2013 UROC 100k Men’s Preview

2013 UROC 100kThis year’s Skyrunner Ultra Series finale will be run at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k this Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. local time. Being the first year the race is being run in Colorado, no one knows how the 100k course from Breckenridge to Vail will play out. It’s got a mix of trails over high mountain passes (12,000-feet-plus altitude) and paved roads. Regardless of whether someone is a mountain-running specialist or comes from a road-running background, all will be challenged by the course’s unrelenting, high-altitude nature. Here’s who’ll be facing off in what looks like a heated race for the $10,000 up for grabs by the guys alone.

We’ve also previewed the 2013 UROC 100k women’s race. Look to our reader’s group-think predictions for another take on the race.

Men’s Favorites

Kilian Jornet - 2013 Transvulcania Ultramarathon

Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet (pre-race interview) is running UROC and, after another dominating summer, that’s got to make him the favorite despite the flatter paved sections on the course. When he’s not been setting inspiring fastest known times, such as on the Matterhorn, he’s won Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Trans d’Havet (with Luis Alberto Hernando), and Ultraks… to name a few.

Sage Canaday (pre-race interview) is having one of the best seasons of any North American ultrarunner. Domestically, he’s won against stacked fields at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (post-race interview) and Speedgoat 50k (post-race interview), running faster than Kilian did last year. He’s also won the Bandera 100k (in course-record time) and the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 Mile (post-race interview). Internationally, he held off Timothy Olson to win the Tarawera 100k (post-race interview) in March before finishing third to Kilian and Luis Alberto at Transvulcania. He also recently broke Rickey Gates’s FKT for Colorado’s storied Four Passes Loop through the Maroon Bells. In addition, it’s unlikely that any top competitor has spent more time on the course recently than Canaday, who is quite focused on this race.

Kilian and Sage are still battling it out for the Skyrunner Ultra Series title. Having won both his races – Transvulcania and Ice Trail – so far in this best-three-of-five, point-based series, Kilian leads Sage 200 points to 178. For the men, points in each race break down as follows: 100-88-78-72-68-66-64-62-60-58-56-54-52-50 down to 2 points to 40th position with a 20% point bonus for the final race. That means a first or second place guarantees Kilian the series win. If Sage wins and Kilian takes third or worse, Sage wins the series. Up for grabs is a $3,000 first prize with $1,500 going to second.

Dakota Jones - charades handicap

Dakota Jones

One of the few who’ve bested Kilian in an ultra in recent years is Dakota Jones (pre-race interview)when he won Transvulcania (post-race interview) in May 2012. This year, Jones has adventured more and raced less, but that’s not hurt his performance. He decisively won the San Juan Solstice (race report) in June besting one of Matt Carpenter’s legendary records in the process after finishing second to Rob Krar at the Moab Red Hot 55k in February. Not feeling ready, Jones skipped UTMB last month. Don’t count him out at UROC; he’s well trained and hungry.

Ready to join the Rob Krar (pre-race interview) 2013 Course-Record Tour? Moab Red Hot 55k (February 16, Moab, UT), Leona Divide 50 Mile (April 27, Lake Hughes, CA), and Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (May 10, Grand Canyon, AZ). (What tour stops are we missing?) In his 100-mile debut, Krar crushed it in taking second at Western States in 15:22 (post-race interview). He also won the team competition at the TransRockies Run in August.

Rickey Gates

Rickey Gates

Rickey Gates (pre-race interview) is feeling good about his fitness going into UROC, as he should. In just the past week, he’s lowered his personal best on the Four Passes Loop by seven minutes in an attempt to retake his FKT title from Sage (he missed retaking the record, though) and finally won the Golden Leaf Half Marathon in Aspen. As a long-time Aspen resident, we’d expect Rickey to be quite familiar with terrain similar to UROC’s, if not portions of the course itself.

Cameron Clayton (pre-race interview) may want to temper his all-out, do-or-die approach with the depth atop the UROC field. Then again, that approach led him to third at the TNF EC 50 last December as well as second at Lake Sonoma (post-race interview) and seventh at Transvulcania this spring. There’ve been some spectacular blowups in there, as well. Earlier this month, Clayton won the eight-stage, 261-kilometer GORE-TEX TransAlpine Run with Greek runner Dimitris Theodorakakos.

Cameron Clayton (114 points), Martin Gaffuri (104 pts, discussed below), Luke Nelson (66 pts, discussed below), and Rickey Gates (60 pts) all have a realistic shot at taking third place in the Skyrunning’s Ultra Series away from François D’haene, who currently has 154 points but is not racing UROC. Should someone take third away from D’haene, they’ll go home with an extra $750.

Other Top Runners

  • Josh Arthur – Arthur took fourth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 two weeks before UROC. We’re still waiting to hear whether or not he’s decided to run this coming weekend. If he does, it’ll be on heavy legs. Update 9/23: Josh Arthur won’t be racing after his fourth-place run at the Run Rabbit Run 100 two weeks before UROC.
  • Trent Briney – With a 2:12 marathon PR, a recent shift toward ultras, and the second-fastest time ever at the JFK 50 Mile last November, we’d put him in contention for a podium spot but for the fact that fatigue and health issues have plagued him this year and kept him from running Western States in late June.
  • Ryan Burch – Had a couple great runs this spring–thirds at the Moab Red Hot 55k and Quad Rock 5o Mile–before going quiet with other obligations. Not certain he’s racing UROC as he’s signed up for a local trail marathon the following weekend. Update 9/23: Ryan Burch won’t be running UROC.
  • Matt Flaherty (pre-race interview) – Flaherty’s the most likely guy from this list to sneak onto the UROC podium, which he did in 2011 when he was third. This year, Matt won the American River 50 Mile (6:08), took fourth (6:10) at a speedy Ice Age 50 Mile, and then second to Sage at Cayuga Trails in June. Since then he’s been racing shorter stuff.
  • Martin Gaffuri – He won’t be on the podium, but he improved his 21st at Transvulcania to a seventh at Ice Trail Tarentaise and is looking for a top placing in Skyrunning’s ultra series.
  • Gary Gellin – His 2013 hasn’t been quite as strong as his 2012. That said, he took sixth at the Way Too Cool 50k in 3:36 this spring and ninth at the Pikes Peak Marathon last month. It’s worth noting that he was ninth at the TNF EC 50 Mile champs less than 10 months ago.
  • Ryan Ghelfi – Won the Siskiyou Out Back in July with a time on par with Max King and Erik Skaggs after a near course-record win at the Buffalo Run 50k in March and a 9th at Lake Sonoma in April.
  • Troy Howard – Textbook Howard at Hardrock this July. He meticulously prepped for one race and nailed it, taking second (post-race interview).
  • Luke Nelson – Multi-talented mountain athlete Nelson is having another strong season. Highlights include a distant fourth at the San Juan Solstice, sixth at Speedgoat, and his fifth-straight win at El Vaquero Loco 50k in Wyoming.
  • Justin Ricks – An extremely talented trail runner with great success at races up to 50k. He’s not yet seen corresponding success above that distance. Ricks was the runner-up at last November’s USATF Trail Marathon Championships on the gnarly Moab Trail Marathon course. Again in Moab, he smoked the Red Hot 33k field this February in course-record time. Update 9/25: It looks like Justin won’t be racing UROC due to illness.
  • Marcin Świerc – A top mountain runner in Poland who took tenth at Transvulcania this year. With no public mentions of the race from Marcin that we can find, we’re uncertain as to whether he’ll be racing. Update 9/24: Marcin Świerc will not be traveling to the States to run UROC.
  • José Virginio de Morais – A top Brazilian trail runner, who’s not raced much on large international stages. We’re giving him the benefit of the doubt given our unfamiliarity with Portuguese and the Brazilian racing scene.
  • Michael Wardian – Wardian’s back to racing after a rough 2012 due to injuries. He won the 2013 TNF EC 5o Mile – DC before running an indoor 3:12 50k in July. A rough go with altitude at Speedgoat in late July does not bode well for Wardian at UROC, but that won’t stop him from trying.
  • Kalib Wilkinson – Watch out for Kalib’s speed. He’s shown he has it in spades with fourth-place finishes at the JFK 50 in 2011 and the USATF Trail Marathon championships in 2012. This year he took another fourth, this time at the White River 50 Mile. [Update 9/28: Kalib Wilkinson did not start the race.]
  • Jason Wolfe – Without much fanfare, J-Wolfe’s had a great past year, winning the Bootlegger 50k in 3:39 last November, taking sixth at the TNF EC 50 Mile, finishing second at the Leona Divide 50 Mile (a minute ahead of Mike Wolfe) in April, and winning the Imogene Pass Run a few weeks ago. Despite a recent knee injury suffered in a fall at Imogene, Wolfe will be racing and has an outside shot at the podium.

Notable Entrant Absences

For a variety of reasons the following entrants or their sponsors have confirmed they won’t be running UROC this year.

  • Dylan Bowman
  • Duncan Callahan
  • Adam Campbell
  • Mick Donges
  • Max King
  • Anton Krupicka
  • Dave Mackey
  • Karl Meltzer
  • Gustavo Reyes
  • Paul Terranova
  • Mike Wolfe

 Call for Comments

  • Okay, who’ll be battling for the win and who’ll take it in the end?
  • Who’ll be the biggest surprise in the top five?
  • Any more runners who are on UROC’s elite list that won’t be running for whatever reason?
  • Anyone not listed above that we could see in the top 10 at some point in the day?

There are 129 comments

  1. Fernando N Baeza

    What a field! I can't wait to see it in person, will it be Kilian or Sage? I admitingly throw my arms up on this one. Kilian just can't seem to lose this season (except 2nd place vertical K), but Sage is phenomenol. He's had to have learned a thing or two from racing Kilian at Transvulcania, and he's been familiarizing himself with UROC course as of late…and then throw in Dakota Jones! Its a Pandoras box for sure, anything can happen! For an ultra fan, this is as good as it gets!! ;D
    Fernando N. Baeza
    San Antonio, TX


      Its a hard call to make since we have Great Runners in this event. I eagerly awaite to see who Wins this race and looking forward to meeting so many talented runners both in the mens field as well as the ladies ( and of course the people who bring us the news of these events, the one and only i run far staff). This is going to be a who's who of ultra runners and one spectacular event. For me, this is my first 50K mountain race I am running in, so I am very exited to be running the course,taking in the views of the mountains, meeting new runners, and Finishing the race in time to see who wins the 100K race. Thank you to IrUnFar for all that you do to keep the community updated on the races, product reviews and all the advice on running. I sincerely appreciate it. See everyone in Vail, and Good luck to all the runners in this race.

  2. David T

    1. Canaday, 2. Krar, 3. Jones, & 4. Jornet

    Really tough call. The top 3 could line up in just about any order but I don't see Kilian cracking the top 3. I have just about always picked Kilian for the win in his various races and of course he has almost always won. However, his performance seems to be impacted by the level of inspiration he derives from the course he his running. I don't see this course inspiring him. Likewise, his training has not matched the course. This year he has focused on speed climbing mountains and racing very steep Skyrunner races. Recently he has been traveling all over Europe, climbing Mt. Elbrus in the snow, and traveling to US. Finally, I'm not sure he has the turn over that Sage and the others have to be able to match them, especially on the road sections.

    I have to go with Sage because he has made this race his focus, he has a road background, he seems determined to beat Kilian, he has the altitude training, and he has trained on the course.

    1. Martin

      I was just thinking about Kilian, he's had a loong summer. But he's an enigma, if he pushes more than his usual '80 percent'. It seems he's winning races often this way, if it turns out to be close for him, he does his maximum. And he's apparently able to read his oponents pretty well, as well. He's mentioned Sage's abilities a couple times, but I am not sure what Sage's fitness is like right now. I would guess he pushed himself hard enough in the beginning of the season, UROC being his focus race right now or not. I do not get any vibration from Dakota Jones, but I might wrong. When it comes to Krar, he's pretty smart and super talented, but got some real luck already this year in my opinion. I'd put my money on experience, which is undoubtedly on Kilian's side. Although,,, it'd be interesting to see him lose something with no strings attached for once.

      It's definitely going to be one hell of a race!

      btw. so sorry for TK not making it. This guy's potential is amazing, but he was so much more fun, at least when it comes to racing, before he went 'pro'. Personally, I'd prefer seeing him travelling about the world, exploring mountains on foot and taking pictures. We all love his blog, don't we.

  3. Charlie M.

    Top ten questions:

    (1) Who will be drug tested?

    (2) Will Sage do an Infomercial on the Course?

    (3) Will Killian bring warm clothes?

    (4) Can Rob Krar's beard cross the line before his body does?

    (5) Will Dakota use a Humor Graph on his arm instead of a Pace Chart?

    (6) Will Ian Corless or Bryon Powell be the first up to the top?

    (7) Will Rickey Gates sleep next to his motorcycle the night prior?

    (8) Has Michael Wardian bought an Altitude Tent yet?

    (9) Will Cameron Clayton have a jet pack on the start line?

    (10) Will I ever stop posting top ten lists? Is anyone sick of them yet?

    1. Patrick L

      Nope. Good stuff, Charlie. As for #6, Bryon has tapered for this weekend, so he's due to take down Corless.

      How about (11): Will there be more elites in attendance viewing the race than will actually finish?

      1. Alejandrina

        Keep the top ten list coming, honestly; the laughter is great for the human body/soul. Plus they are good questions to consider, especially # 6 and # 11.Let's throw in a #12. Will Meghan out run both Bryon and Ian to the top? (Studies have shown that women have a high pain threshold and a higher level of endurance……….I'm just sayin….. Women in the Andeas mountains give birth to babies and then go on to continue working on the mountain)

        1. Fernando N Baeza

          I plead the fifth to #12! ;D Wink Wink Bryon and Ian…seriously, cant wait to meet the irunfar staff and Ian out there on the course somewhere, you guys make ultrarunning really accessible and exciting with the live coverage, thank you for all you do!

          Fernando N Baeza

          San Antonio, TX

    2. Luke

      My money is definitely on Krar. He has the speed and endurance. Kilian probably second, then maybe Rickey. I don't think Sage has demonstrated his 100k endurance yet against a top field, or shown his ability to have a strategy other than blast uphill and hope they don't catch up on the downhills.

  4. Vern L

    Kilian, Sage, and Dakota all seem like good guys, so if one of them takes it – that'd be perfect. When will technology be developed to the point of being able to follow the race leaders with an overhead camera? God I'd pay a couple hundred dollars for that for a few races a year. Do we have to send up our own satellite, or what? Bryon, can you do a Kickstarter project for this? I'm in.

  5. André Cruz


    I´m from Brazil and I don´t bet on Jose Virginio, event to the top 10.

    We are really far from you.

    But let´s see KJ, SC and DJ.

    Anothter weekend following Irunfar. That´s great.

  6. Mike M.

    What a field. So much speed I cant imagine what the pace will be like. Looks like sunny and cool on Saturday. Hope everyone races well and Dakota takes the win.

  7. Anonymous

    Wow this is going to be an awesome race. What a stacked field! It is tough to look beyond Sage with his pure speed suited for the course, but I still can't wait to see it unfold, and don't think Killian would toe the line if he didn think he could compete for the win.

  8. Evan

    The front of the race will be exciting indeed! Sage and Killian are amazing runners, but the Krarbarian is really fit and incredibly tenacious. I'm calling it Krar, Jornet, Canaday in a close 1-2-3 finish

    1. Fernando N Baeza

      Great predicition Karl!…I had you in first for RRR! ;D I contemplated Krar of course, but then I thought of elevation; Krar is a natural phenom speedster no doubt, but will elevation slow him down?

      Fernando N Baeza

  9. Daniel Westrate

    Kilian vs. Sage vs. Dakota vs. Krar. This is going to be so epic!! I think…

    1. Cameron Clayton

    2. Dakota Jones

    3. Sage Canaday

    4. Kilian Jornet

    5. Rob Krar

    Come on Cameron! I pick you every time and it never happens! I think you're gonna get this one! I would be very happy with Dakota winning too though, those two are my very favorites.

  10. Patrick Krott

    1. Kilian

    2. Krar

    3. Sage

    Krar was only 6 minutes behind Olsen at WS in his very first 100 miler.. that little fact still astounds me, so I'm looking for him to do really well. Kilian is in beast-mode, he'll crush it.

    1. David T

      I think Kilian will hit the pavement and not know what to do. He will probably think the race is over, quit, and start running up the nearest mountain for a little warm down fun.

  11. Shelby

    What I'm wondering is who is gonna bring Bryon & Meghan a Pliny the Elder IPA as a thank you for all their hard work, since I can't be there to do it myself? Anyone? Anyone? Big man-hug from Bryon if you do.

    This course is made for Sage & the bearded one, but the wildcard will be whether Prez pushes K-Dog out of the remaining podium spot. Can't wait to hear how it all plays out.

  12. Scott

    Might be interesting to see how the weather affects things. Right now there seems to be a chance of new snow across the Breckenridge/Copper/Vail area on Friday night, especially above 9,000 feet.

  13. Dean G

    Kilian just finished a 50 hour drive from Russia to home. Then he has to fly to Vail. He is human. Gotta believe Krar and Sage, among others, will be fresher. And as others mentioned, this isn't a Kilian course anyway.

  14. Luke

    My money is definitely on Krar. He has the speed and endurance. Kilian probably second, then maybe Rickey. I don’t think Sage has demonstrated his 100k endurance yet against a top field, or shown his ability to have a strategy other than blast uphill and hope they don’t catch up on the downhills.

  15. Tim

    I can't help but wonder how a trained Matt Carpenter would fare against all these bad boys. (same with Anita Ortiz on the women's side, hopefully she is close to her pre-injury form)

  16. astroyam

    I don't know who will win among the top 5, but I know they're going to put the hurt on each other at some point… It's gonna be a suffer fest at the top. Hopefully everyone has an awesome day and performs 100%!

  17. Andy

    Interesting to read the comments suggesting — though perhaps somewhat facetiously — that the likes of KJ don't have the legs for the road sections. I was delighted to be mid-packing (read suffering) my way to the finish at the first event in VA in 2011 and recall Geoff Roes, not known for his road speed either, winning. Though it's true Wardo would have taken it were it not for getting lost in the woods. Roadie, trail-ie, everybody's got his/her liabilities!

      1. CDG

        If I recall correctly, the original course design purposefully included a lot of pavement so that it played to every runner's strengths and weaknesses.

  18. gontxal

    Kilian is not motivated for this "flat" race.That happened at Sierre Zinal before Mt Cervino record.He is thinking about the next records in Mt Elbrus and Aconcagua.He will be happy getting the 3rd place in the podium.

    The battle is among Krar,Sage and Dakota

  19. Nickademus

    Krar or Canaday for the win, they are ex-marathoners/ tracksters with much more experience on a 'flatter' (in European terms) course like UROC than Kilian is likely used to at the moment. I agree with the above comments, I don't see Kilian being really 'motivated' for this one.

  20. Shelby

    I'm not sure why some of you think that Kilian won't be motivated to win. He's very competitive and obviously wants to compete for the Skyrunning ultra series win. The only time I recall him saying that he wasn't motivated was when no one was there to push him (ie Pike Peak Marathon). Look at his finishes against Luis this year… With the other three fasties rested and hungry for the win, he's gonna have to work hard for this one, and I expect him to put his all into it.

  21. Soul Runner

    This late in the year, I am going with who has the freshest legs after a busy summer season. To me that would be Krar and Jones. Kilian is a competitor and you can't leave him out. Sage has raced too much and even though he is got speed, it will be tough for him to win this one. Krar deserves a win!

  22. Evan K

    I am excited to run the race, as a "non-elite" (non-elites got the humorous classification as "recreational runners" in Competitor article). Be that as it may, I wish to call out a non-elite (err "recreational runner") who I feel will turn some heads this Saturday. His name is Paul Hamilton. I call him in the Top 10.

    Also, I have run 80% of the course. Let's not get too carried away with describing this course as "FLAT". 13,245 feet of gain for 62 miles, peaking at 12,400 feet and mostly above 10,000ft (4 of 5 star terrain). I get it – for alpinists like Killian and for sky races (or HR or Wasatch) this is nothing, but it ain't flat either (It's in the heart of the Rockies for godsake!) Killian will have enough to keep entertained. And don't discount the cold or inclement weather that can hit us, including snow showers. It's snowing up there as we speak and now light snow is even in the forecast on race morning. Last, the "paved" parts are mostly the Vail Pass bike path climb. Don't let that hybrid description fool you too much there, PLENTY of trail.

    Krar, Killian, Sage, and Dakota are all capable of winning here, it will depend on who has the "right" day. Arguments can be made for all 4. It will be a thrill to see how it pans out.

      1. Anonymous

        Thank you Fernando, just honored to be a part of the race! Shelby – the section to Copper Mtn takes you onto the Wheeler and Colorado Trail over the Ten Mile Range up to an altitude of 12,400 feet and gets steep and technical (but fun). You stay above 12k for a good little while, weather could be really poor up there. Also, last stretch from Minturn takes you on the Game Creek trail which is pretty narrow and could be quite muddy in wet conditions, but scenic and fun. Rest of the course is not too bad, typical mountain trails with loose rocks and the like. Then there is some running on the ski slope trails, and paved bike path/ town roads.

        1. Evan K

          Last comment was from me. Also – another question I wonder amongst the top runners is who is best suited for cold weather or bad conditions? Forecast is certain cold and now possible storms.

          1. Shelby

            Thanks for the add'l course info, Evan. With the assumption that the flat sections will play to Sage & Rob's strengths, I was curious as to whether there were technical parts that might play to the other's strengths. We've seen Kilian & Dakota's skills on the techy stuff at Transvulcania.

  23. Placer Racer

    Prestige is just as important as money. Certain recent WS winners have a knowledgeable past when it comes to using devices to aid in performance.

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