We’re seven races into this season’s Montrail Ultra Cup and it’s time to start paying attention. Why? For starters, there are some great ultrarunners competing for the Ultra Cup this season. There’s also the fact that despite seven of eleven events already being in the books, the series is still wide open.
It’s also time to start paying attention to the Ultra Cup in general. Whatever may have occurred in the recent past, the MUC is the most established and well-known ultrarunning series in the United States, includes races that see the country’s best ultrarunners, and the series isn’t going anywhere.
We know Montrail is behind the series 100% and momentum is shifting at Montrail… or as we’d now say, Montrail/Mountain Hardwear. Montrail is putting out its best product lineup in years and Mountain Hardwear appears to be going all in with a great lineup of trail running specific apparel and accessories. The Montrail athlete team is the best we’ve seen in a long time, the MUC has brought together at least seven of the most competitive ultras in the nation (with a few other quality races for geographic diversity), and the hiring of ultrarunner Topher Gaylord to head Montrail/Mountain Hardwear certainly suggests that trail running will remain a priority in the coming years.
Sure, folks will banter that the series scoring favors speedier runners when others will simultaneously argue that 50k specialists are at a disadvantage. The point is there’s never going to be a scoring system that pleases everyone. The rules may or may not change in the future, but the standings through seven events feature runners with a wide variety of strengths. That said, the folks at Montrail are always considering ways to improve the Ultra Cup for future seasons. For instance, Montrail hopes to add more races over the coming years in an effort to bring the Ultra Cup closer to more runners. This may include a few international trail events!
With this Ultra Cup season well under way, we’ll share out thoughts on the racing to date, fill you in on the four remaining races, and open up an MUC prediction contest with Montrail shoes, sandals, and T-shirts going to the three best prognosticators as well as to a few lucky, if less successful entrants.
To begin, seven of this season’ MUC events have already occurred with two of those events including two different length races. The races already run include the Where’s Waldo 100k, the Vermont 50 mile & 50k, the Mountain Masochist Trail Run 50 mile, the JFK 50 mile, the Bandera 100k and 50k, the Cheaha 50k, and the Way Too Cool 50k.
Series ranking is calculated by adding the points from a participant’s four highest scoring races. The maximum number of MUC points available in each race is equal to the race’s official length in miles rounded to the nearest mile. For example, the winner of a 100k event receives 62 points. Every subsequent finisher within a gender receives a portion of the maximum points reduced by the ratio of the gender winner’s time over that finisher’s time. Confused? Look at the official rules.
At this point, the women’s top 10 could be an ultrarunning all-star team. Those ranks include the likes of Annette Bednosky, Jill Perry, Meghan Arbogast, Devon Crosby-Helms, Monica Ochs, Joelle Vaught, and Beverly Anderson-Abbs. After skipping the first two events, Bednosky has run well at four of the past five MUC events to take the series lead. Perry has also been hard at work. She’s run three of the past four events, including a win at the Bandera 100k, to move into second in the series. Smith is in third, but hasn’t race an Ultra Cup race since JFK. Crosby-Helms sits in sixth; however, her two 50 mile victories put her in good position relative to Bednosky and Perry, who’s point totals include lower point yielding 50ks.
Below are the top 6 women through 7 events with their point totals and scoring races to date. Full standings are available at RealEndurance.com.
- Annette Bednosky – 183.51 pts – MMTR 50 mile, JFK 50 mile, Bandera 100k, Cheaha 50k
- Jill Perry – 129.94 pts – JFK 50 mile, Bandera 100k, Cheaha 50k
- Pam Smith – 108.75 pts – Where’s Waldo 100k, Bandera 100k
- Meghan Arbogast – 104.70 pts – Where’s Waldo 100k, JFK 50 mile
- Elaine Stypula – 102.40 pts – MMTR 50 mile, JFK 50 mile, Bandera 100k
- Devon Crosby-Helms – 100.00 pts – Vermont 50 mile, JFK 50 mile
Only seven men have completed at least two Ultra Cup events to this point, so the standings aren’t as stacked as they are on the women’s side. They will be. For now, Glen Redpath leads the men with strong runs at three of the longer series events. Finishes at four Cup events have the unknown Jose Suarez in second for the time being, while little known Richard Cook’s finishes at the JFK 50 and Bandera 100k have him in third. You’ll recognize the next guy – Geoff Roes. Keep an eye on him. Rounding out the top 5 is Victor Balletsteros who won the previous edition of the Montail Ultra Cup.
Below are the top 6 men through 7 events with their point totals and scoring races to date. Full standings are available at RealEndurance.com.
- Glen Redpath – 147.84 pts – Vermont 50 mile, MMTR 50 mile, Bandera 100k
- Jose Saurez – 107.54 pts – Vermont 50k, MMTR 50 mile, JFK 50 mile, Way Too Cool 50k
- Richard Cook – 96.33 pts – JFK 50 mile, Bandera 100k
- Geoff Roes – 79.65 pts – MMTR 50 mile, Way Too Cool 50k
- Victor Ballesteros – 79.38 pts – Where’s Waldo 100k, Way Too Cool 50k
- Brett Rivers – 69.35 pts – Where’s Waldo 100k, Way Too Cool 50k
Montrail Ultra Cup: The Final Four Races
Consider the first seven Ultra Cup events as places to jockey for position. With points awarded in accordance with race length, the series’ final four races make things very interesting. They are:
- April 10 – American River 50 mile – Sacramento, CA
- May 1 – Miwok 100k – Marin Headlands, CA
- May 8 – Ice Age Trail 50 mile – LaGrange, WI
- June 26 – Western States 100 mile – Squaw Valley, CA
That means any runner who wins two of the remaining races would amass more points than in three wins at previous 50ks. A long those lines, the only previous races that offered more points than available in some of these final races were the Where’s Waldo and Bandera 100ks. Be sure to keep your eye on folks who’ve previously run well at an MUC 100k or 50 mile event as they could quickly move up the standings. This is especially true on the men’s side.
We could fill you in on the who’s running what races, but we’ll let you do your own homework. Needless to say, many of the sport’s best will be running the American River 50k, the Miwok 100k, or the Western States 100 mile… if they can grab a spot. Some folks will even be running all three of those races. On the other hand, points might be easier to pick up at the Ice Age 50 in Wisconsin. Let the fun begin!
Montrail Ultra Cup Prediction Contest
We thought it would be fun to offer up a prediction contest for the Ultra Cup. Don’t know Geoff Roes from a garden rose? Well, you can still win some great prizes! There are tiered prizes for the top three predictors as well as two contest entrants chosen at random.
Here’s the deal. To enter, leave you name and town (gotta be in the US or Canada, sorry) by 6 a.m. PDT on Saturday, April 10. That’s it. Read on to see why you still might win some great prizes. If you want to enter the actual prediction segment of the giveaway, you’ll also need to include your top 3 picks for both the men and women in order. You’ll get a point for each runner that you correctly match with a position. Hence, if you match all 6 spots correctly, you get 6 points. If you put women in the correct order and name the top three men, but all in the wrong spots, you would get 3 points. To keep this simple, we’ll randomly break ties.
What do you get if you are one of the contest winners? Glad you asked. Here are the prizes:
- A pair of Montrail running shoes (you could check out the new Sabino Trail or Rockridge), a pair of Montrail sandals, and a Montrail T-shirt.
- A pair of Montrail running shoes and a Montrail T-shirt.
- A pair of Montrail sandals and a Montrail T-shirt.
Don’t not the names of the ultra scene? No worries. As a reminder, you can enter by simply leaving you name and town! We’ll also be randomly giving away one pair of Montrail shoes and one pair of Montrail sandals!
We’ll announce the contest winners after this season’s Montrail Ultra Cup concludes at the Western States Endurance Run in late June.
[Disclosure: The preceding Amazon.com links for the Sabino Trail and Rockridge are part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar.com.]