The “Hare Race” (i.e., the field going for the big money) at second annual Run Rabbit Run 100 kicks off midday Friday (MDT) from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Last year’s long course (110 miles?) has been shortened and the somewhat confusing route through town has been simplified. Hopefully, that means the race can go off without a hitch. If it does, a top-heavy men’s field and a women’s field that’s deeper than last year’s will race amidst the aspens for their chance at a piece of the $35,000 purse. We’ll be covering the race live.
2013 Run Rabbit Run 100 Men’s Preview
There appears to be a shortlist of men running for the $10,000 top prize… but anything can happen in a 100-mile race, as shown by last year’s surprise winner, Karl Meltzer (classic post-race interview), who’ll be back to defend his title and take another stab at an $11,000 payday ($10,000 for the win, and $1,000 for the masters win). An injury and, perhaps, prudence have kept Karl away from most races these past five months. He’s toed the line twice, holding on to 11th place at Western States before giving an unsuccessful go at Hardrock only two weeks later. Karl’s been feeling good in training and will certainly have done his homework on the course changes. You can almost count on Karl to finish in the money on Saturday.
Dave Mackey has had a rough go at 100 milers this year. He was crushing the San Diego 100 in early June before sabotaged markings led him way off course. Mackey tried to bounce back a few weeks later, but it wasn’t to be his day as he dropped. Last we heard, Mackey was having a great time training, so with second-, fourth-, and eighth-place finishes at Western States on his resume, this guy’s not to be underestimated. He’ll surely be hungry.
Nor is Jeff Browning, another masters runner with a decent shot at the win. (Note: The masters category could fare better among the top three than the sub-masters crew.) A quick skim of Browning’s resume might leave you unimpressed with far more finishes off the podium than on, even at non-major races. However, a deeper inspection shows that when this guy keys in on a 100-mile race, he’s money. He’s got three wins at the Bighorn 100, two wins at the San Diego 100, and single wins at the Arkansas Traveler, Virgil Crest (when he won it, it was called Iroquois Trail), Ozark, Cascade Crest, and Wasatch 100s with some fast times thrown in there. That said, it’s yet to be seen whether Browning can win a 100 with a deep, national-level field on the line.
I can’t go any further without mentioning Timothy Olson, who is having one of the best seasons of ultrarunning of any American this year. He took fourth at Transvulcania in May before adding a second Western States title (post-race interview and race report) in late June. In late July, Olson placed seventh at the Speedgoat 50k, which is an event admittedly out of his wheelhouse. Less than two weeks ago, he seemingly accelerated to finish fourth (and top American) at the TNF UTMB (post-race interview) despite injuring his ankle a week before the race and, resultingly, his calf failing early in UTMB. There’s no question that Timmy’s fit. The questions are whether he can bounce back from UTMB in time to race 100 miles well and when two great seasons of racing might catch up to him. It’s worth noting that Olson shut his season down after taking third at last year’s RRR100.
Jason Schlarb surprised many by taking third at Speedgoat back in July, but he’s been incredibly consistent in placing well since taking fifth at his ultra debut, the 2010 TNF EC 50 Mile. Last year, Schlarb ran a very strong time in winning the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile… and ran even faster in taking second this year, but his run was overshadowed by Dakota Jones’s course-record performance. Schlarb’s only attempted two 100 milers. Last September, he rocked the first half of Run Rabbit Run before a many-mile detour took the wind out of his sails. Wanting a bit of redemption, he quickly entered the Grindstone 100, where he finished third just a few weeks later.
Joe Grant rounds out those likely to win at Run Rabbit Run this year. He was running in the lead with Seb Chaigneau at the Hardrock 100 in July before a kidney scare led him to drop out. Joe’s been training well over in Europe and should be ready for a redemption race. The crowning achievement of his season continues to be his finish of the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. [Update: Joe Grant won’t be running the bunny run as a result of the severe weather affecting the Front Range.]
Other Top Men
There’s lots of talent behind the top-six contenders listed above. Here are a few more.
- John Anderson – Raced a bit more often late last decade with wins are the Rock/Creek StumpJump and Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile as well as a third place at the Wasatch 100 as highlights. He’s dabbled (with two wins and a fourth) at three 50ks the past two years. His last 100 miler was a tenth (31:41) at Hardrock in 2010.
- Josh Arthur – A little known, little experienced 26-year-old who won the Quad Rock 50 Mile this year after taking second at the Cascade Crest 100 Mile last August.
- Jesse Haynes – Perhaps the biggest surprise in the men’s top ten at this year’s Western States 100, when he took seventh. Gained familiarity with the area in taking fifth at the Run Rabbit Run 50 Mile last September.
- Dave James – So long as he wears some clothes (he huddled up in a sleeping bag in a car during last year’s race), last-minute entrant James could improve on his fifth place men’s finish from last year. James has had a topsy-turvy year with lots of unfocused racing around the world, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs.
- Miguel Lara – Has taken first (’11) and second (’13) at the Copper Canyon 50 Mile. He dropped out of last year’s RRR100 (2012 pre-race interview).
- Jason Loutitt – Has two wins and a second at the HURT 100 over the past three years. Since August 10th, he’s taken second at the Arc’teryx Squamish 50 Mile and fifth at the Meet Your Maker 50 Mile. Could be a recipe for tired legs.
- Paul Terranova – After tackling the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (and Kona Ironman) last summer, Terranova has focused on quality over quantity this year. One result? A stellar eighth place at Western States.
2013 Run Rabbit Run 100 Women’s Preview
An argument could be made for any of four women being the favorite for this year’s Run Rabbit Run 100. However, we’ll start things off with Pam Smith, whose methodical preparation (it’s well worth reading about Pam’s WS100 prep) and racing at Western States this year yielded a win and a top-ten overall finish (post-race interview). She’s been quiet since then on the racing front, as was her plan. That should not be comforting to the rest of the women’s field.
It’s safe to say that last year’s Run Rabbit Run 100 didn’t go as Nikki Kimball has hoped as she dropped 20 miles into the race. However, despite the fact that Nikki may characterize herself as having some down years a couple years back, she took third, third, and fifth at Western States between 2010 and 2012 before improving to second at this year’s race (post-race interview). Nikki took second to speed demon Jodee Adams-Moore at the Angels Staircase 60k last month.
If we were talking about a shorter race, Cassie Scallon would be the clear favorite. In the past two years, she has impressive wins at the JFK 50 Mile, Bandera 100k, and Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (post-race interview). She can flat out burn up a course, but she’s only made one attempt at 100 miles, a DNF at this year’s brutally hot Western States, a race she went into after suffering an injury at the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile earlier in June. Still, if any woman can dominate this week’s race, it’s likely to be Cassie.
Maybe Cassie’s counterpoint is Darcy Africa, who’s been a 100-mile machine over the past two years. Last year, Darcy completed the Rocky Mountain Slam. In the process, she set a new course record at the Bighorn 100, won Hardrock (post-race interview), and took fifth at Leadville, before winning The Bear 100. Yeah, a pretty good summer! This year, she’s repeated as Hardrock champ (post-race interview) while also winning the fire-danger-shortened Miwok 60k, with second-place finishes at both the Squaw Peak 50 Mile in June and the Telluride Mountain Run (38 miles) in August. She recently set an FKT of the Wonderland Trail with Krissy Moehl.
Other Top Women
I could literally list each of the other 14 women’s entrants below. Instead, here are seven with the best shot at the top five.
- Jen Benna – A prolific racer still looking to nail a 100 miler on a big stage. Her best race race over the past few years may be her tenth at the TNF EC 50 Mile in December 2011.
- Rhonda Claridge – A strong 100-mile runner with plenty of experience. She was second at RRR100 last year. She’s finished second at Leadville in 2011 and Hardrock in 2012. She’s won numerous regional 100 milers in the mountains. Count on her to finish in the money.
Leila Degrave – Took third at last year’s RRR100, but regularly places behind Claridge when they meet at 100s. Degrave did take ninth at Western States this June and has raced regularly since.[Race Day Update: Leila Degrave didn’t start/]
- Melanie Fryar – She’s crushed sub-100-miles ultras in Texas for years, including a second at the Nueces 50 Mile this spring in 7:31. She has two 100-mile finishes with her third at Pinhoti last November being the more impressive finish. She DNFed last year’s bunny race.
- Jenny Pierce – She’s not had the best luck at 100 milers (22nd woman WS ’12; DNF RRR100 ’12), but she did win the Run Rabbit Run 50 Mile two years ago and greatly impressed me with her 6:50 at the Le Grizz 50 last October.
- Becky Wheeler – In 2011, she took ninth at Western States and then won Wasatch. Her 2012 was cut short with an injury. She’s returned to form this year with a sixth at the Speedgoat 50k and a course record at El Vaquero Loco 50k last month.
- Michele Yates – Last year, she won the Nueces 50 Mile (USATF championship), took fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon, and third at the Moab Trail Marathon (USATF championship). She finished her first 100 miler this year, winning the Indiana Trail 100 outright in 17:35 in April after dropping out of RRR100 last year.
Petra McDowell would be amongst the group above, but she won’t be racing due to an injury.
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will win the men’s and women’s races this week?
- Any big surprises in the works?
- Know of anyone mentioned who won’t be starting?