2009 Western States 100 Group Think Predictions

With all the data pouring in to the iRunFar Western States Prediction Contest, we just couldn’t help but play with […]

By on June 26, 2009 | Comments

Western States Endurance RunWith all the data pouring in to the iRunFar Western States Prediction Contest, we just couldn’t help but play with the data. Below we attempt to apply a hive-mentality approach to see how the men’s and women’s fields play out when the collective thoughts of 175 contest participants are accumulated. In addition to showing how many picks the top runners received for each place, we ranked the runners by MVP-style voting (i.e., 8 points for first, 7 points for second, and so on). Both the men’s and women’s tables show all WS runners who accumulated 20 or more points. Read on to see how the masses predicted the outcome for the big dance this weekend as well as some iRunFar analysis of those prediction and commentary on the race.

MontrailThanks again to all who participated in the contest! We hope you run away from it with a pair of Montrail Mountain Masochists and some Mountain Hardware apparel. Oh, and best of luck to all the runners the weekend. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive updates on the men’s leaders and the top few women early in the day. Pacing duties will have Bryon occupied from Bath Road (mile 60.6) to the finish.

The Men’s Field
2009 Western States WS WSER 100 mens field predictions(click table to enlarge)

Interesting Men’s Field Notes

  • Scott Jurek received 1,242 of a maximum possible 1,400 points.
  • Jurek was the most frequent pick for both first and second place and he received all 167 of his votes to finish in the top 6, but 8 people did not pick him at all.
  • Only 6 different men were picked most frequently for one of the top 8 spots. Jurek (1+2) and AJW (7 +8) doubled up in the picking.
  • iRunFar readers picked Jurek (47), Mackey (46), and Koerner (45) with almost identical frequency to finish second.
  • Koerner edged out Mackey for second in MVP-style voting despite Mackey getting many more first place votes (33-15).
  • There were two very close point totals in the top 10. Skaden (466) nipped Grossman (455). More people picked Grossman to place in the Top 4, while more participants included Skaden among their picks. We’d concur – Grossman’s got higher potential and could nail one with Skaden being the safer bet.
  • 69 different men were picked to place among the top 8!

iRunFar Men’s Commentary

  • Krupicka (10th) and King (22nd) are not running
  • Tsuyoshi Kaburagi is the top foreign pick in 11th. Given that he’s only raced one American ultra that we know of off hand (The North Face Endurance Challenge ’08), we were impressed with his standing from the American-heavy contest participants. However, we also think this may mean he would have ranked even higher if he had more US exposure.
  • We think the ranking of the first nine men is fairly reasonable. Of those, Brian Morrison could make the biggest jump… and not just because he’s ranked 9th.
  • Of the other men on the list, those with the potential to move up the most spots are David James (relative newcomer with an impressive start 2009 and nothing to lose), Jez Bragg (fast Brit), Sean Meissner (ready to bust one out), Leigh Schmitt (nearly unbeatable in East Coast 50s and the VT100 course record holder), and Michael Wardian (if anyone can bounce back from placing 6th place at the 100k world champs last week, it’s Iron Mike).
  • Despite the heat, there’s a real chance that the men’s masters record (Twietmeyer – 17:17) goes down with Grossman, AJW, and Kaburagi in the race.
  • If Marco Olmo finishes, he should shatter the men’s 60 and over record.


The Women’s Field
2009 Western States WS WSER 100 womens field predictions(click table to enlarge)

Interesting Women’s Field Notes

  • Unsurprisingly, iRunFar readers overwhelmingly picked Nikki Kimball for the women’s won. What’s more, Kimball outscored Jurek (1,297 to 1,242). As two fewer folks cast votes for the women (175 to 173), Nikki had 8 fewer total possible points with 1,382.
  • As you can see from the table, iRunFar readers most frequently picked positions coincide almost exactly with the point totals. The only exception – 100-mile rookie Anita Ortiz.
  • Anita did not receive a single first place vote and was not the most frequent pick for any place and yet received the fifth most points.
  • Jenn accumulated nearly as many points as Bev. However, Jenn’s received many more first place picks (17 to 3), but was also more frequently picked for fifth through eighth. Bev received more votes than Jenn for second (28 to 19) and was the most frequently picked women to place third and fourth. Good thinking readers.
  • 61 different women were picked to place in the top 8.

iRunFar Women’s Commentary

  • Word is that Prudence L’Heureux (10th) won’t be running on Saturday.
  • Despite the apparent conclusiveness of the Kimball, Moehl, Anderson-Abs ranking – both Krissy and Bev are in top form.
  • Shelton is the fastest woman in the field. No doubts there. Money says she has a 20 minute lead crossing El Dorado Creek… and she doesn’t cross the river. No haters here – just saying it’s all or nothing with this young speedster.
  • We’ve got to admit that Caren Spore is the highest ranked runner in either field that we know absolutely nothing about! Apparently she runs on Vespa.
  • Three members of the WORLD CHAMPION American women’s 100k team will be running on Saturday. Meghan Arbogast and Connie Gardn
    er will be racing the full distance while fast foodie Devon Crosby-Helms will be pacing Krissy Moehl for 20 miles late in the race. You go girls!

Master’s Picks
Contest participants chose an amazing 27 different men to win the masters race. That said, only four runners received more than 4 votes in this category: Andy Jones-Wilkins (79), Eric Grossman (27), Marco Olmo (12), and Dean Karnazes (8). Mark Lantz and Tsuyoshi Kaburagi tied for fifth with four votes apiece.

While AJW may have dominated the men’s masters picks, BAA (Bev Anderson-Abbs) ran circles around the other masters women. Bev received 109 picks while Anita Ortiz (16), Connie Gardner (12), and Meghan Arbogast (5) rounded out the top 4. In total 21 different masters women were picked for the win.

Commentary On Contest Participation

  • Three individuals picked themselves for an overall win. At least two of them will be taking on points for their picks.
  • At least one WSER trustee participated in the contest.
  • One man ranked in the top 9 by iRunFar readers did not pick himself to place in the top 8.
  • At least four men who won a 100 miler in North America in 2008 participated in the contest. If you can’t beat them on the course, maybe you can beat them in the contest.
  • Sean Meissner was the only WS synchroblogger not to participate in the prediction contest. We will pester him until he makes unofficial picks. Rest assured there will be major bragging rights to he amongst us who knows the Western States field better than the rest.


  • So what do you all think about the group prediction?
  • Would any of you change your picks if you could due to the increase in forecast high? (101F in Auburn)
  • Want to make any of your predictions public? If so, leave a comment!
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.