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Some Early Thoughts on North American Female Ultrarunner of the Year

An early look at the 2013 female North American ultrarunner of the year.

By on October 18, 2013 | Comments

AJWs TaproomFollowing up on my column two weeks ago on the male Ultrarunner of the Year, now it’s time for the ladies. From my perspective, I think women’s Ultrarunner of the Year* could go to as many as six different women. And, in contrast to the men, I think the final result could ultimately come down to late-season races.

Here, in no particular order, are my top six:

Rory Bosio

Her win, course record, and top-10 finish overall in UTMB is the runaway performance of the year, in my opinion. Adding to that her fifth place at Western States, fourth place at Lake Sonoma, and second place at Way Too Cool clearly makes Rory a solid contender.

The Big “But”: She lost head-to-head to other contenders in Western States, Lake Sonoma, and Way Too Cool.

Odds to win: 7-1

Amy Sproston

Amy’s early season win at Ray Miller and third at Lake Sonoma gave her a solid advantage going into the summer. Then, a tie with Meghan Arbogast at the Shibamata 100k road race in Japan and a third-place finish at Western States made her into a strong contender.

The Big “But”: She DNFed at UTMB.

Odds to win: 8-1

Michele Yates

Michele had an amazing under-the-radar start to her season with wins at Bandera, Nueces, and the Indiana Trail 100. Then, she turned more than a few heads with wins at Run Rabbit Run and a third place at the UROC two weeks apart.

The Big “But”: She has a race resume that lacks some of the competitive chops of the others.

Odds to Win: 7-1

Pam Smith

Her dominating win at Western States is probably the second-best performance of the year and her win at American River combined with her third place at Nueces solidifies Pam as a true contender. What could really tip her over the edge would be another dominating performance at Desert Solstice in Arizona in December.

The Big “But”: She has a rather thin resume compared to the other contenders.

Odds to win: 7-1

Nikki Kimball

Nikki came back with a vengeance in 2013 with three solid second-place finishes at highly competitive races. Her performances at Western States and Run Rabbit Run, in particular, make her a solid contender. (The third was at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile- New York.) If she jumps into any late season races and runs well, she could slide up the standings.

The Big “But”: Fewer races than the other contenders and some head-to-head “losses”.

Odds to win: 10-1

Meghan Arbogast

The Grand Old Dame of Ultrarunning was at it again with impressive races all season long. Her win at Way Too Cool, fifth place at Lake Sonoma, win at Ice Age 50k, tie with Amy Sproston at Shibamata 100k, and fourth place at Western States positioned her solidly in the pack after the first six months of the year. Then, her solid second place at White River only added to her impressive season. As with some of the others in this pool, if Meghan jumps into another race or two this year and does well, this could be the difference maker.

The Big “But”: She’s faced some head-to-head losses with other contenders at Lake Sonoma and Western States.

Odds to win: 7-1

Bottoms up!

* 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 were larger.

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Boneyard Beer Girl Beer - BeermosaThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Boneyard Beer in Bend, Oregon. Their Girl Beer is a perfect accompaniment to this week’s column!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Which of these women do you think has the current edge for the North American Ultrarunner of the Year title? Who’ll get it in the end with late-season races?
  • If you were to add anyone else to this list, who would it be and why?
  • If we expand the scope of consideration to the rest of the world, Emelie Forsberg and Núria Picas would be strong contenders. Who else beyond North America would be in the running for global women’s ultrarunner of the year?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

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