Saturday, May 5, 2012
Drum roll please!
I proudly introduce to you the preview of the 2012 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 miler, brought to you by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. Who's ready for unpredictable May weather, 16,200 feet of gnarley climbing, and over 100 miles of foot smashing rocks? Surely you will say "Massanutten Rocks!".
Without furthur adue, here are some folks to watch in the 2012 race. I will be updating runner info throughout the week, so stay tuned as more up to date news comes in. Though this list only highlights some of the faster runners in the field, remember that some of the most inspiring stories will come from the middle and back of the pack. Enjoy.
As always. Ladies first!
Eva Pastalkova- The reigning champ is back. Last year she took down Sue Johnston's stout course record with a time of 22:30. Now that she knows the course, she will be nearly unbeatable. Her mental strength is a huge asset, as long as she stays on course. I think she will lower the mark again. Prediction 22:09, new course record, and she finishes top 5 overall. The question is, how many guys will she chick, and could she be the first *FEMALE OVERALL WINNER of MMT*?
Sheryl Wheeler- The former champ is super tough, and she consistently finds a second gear during the late stages of MMT (usually after mile 75). She will pick her way towards the front of the race, and I think she'll duke it out with Cusick for 2nd. Prediction 26:12
Kathleen Cusick- I paced Kathleen last year, and I think she will be hungry for another top 3. I think she holds on for 2nd this year and edges out Wheeler with a time of 25:50
Frannie Conte- She's fast, but has never done particularly well on rocky trails. If she can gut it out, I think she could manage a finish in the 27 hour range. Predict 27:17
The Men's race: None of last year's top 3 are returning, but the field is still stacked. At least 5-6 guys are in a position for the win. We have a nice mix of fast young guys and "old" guys, east coasters, and west coasters. Three former champs are running. There will be a big cluster of folks betwwen 21:30 and 23 hours. Let the games begin!
Nick Pedatella- Possibly the fastest guy in the field and trains at altitude. DNF'ed MMT in '09 and will look for redemption. Predict 20:45
Jack Pilla- won Vermont in 2010 at age 51 in 16:36. He could destroy the 50+ age record, and contend for the win. 21:55 cuz he doesn't do rocks often.
Dan Barger- He won MMT in 2010 (20:25), so he knows how to run the course fast. At age 46, it's almost hard to believe he has been running ultras for nearly 30 years. He started when he was 17. Predict 21:40
Adam Lint- One of the fastest 50k and 50 mile guys in the field, and lesser known to us East coasters. He's fast, but has the least 100 mile experience of the other guys. Does he like rocks? Predict 22:30
Sean Andrish- Sean's lost some speed, but he's got experience. He won MMT in 2004, and can still fight for a top 5 position. I hope he proves he can still bring it for 100 miles. Predict 23:45
Harland Peelle- Hasn't raced as much recently, but he's still fast and experienced. Both are needed at MMT. Predict 23:10
Keith Knipling- What would MMT be without Keith in the mix. He had an "off" year last year, but I think he will bounce back into the top 5 where he belongs. Predict 22:25.
Todd Walker- 2008 MMT champ is back. Should be gunning for a top 3. Tons of MMT experience. Predict 21:50
Jason Lantz- If he is rested he should go top 5. Just ran 6:33 at Bull Run Run. He will duke it out for a top 3. I think he may be the sleeper to win if he stays on trail. Can run 21:30.
James Blandford- He has gone sub 24 before at MMT and just threw down a 6:59 at Bull Run Run. He's in shape and I think he's due for a big finish. Predict 22:55 and a top 10
Adam Cassaday- Has finished 3rd and 5th at MMT, and I'd expect more of the same. He can break 22 hours. Predict 22:42
Mike Frazier- Mike trains A LOT on the Massanutten trails, and he's pretty fast. I think he's got 23:30 in him and a top 12.
Chris Askew- He's a bit under the radar coming from Oregon, but he's also broken 24 hours at some very tough 100's. He was 6th at the 2010 MMT (23:04), and I think he'll go sub 24 again. 22:55 and a top 7
Yosuke Murase- Might be one of the most improved VHTRC runners in the last year. He will surprise folks. I think he will run 23 hours and round out the top 10.
....Others to watch
Richard Cook- He tears up road 100's and won the inaugural Oil Creek 100 a few years ago, so he can perform on trails. I just don't know about the rocks. He could still go sub 24, but I will predict 25:30 for the road runner.
Dave Ploskonka- Dave goes out fast, and sometimes holds on, sometimes doesn't. He's owned the Beast of Burden series and run 16:19 for a road 100, but the trails are different. Could easily go faster than my prediction, but I'll say 25 hours flat.
Dante Simone- little known, but recently ran 16:56 at the NJ 100. Definitely worthy of note.
Ryan O'dell- speedster from NY. Could break 24, but I'm thinking 24:30.
James Brennan- My buddy has knocked out solid finishes at Rocky Raccoon and Vermont 100. If he's been prepping for the rocks he could do well, but I'm not sure it's been his focus. He's got the talent for sub 24, but are his legs conditioned for the rocks? Predict 25:45 and top 15.
Jim Harris- Mr consistency could see a top 10. I'd like to see Jim break 24 hours. The question is whether he will taper, or run 30 miles the day before MMT. Predict 25:25
Ryan Henry- broke 24 hours at MMT back in '07. Not sure if he's running much these days. I think he's still got sub 26 and top 15 in him. Predict 26:20
Andy Anderson- not a contender, but my old friend is 0 for 6 in 100 mile attempts. I am rooting like crazy for my buddy to get his first finish. Lucky number seven.