In a joint conference call last night with the editorial team of iRunFar.com and representatives from Salomon, Hoka One One, Montrail, the North Face, Patagonia, Drymax, Udos Oil, and Vibram the race organizers from the Western States 100 and the Hardrock 100 announced that beginning with their 2012 races they would be instituting elite women starts for their events. Based on prior year’s finishing times, overall performance data, the overall strength of the men’s field, and projected race day conditions, the top-20 seeded women in both Western States and Hardrock will be given an individually handicapped time-seeded head start intended to allow the women’s winner to finish in close proximity to the men’s winner. Citing the increased demand from media outlets for coverage of the women’s races and the need to provide a level playing field, officials for each race explained that they were taking a page out of the major big city marathons and giving women runners their rightful place in the pantheon of the sport.
Devon Crosby-Helms, elite marathoner and accomplished ultrarunner was contacted in advance of the story and exclaimed, “This is long overdue. As our sport has grown and the fan base has widened it is clear the people want to see the women race. Having a head start will make the race more fan-friendly and will keep people glued to their computers and phones longer.” Crosby-Helms, who enjoys one of the most expansive social networking presences in the entire sport, has proven that there is a demand for such an arrangement. “In fact, to not do so, would border on the criminal.”
Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball, two veteran 100-mile runners who are perhaps best known for their duel for second place on the track at the 2011 Western States, noted in separate interviews, “If that rule had been in place this past year the bear would have never allowed Ellie to win because all the guys running along with us would have scared her away. We are grateful for the chance to give this another go under the right circumstances.”
Ellie Greenwood, when asked about this, said simply, “Perhaps the bear would have attacked me as I would have likely been there before all the guys. All I can say is, bring it on!”
Meghan Arbogast, the Grand Old Dame of the Sport, was delighted to hear of this new development and had only one thing to offer in addition, “Will they ever include an age handicap?” When asked about this, neither race committees offered comment.
And finally, Ann Trason, 14-time Western States winner and three-time overall 2nd place finisher, was contacted via satellite phone in her yurt in Bhutan. When asked what she thought of the new arrangement she said, simply, “I think it’s crap.” And went back to her knitting.
AJW Taproom’s Beer of the Week
This week’s beer comes from Clown Shoes Brewing in Massachusetts. Their Tramp Stamp Belgian India Pale Ale combines the best in both Belgian texture and American exuberance. Best enjoyed in mixed company, along side a grill, with good friends and great stories!
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- What do you think of the new race formats?
- Should there be age-graded race-start handicaps, as well?
- Did you fall for AJW’s April Fool’s joke?
(No ultrarunners were harmed during the making of this article… nor were any interviewed, for that matter. Pretty much the only thing that’s not fictional in the above article is the beer. Seriously.)