2012 IAU 100K World Championships Preview

ChampionshipOn Sunday in Seregno, Italy, a small town located north of Milan, a collection 222 stud road ultramarathoners will gather for the 2012 IAU 100K World Championships. Competitors race for both personal and team results. At stake is, well, the real cool title of being the world’s best.

This, as are the International Association of Ultrarunners’ (IAU) three other races, is an invite-only event. Individuals are invited to represent their country of citizenship based upon their recent race results for similar events. While athletes sometimes decline their invitations based upon other focus races, health issues, and what not, the athletes that turn up at IAU events are the, essentially, the cream of the crop.

What I’m trying to say is that these ladies and men will be going big and fast on Sunday. Be going on, I should note that we’ll be covering the race live on iRunFar and on the @iRunFar Twitter feed. The race starts at 8 am local time or 2 am Eastern Daylight Time in the States.

2012 IAU 100K World Championship Course

The course is a 20K road course that winds through, out of, and back into Seregno. It has a couple kilometers here and there of a paved bike path, along with a number of turns and a couple roundabouts. The route is almost entirely flat and located at only a couple hundred feet above sea level. Finally, the course will be closed to the public and completely controlled. The 20k loop is, of course, repeated five times and it looks to be a fast one.

For those of you dedicated or curious souls, or for those of you looking for a good chuckle, have a looksee at the course via this YouTube video put together by the organizers. Why’s it worth a laugh? Just, er, listen.

Weather

The April climate for this region of Italy is typically mild with occasional light rain and decent humidity. The race-day forecast is currently for a high around 60 Fahrenheit (16C) 68 Fahrenheit (20C) (Update 4/21, 8am) with a 20% chance 50% chance of rain (Update 4/21, 8am) and humidity around 70%. So long as the temperature stays around the predicted range, runners will tolerate the humidity well. If the day heats up, I expect that weather could be a factor in the race’s overall pace.

Women’s Field

International Runners

  • Marina Zhalybina (Russia) – This is last year’s winner, Marina Bychkova, but she registered with a different surname this year.
  • Yuko Ito (Japan) –  13th place last year, but she ran a 7:18 100K in 2010.
  • Monica Carlin (Italy) – Carlin is Italy’s biggest hope. She’s run as fast as 7:30 for 100K in 2010, which was good enough for second in an incredible race at the IAU Championships.
  • Marja Vrajic (Croatia) – Vrajic ran 7:37 for 100K in 2011.
  • Irina Vishnevskaya (Russia) – She placed 4th in 7:45 at least year’s championships in front of the US’s Meghan Arbogast.
  • Naomi Ochiai (Japan) – She was 12th last year, but she ran 7:54 for 100K in 2011.
  • Mami Kudo (Japan) – She’s gone 7:56 for this distance recently, but her name is most recently associated with a new world record in the 24-hour track distance at last December’s Soochow International 24 Hour race held in Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Helen Lavin (Ireland) – The Irish citizen lives and kicks girls’ butts in the US This is her first visit to the IAU 100K World Championships.

American Team

Here are all the American women hitting the road on Sunday. The Team USA women’s team is stout and deep. On paper, it seems like it’ll be a battle between the USA and Japan for a team title.

  • Meghan Arbogast – She ran 7:51 for 5th place last year and 7:46 at the 2010 IAU 100K.
  • Pam SmithUpdate: She finished 16th at last year’s World Championships in 8:16 after qualifying with a 7:53 at the 2011 Mad City 100K in Wisconsin.
  • Annette Bednosky – She went 7:54 for 6th place last year.
  • Carolyn Smith – She ran off her prime last year, but her 2010 showing was 7:58 and under that highly elite 8-hour barrier.
  • Cassie Scallon – This is her first visit to the IAU 100K, but she’s been tearing up the roads and trails in the U.S. for some time now, including her 6:31 win at last year’s JFK 50-Mile.
  • Amy Sproston – She finished in 8:10 and 11th place at last year’s IAU 100K. She’s fit but just went through a major physical injury, a DVT and pulmonary embolism after some long runs and long airplane travel.

Ladies Who AREN’T Racing

Of note are several women who were invited to play but who won’t be at this race.

  • Devon Crosby-Helms (USA) – Focusing on other races in 2012
  • Ellie Greenwood (Great Britain) – Focusing on other races in 2012
  • Lizzy Hawker (Great Britain) – Out for injury
  • Kami Semick (USA) – Focusing on other races in 2012

Men’s Field

International Runners

  • Giorgio Calcaterra (Italy) – Last year’s champion with a 6:27 finish who also went 6:25 at another 2011 100K race. He’s this year’s clear favorite.
  • Yiannis Kouros (Greece) – The only other guy on this year’s roster who’s gone 6:25, but he did it way back in 1985. He’s not necessarily a race favorite, but someone to watch. Best road ultrarunner ever?
  • Update: Alberico Di Cecco (Italy)- He’s still shown as an alternate on the most recent starting roster, but the IAU’s Director of Communications, Nadeem Khan, reports that Di Cecco’s running. If so, look for him in contention for the W, as he ran a 6:28 in 2011.
  • Asier Cuevas (Spain) – Cuevas went 6:38 for 100K in 2011, but not at the world championships.
  • Yoshikazu Hara (Japan) – Hara went 6:41 for 100K in 2011.
  • Shinji Nakadai (Japan) – 6:48 and 5th, right in front of the US’s Matt Wood at last year’s IAU 100K World Championships. He won the 100k World Championships in 2010.
  • Masakazu Takahashi (Japan) – He was 6:51 at the 2009 IAU 100K World Championships.
  • Jonas Buud (Sweden) – Buud ran 7th at 6:52 at the 2011 IAU 100K World Championships, but he’s gone as low as 6:42 in 2009 and was 2nd at the 2010 IAU100k World Championships.

American Team

Here’s the Team USA men’s talent. Again, we’re looking at a deep team. The men’s field has several teams with some depth, including Japan, Italy, France, and the USA. We predict the men’s team placings as real tight.

  • Mike Wardian – The U.S.’s every-distance, every-surface man is at it again. He ran 6:42 and second place at this event last year. With a third and second the two previous years, you know he’ll be going for gold.
  • Andy Henshaw – Chasing Wardian’s heels last year was Henshaw, who finished 2nd at 6:44.
  • Matt Woods – Woods took 6th in 6:50 last year at this race. Update: Woods is taking some time off.
  • David Riddle – He earned his spot with a 6:54 at 2011 Mad City 100K, while later setting the course record (and beating Wardian) at the JFK 50 Mile.
  • Joseph Binder – He ran a 7:17 at the 2011 IAU 100K, but had a great showing at the 2011 Ruth Anderson 100K, where he ran 7 hours flat.
  • Todd Braje – He earned a spot on the team this year with a 7:04 at the 2011 Mad City 100K.
  • Jon Olsen – Added to the team in Matt Woods’ absence.

Guys Who AREN’T Racing

We aren’t aware of any notable fellas who declined their invite to this race. Do you know of any worth a mention here?

iRunFar and Other Race Coverage

iRunFar is in Italy! We’re here to bring you pre-race, live race-day, and post-race coverage. Stay tuned here and to iRunFar’s Twitter feed to watch the race unfold.

The IAU will also be providing updates over the race weekend on their website and Twitter feed.

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think the men’s and women’s winners will be? Will Wardian finally get his world championship win?
  • Can the American men defend their team championship? Can the American women regain the title after a year hiatus?
  • Are we missing someone who you think will be at the front of the men’s or women’s race this Sunday? Let us know!
  • Did we make an error in all these facts? We hope not, but let us know if we did.
Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.