What a weekend for trail and ultrarunning! Here in the States, we had the 32rd running of the Wasatch Front 100 mile race in Utah. Overseas, the Netherlands hosted the IAU 100k World Championships while the World Mountain Running Championships were run in Albania. All around there was exciting racing. We’ll start off with Wasatch as we were there in person before traveling abroad to bring you the stories of the IAU 100k World Championships and World Mountain Running Championships.
2011 Wasatch 100 Results
Good weather graced the Wasatch Mountains of Utah on Friday and most of Saturday. The result? A slew of fast times on the guys side. Luke Nelson of Idaho took the race out fast with a sizable group staying close through the first 20 miles. Colorado’s Timmy Parr took the lead for a spell before Evan Honeyfield and Nelson retook the lead. Honeyfield opened up a 23-minute lead heading into the Lambs Canyon aid station at midrace and never relented. This relatively unknown Evan Honeyfield (post-Wasatch video interview) won in 19:31:59. That’s the third fastest time in Wasatch 100 history folks. Only Geoff Roes (18:30:55) and Karl Meltzer (19:12:05) have run faster; both did so in 2009. The fastest time prior to 2009 was Kyle Skaggs’ run of 19:35:14 in 2007.
Nelson surged late, cutting Honeyfield’s 34-minute lead at the Brighton aid station (mile 76) to 22 minutes at the finish. Nelson’s split of 1:11 from Pot Bottom (mile 93) to the finish was faster than Roes’ 1:12 split from 2009. Nelson reported that he ran 6:15 for the final mile on the roads. Nelson’s second place time of 19:52:41 was the seventh fastest Wasatch in history and made him just the sixth person to break 20 hours on the course. Karl Meltzer has twice broken 20 hours. (Luke Nelson’s race report)
Speaking of Meltzer, he was ninth place at mile 19. By mile 53, the tempered veteran had moved up to second, a position he held through Upper Big Water (mile 62). Although Nelson passed Meltzer en route to Brighton, the Utahn held on to third and finished in 20:59:53. What make’s Meltzer’s third place particular impressive is that he injured his back at Hardrock and has barely run since AND he came down with a severe case of the flu just three days before Wasatch. (Meltzer’s race report) Troy Howard of Colorado and Salt Lake City’s own Jared Campbell rounded out the top five.
In the end, fifteen men were inducted into the Royal Order of the Crimson Cheetah for breaking 24 hours.
Men’s Top 5
- Evan Honeyfield – 19:31:59
- Luke Nelson – 19:52:41
- Karl Meltzer – 20:59:53
- Troy Howard – 21:10:38
- Jared Campbell – 21:50:26
The women’s race was a one woman show. Wyoming’s Becky Wheeler (post-Wasatch video interview) ran in front all day long. In fact, she was running among the top men for much of the day. She was in tenth overall as late as Lambs Canyon (mile 53). A wrong turn prior to Lambs Canyon and severe blisters caused by a stride change resulting from an early race ankle roll slowed Wheeler late in the race. Last year, Wheeler had to be carted of the course at mile 67 after suffering from a gall bladder issue (the organ was removed a week later) that led to a bout of hypothermia. This year, Wheeler won Wasatch in a time of 25:53:19.
All day the women’s race to watch seemed to be that for second. At least three women were within a mile or two as they ran up Mill Creek Canyon to Upper Big Water (mile 62). Emily Judd of Montana ended up being the strongest from the group as she placed second in 26:46:46. Idaho’s Jody Aslett, California’s Angela Shartel, and Emily Brackelsberg of Park City, Utah were the remainder of the women’s top five.
Women’s Top 5
- Becky Wheeler – 25:53:19
- Emily Judd – 26:46:46
- Jody Aslett – 27:39:01
- Angela Shartel – 28:09:43
- Emily Brackelsberg – 28:16:29
2011 IAU 100k World Championships Results
Last year, the American women took home team gold at the IAU 100k World Championships. This year, the American men evened things out with a 100k WC team gold of their own. The woman had been building toward their gold for a couple years, while, to be honest, the men’s gold was quite a shock.
Some folks call Virginia’s Michael Wardian “Iron Mike” for his propensity to successfully race at a high level nearly every weekend and sometimes more than once per weekend. Having known Mike as a friend for a few year’s, I tend to think of him more as “Iron Mike” for his iron will. When Wardian gets the itch to run a race, it’s almost always to win the race… and he’ll often go back until he does. Two years ago, he placed 6th at the 100k world championships before taking home a bronze last year. This year, Wardian upped his game again to take home the silver behind Italy’s Giorgio Calcatetta in 6:42:49. That time is a six and a half minute improvement over his previous 100k PR of 6:49:18 set at last year’s world championships … which, in turn, broke the PR he set at the 2009 world championships!
The US men’s team gold also came home on the feet of Andy Henshaw who earned bronze with a PR effort of 6:44:35 and a sixth place run from Matt Wood in 6:50:23. Wood was finished behind last year’s world champ, Shinji Nakadai from Japan and ahead of last year’s runner up, Jonas Buud of Sweden. The rest of team USA consisted of Chad Ricklefs (11th – 7:05:53) and Joseph Binder (18th – 7:17:53).
Men’s Top 5
- Giorgio Calcaterra – Italy – 6:27:32
- Michael Wardian – USA – 6:42:49
- Andy Henshaw – USA – 6:44:35
- Pieter Vermeesch – Belgium – 6:47:01
- Shinji Nakadai – Japan – 6:48:32
The women of Team USA couldn’t improve upon their gold medals from last year, but a repeat performance was certainly a possibility going into Saturday’s race in the Netherlands. While the repeat wasn’t to be, the American women can still hold their heads high with team silver medals around their necks.
Oregon’s Meghan Arbogast lead the American women with a fifth place showing in 7:51:10. Arbogast was the top woman over 50 in this year’s race… as she ran the 100k world record for a woman 50 or older! Rumor has it that she even beat all the 50+ guys in this year’s world championships. That’s one heck of a run and looks to be a lock for the Ultrarunning Age Group Performance of the Year if it’s eligible… unless Arbogast ones up herself.
Annette Bednosky (full race report – preliminary race report) of North Carolina was the next US woman with a sixth place finish in 7:54:59. Amy Sproston of Oregon was eleventh in 8:10:11. Crowd favorites Devon Crosby-Helms (food poisoning) (Devon’s race report) and Ellie Greenwood (nausea) DNFed (Ellie’s race report) the race in warm, humid conditions.
Women’s Top 5
- Marina Bychkova – Russia – 7:27:19
- Joanna Zakrzewski – Great Britain – 7:41:06
- Lindsay van Aswegen – South Africa – 7:42:05
- Irina Vishnevskaya – Russia – 7:45:27
- Meghan Arbogast (race report) – USA – 7:51:10
2011 World Mountain Running Championship Results
Just a day after US men’s team gold at the 100k world champs, Max King (Max’s race report) and Kasie Enman won individual gold medals for the US at the 27th World Mountain Running Championships. King of Oregon has run in the championships before, earning 16th at last year’s race. His victory this weekend was only the second time an American man won the event. Jay Johnson did so back in 1989. On the other hand, Vermonter Enman’s win was the first ever mountain running gold for an American woman in her championship debut.
Both the American men’s and women’s teams finished fourth. American women’s finishers included Meghan Lund (12th – 43:56), Michele Suszek (21st – 44:48), and Brandy Erholtz (26th – 45:56). American men’s finishers included Joseph Gray (11th – 55:33), Ryan Woods (49th – 1:01:51), Matt Byrne (51st – 1:01:58), Tommy Manning (79th – 1:08:10), and Jared Scott (96th – 1:20:21).
Just two weeks ago, folks were making a huge deal about the downfall of American trail and ultrarunners after their admittedly disappointing performance at UTMB. Just two weeks later, Americans have the men’s and women’s individual mountain running world champions to go along with team gold and silver (as well as individual silver and bronze) at the 100k world championships. I don’t mention this to stir up a US vs EU battle. Rather, I mention it to point out the futility of comparing the relative strength of geographic regions’ running prowess on a very small subset of races. As I tweeted to a European reader over the weekend, “I think the broader EU/USA runner point is moot. It all comes down to how each runner performs on a given day.” Some Americans ran really well this weekend. Some Americans didn’t run all that well a few weekends ago. Although races like world championships with national team competitions and international races like UTMB can give us temporary cause to rally behind our countrymen (or fellow multinational political and economic union members), it’s important to remember both (1) we’re all runners regardless of nationality and (2) those who compete in international races, whether as one of the world’s best or at the back of the pack, tend to show the utmost respect and show tremendous support for those around them… regardless of nationality.
Call for Comments
What are your thoughts about Wasatch and the two world championships run this weekend?