[We’ve now published an interview with Ian Sharman from after his record setting run at the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100.]
When an arctic front brought single-digit temperatures and snow all the way to the Texas-Mexico border this week, the Lone Star state probably thought that severe weather would be the only thing breaking records. That is, until 395 ultrarunners descended upon Huntsville State Park in east-central Texas for the 2011 running of the Rocky Raccoon 100.
At the dark 6 a.m. start, runners shivered in the frosty 25 degree Fahrenheit air. After days of not knowing how the weather and course conditions would play out because of abnormal winter weather, dawn soon revealed bluebird skies and Huntsville State Park’s quintessential fast trails. The weather remained perfect for running, topping out at just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and runners reported ideal trail conditions all day long.
This is to say that perfect conditions existed for the setting of a new course record, so meet the man who did just that:
Ian Sharman dominated an elite-laden field with a blistering and untouchable pace, finishing in 12:44:33. For anyone who is keeping count, that’s 7:38 minute/mile pace for an entire 100 miles!
Prior to Sharman’s superhuman Saturday performance, Eric Clifton held the Rocky Raccoon 100 course record at 13:16:02, set in 1996. A few runners since then have edged near the course record, including Jorge Pacheco and Anton Krupicka. But on this February 5th, 2011, Sharman didn’t just toy with the record, he destroyed it.
Sharman, a British national living in San Jose, California, is not new to elite-level endurance running. In 2010, as an example, Sharman finished the Comrades Marathon, the famous 56-mile road race in South Africa, in 6:01:13 for 23rd place. Sharman revealed on his blog just a few days ago that he’s just signed for sponsorship with The North Face.
Going into the race, Sharman played either coy or truly unknowing of his ability for the day. In a comment on his blog, he said, “The plan is to see how close I can get to 8 minute miling, which would be 13:20. But with the mileage I’ve recently been doing, who knows? It’s all about the last 40 miles, especially the last 20. Sub 14 would still be good.” If you’re wondering what was going through Sharman’s head beyond this snippet of goal-setting commentary, stay tuned because we’re interviewing the guy just as soon as he recovers a little.
It appears that the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 is just the beginning of a very full season of racing for Sharman. Look for him at the starting line of some uber-competitive races in 2011, including the American River 50, Miwok 100k, Comrades Marathon, Western States 100, and The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships, among a huge slew of road marathons. [Update: iRunFar now has a report from Ian’s pacers and crew.]
Here is the run-down of the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 top 5 finishers:
- Ian Sharman – 12:44:33
- Anton Krupicka – 13:18:52
- Hal Koerner – 13:26:19
- Karl Meltzer – 14:27:20
- Liza Howard – 15:33:09
That’s right, ladies, Texas’ very own sweetheart, Liza Howard, brought home the girls’ bacon with her fifth place overall finish among a hyper-competitive field of guys and gals.
The blow-by-blow stories of what went down out there on course are, right now, tucked away in the recovering minds and bodies of the racers. Those on-course stories will filter in over the next couple of days, so look for more 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 race coverage here.
In the meantime, we’ll have to sate ourselves with the stories that the splits tell. The Rocky Raccoon 100 course is a rough loop of 20 miles that’s repeated 5 times to make 100 miles. Ultralive.net recorded those 20-mile splits in a pretty-close-to-live webcast.
The mile 20 split showed a big, early lead by Zach Gingerich (who would later drop at mile 60), coming through in an elapsed time of 2:23. Sharman came through second in 2:29 with a string of runners behind him that included Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer, Scott Jurek (who would later drop at mile 60), Michael Arnstein (7th, 16:34;45), and Mike Wolfe (8th, 16:53:30).
By mile 40, Sharman built a nine-minute lead on the rest of the field, surging to a below-course record pace in an elapsed time of 4:53. Gingerich, Krupicka, Koerner, and Jurek sailed through, all on course-record pace as well, over the course of the next ten minutes.
For the remaining 60 miles of the race, Sharman maintained his pacing with what onlookers described as high, strong spirits. Behind him, yet still on old course-record pace, Krupicka and Koerner ran together, clocking their mile 60 and 80 splits almost simultaneously. Somewhere in the last 20 miles of the race, it seems that Krupicka broke Koerner to reach the finish line about six minutes faster than him and three minutes slower than the old course record. No matter how hard a fight these guys put up, this was the day that the record fell big to Sharman.
As for the women’s race, there was no race. Liza Howard led the women’s field from start to finish. At the time of writing, no other woman was yet close to finishing the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100. Liza Howard’s Twitter feed was purportedly kept up by her crew during the race and here are a couple updates from it that tell the story of her day:
“Runners got off to a good start and Liza sped through 1st aid station on pace. It’s chilly in the mid 20s.”
“Liza finished 1st 20mi loop in 2:34, a little ahead of her planned pace looking great!”
“#8 through mi 60 @2:21pm. She’s working very hard. Having some g.i. Issues, but holding onto her target pace.”
“Liza through 80 @ 5:45pm. And was picking up the pace for last several miles.”
“She’s slowing down again and it’s getting dark. 6:22pm @ nature center. Now we have a long wait (13 mi) until we see her again at park rd.”
“Liza came in at 15:33! A solid PR! She’s sitting under a headlamp wearing down puffs top and bottom – definitely in a happy place.”
All’s well that ends well on what seems like a roller coaster day for Liza. She ran 15:45:03 at last year’s Rocky Raccoon 100, so the numbers definitely don’t lie with her 2011 fast finish.
This about wraps things up for this late-Saturday night race report. We’re writing this from the iRunFar headquarters in Park City, Utah, and it wasn’t without the help of iRunFar friends on course today to pass along race information for this race report. Our hats, thus, go off in gratitude to Rich White for his awesome text message reporting, photos from Endurophoto.com, which provided official race photos for Rocky Raccoon, and the highly useful Twitter feeds of @zentriathlon and @ryanalfred.
February 6 10 am MST Additions
Bryon Powell here. We’ll be updating this article as we have more thoughts and learn of new information, such as runners’ race reports. For the moment, here are a few thoughts.
For a brief time yesterday, there was talk of Ian Sharman’s outstanding performance being an unofficial 100 mile trail record. It was not. Swede Jonas Buud of Sweden ran 12:32 at a trail 100 mile in Sweden last year. We’re not sure how trail like that race was or if Buud’s run is even the unofficial world record. Let us know if you know anything about Buud’s course or if you know of someone who’s run an even faster 100 miler on the trails.
We’ve gotta believe, however, that Sharman’s run was both a UK trail 100 mile record and the fastest trail 100 miler on American soil. To put things in perspective, the American road 100 mile record is 12:12.
With all the excitement of Sharman’s course record as well as outstanding races by Krupicka, Koerner, Meltzer, and Howard, we didn’t report on the coincident Rocky Raccoon 50 mile in this article… though we covered it on Twitter. As Ian Sharman noted in a comment below, Todd Braje ran 5:41, knocking 20 minutes off the previous record. Yassine Diboun finished second (rumor in 6:18-19) while Maria Clementi won the women’s race. No word yet on on their times.
Race Reports (more as they come in)