This weekend saw a plethora of big racing going on around the world, from the West Coast of the US, to France and Italy. Some of the biggest names in ultra-running took to the trails of our world to showdown against one another, and if anything to me, it said a lot about how much the ultra running world has changed in the last 12 months.
We’re seeing some real rising stars of the sport coming through. One trend I think we are seeing in light of the recent article about Overtraining Syndrome is that to be at the top end of our sport, you have to work very, very hard. The fruits of that labour are only prosperous to those who pick them for a few years. Longevity at the top end is a precious commodity that not many can afford for too long. As a result, it appears as though we’re seeing a changing of the guard so to speak. Athlete turnover and burnout is high and I think it’s only going to get worse as people strive for greater and greater performances.
Long gone are the days where you could train relatively ‘sensibly’ for longevity and remain near the top of the tree. It seems as though the guys and girls at the top end are having to give more and more, thus their bodies are paying for it after a few years.
So who’s still top of the tree? Well, one has to start with Rob Krar’s rather excellent performance over the pond on the West Coast of America at WSER100. He simply blew the field apart and it’s indicative of just how far ahead of most he is over the ‘flat tracks’. He was always there or thereabouts on record pace, but just got nailed by a few minutes at the end, finishing in an outstanding time of 14:48.
Seth Swanson was the bridesmaid once again for the second year in a row, but surely his time will come, just as it has for Rob, who previously finished behind Tim Olson. Perhaps the real find though of this year’s race was Jared Hazen, who at just twenty years old, ran a smoking 15hrs 37 minutes. Future winner for sure.
Then of course we have our own Andrew Tuckey, who on his first attempt at WSER100, has bagged himself the coveted M9 bib for next year’s race. Overall the race was slower than last year’s, but the field no less competitive – perhaps with slightly warmer temperatures. Tucks, once again timed it to perfection, sitting in 13th at Foresthill, before making his move on four people to bag ninth place and a finish in 17:19 – a great run mate.
Brendan Davies has a tough time of it, finishing in 41st place and a time of 21:37. Brendan was in 15th position at one point, but it sounds as if the final 30 miles or so were a bit of a death march. Still, you can’t knock a man who’s had such a brilliant run of late. As Brendan mentioned in our pre-race interview, it’s likely that he’s done as far as the top end competitive racing is concerned and he’s now got a new chapter of coaching and mentoring work ahead of him.
In the ladies, former Olympic marathon runner, turned ultra runner Magda Boulet turned up the heat on last year’s winner, Stephanie Howe to take out on the win on what was her first debut over the 100 mile distance in 19:05. Kaci Lickteig stormed through the field in the latter stages to finish just 15 minutes behind Magda in a time of 19:20, while last year’s champ, Stephanie Howe finished a further 12 minutes behind in 19:32.
A special mention must also go to Nikki Kimball for finishing tenth, which was also her tenth finish inside the top ten, as well as her tenth finish under 24 hours. Nice ring to it that one.
Over in Italy, we had Scotty Hawker and Gill Fowler both finish fourth in the TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail (113kms). We called it in our preview that both would go very well and they haven’t failed to disappoint.
Lavaredo sounds like a tough gig for most. So much so that Timothy Olson, the current WSER100 record holder failed to finish. Other notables, such as US based Brit, Nick Clark finished in ninth, along with a guy that will be recognisable to us all down under, Stephan Quentin, who finished in seventh.
In the ladies, the podium went pretty much as expected with the two french ladies, Natalie Mauclair and Caroline Chaverot filling the top spots – Caroline pipping her counterpart by 45 minutes. Fernanda Maciel bagged the final place ahead of Gill Fowler by just over twenty minutes.