23:23 – Is It Possible?
Along with Jim O’Brien’s 17:35 at Angeles Crest and Matt Carpenter’s 15:42 at Leadville, I believe Kyle Skaggs’s 23:23 at the Hardrock 100 is among the top-three 100-mile course records in America. Quite simply, he nailed it on that cool July day back in 2008. In addition to Kyle being in whipcord shape that day, the planets also lined up perfectly for him with relatively benign weather, just the right amount of snow on the glissade sections, and a crew that was completely dialed in to his needs. To add to that, he was running the direction in which runners go up the ‘walls’ and down the ‘ramps’ which allows pure speed to come into play on the several long, sustained, downhill road sections.
Alas, this is once again the direction runners are heading today. A quick glance back at Hal Koerner’s run the last time they ran this direction in 2012 suggests that there is time to be gained and with this year’s field of speedsters I have to believe the course record, as iconic as it is, could be in jeopardy. Here’s why:
With a fast group of runners up front I think they will push each other hard from the start. While Kilian Jornet has to be the prohibitive favorite who has made it a habit to run with others until the last few miles, I think the push that some of the other guys will provide could be incentive enough to go for the record. Additionally, I have to imagine that the increased media coverage of this year’s race combined with the general intrigue surrounding this year’s Hardrock must be a motivation to many. Lastly, while it may sound trite, with the exception of the Western States course-record progression we have seen over the past 10 years, few other course records have been broken in major 100 milers. This seems somewhat at odds with the exponential growth we have seen in the sport. As such, I think it is time for a serious attempt to be made at Kyle’s iconic record.
From my perspective it will take steady pacing and a workman-like effort all day. Most specifically, I think it will require intense focus and drive from Pole Creek to the finish where I believe the race will be decided. And, I look forward to moderating iRunFar’s CoverItLive feed during this pivotal time overnight. Who knows, maybe if someone takes down Kyle’s record today, it will be incentive for people to go after Jim’s and Matt’s records, as well. Could make for a fun summer!
AJW’s Beer of the Week
I am in Vermont this week at a Heads of School workshop and I was able to get my hands on the ever elusive Heady Topper from The Alchemist here in Waterbury, Vermont. This incredible double IPA amazingly features an incredible hop blast that is not tacky or resiny. And, at 8% ABV it makes a nice post-run beer.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What do you think? Is sub-23:23 possible this weekend?
- And if someone does it, who will it be and how will the race go down?