With its $12,000 in cash prizes including a $1,000 men’s and women’s hill-climbing prime, and, now, in its second year in the Skyrunning World Series, the Speedgoat 50k is attracting as strong a field as ever to the Snowbird ski resort at between 8 and 11,000′ in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. As it happens, the race starts less than 10 miles as the crow flies from iRunFar’s headquarters, so we’re excited to showcase the mountains that we call home. That said, with good weather forecast for Saturday (think sunny and 66F), it’s the runners who’ll be the stars this weekend. Before we fill you in on the men who are running, you can rest assured that we’ll provide race coverage starting at 6:30 MDT Saturday morning.
Thanks to Hoka One One for sponsoring our coverage of this year’s Speedgoat 50k!
[Editor’s Note: We’ve now previewed the women’s Speedgoat 50k field, as well.]
The Usual Suspects
Neither of the top two runners from last year–Kilian Jornet and Rickey Gates–are returning to run Speedgoat this year. (Don’t be confused by local legend Rick Gates who is running!) However, the third- and fourth-place runners from last year’s race–Anton Krupicka and Max King–are headed back and we can only hope that they provide as exciting a race as they did last year when King barely fended off Krupicka on the final, miles-long downhill to take third by 26 seconds.
Last year, Max King finished strong in the ultra world, winning the UROC 100k in September and setting a course record at the JFK 50 Mile in November. He continued banging out ultras this spring, winning the Way Too Cool 50k, taking second at the Chuckanut 50k, and fading to third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. As always, King’s been racing since then, including taking third at the US Mountain Running Championships last weekend to qualify to race for the US at the upcoming world championships.
Anton Krupicka is in great shape even if its unapparent after illness kept him from running Transvulcania and a rough day ended his FKT attempt on Nolan’s 14 early a few weeks ago. While often seen as someone who excels most at longer distances, his fourth place at last year’s Speedgoat and previous course records at the White River 50 Mile show that he shouldn’t be counted out in shorter ultras.
Timothy Olson’s (pre-race interview) now won back-to-back Western States 100s. While, like Krupicka, Olson’s seen as excelling the most at longer race distances, he’s plenty capable of beating anyone in the field at Speedgoat. As evidence, Olson’s fourth-place finish in the stacked Transvulcania field where he was only two minutes behind Sage Canaday.
Over the past year, Sage Canaday (pre-race interview) has failed to win only one of the five ultras he’s finished in the US. That was when he took second to King at UROC last September. Standing out among those domestic wins are his nearly 10-minute course record at White River last July and his smartly-run, come-from-behind victory against a stacked field at Lake Sonoma. Internationally, Canaday has greatly impressed with his third-place finish at Transvulcania in May. Most recently, he won the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile in Ithaca, New York. Although the shorter distance does favor Canaday, it will be interesting to watch him and Olson battle, as Canaday barely nipped him at both Tarawera and Transvulcania this year.
In only five ultras, Cameron Clayton has shown he’s among the best ultrarunners in the world. That’s quite a feat for a 25-year-old who only ran his first ultra the middle of last September when he set the course record at the Run Rabbit Run 50 Mile. Since then, Clayton’s placed third at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships, taken second behind Canaday at Lake Sonoma, and finished seventh at Skyrunning’s Transvulcania event where he was only eight minutes behind Canaday.
While this year’s Speedgoat field is stacked with well-known Americans, there’s a distinct lack of international names known to US runners. However, there are a few international runners you should keep your eyes open for.
- Thierry Breuil (France) – A three-time French national trail running champion and the winner of the 2009 Grande Course des Templiers. He’s run all three bi-annual IAU Trail Running World Championships, taking fifth, seventh, and fifth in 2009, 2011, and 2013, respectively.
- Benoit Laval (France) – A masters runner, Laval took sixth at the 2009 Grande Course des Templiers and placed third at this year’s Lantau 50 in Hong Kong.
Other Top North Americans
Luke Nelson is the kind of guy who should crush Speedgoat. He’s seen success in sub-ultra trail racing in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, been the US skimo champ, and run plenty of strong ultras. If he has his day, he could bump some better-known runners and finish in the top five. He might be due for one after a rough day at Transvulcania and a below-potential run at San Juan Solstice in June.
Another runner who could use a bounce-back race is Jorge Maravilla after gutting one out to a 30th place finish at Western States a few weeks ago. His fourth place finish at Lake Sonoma–behind Canaday, Clayton, and King–shows he’s got all the fitness he needs. On the other hand, he finished 18th at last year’s Speedgoat 50k and has yet to show he’s got it on a burly mountain course.
Michael Wardian continues his comeback after a 2012 mostly lost to injury. In March, he was fourth at the Caumsett 50k in 3:02, he won the Washington, DC TNF 50 Mile in June, and recently ran a 3:12:13 indoor 50k. Even if an all up-or-down high elevation 50k is far from his wheelhouse, you can bet that Wardian will be gunning it from “go!” [Update 7/24, noon: While Wardian is also signed up for the Burning River 100 this weekend, he’s confirmed that he’ll be running Speedgoat.]
Chris Vargo continues to build a name for himself in ultrarunning. In March, he placed second to Max King at the Way Too Cool 50k, running a 3:18:44. A month later, he ran to a sixth place at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Then in June, he set a course record at the low-key but quietly competitive Golden Gate Dirty Thirty 50k in Colorado. I suspect this Colorado Springs resident has put in the requisite mountain time to excel at Speedgoat. [Update 7/24, noon: Chris Vargo is not running due to an Achilles/calf injury.]
Vancouver resident Jason Loutitt will bring his well-rounded running skills back to Snowbird where he took ninth at last year’s Speedgoat. Loutitt’s a guy who’s won races from the flat-and-fast American River 50 Mile to Hawaii’s challenging HURT 100 Mile.
On paper, Cody Moat is the favorite to lead the Utah contingent at Speedgoat. Why? Because he’s won two national championships in the past nine months. Last November, Moat headed over to Moab to win the Moab Trail Marathon, the USATF trail marathon national championships. In March, he won the Nueces 50 Mile in a course record time of 6:26, breaking Jason Schlarb’s old record of 6:28.
While he doesn’t have any national championships to his name, Salt Lake City’s Ben Lewis loves the hills. In 2011, he took fourth at Speedgoat while he could only manage 15th in last year’s stacked field. He followed that up with a third at the Wasatch 100 last September. [Update 7/25, 9 a.m.: Ben Lewis is not running due to an Achilles injury.]
If you’re looking for an exciting ultra debut, look to John Tribbia. In 2011, he took third behind Max King and Ryan Bak at the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon, edging out Erik Skaggs by two minutes. In 2010, he won the Imogene Pass Run and the Red Hot Moab 33k, while also placing third at the Lithia Loop Marathon. Previous results at races like Pikes Peak Ascent (6th ’07) suggest he’s an uphill-running specialist. He’ll have plenty of time to do that at Speedgoat!
Missoula, Montana continues to develop as a northern hotspot for trail running. While Missoulans Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote aren’t running Speedgoat, the town will be represented by Jason Schlarb, Justin Yates, and Jeremy Wolf at the ‘Bird this weekend.
Jason Schlarb should be familiar to many iRunFar readers, as he’s seen continued success since his late-2010 ultra debut when he took fifth at the TNFEC 50 Mile Championships. He’s running strong again this year, with a third place at the Leona Divide 50 Mile, a win at the Pocatello 50k, and a second to Dakota Jones’s course record performance at the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile in late June. Schlarb was seventh at last year’s Speedgoat.
Justin Yates has finished on the podium at all the ultras he’s raced up in Montana and the Pacific Northwest. Last December, he gave it a go on a larger stage, finishing 22nd in 6:28 at the TNFEC 50.
As they’re close friends, hopefully Schlarb can fill us in a little more on Jeremy Wolf, who won his only ultra to date, the Spokane River Run 50k in 3:38 this April.
(Ps. Will someone from Missoula please bring me some Big Dipper Ice Cream?)
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will take the Speedgoat 50k this year?
- Who’ll go for… and who will win the $1,000 prime at the top of Hidden Peak 8.3 miles in?
- Any big showdowns that you’re looking forward to watching?
- Did we miss any top contenders who are racing? Know of any top entrants who’ve decided not to race this weekend?