Second Annual AJW’s Taproom Year in Ultrarunning Selections

AJWs TaproomWhen Bryon and I first dreamt up this column back in October of 2011 we thought it would be fun to provide a forum for ultramarathon running that was the equivalent of those three-hour pre-game shows we see on TV during football season. We also thought it might be a good place for folks out there who really like to geek out on ultrarunning and love to over analyze even the most miniscule details about running, others, and life. Kind of a Bob Costas, George Sheehan, Mike Wallace forum all rolled into one trail running bundle.

Thus, AJW’s Taproom was born!

I also would like to think that the columns here in the Taproom contain a reasonable amount of somewhat intelligent discourse to entertain even the casual reader and I hope that the topics we cover here are at least as stimulating as a trip to the local pub.

So, with this as context, I would like to introduce the 2nd Annual AJW’s Taproom Year in Ultrarunning Rankings. (These are not scientific in any way and the criteria was made up entirely by me – they represent a selection of North American racers competing in events in the US and abroad. It, in no way, represents an exhaustive study nor does it pretend to be fully representative of all that occurred in 2012, so, take it or leave it. In addition, the selections in each category are not in any specific order):

Female Ultrarunner of the Year

  • Darcy Africa
  • Rory Bosio
  • Ellie Greenwood
  • Amy Sproston

 Male Ultrarunner of the Year

  • Mike Morton
  • Timothy Olson
  • Max King
  • Dakota Jones

Female Race of the Year

Male Race of the Year

 Female Surprise of the Year

  • Amy Sproston
  • Darcy Africa

Male Surprise of the Year

  • Dakota Jones
  • Sage Canaday

Female Rookie of the Year

  • Emily Harrison

Male Rookie of the Year

  • Sage Canaday

Until next week, bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week
Green Flash Palate WreckerThis week’s beer of the week comes from Green Flash in San Diego. Their Palate Wrecker Hamilton’s Ale is a forceful beer that combines resiney hoppy bitterness with full-on ABV. Like the runners on the list above, this one should not taken lightly.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
So which runners and which performances would you select in any or all of the above categories? And, if we broaden our horizons beyond North American road and trail ultrarunners and their races, which international ultrarunners and performances would you add to this list?

There are 26 comments

  1. Jono

    For me:

    Female Ultra: Not listed, Emilie Forsberg

    Male Ultra: Mike Morton

    Female Race: Ellie Greenwood WS100

    Male Race: Tim Olsen WS100 (close second, not listed, Dakota Jones at Transvulcania)

    Female Surprise: Darcy Africa

    Male Surprise: Dakota Jones

    Rookies: As noted above

    From Australia, the best performance I saw would've been Ryan Sandes in Northface 100. Super run… Won by 30 minutes (still 3 mins off Killian's race record) against the best Aus local runners, but also notable international such as Jez Bragg, Vajin Armstrong, and Grant Guise.

  2. Tom W

    Female Ultra: Ellie Greenwood

    Male Ultra: Mike Morton (Don't think we have seen his best yet either)

    Female Race: Ellie (Western)

    Male Race: Brett Maune (Barkley record of 52:03:08)

    Female Surprise: Darcy Africa

    Male Surprise: Tim Olsen (Bandera 100K, the first sign that Tim was making the jump to the next level)

    Rookies: Emily and Sage

    1. KenZ

      Agree with all except I'd throw Sage in as the male surprise, simply because not only did he jump right in with a 1st and 2nd in his first two ultras of those lengths ever, but because it also gave some decent evidence that fast times in ultra running, yes, can be highly influenced by… running talent (a topic which seems to get a lot of dissenting opinion here).

          1. Tom W

            I think it is so difficult to appreciate the mental and physical toughness that is required to finish Barkley that Brett's time is difficult to fathom. Almost as impressive as his 3 day, 9:58 JMT unsupported. Would love to see him get into Hardrock.

            1. Jason

              A lot of people would say it's not "running". Maybe not in the same category as things other than Hardrock, but I wonder how many of those could finish Barkley? I know I couldn't! I dream of a "Fun Run" finish someday if I ever get the chance. Until then, I remain awe of this race and have nothing but admiration for those who survive it!

  3. olga

    Why is Darcy a surprise? She has been a mountain runner for a very long time, and always an awesome one.

    Amy's World

    s was a surprise because she just had a blood cloth, and she got upfront in the last 5 k of a 100 k, and we viewed her as a trail runner prior that for the most part. Besides, a win in World's is always a surprise:)







    Nada (both expected to deliver from where I stood) but may be Karl because he was almost written off with all the freshies at RRR100?



  4. myles

    Interesting you didn't include any shorter races as race of th eyear. Max King's JFK 50 run was a crazy fast CR as was Sage Canaday's CR at White River.

  5. Mic Medeska

    About time Max King was put into a Year in Review list. There's been numerous Ultrarunning and Trail Running "Best of's" that's he's been left off of and I still say there is no other runner in North America that could have had the 8 days he had. (USA 50k Championships, catch a flight, then win the very next day at the Xterra Trail Championships, then the very next weekend win at UROC)

    Completely agree with Male Surprise and Rookie w/ Sage Cannady. I was at Mt Washington and when I heard he won, I along with everyone else said, "who?" Then to have the year he had in Ultra/Trail was incredible.

  6. Bohica

    Female: Ellie

    Male: Mike, but i would take Dakota head to head to head to head

    Female suprise: Tina Lewis (miwok and pb)

    Male suprise: Sage

    Female race: Ellie at WS 100

    Male race: Dakota at Transvulcania

    Rooks: Emily. Sage is ridiculous. I'd love to see him stay on course at a big race.

  7. Paul

    On a beer note, the featured beer, Palate wrecker, will be re-released soon here in San Diego. Good Stuff, and Green Flash is an overall awesome brewery…now back to running.

  8. Brandon

    Male: Mike

    Female: Liz Bauer (36 hundos in one year, crushing the previous record and winning a few of them at that!)

    Female surprise: ?

    Male surprise: Sage

    Female Race: Ellie WS 100

    Male Race: Morton 24-hour record

    Rooks: Sage and Emily

  9. Angel

    It's not even a close competition for the women in my opinion-Ellie Greenwood should be THE ultimate ultrarunner of the year for men and women! She's broken longstanding respectable records at many major races including WS (listed), JFK, and Chuckanut. She's also written articles for and has shed light on the special circumstances facing women ultrarunners, and I really appreciate her perspective.

    Other cool women to include would be Anna Frost, Emilie Forsberg, Lizzy Hawker.

  10. Anonymous

    Man of the year:Max King

    The present:Dakota Jones

    The Future:Sage

    Woman of the year:Ellie

    the present:Anna frost

    The future:E. forsberg

  11. Jared F

    For the most part good list, but I think Dakota's Transvulcania performance should be listed in race of the year.

    Also if there would be a comeback runner of the year category you would have to go with Anton. No major wins, but some great performances after a long injury abscence.

  12. Jeff Bryan

    Check out what Joe Fejes of Georgia did in the 48 hours in 2012. 235.16 miles which I believe cracks the all time top 10 list. Can't remember which event off the top of my head. He also did 329 miles in the 72 hour at Across the Years which should give him a mention for 2013.

  13. Jon Olsen

    Darcy should be a surprise because Ellie has beaten the best women in the sport. Her finish at Comrades was impressive against some of the fastest women at that distance in the World. Then she turns around and runs a course record at WS. Her versatility and the level of her competition should put her ahead of Darcy and her really good year. Also, why is Dakota's Transulvacania against the deepest field of any race this year, not get male result of the year? He may have been the only guy to defeat Kilian this year.

  14. Joe Fejes

    Thanks JB–my 156 24 hours at Desert Solstice should probably deserve a mention in the bald runners, age 45-49 category but other than that my 2012 performances were really nothing special other than gaining significant self satisfaction in each event. Hopefully I can pick it up a notch in 2013. Jon Olsen had a heck of a year especially with his Desert Solstice 100 perormance. Jon & Mike are truly special runners since they can run road, track or trails at a high caliber. In the future I really hope to see the trail guys do road and track and vice versa.

  15. Chris

    Jones cleaned up on early season races and has been the first US ultrarunner in a long time to win a big race against the Europeans on their own turf. Then lots of high rankings in later big races.

  16. markdorion

    Jon Olsen is a fantastic runner and a great statistician/ historian of ultras, BUT he forgets one thing: No matter how well a USA runner does against top INTERNATIONAL competition at Comrades, Transvluc., Two Oceans, IAU Champs, etc., many Americans (including some top runners) do not look west of the Pacific coast of the USA nor east of the Rocky Mountains.

    I have had some runners who have been US "ultrarunners of the year" tell me that for a Comrades/ etc. performance to be the equivalent of winning Western States or Hardrock, a runner should be winning Comrades etc., AND in course record time. Whether we want to admit it or not, the USA is somewhat isolated geographically, and it is a BIG world out there.

    By the bye, how many US runners can name the US ultra that had the greatest number of foreign countries in its starting field in 2012? (hint– it was not Western States)

    Also let me say here that many experts have told me I am generally WRONG about anything to do with ultras, and lack the experience to comment on them.

    Best wishes to all ultrarunners,

    Mark "Always Wrong" Dorion

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