This Week In Running (5/8-9) & TNF Bear Mt Preview

This Week In RunningHoly smokes! How about some of those fantastic performances at the 2010 Miwok 100k last weekend. Anton Krupicka’s 8:02:53 debut Miwok performance was so impressive that doffed its cap to him in Monday’s “Nathan Yanko Video Interview” post. And, how about Kami Semick, who defended her title with a 9:10:29 finish? There were a heap of fantastic performances at Miwok, and perhaps there will be several more at some of the events taking place on the weekend of Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9, 2010.

The North Face Endurance Challenge 2010 LogoWhere do we begin? How about on the East Coast for a change, with the first of four events in The North Face Endurance Challenge Series, the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain (Saturday, May 8 in Bear Mountain, New York). “A serious, hardy test for trail runners of any level,” this event “takes place on the western shores of the Hudson River, in the craggy foothills of the Catskill Mountains.” Saturday features a 50-mile, 50k, marathon, marathon relay, and kids run. Come back on Sunday and you can run the half-marathon, 10k, or 5k. The course is rated 4/5 stars for elevation change, 5/5 stars for technical terrain and 5/5 stars for overall difficulty. “Runners can expect technical terrain and rocky footing that cuts to the chase, with some trails heading steeply uphill rather than zig-zagging at a gentler grade. Descents end in wooded hollows before the next rapid climb ending with a breathtaking view. Make no mistake: this will be a tough test of off-road endurance.”

[Trail Goat Note: Bryon here to let you know a bit about the stiff competition that will be facing off in the TNF EC Bear Mountain 50 mile event. It will surely be a race worth following. Luckily, you can follow the race on Twitter via @thenorthface and @thenorthfaceECS. Here are my picks for the men:

  1. I’ll call Geoff Roes the favorite due to his recent 5:49:59 win at the American River 50 mile and second place finish to Uli Steidl at last December’s The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship. (Read what Geoff has to say ahead of this weekend’s race.)
  2. Last year’s Leadville champ, Timmy Parr, has speed and climbing ability (he won the 2009 Pikes Peak Ascent the weekend before Leadville) that he can put to use on Bear Mountain.
  3. I’ll pick Leigh Schmitt for third. Yes, Ben Nephew, beat him at the TNF EC Mid-Atlantic race last year, but Leigh is the two-time defending Bear Mountain champ.
  4. Ben Nephew will battle Schmitt stride for stride, so we’ll pick him for four.
  5. I can hardly believe that I’m seeding Max King fifth. For those who don’t know, King is a world class steeplechaser and cross country runner with a 2:19 marathon PR in a “bad” race. He was recently third at the American River 50 mile in 6:01:17. This seeding is more due to lack of ultra experience than anything else. King could very well finish second.
  6. Brian Rusiecki was second to Schmitt at Bear Mountain last year and again at the Bull Run Run 50 mile a month ago. Then again, Rusiecki beat Schmitt by 5 minutes to set a course record at the Stone Cat 50 last November.

Here are some more top dogs. Edit: Some of these guys previously had numbers next to them, but it was never our intention to rank them. Heck, we have low confidence in the order of two through 6 above. Basically, the race is Geoff up front, a battle for second among the other five guys listed above, and the guys listed below, any of whom could slip into the top five.

  • Andrew Carlson. Who? A road runner with a 1:02 half marathon PR. Yeah, an ultra is a whole different ballgame, but the guy clearly has speed and a sick cardiovascular system!
  • Oz Pearlman is a road ultra specialist… and a testament to how deep the men’s field is! Oz was seventh at least year’s JFK 50 mile in 6:09:39.
  • Jack Pilla continuously amazes with his performances. He won the Vermont 100 in 16:36 at the age of 51.
  • Glen Redpath raced Miwok last weekend. Not gonna be fresh… though he seems to race all the time with few ill effects.
  • Michael Arnstein is a top runner who we accidentally omitted until reader BS kindly pointed him out. Michael is a speedy marathoner who placed second at least year’s JFK 50. [Added]

How do you think the men’s race will play out?

On the women’s side, Nikki Kimball is running and the race is her’s to lose. Amy Lane, a top New England runner, will run strong.]

We stay in the state of New York for the Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k (Saturday, May 8 In Plainview, New York). The course is a double-out-and back (said to be challenging, but fair) on the northern portion of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail. After an approximate 1.5 mile stretch on rolling paved road, runners enter the Greenbelt Trail at the Sunnyside Boulevard trail head. Runners take the trail to the turnaround in Cold Spring Harbor where they are treated to a gorgeous view. The course contains several steep, rocky climbs which, although not too technical, are challenging. After completing the second out-and-back, the course heads back to the roads for a short trip to the finish line at the Greater Long Island Running Club. There are several instances where the course leaves the trail to cross heavily trafficked roads.

Keeping with the East Coast theme, we travel north to Pittsfield, Vermont and the McNaughton Park Trail Runs (30, 100, 150, 200 and 500 mile trail races). The 200/500 milers start at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday. The 150 mile starts at 6:00 a.m. on Friday. The 30/100 milers start at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday. All events are run on a rugged 10-mile loop in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Runners will repeat the loops 3, 10, 15, 20, or 50 times (depending on which event they are running). Each loop has 2,400 feet of vertical gain. Do the math…that’s 24,000 feet of gain for the 100-mile, 36,000 feet for the 150-mile, 48,000 feet for the 200-mile, and a whopping 100,800 feet for the 500-mile.

We can’t leave out the West Coast, and there are plenty to choose from, including the Jenkinson Lake Trail Runs (Saturday, May 8 in Pollock Pines, California), McDonald Forest 50k Trail Run (Saturday, May 8 in Corvallis, Oregon), Lost Lake 50k (Saturday, May 8 in Bellingham, Washington), PCT 50 Mile Trail Run (Saturday, May 8 in San Diego, California), and Ice Age Trail 50k (Saturday, May 8 in La Grange, Wisconsin). Be sure to check out each race’s web-site for more details, and let us know what event you are planning to run in this weekend!

There are 14 comments

  1. Leslie Gerein

    That was fun to follow Miwok on Twitter. Thanks for the great reporting Brian! Something to add to "this week in running" which is the EPIC performance of Ellie Greenwood of Team Montrail at the 100k Elk/Beaver Ultra in Victoria, BC. Ellie won the race outright in her debut trail 100k with a ridiculous time of 7h36m40. WHOA.

    1. Bryon Powell

      That is a sick performance from Ellie! It's also an awesome name for a race. It'd be even better if it were Elk vs Beaver and everyone were assigned a team and had to where either antlers or a beaver tail.

  2. Brad K

    Great points, Bryon! How is Timmy on the technical stuff? They tell me there is no 50m more challeneging and technical then NF Bear 50m. Would you agree with that?

    I'm rooting for Leigh! As a friend pointed out to me, Leigh has proven many times that he can run with the fast marathoners, without question, and the techy stuff should work in both Geoff's and Leigh's favor.

    What do you think?

    I'm really looking forward to running this thing! The course description makes it sound like a usual day at Wissahickon :)

    -Brad K

    1. Bryon Powell

      Brad, There are a ton of 50s out there, so I won't agree that there's no more challenge or technical 50 (Devil's Backbone anyone? ). However, it's gotta be rough considering how slowly such studs run the course. To be honest, I'm not sure of Timmy's straight up technical ability.

      Have you been chatting with one of Leigh's former TNF teammates again? ;-) As I update in my comment below, Leigh, Brian, and Ben should have a great show down.

      Have fun out there, Brad!

  3. Bryon Powell

    Here's a bit more commentary I wrote on a trail running forum:

    I've got very low confidence in the specific order of two through six on my list. Ben, Brian, and Leigh are so darn evenly matched. Then, Timmy Parr is coming from high elevation, has wicked speed, and can throw down for 100 miles. That's a dangerous combination that could put him way up in the mix. Max King arguably has more talent than any trail runner in the field… but he's not really put it all together yet in a long trail race. However, he stayed close to Roes at the American River 50 (roads, but still…) and that's worth something considering how dominant Roes has been for the better part of a year.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Nice catch, BS. Totally missed him on the miles long TNF entrants list. I wish they'd make that thing sortable!

      Anyway, Arnstein definitely has some wheels. Not quite the wheels of Roes, King, or Parr, but certainly speedy. (I think Pearlman and others also have faster marathons in recent years.) I've got no clue how Arnstein runs on technical trail and that will make or break him. I've heard that Bear Mountain is the most technical highly competitive 50 miler out there… and finishing times 90 minutes slower than an easy trail course would seem to confirm that. Definitely a dark horse who could run near the front… or have a very frustrating day.

      Thanks again! I'll add him to the list.

  4. annette bednosky

    There is also Ice Age 50 Mile and 50k up in WI's Kettle Moraine on Saturday. I think there are almost 500 runners in both events! Happy muddy trail running everyone!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Annette, not only are there 500 runners among the two races, there are a bunch of top ultrarunners in the 50 mile. Many of these folks know that it's their last chance to get into Western States via the Montrail Ultra Cup's four remaining slots. Good luck!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Oops! I got some bad info on that one. Apparently the race coordinators don't know who they have running… 'cause they said they had The Andrew Carlson running. ;-)

  5. Patrick

    I tried to get TNF to stop advertising the Bear Mt races as being in "the craggy foothills of the Catskill mountains" in 2008. The reason that I did this is the fact that geologically, the NJ/NY Highlands, where Bear Mt. state park is located, is a completely separate geologic structure from that of the Catskill Mountains some 50 or so miles to the north. The Highlands are the remains of a true ancient mountain range, whereas the Catskills are in fact not technically mountains at all as they are an uplifted plateau eroded over the eons.

    It's a small point, I know, but still an important one when you spend alot of time in these places, and I wish that TNF would acknoweldge this and others would stop propogating this falsehood.

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