Saturday, August 2, 2008

How will today's Burning River 100 shake out? That is the question!

12:22 p.m.: As of the second Station Road bridge aid station (39.7), Tim Clement has extended his lead to eight minutes. Going into the second Station Road bridge aid station, runners have just endured a tough stretch as they climbed the Carriage Loop trail and then made their way back to the bridge via the towpath, which was a hot and humid stretch last year. Now they enter the Buckeye Trail 50K course, which is a challenging stretch.

The current top 5 now looks like this:

1) Tim Clement--5:58
2) Randy Miller--6:06
3) Bob Pokorny--6:09
4) Russ Goodman--6:10
5) Darris Blackford--6:11

Connie Gardner is running 6th at 6:12, and Chris Petit, who placed 2nd at the Laurel Highlands 70 in June, is at 6:19.

Tim has some tough competition behind him, but the good news for him is that he knows how to win races and stay strong. Randy Miller won the Laurel Highlands 70 and Pokorny is tough and experienced and now appears to be getting stronger with the race. I will be leaving soon to meet Tim at the Happy Days aid station (70), where I run him in.

10:27 a.m.: Big news--last year's BR100 winner, Mark Godale, has dropped from the race, likely due to the injury he's been courageously battling for some time. I feel terrible for Mark. He's a champion who fights through pain and I know this is tough for him. For him to drop means the pain he was feeling was off the charts.

Amid the bad news of Mark's status, there is some good news! Our fellow SERC member Tim Clement, who I'm pacing today from 70 to the finish, has moved into the lead as of the first Station Road bridge aid station. The top 5 is now:

1) Tim Clement--4:59
2) Russ Goodman--5:00
3) Randy Miller--5:02
4) Darris Blackford--5:05
5t) Connie Garder--5:09
5t) Bob Pokorny--5:09
5t) Scott N. Draper--5:09

I can't see Tim relenting. The level of toughness and natural endurance he brings give him a huge advantage. But there are 67 miles to go and a lot can happen in a 100....

9:14 a.m.: According to my thermometer, it's 67 degree. There's been some movement in the top 5 as of the Shadow Lake aid station (18.6):

1) Darris Blackford (2:33)
2) Benjamin Bowman (?)
3) Mark Godale (2:39)
4) Tim Clement (2:42)
5) Randy Miller (2:42)

Not sure what's going on with Dougherty, who was running second as of my last post.

Last year I think Mark G. was 2nd or 3rd and eventually moved into first sometime around the second Station Road bridge aid station.

At this point, runners are now on trails/towpath for most of the rest of the way. Some of them might be feeling some minor leg ache from the 9-mile road section to start the race.

Just now I see that Blackford and Bowman entered the Egbert Picnic Shelter aid station (23.4) at 3:19 and 3:24, respectively.

8:26 a.m.: Going into the Harper Ridge aid station (15.4), runners have just completed a long but steady climb up the Bridal Trail. I would imagine the front-runners ran, not walked, it. The top-5 are:

1) Darris Blackford--2:04
2) Benjamin Dougherty--2:09
3) Mark Godale--2:09
4) Benjamin Bowman--2:11
5) Tim Clement--2:12

Bob Pokorny, Connie Gardner and Russ Goodman all came in at 2:13.

Not surprisingly, Connie leads the women!

A whopping 5 minutes separate Blackford from his nearest competitor, and 8 minutes separate him from the #5 guy. But in 100s, 8 minutes isn't much. Sometimes the tortoise will beat the hare (though no one in the top 5 could be construed as a tortoise--they all have speed). It will be interesting to see if Blackford can hang on.

The weather is perfect--not even 70 degrees.

7:15 a.m.: The Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run started a little over 2 hours ago. I wish I were there, but that's not the point of this post!

Thanks to the organizing committee and our friends at Vertical Runner, you can track runners' times via webcast by clicking here.

Interestingly, only 120 runners started this morning. Last year, 144 started. I wonder if the less-than-50% finishers rate last year kept some folks away.

Needless to say, who crosses first will be interesting to see. I think it's going to be a battle between returning champ Mark Godale (16:07 at last year's race; 24-hour American record holder with 162.4 miles) and Tim Clement (2003 100 mile and 2004 100K national champion) who are both SERC members!

I also think Rich Wisneski, a very fast marathoner who is making his 100-mile debut, the ever-tough Connie Gardner and of course Bob Pokorny will be in the hunt.

I am pacing Tim from mile 71 to the finish and look forward to it. Mark has a great pacing team, with Jeff U. going from 60-75 with him, and Kam L. bringing him home.

I will try to check in again later this morning, but at 2 p.m. I'm outta here to go meet Tim!

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