Race Update (6pm on Sunday):
The top three foot finishers are in. Dave Johnston took the victory in 27 hours 25 minutes. Rorik Peterson was about an hour back and Laura McDonough was third overall and the women's winner once again in just over 31 hours (has any other women ever won this race besides Laura?). Looks like Evan dropped out at about mile 44 and Julie and Eric did not start.
As the race unfolded yesterday I began to notice that the skiers were generally moving faster than the bikers. This is a very bad sign for the runners. Soft snow conditions slow bikers down the most and skiers down the least so that comparison is where you really can tell what the trail is like out there. My hunch was confirmed a couple hours ago when I got an email from Dave telling me that he pretty much ran in at least a few inches of soft, wet, punchy snow for the entire race! The trails that this race are on can be set up super hard and fast but if they're not it can be a serious slog out there. Sounds like this was definitely a slog year, which makes Dave's 27 hours VERY IMPRESSIVE. Had it been a hard smooth surface like it was for me when I set the Susitna course record two years ago, perhaps Dave would now have that course record. For comparison, Laura, who seems to be about as steady and consistent as they come, ran exactly 6 hours faster two years ago than she did this year. Take 6 hours off Dave's time and he's more than 15 minutes faster than the 21:43 I ran. You the man Dave.
Tomorrow is the Susitna 100 / Little Su 50k.
I was planning to run the 50k as a training run for The Iditarod Invitational but once a stomach bug and a calf injury delayed my training by almost 10 days a couple weeks ago I decided that it would be smarter to use all of my time before March 1st preparing (mentally, physically, and logistically) for my focus race and not waste time on another "training race" which I would probably end up running harder than planned like I almost always do.
The Susitna 100 is shaping up to be a good race this year. The bike division is always competitive and hard fought, but in the past there have been some years where the foot division didn't have very many strong runners at the front of the pack. I don't think this will be one of those years. Here's the way I see it playing out:
Rorik Peterson (last year's winner and 4th place in a strong field the year before last) has to be the favorite. I put him at 3-1 odds.
Julie Udchachon has the most speed of anyone in the field but rumor has it she wasn't at the "mandatory" pre-race meeting last night. If she's in the race I'd list her at 5-1
Dave Johnston I think will be very hungry and motivated for this one after pulling out of HURT. I put him at 6-1
Evan Hone I would normally put with (or ahead) of Dave but he won't likely be as hungry for this one as he wasn't even planning to run it until a few days ago. Lucky for him Dave talked him into it. He weighs in at 7-1
Laura McDonough has won this race more than anyone. If conditions get bad and it turns in to a 30+ hour affair she could out last them all and add yet another susitna win to her resume. I put her at 10-1
Eric Johnson won the Arrowhead 135 last month and is running The Iditarod Invitational. I'm sure this is more of a training run for him and he doesn't have the kind of speed that most of the others ahead of him have, but this is a race that doesn't have a whole lot to do with speed. If the conditions turn horrible it could become a battle between Laura and Eric to see who can endure the longest. I put him at 12-1
I'm sure there are others on the roster who will battle near the front of the pack as well it'll be fun to see how it plays out.