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!

The Contenders

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!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Are you an Ultrarunner, or are you Normal?

Ultrarunners are without a doubt "unique people". Let's be honest, most work normal day jobs as a cover for the fact they are a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Many have come to me and asked,"Am I crazy for wanting to run 100 miles, suffer sleep deprivation, and bodily harm, just to get a buckle?". My answer is yes. You are a weirdo. Welcome to the family!

However, sometimes it's not as easy to determine if you are normal, or an ultrarunner. It is universally known that one cannot be both, at least not at the same time. I've written this to help you out a bit. I've come up with some phrases, or ideas, and then I've determined what a normal person would think, and what a looney ultramarathoner would think. By the end of reading this, you should have a clear diagnosis. I will warn you that the very fact you found this blog about ultrarunning is a sad indicator that you are already profoundly leaning in the direction of NOT normal.

1. Using marathons as long training runs

Ultrarunner: thinks this is a normal, albeit expensive way to train. It mixes things up, and it's easy because it'll likely be flat, and you'll see a lot of friends doing the same.

Normal person: I've run for years doing 5k's and 10k's, and thought that was an accomplishment. I dream about running a marathon one day, but, 26.2 miles is still ridiculously far.

2. Gear consisting of GU's, hand bottles, hydration packs, salt tablets, compression socks, specialty clothing, trail shoes, hats, flasks....

Ultrarunner: business as usual. Got it all already!

Normal person: Are you running in the Sahara or something? Aren't flasks the fashionable way to carry alcohol? What the heck are those white powdery pills, and one ounce packets of slime?

3. Running 50-100 miles is normal

Ultrarunner: that's not too shabby, but I'd really like to do one of the longer races like Badwater, or Spartathlon.

Normal person: I don't even like to drive that far. That's why they made cars (I believe every ultrarunner has heard these at least once).

4. I run 100 miles to get a fancy buckle

Ultraunner: totally worth every blister, shut down kidney, and hyponatremia.

Normal person: dude, you can buy nice buckles at a store...and what the heck is hypnatremia?

5. I do hill repeats...

Ultrarunner: I can be better prepared for the 4500 ft climb up Hope Pass at Leadville

Normal person: I can be better prepared for the 200 ft climb up heart break hill at Boston. Better yet, I'll just run somewhere flat and not worry about hills.

6. Running a 5k

Ultrarunner: not worth an entry fee. Who needs another race t-shirt anyway?

Normal person: wow, 3.1 miles kicked my butt. I also got a cool shirt and the money went to a good cause.

7. Fat Asses

Ultrarunner: I have the inside scoop on these fun, aided, FREE, club events. It's a nice social way of getting in my little 50k, or 50 mile training run. Plus, who needs awards and more shirts?

Normal person: It's not nice to call people fat....Oh, it's the name of a run? If I'm gonna run 30-50 miles, I'd kinda like something to show for it :-/...but, I would NEVER run that stupidly far!

8. Marathon medals

Ultrarunner: they make good paper weights and coasters for the coffee table.

Normal person: If only I could find the way to earn just ONE!

9. 10 minute miles

Ultrarunner: I'd die to average a ten minute mile for an ultra!

Normal person: not bad for a few miles

10. Peeing infront of others

Ultrarunner: Not just peeing, but pooping, farting, snot rockets, chaffing, vomiting, bleeding, sweating....Let's face it, we display just about every bodily fluid and function on the trails.

Normal person: find a porter potty, or public bathroom. Geez, that's gross.

11. Western States, Badwater, JFK, Hardrock,...

Ultrarunner: Those are some big time races that I've either done, or like to do

Normal person: aren't those the name of a hospital, the description of drain water, an assasinated president, and a type of music?

12. Extreme conditions

Ultrarunner: 130 degrees in Death Valley, or -60 in the Antarctic

Normal person: the winter and the summer

Well....What's the consensus? Are you normal, or are you an ultrarunner? :-)

Hope this helped!