Approximately 250 athletes will be competing in Brive, France on Thursday, May 13 and Friday, May 14 in the International Association of Ultrarunners 24-Hour World Championship, and once again, the United States will be sending some of its best ultrarunners to compete. Today’s special edition of TWIR will take a look at the men and women that make up your Team USA! Ladies first, so let’s get started. Men, you’ll get your chance.
[Trail Goat Note: If you’re interested in following the championships live, you’re in luck. The American team is already posting updates on the AmericanUltra website and will be providing in-race coverage. For a more international perspective on the race, follow the International Association of Ultrarunner’s coverage and results live feed. Here’s a list of all the competitors (pdf), if you’re interested. On a sad note, the race director passed away just five days before this race!
Until race time, feel free to give a shout out to your favorite competitors or predict how they’ll fare. Cheer ’em on in the comments once the race get’s started. You know what we’ll be watching!]
Last year, the American women took home second place at the 24-hour world championships in Italy. Here’s the squad that will look to improve on that result with a world championship. Good luck, girls!
Forty-five year old, mother of three Suzanna Bon first broke into ultrarunning in 2003, and since then she has collected plenty of victories and course records, ranking among the top 10 American female ultrarunners (according to Ultrarunning Magazine) in the last 3 years. Suzanna earned a spot on Team USA with her 134.7 mile victory at the San Francisco One Day in 2009. Other recent performances of note, 1st place female at the 2010 Ruth Anderson 100k (9:38:31), 1st place female at the 2009 San Diego 100 (19:32:19), and 1st place female at the 2008 Cascade Crest 100 (23:06:13).
There are few ultrarunners as accomplished as 35-year old, two-time Badwater Ultramarathon champion Jamie Donaldson. A middle school math teacher from Littleton, Colorado, Jamie has been the top American female finisher at the 24-Hour World Championship for the past two years (including a fourth place, 136.83 mile performance in 2009). She was runner-up to Kami Semick for Ultrarunning Magazine’s Ultrarunner of the Year twice, and is the 200km American track record holder (21:01:28). (Teammate Jill Perry holds the overall American 200k record in 20:57:42.) 2010 had already been a stellar year for Donaldson with 2nd place finishes at the Ghost Town 39 Mile (6:13:12) and Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile (16:54:14), and first place overall wins at Lost 118 Mile Endurance Run (18:36:15) and the Philadelphia 100 Mile (14:58:23).
Debra Horn, a 50-year old attorney from Cleveland, Ohio, is the American women’s 50-54 age-group 12-hour record holder (72.96 miles), and this will be her fourth consecutive appearance on the National 24-Hour Team. Horn isn’t just a runner, she is also a curler and member of the Mayfield Curling Club’s national championship team. She knocked out 128+ miles at the NorthCoast 24-Hour run in 2009.
If you haven’t heard about Amy Palmiero-Winters, the 37-year old from Hicksville, New York who became the first amputee ever to be named to a USA National Team, then you’ve missed several articles that have appeared in national papers of note, including USA Today and the New York Times. Amy finished first overall in the 2009 24-Hour Run to the Future, covering 130.04 miles. She also took first overall honors at the Ultracentric 100 Mile (24:42:52) and first female in the 2009 Heartland 100 Mile (18:54:13). A single mother who works as a youth fitness director, coach and motivational speaker, Amy had her left leg amputated below the knee following a 1997 motor cycle accident and 27 surgeries. Since then, she has become a single-leg below-the-knee amputee world record holder in over a dozen events (including the marathon and Ironman distance triathlon), and the AAU Sullivan Award winner as the outstanding American amateur athlete for 2009.
She may be considered a “new-comer” to the world of ultrarunning, but 39-year old Manlius, New York resident Jill Perry is no stranger to endurance events. Jill balances running her own coaching service for running mothers and her ultrarunning career with raising five, yes, five young children. Winner of the 2009 USA 24-Hour National Championship (logging 136.3 miles), Jill is also the course record holder at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run (15:58:16).
Last, and certainly not least, is 37-year old Anna Piskorska of Blandon, Pennsylvania. A native of Gdansk, Poland, Piskorska emigrated to the US in 1992 and became a US citizen in 2006. She took up running only 4 years ago, notching her first marathon victory at the 2008 Triple Crown Marathon. Two years after getting into running, Anna moved up to ultra distances. She logged 132.6 miles at the 2009 USA 24-Hour National Championship.
Moving on to the men’s team, we start with Scott Jurek. What can you say about Jurek’s accomplishments that hasn’t already been said? The 36-year old from Seattle, Washington is regarded by some as the preeminent American male ultrarunner of the past decade. He is a physical therapist and running coach who is best known for his unprecedented seven consecutive victories at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Scott is also a two-time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon. Scott has won numerous ultrarunning events, including Spartathlon (2006, 2007, 2008), Hardrock (2007), and Miwok 100k (2002, 2003 and 2004). His ultrarunning resume is stacked with outstanding performances and awards.
(Trail Goat Note: Jurek has previously spoken about going for the American 24-hour record (Mark Godale, 162.46 miles) and seeing how close he could come to Yiannis Kouros’s incredible world record of 180.33 miles. Here’s what Jurek had to say about racing 24-hours before starting his first such race at Ultracentric in late 2008. [Broken link to November 15, 2008 Scott Jurek blogpost entitled “To Go On” removed.])
Serge Arbona of Baltimore, Maryland has been winning ultras for almost a decade. At the 2009 20-in-24 24-Hour Race he logged 146.28 miles to take first overall. The 45-year old is also no stranger to 100-mile victories, winning the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
John Geesler, 51 from Johnsville, New York is a 3-time USA 24-Hour National Champion, and a 5-time national team member. He is returning to the team as an athlete after a one-year stint as team manager. A maintenance supervisor at a textile mill, John is the current 48-hour American road record holder (248 miles).
At one time, 40-year old Michael Henze weighed over 300 pounds. Not any more. Henze, a resident of Neenah, Wisconsin, took up running and dropped over half of his body weight. In 2009, he won and broke the course record at the FANS 24-Hour race (147.41 miles).
Phil McCarthy, 41 of New York City, is on the American 24-hour team for the fourth straight year and with good reason. He won the 2009 US 24-hour national championship with a run of 151 miles and has a personal best of 154 miles from back in 2007. McCarthy, originally from Nebraska, has also covered more than 235 miles in a 48-hour race. At least year’s Pioneer Trek 100 mile, he ran a blazing fast 13:28:26!
Dan Rose took up running following cancer treatment. Just over 5 years later, he’s made the American 24-hour team for the first time following a third place finish at last year’s 24-hour national championships where he logged 139.22 miles. At only 33 years old, Rose could make the 24-hour team for decades to come (see John Geesler).