Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Give me five
I have been running trail, climbing, shorter faster, etc. But that's not what I want to explore here.
I have to quack a little about WS100 2010. This thing is shaping-up to be an unbelievable ultra-marathon "championship." Sure I don't run these things, but am a huge fan. These guys are the super runners of the kind of running I like to do.
And the big dogs are, apparently, going to go. I remember last year's buzz: Koerner, Jurek and Mackey. Having sorta been nurtured along in this blogosphere by some folks in Colorado, some of whom actually ran around with Mackey, I was psyched to this guy do some damage. And he was one of the first names I remember stumbling across; he was on a magazine cover, a great athlete, former soccer player, etc.
On the other hand, toward the end of my first full year of the trail (at the tender age of 39), I did The World of Hurt 25k (finished 5th yo) and Koerner and Jurek both ran the 50k, along with Josh Brimhall and maybe Ian Torrence. Anyways, I had actually exchanged a couple of words with Jurek in the bathroom before the race and said Hi to Koerner after he won the race. I was in!
To end a long story, I was a little invested in last year's race. I knew these guys! No need to go into their pedegrees. 2009 was stacked. And we all know what transpired.
But 2010 is on another level. Mackey is not exactly the 100 miler, and Jurek (from what I've seen recently) is in the twilight of his career. So Koerner stepped-up and closed the deal. But 2010 is on another level. Joining Hal this year are Anton Krupicka, The Spaniard, Geoff Roes (and Nick Clark!). Sure there are others and there were others in 2009, but let's just put all of our chips on the table and talk the players.
Hal is trying to 3 peat. He definitely has the experience and the game based-on the past, especially his fine Miwok 2010 finish. However, I've read two different interviews in which he's mentioned a bad ankle. He said he's been able to get through his training, but even he's talking about it. What made me a little nervous (yeah, I'm nervous) was his need to push some of his training forward to let the foot/ankle heal, which meant he pushed his taper. So, that sounds a little disconcerting. Granted, I think there could be some gamesmanship going-on, but an injury is an injury and he's trying to 3-peat and there are some other runners looking to gun down Hal.
Anton is a freak. His training mileage is legendary, even his training nutrition. I love the discourse when it gets to "teaching the body how to handle running through the bonk." I made-up that quote just now, but that's a fair paraphrase of what Anton has said and does. The guy is minimalist manifested on a steep slope wearing only tiny blue shorts. He'll be mentioned along side John Muir some day. He's the mountain runner (but he needs to toe the line against Matt Carpenter while there's still that contest to be had). His results speak for themselves. Never lost, CRs all over the map, driven, spiritual, fast as hell, a huge base (my Lord). Would anyone be surprised if this guy won going away? No. He's probably the favorite. He's textbook good. Experienced. Young. And ready to rock and roll.
Speaking of rock stars, the Spaniard is, according to some, the greatest of them all. He mounts grand European mountain ranges with a single bound. His training takes place on some ridiculous terrain. He's supported like no one else. That's one of the best things about countries other than the U.S. Sport celebrity is found in cycling, soccer, running, tennis, you know, the lesser sports. His website and his campaign make it look like, using an American analogy, Reggie Bush with a leading role in Keeping-up with the Kardashians (btw, Bush is a gigantic bush). The Spaniard looks big. I guess what I'm sorta saying here (beating around the bush) is we wouldn't be surprised if he wins and we wouldn't be too surprised if he doesn't, if he even DNFs. I'm speaking from my own ignorance. My sense is that there's so much glitter and, therefore, I'm a little skeptical. That's just me.
Geoff Roes does not evoke glitter. He's Into the Wild. I have been following him for a while, I think since he finished top five (?) at NF50 San Francisco a couple of years ago. MC won it with Uli 2nd and then a few stragglers. He was one of those. Then his star began to rise. He's a bit of an anomaly. He's soft spoken but maintains an honest confidence that's refreshing. I love his posts. He's tuned-in to the competition and he apparently doesn't follow a very strict program to reach the levels of fitness that enable him to destroy 100 mile races. 2009 is an amazing year for Roes. The guy demolished some very tough courses (I know all of this via the discourse of course which includes anecdotal evidence, elevation profiles, and race results). He's a big time athlete who trains in big time back country so we can only assume he's ready for anything. One side note: I've taken a gander at his training log which records mileage, time and pace. He, at least according to that data, does not pay much attention to pace. Most of his runs are relatively slow, which suggests he's probably doing a bunch of vertical and, of course, a lot of the runs are long. But it's kinda startling. Here's a guy who has blown-by Max King on a 50 mile race (late in the race), but logs long, rather slow training runs. This adds to his appeal. He's the natural. I can't wait to see what Roes does in this race.
Lastly, there's Nick Clark. He's part of my blogosphere community (so is Anton). I feel very fortunate to get a chance to exchange with these dudes (Thanks as always to GZ). I remember watching Nick via his comments on Hang Nine. I started following him, he ran a marathon in Ireland (he's from one of those islands), loves the trail, etc. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like it's only recently that he's really made a move to become a slight dark horse to win WS100! The guy has been killing the mountain racing landscape. His latest win at Jemez I believe shows a ton of potential because his time is not that far off the record (he ran 8:28), which I think is that of Kyle Skaggs who, like Anton, is a mountain freak (which is a good thing). Nick is, I would say, a grinder with speed. He's not going to make many mistakes, is going to earn his Guinness and try to hunt some people down. I like his style and his game. I hope he's in the mix late.
Granted, I could look-up a bunch of stuff and polish this post with regards to facts, dates, etc. But I just wanted to ramble about these great athletes who are about to throw-down in an epic northern Cali showdown.
And I know there are A BUNCH of other great athletes ready to stake their claim on June 26. Anything could happen. Most likely, the winner is one of these five.
For the record, I think Roes wins WS100 2010. I hope Hal has the game to 3-peat (that would be very very impressive), but I think Roes is going to be too strong and rested for this thing.
We'll see. I would love to hear what any reader out there thinks.