Thursday, January 19, 2012

Several Tidbits

After a two week vacation to Costa Rica I'm back in Colorado and getting back in to my Iditarod Trail Invitational preparation. From now until the race (which starts in just over 5 weeks), I will try to get out and do something active (combination of skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and running) pretty much everyday. I'm still undecided as to how much running I'll try to do between now and then, but likely I won't do as much total running between now and the race as the 350 miles that I'll do during the race. Part of me is nervous about tackling this race with so little running in the previous couple months, but with how worn out my body has felt anytime I run consistently for more than 5 or 6 weeks, I think this is the only approach that might work for me right now. I guess only time will tell. Overall though, I do feel pretty good about where I am at right now in terms of my overall preparation for this event.

For those that missed it, Ultra Runner of the Year was announced recently. Huge congrats to Dave and Ellie for bringing home the bacon. In my mind they were both completely deserving of the award. Overall I thought the voting went about as expected. Top 5 on the men's side was exactly the order I would have chosen. Performance of the Year was a little less spot on though (in my opinion). Not to take anything away from Riddle's JFK performance, but the thought of Ian's RR 100 not winning POY seems absurd. It's hard not to imagine that the timing of RR being so early in the year played against Ian in this vote. But then again the NF 50 is the last big race of the year, and once again seemed to be almost ignored: Mike Wolfe finished 11th for POY for his run at NF?? WTF? For me that one should have been top 5 for sure, and likely as high as 2nd or 3rd. But the thing that baffled me the most was that a performance which was not even an actual event won POY for the women. Certainly I don't mean to take anything away from what Jen Davis did on the AT this year, but really? Apparently individual time trials now count toward POY? To me this is a really slippery slope. And if this is the case (which it clearly is), how did Dakota's RRR record not get one single vote? Where does the line get drawn? Which non-event performances are recognized, and which ones aren't? To me it makes the most sense to not recognize any of them for a distinction like this. Until now I thought that was the case.

Moving on: Here's a link to a little Q&A interview I did with a fellow blogger. Some unique and interesting questions mixed in with some more typical ones:

And one last thing: The 2012 sessions of my Alaska Mountain Ultra Running Camp are nearing capacity, but I do still have several spaces left for the May 28th session, which is going to be a really fun session. The running in Juneau in late May/early June is some of the most unique and exciting running I've ever done. This is typically the best time of year for running on the snow in the mountains around Juneau. The snow is nice and consolidated, but still soft enough for great traction and control on the downhills. I know some people hear the word "snow", and want to steer clear, but if you want to try something a bit different, and really fun this is the camp for you. Check out the website for all the info.


Dominic Grossman said...

North Face 50 has a completely different feel than every other competitive 50 mile race during the year. Mike Wolfe ran like a world class race that day.

Brett said...

Not to take away from anybody else - Mike Morton came through 100 miles at Hinson Lake 24 Hour Classic on a very hot 80F day almost as quickly as Ian Sharman did.

And then he ran another 64 miles before the 24 hours was over.

The thought of anybody running 164 miles on a trail in 24 hours ever again is hard for me to imagine (although records are made to be broken).

Guy Love said...

@Brett: Mike Morton's run that day was ridiculous (and with better weather/less crowds he'd likely have taken the american record) but his run was not actually a record (except maybe age-group?)

Brett said...

Has anybody ever run 164 miles on a trail before in 24 hours?

Maybe I missed it, but when I search I find only 2 times in history that an American has run 164 miles. Once was Mark Godale on a track, and once was Scott Jurek on nearly a track...a < 1k flat road loop when he set the current American Record.

Sarah said...

I think the distinction is that Dakota freely admits that RRR was just a training run for him and that if anyone wanted to really blow away the record they would train specifically for that. Jen Davis trained specifically for her fkt on the Appalachian trail. It was an official FKT and verifiable. In that way I think it's fair to call it an 'event'.

Rob Youngren said...

Jen's AT FKT is totally legit. In order to post an FKT there are some relatively strict guidelines, about as much or more so than what happen in an organized race. Congrats to her on that!

I think Riddle's POY is spot on as well. Seriously, taking down a 17yr old record that has alluded some of the best in the business? Common!

Andrew said...

What all did you get to do in Costa Rica? Get any good runs in?

Brandon Thrower said...

Lets see, on one hand we have Dakota's 42-44 mile R2R2R FKT and on the other we have Jen's FKT on the 2000+ mile, extremely technical, logistical nightmare of the AT. Which one is a better performance? There is NO question as to which one is more impressive and a better performance! I can't believe you even thought you had an argument comparing the AT to R2R2R. I'm sure Speedgoat Karl would completely agree as well. The AT is a beast!

Matiasalaska said...

FucK iT, given the increasing popularity of FKT's why not just make it a new category: FKT of the Year. One award regardless of gender.

Geoff said...

couldn't agree more.

great points indeed. mike's run was sick. the 24 hour run is not so popular nowadays. if it were, this would have been a contender for the top.

your point about Dakota's R2R2R is exactly why I feel that individual time trials should not be included in the POY category. Had Dakota finished his run and said it was the best day of running he's ever had and he doesn't think anyone will ever beat his time then everyone would have a completely different look on this "performance." when you only have one individual doing a run on a given day, in given conditions, you don't have a whole lot to compare it to. if that individual then says that it was the best performance of their life all you can really do is believe them.

munisano, brandon, and others,
i completely agree that Jen's "run" on the AT was amazing/legit/verifiable, etc. I wasn't for one second trying to imply that Dakota's RRR was on par, but that's it's odd that it didn't receive one single vote. I just feel that it's a pretty big can of worms to be including individual time trials for POY. In my mind it creates too much gray area for a distinction which has always been pretty black and white. I think matias has a great idea about adding an individual time trial of the year distinction, then you eliminate the gray area of trying to decide which of these performances are legit/verifiable enough to be considered for POY.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Jenn's "run-mostly walk" on the AT should not win POY. Now hearing this from me,some may wonder why I say that....

Yes, it is super impressive, as is Dakota's R2R2R, but it's not a "race", it's a FKT for a trail, and like Matias said, there should just be a FKT category.

And who defines how much muling goes on? I personally think records, or FKT's should not be allowed. Using a pacer or mule is simply cheating, and a two or more person accomplishment. Jenn could not have done the AT that fast without a pacer or mule.

Wolfe's run at NF50 got a high vote from me, I voted for Sharman, Riddle,then Wolfe. Had Wolfe broken the "old course record" at NF50, he may have won POY cuz' he beat almost all the fastguys on that given day. Riddle, although very fast,only beat Wardian and a few others. Sharman's 12:44 should have won it.

Lastly,what kind of trail did Morton run on? was it a "bike path"? or actually dirt?


Dave Mackey said...

Yeah I want to know about Costa Rica. Must have been great training down there for the Iditasport, Geoff. :)
Not to take the side of the elites, I have to agree with Geoff and Speedgoat for the most part. FKTs shouldnt be included, as this is too broad a category and FKTs aren't races. The UROY is not a popularity contest but it seems Jen got some popularity points because of media and social media as compared to less promoted FKTs. (But she deserves to have Geoff take her to Costa Rica as a prize instead.) Coin toss for Riddle vs Sharman, IMO, but it is a crime that TNF 50 isn't recognized for what it truly has become; the most competitive ultra (any distance incl 100s) in the US.

Andrew said...

I think everyone is looking at 'performance' of the year as 'race' of the year. Its possible to see someone get votes or win this category sometime down the road and not even be an elite or win a race.

I'm thinking extreme/unlikely circumstance like a runner does something heroic and way beyond the call of duty during a race and it gets the spotlight. ie. Runner in the middle of a 100 sees a runner badly injured and carries them on their back for X miles to an aid station then goes on to finish the race. That performance would trump some elite guy beating other elite guys or breaking a CR.

Wolfe's story of stopping (along w/ Dakota) to help an injured runner along the way to his win @ NF50 made me think of this scenario (although not nearly as dramatic but still impressive and adds to his performance).

a real world example of someone deserving POY outside what one would normally think of would be Amy Palmiero-Winters. I haven't followed voting so maybe one of her accomplishments over the last few years got some credit (i would hope so). First amputee to ever win an ultar (100mi or 130mi during a 24 I think), finished WS100 10', badwater 11'

Andrew said...

For the AT record I think the key is that she did it faster than ANYONE has ever done it before. Man or woman. To Karl's points... Her support would be like having aid stations in a race and pacers are allowed in a lot of races so I don't get those points other than she didn't try it the way you did. The only gripe I can understand is how there really wasn't any running involved yet she won an ultra'running' award.

That part aside and addressing the FKT concerns... how is what she did different than giving someone else the POY for beating a long standing and tough CR where there wasn't much competition in the actual race? Wouldn't it be harder not having the competition pushing you to go faster anyway? One of the only reasons I can think of to discredit FKT is if you are calling into question the validity of it. I totally understand that much and think there has to be good documentation/witnessing/something.

Think in these terms... imagine some elite woman doesn't make the WS100 lottery or something so she runs the course (and has it very well documented/verified) and somehow finishes in 14:59 beating Geoff's record... faster than any man or woman had ever finished that course? that would be some amazing 'performance' wouldn't it?

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Geoff: I agree with almost everything you said about performance of the year for both men and women. Mike Wolfe got snubbed. Not sure why, but it seems the TNF50 doesn't get much respect. I would have voted Morton #1 for performance of the year, with Ian a close second and Riddle a very close third. Let's not forget that Riddle broke a 17-year-old record set by none other than Eric Clifton.


tim conrad said...


Can't wait to see how it goes on the iditarod. I am stationed in Anchorage but right now deployed to Afghanistan... Reading your post always bring me back to AK.. Enjoy the race and good luck...

Thank you
SFC Conrad, Timothy M
US Army

Andrew said...

Karl... just to address the question about Hinson Lake. From someone who has run the race a few times... "it's all gravel/dirt/clay and bridges, a 4-ft wide path around the lake. No road crossings or paved areas at all."

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Mike Morton's story, as well as information about his 2011 Hinson Lake run, will appear in a feature-length article by yours truly in the March issue of Ultrarunning Magazine. I think you'll all really like the Morton story.


Unknown said...

These things are quite hard to vote for I'm sure. A handful of guys ran sub5:40 at the 50 Mile distance. Where are they in the voting? Just because a guy breaks an old record really shouldn't even factor in to the vote in my opinion. I mean heck, Zach Gingerich demolished Eric Clifton's Kettle Mortain 100M record, running 15:17:32 by over 40 minutes. And he barely got a vote.

What escapes me is why Josh Cox was higher in the POY than Mike Morton for running what would be a last 10k added on to the end of a mrathon race. Go figure!

Nothing's perfect. This voting sure wasn't.