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This week’s What’s Up In Ultra highlights events on our UltraRunning Calendar including a Western States Golden Ticket race at the Grindstone 100k in Virginia, a classic 50-miler in the Green Mountain State of Vermont and a point-to-point 50k in the Cascades of Oregon.
For the first time ever, the Grindstone 100k in Swoope, Virginia, is a Western States Golden Ticket race, sending the top two female and male runners to the 2024 Western States on Saturday, June 24, 2024. Boasting 11,000 feet of vertical gain on a challenging course that travels through the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains, runners should be prepared for what is forecasted to be wet conditions on Saturday, September 23. Below, we heard from some of the contenders gunning for the coveted top two spots.
Devon Yanko from Howard, Colorado, said, “I’m feeling as good as I can after working through a hip injury that knocked me out of Leadville. I haven’t yet had a race this year where I felt like my fitness and what I’m capable of shine through, so my hope is that things come together for me. And if they don’t, my goal is to put up a good fight and enjoy the East Coast trails.”
Lotti Brinks of Boise, Idaho, has finished first or second in five of her last ultras in the last 12 months. She told us, “I’m very excited for this one. From what I’ve heard, I think the course suits me well and there will be a great field of runners to push me. I feel like after moving to Boise, I really stepped up my training. Being able to run a considerable amount of vert and testing myself in races that I was always hesitant to sign up for really improved my confidence. Everyone has the same goal at Golden Ticket races. We are all here for the top two spots on the podium. Hoping the stars align and I have a good day.”
Lisa Roberts from Charlotte, North Carolina, said “I’m feeling better than I have in a few years heading into this one. After over a year of nursing hamstring and glute issues, moving across the country, starting a new job and renovating a massive old home, 100k on the trails is a welcome challenge. My focus is UTMB and enjoying the heck out of thrashing myself out there with the rest of the crazies.”
Other contenders include Rebecca Windell, Rachel Lemcke, Sarah Gage and Leah Nicholson.
In the men’s race, Justin Grunewald out of Boulder, Colorado, just missed his spot at this year’s Western States by placing third at the Canyons 100k. He said, “I’m feeling good after a disappointing CCC, and felt I left a lot of fitness in the tank that I am hoping to use out in Virginia. The goal, as always, is to try to grab that elusive Golden Ticket in my first East Coast trail race.”
Caleb Olson from Draper, Utah, finished in second at the highly competitive Lake Sonoma 50 in April that earned him a spot on Team USA for the World Championships in Austria this June. “Overall, I’m feeling good heading into this. I started the year strong at Lake Sonoma and just haven’t really found the competitive drive I had for that race since then, and I’ve had a couple of disappointing or just fine races this summer. I finally feel the fire again and am ready to go this weekend. I definitely want to be out at CCC next year so the main goal is qualifying for that, and a Golden Ticket would be a sweet cherry on top if everything happens to come together on race day.”
Traveling from California is Angwin’s Drew Macomber who recently took third place at the Tamalpa Headlands 50k. He told us, “I’m feeling super excited to run it. I’ve found myself in a very relaxed but confident headspace going into it, and I’m pumped to leave it all out there.”
Additional men to watch are Jeff Mogavero, Ben Robinson, Cory Keehn and Caleb Bowen. There is also an accompanying 100-mile event.
On Sunday, September 24, in Brownsville, Vermont, is the 30th Vermont 50k. The annual race is always held during the last weekend of September at the beautiful Mount Ascutney, the second-highest peak in Windsor County. This popular race in the Green Mountain State is already sold out with all benefits going to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, an organization that empowers athletes of all kinds through inclusivity. There is also a 50-miler. Read: Tribute to the Vermont 50 by the Blue Collar Runners.
The Three Sisters Skyline 50k in Sisters, Oregon, on Saturday, September 23, offers classic Cascade Mountain running to kick off the fall season in Central Oregon. Featuring a stunning course with spectacular views of the Three Sisters (North, Middle and South) as well as other snow-capped peaks in the Cascades, the race takes you along the edge of the Three Sisters Wilderness, running among ponderosa pines, remnants of a 2012 forest fire, lush alpine meadows and more.
More races happening this weekend include the Bear Chase 50k/50-miler/100k in Lakewood, Colorado, the Javelina Jangover Night Runs 50/75k in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Mammoth Trail Fest 50k in Mammoth Lakes, California, the Cascade Super Ultra 50k/50-mile in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, the Goosebumps 6 & 24 Hour Run in Stoddard, Wisconsin, the Table Rock Ultras 50k in Morganton, North Carolina, and the Water Gap 50k in Milford, Pennsylvania.
What’s Up In Ultra in your corner of the continent and who are your picks to take the Golden Tickets at Grindstone?