This Week In Running: 2009 100 Milers Recap

Last week, TWIR focused on 100 milers future. Today, we’ll focus on 100 milers past – specifically, all of the North American 100 milers of 2009. Given that it’s the final TWIR of the year (for real this time), Tony and Bryon have teamed up to co-host this edition of This Week in Running. Together, they’ll share some tidbits about this year’s races, provide a list of all the 100 mile winners, and let you pick the best 100 mile performances of the year!

Update: Women‘s and men‘s poll results have been added to this post!

100 Mile Tidbits
In 2009, there were no fewer than 56 100 milers scheduled to be run in North America. Three of those races, Angeles Crest (fire), Swan Crest (unstated reasons), and Syllamo (storm damage), were canceled prior to the race’s start. Racers got to start the Chimera 100 before it was called off due to severe storms. Two other 100s, Rio Del Lago and Mother Road, simply took a hiatus for a year. One race, the fat ass Delaware 100, had no women’s finishers.

It should come as little surprise that Karl Meltzer was the winningest 100 mile racer on the year with five victories at the distance. His wins at Massanutten, Bighorn, Hardrock, Grindstone, and Pinhoti show he’s at his best in the mountains. Geoff Roes, who beat Meltzer while shattering the Wasatch 100, also won HURT and The Bear to give him three wins on the season. Two other runners, Dave James and Jenny Chow, also logged three 100 mile wins apiece. Chow took home the top trophy at Kettle Moraine, Mohican Trail and Oil Creek, while James bested the field at Umstead, Javelina, and Ancient Oaks. The only others to win multiple 100 milers in 2009 were Ashley Nordell (Bighorn and Grand Teton) and Jeff Browning (Iroquois Trails and Ozark Trails).

The fastest trail 100 milers on the year were Jill Perry’s blazing 16:02 at Umstead and Dave James’s ludicrously fast 14:20 at the Javelina Jundred. While not in a 100 mile event, Dave James ran a 2009 world’s best (as far as we can tell) and 3rd all-time road-certified North American time with his 13:06:52 at the NorthCoast 24 hour in Cleveland.

Table of 2009 100 Mile Winners

100 Mile Performances of the Year
We thought it would be fun to invite all of you to vote for the top male and female 100 milers of the year. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think were the top 100 mile performances of the year and why.

In additional, we ask that you to nominate the top 100 mile debut performance of 2009. Please leave a comment with your nominees for best 100 mile debut.

On to the nominees for best 100 mile performance of the year.


  • Diana Finkel (Hardrock – 27:18) – Another year and another Hardrock course record for Diana Finkel. Oh, except this year Diana ran nearly four hours faster than she did to set the opposite direction course record in 2008!
  • Krissy Moehl (Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc – 24:56) – Sure it wasn’t in North America, but we make the rules! Not only did Krissy best Lizzy Hawker by over an hour, she also set the course record at this 103-mile circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massif.
  • Betsy Nye (Wasatch – 23:15) – Betsy had long shot for sub-24 at Wasatch, but her best time going into the 2009 race was 25:36. Excellent prep, good weather, competition from Mandy Hosford, and a perfectly run race yielded a time of 23:15 – a record on the current course.
  • Anita Ortiz (Western States – 18:24) – Anita Ortiz won this year’s Western States 100 by more than an hour. That’s quite a feat when you consider that it was the deepest women’s field of any North American 100 in 2009. Oh, and it was her 100 mile debut!
  • Jill Perry (Umstead – 16:02) – It would be a mistake to leave out the fastest trail 100 mile time wouldn’t it? We think so. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as an easy 100.


  • Dave James (Javelina – 14:20) – Dave’s run at Javelina was 45 minutes faster than the next fastest North American 100 mile time… his 15:05 at Umstead. For the fastest 2009 time for a guy not named Dave James, we need to go to Zack Gingerich’s 15:17 at Kettle Moraine.
  • Kilian Jornet (Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc – 21:33) – A non-North American race by a non-North American runner? You betcha! Kilian won UTMB by more than an hour and was only 36 minutes off the UTMB course record he set in 2008.
  • Hal Koerner (Western States – 16:24) – Some days it’s not about course records. In late June under a blazing sun, Hal beat out one of best men’s 100 mile fields in recent history. Sometimes a win is a win.
  • Karl Meltzer (Hardrock – 24:38) – Meltzer may not have the fastest time ever at Hardrock, but he smoked the counter-clockwise course record by an hour and a half in 2009.
  • Geoff Roes (Wasatch – 18:30) – Everyone knew that Goeff Roes was fast going into Wasatch, but we think he shocked everyone… himself included, with his course record smashing 18:30. That’s 65 minutes faster than Kyle Skaggs’s two year old course record.

There are 29 comments

  1. Brett

    Considering Amy Palmiero-Winters is a below the knee amputee and runs with a prosthetic leg, I'd put her high on the list of 100 mile performance of the year – hell just for finishing, not just for winning. Or John DeWalt's Hardrock 100 performance at the age of 73.

  2. Dave

    Happy Holidays everyone! Don't vote for my run at Javelina. The course can be run fairly easily in sub 14 and I don't think it was even my best 100 miler of the year. I am more proud of what I came through the 100 in 3 weeks earlier in Cleveland (13:06:52). I DNF'd at Western, so my vote is for Hal, but I think Geoff and Karl are amazing runners too. I am not even in there league yet.As for the women, what Amy did was so inspirational but my vote is for my good buddy Jill at Umstead! Had the race been a few miles longer she would have caught :) She wasn't even tired afterwards! LOL

  3. Shannon

    I have to add my vote for dave's 13:06 split in Cleveland. It gets overlooked as a 100 miler because it was at a 24hr event, but there was a USATF Certifier present, therefore its a certified time. It is one of the fastest 100 miles ever run in the history of america and its get my vote as one of the most incredible things i have ever seen in ultrarunning so far. It was amazing to watch him run as he made it look so easy… never looking like he was working hard, until he got past the 100 mile mark.

  4. saschasdad

    I'm going off the list, too, and voting for Dave's 13:06 split – I don't care what the surface was, that is just SICK!Krissy gets my nod for UTMB for the girls.

  5. Mike Scammon

    I have to say that the run I visualized myself doing throughout the year, is by far the best performance of 2009; hands down. Seriously, you should have seen me.It was awesome.

  6. Dave Combs

    While Dave says we shouldn't vote for his 14:20 at Javelina, if we're restricted to official 100 mile races that'd get my vote (I love being the timer there!). Dave says that sub-14:00 would be fairly easy, but given that the course record he broke was Karl Meltzer's 15:25, I'm not sure about that. For Dave, sure! If we're allowed to go off-list, I'm with everybody else–Dave's 13:06 100 split at North Coast 24 is easily my performance of the year.

  7. Michael

    David, Congratulations on a great year. I do have a question about North Coast 24 Hour. Were you racing for a 100 mile certified distance or were you racing the 24 hour event?The results indicate you ran almost 120 miles in close to 17 hours. I think to be fair, it should be clarified. 13:06 is very fast. I wonder if North Coast would interested in sanctioning a road 100 mile event next year and inviting an open field to compete at this set distance. It would give others and opportunity to run fast for the distance and give David a chance to at running sub 13. Michael

  8. Evan

    Best 2009 Male 100 mile performance: Geoff Roes, Wasatch. 65 minutes off the course record on a legendary and tough course.Best 2009 Female 100 mile performance: Krissy Moehl, UTMBBest 2009 Male 100 mile debut: Nick Pedatella, Bear 100Best 2009 Female 100 mile debut: Anita Ortiz, WS 100

  9. Bryon Powell

    Evan,Thanks for chiming in. Nick did have a pretty good debut at The Bear.Since not many folks are chiming in on the debuts, I'll have to throw out the two Leadville winners: Tim Parr (17:27:23) and Lynette Clemons (20:58:01).

  10. Dave

    Hey Michael, I really had no plan going into Cleveland actually. I didn't even commit in my head until a few days before. I actually raced the day before for school in an 8K XC race in Lehigh Pennsylvania where my ride to Cleveland picked me up and was just excited to be on a road trip and have a weekend off from racing and school so I could catch up with some ultra friends and do my "research" for an independent study paper I was writing on endurance events. I had never seen a 24 hour event and figured I would give it a shot. I was excited to see Scott and Mark go for some fast times at their distances. It actually hurt to run slow. I think this was because all of my mileage for XC season was at a faster pace. Even our recovery slow runs were sub 7 most days so the pace I was running seemed way to easy. The ultra legend, Ray K, who was on course told me I hand a chance to run a fast 100 mile split and beat Ted Corbitt's mark sometime after it got dark (probably around 80 pus miles and I thought that was really cool so I pushed a little harder but was still planning on going for the full distance. I hadn't slept much with classes and XC practice and meets and had one the Wednesday after Cleveland so when it got late and I started to get tired I decided to not risk it because I was the number two guy on my team and they needed me for the next race so I walked off (well limped off) the course and went to sleep in a lot of good sore tired pain :) I was back running on Tuesday and finished the race that Wednesday after in 3rd overall and my teammate Brian won it when I took his watch away right before the race and told him to just run and win the race. Brian, who is from Kenya, pushed me this fall into top shape. Thinking back to some of the workouts I did it really shouldn't shock anyone that I was able to run these times. Speedwork is key for me I guess?So no I wasn't racing for a 100 from the start and I wasn't able to stay awake and keep running to race the entire 24, so in actuality this was a big DNF in my book and think someday I would like to finish a 24 hour run :)

  11. Craig Thornley

    Interesting how many if not most people often choose fast performances with weaker fields over wins at the most competitive races. Have people forgotten the men's field that was assembled at WS this year? Lots of DNFs from big names and there were still 5 guys under 17 hours. Maybe it's my track roots but I tend to look at the wins with the most competitive fields. When at the start of the race you got 10 or more guys that could realistically win the race that's a competitive field and the competitors are dealing with a whole lot more than how fast they will run. But, we all get to vote on our own criteria.

  12. Dave

    Its really tough to compare the mountain runs with the road runs. No doubt that Dave James and Jill Perry have had some great results. Yet, Diana Finkel and Geoff Roes have phenomenal results as well. I voted for Diana and Geoff, because I find the trails harder than the roads – yet I could see a case either way.

  13. Tony Mollica

    I vote for Jill Perry's run at Umstead because it was the fastest.I vote for Dave's performance at Cleveland. It was a sight to see he was flying! I am prejudiced though as I was crewing for him, and Shannon. I would like to see how fast he could go if he had decided at the beginning to see how fast he could run the 100 in!

  14. Bryon Powell

    Wow! That was Zach's 100 mile dubut?! I never would have guessed considering his experience and success at 50 miles. That's definitely up there. Thanks for pointing it out Anon.

  15. AJW

    I'm going with Geoff and Diana. I agree with Craig that the field has alot to do with it. Alot. Sad to say, but Dave dropped at The Dance and that matters. Maybe he'll come back and get it right. The best always do.AJW

  16. Speedgoat Karl

    Dave Combs:My run at Javelina in 15:25 was good, but I knew it could be faster…..why? I ran the San Diego 100 in 15:48 two weeks before. Dave'e 14:20 is solid, but he knows is can be better. The 13:06 split, was just that….a split, I think he only went 119 miles in 24 hours. Even if their is a silly USATF certifier, in my eyes, it doesn't count..My two cents…worth a penny! :-)

  17. Speedgoat Karl

    One more thing. Killian Jornet ran a good time, but we really don't know how good it was. He just ran away, noone challenged him at all. Scott Jurek ran, but not at top speed. Had Scott run well, we would have a better indicator of how good it was. Krissy too!, was her run under the record? Then again, the course was different, like every UTMB. Maybe I'll go back to Europe next year and get the lowdown…on fresh legs this time.

  18. Bryon Powell

    Karl,I agree it's slightly harder to judge UTMB, especially from over here in the States where so few people one knows have run it.Even if I've never raced Umstead, Hardrock, or Javelina… I've run on the Umstead and Hardrock courses multiple times and know many folks who've run each of those races. That makes it easier to compare performances.Two things jump to mind that do help when considering this year's UTMB performances. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, who was second at WS 100 '09 just 28 minutes back of Koerner, while Tsuyoshi was third at UTMB an hour and 15 minutes behind Kilian. On the women's side, Krissy topped Lizzie Hawker by more than an hour… that's a pretty good comp. Sure, it would be nice to compare to Krissy's UTMB run to a few top women's runners we know, but it's something.

  19. Dave

    Karl, I agree with you I consider my performance at Cleveland a failure in a way because I decided to cal it quits. My priority this fall was Cross Country for UB. You have raced and run a lot more of these 100s than most of us and know that if you want to go back to JJ you can take down the "record" even further. I just don't think any of my "performances" deserve any votes because I have yet to nail one of these events and finish with that "I gave it my all feeling," like I had in Costa Rica during a few stages of The Coastal Challenge.Andy, Western States took me down this summer that is for sure! I ran a stupid race early on and made an epic fueling mistake. It was so much fun to watch you and the other top guys cross the finish there! It made me want to return someday that is for sure! I actually did not have a good season at all as I DNF'd more big races than I care to remember, but we live and learn :) I hope to be able to someday really get a chance to race out west again when I am in better shape, smarter, and more prepared.Craig, I also agree with you. Racing a "pressure cooker" and running an easy relaxed "fun run" are two entirely different experiences.

  20. Anonymous

    Someone made a comment about not counting a 13:06 100 mile because it was a split in a 24 hour race?"The 13:06 split, was just that….a split, I think he only went 119 miles in 24 hours. Even if their is a silly USATF certifier, in my eyes, it doesn't count..My two cents…worth a penny! :-)"Worthless I believe, not even a penny.I'm not trying to pick a fight, but, Go run 100 miles in 13:06 or better, any event any surface, it will give a whole new appreciation for the effort at Cleveland.I think the current American 100 mile records for both road and track performances were set as splits during 24 hour races. Countless other official records at varying distances have been set as splits as well.Should a certified split at 50 miles not count if it was part of a 100 kilometer race? How about if the runner injured at 57 miles and had a DNF?Many 24 hour races have offered "official" races at 100 miles, but the fact that this did not does not in any way detract from how outstanding a 13:06 100 mile is.Look at the all time list of 100 mile performances and see how many excellent runners never ran that fast. How many runners who have posted here have ever run that fast?13:06:52 was not here, so I did not vote, but I'd vote it as ultra performance of the year.I'd also say that 100 mile performances (and the fast splits to get there) of 13:06 (North Coast), 14:20 (Javalina), 14:31 (another split at Freedom Park) 15:05 (Umstead)and 16:41 (AO) give strong consideration to James as ultra runner of the year as well.He may be a one trick pony at 100 miles, but with the three fastest (or is it 4) times of the year at 100 a decent 50K at Caumsett, before he got in shape, and some credible performances (splits) at 50 miles and 100k from a man who ran way too many races way too close together he would have to get some consideration as ultra runner of the year.Bottom line, don't be so quick to discredit splits, you (universal you here) might need one yourself one day.

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