had another blockbuster season in 2012, to win the USATF Ruth Anderson Award as Runner of the Year in this category. Gardner won the USATF women’s 50-mile national championship in both the open and masters classes. She won both the open and masters first-place prizes at the USATF women’s100-mile trail championships. And Gardner led the USA women to the team gold medal in the IAU World 24-Hours Championships, taking home the individual silver medal for second place; in doing so, Gardner set a new American women’s record of 149.3 miles.
Ultra women master: Connie Gardner doubles this year as Runner of the Year in this category, to go with her award as Runner of the Year in the Ultra women open class.
Trail men open: Max King, Bend, OR, for the second consecutive year, is the trail men’s open award recipient. King repeated his victories from 2011 in this year’s USA Half Marathon Trail Championships and USA 50km Trail Championships. He was the winner of the XTERRA National Trail Running Championships, the Siskiyou Out Back 50km Trail Race, the Ultra Race of Champions 100K, and the Transrockies 3-day event, among other fine race performances.
Trail men master: Tim Van Orden, Bennington, VT, is a repeat winner in this Runner of the Year category. Van Orden finished as the first masters competitor in the USA Marathon Trail Championships, the USA Half-Marathon Trail Championships, and the USA 50km Trail Championships. In addition to his running, Van Orden competed at the highest levels cross country skiing and snowshoe racing.
Trail women open: Co-winners in this Runner of the Year category are Stevie Kremer, Crested Butte, CO and Megan Kimmel, Silverton, CO. Kremer won the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland, the 2012 world championship race, and placed 7th in the World Mountain Running Association Championships. Kimmel won the USA 10km trail championship in course-record time, and finished a close second in the USA Half-Marathon Trail Championships.
Trail women master: Julie Thomas, Canby, OR, was selected as Runner of the Year in this class with a pair of outstanding age-group performances. She was the gold medallist for women in the 40-49 group at the USA Trail Marathon Championships (9th place overall), and the silver medallist for women in the 45-49 group at the USA 50km Trail Championships (8th place overall).
USA Trail Championships Series Winners: Megan Kimmel, Silverton, CO and Jason Bryant, Elkin, NC are the USATF Trail Series Champions for 2012. These individual series winners are the athletes who garnered the most points in the 2012 annual USA Trail Championships (sub-ultra) series of events. The events include the 10km, half marathon, and marathon trail championships.
Contributor of the Year – Tom Raffio, President of Northeast Delta Dental, Concord, NH
Northeast Delta Dental and Tom Raffio, the firm’s president and chief executive officer, have been avid and generous supporters of the USA mountain running. Northeast Delta Dental has been the primary sponsor of the USA Mountain Running Championships for the past three years and has committed again to be title sponsor for 2013.