Co-founded by Michel Poletti in 2012, the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) became a way to track and score all ultras for UTMB and Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT). On April 14, it was announced that Bob Crowley was voted in as the new president, replacing Poletti.
We met with Marie Sammons, the director of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, to ask her about the present and future of her organization.
Jim Walmsley is the male Ultra Runner of the Year for 2017. In winning the UROY for the second straight year, Walmsley excited many with his “go big or go home” style of racing. He set course records in winning the Tarawera 100K in New Zealand, the Gorge Waterfalls 100K in Oregon and the Speedgoat 50K in Utah. He suffered a DNF at Western States after surrendering a large lead with stomach issues at mile 70. At UTMB he was in or tied for the lead for 65 miles before experiencing an epic bonk and sliding to seventh place, eventually recovering in the late stages to finish fifth. The former Air Force Academy track standout lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Last week at the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile, Dani Filipek won the US 50 Mile National Championships and secured a spot on the 2018 Trail World Championships team. A new face in the sport, having made her ultra debut this year, Filipek sports a speedy marathon PB of 2:41:32 and ran at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Team Trials.
In this edition of Quick & Dirty, I chat with Hayden Hawks, who recently shaved more than a half hour off the Zion Traverse FKT. Hawks completed the 48-mile crossing of Zion National Park in 6:50:49, beating the previous record of 7:22:08, held by Mike Foote and Justin Yates.
For this edition of Quick & Dirty, I chatted with John Kelly, the fifteenth ever finisher of the Barkley Marathons. To match the massive undertaking that is a Barkley finish, this chat is a bit longer than typical for the column, but Kelly’s approach and insight are fascinating.
On January 28th, David Riddle ran to a commanding victory at the Mountain Mist 50K in Huntsville, AL. It was his fifth win in six attempts at the southern winter classic, and his first since 2013. He had missed the last two years during a long injury layoff and subsequent recovery. In this interview, we chat about Riddle’s recent races, what motivates his racing choices, and what he’s thinking about next. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
A small company based out of ultra-endurance mecca Flagstaff, Arizona has emerged with a new product that has professional athletes and weekend warriors ordering batches of this new all-natural anti-chafe salve that has been said to work miracles.
Rarely in ultrarunning do you see the word “phenom” used to describe the sport’s best runners. But in 2016 the sport was taken over by the phenomenal record-smashing performances of Jim Walmsley. The 26 year-old from Flagstaff, Arizona kicked off the year with a dominant win and course-record at the Black Canyon 100K, and from there he seemingly never took his foot off the gas pedal. With his Western States Golden Ticket in hand, Walmsley continued to race – and set records – at some of the most competitive ultras, including the Lake Sonoma 50-miler in April.
At age 30 Lickteig reached the pinnacle of the sport with a dominating win at the Western States 100- posting the third fastest time in the venerable event’s 40+ year history – and on one of the hottest days on record. Before and after that huge win last year, Lickteig won six other ultras (including three overall wins) and placed second at the highly competitive Lake Sonoma 50-miler in April.
Veteran ultrarunner Brian Rusiecki wrapped up another rock-solid year of running with a win at the Hellgate 100K in Fincastle, VA in 11:01:26. The man has been a stalwart of the East Coast ultrarunning scene for the past decade, seemingly winning everything there is in that region.
Over the last several years, the Desert Solstice 24 Hour and 100 Mile has seen a number of superhuman performances—among the most impressive feats of ultra endurance in the country and world. This year’s event was no exception, as the relatively unknown Gina Slaby circled the 400-meter Central High School track in Phoenix, AZ, for 100 miles in a new world record time of 13:45:49.
Editor’s note: I was recently chatting with my teenage daughter about how our days were going – I told her that I was interviewing an ultrarunner who had recently broken a 26-year-old epic record. “Oh really, what race?” she asked. “A 3,000-miler starting in San Francisco and ending in New York City. He ran across the country, doing over 70 miles a day, every day, breaking the record by four days.” Her reply: “Damn, son!” There really are no words to describe the enormity of Pete Kostelnick’s accomplishment, but these two seem to resonate.
On September 16 and 17, Courtney Dauwalter raced to an impressive victory at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in Steamboat Springs, CO, besting second place finisher Alissa St Laurent by 75 minutes. Her time of 21:23:37 is the fourth-fastest ever at the race.
On Sunday, September 18 at 3:38 a.m. Karl Meltzer emerged from the trail at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia after departing Mt. Katahdin in Maine on August 3 at 5 a.m. After 2,190 miles he bagged his biggest ultramarathon win. The winningest 100-mile racer in the history of our sport, with 38 victories at the distance, had failed in two previous attempts at the AT FKT. But at 48 years young, the third time was a charm.
For those of you who have been fortunate enough to get to know 52-year-old endurance athlete Grant Maughan, you know that he is humble, down to earth, fun-loving, and a great competitor. What you may not know is that he only started running ultras five years ago, at the age of 47.
Morgan Elliott, a 24-year-old runner hailing from the relatively low elevation of Black Mountain, NC won the Audi Power of Four 50K, in Aspen, CO in commanding fashion over the weekend.
Corrine Malcolm notched an impressive win at the US 50 Mile Trail Championships over the weekend. Despite hot and humid conditions, Malcolm’s time of 8:18 on the Cayuga Trails 50 course was the second-fastest ever, trailing only Amanda Basham’s CR. Relatively new to the ultra scene, the 26-year-old Malcolm is quickly gaining experience and improving her performances.
Eric Byrnes is a former professional baseball player who recently turned his athletic focus to endurance sports and ultrarunning. Byrnes was not just any ballplayer; in his 10-year career from 2000 to 2010, he hit over 100 homeruns and stole over 100 bases. In fact, he is one of only 10 major leaguers to ever hit over 20 homers and steal 50 bases in the same season.
Geoff Burns is only a year into running ultramarathons, but it seems like a sport he was born for. The newly minted 100K US Champion hails from Traverse City, MI and grew up running and racing. His dad introduced him to the sport early, and he’s competed for much of his life.
Over the weekend, YiOu Wang raced to the win at the highly competitive Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in 7:14:45—the second fastest ever at Lake Sonoma. Wang resides in San Anselmo, CA, where she is the 7th and 8th grade teacher as well as the Dean of Curriculum at GATE Academy in San Rafael, CA.
Andrew Miller is one of ultrarunning’s young rising stars. With a repeat victory at the Georgia Death Race on March 19, Miller earned his first Western States 100 Mile appearance. Despite being just 19, he already has several 100 mile races under his belt and thinks and runs like a veteran. In this interview, he discusses his recent win at the “hardest race east of the Rockies,” as well as his training, goals, and recent move to Flagstaff, AZ from his Corvallis, OR home.
At the U.S. 50K Road National Championships on March 6, Caroline Boller raced to a dominant victory, besting second place by over 17 minutes with a 3:22:50 finishing time. With the win, Boller earned an automatic selection to represent the USA at the 2016 IAU 50K World Championships. She also broke the Master’s American Record (formerly held by Mary Coordt at 3:28:30) and logged the eighth-best 50k ever by a North American resident.
With a big win at the Sean O’Brien 100K last weekend, Stephen Wassather punched a ticket to return to the Western States 100 Mile. The 25-year-old runner, who lives and trains in Marin, CA, says, “I want to take more chances this year [at States] and really see what I’m capable of.”
There used to be a perception that running 100 miles would ruin your body and you would not be able to run fast again, so people went to ultras after a road career. I think young people are also realizing that the ultra/trail community is something special and they really enjoy being a part of it.
Easily the most memorable moment was crossing the finish line at Western States. It was my first hundred miler, and probably the biggest victory of my entire running career.
Over the weekend, Tony Migliozzi, a 26 year old from North Canton, OH, absolutely nailed his debut ultramarathon at the IAU 50K World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Migliozzi won individual gold with a 2:52:08 finishing time, while the Team USA men won team silver.
Capping a stellar 2015 ultrarunning season, Sarah Bard recently raced to a repeat victory at the JFK 50 Mile against stiff competition, running an impressive time of 6:31:11. In this interview, she discusses her recent transition to ultrarunning, her JFK win, her other top results and future racing plans.