2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Results

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships 2011It’s been a long day here by the bay, but I wanted to provide a quick update on the 2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships.

To begin, it was a gorgeous day to be running in California’s Marin Headlands. Cool, but not too cold in the early morning. Warm but not too hot in the late stages of the race. There was certainly a solid wind in the many areas, but nothing like the massive winds of earlier this week. I don’t think I saw in the sky all day… but, of course, I was looking down the trail for the next runner.

The good weather, dry trails, and, quite likely, a modified course due to trail maintenance led to blazing times. I thought about say that the competition had something to do with it, but the last few years saw some fantastic races between top talent for the win.

We’ll be updating this article frequently as we gather more info, including adding athlete race reports as they pop up. As usual, we’ll have some great video interviews this week. We’ll also have a few sweet surprises for you.

2011 TNF 50 Men’s Results

  1. Mike Wolfe 2011 TNF 50 Mile

    Mike Wolfe guts out a win at the 2011 TNF EC 50 mile championships. Photo courtesy of Brett Rivers.

    Mike Wolfe – 6:19:04 ($10,000) (pre-race & post-race interviews)

  2. Dakota Jones – 6:21:51 ($4,000) (post-race interview, reflections & race report)
  3. Adam Campbell – 6:34:35 ($1,000) (race report [broken link removed])
  4. Timothy Olson – 6:38:54 (race report)
  5. Geoff Roes – 6:46:18 (race report)
  6. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki – 6:47:06
  7. Jez Bragg – 6:49:33 (race report)
  8. Jason Wolfe – 6:52:53 (race report)
  9. Mike Foote – 6:52:53
  10. Jason Schlarb – 6:54:00 (race report)

Full men’s results

Other Resources

2011 TNF 50 Women’s Results

  1. Anna Frost 2011 TNF 50 mile

    Anna Frost en route to winning the 2011 TNF 50 mile. Photo by  Bryon Powell/iRunFar.com.

    Anna Frost – 6:56:07 ($10,000) (pre-race & post-race interviews and race report)

  2. Ellie Greenwood – 7:07:24 ($4,000) (post-race interview and race report)
  3. Joelle Vaught – 7:40:46 ($1,000)
  4. Krissy Moehl – 7:47:01 (race report [broken link removed])
  5. Tyler Stewart – 8:00:52
  6. Alison Bryant – 8:03:55
  7. Helen Cospolich – 8:23:24
  8. Rory Bosio – 8:30:33
  9. Kerrie Wlad – 8:33:33
  10. Jen Benna – 8:34:26 (race report)

Full women’s results

Other Resources


12/4 – added Jez Bragg, Rickey Gates, Jacob Rydman & Ian Sharman race reports; added Dakota Jones race reflections
12/5 – added Anna Frost & Mike Wolfe post-race interviews; added overall placings to non-top-1o men’s race reports; added Jen Benna, Galen Burrell, Adam Campbell, Geoff Roes & Joe Uhan race reports; corrected Anna Frost post-race interview and Jacob Rydman race report links; added Other Resources category, including the Endurables video, the TNF recap, and both Competitor Running resources
12/6 – added Ellie Greenwood and Dakota Jones post-race interviews, embedded Endurables video, added Dominic Grossman & Jason Wolfe race reports
12/7 – added UltraLive video; added Anna Frost race report
12/8 – added Ellie Greenwood & Timothy Olson race report
12/9 – adedd Jason Schlarb race report
12/11 – added Dakota Jones race report
12/13 – added Krissy Moehl race report

There are 38 comments

  1. Tyler

    Wolfe for uroy.
    First place at the blazing fast way too cool 50k and tnfec 50m
    2nd in both the highly competitive miwok and ws100.
    Finally I believe he was the top placing American at utmb. And his "poor" showing was at Rocky raccoon where he was still top ten in a day where records were set by the leaders.

    1. Bryon Powell

      No doubt, Wolfe's put himself in prime consideration for UROY. Chatted with a bunch of top ultrarunners about this tonight and right now it looks like a two-man race between Wolfe and Wardian with Mackey and Clark a bit back at this point. Both Wolfe and Wardian have some evenly match, standout performances. Wolfe's then got a few more strong domestic trail ultras while Mike's got his standout international road ultras. It'll be hard to balance those performances… but somebody's got to do it.

      FYI, Wolfe's fellow Montanan Mike Foote was the top American at this year's UTMB.

      1. Anonymous

        Is UROY a recognition for only US runners? (I assumed so as folks like Kilian do not seem to get mentioned but I do not know the rules)

        Otherwise thanks to IRunFar for the superb coverage of ultra events throughout the year.

    2. chris

      While Wolfe is amazing, let's get 1 fact straight… Wolfe did well at 2010 UTMB modified course 2nd start. Mike Foote in a breakout performance was the top american at 2011 UTMB after he left Wolfe in the dust.

  2. Marcus Warner

    Great coverage again Bryon and team. We were so well informed by your updates you kept us on the edge of our seats here in Sydney Australia. Ryan Sandes, Andrew Vize and I were in a harbour side cafe, drinking coffee furiously checking twitter cheering the runners on. Top running by Wolfe, but serious credit to Anna Frost as well, impressive running and awesome to see her catch so many of the men.

    Keep up the good work.




    1. Bryon Powell

      Lizzy had tendonitis in her lower leg or foot (the exact location is slipping my mind at the moment, but it down at the end of her leg ;-) ) and some lung congestion she picked up in a Himalaya from which she just returned.

      Not sure about Kami. She was smiling and looking fine when I saw her after 30 miles.

  3. John

    It was indeed a beautiful day for a race. I didn't get to take in the live twitter updates but I did look back at them after I finished to get a sense of how the race at the front played out. Awesome coverage as usual! And thanks for the encouragement out on the course!

  4. David T.

    Awesome race, congrats to the runners and great job on the coverage IRF. It was killer to have so many top runners and to have IRF reporting.

    BTW – Kilian is in the lottery for Hardrock (with only one ticket he has no chance of being selected): [broken link to 2012 Hardrock ticket list removed]

  5. David T.

    I expected a higher finish from Wardian. Perhaps it is now time for him to start cutting back on the racing and start focusing more on specific races. He has been at it for so long the amount of racing he has been doing has to start to wear his body down, especially at the end of the season. It would be interesting to compare the top finishers' schedules. I know the top two were very strategic in the races they ran this last year.

    1. Bryon Powell

      "End of season"? Wardian's season doesn't have an end. His race calendar is a mobius strip!

      Re the top two racers on the men's side. I'd agree re Wolfe. Jones would disagree re his 2011 racing schedule being strategic, but you'll have to wait until Tuesday for more on that!

  6. CJ

    Correct me if I'm wrong but Wardian & Wolfe only met head to head once in 2011. Based on that detail as a potential tiebreaker, Wolfe would get my vote for UROY.

  7. Ben Nephew

    Go to ulrasignup and look at Wolfe's and Wardian's results. You'll have to add in the best American finish by someone not named Salazar at Comrades for Wardian. Wardian had one bad ultra this year. Wolfe had two.

    With such a bad year, including 2 PR's in the marathon (dropping it 4 minutes to qualify for the trials), maybe Wardian should find someone on the message boards to coach him?

    1. David T.

      I don’t mean to sound like I am criticizing. I only want to think through different approaches to racing and also how long a guy can anticipate maintaining a certain level of racing. Can someone plan on running the same number of races with the same level of results into their late 30s, 40s, and beyond? Wardian has been the exception for a very long time (a ton of races, high weekly mileage, little rest, etc.).

      Seriously, I know my place relative to Wardian (not worthy of lacing his shoes) I just think engaging in some question and answer using these elite athletes can be helpful to everyone.

  8. Ben Nephew

    I don't think you being critical, I just think the impression from your post was that Wolfe had a better season than Wardian because he raced less, and that is not accurate.

    Based on injuries, times, and perfomances, there is no argument that what Wardian is doing is working great for him. It is highly unlikely to work for anyone else, but I think that there can be benefits to frequent racing.

    Most highly motivated runners train very hard. If they are not racing, they can continue to train very hard, probably with much less rest than if they were tapering and recovering from a race. I find that regular races prevent overtraining induced fatigue and injury. This depends on the assumption that I taper and recovery. If I don't have a race as an excuse to take it easy, I'll do workout on top of workout.

    Another argument for racing more often is the probability of having your best day on race day. There are so many things that have to go right in a long ultra to have your best performance. The probability that everything is going to go right in two races when you only race twice a year is low.

    The seasonal issue is interesting. Up until recently, most top distance runners had substantial breaks from training at some point during the year. Now you are seeing that the top marathoners are at the very least training consistently all year. This is resulting in a faster rate of continual improvement, without the period of time it takes to return to your previous fitness after a break from training.

    Say you have 2 ultrarunners, John and Kilian. John takes off two months during the winter, while Kilian wins a world championship in some odd European sport where you attack snowy mountains. Kilian is likely to have a higher level of fitness once the spring rolls around.

    In Wardian's case, he ran a 2:20 marathon at CIM last December. I'm guessing he kept training, ran a boat load of races, then ran a 2:17 in June. I doubt he would have run the 2:17 with an extended break after the 2:20.

    1. Trail Clown

      I'm no expert on Wardo, but I've run with him enough times to know that in his case, he just simply loves to race, and he does not fear a "bad" result. He's gonna get beat sometimes in races that others have done "specified training" for, but like Ben said, if those "specifiers" have a bad day, then there goes 6 months training down the drain. Now granted, if the specifiers "kill it", then everyone wants to say they have the magic bullet of training strategy. But how come when Wardian kills it at different types of races (UROC, World 100K, Marathon des Sables, etc.), people never give him credit for his mobius strip racing strategy? People just hate to think that racing that much can be beneficial; I think many are hard-wired to believe that smart consistent training leading up to one goal race is the ideal way to go…but Wardian has over and again proven that wrong. If he trained all year for NF50 and finished in a similar placing, he would have missed out on a bevy of trophies. Dude loves to race, and has said repeatedly he will not adopt a different strategy. He needs to get a better blog and have it under his "frequently asked questions" :)

      1. Speedgoatkarl

        well said TC, I like to race too, but only longer races such as 100s, and you are so right saying "if we train for one race a year and blow up, it was a wasted year". At least when we race alot, some results are sweet,the not so good results, get pushed on to the backburner and forgotten.

      2. Andy

        And true to prediction (Bryon's maybe?), he ran well and took second in the half on Sunday. "He who runs and runs (away) lives to run another day" — the next day! Yes, the dude loves to race. Hell, we all love to run. If I could run like Wardian I would certainly spend more of my precious run time racing rather than simply heading out for leisurely jaunts in the back country.

  9. Geoff

    It's interesting that this conversation has developed focusing on UROY as if it's a 2 man battle between Wolfe and Wardian. While they are both deserving of huge recognition for what they've done this year I find it hard to imagine that Mackey isn't still the front runner for the award. He's won 5 ultras (most of them with some very stout competition). Wolfe and Wardian have won 3 each I believe. Of course it's not only about winning, but to a certain degree I feel like winning big races should be (and typically is) the number one measuring stick for an award like this. if the "big win factor" is pretty equal between runners then it makes sense to look further down the line and see what they've done, but when one runner has so many more big wins than anyone else, they are in my mind the runner of the year. Wolfe has the HUGE win this weekend and a big win at WTC to his credit, but Dave has a HUGE win at Miwok and then big win's at AR, Bandera, and Waldo. In my mind he just has a lot more depth in terms of the top performances on his "resume" this year than anyone else. yes, there were some non-winning performances this year that significantly boosted some runner's resumes (wolfe at WS and Miwok, Dakota at HR and NF, Clarkie with the killer WS/HR double, Wardian at Comrades, UROC, world 100k, JFK), but it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to weigh any of these ahead of so many solid wins that Dave had. sure, his season was a bit frontloaded (by the first week of May he had won two 100k's and a 50 miler), but last I checked the award went to the runner with the best overall year, not the runner with the best end to the year. in my mind Dave has had the best overall year of any ultrarunner in N.A…. but i guess in a month or so we'll find out if the "panel" sees it this way. Beyond Dave though I think it gets really cloudy for 2nd all the way down through the top 10 or 12. wolfe and wardian make a lot of sense to me for 2nd and 3rd (in either order), but after that I feel like there are half a dozen or more guys who you could make a decent argument for being next in line behind dave and the mike's. it's crazy to consider that at least one of the following runners isn't going to even finish in the top 10: Clark, Jones, Koerner, Pedatella, Roes, Olson, Sharman, Meltzer. not sure there's ever been a year when the 11th place finisher for UROY accomplished as much as all of these runners have this year (and i'm sure there are a few folks i'm missing who could sneak into the top ten as well). Personally I think this kind of depth in the sport is really exciting.

    1. Ben Nephew

      I'll start off by saying that the appropriate thing to do is probably to split roads and trails, but I think comparing Wardian and Mackey is interesting.

      Most of seem to agree that a win is not a win. So the question is how big are Dave's wins, and much of a loser Wardian is.

      So Dave has:

      1. Miwok

      2. AR

      3. Bandera

      4. Waldo

      5. Dick Collins

      Mike has:

      1. 2nd IAU 100k

      2. 11th Comrades

      3. 2nd JFK

      4. 1st Tussey

      5. 2nd UROC

      6. 1st Caumsett 50k

      7. 19th Two Oceans 56k

      8. 1st NF Kansas City 50k

      I find the the IAU Silver medal more impressive than the Miwok win. If a track runner won a national championship, and then another runner won a silver medal at the world championships, which is more significant? Even if you only look at the internal American competition (like at Miwok) at the IAU race, Wardian beat a stronger field. All those guys that made the American 100k team ran the equivalent of a 5:25-35 50 miler, and then ran another 12 miles at 7 minute pace. I think that the difficulty of competing well internationally should be taken into account, as it seems to be extremely challenging for many elite runners.

      Wardian ran the fastest 50 mile by an American this year at Comrades, uphill, with a long ponytail dragging in the wind, overseas at the biggest road ultra in the world, and then kept going for another 6 miles. He probably flew in the morning of the race. I find this more impressive than a win at AR that was 23 minutes off the CR with 2 women in the top 8.

      The other option would to compare JFK with AR. Once again Wardian was a loser, after breaking a 17 yr. CR at the oldest 50 miler in the country.

      Depending on your preference, you can now compare either Wardian's Comrades or JFK with Bandera. I doubt Dave James and Jason Bryant, who were 2nd and 3rd at Bandera, would rank Mackey's run at Bandera higher than either of Wardian's runs.

      Up next is Waldo vs. Tussey. The field was stronger at Tussey, Wardian broke the CR by twice as much as Mackey at at race that is 3 hours shorter. Warian loses points for going out too slow, though, as he went through 25 miles at 3:00, and then ran 2:33 for the second 25 miles. Not sure I believe that, but whichever way he ran 5:33 for a 50 miler with 5k of climbing is probably a better performance than his JFK, so maybe we should be comparing JFK with Waldo and Tussey with AR?

      We can them compare a diverse selection of Wardian runs with Mackey's win at Dick Collins. The field at Dick Collins was not very strong, and although Dave was 15 minutes off his CR, he still won by almost 30 minutes. Wardian's win at the Caumsett 50k was the fastest road 50k in the US (2:55) this year, and he was about a minute off his own CR despite a slight hurricane during the middle miles. He ran faster than that through 50k at the hilly 2 Oceans 56k. Yes, he was only 19th, but that race is almost as competitive as Way Too Cool. That 3:02 at Kansas City was the third fastest 50k by an American this year. If 50k's are too JV, then you can compare UROC with the win at Dick Collins. Again, Mike was a loser, or maybe he was just trying to create an original line with his route, like Reinhold Messner? I need that GPS track….

      1. Geoff


        i think you make some good points, and I think pretty good arguments can be made for mackey, wardian, or wolfe for UROY. I do think Mackey had the best year though. certainly some wins are way more significant than others, and some non wins are way more impressive than others, but at the end of the day, runners at the caliber that we are talking about here line up to run these races in hopes of winning every time out there. if dave's races had all been cherry pick type races it would be a different story, but in 4 of his 5 wins he was racing against at least one other runner who will likely be top 10 in UROY voting (including at least 5 or 6 of them at Miwok). What Wardian did this year is super impressive, and I don't think there is another runner in north america who could have run the races he did and had the results he had, but I also believe that the same can be said for Dave. the main difference (in my mind) is that dave seemed to always find a way to win most everything he ran all year (won 5 of 7 ultras he raced), whereas I think Mike won 3 of his 10 ultra races. had Mike won a couple more of his races (especially one or two higher profile/higher competition ones like UROC, JFK, or NF50) he would be my choice for the award for sure. and sure he came frustratingly close to winning both UROC and JFK, but coming close to winning a big race just doesn't count (in my mind) for anywhere near as much as actually winning a big race.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks, Matt. Normally, I'm at my computer where I catch and update such things right away. I had the early drive shift… San Francisco to Winnemuca, Nevada. Working on updates at the moment.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks, Jason. I've been checking your blog every day since the race to see if you'd put a report up. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Telluride and that you're enjoying being back with your family after your deployment in Iraq. Thanks for your service.

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