Wednesday, September 28, 2011
4th Annual Grindstone 100 Predictions!
*Last updated 10/4/11 (weather forcast-sunny highs in the mid 70's, lows in the 40's)
Ladies and gentleman! Here come the 2011 Grindstone 100 predictions.This will be my third set of predictions for Grindstone, so here's to hoping they are the best. 23,000 ft of climb. Over 100 miles of varying terrain. Quirky fall weather. Who's ready? Karl Meltzer still owns the course record of 18:46. I'm sure he could have run much faster, sub 18 perhaps, but he was never challenged in the race, having won by over 2.5 hours. The men's field is deep, but as always expect a few drops here and there. I'm sure to miss a few folks, but here are who I think are the key players.
Neal Gorman: Grand Slam record holder is no longer an up and comer in the sport of ultras. He is already there. This summer alone he has been 2nd at Massanutten (19:40), 1st at Old Dominion(16:16 with 20 minute detour), and 3rd at the oxygen deprived Leadville(17:48). Predict Neal for the win in 19:15
Andy Jones Wilkins: *update- AJW will not be running*
Keith Knipling: Tons of experience in the VA mountains. He's the TWOT 100 record holder, which overlaps a large section of the Grindstone course, and he's been a contender in this race before. Predict 22:30
Frank Gonzalez: He's been a running machine this year and is fresh off a course record win at Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness (7:16). Frank the tank is my sleeper for the top 3, and I think he'll be in around 22 hours.
James Brennan: Ran well at his only two 100's (Vermont in 19:19 and Rocky Raccoon in17:34). James seems to always be in the hunt. I suspect he'll be in the top 10 and cracking the sub 24 barrier.
Jordan Chang: 1st 100? Jordan is a fast youngster who could make things fun. It'll be interesting to see how his road speed plays out in the mountains. Prediction???
Matt Hart: solid coach and runner. Don't know much about Matt, but he will probably be a top 5 contender. Predict 22:45
Jason Lantz: Lots of 100 mile experience. Another guy who can run sub 24 on pretty much any course, even when he has a "bad" day. 2 time Old Dominion champ (in the hot years). Predict a 22:30, and a top 5
Patrick McGlade: fast youngster who already has an impresive resume of wins, and a cross country run to boot. DNF'ed in '09, ran for fun in '10. Depending on whether he is running for fun, or competitive, he could be in the mix. Capable of 22-23 hours, or better.
Craig Thornley: Has finished WS consistently in 18-20 hours. Lots of experience on the west coast, and ultras in general. I suspect he'll challenge for a top 5. Predict 22:45
Mario Raymond: Another very seasoned runner, who's been running well the past few years. He has broken 24 at Grindstone before, and I'd expect the same. Predict 23 hours, or better, and a top 8
David Ploskonka: Had an inspiring and gutsy "return from the dead" performance at MMT. Dave is fast, and pacing will make or break his race. Predict 23:59, or better if he stays on course
David Ruttum: '10 Old Dominion winner. He's run well at Grindstone before. Predict a top 6 22:15
Sleepers in the men's race. Potential sub 24 and top 10:
Yosuke Murase- 2011 grand slammer has really come into his own as an ultrarunner the past couple years.
Tom Syre is a fast youngster, though I think this is his first 100?
Aaron Mulder is another consistent runner who could sneak into the top 10.
Thad Meyer has done well in 24 hour races and Matt Bugin is yet another speedy 50k and 50 mile guy in the mix.
I've been informed that Jason Wiley is one to watch as well, and is a strong late race runner
Age Group: look for Mike Campbell to set an age group course record. The guy seriously proves aging does not mean slowing down.
Women's race: ?? Grindstone has historically had very, very few woman. Not sure why the draw isn't there. Not really sure on the contenders, though I suspect Alyssa Wildeboer may be the fastest. Zsuzanna Carlson and Kerry Owens have a lot of experience, and could round out the top 3 women.
*update- Sophie Speidel informs me Katherine Dowson is one to watch. She was the 2009 Bear 100 winner and Bighorn 50 winner.
Per Zsuzanna Carlson, Deb livingston is another speedy one, though it appears much of her success, and wins, have been at the trail marathon and 50k distance.
Alicia Hudelson has the women's Superior Hiking Trail record, covering 205 miles in 4 days and 15 hours.
Rebecca Phalen- solid local runner. Not sure what she's been up to recently, but in previous years she's done well.
The women's race thickens!