Special Announcement from WSER and HRH

AJW's Raptoom LogoIn a joint conference call last night with the editorial team of iRunFar.com and representatives from Salomon, Hoka One One, Montrail, the North Face, Patagonia, Drymax, Udos Oil, and Vibram the race organizers from the Western States 100 and the Hardrock 100 announced that beginning with their 2012 races they would be instituting elite women starts for their events. Based on prior year’s finishing times, overall performance data, the overall strength of the men’s field, and projected race day conditions, the top-20 seeded women in both Western States and Hardrock will be given an individually handicapped time-seeded head start intended to allow the women’s winner to finish in close proximity to the men’s winner. Citing the increased demand from media outlets for coverage of the women’s races and the need to provide a level playing field, officials for each race explained that they were taking a page out of the major big city marathons and giving women runners their rightful place in the pantheon of the sport.

Devon Crosby-Helms, elite marathoner and accomplished ultrarunner was contacted in advance of the story and exclaimed, “This is long overdue. As our sport has grown and the fan base has widened it is clear the people want to see the women race. Having a head start will make the race more fan-friendly and will keep people glued to their computers and phones longer.” Crosby-Helms, who enjoys one of the most expansive social networking presences in the entire sport, has proven that there is a demand for such an arrangement. “In fact, to not do so, would border on the criminal.”

Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball, two veteran 100-mile runners who are perhaps best known for their duel for second place on the track at the 2011 Western States, noted in separate interviews, “If that rule had been in place this past year the bear would have never allowed Ellie to win because all the guys running along with us would have scared her away. We are grateful for the chance to give this another go under the right circumstances.”

Ellie Greenwood, when asked about this, said simply, “Perhaps the bear would have attacked me as I would have likely been there before all the guys. All I can say is, bring it on!”

Meghan Arbogast, the Grand Old Dame of the Sport, was delighted to hear of this new development and had only one thing to offer in addition, “Will they ever include an age handicap?” When asked about this, neither race committees offered comment.

And finally, Ann Trason, 14-time Western States winner and three-time overall 2nd place finisher, was contacted via satellite phone in her yurt in Bhutan. When asked what she thought of the new arrangement she said, simply, “I think it’s crap.” And went back to her knitting.

Bottoms up!

AJW Taproom’s Beer of the Week
This week’s beer comes from Clown Shoes Brewing in Massachusetts. Their Tramp Stamp Belgian India Pale Ale combines the best in both Belgian texture and American exuberance. Best enjoyed in mixed company, along side a grill, with good friends and great stories!

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • What do you think of the new race formats?
  • Should there be age-graded race-start handicaps, as well?
  • Did you fall for AJW’s April Fool’s joke?

(No ultrarunners were harmed during the making of this article… nor were any interviewed, for that matter. Pretty much the only thing that’s not fictional in the above article is the beer. Seriously.)

There are 33 comments

  1. Danny

    I think it will be great for media coverage, but in general I'm against it. I think Ann Trason's sentiments sum it up well. In these though events the top women really can compete against the top men. A top woman running with a handicap could be alone all day, but in a mass start could be running along with top-10 or top-20 men.

    My vote would be for these races to find some other way to promote media coverage of the women's race, even if they're passing aid stations a few hours later. Maybe each aid station (or at least each major landmark aid station) could have a designated media volunteer (it benefits the race, so they should support this). The issue is when you have one person like Bryon hustling from aid station to aid station covering the whole race; in order to reach the next spot in time for the leaders he has to leave the last spot before the top women arrive. One media volunteer (who could volunteer normally after leaders pass) at an aid station could stay put and be able to see all the top men AND women come through, and even be able to keep tabs on other "notables" who may be off-pace and struggling. Reporting all DNF's would be useful for fans following even back-of-packers; this could be done by any normal volunteer given access to online media.

    This all hinges on cell reception or other access to media, but the same issue comes with any media coverage.

    1. Anonymous

      To make it even more media-centric for the late night channel surfers (it is going to be a fully featured mini-series right?) let's show the ladies getting up, doing their hair, having a pillow fight … then, getting all serious and going to the line.

      Now, if they get CAUGHT despite all the calculations, handicaps and head starts, let's require that – kind of cave man/cave woman theme if you will … are you hearing me Hollywood?? … (and do let's have them wear sexy uniforms) … they have to 'marry' their captor … the elite men carrying clubs from the start wearing scanty loin cloths and smeared with Udo's oil …

      I'm going to ask my wife when she gets home if we can reinstall the TV and get DISH … this is going to be the most awesome season of ultrarunning coverage ever.

      I so agree that

        1. Coach Weber

          If Hal can't pull off the cave man look and get his pick of the litter in 2012, well, I'll eat my polyester coaching shorts.

  2. Mark

    Nice…only took me about 2 sentences to get this one.

    Besides, everybody knows that Ann Trason doesn't know how to knit!

  3. Art

    well, the reason this was so obvious, and didn't work, is that WS and HRH would never get together for anything. they run to the beat of a different drummer. HRH doesn't even allow its results on Ultrasignup for gosh sakes.

    but nice try.

  4. Alex from New Haven

    Another classic AJW 4/1 prank. People have been asking me about the "WS DNF = no entry the following year" article for the past 4 YEARS. They say "I heard there was this new rule…" And I keep asking them "And what day of the year was that blog written…?"

    Keep em coming!

  5. Edward S

    Andy, I know of not a single malicious bone in your body, but this article, like any talk of "getting chicked", even in jest, has an air of chauvinism, which I doubt was your intention.

  6. Johan

    At least the beer is no joke, very tasty "Belgian style" IPA. I also recommend, and suggest for an upcoming Taproom, "Rayon Vert" from Green Flash?

  7. Danny

    I still stand by my comments on how to improve media coverage for women when a one-man team like Bryon has to keep up with the lead men, leaving aid stations before women arrive. Definitely a topic worth some discussion, maybe in its own article.

    1. Russell

      Glamorise the women. Clothes, hoop earrings, gold chains, the works… Worked wonders for women's tennis media coverage.

  8. mayayo

    I know it started as an April fool´s prank, yet there might be more to it as the women coverage (and/or prize parity, etc…) are recurrent.

    Hence, I would like to take up this chance to put forward an idea which has been succesfully running in Europe but I have yet to see at USA 100 milers.

    Nowadays, most ultra trails are followed by fans ONLINE, as Bryon and the irunfar staff has proved once and again.

    Hence, it might very sensible to give each top runner its own gps chip and setup an online race tracking over google earth.

    The idea and systems are in fact well tried & tested: Technically easy and quite a standard these days in many European-organized races, from UTMB to Sables…even at the 50 mile Ecotrail Paris last week.

    Google earth runner by runner tracking live over the screen proved superb, far better and exciting than a few old style TV cameras (or jounalists) thinly spread over 100 miles of trails.

    Would love to be able to follow WSER & HR this way, from here in Madrid :-)

  9. Erik

    Hah! When you read this a few days after April 1st, you miss the fact it's a joke until it's been thoroughly pulled over your eyes…

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