2013 IAU World Trail Championship Preview

IAU logoOn July 6th, the US team of David Riddle, Justin Ricks, Brian Rusiecki, Dave James, Jason Bryant, Amy Rusiecki, Michele Yates, Tracy Hoeg, Stefanie Bernosky, and myself will be running the 4th IAU World Trail Championship in Wales. Both the women’s and men’s teams are aiming for podium team finishes, and the competition looks to be challenging. Due to some objections from breeding birds on the original race site of Anglesey, the race site was moved to the foothills of Snowden in North Wales. This has delayed communication about course details, but the most recent photos from the 5-loop, 15k course suggest that it should be a runnable course. The 45-mile race is advertised to include about 9,000 feet of climb, and although the grades seem moderate, that amount of climb will surely wear on the runners by the last two laps. The terrain is a mix of forest roads, non-technical single track, and moderately technical single track. Overall, the course suits the strengths of many on our team.

Course Update: After getting out on the course this morning, the general consensus of the team is that the course is fast, with the only technical sections being quite short and not all that challenging compared to the French Alps in Serre Chevalier for the IAU race in 2009, or the insanity of the 2011 race in Connemara. With the amount of fire road mileage and the multi-loop format, it feels similar to an IAU road championship. The park for the race site and the singletrack is very scenic with views of hidden lakes and rolling English countryside. Green everything, everywhere. Even on the short loop, the weather is variable, with large temperature swings in short periods of time, and who knows what the weather will be like on Saturday. One section of forest is so thick we might need a headlamp if it clouds over on race day! The final two miles of the loop are painfully fast, and could induce overly aggressive early paces and will surely stimulate some heated, possibly unwanted, battles for place on the last loop.

For the US men, David Riddle has both the speed and hill strength to excel, and has the potential to compete for an individual spot on the podium. David has had a great year so far, with wins ranging from a course record at the 8 Tuff Miles road race in St. John, US Virgin Islands to the third fastest time at his win at the Ice Age 50 Mile, with a time not far behind Andy Jones and Dan Held, both 6:33 100k runners. Brian Rusiecki is coming off wins at the Bull Run and Pineland Farms 50 Miles, a strong second at the Bear Mountain 50 Mile, and a solid fourth at the extremely competitive Cayuga Trail 50 Mile. I started my season with a longer FKT run of 80 miles on the North South Trail in Rhode Island in 12:13, and followed that with a win the Rock the Ridge 50m, a second at the Pineland 50k, and seventh at the Cayuga Trail 50 Mile. Dave James has been racing many of the challengers at races all over Europe all spring and is excited to contribute to the US effort. Jason Bryant has started his first year as a master’s runner with a win at the Uwharrie Mountain Run 40m, a fourth at the Red Hot 33k, and a third at the Nueces 50 Mile. Justin Ricks won the Red Hot 33k, was second at the Hell’s Hills 25k, third at the Jemez Mountain Half Marathon, and has been focusing on this race for several months. Myself, Dave James, and Jason are returning members from the 2011 US team in Connemara, where we placed sixth in the team race, not far behind Great Britain and Germany in fourth and fifth.

Amy Rusiecki won the 50k at Bear Mountain, and won the Mother’s Day 6hr race in Massachusetts outright! She followed that up with a second behind Aliza Lapierre at the Pineland Farm 50 Mile and a third at Cayuga, making it a lucrative weekend for the Rusiecki’s. Tracy Hoeg has had a busy spring with wins at the Hammer Trail 100, the Farum So 14k, and a second at the Svanninge Bakker Half Marathon. Her base building included six marathons while pregnant last year, and I’m sure the labor improved her pain threshold! She has been working on her speed recently, which should come in handy for this race. Stef Bernosky won the Rocky Raccoon 50k and was second at the Texas Endurance Run 50m in 2012, and ran a sub 24-Hour 100 at Rocky Raccoon this year. She followed up that debut 100 with a seventh at the Nueces 50 Mile a month later. Michele Suszek comes into the race with wins at the Bandera 100k, Nueces 50 Mile, and Indiana Trail 100, where she won the race outright. Her 6:53 at Nueces put her in fourth overall.

Both the men’s and women’s champions from 2011 (the event is run biannually), Erik Clavery and Maud Gobert of France, are back to defend their titles. The top teams in the men’s field look to once again be France and Italy, with many returning runners from their medal winning teams from the last championship in Connemara. Another strong team that will surely challenge for both individual and team medals in the home Great Britain team, who has a strong mix of road and trail experience in their lineup. Norway also looks to be a contender, and there are likely to be strong teams flying under the radar considering the range of athletes that could do well on the IAU course and the two-year gap between championships. A number of the teams have a mix of road and trail specialists, which should make the race interesting. Most of the men’s top ten is returning from Connemara, which is a testament to the growing popularity of the IAU events in addition to the list of 20 countries competing. The women’s teams from France and Italy look to be the ones to beat based on the Connemara race, but the less challenging aspects of the Wales course could suit other teams and make it difficult to predict the results in general.

Our teams are confident in our preparation and excited to put on our USA singlets and line up with some of best trail runners from 20 countries. Considering the financial, family, job, and running sacrifices necessary to attend and compete well at these races, a high level of commitment and motivation is a given, and no matter what the outcome, we are grateful for this unique opportunity to compete at this level. Race day updates should be available from the Welsh organizing committee and the IAU.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • Will you be following along wit the IAU Championships this weekend?
  • Readers from outside the US, we’d love to hear who’s representing your country and how you think they could do this weekend.
Ben Nephew

is an 11 time winner and course record holder at the Escarpment Trail Race. He has PR's of 3:10 for 50k and 5:47 for 50 miles and holds the fastest known times for the Adirondack Great Range Traverse, the Devil's Path in the Catskills, and the Pemigewasset Loop in the White Mountains. He has been running in INOV-8's since 2004, and is also sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

There are 26 comments

  1. John

    Bryon, do you think this event signals that the IAU has trail running/ultra's on their radar? I feel that the 50K walk in the olympics should be retired and replaced with a 50K ultra marathon/Trail race. They could even consider using the Mountain Bike course!

    Have a great race!

    1. Bryon Powell

      As this is the fourth Trail Championship, the IAU certainly has a vested interested in trail running. If you mean the IOC, then, no, the existence of the IAU's trail and ultra championships doesn't mean the IOC has specific interest in those disciplines (nor does it suggest a lack of interest), even if the IAU would want the IAU to include, say, the road 100k in the Olympics. Regardless, with the likes of wrestling being cut, you won't find an ultra or long trail race in the Olympics any time soon.

  2. John

    Thanks for the clarification. I mistakenly thought the IAU was a part of the IAAF and therefore have some influence with the IOC. It is interesting that the IOC would cut wrestling but keep the 50 KM race walk (especially given the doping scandal during the London Olympics).

      1. Mrmjb

        Wales is not in England. It is in Britain so you could have said British countryside. Wales is a country with its own language and its own national parks.

  3. Bernt

    Who is "myself" (line 2)–surely not Bryon, less than a week after WS? The word in Europe is that the course will not favor the mountain runners who did so well in Connemara in 2011. We may well see a different mix of countries on the podium this year.

      1. Ben Nephew

        The amount of climbing makes it a bit more complicated to predict. I did calculate about 9k for the entire race with my Garmin data yesterday, and that is quite a bit of climbing for anyone who is a road specialist. It seems that many of the guys who did well in Connemara have solid shorter distance PR's. The key to Eric Clavery's race in Connemara was probably the flat 10k in the middle of course. On top of that, a few guys that are very strong climbers, even a past winner of UTMB, struggled on the Connemara course. I'm guessing the runners who do well tomorrow will be strong or moderately strong climbers who have some leg speed and a high tolerance for punishing downhills. It also seems that several of the teams had selection races on fast courses.

  4. JP

    Good luck Ben! Which shoes do you think you'll use?

    Is there a whisky out of the area that can compete with peated Connemara? Penderyn?

    1. Ben Nephew

      Thanks, it will be a fun course to run. It's actually a substantial improvement over the original course in Anglesey, where the Commonwealth 55k trail championship was won in sub 3:30!

  5. Mauri Pagliacci

    Argentina has put some certain interest in this WC, taking 10 athletes to it and for the first time, a women team. Gustavo Reyes carries a hip injury, so it al depends on how that goes but take a special eye to Sergio Trecaman. He's really really fast and can really do it on this fast course, and on the girls side, watch out with little Laura Lucero.

    Although there ain't as much level as there'll be on the Skyrunning WC on 2014, it's quite cool to have an Argentinian team there. All the eyes of the country are watching out for UltraRunning for a weekend. And that's amazing from any point of view.

    Good luck to team USA also, you hosted me on an amazing way this last week!

    1. Ben Nephew

      I wish they did it by points, but thanks for doing that, it makes me feel a bit better. We were 4th, they score on cumulative time. It was a very solid field, and the times up front were incredibly impressive, I'm working on a post race summary. We missed 3rd by about 12 minutes in the cumulative time.

  6. Rhys, Wales

    I hope all the althletes enjoyed the day and were made to feel welcome in North Wales. It was fantastic to see so much support form all the international runners and their support teams, so I really hope everyone enjoyed our Welsh hospitality. You certainly got the right weather to see our beautiful countryside, although I can imagine the open sections got quite warm towards the middle of the day.

    Having only run the 10K course (which was hard enough!) I am in absolute awe of the amazing running I saw on Saturday, it was inspirational.

    Thanks for visiting us and I hope you get the oportunity to come back to run in Wales soon!

  7. Rob Tranter

    Hello Ben- thanks for writing the pre race and post race reports and for your team's professional and personable experience.
    Congrats on your 19th and Riddle's 7th (great guy), and 17th as a strong performance on a tough course.
    I ran with Dave James and Sebastian from Quebec ran just behind Hicks and our women were 4th like your men's team. Next time we will have to bring Rob Krar and Adam Campbell (both ex-team Canada triathletes, like myself, happy to be growing with this great sport).
    Look forward to the post race report and Byron's comments!

  8. DJ

    Ben, thanks for doing this man! And for BP for letting irunfar.com cover us :). Fun times…. Team USA is going to get on that podium next time around! 11 minuets huh?

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