2015 Most Competitive Fields


Each year a few races attract a large number of elite runners. In this analysis, we have examined the races in which those who received votes for Runner of the Year competed. Giving the runners of the year 40 points, the runners-up 39 points, and so on, we have devised a system for determining which races had the most competitive fields. (Note that this analysis does not include foreign runners who are not eligible for runner of the year.)


Order Race Points Number of Runners
1 Western States 100 1406 12
2 The North Face 50-SF 831 14
3 Lake Sonoma 50 717 12
4 Gorge Waterfalls 100K 390 6
5 (tie) Leadville Trail 100 359 2
5 (tie) Bandera 100K 359 3
7 Moab Red Hot 55K 322 3
8 The Canyons 100K 216 2
9 Mountain Masochist 50 174 2
10 Speedgoat 50K 158 4


Order Race Points Number of Runners
1 Western States 100 1157 10
2 Lake Sonoma 50 695 9
3 UROC 100K 686 6
4 The North Face 50-SF 632 8
5 Chuckanut 50K 508 3
6 Sean O’Brien 100K 471 3
7 The Canyons 100K 464 2
8 Bandera 100K 339 5
9 Way Too Cool 50K 224 4
10 Silver State 50 172 2


  1. Brian Purcell on

    When you score, do you count athletes that DNF, like Rob Krar did in Lake Sonoma?

  2. Canyons 100k does not appear to have been a competitive field for men, outside of the 1 man race at the front. I have similar doubts about the rest of the bottom half of these lists. Although lacking a single overwhelming star, JFK 50 and Cayuga Trails 50 had far more competitive fields overall.

    • I guess it seems to me that, given the small number of elite runners who get votes for UROY, this method will tend to favor races that get 1 or 2 big names over races that have true depth of competition. There are so many phenomenally fast runners who don’t get votes for UROY, often because they run only a small number of ultras per year or because they don’t travel to compete in the western races.

  3. runcamille on

    For what it’s worth, at the 100K World Champs there were at least 7 women who have run under 2:40 in the marathon– a giant slew of 2:40-something marathoners. At the 50K World Champs, there were at least 3-4 sub 2:40 women (including a 2012 Olympian). I haven’t looked at Two Oceans/Comrades fields– always at least a few sub 2:40 marathoners and plenty of 2:40-something marathoners. These are the most competitive Ultras in the world– none of the domestic Ultras have near the concentration and depth of fast women.