Last year I posted about this race; I was psyched. And I was right about my pick (And about the twilight comment with regards to Jurek. I can't believe I actually took the time to explain that to GZ. Jesus).
I'm not sure what to make of this year. I had a good read on how 2010 would play-out. Funny to think that many of those guys (the top 4) were WS100 virgins. That made it even more of a gamble. If I was a betting man, I would have done okay.
This year is different. I feel less excitement from some of these top runners. From reading blogs, I think it was Roes and Clark who have expressed less excitement and more a kind of sense of obligation to run it again though this was an undertone certainly. I'm sure there's some excitement on their part. For Roes, he's defending champ and probably had a blast last year. For Clark, I would bet he wants to take another big stab at it since he was pretty close to really shocking the world (outside of CO). But I don't sense the giddiness. The recent video of Roes and his girlfriend along with his recent posts on his blog solidify his lack of real excitement. Again, sure he's stoked to run the race, but I don't sense the butterflies. If you compete, and you don't feel butterflies, go back to bed.
Anton, of course, is out.
Hal is running, but I sense last year he, despite the ankle injury, realized on some level, how tough these newbies are, how difficult it would be to win with this kind of star quality in the race. As a two-time winner and veteran of the event, he's probably always got the end of June circled on his calendar. For him, it might be like a family summer getaway. I bet he's excited.
The fifth of my "Gimme Five" post last year is the Spaniard. I nailed that pick too. I said we wouldn't be surprised if he won, nor if he peed coffee at the finish. A little too much glitter for me.
So, last year I nailed it. Roes for the win, Anton to run really smart and maybe win, Clark as a dark horse, Hal not healthy enough, and then Kilian just too unpredictable and flashy.
As for this year, I ought to pick Roes. I have liked his story, his voice and his running style. But something tells me he's not ready to do this. Apparently, he's been fighting a cold and lacks the heat training. That along with his tangible indifference makes a fan a little indifferent, too.
Clark seems poised for a solid race. Sure, he's a favorite. But I think considering Roes could run really well (and win again) and Kilian is really hungry, I say Clark is still somewhat of a dark horse. I'm certainly rooting for him to win. No question. That's my heart picking.
Hal, I'm afraid, is just out-classed here. I would love to see him throw-down and show people who's the boss, the real veteran of this race. I still think that was pretty nails how he, according to people on the course in 2009, blew-up the race going characteristically hard off the front.
I am rooting for Hal and Nick. Maybe they hold hands crossing the finish line.
But I think Kilian is the guy. The way Roes and Krupicka described him sprinting out front, up a very steep climb nonetheless, makes anyone think this is just his race to win or lose, especially since he's a year older here. So in his case I don't sens the excitement either. He's here to claim what he thinks is his. He has unfinished business.
But I say this mainly because I don't think Roes has prepared for this thing (I hope I'm terribly wrong). And I think Kilian (as well as a 100% Roes) out classes the rest of the field.
Would it be cool to see Ryan Burch, or Jez Bragg, or Ian Sharman do some damage and even win? Absolutely.
But I think this is just a reshuffling of the podium with a new face, maybe two, to keep things interesting.
Oh, and this makes me a little uncomfortable.
Is anyone paying attention to this frightening development!