23:23 – Is It Possible?

AJWs TaproomAlong with Jim O’Brien’s 17:35 at Angeles Crest and Matt Carpenter’s 15:42 at Leadville, I believe Kyle Skaggs’s 23:23 at the Hardrock 100 is among the top-three 100-mile course records in America. Quite simply, he nailed it on that cool July day back in 2008. In addition to Kyle being in whipcord shape that day, the planets also lined up perfectly for him with relatively benign weather, just the right amount of snow on the glissade sections, and a crew that was completely dialed in to his needs. To add to that, he was running the direction in which runners go up the ‘walls’ and down the ‘ramps’ which allows pure speed to come into play on the several long, sustained, downhill road sections.

Alas, this is once again the direction runners are heading today. A quick glance back at Hal Koerner’s run the last time they ran this direction in 2012 suggests that there is time to be gained and with this year’s field of speedsters I have to believe the course record, as iconic as it is, could be in jeopardy. Here’s why:

With a fast group of runners up front I think they will push each other hard from the start. While Kilian Jornet has to be the prohibitive favorite who has made it a habit to run with others until the last few miles, I think the push that some of the other guys will provide could be incentive enough to go for the record. Additionally, I have to imagine that the increased media coverage of this year’s race combined with the general intrigue surrounding this year’s Hardrock must be a motivation to many. Lastly, while it may sound trite, with the exception of the Western States course-record progression we have seen over the past 10 years, few other course records have been broken in major 100 milers. This seems somewhat at odds with the exponential growth we have seen in the sport. As such, I think it is time for a serious attempt to be made at Kyle’s iconic record.

From my perspective it will take steady pacing and a workman-like effort all day. Most specifically, I think it will require intense focus and drive from Pole Creek to the finish where I believe the race will be decided. And, I look forward to moderating iRunFar’s CoverItLive feed during this pivotal time overnight. Who knows, maybe if someone takes down Kyle’s record today, it will be incentive for people to go after Jim’s and Matt’s records, as well. Could make for a fun summer!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

I am in Vermont this week at a Heads of School workshop and I was able to get my hands on the ever elusive Heady Topper from The Alchemist here in Waterbury, Vermont. This incredible double IPA amazingly features an incredible hop blast that is not tacky or resiny. And, at 8% ABV it makes a nice post-run beer.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What do you think? Is sub-23:23 possible this weekend?
  • And if someone does it, who will it be and how will the race go down?

There are 10 comments

  1. @Baristing

    "Possible" opens up a big window. So, possible? Of course. There are a handful of runners in this field for whom it's possible. And enough of them together that the pace should be aggressive, with little room for coasting, by the eventual winner. Given that, I actually think it's possible for more than one person go under the CR. Not likely, necessarily, but possible. Again, possible is a big window. Big enough for a couple scrawny runners to fit through, maybe. But we'll see. Then, as always, claim to have known it all along.

  2. grroes

    i'm certainly glued to my computer today to see how this one plays out. I would say there's a 50/50 chance that the winner breaks the record. when you get 3 or 4 runners assembled in one field who could potentially run really really fast you typically end up with at least one that does/has to for the win.

    AJW, I'm assuming when you said that with the exception of the WS progression over the past 10 years few other 100 miler course records have been broken, you weren't meaning over the past 10 years??? pretty much every 100 mile course record in the nation is newer than a decade (AC not withstanding). I assume you were meaning in the past few years as opposed to the past 10? It is certainly interesting how so many of the older hundreds (most notably WS, HR, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch) were seemingly "cracked open" between 2004-2010, but since only WS seems to have been the opening of a floodgate. Suddenly now, the course records in each of those others goes back at least 5 years. WS was the last of these to fall, but the only one that has since been bettered…. at least until tomorrow morning…

  3. ajoneswilkins

    GRoes Yes, I meant the last few years. Essentially, my main point is that the LT, AC and HR records are the stoutest (in my opinion) out there right now. That is not to take anything away from the WS record you set in 2010 and then TO took in 2012 I just think that is likely to be a continual progression while Jim, Matt and Kyle seem to have set standards that are significantly above the norm.

  4. Luke_B

    With hindsight … I guess the question we should now be debating is how many hours could kilian take off if he actually tried and had good weather.

  5. Old Coyote

    I wouldn't say Kilian didn't try. Stealing a line from an acquaintance: "Ultra is supposed to be fun. Kilian just showed us all about that." I'd rephrase that to ask how fast he'd go if he had a competitor that could push him. I think sub – 22 hrs.

  6. cjhitz

    Great beer! Had some Heady Topper after Mt. Washington a few weeks ago and it tasted fantastic after a grunt like that. AJW, it seems your prediction was pretty accurate with the exception that the race began slowly

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