Monday, October 17, 2011

Random Observations and What I Think about Ultrarunner of the Year

I think it's possible that I'm done with big races for the year. My time off from work for the rest of the year (especially with the holidays approaching) is very limited and so traveling for a key event is going to be tough. Plus, I'm just not motivated to travel right now. I will still do some shorter stuff, such as 5K, 10K and half-marathon races. The only race out there I would drop anything to do is the Across the Years 24-hour, but a scheduling conflict stands in the way.

This video nicely sums out why I love Leadville so much...and why I'll be toeing the line for every LT100 my body lets me run.

Hoka One Ones might be the worst thing that ever happened to me. They're so soft and comfy that they've rendered my other shoes quite uncomfy. So why is that bad? you ask. Well, Hokas go for about $170 a pair. Yikes!

Stay tuned for an interview with Phil McCarthy, who recently won his second 24-hour national championship and is also the owner of the American record for 48 hours.

On Saturday night I paced George Zack for 15 miles at the Boulder 100. This was George's first 100-miler and he did a really nice job, finishing second overall. I had a great time out there and was honored to join many others in helping GZ achieve his goal. The Boulder 100 is a no-fills course that's an out and back along the Boulder Reservoir. The route is a mixture of pavement, dirt and gravel and is pretty flat. I see it as a course built for a fast time. Anyway, the takeaway is this: If you want to do a 100 and have never done one, pace someone before taking the plunge. I had never paced anyone before my first 100 and I wish I had.

Last week I tallied 70.52 miles, including 31 miles on Saturday alone. I'd like to stay right at 70 miles a week for the rest of the year. I'm going to end 2011 with about 3,600 miles--kind of a down year mileage-wise but, then again, my foot injury from last summer and fall had me starting out slow this year.

A few nights ago I dreamed I was in the Western States 100. I've contemplated entering Western for a few years. I knew the itch would eventually need to be scratched and hopefully next June I'll be lining up at Squaw Valley Ski Resort for 100 miles of fun, followed by the Leadville 100 seven weeks later. Unfortunately, the lottery system makes entry in Western pretty difficult, so I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. But right now it's hard not to be giddy by the thought of running in that historic race.

I'm watching the Leadville Race Series website like a hawk, just waiting for LT100 registration to open!

Now for the good stuff.... A lot of people in the blogosphere are talking about Ultrarunner of the Year and who should bring home the honors. This is a North American award, meaning it goes to the top male and female ultrarunners from the US and Canada. Which is to say a guy like Kilian Jornet is ineligible. Whatever. Until the award is expanded to an international athlete base, it is what it is. Looking at the North American ultrarunning landscape, it seems to me Dave Mackey and Ellie Greenwood get major consideration.

In ultrarunning, the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't apply. Would Kilian beat Dave Mackey or Michael Wardian in a 100-mile mountain race with altitude? Probably. Would Dave beat Kilian in a 50-mile or 100K race? Probably. Who would win in a 50K or 100K road race--Kilian, Dave Mackey or Michael Wardian? Easy--Wardian. Would Kilian stand a chance against Max King in a 50K trail race? I'm guessing not. If Kilian were in a 24-hour race against Phil McCarthy, who would win? Probably McCarthy. What I'm getting at is that I don't really think one event is superior to another, regardless of mileage involved. I think a 2:50 50K is just as impressive as a 14-hour 100-miler. In ultras, you have specialties. Rarely can a guy or gal do them all really well.

Races that I really want to do before I'm too old to run:
  • Western States 100 (see above)
  • Hardrock 100
  • Wasatch 100
  • Bear 100
  • HURT 100
  • Across the Years 24-Hour
  • Spartathlon (153-mile race in Greece)
  • Comrades


  1. I think Kilian still takes Dave in a 50M or 100K. Kilian won Sierre-Zinal twice (?) and has beaten some of the best mountain runners in the world in European non-ultras.

  2. What? No Badwater? No Barclay?

    Thanks again.

    Interesting point on the pacer thing. I had never paced a 100. And for what it is worth, I think it may have helped me to NOT know what was coming. I am certainly glad you all did though.

  3. GZ: I once had a desire to do Badwater, but no more. I see Barclay as more a sufferfest and orienteering adventure than as a run. In my mind, Hardrock is the ultimate challenge. Sparathlon wouldn't be far behind.

    Recover well!


  4. Completely understand on the Hoka's. I recently purchased a pair of Bondi B's and must say they are so comfortable and make running feel effortless.

    Great races you have listed there. Western and Spartathlon are in my top 5 bucket list.

    I am with you on the training front as I am still trying to keep running daily although lacking a kind of plan for this, should I need one?. Maybe it's just a case of getting out there for an hour each day and a doube digit run on the weekend. Want to keep the mileage consistent until end of December.

    Looking forward to 2012 racing already. Races to be decided.

  5. Your latest post reminded me I needed to say "hi" and that it was good to meet you and run a bit with you (and GZ and Lucho) at the 100.

    That Salomon video is great. I've tried some POV stuff, but the quality just isn't there. Time to hire a camera crew!