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2018 IAU 100k World Championships Men’s Preview

The 2018 IAU 100k World Championships will be run through the village of Sveti Martin na Muri and its surrounding farmlands and forests in northern Croatia. The paved, lightly undulating course begins with one 2.5km out-and-back, before 13 repetitions of a 7.5km out-and-back route. Cumulative elevation gain for the whole course rings in at about 800 meters. Average temperatures are moderate with moderate or higher humidities.

The race starts at 7 a.m. CEST on Saturday, September 8, which corresponds to Friday, September 7th at 11 p.m. MDT in the United States. You’re correct in presuming that we’ll be covering the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships live!

The race includes both individual and team competitions with each team ranked based on its top-three finishers’ combined times. With a high correlation between top individual runners and top teams at the IAU 100k World Championships, we’ll start by looking at some of the team favorites and their runners before looking at some additional standout contenders.

Thanks to Squirrel’s Nut Butter for jumping in at the last minute to sponsor our coverage of the IAU 100k World Championships!

Ps. When you’re done with this preview, check out our women’s preview, if you haven’t already! Then, follow our live coverage on race day.

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South Africa

What’s the most stacked ultramarathon in the world every year? The Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which is, in turn, home to a ridiculously strong cadre of road ultramarathoners. Now that South Africa sends a team to 100k worlds, they’re instant contenders. In fact, they were strong enough to beat out everyone to win the most recent team 100k worlds in Spain back in 2016.

This year, watch out for Bongmusa Mthembu (pre-race interview), who was the 2016 runner up in 6:24:06. Since then, he’s added his second and third Comrades Marathon victories, winning this year’s ‘down’ race with a time of 5:26:34 for 90km. He also won Comrades in 2014. To go with his three Comrades wins, he’s also taken second (2012) and third (2016) at the legendary race.

Although he’s now 43 and has faltered at the past two Comrades (48th in 2017, 43rd in 2018), Claude Moshiywa won Comrades in 2013 and proceeded to take seventh and sixth in 2015 and 2016. Going back further, he has a slew of top 20 Comrades finishes, including a third in 2011. The relative youngster on the team is 31-year-old Nkosinathi Duma, who’s rapidly improved at Comrades over the past three years, going from 159th to 16th to 10th. Other team members include Thusio Mosiea (10th 2015 Comrades) and Best Ngwenya (22nd 2017 Comrades). It appears that Mthembu is the only returning member from the 2016 championship team.

Japan

Nearly always strong, the Japanese team took second at the 2016 100k worlds just as they did in 2014. This year’s strong team will start with 2016 100k world champion Hideaki Yamauchi, who ran a personal best of 6:18:22 to win the race. Hideaki appears in good form again this year, running the Lake Saroma 100km in June in 6:23:49, more than 15 minutes faster than when he ran Lake Saroma prior to his 2016 world championship, to take fourth. Lake Saroma was the Japanese team qualifier for worlds, with each of the three men who beat Hideaki now on Team Japan.

That would include the, now, 100k world record holder, Nao Kazami (pre-race interview). At Lake Saroma he ran 6:09:14, taking more than a minute off Don Ritchie’s track-based overall world record of 6:10:20 set all the way back in 1978. Kazumi is a 2:17 marathoner with what I believe is a previous personal best of 6:33:52 at last year’s Lake Saroma 100k. He did win last year’s IAU 50k World Championship “test race” in 3:06:56, where the competition at that event was not on par with normal IAU World Championships, as it was a fill-in event after the race set for Doha, Qatar was cancelled. Despite finishing more than 10 minutes back at Lake Saroma, Koji Hayasaka ran a blistering 6:20:49 to take second and make the Japanese squad. As best as I can tell, this was nearly a half-hour improvement on his 100k personal best. Previously, he’d run 6:45:28 at Lake Saroma in 2015. Hayasaka has experience at 100k worlds, having taken 32nd in 7:29 in Qatar in 2014. Running-magazine editor Takehiko Gyoba was third at Lake Soroma in 6:22:55. It appears that both Hayasaka and Gyoba have marathon PRs a few seconds under 2:20.

United States

Geoff Burns

The U.S. squad took third in 2016 and won team gold in 2014. While the team won’t be returning Patrick Reagan, who led the 2016 team with his third-place finish, they will return their second, third, and fifth runners from their most recent team. Geoff Burns (pre-race interview) whose 6:38 was good enough for fifth in 2016, is back. Since then, Geoff has run 5:14 for 50 miles at the Chicago Lakefront 50 Mile last October and taken 12th at this year’s Comrades. In 2016, Chikara Omine was the third U.S. runner, taking 18th in 6:48. Chikara has run on the U.S. team at least three times with his 2016 as his fastest, but having taken ninth overall way back in 2010. Matt Flaherty also returns, having placed 25th in 6:56 in 2016 and 24th in 7:01 in 2015 at the 100k World Championships. More often a trail runner, Matt has taken fifth at both the Way Too Cool 50k and Eiger Ultra Trail 101k this year.

There will be a few runners making their debut for Team USA, all coming out of top placings at the Mad City 100k these past two years. Anthony Kunkel won this year’s Mad City 100k in 6:52:10. In 2016 and 2017, he was second (5:52) and third (6:05), respectively, at the JFK 50 Mile. Jesse Davis won last year’s Mad City 100k in 7:06 after representing the U.S. at the IAU 50k World Championships in Qatar in 2015, where he was fifth in 2:59:05. In taking second to Davis at last year’s Mad City 100k in 7:10:43, Isaiah Janzen also earned his place on the U.S. team. Last year, he also split 15:15 for 100 miles at the Desert Solstice 24 Hour.

Italy

Giorgio Calcaterra

Italy took second at the 2015 100k WC, and it wouldn’t be a shock if they again landed on the podium. They’ll be led by Giorgio Calcaterra, who won the 100k World Championships in 2011 in 6:27:32 and 2012 in 6:23:30, the latter of which remains his 100k personal best. He had a poor 100k WC in Qatar in 2014, but took third in 6:36 in 2015 and seventh in 6:41 in 2016. Now 46 years old, Giorgio has run two 100ks since the start of 2017, clocking 7:03 and 7:32. Of course, father time isn’t always a detriment. Despite turning 47 last year, Andrea Zambelli ran a 100k personal best of 6:54:36 this May. Zambelli has run the past two 100k WCs, taking 23rd in 7:00:51 in 2015 and 29th in 7:06:29 in 2016. Also now age 47, Hermann Achmüller ran his 100k PR of 6:54:50 as part of that 2015 silver-medal team. He was 14th overall that year. He was a more distant 36th in 7:12 at the 2016 championships.

There will be a few new faces on the Italian team this year, specifically: Matteo Lucchese and Francesco Lupo who ran 100k PRs of 7:03:08 and 7:13:15, respectively, earlier this year.

Sweden

Elov Olsson

Although they’ll have the disadvantage of only having three team members, Sweden no longer has a full team racing, but they could still have a couple runners at the front of the race. I’ll start with Elov Olsson as he led the Swedish team with a 6:44:24 for 11th place at the 2016 100k World Championships. The next Swede from that race, who’s also returning this year, was Fritjof Fagerlund barely a minute back in 14th in 6:45:28. That one-two punch should have put them in contention for a strong team finish, but they didn’t have a full team finish. Since those world championships, Elov has notably taken 12th at the Western States 100 Mile and won Ultravasan in 2017 and taken 22nd at Comrades this year, while Fritjof has been 10th and 15th at the past two Comrades, while winning Ultravasan this August. Going back a bit farther, Fritjof was 10th (6:55:30) at the 2014 100k WC and sixth (6:42:51) in 2015. For the Swedish team to succeed, they might need another 100k PR out of Linus Wirén, who just set his best of 7:09:48 this July. We’ve learned that the third Swedish team member, Linus Wirén, is ill and will not be racing. [Update Sept 7]

Other Team Notes

France was third in 2015. In addition to Jerome Bellanca mentioned below, the squad has runners with strong, recent 100k PRs, such as Fabien Chartoire (7:00:49 – 2016) and David Duquesnoy (7:04:04 – 2016).

Spain has two standout runners in Jose Antonio Requejo and Asier Cuevas and, then, three guys—Daniel Hernando, Jaun Antonio Ramos, and Jose Antonio Castillo—with 100k PRs in the 7:10-12 range. Team Spain would need a breakout race from one of these three for a top team result.

Australia returns its top-four men from its 2016 fifth-place squad, including Brendan Davies, who’s discussed below. [Sept 4 Update: It sound like two the guys have just pulled out of the race.]

Additional Top Men to Watch

Asier Cuevas

I believe that Spain’s Asier Cuevas might have the highest 100k World Championships placing (at least this decade) of someone I’ve not yet profiled. He took second in Winschoten at the 2015 100k worlds with a time of 6:35:49, which might be his personal best, as well. Since then, he’s won the 2017 Winschoten 50k in 3:00:18 and finished 46th at this year’s Comrades Marathon. Back in 2012, he was fourth at the 100k WC in 6:44.

Sticking with Spain, Jose Antonio Requejo ran 6:37:00 to take third at the 2014 100k World Championships and, then, backed that up with a sixth-place finish in 6:41:08 at the 2016 100k WC. He was also 13th at the 100k WC back in 2011.

Wouter Decock of Belgium has a faster PR than either of the two gentlemen above, having run 6:33:52 in 2016. A year earlier, he was fifth at the 100k WC in 6:41:27. Last year, he handily won the Winschoten 100k in 6:46:12.

Last year, the U.K.’s Lee Grantham ran a 6:42:42 100k at the Meridian Ultra Road Race. Last year, he also ran a marathon PB of 2:21:49 at the London Marathon.

In 2015, France’s Jerome Bellanca ran 6:43:41 to take eighth at the 100k WC. He’d previously run a 6:43:45 in 2015 and a 6:47:41 in 2013. Last year, he ran a 7:04:01 100k in France to win what might have been the French team qualifying race.

At the 2016 100k WC, Australia’s Brendan Davies outlasted Elov Olsson by 4 seconds to take 10th in 6:44:20. He’s run 6:56 and change at the two previous 100k WCs, where he took 12th in 2014 and 19th in 2015. Yes, this is the same Brendan Davies you might know from the trails with such results as eighth at the 2014 Western States 100 Mile and first at this year’s Ultra-Trail Australia.

Didrik Hermansen

If you follow iRunFar, you’ve undoubtly seen Didrik Hermansen’s name over the past few years. He’s found great success on the trails (2nd 2016 Western States 100, 1st 2016 Transgrancanaria, 1st 2015 Lavaredo Ultra Trail), but he also has a long history and steady improvement in road ultras. He was 15th in his 100k PR of 6:45:43 at the 2016 100k WC. At the world championships two years earlier, he was 21st in 7:11.

Andre Collet of Germany is no stranger to success at the 100k World Championships. In 2010, he was sixth in 6:51. In 2011, he was ninth in 7:04. In 2012, he was again sixth, this time in 6:45:48. Most recently, he was 13th in 6:44:54 in 2016.

Finland’s Henri Ansio is a runner that you’re as likely to see at the Trail World Championships as you are to see him at the 100k WC on the road. Ansio set his 100k PR of 6:46:16 two years ago in taking 16th at the 100k WC. That’s some solid improvement over 8:07 for 70th in 2014 and 7:07 for 30th in 2015.

Ranno Erala of Estonia ran 6:47:40 to take 17th at the 2016 100k WC. He was eighth, sixth, and sixth at the Ultravasan 90k from 2015-17.

Other Men to Watch

  • Anthony Clark (U.K.) – 7:00:37 at a 100k in March 2018
  • Karsten Fischer (Germany) – 22nd 2016 100k WC (6:54:52)
  • Oleksandr Holovnytskyy (Ukraine) – 6:37:32 100k PR from 2004; 15th 2015 100k WC (6:56:03); 5th 2010 100k WC (6:51:03)
  • Barry Keem (Australia) – 28th 2016 100k WC (7:02:47); 25th 2015 100k WC (7:01:50)
  • Philibus Sharubutu (Nigeria) – 10th 2016 50k WC (3:07:36)
  • Pascal van Norden (Netherlands) – 24th 2016 100k WC (6:55:13); 22nd 2015 100k WC (6:58:07); 6:55:10 at 2017 Winschoten 100k

The full entrants list is available.

Call for Comments

  • So what runner is going to win this thing? Who’ll 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 as well as share additional information for those we have mentioned!
  • 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!
Categories: Races
Bryon Powell :is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com, which he founded more than 10 years ago. Having spent more than 15 years as an ultrarunner and 25 years as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. These days he calls Moab, Utah and its trails home.

View Comments (15)

  • A good preview on the big race. A little disappointing however that a strong GB team is not mentioned as well as the current British 100k Champion who is part of that team and not individually spoken about either.

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    • Well, fill us in on the squad!

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  • The UK squad is only 3 men after, disappointingly, Steve Way's withdrawal, but the remaining 3 comprise a strong team. Lee Grantham (6:42 in 2017) and Ant Clark (7:00:37 at the UK champs in March 2018), both mentioned in the preview and Robert Turner (7:00:30 at the UK champs in March 2018). Yes, you read that right, only 7 seconds separated them . If these 3 can perform on the day they will be fighting for those top team places, in my opinion. Then again, I am a little biased

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    • Those are respectable times, but unless only Grantham should be among the contenders among those three, and only if he's in better shape than that 6:42 (a reasonable assumption given his recent shorter distance improvements). Steve Way would have added quite a bit of excitement, and his level of preparation, focus, and execution for races ranks among the best. South Africa certainly has the talent and experience based on Comrades to do a lot of damage, but historically they've done a terrible job of pacing.

      Japan's team, strong as it is, is not as strong as it seems on paper. With the sheer volume of outsize performances at Saroma, though it is a quality course, and currently meets the IAAF's (revised) standards for record quality, it does *not* meet ARRS' standards for record quality, and this year very likely had wind assistance pushing the top performances. Nonetheless, the two strongest teams are RSA and JAP. How they manage the race and the conditions will determine their fate.

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  • Is Russia not allowed to compete?

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    • I'm not sure at this point... but they were not permitted for a few years. I'll see what I can find out this week.

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      • I've confirmed that Russia is currently banned from this event.

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  • Thanks for the preview. It's weird these road Championships keep on having courses with weird sections like this year's 180 turns. How hard is it to create a circle route?

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  • "The paved, lightly undulating course begins with one 2.5km out-and-back, before 13 repetitions of a 7.5km out-and-back route. Average temperatures are moderate with moderate or higher humidities."

    Yikes

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  • I don't know if I've run on the course proper yet, but I ran past the start/finish last evening and it's definitely "undulating." My route through the area was seriously hilly!

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    • I've run the course twice in the last days, and I'd say "undulating" is a good description. There is only one (maybe two) incline(s) that you really feel but hardly any flat parts. Had 70 m of elevation on the 7.5 km loop which should turn out to about 800+ m of elevation on the whole route, so more than the typical road 100k for sure.

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      • I'm glad to hear that the actually course sticks to the flatter areas. Yesterday, my run had over 200m of climb in just under 8km.

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  • Giorgio Calcaterra is an incredibly strong and consistent runner, who can race with Wardian-esque frequency, but he's also 46 years old, and unless there is a lot of carnage, I would not expect him to be a top contender.

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  • I am unsure of RSA's selection procedures (and even if he's healthy), but RSA's David Gatebe, past Comrades champion (down run CR holder - who split 50 mi in ~4:45 in that run) and past member of RSA's 100km national team is another conspicuously absent runner.

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  • Nice work Bryon, you just earned another follower on your informative website. The top contenders are definitely team Japan and RSA, to be more explicit, this race is between Hideaki Yamauchi and Bongmusa Mthembu this two guys will play a big role in their teams performances.

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