Sunday, February 6, 2011

Western States It Is

No Hardrock this year for me. Quite a few fast guys got in (Jurek, Meltzer, Jones, Clark, Callahan, Campbell to name a few) so it should be a fairly exciting race in the San Juan Mountains in July. Nowhere near as exciting as it could have been though if the race organization had any real desire to create as exciting a race as possible at the front of the pack. It's their race and they can do what they want with it, but I think it's unfortunate for fans of the competitive aspect of the sport of Ultrarunning that the most challenging and most scenic 100 miler we have in this country has seemingly no desire to bring a high level of competition into their event. I hope to, and probably will, run the Hardrock course one of these years, but I think there is a good chance that it will not be as part of the "race."

One of my favorite things about racing is to put myself up against as many top level runners as possible. I like to challenge myself in this way and I like the bond that is created from sharing this type of experience with so many like minded people. Take this competitive aspect out of a race and there's not a lot left for me that I can't get from just going out and running the course on my own or with some friends.

I'm sure some of you are thinking that I'm just sour about this because I didn't get drawn into the race, but the truth is that had I been drawn in I'm not even sure I would opt to run. My plan all along has been to run either Western States or Hardrock, whichever one would have a more competitive field to race against. My hope was that by some miracle virtually all of the top runners got into Hardrock and then it would have been a no brainer to run Hardrock. If all things were equal (competition wise) I would have also opted for Hardrock because I prefer to run races that I haven't run before, and from everything I've heard the Hardrock course is beyond belief in challenge and beauty. But with the way the lottery turned out, even if I had been drawn into Hardrock I would have likely opted to tangle with Tony, Kilian, Sharman, Clark, and others at Western States instead of Hardrock (the competition on paper looks about equal at both, but I am pretty certain at least a couple of the top guys on the Hardrock list are likely to not run). That is to say that it would have been a tough call, but one that I don't need to worry about making.

The other thing that had crept into my mind a bit more in the past few days was the temptation to run them both (if I had the option). In some ways I'm kind of glad I don't have the option to do anything as stupid as running both of them.

69 comments:

Hone said...

Unless I missed it....you didn't even make the wait list.

Agiofws said...

Races should have something like 20 regostrations open for elite runners, and draw a lottery for all the rest of the entries.

Derrick said...

I just don't understand that. Makes no sense. Same old complaint...the sport is growing, but the mindset of many RD's is not.

Would have been great to see you in that field.

momroes said...

Sorry Geoff that you didn't get in to Hardrock - you'll do great at Western States I am sure. It would have been fun to do a race you have never done but you need to do an exceptional repeat at WS now.

Love you

jun said...

Interesting you say this because I was just thinking yesterday that I am automatically less interested in following Hardrock this year because all of the top runners won't be there. Don't get me wrong, I'm still psyched for those who will be and will be interested to see who wins, but there is still some level of disappointment. I agree that top ranked runners should have an automatic bid.
Funny, my wife, who isn't even an ultra runner, thinks that top level ultras should have two separate drawings; one for the regular runners and one for the elites. And then she still thinks that the top 5 - 10 men and women should be automatic.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

I can't decide if the egalitarianism of the Hard Rock lottery is really noble and good or just plan crazy. Geoff, you are the top 100+ mile guy in the nation (not that you or anyone needs to be reminded of that)...and you didn't get into Hard Rock? Wow.

When the day comes (maybe next year) when I feel ready for Hard Rock, man, I am going to have to stand in line for a long, long time.

Wyatt

DavidP said...

It is a real shame people like you cannot run races like Hardrock with all the other "nascar" guys to see a championship....
Don´t mind. WS is gonna rock this year!!!!!!!!
Can´t hardly wait...

Keep movin´ Geoff!!!

Saludos

DavidP
www.corrersinsentido.blogspot.com

Speedgoat Karl said...

And to think I got in only because I've finished it 5 times, NOT because I've won it 5 times. That part seems a bit wrong. We're gonna miss you there for sure, as well as Tony K, but make the best of it and compete at WS, cuz' everyone wants the previous champ to come back and defend. At least you have that on your plate.

I feel, like yourself, that I should be an automatic draw for WS too, I tried to get in, and would have gone to WS instead of HR, but I'm not "qualified". My 29 100 miles wins is not enough I guess, nor is that old man's 14:27. :-)

As top athletes, a bunch of us need to approach the right people and create our own 100. Put it on the backburner now, but in the fall, we'll come up with a plan "before" all race entries are required, then none of the popular 100s will have no competition, it'll be the De Facto 100, Fat Ass style with a cash purse, donated by us.

Thanks also for the good words over on my site as well, very cool.

To the next race.....

Speedgoat Karl said...

Hey, fix my double negative comment! :-) whoops!

Brian D. Purcell said...

I fully understand your frustration, Geoff, but, like you said, the RD has the right to organize the race however they feel. It's clear that Ultra-running is going through a major shift in competitiveness, and many of these traditional races will have to make a decision of where they fit. Currently Hardrock chooses the show no favoritism route. That's fine, but it might just encourage another group to run a Hardrock-like race in the area as a competitor, and invite all the studs to come. If the course is that popular, someone will see the financial incentive to do it.

Steve said...

I don't mean to necessarily represent the contrarian view here, but I don't believe that all races should automatically reserve spaces for elite runners, especially for races that have limited spaces. I agree that competition is great and it draws a significant amount of interest to the sport. But if all races reserved spots for elite racers, there is no guaratntee that the race would be as competitive as you desire. The other negative result is that there are less spots availabe to non-elite runners. A possible solution to this problem would be to have some representatives from ultra community petition RDs to have their race at as the "national championship": choose a different race every year and rotate it so that different courses get some attention; elite runners can have the competition they want; non-elite runners won't feel like they're being pushed out of famous races; and we can have something resembling a sanctioned championship.

Derrick said...

Sure it's the RD's choice and they can do it anyway they want, but it really doesn't have to be all one way or the other. As was already mentioned, there is absolutely no reason why 10 or 20 spots could not be reserved for the top runners who may challenge for the win.

The #1 thing I learned from organizing races is that, yes you want to keep the mid and back of the pack happy, but it also adds a great deal to the event to have the best quality field you can. As far as keeping certain runners out of certain races like WS or Hardrock, I think that it's incredibly stupid and a potential lost opportunity. Very old school thinking.

Jill said...

There's a lot of potential out there for Hardrock-esque courses, although relatively very few where public agencies and regulations would allow for a big race-type event.

But a 100-mile run in the Wasatch Mountains would make a nice Hardrock consolation prize. As an added bonus — more overall climbing and less need for acclimation. Invite a few of your fastest friends.

http://blog.coachingendurance.com/2010/08/jared-campbells-millwood-100.html

Wyatt Hornsby said...

I have to chime in for a second time--sorry! What incentive is there for an RD to reserve spots for elites when elites pay the same entry as "regular" (read: non-elite) guy and gals? To use Geoff as an example, he pays $250 just like Joe Schmo does! So how then do we get to a point where elites can get into races like Hard Rock for the sake of an uber-competitive field? Well, pressure from sponsors might be effective. Sponsors want their runners to compete on the biggest stages (versus small, obscure races), and Hard Rock and Western States are certainly big stages. Sponsors, because they have the cash and reach, can exert tons of pressure. They just have to be made aware of the problem, or maybe they already know.

Short of that, there seem to be two alternatives:

1) Elites run the races they can get into, staying with the status quo, or....

2) Elites organize their own race(s), as Karl M. suggested.

As a guy who makes his living do PR stuff, I am captivated by what's going on with ultrarunning. Seems some of the elites guys see brand-building/marketing potential (and who can blame them?) while some of the longstanding races are bucking the trend.

Wyatt

Joseph Lea said...

I do like the idea of a championship-like event on terrain similar to Hardrock. It would be very exciting to see the world's top ultrarunners competing in those conditions - so many wild cards nature can throw at you "out there"!

Having participated in Hardrock and gotten to know some of the core Hardrock family, I know there's also something equally special in what they have created there.

I'm looking forward to seeing what fills the void in the current event lineup. I hope it's a new event and that you also get the chance to experience Hardrock for what it is.

marmot

Matt said...

Gidday,
a comment from afar. There are a ton of races for the 'elites' to go of and be competitive at. You have a National Trail Championship that none of you go along to. There's a world 24 hour champs that (Jurek excluded) none of you have attempted to qualify for.

What you're really saying is, I want to run with my friends and be comeptitive on courses I like and then next year I'm going somewhere else. Afterall you did say you like to run different courses.

Western States has for a long time been open to the elites, there's at least 10 races with 2 qualifying slots that get rolled down if someone's already qualified.

How many races each year do you guys want to have good competition at? Which races will that be this year, what about the next year and the one following.

There are plenty of options for being competitive.

Cheers
Matt

Billy said...

Just tear it up at WS100 Geoff. Hardrock will come.

solarweasel said...

I too would enjoy a race stacked with as many elites as possible, and I agree that the choice to feature such a field of talent ultimately lies with the RD.

That said, I take issue with your use of the term "elite."

Is ultrarunning really established enough to contain a well-defined class of "elites?" What about the dark-horse candidates that simply haven't had a shot at the top? Not all great ultrarunners are sponsored athletes nor can they all afford the significant costs of entry and travel to as many races as some.

There is a LOT of unseen talent lurking about -- especially in a sport as young and rapidly changing as ultrarunning. I think you are a good example of this... up until two years ago, few knew your name (no offense!).

Yes, there are a handful of runners who've certainly made names for themselves, and it would be amazing to watch them all duke it out on a course like Hardrock. But there is no doubt we will witness multiple elite events this June/July, even if many of the elites are currently, casually flying beneath the radar.

Mark Swanson said...

USATF should designate a different 100M as the championship each year and require (as a condition) that that race set aside slots for the top ten males, top ten females and top five of each in master's divisions. Different race and course each year; wouldn't affect any of us mere mortals since it's only 30 slots out of all of the 100's offered in a year. And it would be very exciting!

Speedgoat Karl said...

I will say it's kind of ironic how the fast guys that did get in HR were NOT on the WS list to begin with? I know not all, and I would bet Nick Clark is on the WS list, ( didn't look) but no others. Maybe I'm looking into it too much. Jurek, Dakota, Nick, Julian Chorier (thanks Tony K) and a few others. HMMMM.

Hardrock will be competitive, I assure everyone. Summer X Games.....we need to approach them. to the round table...

leonidas said...

Lottery is not the appropriate way to pick runners at this kind of races. This system is constraining the growth of ultra-mountain running.

A point system should be applied based on the experience and CV of each runner. There enough races for everyone to pick one. The point system will help the planning of all runners, and at the same time popular races will contribute to the growth of the sport and smaller races, since runners will be encouraged to gather points by participating in smaller or less popular events.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Karl: I recently wrote about potential with X Games on my blog.

http://nolimitsever.blogspot.com/2011/01/training-week-124130-should.html

Wyatt

Mark Ryan said...

From a way back of the packer, it is good to see the debate in all of this, however, is there a possibility that this could turn into an Ironman fiasco?

I know as ultrarunners we don't want to be associated with the Upper Class, Elitist, Douchebags that are triathletes (another blog's words, not my own). But some of this reserving spots for Elites reaks of this.

I understand that road marathons have an elite field with elite aid stations and the lot, but I thought trail running was different. More blue collar, more everyman. This is a beautiful sport, underappreciated by the mainstream, but that is the appeal for me. Down to earth guys like Geoff and Anton, grizzled veterans like Meltzer and AJW, and young hot shots like Dakota and Kilian. This is our sport of ultra running.

Keep the conversation going Geoff, it is always interesting.

Run 100 Miles said...

hmmm...

(re: Karl's comment regarding a Fat Ass hundo championship)

something tells me you wouldn't have to pony up your own cash.

assuming you could ensure all of you showing up, the attention tossed at such an event would be monumental ...at least in our little world of ultrarunning.

i'd think a single sponsor would jump at the chance to tag it. ...especially if it had legs as an annual affair.

much respect.

Chris said...

While it would be exciting to have all the top runners there I do have several mid-packer friends that would give their right arm to do HR and desire to do it as much as any elite runner. A friend of mine who has yet to get in plans his races every year so he can get HR qualifiers just to enter the lottery. His dream is HR and is it fair to him to have one less lottery spot so an elite can get in?

Now I do view WS diferently because it markets itself as the premier 100 mile event and has the chamionship feel. Consequently I think it has an obligation to have as competitive field as possible. Although elites can qualify via the Montrail spots. However HR to my knowledge has never marketed itself as any type of trail championship so I don't think it has the same obligation to have all the top elites in it. Would I like to see all of the elites race HR same year? Definitely. But I also want to see some of my mid-pack buddies fulfill their dream to.

Good discussion.

Kris said...

The truly fast guys are going to WS 100. With Sharman in the mix it will be a great race. It would have been nice to have Carpenter and Uli as well.

Kris said...

Why do you feel the need to be validated in a fringe sport? After, all we come to this sport because we can't compete with likes of Meb, Wanjiru, Bekele, Haile, Hall, Kastor, Goucher, Flaganan, Radcliffe etc.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Meb, Wanjiru, Bekele, Haile, Hall, Kastor, Goucher, Flaganan, Radcliffe etc.

They would get crushed at Hardrock. Fast marathoners don't typically fair well in 100 mile mountain runs, it's a different game. It would be very entertaining to see them attempt to run down Oscar's pass, and every other pass Hardrock has to offer.

Geoff said...

Kris,
i'm not sure why you feel like top runners wanting to run against other top runners is bred from a desire to feel validated. it has nothing to do with validation and everything to do with wanting to race against the best for the simple satisfaction/pleasure of testing oneself against the best. i'd rather get beat by several top runners than win a race with little to no competition. if i don't feel challenged by the competition then i may as well just go out and do a 100 mile fun run.

also, not being able to compete with top road/track runners may be your reasons for coming to this sport, but certainly those are not universal. i think for most it's about doing what we enjoy. i have no desire to run road marathons or shorter road/track races. it has nothing to do with not being able to compete with the top guns in that sport and everything to do with that kind of running being unenjoyable to me (in the same way that running 100 miles of mountain terrain would be unenjoyable to most shorter distance road runners). as karl said, most of those guys/gals would get crushed at hardrock just as most top 100 mile runners would get crushed in competitive marathons. it's just a totally different game. if you don't believe that then you aren't paying attention.

Geoff said...

I think it's great that Hardrock has what they have. I have no intention of wanting Hardrock to change. what i was pointing out in my post was how much the hardrock lottery showcased just how unfortunate it is that we don't have a race (yet - this is going to change very soon) in this sport that truly 100% wants to be a championship race. we have races that like to call themselves championship races (e.g. USATF races) but do very little beyond this to make it happen. We also have races that are so challenging and desirable that hundreds of runners would want them to be a championship race, but that have no desire to be so (e.g. hardrock). What we don't yet have though is a race that goes for all of this. this is the point i was trying to make in this post.
i think it's awesome that hardrock is what it is and i have a ton of respect for the organization for sticking to their guns despite knowing that they could turn their event into a "world championship" type event overnight if they just decided they wanted to.

Mike Barton said...

Social networking being so easy seems to provide an excellent way in which to communicate, you elite trail runners need to choose the most challenging 100 based on elevation gain and open registration, then agree to sign up. I didn't get get in to either WS or Hardrock, plain luck of the draw.

Kris said...

Geoff, so you are saying that if Bekele or Hail or Meb properly trained for a 100 miler you would sill beat them? I find it difficult to believe that. Also, If you had "won" the genetic lottery to compete at the REAL ELITE level you would be bring paychecks from London, Boston, REAL, New York etc. We run ultras because for many reasons. Most so called "elite" ultrarunners compete in them because that is all they have to strive for. Simple. Thus, you guys need that validation from USATF or whatever to feel like a real athlete.

Kris said...

Speedgoat Karl, if a real elite runner like Meb or Haile or Hall trained for Hardrock they would destroy the course record. You can't even run under 24 hours! You have no idea about Hardrock!

Geoff said...

Kris,
what you are saying would be the same thing as saying that these top marathon road racers you mention only run the races they run because they are not fast enough to run 100m with Usain Bolt. it's absurd and it's ignorant.

if several of the world's top marathoners trained for Hardrock some of them would do well (just as some of the worlds top ultra runners would do well if they trained for marathons), and some of them would suffer horribly and be lucky to finish under 30 hours. but the truth is, it doesn't matter, because until they actually try it any claims that they could just step in and dominate something so entirely different than what they do now are just ridiculous. all the potential in the world doesn't mean shit until you do something with it.

if all i was looking for was validation don't you think i'd run the USATF races you talk about? I (and most trail ultra runners) don't run them because they don't do anything to encourage/invite large fields of top runners. If they did, we would all run them, because that's what most of us want: the chance to run against the best. You basically disprove your own point by bringing up the USATF races.

trlrnrgrl said...

Word seems to get around pretty quickly at the top of the sport. Why not just pick an existing mountain race with no lottery and go for it? (Bear, Bighorn, Leadville, ??) Aren't most of the top guys going to UTMB (France) this year? The expense would make that an unfortunate choice year after year, but sounds like it'll be pretty exciting this year.
Kris - you seriously think Geoff or Karl need validation? That just makes me giggle. If you are serious then I think you really don't "get it". Or maybe it's just that none of us get what you're trying to say. I dunno.

GZ said...

Kris - this silly debate of what anyone could do is better for the boards of Letsrun. The case study of what someone could do is a ridiculous argument. That is why we run a race - to see what folks CAN actually do.

You can name people all day and night that COULD do this or COULD do that IF they trained for it. YAWN. Big deal. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
Until they line up and do it, it is a woulda, coulda, shoulda.

And is there some satisfaction, validation, ego in competition? Absolutely. You talk of that with a level of disdain. I see it something as DIVINE to our HUMANITY. And it is appropriate to look to organized bodies (races, governing agencies) that have expressed a desire to lead in those spaces to support it.

trlrnrgrl said...

Oops. My bad. I browsed other posts on this blog and see I missed a fantastic thread on the topic of championship races before posting my comment. The existing races I mentioned obviously don't meet the criteria previously discussed, which sound like very sensible criteria... the X Games idea is intriguing.

Ronald said...

I think you desire a maturation of the category.

That simply isn't ready to happen.

You should work intelligently. Contribute your efforts to building the 50K segment.

When I can find 50K's regularly, I'll look for 50 Milers.

It takes time.

Jacek said...

Interesting debate. I had mixed feelings reading your post Geoff. I think that the sport seams to have divided some of us. The ultrarunning to some of us is an opportunity to challenge ourselves (i.e. prove ourselves that we can do it) and not necessarily to race against others. There are a lot of runners out there who are proud to not compete against anyone else but their own limits. You appear to have become a new breed of ultrarunners interested in challenging yourself against others more then against the course/challenge/yourself. This is probably simply due to the fact that covering 100miles for you is not a challenge in itself; for most of us however 100miles is enough of a challenge without any concerns related to our overall standing in the field.

Apart from the debate on attitudes towards running/racing I think there is an historical aspect of ultrarunning sport that should be mentioned. In its core ultrarunning began with ordinary people running against a challenge of a distance or a course. It appears that ultrarunning used to be a sport open to anyone willing to take a challenge. Now with all the sponsorships and dollars that is getting pumped into ultrarunning there appears to be a need to start an event (as other world championship events in other sport disciplines) that would be open to athletes who met certain performance criteria to qualify. That sort of event should be strictly reserved to champions meeting these performance criteria. What’s important to the rest of us who are nowhere near the championship level is that this championship event should not made out of an existing event that used to be open to all, but a specific event that is made up for the purpose of championship. The beauty of the ultrarunning is its purity and general openness to everyone. Favouring faster runners over the rest of us feels to some of us like the sport is being stolen by those who can run faster. In my belief the sport should maintain it’s openness to everyone interested in taking a challenge without favouring the faster runners.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Well Kris, now I hurt my poor little body falling off my chair laughing at your comments!

"You have no idea about Hardrock"

Well said. Could you please let me know what you know about Hardrock, cuz' I don't recall your name on a finishing list, or was I on my 5th beer and sleeping when you finished? I guess I missed ya.

I'm gonna save that one, my 24:38 sucks there and next year I'll run sub 15 hours, cuz' really, 15 hours is only a 9ish minute per mile, that should be easy. Meb, Hall, Haile, they could probably do that backwards eh? OH yah, that's right, they aren't qualified to run HR, they can't even get in.....the lottery.

You've just "validated" yourself as comments that have no meaning and make no sense.

Kris, you really are entertaining, why not go read Runners World and get some tips on finishing your first 5k.....man, could I keep rambling, but I won't I'm gonna go slog out some 8 minutes miles on some ice...Wow! :-)

All that said, no harsh words against Haile, Meb, Ryan, you guys all rock and kick arse, I love watching you guys kill it on the road.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Everyone: Kris is obviously into flaming. I'm paying her posts no attention because they're designed to offend.

Geoff et al: The underlying problem with ultrarunning is that we lack a hands-on, effective governing body that can guide the sport and keep it in sync with trends (such as the problem of demand outstripping supply, as I have written about on my blog). We have the AUA, but do we really need to go into the many reasons why the AUA isn't working and is really quite ineffective? Just look at the AUA's Web site and that's all you need to know. Ultarunning needs a governing body--and a commissioner-type person--that can move the sport forward while also keeping it true to its roots. I have lots of specific ideas on things that need to be done--and I'm sure many on here do, too. Right now, ultrarunning has little representation at the USATF table and really all USATF ultra races are is just a name. They don't bring the best.

For ultrarunning to move forward and benefit both elites and non-elites, we need a governing body and a commissioner that know what they're doing, can think innovatively, implement better systems of doing things, understand the roots of the sport, work collaboratively with the USATF and park services and local governments, attract sponsors, and implement policies that benefit all runners and promote the sport.

Wyatt Hornsby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wyatt Hornsby said...

Jacek: I disagree. There have always been ultrarunners who want to run against the best--just as Geoff wants this. It's just getting harder to do that since there are so many freaking races and the big ones are selling out overnight. I refuse to believe Yiannis, Clifton, Jim Garcia (a personal favorite of mine), and others back in the day didn't want to go against the best. They did. They were every bit as competitive IN SPIRIT as Geoff and others. Garcia was legendary in that right. I guarantee you Garcia didn't want to beat a soft field--he wanted to beat the best.

Wyatt

Wyatt Hornsby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacob Rydman said...

Geoff, in the early 80's many told Jim King "you can't run Devil's Thumb; you really think you can run all those hills?!" And in many ways he revolutionized the sport by doing it and pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible. Jim is a friend of mine and he absolutely believed in having the most competitive field assembled possible so that back-mid-front pack could all be encouraged and test their limits in their own personal way. Just like you want Tony and Killian there, he wanted Jim Howard, Bruce Labelle, Skip Hamilton, Doug Latimer, etc... all there so they could do what they love, build community with one another, encourage the masses, push each other to deeper levels (as surely indicated by the still untouched fastest split by Jim Howard from Hwy 49 in Cool to the finish as he was on a rampage to catch Jim King in 1983), and challenge themselves in ways they had yet to. I say all this to - as many others already have - encourage you to keep pushing those boundaries as I have faith the event you desire will happen and I believe everyone will enjoy the fruit of your labor.

If you are looking for some encouragement/motivation, read Jim King's 1984 account at WS. He wanted to compete against the best, but everyone was an integral part of the bigger picture - everyone out there doing what they love and testing themselves, competing against themselves/others in their own personal way.

http://www.ultrarunning.com/ultra/features/world/how-the-western-states-wa.shtml

Billy said...

Every 100 years, all new people.

Dr. Woodstock

Rogue Valley Runners said...

I like the statement, "pumping all this money into the sport."

Companies ( shoe/clothing ) are choosing to put a modest amount of money into ultra running, mostly advertising because the sheer nature of ultra running makes aspirational people turn their heads.

Next time you want to talk about pumping money, check out (1) Kia commercial for the Superbowl and that will be the budget for all of ultra running inspired marketing for the rest of the decade.

Bozobreath Gewurtzerberger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david said...

It appears you haven't been on the other side of the aid station table. First, you'd then see that ALL those spectators you expect to rush to your event to watch the "best" duke it out are nothing more than either volunteers or crews for other runners. Host a run where, as you put it, "that's what most of us want: the chance to run against the best," then your limited field won't bring masses for the "yawn" of catching a glimpse of you fast guys.

Second, other than sales to be made elsewhere, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why money hasn't flocked to the sport - what ultra event actually makes good profit just because a few fast guys show up? If you and the handful of other elite sponsored runners can't draw in a sponsor or two and make your own championship, why would you expect someone else to put in the mountains of work to put on a 100 mile race to benefit YOU?

david said...

Have you spent any time on the other side of the aid station table? First, you would see that ALL those spectators you think are there to watch you win a race are nothing more than volunteers at that station or crews waiting for their runners. Take away that "crowd" and you're down to a paltry few with interest enough to follow the lead pack and cheer just them on. Ultrarunning is NOT a spectator sport.

Second, you would see that producing an event has very little to do with inviting the elite, but more trying to lure just enough people to break even. If you want a championship that mostly will draw just the elite, as you put it: "that's what most of us want: the chance to run against the best," then why haven't the sponsored already flocked to the scene to give you what you think you deserve? Gather up your elite friends and put on your own championship, with your sponsors behind you, rather than expect established events to bend to your desires. If I was an RD, I wouldn't want your narrow-minded eliteness tainting my event. Do you even talk to non-elite runners at your races? Those of us way behind you are what adds lasting personality to 100 milers, not the few who run fast, disappear until the awards, and then race out of town to prepare for the next win. Hooray!! that HR didn't bend to your desires.

Ronald said...

Awesome post(s) David.

I began following GR after an articl in RT, and I was monumentally impressed. My few months following this blog has shown me a person who isn't very attractive in mind. Doesn't seem to appreciate the beauty of the long run - I see only an angry person who is upset that he isn't getting rich from his significant ability.

I understand with high talent, it is not uncommon to have high maintenance.

dvroes said...

David & Ronald - Your comments really don't deserve any recognition. All I will say is, you obviously don't know Geoff.

tim white said...

I was going to leave a detailed response to a few of these unbeliveably ignorant posts, but i'll save that for another time perhaps. What i will say is:

Throughout history, In every human endeavor... be it religion, philosophy, science, sports, art... etc. There are those who push the boundaries and have the courage to go where others haven't, those who want to see things evolve... true pioneers! And of course the flip side of that is the people who remain ignorant, people who want to keep things the way they are, people who continue to stumble around in the dark because they're fearful... a very stifling existence indeed!

To quote the lyrics of a dear friend:

I'm reaching up and reaching out,
I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been.

Spiral out. Keep going....

Keep going Geoff! You and everyone like you. Your sport will be all the better for it.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Dave and Ronald. You don't know Geoff, or even me. We both give huge props for the back of the pack. When we bolt off after our run, we go to sleep, rest up, just like you would. WE don't care much about the buckle, at least I don't, and doubt Geoff does. We both show up after runs (such as Wasatch) to hang out with friends, have a few brews and watch the end of the field finish. It's awesome to watch everyone get it done.

Geoff is one of the nicest guys out there, don't criticize someone for saying what they feel. I do the same and get some shit for it, but why should I care, it's a free world. We both have no intention of offendind anyone.

Ultrarunning is not an on-site spectator sport in the US. In Europe it is, 1000s of spectators come out for the Tour du Mont Blanc, why not in the US? Cuz' most are lazy and would rather sit ont he couch, order up some wings and watch the stupid bowl.

The real smart RD would use the internet, it's freakin' global and at the fingertips of anyone worldwide if they want it. That's how you watch a race...Garmin? Suunto?

Eric B said...

I think it's only natural for the elite runners to want to compete against each other. I think it's in their DNA. "David" you called Geoff a "narrow minded elite", considering he keeps this forum open to good and bad comments, your description fails. You are calling a runner who ran Iditarod Trail Invitational race a elitist, wandering around in Alaska in a un-aided race is hardly something an elitist would do. But, these guys do deserve to make some money to support themselves and families and pursue their craft.

dvroes said...

Karl, Couldn't help but chuckle about your comment on the buckles. If I hadn't been at Western States, to bring the cougar home Geoff was going to leave it in the rental car. Also, we have a bunch of buckles, ribbons and such that we have kept in case he ever wants them. When I went through customs security totally checked everything. The cougar weighs about 40 lbs. and it completely blocked the security camera.

Speedgoat Karl said...

I have two belts with buckles all around them. Makes a good trophy I suppose....

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Karl: With all due respect, regarding your comment:

"Ultrarunning is not an on-site spectator sport in the US. In Europe it is, 1000s of spectators come out for the Tour du Mont Blanc, why not in the US? Cuz' most are lazy and would rather sit ont he couch, order up some wings and watch the stupid bowl."

I don't think Americans' apathy toward running is necessarily an issue of laziness. It's just a very different culture than Europe. I do wish people came out like they do for the Tour de France or Mont Blanc, but the fact of the matter is that the NFL rules here in the US. People here in the US just don't care much about running; they want to see guys hit each other. But I think it's high time that ultrarunning become a part of the X Games and maybe Olympic games. 100K road for the olympics; 50 or 100 mile trail for the X Games. Imagine the possibilities!

Regarding your point about smart RDs using the Internet, absolutely! This is where a central ultrarunning organization could really help. We need the technology and platform to bring events to the masses worldwide. It's not that complicated--it can be done.

Geoff said...

david,
you seem to be stuck on this idea that I think some existing race should change to accomodate a field of elite runners. I think you're making a lot of assumptions here. I don't feel this way at all. I think (just as you seem to) that this needs to come from a new event with a new vision. i was using hardrock as an example to illustrate the demand for this kind of event, not saying that i thought hardrock needed to change. i even mentioned specifically that i have a lot of respect for Hardrock for not changing. not sure how you translate that into thinking that i'm trying to get hardrock to bend to my desires.

you seem to disagree with me that there is a high demand for an event that focuses primarily on the front runners. you're welcome to feel that way, and maybe you're right, but I am quite certain that in a year or two from now (if not sooner) there will an event(s) which more than display that this demand does in fact exist. Does this change, or take anything away from current classics like Hardrock? Hell no. I'm not sure why some people feel so threatened by the idea of creating a race that specifically focus on the race at the front of the pack. that would then leave what, about 500 races that don't do this?
no matter what I say you're likely to feel that my desire to have this kind or race means that I don't care about existing races and middle/back of the pack runners. i just don't see why you would feel that the one has to be an indication of the other. perhaps you should wait until you see me at a race sometime and actually see how i interact with an event and with other runners rather than assuming that I don't care about these things simply because I want a championship race. In this regard I do get a nice laugh at you labeling me as narrow minded. i guess if i am being narrow minded then maybe it's a case of taking one to know one.

trlrnrgrl said...

The internet is TOTALLY where it's at for covering this sport... and David, I've never volunteered or crewed at WS, RR or HR, but constantly check on line to see what is happening when a big race is going on, and I know plenty of other ultrarunners who do the same... and I buy a lot of shoes :)

If you think about it, US marathoners face a lot of the same issues, actually. Distance running, in general, is not a great sport for television. Also, regarding championships in the US... when it isn't an Olympic year, most Americans don't give a hoot about it. Did you know that the US marathon championship race is frequently held in Minnesota on non-Olympic qualifier years? The elites don't typically show up cuz the money is at Chicago, NY and Boston (or Europe). (Seems analogous to WS in some ways to me, although of course any elite marathoner that wants to go to Chicago, NY or Boston can certainly get in to the race, even if it is "full". They even get paid to do so in many cases because those races care very much about competition at the front.) The very best marathoners often don't go to the USATF championship race for some of the same reasons top ultrarunners don't go to USATF trail championship races. The USATF isn't doing anything to draw them there.

Brian Miller said...

The best thing about this post is the debate that it created. It's great that Geoff, Karl, etc. chose to respond to others comments (this often doesn't happen). I love getting the perspective of both sides and the replies provide greater insight. Good way to spend a lunch hour.

Mark said...

It's a really good thing there's such a great discussion here! Sometimes unavoidably rough and controversial, yet open, free and very informative! Unlike, for example A.K.'s blog where all you can find is praising the Apollo of the mountains! Thanks Geoff!

Kris said...

Boys, you are so silly. Just run! Ultrarunning is a sport a game. You are nothiing a bunch of pany pussy white boys. What are you doing for the community let alone our nation? Why do you need to be validated? Geoff, you are very self-centered. Karl, you need to grow up, how old are you? 40 something? Go get a real job and contribute to society.

Kris said...

I know for a fact that if you guys could muster up running sub 2:10 road marathons you wouldn't be ultrarunning. Simple.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Fell off the chair again. I had to comment only because a few will find it entertaining.

I prefer to NOT grow up. I am a kid, and will always be a kid. I don't need a job that you think I should have, I have the best job in the world. I am a runner. And Yes, I am a white boy, thanks for the heads up on that.

I guess I'm done here, you should be too. Goodnight! Baaaaahhhhhh

Kris said...

Karl,
That is my point, exactly.

Kris said...

USATF is a private corporation.

The Grubers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Sorry about the mix-up above this post...

------------------------------------
To David and all the haters,

I don't think y'all "know" Geoff well enough to pass judgment.

I ran Bear a few years ago when he tore it up, and I got tore up. I was pretty crushed DNF'ing at mile 75, and I emailed him asking some questions and asked for advice.

He was really encouraging and helpful- we emailed back and forth a few times, and he gave me some good pointers. He's a good dude.

Give the man a break... if he wants to run/compete against the best, why do you care? Don't be such a wuss because you're a middle/back of the pack-er.

I'm a mid to back of the pack runner, and IF the "elites" ever looked down on me... I honestly couldn't care less. I don't do it for them, I do it for me. Get over it!

Spend more time training and less time whining. Life's too short for this petty BS!

PS: I can't speak on behalf of "Speedgoat", but David... I did see him "on the other side of the table" at Squaw Peak. He actually gave some dude a swig of his beer... pretty "down to earth" if you ask me.