Some Early Thoughts on Male Ultrarunner of the Year

AJWs TaproomWhile there are still a few months left in the year, it’s a reasonable time to begin thinking about Ultrarunner of the Year.* And, I have to say that this year seems to be one of the toughest to pick in the last decade. Of course, it’s always difficult parsing out the various results and comparing courses, distances, and head-to-head matches but this year, for me, it really is a toss-up between four guys (and yes, I am stealing a page out of Karl Meltzer’s book and throwing down some odds).

Sage Canaday

Sage Canaday - 2013 Cayuga Trails 50 mileThis guy has had a wonderfully consistent season on a variety of different courses. His racing has been varied and his performances have proven both his versatility and persistence.

The Big “But”: Sage has not yet made the jump to the 100-mile distance and that could sway some few voters.

Odds of winning: 8-1

Ian Sharman

Ian Sharman - 2013 Leadville 100What to say about Ian? The guy blasted through the Grand Slam in an 11-week competition with Nick Clark and ran with focus and grace. His win at Leadville and second place at Wasatch propelled him to new heights and it’s hard to argue with the grit and determination it takes to gut out a Grand Slam like Ian did.

The Big “But”: In head-to-head races with the other UROY contenders, Ian lags a bit behind.

Odds of winning: 6-1

Timothy Olson

Timothy Olson - 2013 TNF UTMB

Tim won Western States with a scorching time on a truly scorching day. Were it not for his course record run in benign conditions last year, his 2013 WS alone might have, in the past, propelled him to being a shoo-in for UROY. But alas, it is likely to be much tighter this year even with his “second season” of racing in which he traveled around, beating a variety of different fields on a wide range of courses.

The Big “But”: Even with his incredible run at WS, Tim’s resume lacks that big “wow” race that often sways voters.

Odds of winning: 4-1

Rob Krar

Rob KrarRob started the year innocently enough, winning at Moab Red Hot and quietly beating Dakota Jones there. Then, he traveled to Leona Divide, an old and established race on the SoCal circuit, and blistered the course record. Two weeks later, he made history in the Grand Canyon by throwing down a new Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim FKT there by over 20 minutes. He decided to jump into Western States having earned a spot in Leona and ran the fastest second place ever and the fastest debut Western States 100 ever. Then, after taking it easy in the second half of the summer and winning TransRockies, he won the UROC 100k over a talented international field. Amazing!

The Big “But”: Rob did not win Western States. While that may seem nitpicky given the resume listed above, it will matter to some voters as head-to-head comparisons are important.

Odds of winning: 3-1

Wrap Up

Indeed, there are still a few months left and I know some of these guys may still have some racing left in their legs. But, in my opinion, it’s not too early to begin speculating, so, let’s have at it! Who’s gonna take it?

Bottoms up!

PS. I will have a similar look at the Female Ultrarunner of the Year contenders in my October 18th column.

* Editor’s Note: AJW is discussing ultrarunner of the year candidates who reside in North America. Obviously, other runners would warrant consideration if the geographic scope of consideration where larger.

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Flagstaff Brewing CompanyThe week’s Beer of the Week comes from Rob Krar’s home in Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff Brewing Company’s Three Pin Pale Ale is a unique spin on that classic style. It’s got a hoppy start and a malty finish that I like. It’s certainly not a “big” beer, but it’s one of those that seems like it’s gone before you even get started. In other words, it’s fast, like all these guys above.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • Which of the guys above do you think has the current edge for the North American ultrarunner of the year title? Who’ll get it in the end?
  • If you were to add a fifth (and sixth?) runner for serious consideration, who would it be and why?
  • If we expand the scope of consideration to the rest of the world, Kilian Jornet is obviously a strong contender. However, who else outside of North America would be in the running for global men’s ultrarunner of the year?

There are 266 comments

  1. Anonymous

    What about Jon Olson? Gold at the World 24 Hour Champs, and recently setting the North American 100 mile record? Think it's worth a few votes…

    1. Alex

      You'd hope. But if we're giving odds on what is likely to happen – rather than what should – then we have to acknowledge that he's got very little chance. Non-mountain ultras don't get the same attention.

      1. AJW

        Yes, performance of the year for both male and female is an additional award in the UR Magazine poll. I'll pen some thoughts about those in the coming months.

            1. Carey

              For men, between Dakota and Jon Olson and Rob Krar I'll vote for Dakota's SJS record because I value outdoor mountainous terrain so much. SJS beats Krar's R2R2R because the record at SJS was so much stouter.

              For women, Rory at UTMB and nothing else even close.

  2. Just Adam

    What do you mean fastest 2nd place ever at WS (Krar)? Didn't Sandes run around 15:05 just last year? Did you mean closest 2nd place time? (Or am I missing something? )

    1. Just Adam

      And for that matter, had Ryan Sandes ever run WS prior to last year? Still at least fastest first 100 at WS… And clearly Krar has had a fantastic year thus far!

    1. Greg


      I'm not trying to be antagonistic but am curious your reasoning for putting Tim at first. He only won two races this year (granted, one was WS) while both Rob and Sage had more wins. And head-to-head, Sage beat Tim every time (three times by my count) they raced.

      1. André Cruz

        He won WS, was 4th at UTMB, ran RRR 100 just a few weeks after UTMB.

        Beyond that, he was consistency in New Zeland and Spain.


  3. David T

    I have to go with Krar. He has a long list of wins and a huge second place. He also has the course records and a huge FKT. Tim has a major win and then a long list of races where he placed well but didn't win. Sage could also win (his resume is stacked) but I have to agree that voters will probably go with someone with at least one solid 100 mile performance.

  4. OldGoat

    Wow, here we go again. How can you equate all the diverse ultrarunning disciplines and athletes and say one is superior? And if we must, who is this panel of geniuses who makes the call? Isn't AJW a judge? IMO, this is a gimmick for Ultrarunning Mag to sell more subscriptions, one of the reasons I've cancelled mine. If we must, why not let a public vote select the champion? Maybe we are not "genius" enough. OldGoat

    1. AJW

      Old Goat: Full disclosure. I am one of the voters in the UR Magazine survey and have been for about 10 years. It is a very diverse group (although we don't all know who else is on the committee) and each year we receive very clear and thorough instructions from the magazine publishers. I can also assure you that we all take the voting seriously.

      That said, Bryon and I have, from time to time, discussed something more akin to what you are talking about (kind of a People's Choice Awards type thing) and we just haven't had the time/energy/wherewithall to pull it all together. No, for now, the UR Mag rankings are the recognized leader in this category in large part because they have been conducting the polling since the early '80s


      1. Ari

        Just curious AJW, how would you know that you all take the voting seriously when you admitted that you don't even know who is on the committee? I presume you meant that YOU take the voting seriously and not that WE take the voting seriously.

        1. AJW

          Ari, good point. I can only speak for myself and the few other members of the committee that I do know. We all take it seriously. The rest is just a hunch I have.

          1. Ari

            Thanks for the clarification. You are quite thoughtful and I would imagine the others are the same and do the research. And for the record I agree with your analysis (you just don't know if I'm a voting member or not! haha). Just go easy on the bottoms up stuff when you make your final vote.

  5. Mike D

    I'd have to go with Krar. He has burst onto the scene and putting in amazing performances. And if you go with the head to head, Krar did beat Sage at UROC.

  6. gontxal

    Tim Olson,solid and regular in very important international races plus WS.

    2nd,Sage Canaday,whith the same reasons

    3th,Rob Krar,awesome irruption in top level ultras,and brighter future.

    4th Dakota Jones,although He has compited in very few races,his world elite class is intact

  7. astroyam

    If you average out the ultra distances 50k to 100 miles, Krar and Canaday are the best ultra trail runners on the less technical courses, and Jones is the best on the more technical courses.

    It's only if you are WS-centric that Tim Olson is the best ;-) and at that Tim is the best. However I don't believe WS to be the end-all-be-all of trail running anymore.

    Sharman and Clark have blown the top off the grand slam, and win for mental fortitude in the long run, but in head to heads with the other top guys don't usually win.

    If pure fitness and ability in the mountains was the yard stick, I'd have to go with Krupicka, but his race results didn't materialize this year.

    The 100 mile track record is noteworthy, but there isn't the same level of competition in this area, simply because most people aren't interested.

    So I'm going to go with:

    1. Krar

    2. Jones

    3. Canaday

    4. Olsen

    1. Ian Sharman

      I've only raced Sage once (UROC 2012), Rob once (WS 2013), Timmy several times (once in 2013), so my head-to-head against these guys in 2013 boils down WS. Just wanted to point that out.

      1. astroyam

        Dang, caught red-handed. Should have known better than to blather about stuff I know so little about! Thanks, Ian! I know you have crazy flats speed too…

        1. astroyam

          Also, in full disclosure, I am Canadian so I'm biased in favor of Krar ;-), and Dakota's articles crack me up. So.. not actually claiming real objectivity!

  8. Jimmy Mac

    These dudes are all on a whole 'nother level- it's basically a draw; all four have amazing accomplishments this past calender year.

    It depends on how you weight it- Sage hasn't stepped up to the 100-miler yet, but on any 50-miler or 50k he's the guy to beat. Krar's definitely Rookie of the Year (yeah, I know he's been racing longer than '13, but bear with me here).

    Tim's WS and UTMB performances are super clutchy, a win paired with a "top American" finish, that run in the Alps was gutsy.

    But I think for the 100-mile distance, in the mountains, in a 3 month summer racing window- my vote goes to Ian Sharman. That's just gnarly.

  9. Tim

    Its a slight tangent, but if you are looking at it from the most exciting/ groundbreaking perspective then one of these two results should walk away with it:

    Hal & Wolfe for the JMT FKT

    Jez Bragg for Te Araroa

    I think there is too much focus on just race results, when this sport originated in pushing the boundaries in the first place.

    1. Ben Clark

      I like this sort of "out of the box" thinking Tim. We all spend a lot more time training than racing and although races are such a great celebration of community, the focus is purposed rightfully on the fastest at these events. I'm only speaking for myself, but I think what the folks above, Scott Jaime, even TK on Nolan's 14 did this year are worthy and inspiring results from testpeices demanding challenging logistics on top of flawless execution in performance-in between showing up and still racing.

  10. Ryan

    I honestly think it will come down to Krar and Sage.

    Although, Luis Alberto Hernandez has had an amazing year for his first year running ultras. Even though he's had to run at the heels of Kilian, his performances are consistent and impressive.

  11. Dean G

    Sharman – top 4 in all four of Grandslams TM ;) , winning one, second in another, and takes the record under 70 hours…. Krar wins as brightest new star – and maybe 'Guy we suspect is going to be a superstar' – but I'D vote Ian for UROY.

  12. CJ

    Krar has the edge in my opinion. I think it will come down to TNF50 in December to decide since several of these guys will race head to head one last time in 2013

    1. CJ

      For performance of the year, Dakota's San Juan Solstice would get my vote, although I may be forgetting other notable performances. Anytime you break a Matt Carpenter record, that speaks for itself

        1. Brett

          I by no means intend to belittle Dakota's effort. Having been on that course, running sub 8 hours is embarrassingly ridiculous.

          But MattC messed up his fueling twice during that race. At mile 21, he beat the setup of the aid station and so all he could do was grab his own camelback from the drop bag and head out. And he had neglected to realize that when he pre-mixed his broken up energy bars in with water into his camelbak, that it would ferment and foam (and taste) like spoiled milk.

          At mile 31 he couldn't get his bladder back in after he took it out to fill it (he had brought a 100oz instead of the standard 70oz), so he had to just take off carrying the bladder in his hand. I bet if he were 30 years old he would go back and make another run at the course again.

  13. Guy C.

    Wow, this is quite surprising and clearly I don't understand how UROY works. It seems to me the odds for Sage to win should be much higher.

    win and course record at Bandera 100k

    Win and beats Tim Olson at Tarawera.

    Win, course record, beats Tim at Sonoma (stacked field)

    Top US finisher at Transvulcania (ahead of Olson)

    course record and win at Speedgoat (stacked field) Also, beats Tim again, though Tim was recovering from Western….

    some other random less important stuff I'm forgetting….

    Ok, yeah, "bad" day at UROC, still finishes second in Skyrunning points, correct?

    And yes, no beard, ok. (but he does run shirtless)

    I would argue this record warrants a better description than "a wonderfully consistent season on a variety of different courses." Seems like he kicked ass wherever he went with a couple of hiccups at UROC and Sierra Zinal. And he certainly didn't hide from the competition; he ran the big races with the exception of Western and UTMB.

    I'm curious to see why this resume doesn't put him higher in the standings…. I understand that a performance at a 100 miler trumps a performance at a 50 miler, and I suppose if Tim had won UTMB as well I would understand putting him ahead of Sage.

    Any thoughts/explanation would be appreciated. Is there some sort of "rubric" used for the decision? 2 50's = 100? Etc? Thanks!

    I do think we can all agree that in previous years any one of these guys could have won the UROY and the depth of this years field points (again) to the increased competition in ultras.

    1. Alex

      Agree, except for the part about a 100 trumping a 50. Longer races aren't "better" by default. A win is a win, regardless of distance. Shorter races (still ultras, lets remember) just mean you have to run faster.

      But yeah, I really think Sage should be the favorite here.

      1. Guy C.

        Hypothetical: Sage wins TNF in December.

        It's done, right? Sage would be a lock for UROY. No voting necessary: AJW and the other "shrouded ten" could go for a long run and enjoy the afternoon…. And yet, I get the feeling by what I read here that even if Sage were to win TNF, it would still not be enough to win UROY.

        Is it those "roadie" sunglasses….?

        1. AJW

          Guy C, that's an interesting scenario and one that could happen. That said, history suggests that 100-mile performances have greater significance in some voter's eyes. I am not saying they should but quickly perusing past winners that seems to be the case.

          And, one more thing, there are significantly more than 10 voters.

          1. Guy C.

            AJW: Thanks

            Anyone know: Is Mackey the only guy to win UROY without a 100 mile win on his resume for the year?

            Has anyone ever won with no 100 miles finishes?

    2. Mike

      Agree. I think the Krar produced individually more notable performances (Grand Canyon is iconic and UROC was absurd), but I think it was on a smaller sample size than the number of difference races Sage did. Sage's performances at Sonoma, Speedgoat (what's he doing setting a CR on a crazy vertical ultra?!?), Bandera, Transvulcania, 3rd at Mt. Washington, FKT on Maroon Bells, etc. Lots of stout racing on varied terrain against stacked fields – UROY.

  14. Rob

    Your odds work out to about 11%, 14%, 20% and 33% respectively. That adds up to about 78%; are you predicting about 22% chance for some unnamed person to take it?

  15. Aaron Spurlock

    Blah, blah, blah. Is Ultrarunning magazine really even relevant anymore? They offer nothing that I can't get online, for free, without having to wait two months. UROY is really all they have left and it is void of any real meaning. Why are we supposed to be in awe of some arbitrary award selected by a secret panel, judging on secret criteria (other than AJWs self-admitted obsession with Western States)?

      1. Aaron Spurlock

        Fair enough, but that doesn't make it any more relevant. The "votes" aren't based on any measurable criteria. It just seems to be a "good ol' boys" club that needs some sort of mechanism to appear important and UROY is that mechanism. I will celebrate the amazing athletes who accomplish these feats, not the opinion of some secret, self-important clandestine group. Just my 2¢.

  16. Chris

    I think this has to be between Krar and Canaday. Both have shown incredible versatility over the year. And, this is for "ultra runner of the year". Not "50k runner" or "50 mile runner" or "100 mile runner". I really think it's an all encompassing title. Both Sage and Rob have wins at 50k, 50 mile, 100k. Both have impressive FKT's this year as well.

    But, when it comes down to it I give the edge to Krar. Not only has he raced the entire gamut from 50k to the 100 miles (placing a very respectable 2nd at WS on one of the hottest days in recent memory) but in their only meeting this year (UROC) Krar took the win. Krar has also won a stage race in 2013 (Transrockies). While Sage has run amazingly this year he has shown some "weakness" (if you can call it that) at Sierra-Zinal and somewhat at UROC. Whereas, Krar has essentially dominated everywhere. Both are incredible athletes but I'm going with Krar.

    If this was 100 mile runner of the year I'd give it to Sharman. Top 4 in four of the biggest 100's in the US within a few weeks… including a win at Leadville. With Timmy and Nick a close 2nd and 3rd.

  17. Carey

    I was going to say that the UROY was worthless and irrelevant, and I will still say that, but…

    Because we do have UROY, we are having this fascinating discussion right here. Many of the explanations folks are giving for their votes are very persuasive. These comments make us think explicitly about the kind of excellence that we respect in this sport.

    So, I've changed my mind. Not about UROY, but about getting rid of UROY. The award itself and the final vote — I don't care about that at all. But I do like the discussion beforehand!

    So, for this worthless award, my vote would be:

    1) Sage (consistently brilliant performance against the best competition)

    2) Krar (same thing; and very very close w/Sage, you need a microscope to see a difference)

    3) Sharman (mind-blowing 100M running this year)

    1. AJW

      Carey, it may be a worthless award to you but others put quite a bit of value on it. Several runners I can think of have turned their UROY success into jobs as full-time runners. I think that's certainly worth something!

      1. Carey

        Agree with you, AJW. It's a worthless award *to me* — but if I were a runner in contention for the award it would not be worthless at all!

      2. Aaron Spurlock

        I have to argue that these runners have turned their success and hard work into careers, regardless of UROY title. To say that these people would not be where they are without "UROY" is insulting to their efforts. Is Kilian missing out on anything because he has never been selected for this "honor"? I don't think so.

        1. AJW

          Aaron, I don't mean to insult them at all. But, a quick review of marketing materials from major outdoor/running companies over the past five years suggests that being named Ultrarunner of the Year is viewed as prestigious. In most "congratulatory" advertisements as well as Trade Show publications, etc…Ultrarunner of the Year is noted. As in, "Congratulations to old, fat, injured and slow AJW on being named UR Magazine's Ultrarunner of the Year". Apologies if people's efforts are insulted by my comment.

  18. Gary

    If the voting for the geographic scope of this award is only North America, then wouldn't it also stand to reason that ONLY performances on North American soil should be considered? If that's the case, then Transvulcania, Tarawera and UTMB all have to be removed from consideration… amongst others…

  19. Carey

    To respond to Bryon's question, if the award were expanded outside of North America I would give it to Kilian. As I would have (easily) for the past 5-7 years. He's a strong contender for being the most dominating athlete in any sport, period, if that weren't a concept bordering on the ridiculous.

    Second place would only be slightly less difficult: Luis Alberto Hernando. Super strong, super consistent. Kilian is the only guy he can't beat.

    Third, Marco DeGasperi. He can (or could) occasionally beat Kilian in shorter races and came close this year at the Dolomites Skyrace. Injuries drop him to third behind LAH.

    1. Daniel Westrate

      I think I'd go Ricky Lightfoot third. IAU World Trail Running Champion and an amazing performance at the The Otter Trail recently where he beat Ryans Sandes's CR by like 30 minutes. I agree with your top two though. And of course this is all if it were not North Americans…

  20. t dog

    Like everyone else, I will be tuning into the TNF EC 50 before deciding who is my UROY, however, right now, I certainly feel I can rule out Tim Olson. But man, having to choose between Krar, Canaday, and Sharman… gosh…

    Also: didn't Sage express some interest in running R2R2R in October in an iRF interview? If he were able to take down Krar's record (by no means guaranteed), that would make things very interesting!

  21. Barry

    Tim Olson @ UTMB was incredible but if you consider that Krarr's 1st 100 miler was WS and he finished second pretty close to Tim and his win last weekend he would get my vote.

  22. Randy

    Should have made it top 6 contenders for UROY,AJW.Getting a beer from each(political perc),would have made it a nice six-pack.Judging the krarteria,have to say Krar.

  23. rero

    krar beat the fkt by 30 minutes in the big ditch.Won everything he entered setting course records cept ws 2nd by 5 minutes. Maybe the r2r2r is not a big deal to everybody else but if you have ever done it that 30 minutes is incredible.

  24. Trey

    What Nick has done in 2013 is F'n BIG and has nothing to do with setting any course records. Who from the list of favorites could do this??

    2013 Races Completed

    Tor Des Geants 334km (9/8): 7th place, 81hrs 33mins

    Chiemgauer 100 (7/26): 1st place, 22hrs 45mins

    San Diego 100 (6/8): 5th, 20hrs 10mins

    Leona Divide 50 (4/27): 16th, 8hrs 3mins

    Rabbit Peak 22 Miler (4/6): 3rd, 5hrs 53mins

    Barkley Marathons (4/1): 1st place, 57hrs 41mins

    El Cajon Mtn Trail Race (3/2): 1st place, 1hr 40mins

    Rohring around the Clock 12hr (2/23): 1st place 77.4 miles

    Baz 21K (2/16): 2nd place, 1hr 34mins 48secs

    Iron Mountain Trail Race (2/03): 2nd, 1hr 41mins

    HURT 100(1/19): 3rd, 21hrs 43mins

    Mt. Woodson Trail Race(1/05): 1st, 59mins 44sec

  25. Something Completely

    How about David Laney? The dude won and set new records at Chuckanut and Waldo. At Chuckanut he came in front of a very fit Max King and his course record shows that he ran a faster time on that course than practically every ultra star in North America, including Canaday and Olsen. His Waldo time is 45 minutes faster than Olsen's 2012 winning time and, of course, ahead of Mackey's 2011 UROY worthy performance. Oh wait, Laney did not run 100 this year.

  26. Ian Sharman

    Three of those guys are presumably running TNF50 so if one of them wins I can't see anyone else getting UROY. Sage has had the best set of results this year with his numerous course records, all at competitive ultras. But for some reason the fact his last couple of races weren't perfect (Sierre Zinal…not even an ultra…and UROC), discounts those results. I'm sure if those 2 race results had been the start of the year he'd still be clearly in the lead in any voting (despite having exactly the same results in 2013, just in a different order).

  27. Deb

    One of the reasons I feel 100 miles is given a lot of weight is athletes who

    Are preparing for those races have to consider that when they race other

    Distances. The body generally is going to take longer to recover and you can't

    Afford to go into the race on tierd legs. Often times shorter races are used to

    Prepare for a focus race. They are raced hard but the big picture has

    to be kept in mind. It is always hard when you have many deserving athletes.

    The problem is they all have different focuses so even looking at head to

    Head performances doesn't tell the whole picture, I remember last year when

    The debate started asking who is Mike Morton? I looked him up and was

    Amazed at his many accomplishments. Since I had followed mountain races

    I had not been aware of who he was. In my opinion they all have proven

    Themselves deserving it is just unfortunate only one can win. It probably

    Would be easier to compare if you were judging the best athlete at

    A particular distance. I think a strong argument can be made for all four of them.

  28. David

    Sage has to be in front of Olson, as he beat him multiple times this year and has more wins overall. Then it's a toss up between Sage & Krar.

  29. Lstomsl

    If it was 100 miler of the year iid say it's a toss up between Timmy and Ian. Timmy for one stellar performance and Ian for consistency over the summer. If it were short distance it would have to go to Sage, who has been unbeatable at 50 miles and under and set several stout CRs. But as ultra runner of the year I say it comes down to Krar and Dakota. While R2R2R and WS FKTs fall every few years, Matt Carpenters ultra records have stood for a decade despite some stout competition. The only one to have beaten one of Matt's records is Dakota and he did it by almost 30seconds a mile. And the only person to have beaten Dakota is Rob Krar. Robs won at 50k, 50 miles, and 100k and set multiple CRs and was second at his first 100 and one of the most competitive ever. Dakota hasn't done a 100 yet but he has been very competitive at them in the past and also did some community service as the RD for a spectacular new race in Telluride. That counts for something to me. Have to go with Krar first and Dakota second.

    1. RobertP

      I like Dakota very much he is young and most talented alongside Kilian,younger than Kilian, but exaggeration is not advisable ;) second ? no way.

      1. Lstomsl

        You are certainly entitled to your opinion, I would never say it was not "advisable". But I am sticking with mine. Fact is that he has not raced much this year but at every time, at a variety of distance, against stacked fields nobody has ever run faster, not even Mart Carpenter. Except Rob Krar.

      1. Speedgoatkarl

        So is Clark, that's a tough one, they live in the US and have for years right? I know Sharman lives in Bend, Clark in Ft. Collins. I'd say if they have some sort of citizenship, then they're good to go. We've gone over this before…next..:-)

      1. Speedgoatkarl

        He is fast, no doubt, but will he be another guy who shows up for a year or two, then dissapears? :-) We see this alot in ultrarunning, and it's fully legit. We all have jobs and families too.

  30. Swimmons

    I commend Mr. AJW for this post and obviously gracious interaction with all responders. I am continually pleasantly surprised by this aspect of our sport. I refer some of the responders to the bonus good beer recommendations of his posts, which will not sour your tongue like the warm piss you must be drinking. Now as to the contest… Obviously the most exciting race of the year was Western States. Even more exciting than usual and thats saying something. No other race drew more interest and thrills. And in THAT field, Olsen took it down, AGAIN. congrats Mr. Olsen, and you'd have my vote. On a side note, while important, FKT's should not count since the public doesn't get to participate in the event until after the fact.

    1. AJW


      Mr AJW, I like that. And yes, the beer recommendations are the best part of all my posts. Unfortunately, it seems that commenters only comment on them when nothing in the foregoing article inspires them. Sigh.

  31. Anonymous

    I think it is alwasys dangerous just to look at one race and say that should make anyone a lock for UROY. Although history shows later performances seem to have a bigger impact.(probably because it is fresh in peoples mind) Some people may race TNF but have had a long racing season and doing it more because it is an opportunity to meet up with many runners at the end the year. That is one of the greatest things about the sport is that the runners seem to really enjoy the opportunity to run/race together. I don't think Ian who has ran 4 100's starting with Western States or Tim who has ran 3 100's and other races if they chose to run would be able to be as competitive as they could at a different time. It comes down to focus and some people will go into the race well rested because this is a race they have considered a focus race for the year. Others will feel the racing season is over for them and they may pass altogether or run it less competively.

  32. Mike R

    I'd def throw my vote in for Krar. He has had a killer season across a variety of distances including his iconic Grand Canyon FKT, and he just beat Sage (who I would put as a close runner up at this point). Plus, his beard is just awesome.

  33. RobertP


    First reason – he achieved a lot if we take into account shorter and longer distances.

    Second – duel between Timoty and Rob – Timoty won, Western States 100.

  34. Randy

    Could also make a lottery(since they are a staple of Ultras now)for your vote.A ticket for each beer AJW gets,x-tra tickets if it's a really good beer.(Lose tickets if it's Coors).

  35. Greg H.

    Chris Barry? From Keene? He gets my vote for middle school xc coach of the year. Sage gets my vote for UROY. Sage will prove it at TNF50. I'm a huge Krar fan but Sage is the man at 50miles!

  36. Fejes

    Any UROY voter that doesn't vote for Jon Olsen to win should have their voting privileges revoked immediately and permanently. Reminds me of the clueless judge in the Mayweather/Alavarez fight.

    Jon's sub 12 100 plus his gold medal win at the 24 hour WC are jaw dropping. What's more he might even break another AR in December at the Soochow Invitational 24 hour in Taiwan.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      He'll win perfrormance of the year hands down, if he doesn't…I agree, take the voter off the panel. :-) But he didn't race anyone anywhere else, that carries weight here unfortunately. I"d bet with 20 voters, we may see a clean sweep on performance of the year, that may be a first. He's got one vote from me.

      If he kills it at Soochaw, his name goes AT LEAST top 3. This would be an example of flying under the radar with amazing performances but no competition. (except the worlds where he ran against "non-contenders" in the NA scene). It really should be a different catagory, cuz 95% of folks who even look at ultras now are looking at trail races. He'd win so easily in the 80's with a clean sweep. :-)

      1. JC

        I do not understand why Jon's performances are more impressive than the course records that were broken. Jon set the record on a track, Sage at Lake Sonoma, Jones at SJS ect. Different skills sets, yes, but to say that one is by far and a way more impressive than another is a bit of a stretch. That's why we need to look at the competition and how old the record was.

        1. Ben Nephew

          You might want to take your own advice on look the competition and how old the record was, and then you would probably understand. The reason that many ultrarunners with a more extensive background in the sport think Jon's runs are much more impressive is because the organized and competitive histories of the both the 24hr and 100 mile are much deeper than most trail events. With road and track events, it is easier to compare across races and time. Look at the competitive records of the men that own the records that Jon broke. It'll be easy, two of them are in the American ultrarunning hall of fame. I'd be interested to know what Sage and Dakota think of their runs in comparison to Jon's.

      2. Ben Nephew

        That's funny, Karl, as you realize, only in this conversation would an international win not get much credit despite the reality that US men struggle internationally at trail events. It's like saying Meb won the Silver medal, but top US guys weren't there, so whoever won Twin Cities is superior. While I value wins with strong competition, I've always looked at records as if the new record holder was competing with all the great runners that went before him.

  37. MT

    Props to Ian's comment above. Sage's most recent results seem to be drowning out his stellar performances earlier this year. Speedgoat was a _stacked_ field. And it was not even his only win.

    It seems to me, a casual lurker on this forum :-), that Sage gets the short end of the stick when it comes to public support. Especially from soul runners. If he was smarter, he would focus on touching the grass and surviving on drops of universe juice. Or at least make it appear so on his blog :-D

    1. Jon

      Doesn't matter… No other North American has run 100 miles that fast… Wait and see what happens @ Desert Solstice, if Olsen runs it… With all due respect to all of the folks mentioned, this isn't about beards or trails (exclusively) it's about ultrarunning… Period.

  38. running blind

    Absolutely Jon Olsen should be at the top. World Championship win and US record.

    Really a shame how little regard there is for the road/track ultra scene.

    Love to see road guys like Wardian step into the trails and mix it up on foreign terrain. Olsen even did this in 2012 when he ran WS100. When are the trail guys going to return the favor and step to the roads/track?

  39. Anonymous


    Can you set up an informal UOY poll on this site and enable the collective wisdom of the iRunFar community to be captured?

    1. Scott

      I love, love this idea.

      The irunfar runner of the year award

      Performance of the year

      If I could help out in organizing it – let me know!

  40. adam

    I gota go Sage. He kicked ass at so many ultras this year already. If 100 miles is a requirement…Tim for sure. Can't go with Rob cause Tim beat him when they went head to head.

  41. Fejes

    Are multiday ultra performances banned from consideration? My 329 miles ATY 72 hour, Vol State 500k course record, 10th WC 24 hour-154 miles should be worthy of being considered notwithstanding the low number of competitors in ATY and Vol State. Or not?

  42. Speedgoatkarl

    I have an idea to qualify for the voting for UROY. And I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet.

    What about having a total number of "miles raced"? Perhaps about 300-350 total? This would take Dakota out. Not that he's in it anyway IMHO, but having some kind of criteria like this might eliminate the "one time big race winner". Such as Dan Held years ago. It's different now, but it would at least thin it out a bit. Ultras are about running far.

    FKT's are out, they don't count, they shouldn't, I could very easily pull a Rosie Ruiz and go run the Wind River Highline Trail, set a ridiculous FKT, and who would really know if I were joking or cheating? Or who would even know if it's stout or not?

    I'm not saying anyone is cheating, don't call me on that, but I'm just sayin', that only races should matter.

    1. Lstomsl

      I'd support the idea of the one-time big race winner. I suspect in the future however as the sport gets more competitive we will see the top guys running less and training more scientifically, truly peaking for specific races. Like marathoners and cyclists do. It's impressive to see folks like Sage being competitive January to December (assuming he runs TNF). But it's also impressive to see folks just crushing it 3 or 4 times and never having a bad day…. Maybe 200 miles is enough???

    2. Patrick L

      I agree with Karl that there should be some type of standard to qualify for the award. With ultra running coming in so many different forms, how can you compare certain accomplishments? How does four 100-milers in a summer compare with a difficult FKT or a victory against an impressive field of elites?

      Perhaps it has already been suggested, but a 27-tier point system should be created so that all races/routes can be compartmentalized easily. Course record at Vermont 100? 16 points. Michael Arnstein was there and scattered banana peels all over the trail? Add 4 more points. Finish in 4th place at Lake Sonoma? 12 points. It was a stacked field with every Salomon runner in attendance and you beat every one? Add 3 more points. Good luck creating this, Karl. We can't wait!

      Baseball writers have been disagreeing for decades about MVP voting, too. Does the award go to the best player in each league or the player who's presence elevated his team into the playoffs? Voters still aren't unanimous. But as long as our young sport has an open discussion about the topic, we're doing ultra running justice.

      Thanks for getting ball rolling, Karl. You're the best!

  43. Andy R

    For me we are talking about ultra running. Endurance. All that we have talked about are amazing athletes. For me the most inspiring are Sharman , Clark and Jon Olsen.

  44. Fejes

    An overall American Record to me should carry much more weight than simply a course record regardless of the comparative difficulties associated with a particular course or it's conditions. The AR 100 mile record Jon broke has been around since 1989. As far as competition I am not sure the field gets any deeper than a World Championship. Most of the US races simply don't have many of the international competitors though that is changing with the advent of international ultra series.

  45. Chris Cawley

    Krar had a better season than TO, winning at each of the classic american ultra distances against top athletes, except for at WS100, where he lost by a very short margin after running basically just as smart a race as TO. I totally agree that in consideration for UROY, FKT's should not be heavily weighted, but I think the R2R2R is well established enough, and has been contested by such an elite group, that it could be an exception. The only possibly chink in Krar's armor, to me, is that he has not jumped in any elite races with really big vert or technical course conditions; he's clearly a runners' runner, whereas TO is developing an aptitude for races like UTMB and Speedgoat.

    Olson, on the other hand, won only the Bandera 50K in January against runners lesser known to most of us, and WS100. Anything else not edivdent on the ultrasignup records? His UTMB/RRR turnaround is impressive–and obviously the man is among the most talented ultrarunners in the world–but selecting a race calendar that allows for maximum performance on a smaller number of race days, and then winning across a diverse assortment of distances/conditions is by far more impressive to me. I think that if runners who have the time and resources to pursue extremely rigorous training volume and intensity would also include complete, dynamic, focused rest in their cycles–like pro-tour cyclists and elite road runners–they would run faster races, and the level of competition in ultra running would be elevating even more rapidly than it already has been the last couple years. TO has certainly shown impressive focus and distinct preparation for WS100, but he has not found a way to bring the shorter distances into his wheelhouse more consistently, and I think training for true speed is most effective when supplimented with rest.

    Canaday FTW? Most likely; although he has shown real weaknesses among his absurd race calendar, his combination of strength (INSANE Speedgoat course record) and speed (Lake Sonoma) may be unmatched. OTOH, Krar's only second place all season was one of the standout individual performances of 2013 AND a 100-mile debut on a day with extremely challenging conditions.

    Dakota had a reduced calendar this year, but I think any run that breaks a Matt Carpenter course record deserves a nod for performance of the year; SJS50 was a career highlight for Dakota, and you gotta give it to the guy for pursuing a wide variety of mountain activities, RDing for the first time, and then heading to an under-the-radar event for a focus race and absolutely blowing it up on one of ultrarunning's more challenging courses.

  46. Fejes

    To put the level of competition for the World Championship in perspective, there has never been an individual US gold medalist in the 25 year history of the 100k. Additionally there have only been 2 US gold medalist in the 24 hour–Mike Morton and Jon Olsen.

    1. Anonymous

      For men perhaps. For woman 100k, dont forget Amy Sproston. Shes a, great example of someone bridging the gap between road/trail . At any race over 50 miles shes a contender.
      Morton is probably the only US male
      runner that contends road/trail internationally.

  47. Dylan

    Might be time to split UROY into two categories. The sport has evolved and trail performances seem to be more highly regarded than Road/ timed performances. Comparing the four aforementioned
    athlete's remarkable accomplishments to
    road running accomplishments is like
    comparing apples and oranges. Do we weight winning Lake Sonoma 50 equally with running the fastest American 100 mile time ever? Some might argue that races such as WS100, Lake Sonoma and UROC have the most competetive fields
    and therefore deserve more weight. I
    personally have no awareness of how competetive road, track or timed ultras are…probably due to a lack of depth in coverage regarding the events and the
    athletes. I have to assume however, that
    when records stand from the 1980s that
    many great runners have made attempts
    during the long span of the record. For this reason, I would vote for Jon Olsen's
    100 and 24hrs as Performance/ UROY of the year. If the categories were split…hands down Ian Sharman Trail UROY! for its epic quality, competition, historic value and dismantling of a stout time. For what its worth I'd put Nick Clark's GS ahead of Timmy, Sage and Krar. Pretty amazing all the way around!

  48. Jake

    At this moment I would put it Sage, Ian, and Krar. The sheer number of wins in competitive ultra fields and course records Sage has put down just can't be ignored. Ian accomplishing something that's hard to fathom, running four 100 milers fast. And Krar for what he has done this year from FKT's to competitions, a range that is just astounding.

  49. AJW

    Hey everyone, thanks for all of the responses to this post. It has, indeed, been a very interesting discussion.

    As some of you know, Bryon and Meghan are in the midst of a move from Park City to Moab so they may not have followed along on this thread as much as others. I can assure you that they are paying attention and we will pull together the irunfar editorial team to figure out the best way to address your concerns.

    From my perspective, it appears as though there is significant interest in considering a new approach to determining Ultrarunner of the Year. I can assure all of you that I will be in touch with Bryon and Meghan to discuss possibilities as we know that irunfar has become the "Go-To" site for ultrarunning aficionados. That said, it is likely that whatever we come up with will not be entirely satisfactory to the entire ultrarunning community as we have clearly come to realize that you are an increasingly disparate and opinionated group.

    So, all this is to say, the overwhelming response to this rather underwhelming post has piqued our interest and please stay tuned in the next few weeks for whatever we can come up with.

    Yours, AJW

    1. Randy

      Seem to remember a lot of this same discussion last year,do the people at Ultra-Running Magazine,which started this award,just refuse to want to add any change to there UROY format?A lot has changed in ultra-running over the years in events and participation,seems like these awards should change with it.Hope iRunFar can bring these awards up to date.

      1. AJW

        Randy, you are correct, this has been hashed out before and, over the past few years, the UR Magazine critieria has changed. Most notably, beginning in 2011, voters were provided with dnf data which prior to that time was excluded from the data provided to voters. Indeed, there is frustration and difference of opinion about this award but please be assured that the URagazine folks are paying attention.

        1. Randy

          Thank's AJW,i'm on the outside looking in,so maybe i'm missing things,but sure seems what like Dylan above said,comparing apples and oranges to a lot of these great performances,and having just one UROY to represent all the different aspects of ultra-running seems kinda narrow-minded staying in the past.

  50. Mike

    The write up of Sage Canaday is weirdly sparse and lacking in details, as well as the obvious lack of "bold" font. Frankly, I feel sorry for the guy, he seems to be still trying to convince the old guard that he is a force to be reckoned with. Will he ever be accepted by the slow old guys that seem to make up the ultra contingent?

    Andy's twitter response to Sage's question about why there is a lack of details says it all…

    "space mostly. And, the assumption that any reader would know the results. Obviously, that assumption was wrong."

    I personally know that Sage has won a lot of races….do I remember them all? Hmm….no.

    [Editorial Note: Personal attacks and cursing have been removed as it is in appropriate in a discussion on iRunFar. I apologize if this appears uneven handed; however, I've just checked iRunFar's section for the first time in two days (I was moving) and this is the first comment I saw (reverse chron) with inappropriate content.

    I would encourage all of you to keep this discussion civil and constructive.


    1. Nicole

      I noticed it too; it's weirdly slanted content in an otherwise fair handed article. Along with an anonymous voting cabal, the whole thing kind of creeps me out.

  51. Sniffer

    shouldn't it be North American Ultra Runner of the Year??? and if that is the criteria then all races not held in North America would also be out. If a runner has won every race across the pond and around the globe, but never a ultra in the US they would never be considered for the award.

  52. Speedgoatkarl

    I"m not so sure US runners struggle with international trail events. Dakota WON Transvulcania, 4th and 5th at UTMB this year for Foote and Olsen. Sage and Olsen at Transvulcania 2013. Not sure if those efforts are "struggling". :-) It really is mumbo jumbo. And look at Joe Fejes, his 72 hour run I think qualifies for this year right? Super stout….

    I do agree that records mean alot, and to look back who held them means alot, even with no comp. Sometimes it means even more to break a stout record all alone.

    The season isn't over yet, let's just hope these jokers in congress can let us run on Forest Service Land. I think that would be first priority right now.

  53. Astroyam

    This would indirectly promote running slow. Imo peaking and running as close to human potential on a day is the most exciting type of racing. Whatever the distance and terrain, the most inspiring performance is the ground breaking course record. Truly memorable performances are ones like MC leadville or Skaggs Hard Rock or this years SJS 50. You dont often get those trying to race as much as possible. They require focus.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      But they are still running "slow". MC's average pace was near 9:30's, Kyle Skaggs, near 12:30 per mile. That's pretty slow, and even though they are "fast" in comparison to the course, it's still slow running for a long time. I agree watching a road marathon is exciting cuz they are hammering till someone breaks, much like a hill climb in the Tour De France. I think alot of us run lots of ultras mostly cuz' we just like to do it, and the accomplishment is the reward. I run too many, no doubt, but so what, the prize is likely a silly belt buckle, a plaque. Throw in some money and it would make a difference. But that's another topic. We'll bring that one up later.

      1. astroyam

        I'm not so concerned about the actual pace, m/m. What I really find exciting is runners getting close to absolute maximum human performance. Whether it's Usain Bolt at 9.58 sec/100m, or Hard Rock. For any event, there's a time that humans cannot go below. Approaching that is the most inspiring thing. Right now there's lots of room in ultra running for lowering records, because it's a newer field of events, relative to say the 100m or 10k. A 'Golden Age', hence the flurry of FKT interest.

  54. Ian Sharman

    Also something people haven't mentioned is the difference between American Records and World Records. Jon's runs this year are incredible, but I'd argue that many of the trail runs mentioned above are at world class levels – faster than anyone ever, not just Americans. US track records are well off world records (WRs – 188 miles for 24hrs, 11:28 for 100 miles).

    Josh Cox's 2:43 50k American Record wasn't performance of the year a couple of years ago, despite being just seconds off the world best and being frankly incredible compared to other ultra performances that year.

    1. Lstomsl

      Agreed, some of Europes best have come over and taken a shot at WS, hardrock, Leadville, Speedgoat, pikes peak, etc. and they've done well, even won some of them, but the CRs still stand.

  55. Fejes

    Ian, congrats on your awesome accomplishments this year focusing on the Slam! I really enjoy watching you mix it up and run a bit if everything-not only do you run tough trails but last year you ran Desert Solstice (Track), ATY (24 hour) and other varied events. Your sub 13 hour 100 miler a couple years is probably very close comparatively speaking with Jon's Sub 12 hour when you consider the trail surface you ran it on. I give you major props for running all surfaces unlike many other ultrarunners.

    My major beef (if it ain't obvious by now) is simply the omission of Jon's name as one of the 4 top candidates in the article . A more appropriate title for the article would have been "Some Early Thoughts on the Trail UROY". I sincerely hope that was the reason AJW didn't mention Jon as the front runner or as a contender for the award.

    Mountain Trail, Road /Track and even Multiday ultras are all admittedly significant different animals. My odds of beating you, Rob, Sage, or Tim are in any trail or race for less than 48 hours is slim to none. However I think I have pretty good odds competing against you four (or anyone) in the 48, 72 or 144 hour events.

    1. Cole

      Fejes, if you can't beat Sharman over 42K-100 miles, you are not beating him over 48-72-144 hrs. That's not how running works, just ask Scott Jurek (2:38 marathoner).

    2. scott

      Fejes, have you ever run a 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon? It's night and day compared to running around a track. Speaking of, Ian probably had to run the last hour of that race in the dark or extremely low light. The course is full of exposed roots, sharp consise turns, lots of little rollers, and smaller sections of soft dirt and rocks. It also consist of approximately 5,000 feet of elevation gain. That's 5,000 feet more than a track. 5,000 feet is huge, especially when you throw in the roots, turns and uneven surfaces. I'd like to guess the Rocky Raccoon trail is an hour and a half slower than a track over a 100 miles, but I'm just guessing. I don't think Jon breaks 13:30 on this trail, probably not even 14 hours mainly due to him not being trained on this surface to go 100 miles. Mile Morton ran it last year and went over 15 hours. I'm sure that was mainly contributed to not being 100% or having a bad day, but that is what the trail and sun can do to you. With that being said, the day that Ian broke the record was pretty much the perfect day and I don't know if that course record will ever go down. And with that being said, the 2014 USATF 100 mile trail championship will be at Rocky Raccoon. It would be cool to get Ian, Jon, Mike and all the other fast guys to go out and give it a go.

      I know AJW has run the course, maybe he has some better input. Also, they changed the course some years back and took out the only road section and made it all trails. AJW, did you run the course after the change?

      1. Speedgoatkarl

        Not sure what you mean by "full of exposed roots". Dude, that track is smooth as a babie's bottom. Pick your feet up. The 5k of elevation gain might be on paper, but it's flat….oh it's flat.

        Being a USATF 100 mile championship is cool, but is it really exactly 100 miles. It starts and ends in exactly the same place.

      2. AJW

        Scott, yes i ran RR100 before and after the changes and felt like the new course added about 45 mins to the course due to more rooty singletrack and many more little annoying twists and turns. My guess is Ian S would have been around 12:10 on the older, easier course (although some GPS data had that old course at 97 miles while the current course is a bit over 100 miles)

      3. scott

        I guess what I was trying to get at is I think you were off trying to compare Ian's Rocky Raccoon 12:44 to the 11:59 track time. I would guess it more comparable to the 11:28 world record. Just my opinion. Yes Karl, it's definitely flat in the trail scene but nothing like a synthetic domed track. You could also say The Bear is flat compared to Hardrock…

        1. Tom W

          I agree on both counts. Ian's time does not get near enough credit. Have been a lot of great runners at Rocky over the years and his time is 30 minutes faster than anyone else has managed. Will be interesting to see if temperatures are low and a fast field shows up what time is needed to win in 2014.

      4. Jon

        I ran 13:14 at the Rocky Road 100 mile in 2012 with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain and I didn't have Hal and Anton breathing down my neck. This was also without any crew assistance….BTW Ian and I ran at Desert Solstice together last year … Check the results. Don't get me wrong, if I was voting for UROY I would definitely put Ian in front of me, but don't question my ability to run fast off the track :).

        1. Ian Sharman

          It's very difficult to compare road/trail/track and no 2 runners would have the same differences in pace between them. Jon's run incredibly well on both fast trails and the track (and something like a 2:27 road marathon, I believe).

          Of the races I saw in person this year I think Timmy's WS100 was as good a run as any of the ultra track/road world records – the heat, competition and perfection of that run was something special. But I'd still argue that the best ultra run of the year is almost always by the winner of Comrades (not a North American). Having seen the course records go down there a few years ago, the pace required to run sub 6 min miles for 55 miles of hilly roads is better than anything in the US or European ultra scenes. In context, it's about the only ultra Ellie Greenwood can go to where she isn't the favorite and the men's field is far deeper.

          What I'd love to see is the top Comrades' runners from recent years on the easy trail 100s, but that's barely more likely than the Kenyan marathoners doing it. $10k for winning (a very few selected) trail races doesn't compare to $100k+ for those road races.

          1. SageCanaday

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think 1st place at Comrades is still "only" $30,000 USD. To earn over $100k on the roads you either have to WIN Boston, Chicago, or NYC (at least in the US)

            1. Bryon Powell

              A runner can achieve a significant multiplier effect from sponsor prize matching. I can't remember with certainty, but I think Nedbank offers 50% or 100% matching if you're in their jersey on race day. I think Nike used to offer a 50% bonus. Ian, Ellie, or Wardian would know more.

  56. AJW

    Randy, I agree. From my perspective it would make sense to perhaps have two UROYs:

    1. Road/Track UROY

    2. Trail UROY

    If we did this, then, we'd need to address the distance issue. It may be difficult to further divide the UROY field into sub-100k and over 100k, for example, but clearly, we have seen that 50Ks are an entirely different animal than 72 hour runs, etc…

    One idea, in this regard, that has occurred to some, is to have specific criteria for runner's to be eligible for UROY. This could be restrictive and, in some cases, counter to the independent nature of ultrarunning in general but it seems to me that if the athletes knew what the criteria was they could plan their racing schedules accordingly.

    More food for thought…

    1. AJW

      Cole, as far as I know there is no "ownership" over the Ultrarunner of the Year Awards. However, Ultrarunning Magazine has been conducting their rankings since 1981, and that, along with tracking every ultra finish in North America, has been the reason, until recently, that they have been the recognized authority in Ultrarunning. I am not saying that is the way it should be but having results published in UR magazine has been generally recognized as the factor that gives an event and/or a performance, legitimacy.

      And, just for the record, I have no formal relationship with UR Magazine (as I do with irunfar). However, I am friends with two of the former publishers, Don Allison and John Medinger, as well as the current publisher, Karl Hoagland.


      1. Cole

        AJW, thanks for the clarification. Then perhaps we can have a motion to improve the selection process. Is it American only (as in the past)? Is it North American? Why is it not global (is it not a global sport)? UltraRunning has been myopic in the past, but I feel we are at a point that we can accept this sport as global, and it has also moved past the 24hr track records of the past. Those are part of the sport, but we are finding a true venue over mountain and trail for these endeavors that really test the human body. I disagree with Karl about establishing a mileage limit/range. Some athletes know how to peak and may choose to peak once per year and a quality performance should trump a quantity performance. Anyway, my top list would be Jornet, Hernandez, Heras, Krar, Tim Olson, and Canaday. Those guys made 2013 what is was in this sport.

        1. Speedgoatkarl

          I agree is should be global, this way there is no arguement. But let's hypothetically think of some super fast Kenyan coming in and running through the marathon time in say 2:07, then pushing on to another 5 miles, makes it a 50k, runs 2:32 or something like that. He destroys the world 50k record. Is he eligible for the Ultrarunner of the Year…..globally thinking? I say no way. Performance absolutely, but no way UROY. Just an analogy, but miles, even if it were say 150 required would force the runner to run a few events, not just one. More mumbo jumbo….this post could break records. :-)

          1. Cole

            But this happens in mainstream Track & Field, which makes the ROY process political, but exciting. Every year, especially World Championship and Olympic years, the pundits at Track and Field News have to weigh whether an Olympic Gold medal performance out-weighs a World Record or Course Record at London, Berlin, Chicago, NYC, especially if that athlete doesn't race the WC or Olympics.

            Some years the singular performance is staggering enough to warrant ROY status, but other years, the accumulation of great performances in a season out-shine a singular performance. That's why we need an expert panel in which I would hope you and the likes of AJW, Bryon, etc. are part of that panel.

            We can't let an arbitrary number dictate or influence an athlete to jeopardize his/her career or negatively impact that runner's reputation, which is the reason why the best endurance athletes in their prime do not attempt 24hr-72hr races. The good thing with the new generation is that the 100 mile distance is not be-all, end-all in ultra running. We have learned that a 100K over mountains can be just as compelling as a 100 mile. Sage Canaday should not have to be "forced" to run a 100 miler to prove anything, just like we shouldn't "force" Olsen to take up 5,000m racing.

  57. Fejes

    Cole, I completely disagree and no need to ask Scott–I've run enough 24s the past few years to gain a pretty good understanding–many phenomenal 50-100 mile runners are simply not effective in the 24 hour or multiday events. Free entry to my 6 day indoor track event at the Alaska Dome in Anchorage next August 4 if Rob, Sage, Ian or Tim want to try the long stuff. for the details. Cole-"test the human body"? Are you suggesting the road/track as well as 24 hour events don't? Anyone who hasn't been tested in these events just ain't running hard enough. Sorry.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      I tried it once in San Diego, running around in a circle for that long is mind bogglng, I lasted 71 miles, and took a nap. What Joe Fejes had done at 3 days is incredible, it takes real mental strength to run and continue that long. Enjoy the Dome….it's all you man.

  58. Fejes

    Thanks Karl–you got a free invite too–although I know the hamster wheel ain't your cup of tea!!–I'd live to see you join us for the Worlds next year–it will be fun to see what goes down in remaining 24 hour qualifiers at OKC and a Desert Solstice–I'm glad I was able to punch an auto qualifier this year by getting 10th at worlds.

    1. Speedgoatkarl

      If I were to even venture to run the worlds, I'd have to join USATF…No thanks, then sign some silly thing making me subject to random drug testing…No thanks again. No, I"m not on drugs, but ask Amy Sproston and Scott Jurek about annoying visits…No thanks again. :-) I'd get smoked so hard, my ashes wouldn't even be present. I'll stick to the mountains. I just have different interests is all. I have this other long run in mind next year, something beyond 72 hours, or even 40 days…..

      1. Fejes

        Speed goat-in your honor next time I go to Pinhoti trail Im gonna grab a few loose rocks and roots and will place them on the synthetic track to at least make feel like a tough trail runner! I hear you on the USATF membership but they do give decent reimbursement for travel so I can't bash them too bad! Yeah, I'm fine with the random drug tests at least until Smirnoff Gin and blue cheese stuffed olives reach the banned list. Getting smoked is exactly what happens to me when I step on any trail whether Pinhoti, Superior Sawtooth or even a manicured surface– I'll stick with my hamster wheel loopy loops. BTW congrats on your Pinhoti performance few years back–it is nice seeing you and some West Coasters do some Southern Trails. Best of luck!

  59. Gerell

    That's my point Karl…..not everyone has families and a day job, that takes serious strain on getting out and putting in the miles. I think more props should go out to "those runners" that are being pulled this way and that emotionally and physically… How many runners in the top ten at a major ultra have kids and a day job?

  60. Fejes

    Scott, I'm not sure what Ian's RR would translate into but his performance was no doubt incredible. Part of the beauty of track is no translation is required as needed with trails. I was in awe watching Ian, Jon and Michael Arnstein fly round the track last year at Desert Solstice with Jon running a stellar 12:29 and Michael going sub 13 too. My 14:41 pr 100 at Desert Solstice isn't anywhere near those guys however I did end up with best 24 156 plus miles in the 24 which ain't bad for 47 year old full time attorney whose running is simply a hobby. BTW my marathon pr set back in 1995 is a rather pedestrian 2:47.

  61. henry t

    Let's just drop 50k's from consideration. I know someone came up with the definition that an ultra is any run over a marathon, but realistically most people on this forum only care about 50 miles and up, and place special emphasis on the 100's. In my opinion, FKT's should not count, nor should races like Transrockies or Sables. That being said, Krar is still right up there, and TNF 50 should decide it. Even though it is the North American UROY, it doesn't logically follow that foreign races should be excluded. It may be a long time before another North American scores as high as 4th place in Mt. Blanc.

  62. Dylan

    If the category remains UROY and includes any ultra distance performance …road, track, timed, trail, mountain, fkt, etc…my vote would be for the runner with greatest success at the broadest range of distances and styles. If no clear candidates exist the weight should be given to any runner with a volume of success that includes an historic achievement. A trail or road specialist with many wins within their chosen distance or style would come next. For me that is the struggle this year. Ian's Grand Slam Vs. Jon's world 24 and American Record 100…both Historic and both remarkable.! If either fellow crossed styles for even one race with some success it would make the decision clear.
    If I was a betting man Id bet that Krar,
    Timmy, Sage and Ian could and would all
    enjoy success at a world level for road,
    track, and timed ultra events. They'd just
    have to WANT to do that, which is a
    pretty signifacant hurdle. Its not clear to me that many of current mens US road/track/timed team members would cross over quite as well to the trail side ? Obviously discounting the proven few…(Morton, Jurek come to mind but their achievements are broad enouh to defy categorizing them.)
    I appreciate Karl giving a nod to the challenges of running around a track.
    Real question…
    Is the panel voting for the UROY made up of a broad enough group to really judge the broad variety of performances? If not, diffuclty of a given event could be confused by looking at simple metrics that mean less than we really appreciate …ie
    elevation gain, trail quality, competiition etc. Arguments can always be made for or against…for instance ( my opinion) Ian's best performances …RR 100 and Grand Slam this year both had very challenging
    competition, which prove the value of the performaces. Jon's 100 miles had no competition. But couldn't one also argue that going that fast for that long with no one to push you proves the value of the performance and effort? These are all just questions with no answer. I certainly dont have the answer?!

  63. AJW

    Olsen ran WS several times back in 07-10ish. Had one epic back-from-the-dead race where he got off the cot at Hwy 49 and finished strong. Dude's a battler.

  64. scott

    Tim Olson is probably my favorite UR, but I don't think he gets it this year. It comes down to Krar, Sharman & Sage and that's the order I would vote them now I think. If one of these guys wins NF Championship they should get it. If no one wins, might have to give it to Ian Sharman.

  65. Dave Mackey

    AJW..Lets give the attention to the ladies first next year..They get the backseat most of the year as it is!

    Jon Olsen is really not getting a fair shake.. he should be the fifth choice in this list as his performances are truly international performances on an international stage. UROY really does need two categories of road UROY and trail UROY.

    Regarding internationals being considered candidates for UROY, that is too big a can of worms to open.

  66. Steve

    The UROY award will not be decided until the TNF50. If Krar wins the TNF50, then the award will likely go to him. If Sage wins, then he'll probably be the front runner for the award. I think Sharman, Olson, and Olsen are the locks for the next 3 spots, with the 100k road champs potentially providing a mix up if Jon Olsen finishes in the top-5.

    As for Ultra performance of the year, I believe that it should go to Sharman hands down. He destroyed the Grand Slam record, in the process grabbing an amazing 4th at WS (in one of the most competitive WS fields ever) and then he won Leadville.

    UROY if Krar wins TNF:

    1) Krar

    2) Canaday

    3) Olson

    4) Sharman

    5) J. Olsen


    1) Sharman's Grand Slam

    2) J. Olsen's 11:59

    3) Clarke's GS

    4) Jones's SJS record

  67. markdorion

    It's funny, but I hear from INTERNATIONAL ultra friends, including some who are trail specialists, and THEY all suggest California's JON OLSEN should have early strong consieration for "ultrarunner of the year."

    Jon beat the best INTERNATIONAL runners in the world to win the IAU 24 Hour on a tough 1.4 mile loop in the Netherlands– with the 2nd best US total ever at 167+. The last week he set the North American 100 mile record with 11:59:28. I seriously doubt any of the popular "trail specialists" named could run within one full hour of that time.

    How does a runner like Jon Olsen not even get NAMED by a supposedly-savvy ultra blogger??? Or did A J-W mean to say "TRAIL runner of the year, and not "ULTRA runner of the year"??

    By the bye I am a trail runner, direct trail races, even once won an event in California, the birthplace of modern trail ultra running. BUT I know WORLD CLASS performances when I see them. As and aside, even a race like Western States does not draw as diverse an international field as a USA road ultra like the New York 6/ 10 day.

  68. markdorion

    To Joe F. and other multi-day racers,

    If this were any other country in the world (I include our neighbors Canada and Mexico too, your multi-day efforts would garner loud acclaim from bloggers and statisticians. See, for e.g., some of the op-eds at http://www.multidayrunning

    In the USA, we have reached a point where many runners believe that "ULTRArunning" and "TRAILrunning" are one and the same thing.

    I have also asked for years why UR magazine can't choose both a "trail ultrarunner of the year" and a road one. This would alleviate many headaches for voters and fans. But what do I know?

    By the bye, I expect several top MEXICAN ultrarunners, a good Ukrainian runner, plus Jon Olsen to duke it out at our S.U.V. 60Km here in New Mexico on Feb. 1. I wonder if any top USA trail specialists will show up??

  69. Jon Olsen

    I want to make sure the discussion doesn't get off of the topic….we are here, in reality, to celebrate those runners that have had exceptional years! Those individuals named, have been named for a reason…because they truly put together some draw dropping performances. It really is a honor to be spoken in the same breathe as the Ian's, Sage's, Timmy's, Krar's….of the world. There are still a few months left in the season. Lets see how it all shakes out:)

  70. Alex

    To be honest im quite offended. All the credit always goes to American runners. What about those who destroyed Sage and Max King in Sierre Zinal? what about Luis Alberto from Spain? I think he should be the ultra runner of the year. Man his first year racing he had AMAZING results!. Europeans dont get any credit (apart from MR KILIAN of course). I dont get it, american runners and races get so much credit. There are many europeans here who would beat these guys that have no sponsors and no recognition. In the UTMB everyone was talking about timothy olson and anton k, but guess who won it? a french guy that no one knew about. I guess this article should be titled: Male American Ultrarunner of the Year.

  71. SteelTownRunner


    It's not just that Jon broke a record that has been around for 20+ years. Look at the number of people who have broken 12 hours for 100mi and their resumes. It is a performance we are unlikely to see for a while in spite of Jon's humble assertion that his record will be broken soon.

    …and the field at the WC – far deeper than any trail ultra with the *possible* exception of UTMB.

    My vote would go to Jon

  72. Bryon Powell

    You shouldn't be offended. The article lays out the scope of consideration and acknowledges… even calls for discussion of those elsewhere who've had outstanding seasons. Now's your chance to discuss those such as Kilian, Luis Alberto, and others! Let us know who else has crushed it this year aside from those two? :-)


    1. Alex

      Okay, maybe I exaggerated by writing that I was offended. Im not really hehe. But its kinda discouraging.

      -Iker karrera

      -Xavier Thevenard

      -Marco de Gasperi ( he was head to head with Kilian in the Dolomites sky race, amazing finish).

      -Philipp Reiter (maybe he didnt have the best season)

  73. Cole

    Bryon, those performance clauses have fallen out of contracts due to multiple sponsors being worn on a vest in this day in age. Companies no longer match or half-match winnings since it is rare that a single athlete has a single sponsor.

  74. Alex

    The UTMB is considered the most important and competitive race in ultra running by many. Thus shouldn't the winer of the UTMB (ultra race of the year perhaps?) be the ultra runner of the year? :)

    1. Bryon Powell

      Here in the US, there's long been a tradition of separating the performance of the year from the ultrarunner of the year. Obviously, winning performances at the most competitive races have significant weight, but they're not seen as defining who's best over the course of the year.

    2. John M.

      That "considered… by many" is the catch point. There is a divide, here in the U.S., between

      a) west of the plains (the mountain ultras) and east of the Mississippi (the might be ugly trail ultras),

      b) trails versus roads (with track runs being thrown in with roads, but some not even giving thought to indoor/outdoor time events and whether a track run is the same as a time event on a loop course),

      c) throwing in FKTs — as if there is some standardized certified course for an FKT,

      d) and other stuff.

    3. Sean

      I'm going disagree with both Alex and Joe, and reiterate what Ian said in a previous comment about Comrades being the most competitive ultra in the world each year. The Comrades winner doesn't earn the title "World Champion", but the world championships of any sport aren't necessarily the most competitive event of a sport.

      That said, I believe Jon's 11:59 is the world-best POY so far this year. However, this article is supposed to be about UROY, not POY.

  75. Fejes

    No UTMB is not the most competitive event. The World Championship is to which Jon Olsen. Jon was also on the 100k team and slated to run the World Championship which unfortunately was cancelled. I also don't believe anyone in the World has run a faster time this year (or in recent years) for a 100 miles.

  76. Fejes

    Sean, I will concede that Comrades may have as competitive group of international runners as the WC but I discounted the race (rightly or wrongly) for being a non recognized distance compared to standard 50k, 100k, 100 mile, 24 hour events. Then again I'm not sure any trail race with a time faster than an existing world record at such standard distances would be recognized.

    1. John M.

      That standard distance thing puzzles a lot of runners. As ultramarathons grew in number, the "need" for all things being equal factor kicked in. If you go back a few years there were many "odd" distance ultras: 75k (road), 38-mile (trail), and so on… even time events had nonstandard stuff: 6-hour trail, 24-hour on a five-mile country loop, 41.2ish-mile (road–paved and gravel), 70 miles (trail), 40.5 miles (road), 36.2 miles (trail)… and so on.

      The rules for USATF/IAAF records will keep trail stuff from the "real" records pages. There isn't even a category for the indoor run Olsen just had–have to throw it into the "all comers doing whatever" to get recognized.

  77. AJW

    Hey everyone, thanks for all the comments and for keeping the conversation constructive.

    Just an FYI, for the past two years I have done my own "Year in Ultraunninng Selections" in a January column. Last year's is linked below. If there is sufficient interest (and we could figure out how to tabulate results) perhaps we could morph this into some kind of People's Choice Awards. As you'll undoubtedly note if you look at last year's article I pretty much just made it up as I went along. It's fun, but it's just one guy's opinion. I, for one, like the two categories I invented, Rookie of the Year and Surprise of the Year. Clearly, a road/track and trail separation might be warranted, as well.

  78. John M.

    Cole — that kind of generalization is close to being just plain silly. Kouros, one of the greats of ultramarathon running, seldom went to trails (one finish at Western), but no one has even come close to what he did in time events or at the Spartathlon. That is part of the issue in ultramarathon "awards"–the variety of venues seems to reward a variety of talents, not all of which transfer from one course to the other.

    1. Ian Sharman

      For me Kouros is the best ultrarunner ever, yet he couldn't run trails and his one trail event I'm aware of was an over 20hr Western States. But on the flat stuff he's light years ahead of anyone else.

        1. John M.

          From September 1988 UltraRunning: 20:12:54, 24th overall. "This year's race also marked the WS debut of the legendary Yiannis Kouros. He had just broken the world record for 1,000 miles three weeks prior to the race, and had run 100km in Belgium the week before in 7:36. His intent was to just run the course and learn the trail, perhaps returning next year when he could be more competitive."

  79. Sean

    Cole, not only is that generalization silly, as John M says, but you are simply wrong. You clearly didn't research last December's Across the Years race in AZ, so let me summarize it for you. Ian won the 24 hr race with 109 miles. Joe won the 72 hr race, running 141 miles for his 24 hr split.

    Also, not quite sure what your point is when referencing Scott. Ian's marathon p.r. is faster than Scott's, but Scott's 24 hr distance is better than Ian's.

    1. Ian Sharman

      I did walk the last 70 miles of Across the Years so the 109 miles was more of a forced suffer-fest to mentally prepare for the Grand Slam than a race. I should have stopped due to injury (it then forced me to basically take off Jan and to not run in Feb). Joe's run over the 3 days was very impressive but I can see why this type of event doesn't appeal to a lot of talented runners since tiny loops aren't as inspiring (to me) as mountains and trails.

  80. Jon Olsen

    Sean……is absolute right…..kind of:) I've got depressed many a times watching some of Kilians insanity on YouTube…..I come away thinking….no matter how hard I train….I will NEVER be that. And I know there are other Euro Freaks out there doing amazing things. I think the American "general public" won't consider any Europeans until they come to the US and win any big races…such as Kilian and Heras.

    I know better than that however.

    1. Lstomsl

      Don't be depressed. Killian could never be you either. He almost cried last week having to run a paved bike trail on vail pass for a few miles…..

  81. Lstomsl

    In he cycling world there are distinct specialties of mountain, road, and track. Within each there are sub specialties of XC, downhill, time trailing, one day or stage races, and even then there are sub-sub-specialties for sprinters, climbers, etc and each rider chooses focus races that suit there specific abilities. Bottom line is nobody would think of arguing over whether a track performance is better or worse than a downhill mtn bike race performance. Or arguing over who is the cyclist of the year. It's apples and oranges.

    In running ere is less official organization. UROY is meaningful because it has a history but there is nothing saying that they can't just decide to do so e different as the sport changes. Or that somebody else couldn't do something completely different of they want. Heck it's 2013 and we have the Internet. I could put up a web site with my opinion tomorrow, or even a poll tomorrow but nobody would care because nobody knows who I am. But Trail Runer magazine could have their own set of awards specific for trail runners. IRunFar could have a people's choice type of awards. Karl could post his Speedgoat awards on his website jf he felt like it. The sport is growing. There is room for more than just one award from one place decided by a select few anonymous elites. Why argue about what this one award means or should mean. Why not put forth some solutions for different awards. International, track, distance specific, FKT, whatever. If the process is worthy, the awards will gain prestige. Kind of like we have multiple awards for movies that don't always make the same decisions, and don't always have the same process, and don't necessarily carry the same prestige. But they are there nonetheless.

    1. Sean

      "because nobody knows who I am."

      Don't kid yourself, buddy. I do, as do all of the other SCRUDites! This is the internet – you cannot hide!

      1. Lstomsl

        I am officially awarding the LSTOMSL award for most Improved beer mile of 2013 to you Sean. And also the award for most entertaining post-beer mile can crushing.

        1. Sean

          Thank you so much, Lstomsl (don't worry, your real identity is safe with SCRUD). I am honored to have those prestigious awards bestowed upon me. These not only mean that my season has been a success, but on a much broader scale, my runner career has been a success. Perhaps I should consider retiring. Does that come with social security benefits?

          And to my esteemed employer, Powell, I anxiously await said cold day in January. Perhaps we can have an iRF promotion on that day for 8 minutes and 49 seconds.

  82. Ian Sharman

    I did the sums 2 years ago and at exchange rates that year a local winner getting all sponsor bonuses they'd be eligible for, plus a CR would have earned over $100k. Even just a win by a foreigner on a sponsored team (which applies to all of the contenders) would have earned well over $50k without the record.

  83. Fejes

    Thanks Ian–I was very pleased with my 141 first day total at ATY especially after the 156 miles I had run two weeks prior at Desert Solstice. If I remember correctly all 3 of us-you, me and Dave James were leg weary going into ATY from our Desert Solstice efforts. I won't make that mistake this year before my 6 day ATY. Yes running 24 hours or more on short quarter mile or one mile loops is not appealing to many mainstream ultra runners although probably a bit more popular abroad.

  84. Fejes

    I would absolutely love to do a trans con run one day but taking for more than a week off work just ain't happening any time soon. Maybe if I hit the lotto or win Comrades with the sponsor jersey with a multiplier. Lol

  85. DP

    as far as trail runners go, i think it doesn't get any better than Krar. the guy doesnt care who he's racing or what distance hes racing. he just dominates everyone. im excited to see what he will do to that WS100 cr if he chooses to train for it

  86. Trey

    +1 its about running far and covers a whole year's worth of racing. This is why I think the short list of contenders profiled above, is too narrowly focused on just "speedsters"…..

  87. Geoff

    This might be the year that the TNF 50 is actually taken seriously in the UROY voting. I think if Krar wins tnf he should be a lock, and if sage wins he should be the clear favorite, but if anyone else wins it is easy to make an argument for any of the 4 mentioned plus J. Olsen. Then there is also the possibility of DJ winning TNF which would essentially make it a pretty much even 6 way race. Definitely the most up in the air voting in some time.

    AJW, (and Bryon?) not to be too nit picky but you might want to change the statement in the article that Krar ran the fastest 2nd place ever at WS. I would suggest something like, "fastest second place time in an odd year", or perhaps just "third fastest second place time" would work too.

  88. Aaron Sorensen

    If we're talking about "Ultra Running" why don't we look at who's in the Ultra Running Hall of Fame.

    Ted Corbitt (2004)

    *Sandra Kiddy (2004)

    *Marcy Schwam (2005)

    *Sue Ellen Trapp (2006)

    *Bernd Heinrich (2007)

    *Stu Mittleman (2008)

    *Allan Kirik (2009)

    *Barney Klecker (2010)

    *Rae Clark (2011)

    *Park Barner (2012)

    Most of these guys and gals are 24+ hour runners and have several records in those longer distances.

    So why should the Annual UROY be any different?

    John's sub 12-100 should be on the #1 for performance of the year.

    Joe Fejes should be in the running and be at 1-4 odds of winning UROY.

    The only thing is there is no certified 3 day record.

    We've lost the adventure of the long run and follow the more recreational runner that can do a sub 6 hour 50 miler. There shouldn't be any distance under 100k to count for UROY.

    We need to reflect the past into the future.

    1. LSD

      "…follow the more recreational runner that can do a sub 6 hour 50 miler." Wow, I had no idea that that a time like that for 50 miles is now considered "recreational."

  89. markdorion

    Since when does the Grand Slam count as ONE "performance of the year"?? It is a series of four different races. Many people create their own slams of one sort or another. What about a runner who has four great 24 hour races with world class distances, run in different countries no less?? Is that the same as "The Grand Slam"?? Keep in mind also that Vermont 100 mile was not for many years a part of "The grand Slam."

    Also keep in mind I am a newbie ultrarunner and have only done about six ultra total in my life.

  90. markdorion

    I have been following ultras since the 1970s. There is NO "given" that any trail star can or will cross over with any success to road and track ultras. I have seen many trail stars fail miserably when attempting road ultras.

    I have also seen 2:10-2:12 marathoners try an ultra (road and trail both) and have troubles mentally and physically. You just never know.

    Conversely, some of the fastest road runners in the world have had trouble in various trail events. BUT it is really fair to have a great sea level road runner like Kouros, the Russians, etal. go up to high altitude and compete against the guys who live and train there all year?

  91. markdorion

    RR 100 course was re-measured with calibrated wheel (admittedly, not easy on any trail surface) as: pre-2006– 94.6 miles. 2010 course– 99.1 miles. Keep in mind that for many, many years Western States was 88+ miles, then 94 miles up to 1987 or so.

    The new Garmin GPS devices (out Nov 1) are much more accurate than the models from two years ago, and will help with measuring trail courses. Just remember, the only CERTIFIED ultras are on road and track. And the longest ultra in the world is on a certified .55 of a mile loop around Austin Park in NYC. World class international runners compete, some averaging 75+ miles per day for 42 days (3100 miles/ 5000Km). We don't hear much about this famous race in the USA, but in Europe the winner is always mentioned as a candidate for "ultra performance of the year."

  92. markdorion

    I am wondering how the Rocky Raccoon "100" was measured?? Was it certified?? Do we know for a fact all runners ran EXACTLY as it was measured? When I ran there some years ago, by total accident much of the field ran right through one of those long, winding switchbacks (game trails cut straight up the middle, cutting off perhaps 100 yards).

  93. markdorion

    be careful . . . I would say Hokas have many great USA TRAIL ultra runners using them, BUT I would not say internationally, nor in major road ultras, they are even in the top 10 of shoes being used. At multidays in Europe and the USA this year, the most common shoes (not in order) included Saucony Kinivara/ Ride, Mizuno Inspire and Wave Rider, adidas Boost, Nike Pegasus and Vomero, various Brooks models, etc.

  94. markdorion

    Ditto what Dr. David Mackey said! US trail specialists from the Rocky Mountains need to look out at the BIG world. We have US road runners winning INTERNATIONAL titles. The most international US ultras are NOT Western States or some trail race, but rather road ultras, where there is much less "home course advantage." Note 22 countries had runners at the big New York 6 and 10 day event this past April.

  95. Geoff

    "Most of these guys and gals are 24+ hour runners and have several records in those longer distances.

    So why should the Annual UROY be any different?"

    The answer to this is as simple as the basic economic notion of supply and demand. UROY is decided by ultrarunning magazine, a for profit entity that is trying to sell magazines. Sure, they could choose to "reflect the past into the future", but for every person who participates in or closely follows the types of events that were the most popular in ultrarunning 20+ years ago there are dozens who participate in or closely follow the events that are most popular today. This isn't to say we shouldn't acknowledge and respect this past, and that we shouldn't highly respect the amazing performances that we still see in these "old school" type events, but over time things just go in and out of fashion. Right now in this country trail races up to 100 miles are the popular trend in ultrarunning. To expect the primary focus of any UROY discussion to center around anything other than these types of events is wishful thinking that just isn't going to happen until the trends shift.

  96. Anonymous

    Instead of the award being assigned by a website or a magazine, why not just have the people vote — readers/subscribers submit whatever name they want, tally the entries and BAM! you have a reader/subscriber voted winner.

    Most folks have established an opinion based on their individual preferences of runner personality, event type, terrain, degree of inspiration, etc and therefore have an opinion. At this point I am unclear as to why it is left to an editorial staff of a website or magazine to determine…

    If an "award" is mandatory, than perhaps create relevant categories that represent the variety of competition that exists (Trail, Road, Track) and represent the participants (North American, International) that participate.

    This approach would better represent the wide variety of ultra events, and IMO is more thorough and fair.

    Specific (rather than general)awards would also expose the larger ultra community to the different categories of "ultra" — and the people pushing the envelope of human endurance.

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