2011 Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) Results

Ultra Race of ChampionsBryon, here. I’ll be providing a slightly more personal perspective than I usually do in my non-personal race reports. Why? Because I think the inaugural Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 1ook was as big a success as it could be. Yes, there was a ton of hype and not everyone will love the course, but I’d say the race went quite smoothly for its first showing.

The Men’s Race

Michael Wardian Geoff Roes UROC 2011

Michael Wardian and Geoff Roes running together in the 2011 UROC. Photo Credit iRunFar.com.

Geoff Roes (post-race video interview)

Geoff Roes UROC 2011

Geoff Roes en route to winning the 2011 UROC. Photo by iRunFar.com.

Roes had more ups and downs in his race than the mountainous course. Here’s a selection of quotes Roes shared en route to his win:

  • Mile 30 – “I’m still moving forward, right? I thought I was going backwards on that last climb.”
  • Mile 33 – “It’s easier when I have gravity on my side.”
  • Mile 41 – “I almost know how to run again.”
  • Mile 53 – “This is going to be grind.”
  • Finish – (paraphrased) “This was one of the most satisfying races I’ve run.”

In fact, it’s his persistence through the ups and downs that made that last feeling after the race possible. Roes thought that this roller coaster was more difficult than his renowned comeback at last year’s Western States 100, as WS only involved battling back from one down period.

In watching Roes, he ran a smart race. He was a minute behind Gall and Wardian at mile 5, was running in sixth and seventh with Wardian at mile 23, and was in fifth place nearly 16 minutes behind Mackey and Wardian at mile 33. After an 8 mile out-and-back he was in second. He ran that section 14 minutes faster than eventual third place finisher Flaherty, who Roes passed during the section.

(Tune in on Tuesday for an interview with Geoff.)

Michael Wardian (post-race video interview)

Michael Wardian 2011 UROC

Michael Wardian at the 2011 UROC. Photo by iRunFar.com.

Roes had a great and satisfying run… but at mile 48.5 Wardian had nearly 16 minutes on Roes with much more road than trail left on the course. Even at mile 41, I wrote that it was Wardian’s race to lose given his lead, the dominance of roads late in the race, and Wardian’s exuberance at that aid station. Seeing Wardian’s late race push after getting lost, I’m even more convinced that Wardian would have won had he not gotten lost. Wardian is a straight up baller.

Two weeks after running a 6:42 100k PR to win individual silver and team gold at the IAU 100k World Championships, he seeming takes full control of UROC after the midpoint, runs 8.2 miles of trail between miles 33 and 41 just 50 seconds faster than Geoff Roes, and, according to Roes himself, Wardian was climbing stronger than him all day. Unfortunately for Wardian, he took a wrong turn around mile 52, which added on 3-4 trails miles and the better part of a 1,700′ climb. That mistake took away his 15 or so minute lead over Roes and put him back with the next group of racers. Despite that, he fought back. With six miles to go, he and three of the racers – Flaherty, Ian Sharman, and Jon Allen – were all within two minutes battling for second through fifth places with a range of cash prizes from $1,000 down to the final cash spot of $250. Wardian came home with the $1,000… plus another $400 for winning the two primes. He placed second to Gall and, then, Mackey at the two prime locations, but won the cash after the other racers DNFed.

I’m getting sidetracked telling the story of the race, but wanted to share just how exciting this new Michael Wardian could be. He’s been “fast” for a while, but he’s now running nearly as fast as Roes on non-technical (but far from a bike path) trail and out climbing Roes at times. Wardian knows his weaknesses and is willing to address them. He’s been going for hour or two runs with his treadmill set at 10-15%. I don’t even want to think of what pace he’s running. Folks have discounted Wardian on the trails for years. At UROC, he showed why we’d all better stop doing that!

(Regarding Wardian’s wrong turn, you can hear all about it from Iron Mike himself on Wednesday. When he took the wrong turn he knew where he was, remembers the RD explaining that it was tricky before the race, but ended up taking the trail instead of the road at that point.)

Aggressive Start
The men really took it out hard at UROC. I’m not sure if it was the Ortovox King of the Mountain prime ($200 and a pack) offered at the course’s high point 5.5 miles into the race, the highly variable terrain, or the fact that folks had less to lose stature-wise if they didn’t succeed given that this was a first year event. It also could have been the higher than usual proportion of ultra newbies and road speedsters among the elites (i.e., Scott Gall, Michael Wardian, Matt Flaherty, who were among the top 6 runners at all the aid stations before mile 20). Regardless of the cause, nearly 20 miles into the race Ian Sharman was running in 10th saying, “I think they’re running a 50k up there.” After the race, a few top dogs questioned whether they’d gone out to hard.

I’ve always thought that cash prizes and a deep elite field would make for a more aggressive race, but it’s not always played out that way or, at least, it hasn’t seemed to do so. Witness, the huge groups through the early aid stations at last year’s TNF EC Championships in San Francisco. I’d love to hear from those who competed at both that race and UROC to see if there was an actual difference in feel/tactics at the two races and, if there was a difference, why they think that is the case.

Being an outside observer, two possibilities I could think of for differing appearances of the early stages of TNF EC – SF and UROC are:

  1. There might be a deeper elite field at the more senior race (TNF EC) allowing for more folks to hang longer, but the early positions of Michael Owen and Ian Sharman through the first 10 miles of UROC (off the lead pack and out of the top 10 through the first 10 miles) suggest a different cause.
  2. The TNF EC course is more uniform in nature with its trails and unrelenting hills. Those who are likely to win are likely to find success throughout the race, including the beginning. In addition, many who are likely to find success have also raced each other or, at least, can find ways to reasonably compare their relative performances on reasonably similar courses. On the other hand, there’s a crazy amount of variability in the UROC course with runners of many backgrounds that limits common race history. Furthermore, there was no way of knowing what style of runner UROC would end up favoring. As a result, more conservative pack-based racing might take a backseat to a smoke-’em-if-you’ve-got-’em approach whenever the terrain, surface, and energy was favorable for a particular runner.

DNFs
As with all ultras, there were plenty of DNFs among the elite field, including Dave Mackey, Dave James, Scott Gall, Michael Owen, and Jason Bryant. Two of these, Gall and Mackey, led virtually the entire race past the halfway mark. (James led for the first couple 100 meters and others may have led in the first few miles.) Mackey shared in an iRunFar comment, “Scott and I ran together quite a long stretch of the race and he said he may have gone out too hard. For my part, I just hit a brick wall at mile 30 that I knew I couldn’t overcome.” A couple of the other drops had folks admitting they simply didn’t have it in there bodies that day.

While I admire elites (or anyone) who gut out below-expectation finishes (Carpenter and Meltzer at Leadville and Koerner at UTMB are among my favorite), I’ve got no issue with elites dropping for big races and don’t wish to belabor the issue of DNFs. However, I’ll hypothesize that you’ll see more all-or-nothing performances in the future as more money comes into the sport. I don’t think that’s a dig on the character of the racers, new or veteran, as I think most folks want to finish what they start, but the money could lead folks to (1) toe the line when they’re less certain they’re fully prepared for a race and (2) go out closer to the edge of their capabilities early in a race and just see whether or not they have it on a given day. On the latter point, this could both lead to some tremendous performances when runners’ gambles pay off and make for some damn exciting races. Regardless of the reasons, there were four different leaders between mile 23 and 53 at UROC with huge gaps made up and lost rather than just a pack with a shifting leader.

Top Five Men

  1. Geoff Roes – 8:58:04
  2. Michael Wardian – 9:20:01
  3. Matt Flaherty – 9:22:42
  4. Ian Sharman – 9:23:46
  5. Jon Allen – 9:26:33

Full results.

The Women’s Race
I wished I’d seen more of the women’s race, but the logistics of car rides and extreme difficulty in getting any information out made this impossible. That and the need to travel soon after the race means I don’t have all the details I’d like on this race. Hey, I’d rather be honest about it than pull together a blow-by-blow that I didn’t see. I guess it’s a good thing that I decided to skip a play-by-play of the men’s race after all!

What I do know is that while there were some very strong women at UROC, the women’s elite field was seemingly an order of magnitude smaller than the men’s. In reality, it was probably a quarter of the size… but that meant only five women in the elite start with cash going to five runners. In the end, one of these women dropped. At the time of the writing, only four women are listed as among the “Top Five Women’s Winner.” While I’m reasonably certain the fifth place cash will be awarded to a “non-elite” women, it’s unfortunate that more top women didn’t run.

That leads me to wonder why more top women didn’t run. To steer away from running afoul of gender stereotypes, I’d love to hear from women why a race like UROC wasn’t able to draw in as many top women.

Ragan Petrie

Ragan Petrie UROC 2011

Ragan Petrie after winning the 2011 UROC. Photo be iRunFar.com.

Who would have picked Ragan Petrie for the win? Not me and, if you’re honest, probably not you either…. and you know what? That’s awesome! Congrats to Ragan for a breakthrough performance. She’s been racing ultras for almost a decade with lots of solid results, but this is her first win on a big stage. I’ll forgo listing her previous accomplishments in favor of a plea for those in the know to share what Ragan’s been up to of late that resulted in her great run. I know that she moved from Georgia to the DC metro area in the past year or two, so I’m hoping some of my former clubmates in the VHTRC can hook me up.

(FYI, I tried as best I could to interview Ragan, but the timing didn’t work out for us.)

Devon Crosby-Helms
We’ll have to wait for Devon’s race report to hear the details, but this might have been a bittersweet race for her. I know she ran well and that she was quite excited to have finished the race after her DNF at the IAU 100k World Championships two weeks back. On the other hand, I overheard that she got lost twice… I’m just not sure when, where, and how long she was lost. I hope it wasn’t long so that it wasn’t the sole cause of her second place.

Anne Riddle Lundblad
At the finish line, Anne said that she would have liked to have run faster, but congrats to her on a solid come back to the race scene. She was certainly racing through mid-race, so maybe UROC rekindled some of her competitive spirit.

Top Five Women

  1. Ragan Petrie – 10:11:05
  2. Devon Crosby-Helms – 10:25:50
  3. Anne Riddle Lundblad – 11:01:44
  4. Stephanie Case – 12:46:54 … or 13:04:08 (she’s listed twice in the results)
  5. Krystle Martinez – 14:02:43

Full results.

Championship?
It’s too early to tell its lasting impression, but I think UROC did a great job of putting on a championship level event as a first time race. As far as I could tell, there weren’t any major organizational mistakes. Yes, there were some wrong turns, but wrong turns are part of trail running and they’ve happened at many other championships. I don’t think there were enough wrong turns made (let me know if you got lost) for this to be a black mark for the race organization.

The race managed to pull together a great men’s field for the race and bring a few top women to Virginia with significantly less prize money than the TNF EC championships. I don’t have any inside scoop, but I can see the prize purse growing as the race grows.

I believe that the course is an awesome championship course. The mix of roads and trails had me thinking that before I ever saw the course and I think it even more after seeing the course and the dynamic racing it created. Following the race, fifth place finisher Jon Allen said the following, “I think Eric Grossman said it best when he said the course exposes everyone’s weakness- the trail/vert guys may struggle with the fast road miles, and the fast road guys get beat up by the vert and fair amount of technical singletrack. You have to be ready for all of it.” Dave Mackey had similar sentiments when he wrote, “[UROC] has pavement for sure … has loads of fine singletrack, and a vertical profile that will expose your weaknesses.”

Most important, elites ran the race and then recommended it. At least Allen and Mackey have. I’d be interested to hear whether other top finishers would recommend the race … and, more important in determining whether this will continue to be a championship level event, whether they plan to come back next year.

Two Flaws
I’ll admit that I disagree with two aspects of the race. First, I still don’t think that there should be a separate elite start, as I think an elite corral provides an adequate level of respect for the elites. It also eliminates any issues that derive from ranking runners from different starts. (See next point and lack of depth in the women’s field noted above.) Second, the citizen’s/non-elite’s course differed from the elite start in that it didn’t loop 200(?) meters around a parking lot before heading down the course. That could have been a real issue with only the same number of women’s starters as cash prize spots. It’s not hard to imagine an elite women struggling, but finishing with a time close to the top one or two non-elite women’s starters.

UROC – A Look Back
Just in case you wanted to see how folks were looking at UROC before and during the race, below is our archived live race feed, our men’s and women’s race previews, and our pre-race interviews.

As a bonus, here’s a recording of UROC’s pre-race expert panel!


Other UROC Reports and Commentary
We love to spread the love, so we’ll be adding UROC race reports and articles as we see fit.

Weekend Racing Roundup
There were a ton of other trail and ultra races out there, including the USATF 50k trail national championships, the XTERRA trail running national championships, the Vermont 50, The Bear 100, and a 24 hour world record from Lizzy Hawker. This week, we’ll share what others had to say about those events and efforts.

There are 41 comments

  1. Ian Sharman

    Bryon, I loved the dynamic of miles of trail and miles of road continually switching. Really hard to switch back and forth from slower trail running to much faster road running. My legs are more trashed than if it had been only trail or only flat road (those long downhills on roads pounded the thighs).

    Really fun and well organized so I'm definitely hoping to return next year. With all the fog I think we missed out on a lot of the views so would be good to see the whole course in clearer weather. I think this race will become huge so was interesting to see it from its inception.

  2. swampy

    I put off my long run until Saturday night to hang out for the excellent coverage all day! Thanks and I look forward to hearing Wardian's story.

  3. Sophie Speidel

    Bryon,

    I was surprised that no one took Ragan seriously as a potential podium finisher. As I posted here before, she won the DC TNF/EC 50 in June, was second at Bull Run 50 and Highland Sky 40, and she was sixth female at Miwok. Before moving to DC and switching jobs in the process, she won Kettle Moraine 100K outright in 2003 and 2004 when she was running for Montrail/Patagonia. She has been training with the VHTRC and the WUS group (Wardian, Neal Gorman, and Keith Knipling are WUSsies), and she clearly has regained her form from her Montrail days, if not surpassed it. I would say the ladies need to take her very seriously from here on out!

    It will be interesting to hear why more women elites didn't come to the race. Some were injured, some were at the Bear 100 racing and pacing, some were recovering from the World Cup 100K…but I am wondering if cash prizes and the hype of a "championship" race are not things that automatically attract an elite female ultrarunner to an event. Perhaps the top women come (or don't come) for different reasons, such as the course (road vs trail), travel and work logistics, family conflicts, race calendar, etc. It would be interesting if iRunFar or Trail Runner mag would delve a little deeper into what attracts the top women to an event. Clearly, it's not the cash!

    1. olga

      I am thrilled that Ragan is back at it after a year of being quiet – I actually know she was ripping it at MMT100 last year too. I believe 2009 was a year she took easy. Ragan was furious back 10 years ago. Great come back.

      And I have to agree, for at least those ladies I know on more personal note, family, planning and responsibility play more of a role than whatever purse can be offered. Money is certainly nice, but I'd like to think that unless that purse will feed the family for a year (like in marathons, when Russian women and African men go at it for the sake of survival), locally women (especially older and with family) will stay true to simpler challenges. May be there is something about testosterone and men needing the validation of winning/money prize to feel like they got something out of life? :) Women are more assured as human beings, at least psychology teaches that. IMHO. No disrespect to the guys. That was a hell of a race with unexpected twist, on both sides. And I sure hope RD's will give a 5th lace prize to a "citizen" lady.

    2. Bryon Powell

      Sophie, I think folks would have considered Ragan for a podium finish as she has a solid resume top with a particularly solid year. However, there were a number of other women entered in the race who'd won many times each on big stages. There's a big difference between thinking Ragan could mix it up with a few of them and beating all of them. Every top runner has that breakout race whether it's his or her first race or his or her fortieth. Ragan had such a breakout on Saturday and showed us all that she can beat a group of top of the heap women ultrarunners. She's running the best she ever has in ultras and no runner or fan will fail to consider her as a potential winner at any race going forward.

    3. Casseday

      Ragan's secret was undoubtedly that she spent the summer in the highlands of West Virginia . . . we in WV take full credit. I knew she would be tough because she dropped me like a bad habit on a long run last month.

  4. dvroes

    Bryon, Great report. As an observer I can only see this race getting bigger, better and more exciting in the future. It was certainly unfortunate that Michael went off course. It appeared at that point that he pretty much had it won. I don't know if anyone really knows just how much extra he ran, but if it really was around 5k and the final differential was about 22 minutes, it certainly looks like it could have ended up pretty exciting.

  5. Neal Gorman

    Bryon- great coverage at UROC Saturday. Seeing you in action throughout the race helped me realize just how hard your job is at covering these events. A donation is on its way to iRunFar.com!

    Ragan is the bomb. So enthusiastic, energized, capable, humble and RIPPED. She is also fast on the shorter stuff, coming in just behind local DC (VHTRC, WUS) intimidator, Martha Nelson, at the recent VHTRC women's trail half-marathon. It's a shame Wardian went off course. Would have been a DC romp otherwise. That's how it goes, though. And in the end I am happy for Geoff. He brought his game and delivered.

  6. Scott

    I can't imagine that prize money will ever be significant in modern day ultrarunning as the benefits to advertisers/sponsors – who put up the cash – are so small. Ultramarathoning is not triathlon: we ultramarathoners buy shoes, water bottles, socks, calories, hotel rooms, etc, not 5000 dollar bikes and the like.

    For the athletes themselves, I can't imagine a more difficult way to make a living than professional ultrarunner. Picking up a few grand for running a tough ultra- and having to beat the likes of Roes to get it – is a tough way to pay the rent.

    While I wish the best and admire the talent and efforts of the elite – and also acknowledge the quality of the presentation of the UROC race – the sport of ultramarathoning is more about regular folks trotting down the trails and roads for a good challenge than prize money or championships for a few spectacularly gifted and well-trained elites … and that's good news for the elites: without the 'everyday ultrarunner' paying his or her entry fee and expecting nothing more than some food and drink every few miles, a t-shirt, and some course markings for the cash, well, there wouldn't be much of a sport.

    Now, off to rip some 17 minute miles on the trails …

    1. Meghan

      Scott,

      I just wanted you to know that this part of your comment, "Now, off to rip some 17 minute miles on the trails…" made me spit coffee all over my keyboard. Hilarious. ;)

    2. Scott

      For some additional perspective, consider the story of the Chancellor 100 km in 1999. It offered some solid prize money and attracted some of the best of the best on very short notice – I brought a Comrades Champion to compete as well as a couple of other strong runners. A poorly designed finish line made for a weird finish here's a pic of the spectacular finish line crash and win:

      http://www.coolrunning.com/headline/99/chancelllo

      PS: That's me in the white hat in the pic… never seen a finish anything like it then… never seen anything like it since (well, maybe an Indy 500 finishing lap)!

  7. CJ

    "but the money could lead folks to (1) toe the line when they’re less certain they’re fully prepared for a race and (2) go out closer to the edge of their capabilities early in a race and just see whether or not they have it on a given day."

    Bryon, this observation is right on the money (no pun intended) in my humble opinion. I believe you saw some of this in the race. Thanks for your coverage and great insight

  8. Bart Smith

    Bryon,

    Thanks for providing excellent coverage of the UROC. The race had us on the edge of our seats particularly during the “Where’s Wardo” portion of the report. Kind of heartbreaking for Michael but we are happy for Geoff. Both guys are true champions.

    Speaking of champions: we are thrilled to see Anne back in the mix. Good going Anne!

    Bartman

  9. Drew Krueger

    To echo Neal, it was great seeing you on the job at UROC. For those who haven't seen Bryon covering a race, he really does work his tail off getting to the aid stations, getting to spots on course for good pictures, running next to the runners to get quotes, etc.

    Thanks for all the coverage, Bryon!

  10. Brett

    You can not stop AJWs passion, you can only hope to contain it.

    I love the sheepish grins the elites take when people say good things about them.

    Watch out for Mike Morton for ultra performance of the year. In 90F heat he went through 100 miles just over 13 hours on the way to 156.6 after 23 hours…final results aren't posted at Hinson Lake 24 Hour run, but he'll be within 3-4 miles of the American Record for 24 hours most likely. Unbelievable given the heat, that its not-flat, not-pavement, and in the middle of 250+ other joggers and walkers he had to dodge.

  11. Mike

    I find the discussion about "elite" runners DNF'ing a race almost funny…some type of macho, tough-guy reasoning says that it's better to slog through an additional 30 or 40 miles of a race that to just pack it in and rest for another day. Who cares that someone DNF'd, haven't we all at packed in a race or training run at some point where you knew it just wasn't happenning and would just be beating your head against a wall. For every even-paced, conservative plodder, there should be a risk-taking, all or nothing runner – after all these are still races, right? If you always DNF, then you suck, but if you alternatively DNF and perform at a high lever, then go for it.

  12. Michael Owen

    Bryon, after running TNF EC in San Fran and UROC (for a little while, at least), there definitely seemed to be a bit of difference in how the races started out. At TNF, as you stated, there was a HUGE pack through the first aid station (probably 35 runners!). UROC was spread out tremendously even 3 miles into the race – I think this might be due to the huge, trail, somewhat technical, climb within the first part of the race. But still, there seemed to be somewhat of a more aggressive style of running at UROC. At TNF, I remember it being pretty chill in the early going with a lot of people chatting.

    With TNF having more of first, second, and third prize money, I am sure the money was not the cause of a fast start at UROC. I would have to guess it was simply due to aggressive racers and the hype of the race.

  13. MikeC

    Scott

    I respectfully disagree. Marathon money is big and ultrarunning may be at the same place marathons were 30 years ago. The sport may never evolve that large, but I wouldn't bet against it.

    1. Scott

      Mike, I enjoyed marathoning in the late 60's (my first marathon finish was Paavo Nurmi in Minnesota in 1969) and into the 70s and 80s before I got into ultras in 1986, but would never go anywhere near any of most of those 26.2 mile road events now … as they are for the most part have waaaay too 'noisy', have many people and are terribly overpriced … if ultras go the way of the marathon, yes, there may be more prize money for a select few and a whole lot more people at the start line, but I'll pass … thankfully I'm almost 60 and I'm winding down and it won't be my worry.

      There is something to be said for a fringe sport where almost everybody knows everybody and does it simply for good fun.

  14. Geoff

    hard to say why the lead group was so small, so quickly at UROC. It was certainly a very fast pace at the start, but usually when that happens things seem to regroup after 5 or 10 miles. That just never seemed to happen this weekend. For whatever reason NF race always seems to be a huge group for the first 10-15 miles and then shrink down to a few from Pan Toll on. Probably the lack of technical trail in the first half of NF is a big part of this. UROC is almost half road but it also has stretches of trail very early in the race that are way more technical than anything in Marin. I think this variety of surface early in the race tends to spread things out pretty early. I also think that Mackey and Gall were just plain going for it… pushing the pace early more than anyone has at NF the last few years.

  15. Bob C

    The first couple of trails are a lot trickier when wet between the slick greenstone rock, mud, and a few springs coming from the hill above. Perhaps some laid back, not being comfortable on it or having shoes geared for the road rather than for that section. I don't think any elites said that trails were new to them, but some certainly had less experience. Just guessing. Great coverage, Bryon.

  16. Tim Allison

    Byron,

    Great Report. I finished the UROC toward the back, as my second ever 100K following the Great Eastern Endurance Run in 2009 which uses most of the same course. Also I was on the section of trail outbound where Michael Wardian become lost inbound, however, I never saw him.

    So, from my close to the back of the pack positioning, I hiked up the Bald Mt. climb from Mile 18 Sherando Lake toward the 25.9 mile Bald Mt. Overlook Aid taking well over two hours to do so. One major source of confusion (even for me briefly) is that near mile 22 there is a sharp turn with arrows that is meant for the return journey to take you up to Slacks Overlook at mile 51.

    After passing this "fork" hiking ("walking") at mile 22, I was expecting to meet elites coming down the trails toward me. However, from the mile 22 "fork" I encounter no one until a half mile passed the 25.9 mile aid on the Blue Ridge Parkway as Geoff Roes whizzed by me on the pavement. Having never seen Michael Wardian, I assumed Roes was in first place. Also at the Bald Mt Aid, I asked if they had seen the leaders and my impression was that none of the elites had been through yet. Will be interested to hear where he got sidetracked.

    As an aside, on my returh, I ran this same return trail portion from Bald Mt. through to White Rock Gap with an Army Ranger who took his own seven mile detour from another outbound/inbound trail "fork" at mile 15 resulting in him never making it to Lake Sherando at mile 17, but instead heading up to Bald Mt. After returning down to the Lake and two hours lost, he returned to the course well in "last place" and managed a finish in 15 hours and change passing many of the 79 finishers. INMO these two "forks" were the areas that led to the most confusion for outbound and inbound runners without local knowledge.

    The ranger and I agree that one should try their best to finish any race in which they start, unless injury or sickness prevent it, not just a "bad day". When athletes DNF strictly based on being "out of the money" sends the wrong message that can be perceived as disrepect to the race and diminshes the effort it takes the "citizens" just to start and to finish an ultra. I always think back to Rutger Beke at Ironman Kona several years ago walking in a 5 hour marathon to avoid a DNF out of respect to the "everyman athletes". Then Beke comes back the next year with a 2:45 marathon and a top 5 finish.

    In terms of the women's race, I observed the three top finishers when they all passed me on the Spy Run gravel road section around mile 46 for them on the return and mile 29 for me oubound. Devon was within 5 minutes of Ragan (both of them walking), and Anne then 5-8 minutes behind Devon running the flater portion. All three were working hard. Despite how close she was to the lead, Devon stated "she was not feeling well, and did not have it."

    The varying terrain of the UROC has somethings for everyone good and bad and I certainly hope the race can foster sportsmenship between the elite and the weekend ultra runner on the same course!

    1. Bob C

      That's interesting, Tim. My understanding is that he missed the turn at that fork at 51 where you paused at 22 outbound, and continued on flagged trail, which means you should've seen him. Since reports are that he wasn't that far ahead of Geoff 1-1.5 miles), you should've seen him later going up Torrey Ridge or on the Bald Mtn jeep trail. I recall a short trail or two (~100 yards) to campsites and somewhere I remember a pulloff or triangle on the jeep road, so maybe one of you briefly got off course and that's how you didn't see him. If he missed Torry Ridge, he couldn't have ended up at Sherando without looping around and running 8 extra miles on un-flagged trails. If he missed the Slacks trail from Torrey Ridge, he would've also been on un-flagged trails and would've had to have taken an un-flagged turn to drop down a very steep trail (Blue trail) into the middle of the Sherando Lake campground.

      Or maybe you blinked and missed him in the fog.

      1. Stack

        Agree w/ Bob C … by all accounts he should have passed him. Its always possibly someone steps off the trail for a bathroom break or something but thats crazy to miss him.

        I did notice Wardian wore a garmin 310 and even without a wrong turn I would love to see his garmin entry for the race. Would be cool to look @ his paces at different portions. And of course in this instance you could see exactly how much extra he ran and where he went off course.

        As a fan of ultra running I was sad to see the wrong turn because I almost felt like we all lost a little (including Geoff) in not getting to see a potential battle unfold. Coming out of Dragon's back everyone had Wardian walking away with it (~16min lead) and by Spy Run it seemed like it since he added another minute or so but on the mostly uphill and road portion (spots where Geoff himself reported he felt slower than Mike) between Spy Run and Bald Mt he made up around 2.5 minutes in that 3.5mi stretch and Geoff himself and others reported that he was ripping up the trail after Bald. Not saying he would have caught him but unfortunately we'll never know. What we do know is that this race delivered to us fans of the sport what it was supposed to. A mixed layout (trail v road, up vs down) and mid distance (not a 'fast' 50mi but not a 100mi) that shook things out to where it ended up being one of the best road ultra runners of our time versus one of the best trail ultra runners of our time.

        Looking forward to next year!

  17. Sabrina Moran

    UROC should happen every weekend. :) It was so fun to track! Well done, Bryon. I love that ultrarunning is growing in the national consciousness and being celebrated in events like these. I wish I could have been there. Congratulations to Ragan! It was an honor to train with her this summer. Look out, everyone. She's incredible.

  18. Brett

    I ran a lot of that area with my brother this summer, and as I recall, there are signs at every trail intersection. So even without the flagging I would think you could read which trail was which to figure it out. But this is going by memory, so I may be wrong. And the one time or so I glanced at the course map there were so many criss crosses I remember thinking 'how the hell would I ever remember which way to go when'.

    I noticed barely 70 participants in the 100k and 50k. So next year they should market more to the regular runners to beef attendance and therefore indirectly available money for the purse. There's no reason with such a great area they can't get quite a few hundred folks to sign up.

      1. Stack

        yeah… not looking @ results but heard from RDs that ~150 entered 100k, 130 started and I never saw finishing numbers but I had money that less than 1/2 would finish after I saw parts of the course

        1. Andy

          Looks like 130 starters and 79 finishers, so a 40% drop rate, which allows us back-of-the-pack finishers and buckle earners to hold our heads up a bit higher!

          Great race and great course, even for those of us who much prefer trail over road. Kudos to Gill, Francesca, and all the others who pulled it together.

  19. Peter

    Bryon, great job out there and the write up. Personally, I obviously have a little bit of a bias toward this race since I just lived in Charlottesville for 2 years and ran GEER last year as my best race, so I was excited to see that Gil and Fran decided to make it into a real race (though a buckle last year would have been nice :). I absolutely love the course and its toughness and I am glad the pros got to appreciate it as well.

    Thanks again for your work for promoting the sport. As an aside, have you thought about writing what a great ultra running community exists in the state of VA? Between the DC area folks (VHTRC/WUS), the Charlottesville cluba and races, and all the Dr. Horton BEAST series races in the South, I would imagine VA has to rival CA/West for the biggest running community. (and I now live back in CA)

    Thanks, – Peter, RussianBear

  20. Wil Wood

    In regards to DNFs. Ultra running certainly has its own culture, part of which has nothing to do with time but with finishing. Being able to run 30, 50, 100 miles is pretty rad. However, even though I'm no where close to elite status when I toe the starting line I'm prepared systematically drain my body of every ounce of energy and will to get to finish as fast as possible. Elites aren't out to just finish, they're out to crush the competition, set CRs, PRS, and other Rs. Running fast is fun but it's super painful and it's easy to ruin yourself on a course when you're gunning it. DNFing is just part of the game.

    I agree with Bryon though, It's cool to see an elite to hit a wall but still finish. I really enjoyed Hal Koerner's race report from this years UTMB.

  21. Anonymous

    Krystle Martinez may not be "elite" now but if she continues on her current tread it may not be long. I believe this was her first 100k but dont quote me on that. She has run 9-10 ultras now and has something like 7-8 wins (including the 50 mile distance at my race, Fort Clinch Endurance Run), although at smaller races. She is young and still has several years to improve dramatically.

    Caleb

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