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.

My take:

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.


  1. After meeting Nick a few weeks ago I can confirm that he will be the strongest/toughest runner in the field. Not the fastest, but if any of the top 4-5 show any weakness Nick will eat 'em up late in the race.

  2. Jurek just set an AR for 24 hours. Not really a twilight moment!

    Nick is ballz.

  3. I get that from reading. I just hope he can go with them, not lose sight of them. I remember from last year, the leaders will go out hard on what I think is an initial huge climb. I think there's a few of those. I remember last year reading comments on GZ's blog (which became the update center) Anton saying how he heard that Hal blew-up Mackey. Wow.

  4. Jurek is definitely twilight. No question.

  5. I may be out of pocket to provide such updates this year.

    AR = twilight, eh?

    Tell it to Solinsky.

  6. What would Anton do in the 24hr? That's one of those "records," no? World class 10k on the oval and 24hr in a park are freaking apples and oranges. Let me qualify since apparently I need to do that: as for mountain ultra-marathon racing, Jurek is not the man he used to be.

    Period. It has to do with age. My money says that youth will battle it out at WS100 this year.

    And by the way, GZ and Rick, let's hear your picks. Nick is a stud. Agreed. Who is going to win?

  7. The man ran 165 miles in 24 hours. Are you saying the record is soft?

    I will pick Jornet, Anton, Korner, Roes, Clark.

  8. I'll go with Jornet, Roes, Anton, Korner, Clark.

  9. Regarding picks, my track record on such things sucks.

  10. No.

  11. My picks are based on speed alone because that's the only thing that matters in a 100 miler, right? There's no ref to make a bad call or a weak keeper who can't handle a soft shot.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. G,
    no I don't think Jurek is a putz, that the 24hr record is soft. The context of my "twilight" comment was WS100. Do you think he could win that again? That's what I was saying.

    Btw, I have an AR for farts in an hour. Jurek, Solinsky and I are killing it!

  14. I appreciate you guys picking with your brains and not your hearts. At all. I think this whole world cup tourney has encouraged a lot of people to both root for their country while at the same time others obviously feel closer to "others," to really appreciate their global community.

    I hate your picks. Shame on you ;-)

  15. Though not asked, my picks are:
    1. Geoff
    2. Hal
    3. Andrew Henshaw
    4. Anton
    5. Nick Clark
    Watch for Leigh Schmitt, Oz Pearlman, and Ian Torrence

    1. Caren Spore
    2. Devon
    3. Nikki
    4.Annette Bednosky
    5. Amy Palmeiro-Winters
    Rory Bosio could get in there

  16. Tim,
    nice picks. Thoughts on Jornet?
    I've followed Henshaw some - lots of game
    and young. I saw he did some nice heat
    training/racing too.

    Nice work on the women. Geez.

  17. ghostfeather - you guys have far more insight on a race like WS than I do. Why do you (and Karl M) not even put Jornet in the top 5? Matt, you're pretty sure he's not going to win either. What's he lacking? Just curious ;)

  18. Though I respect and admire Buzz to no end, I feel that WS is an anomaly in terms of 100s; it can be "easy" one year and unbearable the next and it's not just dependent on the current conditions. There are so many factors that put it into a *difficult* race status. E.g. I was dead certain Mackey would come away with a low 15 hr run last year with a win but the heat swooped down on NE Cal and he came down with an illness that disabled him from even finishing.

    Personally, I think Kilian is coming in weakened by the recent efforts. Regardless if he and his followers are enthusiastic and fired up about killing WS, his internal system is depleted. I mentioned this with Wardian at Miwok, saying that "I've omitted him from contention due to him beating himself up in MDS." When you're a hack (like myself) you can run ultras week after week but when you're talking about contenders, it's a process to get to that peak of ability.
    Roes will win WS. All his runs over the last 2 years are amazing but his Masochist run was/IS incredible and something I can't push aside to allow anyone to beat him in Auburn.

  19. I refer to Buzz's comment about Killian on Meltzter's blog.

  20. Tim,
    Though I don't have near the wherewithall you have, I read carefully and listen to others.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your pick and why you don't pick Jornet. I'm afraid Hal might be a little beat-up too, but I think he's an animal and could stick around and become dangerous late.

    Roes just seems primed. Although Anton might be very tough, I think Roes' engine is huge and he's just licking his Alaskan chops.

  21. I will add to my prediction that at least one of the top four DNFs. That is just ultras.

  22. Any thoughts on who that is?

  23. That's super bad karma.
    I'll email my guess to you.

  24. Actually, I think they'll all finish.

    And I don't mean no bad mo-jo! But I dig how throwing that around the sphere might be pretty lame.

  25. There's definately something about Roes; he's the one I WANT to win!

  26. 3:32am, Rick? Well, looks like your moments of clarity occur in the weee hours.

    Roes wins this thing. Word.

  27. 3:32 is 6:32 east coast time.
    Guess I was wrong about Brazil today. I didn't see the match, but saw the score.