Monday, September 28, 2009

Grindstone Preview

Clark Zealand's second annual Grindstone 100 is less than five days away! Apart from the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, Grindstone is arguably the toughest 100 mile course on the east coast. There was debate whether, or not last year's course was a few miles short(97 miles), and also lacking a few thousand feet of climb. This year, that debate is over. The course has been re-mapped to bring the vertical gain over the advertised 23,000 feet and the distance to 100 miles. Runner's will get their money's worth, that's for sure.

Weather: It may change, but it looks like temps in the 40-60's, and alot of rain for most of the race. The trails will be muddy, and the rocks will be slick.

Here's a look at the men's race. Defending champ Harland Peelle is not back this year. Top runners Keith Knipling and Don Padfield will also be absent. However, the addition of Karl Meltzer to the roster immediatley brought some well warrented attention. Forget bib numbers and seeding, here's my amateur breakdown of the men's race.

Karl Meltzer- He is always the man to beat, especially in 100's. He wants a win bad after his 2nd place battle with Geoff Roes at Wasatch. Karl has never run this course, and unlike MMT he will not have years of experience with this race. However, I don't think Karl's lack of course knowledge will hurt him. I predict a course record run of 18:30.

Todd Walker- If he doesn't get lost, this 2008 MMT champ will be contending for a win. He said his fitness wasn't 100% at this past MMT, so perhaps he's been training hard this summer. Expect Todd to go out hard from the start and not look back. He and Karl have run together before, so this will be nothing new. Prediction 20:45.

Jason Lantz- Old Dominion 100 winner may fly under the radar. He's got good 100 mile experience, lots of sub 20 hour finishes, and should be well within the top five. My guess is 21:30

Patrick McGlade-my sleeper pick. Has wins at the Swinging Bridge 50k, 24 hour trail run(tied course record), had a win at a 12 hour trail race and a 2nd place at the GEER 100k...on back to back weekends! Patrick is tough as nails, and trains his butt off. If fully recovered from all the races, I see a potential for a 21-22 hour finish. Maybe faster?

Mike Mason- After a breakthrough performance at MMT, Mike know's what it takes for a top 3 finish. He's been enjoying life as a proud new father, so let's hope he can notch another big effort for the little one. With good pacing I see 20-21 hours.

Chris Reed- awesome 2nd place run at Grindstone last year. He's the highest ranked returner, and the course knowledge should be helpful. A top 3 contender that could run around 21-22 hours.

Mario Raymond- Underrated(sorta), but fast. He's got enough speed to sneak up on the leaders, and could overtake them if they struggle. Ran 22 hours at MMT a few years back and passed Sean Andrish in the process. Look for a possible top 5, and a finish under 23 hours.

Adam Cassadey- Had a great 100 mile debut at MMT in 2008, and another sub 23 hour run in 2009. He's fresh off a win at the Iron Mountain 50. I think a top 3 is in his grasp.

Other Men who should be in the battle for a top 10 finish and/or a sub 24 hour finish

Justin Faul- 21 hours at Old Dominion, his first 100. He always finishes in the top 5-10%.
Jack Kurisky- almost broke 24 hours last year. Should contend for Master's win.
Bobby Gill- if the IT band stays intact, he could have a great 100 mile debut.
Kent Gallup-under 25 hours last year. He has alot of 100 mile experience
Russell Gill- very experienced. Should also contend for the Master's win.
Byron Backer- lots of experience, and always a strong runner
Jared Hesse-looked good at the training runs. If he paces smart, he could go top 10.
Gary Knipling- after an age group performance of the year type run at Superior Sawtooth 100, Gary will use his wealth of 100 mile knowledge to comfortably be the first 60+ finisher, and I predict he'll do it under 32 hours.

The women's race: No returning champ Krissy Moehl, and no young wonder woman Sabrina Moran. But, there's still a good race shaping up!

Donna Utakis- She's great at the long distance stuff and has experience on MMT type courses. She was under 24 hours last year, and could do it again. I expect a 1st, or 2nd place finish.

Frannie Conte- She's probably the fastest woman in the field. Smart pacing, and she will be in for the win. She'll probably be ahead of Donna for the first 30 miles, but Donna will catch her as the race goes on. Should be a battle.

Sophie Speidel- Will contend for the Master's win. She's been training hard, and training specifically for Grindstone. Could easily be in the top 3.
Dorothy Hunter-my sleeper pick for the women's race. Says she aiming for 27-28 hours. She has the perfect pacing and attitude for this type of course. If she sets small goals for herself during the race, as she did in the training runs, she could also be in the top 3.

That's it! I'm sure there are gonna be some surprise performances nobody will predict. That's the wonderful thing about our sport. On any given day, somebody can bust out an amazing run. Hope everyone is tapering and resting up. Should be a great race!

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