2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Preview

Run Rabbit Run 100The Run Rabbit Run 100 has the strongest field of any first-year ultra in the US this year… by far. This Steamboat Springs, Colorado race also saw a ton of buzz even before the first runner had signed up. The “why” behind both facts – the race directors’ ambitious goal to eventually have a $100,000 prize purse. The RDs kicked things off with $10,000 of their own money and have built the purse up to $40,000 – the largest prize purse we’ve ever heard of for a trail ultra. Cash will go to the top five as such – 1. $10,000; 2. $3,500; 3. $2,000; 4. $1,500; 5. $1,000 – with another $1,000 going to the top master’s run if there are at least four such starters.

Speedgoatkarl's 100 mile blendAnother unique feature of the race is that it’s actually two races – one for the tortoises and one for the hares. The elite hares race starts a few hours after the main field. Only those in the hares race are eligible for the primary prize purse (10% of the purse will go to the tortoise race). Those in the hares race are subject to additional rules such as being prohibited from using pacers or trekking poles.

As expected, iRunFar.com will be livecasting this year’s Run Rabbit Run 100. You can follow all the action on our 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Live Coverage page and on iRunFar’s Twitter feed. Thanks to Jameson Coffee, makers of Speedgoatkarl’s 100 mile blend, for sponsoring iRunFar’s coverage of the race.

Men’s 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Preview

While the men’s race isn’t Western States or UTMB deep, it’s got some best-of-the-best runners at the front with a strong crew giving chase. Here are some competitor couplings for you.

Timothy Olson - 2011 Western States 100

Timothy Olson

The two favorites are clear – Timothy Olson (pre-RRR100 interview) and Mike Wolfe (pre-RRR100 interview). In June, Timothy set the course record at Western States (post-race interview). This year, he’s also won the Bandera (post-race interview) and Waldo 100ks, while being runner-up at the Lake Sonoma (post-race interview) and Leona Divide 50 milers run just two weeks apart. Those results have many already writing Olson in as Ultrarunner of the Year in permanent marker. (In my opinion, Mr. Mike Morton kept the UROY race open with his American record 24-hour run [172+ miles!] this past weekend.) Wolfe’s 2012 has been about as far from his ridiculously strong 2011 as you can imagine. So far this year he’s got a 13th at Chuckanut 50k, a 14th at Transvulcania, and an 18th at Western States. Despite that, his 2011 (TNF EC 50 win (post-race interview), WS100 2nd, Way Too Cool 50k win, etc) leave me thinking that there’ll be a very strong and very hungry Wolfe in Colorado this week.

I can only see two guys outside of Olson or Wolfe winning sometime Saturday morning – Jason Schlarb (pre-RRR100 interview) and Dylan Bowman (pre-RRR100 interview). When Schlarb’s not bagging a new state, province, or national park, he’s putting up a solid year on the race course. Most solid among his showings, an 8:13 to win the tough San Juan Solstice 50 miler in June. He’s showed is diversity by also winning the Jemez Mountain 50k, placing third at the speedy Chuckanut 50k, while grabbing fifth at Leona Divide. Bowman was one spot (8th) and 3 minutes behind Schlarb (7th) at the Speedgoat 50k in late July. Earlier in the year, D-Bo won the Leona Divide 50 to earn a spot in Western States where he took seventh. Back in January, he was fourth at the Bandera 100k.

Hardrock 100 - Karl Meltzer

Karl Meltzer

As for a pair that’ll surely run strong with a chance for the podium – Karl Meltzer (pre-RRR100 interview) and Duncan Callahan. Despite his experience, Karl ain’t gonna add this year’s Run Rabbit Run to his list of 30+ 100 mile victories. He started the year strong with a 14:17 at the Rocky Raccoon 100 before adding a win with a 15:28 at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 (post-race interview) in March. While he was only seventh at Hardrock in July, he still ran 28:43. With money five deep and money for the Master’s win, Karl has a couple shots to bring some bank back to Utah. As for Callahan, it’s hard to get a read on this past Leadville 100 champ’s (2008 and 2010) current fitness as he’s only finished two local 50 milers recently, winning both. I’ll assume is trained, peaked, and ready to go.

Early in the race, expect to see Jason Louttit and Dave James in the lead pack. There’s a distinct chance that both will blow up, but on the days they don’t, watch out! For Louttit, hard efforts early led to ninth place finishes at both the Chuckanut 50k (he was up front with 10k to go) and the Speedgoat 50k. Then again, he won the inaugural Arc’teryx Squamish 50 mile in mid-August along with the HURT 100 mile the past two Januaries. James won the Burning River 100 in late July with a 15:02. He’s also won mountain races like the Pocatello 50 mile (2009).

Two complete wild cards in the race are the Tarahumara runners Miguel Lara and Arnulfo Quimare, who’ll both be making their north-of-the-border debuts. You may have heard of Quimare… he was in that Born to Run book.

Finally, two folks that simply must be mentioned in this preview – Nick Pedatella and John Anderson. Nick was second at the Massanutten 100 this spring before taking fourth at Hardrock. Last fall, he won The Bear and the Oil Creek 100 milers. I could list many more top 100 mile performances by Nick – this distance is in his wheelhouse. John has a sparse ultra racing resume the past two years, but he’s previously logged a third and a sixth at Wasatch although his strength seems to be at 50k and 50 mile as he’s won the Rock/Creek StumpJump 50k and Old Pueblo 50 mile, both in 2008.

Women’s 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Preview

Ever since the Run Rabbit Run 100 was announced, I’ve waited for a few big names to join the women’s field. Surely after Western States… Leadville?… UTMB?? It’s not happened yet, so it’s not likely to before race day.

Nikki Kimball - 2012 Western States 100 - pre-race

Nikki Kimball

Two big names have been entered in the race, only one will be on the starting line. Nikki Kimball’s long been signed up for the RRR100 and we’ve not heard anything to the contrary. That said, she went for the overall Long Trail FKT in Vermont in August, setting the women’s record in the end. Those 272 gnarly miles in the Green Mountains less than a month before race day have to affect Kimball to some extent. Krissy Moehl signed up for the race soon after its announcement, but will sit this one out after racing Western States (post-race interview), Hardrock, and UTMB in the past two and a half months.

While she might not yet be a household name, Aliza Lapierre should be and she will be racing Run Rabbit Run despite not yet being officially entered. She was third at this year’s Western States (pre-race interview) after finishing sixth there in 2011. A few weeks ago, she battled asthma at Leadville, but fought to a fourth place finish in a still strong 21:14. That “easier” effort might just leave enough in Aliza’s legs to pull off the win.

Update: Well, I awoke to an email from Lizzy Hawker confirming that she’s “practicing her bunny hops, and eating lots of carrots.” Having contemplated racing Run Rabbit Run since before UTMB, which she won for the fifth time (post-race interview), the shortened course only encouraged her decision to run RRR100. This will make for an interesting study – who’s legs between Nikki, Aliza, and Lizzy will bounce back the best from their respective recent efforts – and adds another question… will any other top women sign up between now and the race?

What does the relative lack of big names on the women’s side mean? Some very talented women who’ve had success out of the spotlight will hit the podium on a big stage. Here are the women most likely to make that leap this week:

  • Ashley Arnold – Ashley made a strong push into ultras a few years ago taking third at the 2009 Leadville 100 (race report) in her debut at the distance. More recently, she’s concentrated on shorter racing, although she took at impressive fourth at this spring’s Way Too Cool 50k. (pre-RRR100 interview)

    Ashley Arnold

    Ashley Arnold

  • Rhonda Claridge – Rhonda’s won some smaller 100s – Slickrock, Cactus Rose, and The Bear – while posting strong performances at the big name Rocky Mountain 100s, including – 2nd Hardrock ’12, 2nd Leadville ’11, 3rd Leadville ’08, 4th Wasatch ’09.
  • Salynda Fleury – To our knowledge, Salynda has never run an ultra, but she did win the Pikes Peak Marathon five years ago and has three runs between 5:00 and 5:04 there. (Note: Salynda is also entered in the 50 mile race and we’re not sure which she’s running.)
  • Melanie Fryar – On race day, Melanie will have five wins and a second place in her six ultras in the year prior. Despite racing a ton of ultras, she’s not finished a 100 since taking fourth at Rocky Raccoon in early 2009.
  • Sandi Nypaver – Although only 24, Sandi has already won two 100s, Mohican and Grindstone, both in 2010. She’s also won the Mountain Masochist 50 in 2011 and placed third at the Ice Age 50 this spring. A (somewhat?) recent move to Colorado should help her cause.
  • Jenny Pierce – Jenny won last year’s Run Rabbit Run 50 mile, 21 minutes ahead of Tina Lewis who recently won Leadville. She also won this spring’s inaugural Quad Rock 50 mile. However, Jenny’s only 100 to date, this year’s Western States 100, did not go as well.
  • Michele Suszek – Michele is having a great year with a win at the Nueces 50 mile (7:25) and a fourth place at the Pikes Peak Marathon (4:42). We’re not aware of her ever racing longer than her lone 50 miler.

The rest of the women in the hares race as of publishing: Leila Degrave, Kathy D’Onofrio, Wendy Mader (former Ironman amateur world champ), and Margaret Ochs.

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think will top the men’s and women’s field’s at this weekend’s Run Rabbit Run 100?
  • Any top contenders that we missed?