The calendar now reads 2017, but not much has changed for Jim Walmsley (pre-race and post-race interviews). He’s still pretty much unbeatable. Walmsley went to “the land of the long white cloud” and, other than hitting his head on a tree branch early on, ran without issue to yet another course record at the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
Alone for the final 98k of the 102k course, Walmsley clocked 7:23 to finish more than 45 minutes ahead of second–unheard of for a UTWT event of this distance–and take 21 minutes from the previous event best on a warm day. The speedracer was talking Western States post-race and he’ll seek out his qualifier at Oregon’s Gorge Waterfalls 100k on April 8.
Jonas Buud (Sweden) (pre-race and post-race interviews) held off Sam McCutcheon (New Zealand) (post-race interview) for second. The pair ran 8:10 and 8:12, respectively. Buud, the winner a year ago, was 12 minutes off his 2016 pace.
Much like the men’s race, Camille Herron (pre-race and post-race interviews) went to the front early on and stayed there all day. Like Walmsley, the beer-guzzling Okie also finished inside the former course best. Herron ran 8:56 and made time for 24 ounces of beer on her way to the finish line on New Zealand’s North Island.
After an up-and-down 2016, Herron already has two strong races under her 2017 belt. She was second at the Bandera 100k just last month, and she’s next expected back at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in April.
Again mirroring what happened in the men’s race, the second- and third-place place women were separated by just a minute. Magda Boulet (pre-race and post-race interviews) was barely ahead of Cecilia Flori (Italy, but living in New Zealand) (post-race interview). Those two ran 9:20 and 9:21, respectively. Like Herron, Boulet too next heads to Lake Sonoma.
For perspective, those women were way up on the 10:34 winning time from last year’s race.
The next Ultra-Trail World Tour event is the February 24 Transgrancanaria race.
The race also included 87k and 62k events. Ruth Croft (New Zealand, but living in Taiwan) won the 62k race in 5:10, finishing second overall.
Fragrance Lake Half Marathon
David Laney outgunned the rest of the field at the Bellingham Trail Running Series Fragrance Lake Half Marathon in Washington. Laney’s trip around Fragrance Lake gained 3,300 feet and concluded in 1:44, a new course record for the fourth-year race.
Maria Dalzot won the women’s race for the third-straight year, finishing in 1:58. Both Laney and Dalzot are just over a month out from the more competitive Chuckanut 50k, to be held on some of these same trails. Full results.
Mid-Maryland Ultra 50k
Up front at the Mid-Maryland Ultra 50k, it was Daniel Frank and Margaret Smith running 3:52 and 4:34 at Maryland’s Rockburn Branch Park. Full results.
One hundred and fifty miles away but also in Maryland, the first-year, out-and-back Algonquin 50k at Pocomoke River State Park crowned Alexander Hetherington and Melissa Wilson as its inaugural winners. Hetherington slipped under the four-hour mark with a 3:59:44 finish, and Wilson ran 5:07. Full results.
Black Warrior 50k
Martin Schneekloth and Youngsu Hoy won the 50k trip around Alabama’s Bankhead National Forest in the Black Warrior 50k, finishing in 4:34 and 6:20, respectively. Full results.
Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile
A week after the popular 100-mile race, Huntsville State Park was again the place to be in east Texas for the Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile. Over 50 miles, Anthony Jacobs ran 6:45 to finish 32 minutes in front of Paul Terranova. Women’s best Shaheen Sattar was fifth overall in 8:11. Matt Smith and Maria Sylte won the accompanying 50k in 3:56 and 4:28. Full results.
Lone Star 100 Mile
The Trail Racing Over Texas Lone Star 100 Mile, held at Franklin Mountains State Park outside of El Paso, Texas, packed in three trips up 7,192-foot North Franklin Peak and gained 20,000 feet of elevation. Edward Sousa won the men’s race in 31:25, and Julie Koepke took the women’s race in 34:15.
Jeffrey Brown and Genia Kacey-McKnight led the accompanying 100k with 17:18 and 18:44 marks. Full results.
Mill Stone 50k
Jose Figuero and Barbara Green ran three loops of South Carolina’s ASC Greenway singletrack in the Mill Stone 50k in 4:23 and 4:57 to win the fifth edition of this event. Full results.
Skimo in Oregon, Max King ripped the final downhill just ahead of Thomas Morgan to win the VertFest Bachelor event. If anyone knows who won the women’s race, please comment to this article to let us all know. Full results (when available).
$5,000 in prize money will be awarded between the top-five men and women at this USATF 50k Trail National Championships event, the FOURmidable 50k. The course includes four major climbs as it bounces between the canyons and the American River.
It’s an intriguing field. King didn’t have a super strong 2016 on the trails, but at the recent U.S. cross-country championships he was some 20 places ahead of Wacker. Those two are sure to be at the front at some point in the race, but also look for Roche and, potentially, Watson to shake up this dynamic.
Though on the entrant’s list, Megan Roche will be a non-starter and is instead expected to race the Way Too Cool 50k on March 4.
A Western States Altra Golden Ticket event, the Black Canyon 100k will be fun to follow. Each of the top-two men and women will earn the coveted automatic entry to Western States.
Freriks is the wild card here. Awesome in his debut ultra last year in finishing second at the 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, he was just eighth at the USATF 50k Trail National Championships last year and then dropped from The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships at the end of 2016. Reed too will be looking to rebound from an unideal outing in San Francisco. Contrast that with even-keeled Nichols and we have a race.
The ladies want that Golden Ticket! Both Bourassa and Kalogeropoulos will be working on five week’s rest from their runs at the Bandera 100k, another Golden Ticket race.