“This is just not my day,” Anne Riddle (formerly Lundblad) assessed her situation to her crew 30 kilometers into the 2005 IAU 100k World Championships in Japan. Battling stomach issues, dehydration, and overheating, Riddle was about ready to throw in the towel three hours into the race, “I was so far back I just said to myself, What’s the point?”
That year Riddle was part of a ragtag American team that traveled halfway around the world to compete on the global stage. It was during an era that few Americans traveled outside the United States to compete and Riddle and her teammates definitely felt it, “All the other teams seemed so put together, so well organized. It was really intimidating.”
Riddle, who would go on to become a two-time UltraRunning magazine (North American) Ultrarunner of the Year in both 2005 and 2006, had a diverse skill set that made her one of the top women in ultrarunning on both trails and the roads. She got her start in ultrarunning in 1999 at age 32 following high-school and collegiate cross country and track, as well as shorter-distance road and trail racing.
Prior to the 100k world champs, Riddle started her award-winning 2005 with a trio of excellent finishes in North Carolina and Virginia. Highlighted by her 5:29 at the Promise Land 50k (which is actually 34 miles), Riddle knew she was fit. In fact, her time on an unusually hot day was a mere six minutes off the course record which she set herself in 2003, a record she still holds and that is one of the longest-standing course records in the United States.
Transitioning off the trails and onto the roads after Promise Land, Riddle clicked off eight consistent weeks of 80 to 100 miles, during which she focused on speed. Twice-a-week track sessions along with long runs and tempo runs on tired legs primed her for giving it a go at the 100k world champs. And it was the memory of those tough sessions that put her back in the game during the second half of the race in Japan.
“After I slowed myself down, I just repeated my mantras, the little mind tricks that helped me stay motivated during the brutal interval workouts back in North Carolina. I ground myself back into the race.”
After the first 50k, Riddle was still more than 10 minutes back of the leader, hometown favorite Hiroko Syou. As the locals pushed Syou on, Riddle felt like a decided underdog. With about three miles to go, Riddle caught and passed the third-place runner, and her crew told her that she had a shot at catching the leader. She remembers, “I poured it on from there. I just didn’t slow down as much as everyone else.”
In the end, Riddle finished in second place and a mere 41 seconds behind the winner, Syou. She closed a 10-minute gap over the last 15 miles and concedes that were the race a few miles longer she could have been a world champion. There is no regret in her voice when she says that it it fueled her fire for the rest of her Ultrarunner of the Year season.
After a week or so of recovery back in the U.S., Riddle set herself on the path toward her next objective, successful runs at the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile and JFK 50 Mile, both in November. Held just two weeks apart, these two iconic U.S. East Coast races were the late-season go-to races on the North American ultrarunning calendar. Riddle rose to the occasion.
First, at Mountain Masochist on November fifth, she played it cool for the first half of the race before taking the lead after the climb up Long Mountain. Then, in one of the fastest-ever second halves, Riddle went on to set a then course record in an extraordinary time of 7:49. A mere two weeks later at JFK in Maryland, Riddle took the lead from the gun and never looked back, setting another then course record in 6:29. To this day, Riddle’s time stands as the sixth fastest in race history, and one can’t help but wonder how fast she could have run were she rested.
Looking back on it now, Riddle notes that during 2005 in particular she wanted to establish herself as a complete runner, “I felt like I should do a little bit of everything, roads, trails, track. I wanted to test myself in all areas as a runner. I even set my 5k PR that year.” And, to this day, Anne Riddle’s 2005 season stands as one of the most well-rounded UROY seasons of all time.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Anne Riddle’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. A hotbed of U.S. East Coast brewing excellence, Asheville has no shortage of great beer options. This week’s beer comes from Green Man Brewery in Asheville in the form of their award-winning Wheatseeker Hefeweizen. Smooth and creamy, Wheatseeker is one of the best Hefeweizens I’ve had and an excellent example of balance and spice.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What do you remember about Anne Riddle’s 2005 in ultrarunning?
- Were you also at any of the races she won and set records at that year?