This weekend’s Bandera 100k race marks the midway point in the nine-race 2011-12 Montrail Ultra Cup series. Originating in 2001, the Montrail Ultra Cup has come a long way from its humble, four-race, West Coast-centric roots and now includes races across the country and throughout the year. Beginning in Oregon with the Waldo 100k and culminating with the Western States 100, the Montrail Ultra Cup is now the largest and most prestigious ultra race series in the country. In addition, the Cup features the bonus incentive (in addition to ever-increasing prize money) of those coveted Western States spots for the top-2 male and female runners in each race (and top-3 if one of the top-2 spots is nabbed by someone already in the Big Dance).
So, in short, these races have basically become filled with red-hot runners solely because so many fast runners are seeking places at the Big Dance. The Cup has evolved in positive ways over the past few years as they have now eliminated 50k’s as potential Western States qualifiers. They have also expanded geographically. In addition to several races on the West Coast (Waldo 100k, Sonoma 50, Leona Divide 50), there are events in Colorado (Run Rabbit Run), Texas (Bandera), Wisconsin (Ice Age), Maryland (JFK), and Vermont (VT 50). As of now, at least, it can truly be said that the Montrail Ultra Cup is a national caliber race series.
But, with all of that said (and acknowledging that the ads in the back of Trail Runner offer at least 12 more race series to sign up for this year), I believe there is room for a few more series. So, knowing that many of our readers are working on their 2012 race plans, indulge me in a few, new race series ideas:
- The Roch Horton 100 Mile Series: San Diego 100, Hardrock 100, Plain 100, Ozark 100
- The Clark Zealand Races that Start at Oddball Times Series: Bighorn 100, Bear 100, Cascade Crest 100, Grindstone 100
- The Hal Winton Old School Race Director Series: Avalon 50, Angeles Crest 100, Waldo 100k, Wasatch Front 100
- The Joe Prusaitis Flat and Fast Series: Rocky Raccoon 100, Umstead 100, Philadelphia 100, Javelina Jundred
- The Karl Meltzer Gnarliest Trails Series: Zane Grey 50, San Juan Solstice 50, Devil’s Backbone 50, Speedgoat 50k
- The Most Logos on Runners’ Shirts Series: Way Too Cool 50k, American River 50, Miwok 100k, Western States 100
- The Pure Point-to-Point 100’s Series: Western States 100, Angeles Crest 100, Burning River 100, Wasatch Front 100
- The Most Expensive Entry Fee Series: Western States 100, TransRockies Run, UTMB, UROC 100k
- The Pure Start and Finish at the Same Place Loop Course Series: Hardrock 100, Vermont 100, San Juan Solstice 50, Headlands 50k
- The Most Likely Place to Get Chicked Series: Badwater 135, Waldo 100k, Hardrock 100, Across the Years 24 Hour
- The Most Likely Place to Make a Buck if You’re Fast Series: Bandera 100k, Western States 100, UROC 100k, The North Face 50
and, my own personal favorite…
- The 2012 AJW Race Series: Bull Run 50, Western States 100, Hardrock 100, Cal International Marathon.
Here’s to a great year of running!
AJW Taproom’s Beer of the Week
This week’s beer comes from Blue Star Brewing in San Antonio, TX. Last year, when I was down there visiting family, I tasted several of their brews and, surprisingly, at least for me, enjoyed the Wheathead Wit the best. This crisp, smooth-drinking wheat beer had a bit more body than your typical Americanized Wit and went down easy on a hot summer night. While it’s winter now, I am guessing this is a big favorite among the San Antonio running crowd come summertime.
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- What “out there” race series would you add to AJW’s list?