Early Thoughts On North American Ultra Performance Of The Year

Early thoughts on the 2013 North American Ultra Performance of the Year.

By on October 25, 2013 | Comments

AJWs TaproomOkay folks, we’ve had lots of hand wringing here over the last few weeks and I’d like to put things to rest (at least until the year actually ends and the votes really count). :-) Here are my top-three votes for Ultra Performance of the Year for each gender. On the wise suggestion from the great Dave Mackey, we’ll go with ladies first!

[Author’s note: The same rule applies for these thoughts as I applied to the UROY discussion. These are North American runners’ performances at any ultramarathon race/event in the world. For the sole purpose of creating as broad a playing field as possible, I am including race performances, trail/road/track as well as attempts at Fastest Known Times (FKTs), multi-day efforts, and series races (e.g., Grand Slam), as a single ‘performance’. And, in contrast to my earlier columns in which I was predicting how the UltraRunning Magazine voting would play out, these are my votes. So, if you disagree, let me have it (not like I had to invite you to do that :)].

Women’s Ultra Performance of the Year

1. Rory Bosio’s win and course record at UTMB
Rory’s extraordinary seventh place overall, which eclipsed the course record by over two hours, could, by the time she finishes her ultra career, be the one race she tells her grandkids about. Truly, this was a run for the ages.

2. Sabrina Little’s 24-Hour American Record at the 2013 IAU 24-Hour World Championships
Sabrina’s single-minded focus and laser-like execution make this a solid #2 and will likely garner ample votes as #1. Anything over 150 miles is otherworldly and Sabrina’s 152 will likely stand the test of time. And, she did it with grace, dignity, and humility, values we love.

3. Pam Smith’s win at Western States
My WS bias notwithstanding, Pam’s run this past June at the Big Dance was extraordinary, particularly after struggling mightily in 2012. A true testament to fortitude, patience, and smarts, Pam’s race was a perfect fit for the event that is also all about fortitude, patience, and smarts. And, her race report published herein was, in my opinion, hands-down winner of RROY (Race Report of the Year).

Men’s Performance of the Year

1. Jon Olsen’s 100-Mile North American Record at the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Annual Ultra Classic 24 Hour
I’ve known Jon for years, from back in the days when he was resurrected off the cot at Highway 49 to finish Western States in 18th place to my years training with him in the Canyons, I can assure you this guy is tough. Running a 100-mile track event fast is extraordinary. Running 100 miles in under 12 hours is out of this world. Possibly the best American track ultra since Ann Trason.

2. Rob Krar’s Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT
Many have gone after this iconic record on a piece of trail that is carved out of the heart of America. Rob absolutely killed this thing. And, the video recording of him looking at his watch on the North Rim is priceless. True evidence of a guy who just knew he had something special going on and kept rolling with it. That rolling-with-it attitude is something you can’t help but love.

3. Timothy Olson’s Western States 100 Win
Yes, once again, I know I am biased and I know this wasn’t even a course record (Tim set that last year in 72-degree temperatures), but Timothy ran 15:17 on the second-hottest day in the history of the race against extraordinary competition, intense pressure, and the eyes of the ultra world on him. And, he did it with class. With all due respect to the world-class field assembled around him on that day, Timothy delivered.

So there you have it. My podium’s for the top-three UPOYs for North American men and women in 2013. There is still, of course, time left for people to pop off some great results at late-season races and these votes could be significantly altered as a result. (I remember doing just that a few years ago after the epic duel at The North Face 50 between Uli Steidl and Matt Carpenter.) But, for now, these are my thoughts. Next week I’ll be back to more philosophical drivel.

Bottoms up!

 AJW’s Beer of the Week

Troegs Perpetual IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from a Taproom favorite, Tröegs Brewing Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Their Perpetual IPA is a grippy, spicy beer with a hint of honey and a closing kick that reminds me of autumn. Not sure why, it just does.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Let’s talk about the ladies first! What do you think of AJW’s top-three women UPOYs? And, what other top performances from 2013 would you add to this list for consideration?
  • And, onto the men, how about the three performances listed above? Do you agree or disagree with those choices and why? Also, whose performances would you add to this list?
  • Now, let’s extend our scope of consideration to beyond North American runners and their performances. If we look at top men’s and women’s ultrarunning performances, no matter where the runner is from, what of those do you think would equate to or better the top performances listed here?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.