The 22nd annual running of the Chuckanut 50k, a long-time, early-season proving ground, will take place this Saturday, March 15 at 8 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time in Fairhaven, Washington. A smooth start and finish trail futilely tries to mask what this race is known for, a 30k stretch of climbing, running around the top of, and descending Chuckanut Mountain Ridge, which amounts to about 5,000 feet of climbing. Directed by Krissy Moehl, the race will be stocked with good food, beautiful scenery, some Pacific Northwest mud, and fierce competition.
Men’s Preview- 2014 Chuckanut 50k
Returning champion and course-record holder David Laney (Nike) is a favorite for the win. He’s got last year’s win under his belt as well as a fantastic year of racing in 2013 and a good start to 2014. He’s the 2013 Waldo 100k winner and he finished second at the 2014 Bandera 100k.
Max King (Montrail) placed second at Chuckanut last year, just shy of three minutes behind David Laney. However, Max loves to race and he’d just won Way Too Cool 50k the weekend before last year’s Chuckanut. This year, look for a better-rested King in the battle for the W. In the past year, Max’s best ultra results have probably been his third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and fourth at Speedgoat 50k. In the last year, he’s also done battle with–and seemingly conquered–a bum ankle. Interestingly, Max has been experimenting with obstacle-course racing and, a couple weekends ago, he came second in the Atlas Race, an obstacle-course race in SoCal.
We can’t wait to watch Mario Mendoza (Nike) race his weekend. He’s coming off a 2013 so good he was named USATF Trail Runner of the Year. The honor was given to him because of his win at the USATF 10k Trail Championships and second place at the USATF 50k Trail Championships, as well as a long list of more 2013 wins including the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 Mile, the Dirty Half, and the Angels Staircase 60k. [Update 3/14: Mario Mendoza has decided not to race this weekend. Instead, he’s placing his focus on the Lake Sonoma 50 in a month.]
Adam Campbell (Arc’teryx/Salomon) was the 2012 Chuckanut champion (post-race interview, race report). Not racing Chuckanut in 2013 may be all the motivation Adam needs to reclaim his first-place status on Saturday, especially because he sat out some of 2013 with a bad ankle. In 2013, after recovering from his injury, Adam excelled with a win at the Squamish 50 Mile and a second place at the Meet Your Maker 50 Mile. Having not raced yet this year, Campbell should be ready to go, joining or even leading the top of this pack over Chuckanut Mountain Ridge.
Max Ferguson was the third finisher last year at Chuckanut. Since then, he’s gone on to a respective first, second, and first at the 2013 Yakima Skyline Rim 50k, the 2013 White River 50 Mile, and the 2013 Bellingham Trail Marathon.
Daniel Kraft (Nike) is returning to the Chuckanut trails, looking to better his fourth place from 2013. Daniel seems to be getting better by the minute. In 2013, he also won the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon before really breaking onto the scene with a fourth-place finish at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in December. Kraft may be closer to the heels of Laney and King than they are comfortable with.
Ryan Ghelfi (Nike) brings a solid 2013 resume to Saturday’s starting line, including ninth at Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, fifth at the UROC 100k and 10th at the TNF EC 50 Mile.
Yassine Diboun (Inov-8) is another strong runner to look for. In January, he finished fourth at the brutal HURT 100 Mile. His best 2013 finishes were probably his fifth at the Cayuga Trail 50 Mile and ninth at Western States.
It’s kind of crazy to put him at the bottom of our preview because Ryan Bak’s (SCOTT) got the legs to win this race. The former track and cross-country runner has a 2:14 marathon PR and some success so far on the trails. Problem is, he’s been fighting for a long time with an Achilles injury. It seems he’s been on a roll with good training again lately, but he’s also a new father, so he might be a little sleep deprived on Saturday’s starting line.
Women’s Preview- 2014 Chuckanut 50k
Jodee Adams-Moore (SCOTT) is the Chuckanut 50k returning champion and the favorite for Saturday. Last year she ran an insane 4:01:23, which set a new course record by more than eight minutes. That old record, held by Ellie Greenwood, was previously thought to be pretty hard and fast. In doing so last year, she also finished 10th overall, beating out some seriously fast men. Jodee races almost exclusively in Washington state, annihilating the field of whatever race she enters. Last year she branched out to run Speedgoat 50k in Utah, finishing second and a minute behind Stephanie Howe. And last month she won the 2014 Moab Red Hot 55k, also in Utah. We’d sure love to see this woman race more outside the Pacific Northwest, and we hear international racing might even be in her 2014 plans.
There are just two women who have beat Jodee Adams-Moore in ultrarunning, and one is Stephanie Howe (The North Face) at last year’s Speedgoat 50k. In the last year, Stephanie had three super-solid performances, a course record at the Gorge Waterfalls 50k, her Speedgoat win, and second at the UROC 100k (post-race interview). But in between those races, Stephanie’s running was peppered with injury. She’s got a renewed plan for health in 2014, and she’s turned down racing over the last couple months so that she can have an off-season. History has proven that a well-rested Stephanie is a dangerous machine.
Ellie Greenwood (Montrail) is the other woman who has bested Jodee Adams-Moore, and that was at the 2012 Chuckanut 50k where Ellie and Jodee went one, two (post-race interview, race report). It’s been about a year since Ellie’s raced an ultra, so we want to rewind to 2012 for a moment. Ellie’s 2012 was absolutely insane: win at Chuckanut 50k, win at the American River 50 Mile, second at the Comrades Marathon, win/resetting the revered course record at Western States (post-race interview, race report), win at White River 50 Mile, win at Squamish 50 Mile, win at the CCC (a UTMB sister race) (post-race interview), win at UROC 100k (post-race interview), and a win/course record at the JFK 50 Mile (race report). Her efforts earned her UltraRunning magazine’s 2012 Ultrarunner of the Year award. Then Ellie spent much of 2013 injured. Chuckanut is her first ultra back since her year-long bout with injury, and it’ll be fascinating to see how much of her form she’s retained.
Becka Kem (Pearl Izumi) will be another top contender in the women’s race. With a string of first-place accolades in trail races around the Pacific Northwest, Becka usually finishes unchallenged by the rest of the women’s field. We think the only exception to this might have been the 2012 Lithia Loop Trail Marathon, where Becka finished just a half minute or so ahead of Rory Bosio. Finishing off last year with a 3:09:17 win at the 2013 Lithia Loop Trail Marathon in Oregon, she will be one to watch as she competes with women on the trails instead of just in front of them.
Ashley Arnold (The North Face), 2013 Leadville 100 winner, will be competing in her first Chuckanut this weekend. An all-around strong distance runner who also won the 2013 White River 50 Mile and came 11th at the 2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships, Arnold’s combined skills of endurance and speed will likely place her among the top five on Saturday. [Update 3/11: We just heard that Ashley Arnold won’t race Chuckanut this weekend as she’s running The North Face Endurance Challenge Argentina 80k in a couple weekends.]
Now Trisha Steidl’s name is a fascinating one to see on the Chuckanut start list. A former rower turned runner, she’s wife to elite road and trail runner Uli Steidl and a the track and cross-country coach at Seattle University in Washington. She’s got fast running history on the roads and trails, including a 2:48 marathon PR and a second place at the 2003 USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships. She’s a three-time winner of the Seattle Marathon and most of her trail racing of late has been of sub-marathon distances. We can’t wait to see where she lands in this women’s field.
Melanie Bos (The North Face) was fifth at the 2012 Chuckanut and sixth woman last year. This past December, Melanie ran to ninth place at the uber-stacked TNF EC 50 Mile. Though she had to drop due to medical issues at the 2014 HURT 100 in January, Bos will be toeing the line this Saturday hopefully recovered and injury-free.
Gina Lucrezi (Salomon) is another speedy runner specializing in 50k’s and sub-ultra-distance races. Placing 14th at the TNF EC 50 Mile, Lucrezi may not be as close to the lead runner, but a top-10 finish will definitely be in sight for her.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- First things first, does it look to anyone else that the women’s race is as stacked at the men’s? Holy fast women!
- Who do you think will win the women’s and men’s races? And how close do you think the finish will be?
- Who will surprise us with a super-strong performance?
- Is there someone else who should be on these lists? And do you know about the fitness and preparations of anyone we’ve described? If so, let us know!