2015 IAU 100k World Championships Preview

A preview of the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships.

By on September 8, 2015 | Comments

IAU logoThis may be the first time that iRunFar is headed to the Netherlands, but it’s certainly not the first time the IAU 100k World Championships have been hosted there. The longstanding Winschoten 100k will once again play host to the world championships on its flat-and-fast 10k loop course. With defending world champs Ellie Greenwood and Max King not returning, two new world champions will be crowned.

As you might expect, we’re covering the race live starting at 10 a.m. CEST, 2 a.m. MDT on Saturday, September 12.

2015 IAU 100k World Championships Women’s Preview

The Favorites

As noted above, the defending champ Ellie Greenwood won’t be back, but last year’s runner up will be. That makes Japan’s Chiyuki Mochizuki this year’s women’s favorite after running 7:38 at last year’s world championships. That was a huge improvement on her 7:55 PR, but inline with her 2:39:57 marathon PR from 2011. She’s run 3:25 for 50k.

Jo Zakrzewski sq

Jo Zakrzewski

Jo Zakrzewski (pre-race interview), who took third last year in a patiently run 7:42, will also be back and looking to improve upon her finish. Her best 100k remains her 7:41 runner-up finish at the 2011 IAU 100k World Championships. Last year, Zakrzewski was second to Emily Harrison at the IAU 50k World Trophy. In June of this year, she was eighth at the Comrades Marathon.

While she doesn’t boast a ton of ultrarunning experience, American Camille Herron (pre-race interview) does boast a 7:26 100k PR from this April at the Mad City 100k. As far as we know, that 100k is Herron’s only finish over 56k, as she DNFed the Comrades Marathon last year. What Herron lacks in experience in ultras, she may make up for with a prolonged competitive-marathon career.

Sweden’s Kajsa Berg (pre-race interview) previously ran the 100k world champs in 2012. There, she ran to second in her PR of 7:35. She’s also run other 100ks in the 7:38 to 7:40 range. Earlier this year, she ran 3:21 for 50k and word is that she’s quite fit at the moment.

It’s been a while since Russia’s Irina Antropova ran her 100k PR of 7:33 (2008), but she still ran to fifth at last year’s world champs in 7:44. When the IAU 100ks WCs were last run in Winschoten (2011), Antropova took fourth in 7:45. She was also fourth in 2008 and second in 2009. She took third at Comrades in 2013 and fourth last year before taking 11th this year.

While she finished 12th at last year’s world championships, Croatia’s Marija Vrajic sports a 7:37 100k PR which she set last month. That time’s no fluke as she also ran 7:37 back in 2011.

Other Top Runners

Meghan Arbogast - 2014 Tarawera 100k

Meghan Arbogast

The entire back half of last year’s women’s top 10 is scheduled to return:

  • Shiho Katayama (Japan) – 7:49:41 (PR 7:44 – 2015)
  • Veronika Jurisic (Croatia) – 7:51:08 (PR 7:51 – 2014)
  • Meghan Arbogast (USA) – 7:52:12 (PR 7:41 – 2012)
  • Mai Fujisawa (Japan) – 7:54:28 (PR 7:53 – 2015)
  • Pam Smith (USA) – 7:59:11 (PR 7:43 – 2014) [Update Sept 8: Pam Smith won’t be racing the IAU 100k this year.]

Obviously, the Japanese runners with 100k PRs this year have high upside potential. It’s worth noting that back in 2012, Meghan (4th) and Pam (5th) helped the American team take home the gold with Meghan even having led late in the race. Pam’s expressed she’s had difficulties this year after racing the Western States and Angeles Crest 100 milers a few weeks apart in the summer of 2014.

Russia’s Marina Zhalybina (née Bychkova) equals Camille Herron for the fastest 100k PR in the field at 7:26; however, Zhalybina ran that back in 2004. She won the world championships back in 2011 and has many top finishes at the IAU event. She was scheduled to race last year, but did not. She’s also got at least six Comrades Marathon podiums under her belt, although she finished 14th this year.

Italian Monica Carlin’s 100k PR is 7:29:01, which she set back in 2006 when she dueled to the finish at the 100k world championships and lost by five seconds to Lizzy Hawker. That was one of Monica’s earliest 100k’s, and since then, she’s notched four 100k world-championship finishes ranging from 7:30 to 7:53 and never below fifth place. She finished second to Ellie Greenwood and one minute, 45 seconds back in 2010. After leading or very nearly leading the 2012 100k world championships for more than half the race, she dropped. She also dropped out last year.

Nikolina Sustic of Croatia is all of 28 years old and has run 7:41 for 100k twice already this season (by a difference of all of 4 seconds!). This summer she was also 20th at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships at the Zermatt Marathon.

The U.K.’s Susan Harrison set her 100k PR of 7:48 at the IAU 100k European Championships in 2013 where she was third. Two years earlier she was 21st when the 100k world champs were last run in Winschoten, only managing an 8:21. Back in 2010, she won the IAU 50k World Trophy in a smoking 3:15.

Like many of the Russians, we don’t know much about Irina Pankovskaya. However, she did run 7:49 to take fourth at the 2013 IAU 100k European Championships. A year earlier she ran an 8:02 100k in Italy.

While Kasja Berg is Sweden’s top threat, it also has a trio of talent in Stina Svensson (7:51 – 2015), Sophia Sundberg (7:53 – 2013), and Frida Södermark (7:53 – 2015). Some conservative pack running early could put the Swedes on the team podium at the end of the day.

Russia’s Oxana Akimenkova has repeatedly run the 100k world champs, topping out in 15th place in 2012 (8:19) and 2014 (8:08). She ran her 100k PR of 7:56 took take seventh at the 2013 100k European Championships.

Mikiko Ota has repeatedly run the Lake Saroma 100k topping out at 8:14… before a breakout 7:57 there this June. Ota once ran the IAU world champs back in 2010, where she took 13th in 8:12.

Caroline Dubois of France set a big 100k PR of 7:58 this May. As best we can tell, she’d previously not run faster than 8:38, which got her 16th at the European Championships in 2013.

Laurence Klein has a long and storied running career that includes bringing home the Marathon des Sables win to France numerous times. We know she started her ultrarunning career with road 100ks, but can’t find any results faster than a 7:59 she ran earlier this year. Update Sept 9: Laurence ran a French 100k national record of 7:26 in Winschoten back in 2007. (Thanks, RunnerStats!)

Francesca Canepa - 2013 TNF UTMB

Francesca Canepa

When I think of Francesca Canepa, I think of mountain woman… and one that races a heck of a lot. She’s had a rough year, with DNFs at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k, Lavaredo Ultra Trail, and UTMB. Her best finish looks to have been a third at the Eiger Ultra Trail in July. Regardless, a road 100k is not what I think of when I think of Canepa although she did run a 8:34 last October, presumably to qualify for the world championships. It’ll be fun to see her take on a new challenge.

If I’m not mistaken, this will be Holly Rush’s (U.K.) longest race to date. She did have success in winning the UltraVasan 90k last August and did take seventh at Comrades in 2013. She’s just getting over an illness, so she might not be racing up to her potential.

Additional Americans

Filling out the six-woman American team are:

  • Sarah Bard is new to ultras, but won the JFK 50 Mile in 6:37 last November before winning the Caumsett 50k in 3:23 this March.
  • Carolyn Smith was running world 100ks in Winschoten back in 2004. Yes, 2004. She also raced world 100ks in Winschoten in 2007 and 2011 as some of her at least seven times representing the U.S. at the IAU event. Her best finish was seventh in 2009 while she was ninth in 2010 and 2012. She’s not run a 100k under 8 hours since a 7:58 at Gibraltar in 2010.
  • Justine Morrison was winning Mid Atlantic ultras seemingly off the couch a decade ago. Now a mom, she’s made a comeback. Last autumn, she was second at JFK before winning the Hellgate 100k.

Women’s Team Competition

It looks like it’s a five-team race for the gold this year. Japan, the U.S., and Croatia went 2-3-4 in last year’s competition and all look strong again this year. Russia would have been on the podium last year, but was disqualified for a uniform violation. Led by Berg with three relatively equal women behind, Sweden could surprise, although a gold would be a long shot. Last year’s champ Great Britain isn’t likely to take home gold again this year.

2015 IAU 100k World Championships Men’s Preview

The Favorites

Jonas Buud - 2014 IAU 100k World Championships

Jonas Buud

After taking second last year, Sweden’s Jonas Buud (pre-race interview) has pair of runner-up finishes at the world champs to his name, as he was also second in 2012. Not only is he the top returning runner, but he looks like he’s in better shape that last year. Just a few weeks ago, he ran 5:45 for 90k at UltraVasan on rolling dirt roads with some singletrack. If you tack on a conservative 40-minute 10k, that’s a 6:25 100k… off road. That’s 7 minutes faster than his 6:32 run at the world champs in Doha last November.

Vasiliy Larkin of Russia is back with the fastest 100k in the bunch, having run 6:18:26, a mere 5 minutes off the world record and set the Russian national record. Larkin took out last year’s race hard before dropping back to finish seventh in 6:50. Expect him to run aggressively again this year.

The U.K.’s Steve Way (pre-race interview) should have the other front runners in his sights despite placing 13th in 6:57 in Doha. This former overweight chain smoker owns the U.K. 100k road record with a time of 6:19 to go along with a 2:15 marathon PR. Both times he’s raced Buud that I know of, Buud has bested him.

Podium Contenders

Giorgio Calcaterra - 2014 IAU 100k World Championships

Giorgio Calcaterra

Italy’s Giorgio Calcaterra has a 6:23 100k PR and won the 100k world champs in both 2012 and 2013. Last year, he blew up at the event, but finished, taking 87th in 8:30. In late May, he ran a 7:08 at the Passatore 100k, an event at which he regularly competes and where he set his PR in 2013. It’s more inline with his time there last year (7:05) then his times when he was fighting for the world championship.

Jose Antonio Requejo from Spain was third at last year’s world championships in 6:37, just shy of 10 minutes behind the winner. Requejo was third at the 100k European Championships in 2013 and 13th at the 2011 100k World Championships when they were last run in Winschoten.

Yoshikazu Hara

Yoshikazu Hara

Seemingly every year a Japanese runner is in the hunt for a podium spot. Sometimes these runners have a recognizable running heritage, while other times the standout is wholly unfamiliar. This year, Japan sends four men to the world championships, each with a 100k PR between 6:35 and 6:43: Yoshikazu Hara (6:35), Tsutomu Nagata (6:36), Tatsuya Itagaki (6:40), and Yoshiki Takada (6:42). Of these, I’m admittedly only familiar with Hara-san, who won the second edition Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji.

On paper, the U.S.’s Zach Bitter (pre-race interview) has the best chances of getting an American on the podium in Winschoten. Last year in Doha, he moved up the field late to take sixth in 6:48. Zach also has PRs of 3:03:10 for 50k (2012), 5:12:36 for 50 miles (2013), and 6:44:04 for 100k (2014). That 6:44 100k was set at the Mad City 100k 2014, which also served as the USATF 100k Road National Championships. His 5:12 50 miler is an incredible performance, and suggests that a 6:44 100k PR is not yet near Zach’s potential.

Other Top Entrants

Spain’s Asier Cuevas finished fourth at the 2012 100k world championships in 6:44:54. His 6:38:56 PR comes from a 2011 100k in his home country. He was the 2013 IAU 100k European champion, where he ran 6:53. Asier’s marathon PR is 2:14:23 from 2009.

With a 100k PR of 6:43, Jerome Bellanca has the fastest 100k PR from the French delegation and, what’s more, he set it this May. Previously, his PR was a 6:47 from 2013. Bellanca ran the 100k in Doha last November, where he finished 29th in 7:23.

France’s Michael Boch has a strong 100k PR of 6:46:25, which he set in 2013. He finished second at the 2013 IAU 100k European Championships where he finished about 3.5 minutes back from winner Asier Cuevas. He was 22nd in 7:13 at the IAU 100k champs last November and didn’t have a strong showing at UltraVasan last month. [Update Sept 11: Michael Boch won’t be racing due to injury.]

We know nothing of Spain’s Ibon Esparza other than he ran a 6:47 100k back in March.

Although he had a poor showing in Doha (35th in 7:32), Belgium’s Wouter Decock did run a PR 6:54 last June. He was also 8th at the IAU 50k World Trophy last October in 3:22, on Doha’s hard and hot course.

Fritjof Fagerlund of Sweden set his 100k PR on the big stage at Doha last November, running 6:55 to take 10th.

Brendan Davies - 2015 Transgrancanaria

Brendan Davies

Australia’s Brendan Davies has raced well across a broad range of terrains and distances. Last year, he managed to run a 100k PR of 6:56 en route to taking 12th in Doha.

Joseph Binder has represented the U.S. at the IAU 100k World Championships at least three times and he’s improved each time, taking 25th in 2010, 18th in 2011 (in Winschoten), and 10th in 2012. He set his 100k PR of 6:56 in placing second to Zach Bitter at last April’s Mad City 100k.

Jarle Risa of Norway may only have a 100k PR of 7:01, but he was impressively calm and consistent in running to 6th place at UltraVasan a few weeks ago. Look for him to punch above his weight, as it were.

Matt Flaherty

Matt Flaherty

Matt Flaherty is a bit of a wildcard on the American side. He’s got fast PR’s–2:21:20 marathon, 3:16:55 50k, and 5:28:11 50 mile–but has never finished a road 100k. He was also injured for a good while earlier in the year as is still working back to form as indicated by his 7th place at UltraVasan in 6:21 a few weeks ago.

While Germany’s Florian Neuschwander has never run 100k, he’s blasted shorter ultras in the past. He was second at the IAU Trail World Championships in a 75k event in 2013 and has run at least 2:58 50k (2014).

Additional Americans
The six-man American squad is rounded out by a crew who could catapult the team onto the podium or leave it well back. They are:

  • Nick Accardo ran his 7:11 100k last year before taking 31st in 7:27 at the world championships in Doha.
  • Chikara Omine technically has a 100k PR of 7:06… but he ran a 6:58 on the slightly short course at Gibraltar in 2010, where he took ninth.
  • Jim Walmsley has run quite well over the past year. He won the JFK 50 Mile last November in 5:56, was third at the Moab Red Hot 55k (behind Alex Nichols and Rob Krar) in 3:54, and fifth at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in April. This will be Jim’s first race over 50 miles.

Men’s Team Competition

The men’s competition should be led by Spain in the early going. They could still be in the mix at the end. Japan was second last year and is always strong. It easily has the fastest third and fourth men on paper. France has a strong delegation and although it won’t repeat its dominant performance from the IAU Trail World Championships, it could end up atop the podium again if things break their way. Sweden (4th last year) and the U.S. (gold last year) should both be strong, although each will need relative unknowns to step up to earn team medals. Who knows what to expect from the Russians. With only three runners (and three that will score in the team competition), it’s unlikely that the Brits will equal or better their bronze performance from last year.

Call for Comments

  • So what runners are going to win this thing? How about make the podium?
  • Any predictions on how the team races will sort out?
  • There are lots of runners in this race who we don’t often see, so please point out anyone we may have overlooked.
  • Also, just let us know more about the top runners from your country who will be racing no matter if they’re a podium contender or not!
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.