Monday, April 25, 2011
Massanutten 100 Preview
"Prediction?...Pain"- Mr. T (Rocky III)
The Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 is less than three weeks away. With 16,200 feet of elevation gain over 100 rocky miles, it is one of the toughest 100 mile foot races in the country. With the scenic backdrop of Fort Valley and the Shenandoah, it is also one of the most scenic east coast courses.
For the folks running, or following along, my only goal is to generate a fun buzz about this noteworthy event. The men's race looks to be the most competitive field ever at MMT. Here's my list of folks you should keep an eye on come May 14th and 15th. No pressure if you see your name. This is all for fun! Now for the breakdown...
The Women's Race!
Kathleen Cusick- Second female in 2010. She's got good experience and has really improved over the last few years. Ran a solid 25:39 last year! Prediction 25:15
Eva Pastalkova- Probably the most speed on the women's side and she has finished the CAT 100 solo and the Wild Oak 100. She will likely contend with the top men and threaten Sue Johnston's event record of 22:38. Tough as nails, as long as she stays on course ;-). Prediction 22:55
Sheryl Wheeler- the defending Women's Champ is back. She crushed it last year in 24:54, and now with two years of experience, look for her to improve more. I think Eva will lead from the start, but a well paced late mileage attack is Sheryl's strong point. It will be a battle. I predict a possible sub 24. Prediction 24:30
Others to watch: Zsuzsanna Carlson and Kari Brown.
The Men's Race:
Karl Meltzer: Past MMT winner and 100 mile specialist. He will be pushed by a fast field this year, so a course record may happen, assuming the forcast is good. I predict first place with a time of 17:50, just shy of Kim Sae Duk's 2006 event record of 17:40. Karl will have plenty of company the first 60 miles, but I think he will start pulling away and win with a cushion of at least 30 minutes.
Neal "Grand Slam" Gorman: Broke Joe Kulak's impressive Grand Slam record, including 4th at Leadville, 2nd at Wasatch, and 2nd at Vermont. Not to mention 13th at Western States. With altitude not as a factor, Neal will be hanging to keep Karl company. For how long, we'll see. I predict a 2nd overall, in 18:40
David Frazier: The young gun has shown good speed at 50k and 50 miles (6:44 at BRR). Completed the rugged Wild Oak 100, and also had enough speed to drop a 3:32 50k this spring. Pacing will be his strength, or curse. Will his Stonewall division entry make things tougher for the first time MMT'er? I predict a top 5 with a 21:30 finish.
Dan Rose: Proved he can run the rocks with a course record 14:57 at the Reverse Ring. He has 2:40ish marathon speed and 140+ mile 24 hour endurance. If he puts it all together I suspect a solid finish near 20:30. He's used to flatter stuff, but if he masters the rocks, he'll put on a show. As a 7 year cancer survivor, he knows how to put up a fight!
Brian Schmidt: The 2010 Grindstone winner will bring his A game to MMT. Always strong, and always a contender. Look for a finish around 20:45. Top 4 prediction. Will the Leesburg Mafia see the podium?
Todd Walker: dropped out, short notice
Mike Mason: Has finished top 3 at MMT, and Grindstone. Knows he can run 22 hours, if his training is good. Top 5 and 22:45, perhaps another tie with Todd Walker('10 Grindstone 100)?
Jason Lantz: Former Old Dominion 100 winner, and another guy with lots of 100 mile experience. Capable of a top 5, so I'll predict he runs 22:20
Jeremy Pade: Good marathon speed, and has shown impressive results at the 50k and 50 mile distance. First MMT, and 100 miler, so it's tough to put him in the top 5, but I think he's got a great chance to break 24 hours and be within the top 8-10. Hope he proves me wrong. Prediction 23:59
Keith Knipling: any other year, and I'd say top 3 for sure, but there's too many fast guys. However, he's got the most MMT experience. Home trail advantage helps a lot here. He can break 24 hours with his eyes closed, and since they'll be open I'd say 22:50, or better.
James Blandford: ran a strong 23 hours last year, and coming off an impressive 7:15 at Bull Run Run. Top 7 prediction. 22:55
Matt Davies: Ran a 5th place 22:30 last year. I suspect more of the same, if not faster. A year of experience can only help. Prediction 23:00.
Others to watch, and potential sub 24 hour finishers:
Cam Baker-18:26 at the 71 mile Reverse Ring
Mario Raymond- has run 22:39 at MMT, and sub 24 at Grindstone 100. Sleeper pick for a top 5. Always a top 10 contender at any race.
Yosuke Murase: He's been running well this year, including a solid 7:55 at BRR.
Brian Greeley: Probably the fastest guy not on the "contenders" list, mostly because his best races are at shorter distances. MMT is a great place to prove that theory wrong! (update, looks like Brian is injured and not running. Heal quick!)
David Plaskonka: Good speed, and coming off a top 10 at Bull Run in 7:28. However, his navigational skills may be worse than mine, and that's not easy.
Good luck everyone. Maybe I'll run with you next year!