Episode 139 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Adam Campbell. Adam had a horrific accident that could have so easily killed him. He has come back with a remarkable recovery and just finished Hardrock 100. Chris DeNucci has slowly but surely moved through there ultra ranks with solid performances, this year he placed 5th at Western States. We have the news, some chat and I am pleased to say, Niandi is back!
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Jan Maragarit Sole took an incredible victory ahead of Davide Magnini and Skyrunning Legend Marco De Gasperi. They were separated by just 45 seconds. 2:07 the winning time on a revised course. It was the 20th edition of the race.
2016 champ Laura Orgue defended her title ahead of the USA’s Hillary Geradi and Hilde Alders from Norway 2:36, 2:37 and 2:39 respectively.
Eiger Ultra Trail
Andrea Huser does it again – I am forever amazed how much Andrea races and podiums. It is quite incredible. She is the Mike Wardian of the female ultra scene. She won in 13:46 ahead of Martina Trimmel and Helen Oli, 14:44 and 14:49.
Stephan Hugenschmidt took victory ahead of Urs Jenzer and Jordi Gamito. From a UK perspective, MDS 3rd placed male Thomas Evans was 4th. 11:01 was the winning time and a new CR, 11:15 and 11:31 for 2nd and 3rd.
The Royal Gran Paradiso
Bhim Gurung from Nepal won the race after a closely fought battle throughout the race were the front runners were separated by seconds. Andre Jonsson was 2nd ahead of Perl Aurell, times: 6:41, 6:51 and 6:52.
Maite Maiora dominated the ladies race in 8:05 ahead of Katie Schide in 8:37 and Ekaterina Mityaev in 8:48.
Luis Alberto Hernando – IAU World Champ and Skyrunning European Champ has confirmed he will attend the 2017 edition along with MDS champ Elisabet Barnes.
00:40:20 Lets go to an interview with CHRIS DENUCCI
Kilian Jornet won the race single-handedly… yep, Kilian fell early in the race, dislocated his shoulder, put it back in and then ran the race with one arm and still beat Mike Foote and Joe Grant. Kilian is slowly but surely become the master of Hardrock and we will almost certainly see him again next year hunting for a 5th victory. 24:32, 24:55 and 25:37 for the top 3 men.
Lady of the moment, Caroline Chaverot actually lead the race outright in the early stages, then went of course but still secured a convincing victory. Caroline is THE BEST female ultra and mountain runner in the world at the moment – no doubt! Darcy Piceau was 2nd and Nathalie Mauclair 3rd – Frosty was 4th. 28:31, 29:22 and 30:34 for the top-3.
Kendall Mountain Run
Jim Walmsley is back to winning and CR’s. For now he is one of the fastest ultra-runners in the world up to 100km. Ironically this race was just 12 miles. He beat the previous Joe Gray CR by 3 min to record 1:31. Kathryn Ross was the First Lady in 1:57. The ladies record is till with Stevie Kremer – 1:55.
Tromso SkyRace 31
Lakeland 100 in the UK
02:03:22 Interview with ADAM CAMPBELL 2016 Interview
03:00:27 Interview with ADAM CAMPBELL 2017 Post Hardrock Interview
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
Ryan looked at me and asked, “You going for sub-14?” It was a gut check moment where I realized I needed to commit to myself on what my goals were for the day. So, I said “Yeah Baby!” and Ryan pulled back and let me go.”
So, guess what, Jim Walmsley didn’t win Western States. Yes. Who’d have thought it? Well actually, I think a great deal of people thought he wouldn’t win but the pre-race Western States PR machine got rolling and before I knew it and ultra-fans around the world knew it, Jim had got the Cougar and the buckle and the race was over.
Thing was, the race hadn’t even started!
Don’t get me wrong, Jim inspired the ultra-running audience in 2016 with some great racing, stunning FKT’s and an almost fairy tale Western States. Yes, it was an almost fairy tale because as we now all know, he went of course whilst in the lead and then walked it in way off the top-10.
It was a day of what might have been.
I interviewed Jim post Western States and you can listen to the audio HERE and read the interview HERE. I like Jim, I like someone who really believes in their ability. Is it arrogance, yes, I think it is. But I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that Jim’s arrogance was designed to upset anyone – on the contrary, I think Jim desired to be liked.
Post the 2016 Western States it came as no surprise that the ball started to roll and as expected, Jim got a sponsor (Hoka One One) received invites and gained plenty of air time. It was going to happen, it’s the way the world is. However, in and amongst all this buzz, Andrew Miller, the guy who won Western States was almost forgotten. I tried to interview him but he didn’t reply… his victory was so unexpected that Salomon (who he is sponsored by) who had a photographer following the other Salomon runners had not planned to follow the young gun up front who took victory. Andrew’s victory was remarkable and yes, he was the youngest ever champ! I neglected the story as so many others did because the media and buzz was about Jim.
Cut to 2017 and Jim was back with more great form, fast running and FKT’s. He stuck his neck out early on and said that a ’14’ at Western States was his target and that is what he’d do!
No keeping the powder dry, no reservations, no question marks – it was clear cut, “I will run 14 -hours.”
We heard it so many times that everyone started to believe it and as the 2017 Western States approached, like I said earlier on, it almost felt that the Cougar and the buckle had been awarded.
I’ll hold my hands up, I said Jim would win but I also clearly stated that I felt that the person to beat Jim on race day was Jim. Running too fast, too hard, not respecting the conditions and not respecting the competition would be the downfall of Jim and it was.
In my opinion, Jim ran a very poorly judged race. He learnt nothing from 2016 and the mistakes made and he went and repeated them. I believe that the PR machine had snowballed so much that maybe Jim had lost perspective?
You see racing is not the same as an FKT. Racing is about being first across the line and that doesn’t need to be a fast time, it just needs to be faster than everyone else.
Everything was against Jim?
He talked his race up with a level of transparency that the ultra-community embraced. They loved his goals and strategy. In the week before the race a film was released that delved into why Jim runs and how it was an escape from inner demons. We all love an inner-demon story and let’s face it, ultra-running is full of troubled souls. As a community, we could all relate to this story and how the redemptive powers of a long run heals us.
Jim was on a pedestal and while some would want to see him stumble and fall, the majority were rooting for him – they wanted him to have the moment that was ‘snatched’ away from him in 2016.
On analysis though, Jim losing the Western States in 2016 wasn’t because he went of course, it was because (in my opinion) he ran too fast and too hard and he blew-up. The signs were there with his swim at the Rucky Chucky, his navigation error was no doubt due to a lack of concentration with fatigue.
So, cut to 2017 with 8 of last year’s top-10 returning and some serious new competition, Jim would have to run smart to win. I said pre-race, “I personally think Jim should try and win the race and forget CR’s, especially with the snow. If he does that, I think he will win. However, the only person that is going to beat Jim in my opinion is Jim himself by racing too hard and too fast looking for that time.”
I went on to say, “The surprises, although not surprises to trail running fans may well come from outside last year’s top-10. Ryan Sandes is back and he’s addicted after placing 2nd in 2012. I don’t think he can beat Walmsley in a toe-for-toe run but if his form and fitness is good, the podium is a possibility. For me though, Alex Nichols and Jonas Buud are the ones to potentially upset the apple cart in what is essentially a runner’s race. Both guys excel at running fast and Nichols gets the nod for handling the vert and snow.”
Listen to the pre-race chat (and post-race chat) from experienced old hands like Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning and so on. They knew it was going to be a day of grinding out a finish. Ryan Sandes has been 2nd at Western States, he knew what was in store, he’s won Leadville, won Transgrancanaria and he is known from coming from behind to take control in the latter third to clinch victory. Alex Nichols, new to the 100-mile distance but with a Run Rabbit Run victory under his belt, all these runners respected what was ahead.
Did Jim respect what was ahead?
Ryan looked at me and asked, “You going for sub-14?” It was a gut check moment where I realized I needed to commit to myself on what my goals were for the day. So, I said “Yeah Baby!” and Ryan pulled back and let me go.”
Credit @mykehphoto Instagram
Jim will be applauded for that commitment, but what was that commitment based on, was it the snow he was running on at the time that was sapping everyone’s strength and causing them to hold back?
At the top of the escarpment he already had 7-minutes on the competition, a lead that he would extend beyond 30-minutes.
“…but then immediately you get into the high country. What ended up happening is that it was icy, rugged and lots of falling, and pretty slow. I came through the 16-mile split like one minute off the year before, but I was way more efficient in 2016.”
But all the early efforts would come back to haunt him as the heat of the canyons started to punish an already tired body. The pace Jim had decided to run would give him a course record (note I don’t say victory) but it wasn’t sustainable. He dropped at mile 78. Whereas Sandes and the competition ran smart races and let’s look at the finish times, victory came with a time of 16:19:37, Alex Nichols 2nd in 16:48:23 and Mark Hammond 16:52:57.
Compare to 2016 when Andrew Miller won in 15:39:36 or Rob Krar’s 2015 time of 14:48:59. As Western States veteran Ian Sharman said, ‘That was the toughest Western States I have ever run.” If perspective were needed, he’s done 8 and finished in the top-10 every time.
It certainly appeared Jim had all the signs and either ignored them believing his own pre-race PR or when he fully realized it was too late…
“I really wanted to slow down and try to maintain a more comfortable, easy pace and take care of myself really well. I would try to take a little more time through aid stations to slow down that rhythm, but I was still clicking good splits. Usually that’s a good thing and nice, but it ended up being the downfall. Not being able to slow down meant I was just overheating. Around Devil’s Thumb [mile 48] things got warm. Michigan Bluff [mile 55] is a hot climb. I was pretty beat up by the time I got to the top of Michigan Bluff.”
Jim is a great runner. He will win Western States, I am sure of it. But for now, he is a great 100km ‘ish’ runner, he has the results and FKT’s to prove it. However, at the 100-mile distance, thus far, he’s yet to prove he can run the pace he wants for that final 30 or so miles. As Speedgoat Karl Meltzer always says, “The race only begins here!”
If Jim had run slower, could he have won the race?
I am aware I am going to open myself up for some criticism here but let’s face it, EVERYONE was talking about Jim pre-Western states – post race, it’s all gone a little quiet.
I personally feel somewhat a fraud writing another article about Jim when really, I should be writing about Ryan Sandes and how he has slowly but surely persevered to win the race he has always wanted to win – it has not been an easy journey. The rise of Alex Nichols, arguably one of the most talented runners out there – he’s excelled in Europe, topped podiums in Skyrunning and now has clinched two 100-mile victories. Believe me, the USA has a potential UTMB champion in Alex as he has already laid down the platform with victories at Mont-Blanc 80km. And let’s not forget the ladies, look what happened in that race with a surprise victory from Cat Bradley and how the ‘sure’ podium potential of Magda, Kaci and Steph didn’t pan out the way we expected – Magda placed 2nd and Kaci and Steph fought the ultra-demons for a hard-fought finishes way below their pre-race expectations.
This isn’t an anti-Jim post. It’s a post to generate some debate and analysis on many aspects our sport, not only Jim’s Western States performance.
Placing a runner on a pedestal can only mean that a fall will come, is that fair to that runner? I wonder in retrospect if Jim now thinks all the pre-race PR was a good thing? I also wonder, will Jim race a different way in the future?
We’ve seen it before with Zach Miller, Hayden Hawks and yes Tim Freriks who have, ‘Gone big or gone home!’ Tim pulled it off at Transvulcania with a stunning win, Zach and Hayden have pulled it off too but by equal measure, but they have also failed. Is the failure part just an occupational risk? You know, ‘you win some, you lose some!’
Jim is an exciting racer and Western States certainly gained some additional PR in 2017 with a fireball on the start line. But as the fireball said post-race, “Sometimes when you’re not careful trying to set off fireworks you light yourself on fire.”
I love Jim’s style, his enthusiasm and transparency and in the weeks and months to come, Jim will do much self-analysis. He’s surrounded by supporters and they are dedicated to the cause, they don’t want him to run any other way, they want him to go big or to go home!
Jim ran beyond his limits and found his own. He laid this all out for everyone to see and in defeat he has been saluted and humbled.
With 18.000ft of climb and 22.000ft of downhill, the race has in the past been full of incredible stories – Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Nikki Kimball, Ellie Greenwood and Timothy Olson to name just a few names from an incredible 40+ years of history.
Over the years, the course is often discussed around the heat that the canyons bring and if it will be a snow or no snow year.
Let’s be clear, the 2017 WSER is going to be a snow year but it is melting.
This is Episode 114 of Talk Ultra and we have two interviews from Western States – Ladies champion Kaci Lickteig and the incredible Jim Walmsley who looked to break all WSER records only to go off course at 92 miles. We also speak with Joanna Williams, the outright winner from South Africa’s Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun. We have the news, ultra chat and Ryan Sandes co-hosts!
Andrew Miller 15:39
Didrik Hermansen 16:16
Jeff Browning 16:30
notable Paul Giblin from UK 5th 16:53
Kaci Lickteig 17:57 4th fastest lady ever
Amy Sproson 18:54
Devon Yanko 19:10
00:27:42 INTERVIEW KACI LICKTEIG
RICHTERSVELD TRANSFRONTIER WILDRUN
Joanna Williams 22:23:01
Tobias Mews 22:42:00
Dawid Kaswarie 23:07:34
Daniel Meyes 25:18:20
Linda Doke 25:43:52
John Cuff 26:41:19
Ryno Bakkes 26:52:04
Elisabet Barnes 27:01:56
Christiaan Vorster 27:23:19
Stephen Cunliffe 28:23:19
01:04:45 INTERVIEW with JOANNA WILLIAMS
BIG RED RUN
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Top 3 ladies:
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Helen Durand 23:35:04
Anna Bennett 25:54:10
Top 3 men:
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Braddan Johnson 22:29:18
*Audio for Big Red Run to follow in the next show
Andy Symonds 12:15:06 new CR
Gediminas Grinius 12:23:06
Javi Dominguez 12:36:45
Andrea Huser 14:32:39
Uxue Fraile 15:13:09
Fernanda Maciel 15:20:57
MONT BLANC 80K
Caroline Chaverot 11:40 (winner Transgrancanaria)
Diego Pazos 10:52 (3rd at Transgrancanaria)
David Norris 41:26 broke KJ’s record from last year by 22 secs
Christy Marvin 51:02
Denali Forager Stabel
WMRA in Slovenia
Annie Conway from UK world champ! ahead of Antonella Confortola and Lucija Krkoc
Alessandro Rambaidini beat Marco De Gasperi and Mitja Kosovelj
Robert Young of the U.K. appears to have succumbed to a foot injury somewhere around Indianapolis, falling short in his attempt at a Guinness world record for the transcontinental run. The tracker has not moved since June 17. Though no concrete resolution was reached on the claims of cheating, the run’s final week was mired in controversy and is likely to remain a polarising topic? “Skins’ are investigating… HERE
Timmy Olson – American Tarzan…. Discovery Channel HERE“When Tim gets low on energy, he goes into his trademark “Animal Mode,” and enters the “Pain Cave” to get through it – training which will serve him well in the jungle!”
Coming up – Hardrock 100, High Trail Vanoise, Dolomites SkyRace and the Skyrunning World Champs
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.
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.”
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.
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
Ladies champion 2014 – Nathalie Mauclair
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.