2014 Speedgoat 50k Preview
July 15, 2014 by Meghan Hicks · 52 Comments
Another weekend, another stacked field at a trail ultramarathon! This weekend, it’ll be short, fast, and steep at the Speedgoat 50k. The action starts this Saturday, July 19, at 6:30 a.m. MDT at Snowbird Ski Resort in the Wasatch Mountains above Salt Lake City, Utah.
For the third year, Speedgoat is part of the Skyrunner World Ultra Series and this year it’s also doubling up as part of the national-level US Skyrunner Ultra Series.
Get ready! We’ll have live coverage of the 2014 Speedgoat 50k! For more infor before the race, you can check out our video interviews with Sage Canaday, Kasie Enman, Anna Frost, Ellie Greenwood, RD Karl Metlzer, and Jim Walmsley.
Thanks to Hoka One One for sponsoring iRunFar’s coverage of the race.
2014 Speedgoat 50k Women’s Preview
The way I see it, Anna Frost, Ellie Greenwood, or Kasie Enman will take the win.
It’s hard to bet against Anna Frost at Speedgoat. She came back from her year-plus of health problems and injury to convincingly win Transvulcania in May (post-race interview, race report), and she’s followed that up with a second place to Emelie Forsberg at the Skyrunning World Championships 80k just three weeks ago. She’s most recently been training (and pacing Kilian Jornet at Hardrock) at altitude in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Finally, Anna’s won Speedgoat before, in 2012 with a 6:26 (post-race interview, race report). I think the win this year will take a faster finish, but I also think Anna’s capable of doing so.
Ellie Greenwood’s another gal who is back from almost a year of injury. In March, she played the comeback, come-from-behind kid role perfectly in winning the Chuckanut 50k (post-race interview, race report). Then, in June, she won the revered Comrades Marathon in South Africa (race report). Since Comrades, she’s mixed in some time on technical trails and a shorter trail race. She’s obscenely fit in general, the only question is whether her present kind of fitness matches the requisites of this race, altitude and loads of fairly non-technical elevation change.
Kasie Enman is going to be good fun to watch at Speedgoat. There’s no doubt that she and the race’s terrain will match nicely. A mom of two kids who is just back to competitive running following her youngest’s birth, she took fifth at the Zegama Marathon earlier this year after running aggressive early and slowing at the end. Just three weeks before Speedgoat, she pulled a double racing weekend at the Skyrunning World Championships, taking sixth and fourth respectively at the Vertical Kilometer and Marathon. Super-solid showings, I expect her to be there most of the race. The only question is, how about the end?
Bethany Lewis was the 2011 Speedgoat winner, in a time of 6:44 and change. She’s easily the most talented female trail ultrarunner in the Salt Lake City area. In the last year, she won the 2013 Telluride Mountain Run, the 2013 Bear 100, and the 2014 Squaw Peak 50 Mile. That said, she doesn’t line up too often with a passel of fast women; the best example of doing so was her ninth at the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in San Francisco. She’s capable of finishing higher at a race like the TNF championships, but she overreached a little bit in the race’s first half there and paid for it in the second. If she can run her own race from the start, I think she has the potential of finishing the highest among this list of women.
I just saw Joelle Vaught win the River of No Return 100k in Idaho a month ago, but she finished slower than I would have expected her to and with reported back pain. If she’s got that under control, she’ll be in the mix here. She seems to like to go off the line aggressively and see how long she can stick with her fast pace. Last December, she ran to sixth at the super competitive TNF EC 50 Mile Championships. In May, she was also second at The North Face 100k – Australia.
Kerrie Bruxvoort has run Speedgoat once, a 6:56 second place to Anna Frost in 2012. Seventh this past December at the 2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships, she’s raced almost every month since then and either finished first or second. As examples, second at the early-season Moab Red Hot 55k barn burner and first at the Quad Rock 25 Mile. I don’t know that she has the raw leg speed to hang with the top girls, but I see something in the realm of fifth place about right for her.
Anita Ortiz is a bit of an unknown quantity. She was actually the Speedgoat women’s course-record holder on the previous version of the course, from the 2008 race version. The course has since been made somewhat more challenging. (2013 champ Stephanie Howe holds the course record for the modern course.) After foot surgery and a long recovery that took her off the leader boards for several years, she’s been slowly moving back toward the form that made her the 2009 Western States 100 champion. Last year she was ninth at Speedgoat in 7:02, but I think she’s fitter now than she was then. She’s most recently won the Behind the Rocks 50k and was second at the Bryce 50 Mile, both in Utah.
Becky Wheeler just can’t get enough of Speedgoat, as this will be her fifth running of it. Her track record here is stout. She’s got two seconds, one fourth, and a sixth place here, with her best finish being 6:40. She was sixth in 6:48 last year. Since last year, she took fourth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile and she won the Quad Rock 50 Mile.
Ashley Arnold is running Speedgoat! The last time we saw her race was to 11th place at the 2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships. She was the 2013 winner of the White River 50 Mile and the Leadville Trail 100. She’s been battling some injury of late, but she must be on the mend now. Does anyone have a read on Ashley’s fitness and health? [Added 7/16]
If we thought Anita Ortiz was an unknown quantity, then Tina Lewis is even more so. Another gal who has been suffering foot issues and recovering from them for over a year now, does anyone know the last time she raced? Was it when she started but couldn’t finish due to foot pain the 2013 Leadville 100? Her social medias show her atop lots of Colorado mountains of late so I’m assuming she’s pretty fit and strong. Does anyone know if she’s race ready? [Update 7/17: Tina Lewis won't be racing Speedgoat this year as she rests up for later events.]
Gill Fowler appears to be the lone top international female runner in addition to Frost, and I’m really eager to see how this Aussie shakes out with the rest of the women’s field. In the last year, Gill has finished sixth at the 2013 TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and fourth at TNF 100k – Australia, proving she’s strong at longer distances. She wins shorter-distance ultras at home, so I wonder how that translates to competing in a more competitive ladies field?
Michelle Barton’s a two-time Speedgoat finisher, but she’s never run this race competitively. At home in her SoCal environs and when she’s fit, 50ks with a lot of vert are among her fortés. I’m not sure how this translates to mountain running in the altitude of the Wasatch Mountains, however. She’s raced more than half a dozen times this year, and her results are a mixed bag. This begs many questions: Is she running lots of races as training and slower than race pace? Are her performances varying? What sort of Michelle will turn up on Saturday? [Update 7/17: Word is that Michelle Barton will be missing Speedgoat to crew at the Badwater Ultramarathon.]
Rachel Cieslewicz, once a super fast shorter-distance trail and road runner from SLC, has moved to southern Utah and suffered some serious health issues in recent years. If I knew she was back in form and this was a shorter-distance trail race, I’d call her for the podium. But I have no idea her current health status and I don’t think she’s ever finished an ultra. (Rachel started Speedgoat in 2011, but pulled after a hard fall.)
Finishing third at this past spring’s Moab Red Hot 55k put Hillary Allen on the trail ultrarunning map. She just won the Bighorn 50 Mile about a month ago, too.
Local fast lady Leslie Howlett got off the waiting list and will race. She made a national-level splash back in April by finishing eighth at the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. [Added 7/17]
Another local gal with some strong Speedgoat showings under her belt is Emily Sullivan, her fastest being a 7:10 and fourth place in 2012. In 2013, she was second at the Pocotello 50k and the El Vaquero Loco 50k. A 7:10 last year would have seen her just outside the top-10 women.
[Update 7/15: Sarah McCloskey just placed sixth at Hardrock this past weekend and she's still planning to run Speedgoat. There's gonna' be a lot of lead in her legs given last weekend!]
2014 Speedgoat 50k Men’s Preview
The men’s race for the win, in my opinion, seems to have a few additional contenders than the women’s race.
First up, there’s defending champ and 5:08 course-record holder Sage Canaday (post-race interview). Last year, he went out hard with Max King (who isn’t racing this year), created a huge lead by mile 21, and was able to hold onto it despite the late charge of Anton Krupicka behind him. I won’t be surprised if Sage is again breaking from the pack on the first climb up Hidden Peak in search of that first-climb prime, but something tells me he’s going to have to employ a different strategy later in the race if he intends to win again this year. So far in longer trail races this year, he’s won the Tarawera Ultramarathon (post-race interview), took third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (post-race interview), and was third at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon (post-race interview). On pavement just a couple weekends ago, he took third once more at the Mount Washington Road Race.
Anton Krupicka’s got two Speedgoat finishes, a 5:28 fourth place in 2012 and a 5:09 second place to Sage Canaday last year (post-race interview). In last year’s race, Anton went off a good deal slower than Sage, especially on the first major climb, and had a massive nine-minute deficit with 10 miles to go. He was able to make up about 7.5 minutes of it by the finish line. Close only counts in horseshoes, so I can virtually guarantee that Anton will try his damndest to stick a little closer this year. I’m not sure he can hang with the likes of Sage and a couple of these other guys on the first climb–well, hang with them and then go on to win the race is what I mean in saying this–but I don’t think he’ll allow himself to be too many minutes back. And he’s got the rest of his action plan ready, too, we can be sure. Anton’s fresh from a win at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail (post-race interview), and before that he won the Dirty Thirty 50k and the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile. And just a short time before that, he was still suffering the injuries that plagued him post-2013 UTMB. Thus, it’s clear he’s eager at the moment. [Update 7/17: Anton Krupicka won't be racing Speedgoat as he saves himself for TNF UTMB.]
Rickey Gates owns the fourth-fastest time on the Speedgoat course, a 5:18 in 2012. A couple weekends back he finished fourth at the Mount Marathon Race, a burly-as-it-gets up-and-down race on Mount Marathon in Alaska. Just last weekend, he paced Kilian Jornet for a number of miles at the Hardrock 100, so he’s got some altitude acclimation now on his side, too. Rickey should be on the Speedgoat podium, minimum.
Another dude to watch this weekend will be Alex Nichols. He has twice taken second at the Pikes Peak Marathon, and he was fifth at the 2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships. This spring he won the Moab Red Hot 55k ahead of two contenders he’ll see this weekend, Paul Hamilton and Mike Foote. Also this spring he set a blazing 3:13 course record at the Greenland 50k. This spring he also finished 21st at the Zegama Marathon and he couldn’t start the Skyrunning World Championships races due to injury. A fit-and-healthy Alex will contend for the win. Does anyone know how he’s doing?
Now Cody Moat is a fascinating name to see on the Speedgoat entrants list. Cody’s one of the highest-end obstacle-course racers out there. To my knowledge, he’s run just one ultra, the Nueces 50 Mile in 2013 (which served as the USATF 50 Mile Trail National Championships that year), which he won. He also won the 2012 Moab Trail Marathon (the USATF Trail Marathon National Championships in 2012) in a course record 3:08, which is more than five minutes faster than any other guy’s run that course. Cody is also a local, so my guess is that he’s been putting time in on the Speedgoat course. In trail running, he’s not faced the depth of dudes he’s gonna’ see this Saturday, but I think he’ll put himself in the mix straight away and see how things shake out. His scarcity of ultra experience is my only doubt on how things might go this weekend. [Update 7/18: Cody Moat is not racing this weekend, per Karl Meltzer.] There’s no doubt that Chris Vargo is going to be with the lead guys at mile 1, 8, and 10, and I think there’s a solid chance of him being there on that final, long descent, too. Chris came onto my radar last late fall when he took third at the 2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships (post-race interview). After that he won the Way Too Cool 50k in a sprint at the end and he won the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile last month. While I’m sure Chris does plenty of training on techy, rocky trails, we haven’t yet seen him race competitively on them. Speedgoat’s course isn’t super technical, but parts of it are a lot rockier than what we’ve seen him race on. How will he fare on some of those rocks? And perhaps more interestingly, can he avoid speaking of himself in the third person? [Update 7/15: Chris Vargo is a no go due to injury recovery. Take it easy, Chris!] Don’t count out Mike Foote for the win here! He’s fresh off a second place to Anton Krupicka at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail. And before that he took third at the 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (post-race interview). And before that he took third at the Moab Red Hot 55k behind Alex Nichols and Paul Hamilton. And before that he won the 2013 Moab Trail Marathon ahead of Sage Canaday. What you won’t see Foote do is lead on that first climb. If he’s feeling good, I expect him to be lurking a couple minutes back at the top of Hidden Peak and get after it from there, especially from the race’s midpoint on. [Update 7/16: Per Race Director Karl Meltzer, Mike Foote is not racing.]
Here are the other guys who I think will be in the hunt for the balance of the men’s top 10.
Justin Yates ran to fifth place and 5:42 last year in smart racing, just doing his thing while the up-front shenanigans took place just ahead. This year he’s won the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k and the Sun Mountain 50k. Does anyone know how Justin is doing ahead of this weekend?
I’m a little surprised to see Dave Mackey’s name on the Speedgoat start list. That’s because his summer is already pretty darn full with his participation in the Leadman series. He’s already run the Leadville Trail Marathon and just last weekend he rode the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Mountain Bike Race. Last fall, Dave had one helluva race at the Quad Dipsea, winning and resetting an already stout course record. Since then, though, he had a rough go of things at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k where he faded late in the heat to eighth and in suffering to 22nd at UTMF. Also of note is that he took sixth at last summer’s Pike’s Peak Marathon behind second-place Alex Nichols and fourth-place Galen Burrell. You gotta’ hand it to this guy for his racing diversity–and his effort. He’ll be full bore from the start, for sure. [Update 7/16: Per the Speedgoat himself, Dave Mackey is not racing. Guess he is focusing on the Leadman series, maybe?]
Luke Nelson has run Speedgoat three previous times, finishing third in 6:29 in 2009, third in 6:18 in 2010, and sixth in 5:47 last year. Luke’s a guy who always seems to fly just under most people’s radars, but a 5:47 on this course should make most mountain runners’ radars beep like mad. Last fall, Luke was third behind winner Paul Hamilton at The Rut 50k and just a month ago he won the Bighorn 100 Mile. If he’s recovered from Bighorn (and pacing at Hardrock this past weekend), I expect him to run outside of the top 10 early, and then finish strong into its back half.
Paul Hamilton’s won a couple races that require a skill set similar to Speedgoat this weekend (ability at altitude, long climbs and descents, a mix between super runnable and rocky cat tracks and singletrack), the 2013 Telluride Mountain Run and the 2013 The Rut 50k. He also took second, 2.5 minutes back from winner Alex Nichols, at the 2014 Moab Red Hot 55k. This past weekend, he paced Julien Chorier to second at the Hardrock 100, so he spent some time acclimating at altitude. This is the thickest competition Paul’s seen in trail ultrarunning, so I look forward to seeing how he responds to it.
Ryan Ghelfi’s had some good things going in the last year or so, including 10th at the 2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships, fourth at the 2014 Chuckanut 50k, and sixth at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile behind third place Sage Canaday. He also had a not-so-stellar showing at the 2014 Transvulcania. I believe he was injured for a little while but is back running again. Does anyone have a read on how Ryan is doing? [Update 7/16: Ryan Ghelfi is out.]
When I think about all the years I’ve watched Mike Wolfe race, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him run a 50k. I know he runs them well, including a win of the 2011 Way Too Cool 50k. His most recent results include a sixth at the 2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships behind third place Chris Vargo, third at the 2014 Sean O’Brien 50 Mile, and third at the 2014 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile – New York. Just three weekends ago he ran to eighth place at the Skyrunning World Championships 80k in Chamonix, France. His recent results suggest we’ll see him somewhere in the top 10.
Galen Burrell will certainly run strong on Saturday. He took fourth at last year’s Pikes Peak Marathon behind Alex Nichols and ahead of Dave Mackey. In 2013, he was fourth at the Way Too Cool 50k behind second place Chris Vargo and eighth at the Lake S0noma 50 Mile behind Sage Canaday, Jorge Maravilla, Dave Mackey, and Chris Vargo. Galen is super strong at shorter-distance trail races.
How the heck does it take this long to get to Hal Koerner in a race preview? Oh yeah, it’s a stacked, shorter-distance trail race. Hal’s most notable runs of 2013 were his and Mike Wolfe’s supported FKT on the John Muir Trail (Mike’s report) and his win of the 2013 Javelina Jundred. In 50ks and 50k-ish runs of late, he’s taken ninth at the 2013 Gorge Waterfalls 50k, fifth at the 2014 Orcas Island 50k, and fourth at the Zane Grey 50k-ish, which was shortened from 50 miles due to weather.
Jorge Maravilla can run a lot faster than his 2012 Speedgoat result suggests, a 6:25 and 18th place. That was just three weeks after his killer 16:05 eighth place at the Western States 100. But again this year, Jorge just finished Western States three weeks ago, so it makes me wonder how recovered he’s going to be. One thing can be certain, wherever his body is, we know his mind is going to be in a happy place. Of late, Jorge won the 2014 Bandera 100k and took eighth at the 2014 TNF 100k – Australia. A good day and Jorge lands in the back half of the top 10. [Update 7/17: Jorge Maravilla will continue resting up after Western States rather than taking on Speedgoat this year.]
Other Men to Watch
- Tom Diegel — We don’t think he’s ever run 50k (or longer), but this 49 year old knows how to run fast in the Wasatch. He won the 28-mile Logan Peak Trail Run just a few weeks back.
Andy Dorais — A sick skimo guy from the Wasatch who’s not yet put a good race together at Speedgoat. The best of his four runs here was a 6:20, which was good enough for 21st last year.[Update 7/15: We hear Andy Dorais is out with a stress fracture. Heal up, Andy. Thanks for the tip, Jared Madsen.]
- Troy Howard — The runner up at the 2013 Hardrock 100 (25:20). He’ll be limited by having run the Silver Rush 50 Mile this past weekend.
- Josh Korn — He was 13th at Speedgoat in 2012. The Nordic skier turned trail runner has more potential than that.
- Ben Lewis — Lewis is a stalwart of the Wasatch Front. He was fourth at Speedgoat in 2011 and third at the Wasatch 100 last year. In early June, he was second at the Scout Mountain Ultra 100k (formerly Pocatello 50 Mile).
- Brett Maune — Two finishes at the Barkley Marathons and the unsupported John Muir Trail FKT–one of the stoutest FKTs out there–is enough to get him on this list. That said, he was 23rd at last year’s Speedgoat.
- Paulo Medina — A NorCal guy who excels at shorter ultras. He ran 6:45 to finish third at the American River 50 Mile last year.
- Chris Rennaker — This pacer to the stars also runs 50ks well when he’s not pacing.
- Catlow Shipek — A dominant runner in Arizona who’s won the Old Pueblo 50 Mile twice and the Zane Grey 50 Mile. He was also runner up at the Javelina Jundred in 15:59:58 last year. He’s going for the U.S. Skyrunning Ultra Series, having already won the Cruel Jewel 50 Mile in Georgia.
Damian Stoy — He’s won plenty of smaller ultras in the northern Rockies, including the Bighorn 50 Mile last month.[Update 7/18: Damian Stoy isn't running Speedgoat this year.]
- Jeremy Wolf — Fourth last year at The Rut 50k behind Paul Hamilton and Luke Nelson. [Added 7/15]
- Marco Zuniga — Marco was 12th at Speedgoat last year before taking 11th at the Pikes Peak Marathon a month later.
Last-Minute Additions to the Preview (Not the Race)
Bryon, here. I’ve finally had a chance to look at the entrants list (it’s been a mad sprint since before Western States!) and there are a few more names that need to be highlights going into Speedgoat. Some of these guys, particularly Patrick Smyth, could be running for a podium spot.
- Patrick Smyth — A former DI All-American at Notre Dame (28:25 in 10k and 13:39 in the 5k) who scorched the roads (1:02:01 half marathon in 2010!) before jumping onto the trails recently. Late last year, he outran Joe Gray and Max King to win the XTERRA World Championships over a half marathon-distance course. This will obviously be a big step up for him!
- Dane Mitchell — Dane’s won a bunch of ultras in the south, and has also seen success elsewhere. He’s been fourth at the JFK 50 in 6:07 in 2010 and fifth at the Chuckanut 50k in 2012 in 3:51, before winning the Run Rabbit Run 50 Mile, Mount Mitchell Challenge, and Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile in the past year.
- J Marshall Thompson — A skimo racer who’s been running trail marathons and ultras up to 50 miles for at least three years. Two year’s ago he was fourth at the Pike’s Peak Marathon in 3:56, while he won the Leadville Trail Marathon in a blazing 3:37. Never underestimate the skimo guy.
- Lars Kjerengtroen — A local, Lars was 11th at Speedgoat last year in 5:54 after winning the Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile in 7:01. This year, he’s won the Squaw Peak 50 Mile in 7:42 (the second-fastest time in race history) and the Black Hills 50 Mile in 8:11.
- Michael Barlow — Last year, Michael was ninth at Speedgoat, fourth at the Run Rabbit Run 50 Mile, and fifth at the Moab Trail Marathon.
- Michael Versteeg — Versteeg gets an add on the basis of his 10th at the UROC 100k last September and a 17:41 at the Flagstaff 100 Mile in October.
- Benoit Gignac — Has run a handful of races from 30 miles to 55k with mixed success. His best performance might be with 4:10 for 10th at this year’s Chuckanut 50k.
- Nathan Peters — At 23 years old, Nathan was 13th at Speedgoat in 6:03 last year. He went on to take seventh at the Moab Trail Half Marathon last November, which served as the USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships.
On the List But Not Racing
- Cameron Clayton isn’t racing this weekend. He’s working on getting healthy following surgery.
Call for Comments
- Can Sage fend off Anton for a second year in a row? Or will Anton exact revenge from last year’s defeat?
- Will it be Anna, Ellie, Kasie, or another woman who comes out on top?
- Who are your podium picks for the men’s and women’s races?
- Whose fitness or specific preparations do you know about? Who is a little more rip-roaring ready to go that usual?
- Who do you think could surprise us in the women’s and men’s fields with a breakout race?