Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2014 Graveyard 100: Little Known Race Drawing Big Time Talent

Let's face it, there are a ton of ultras in the country these days, and yet you only hear about a few of them. It seems that only the big named events like Western States, or the big prize money events garner any kind of attention to their starting fields. Well, I am here to tell you about the talent that has been showing up to the Graveyard 100, and it may surprise you.

The Graveyard 100 is the brain child of North Carolina runners and residents Brandon and Heather Wilson, the founders of RacENC. The inaugural event was held in 2012 as a point to point race that traveled roughly 102 miles of the Outer Banks from Currituck to Hatteras via route 12. In the 2013, the race was re-routed to a 50 mile and back due to road closures on the course. However, weather permitting, the 2014 event will see runners follow the long lonely roads of the OBX once again. While the race consists of flat roads, it is by far anything but an easy event. However, for some of the most talented runners around, it has become an ideal location to show some of their speed.

So let's take a look at some of the names that have run, or will be running, the Graveyard 100 miler, and the sister event held the same day the Graveyard 100k. Some of the names you will not recognize, and some you will.

Valmir Nunes- Valmir is one of the greatest runners of our time. He won Graveyard in 2013 in a course record 13:48 at the age of 49. He has a 100k PR of 6:16, holds the Badwater course record, was the 1991 100k World Champion, and won Spartathlon in 2001. Listing all of his wins and records would require a whole separate blog in itself. The guy is a legend, and also one of the nicest folks you could meet.

Mike Morton- Unfortunately Mike was injured and did not run the 2013 as planned. Mike has a resume that includes a course record win at Western States, 3rd overall at Western States 16 years later, 13:11 course record at Umstead, 13:18 course record at Long Haul, 13:42 course record at the Keys 100, winning Badwater, holding the current American 24 hour record, 13:14 course record at Iron Horse, and numerous other wins at various distances.

Brenda Carawan- Brenda won the inaugural 100 mile event outright in a breakthrough time of 16:33. That time would go on to be one of the fastest female 100 mile times of 2012. Considering it was run on a course slightly longer than 102 miles, it was very impressive. Brenda, who has also finished Badwater, has since gone on to win the Keys 100, Graveyard 100k, Cow Town 50k, and finished the famed Spartathlon.

Donna Utakis- Donna is entered for the 2014 event. She has consistently been one of the top females at most events she runs. Some of her highlights include wins at the Grindstone 100, Laurel Highlands, Hellgate 100k, Cascade Crest 100, and TARC 100.

Andrei Nana- Andrei was 2nd overall in the inaugural Graveyard 100. Andrei is known for his intense workouts, and logged over 8,000 miles of running in 2013. He has since gone on to finish near the top at almost every 100 he has run including the Lost 118 Miler, Iron Horse 100, Keys 100, Long Haul 100, Ancient Oaks 100, winning the Peanut Island 24 Hour, and completing Spartathlon with an impressive sub 31 hour finish.

Olivier Leblond- Olivier is the defending Graveyard 100 champion with a time of 14:47 last year. He also ran a 2nd place 14:33 in 2013 to Valmir Nunes in 2013, but on a course that was roughly 3-4 miles shorter than the original. Olivier won the Old Dominion 100 in his first attempt at 100 miles and has since won both the 2013 and 2014 C&O Canal 100's, Desert Solstice 24 hour with 152 miles (100 mile split of 14:36 and qualified for US 24 Hour Team), Icy 8 Hour, Stone Mill 50, North Face 50k, and the 12 Hour ATR.

Joe Fejes- Joe won the Across the Years six Day event with 555 mind blowing miles, and then upped the ante with 580 miles at Six Days in the Dome. Last year Fejes broke the 72 hour record with 329 miles. A former member of the US 24 Hour team, Joe has won numerous other timed events and ultras.

Connie Gardner- Connie has been one of the most consistent female ultrarunners in the past 15 years. She won the 2013 Graveyard 100 in a time of 15:33 at age 49 (coincidentally the same age as Valmir), which was one of the fastest female(or male) 100's of the year. She has won numerous 100 milers and ultras throughout her career, run sub 7 hours for 50 miles, was a member of the US 24 Hour team and 100k team, and was also the previous female 24 hour American record holder with just over 149 miles.

Jonathan Savage- Jonathan was 4th overall at last year's Graveyard 100 in a time of 17:38. He was a member of the US 24 hour team and has numerous wins in 24 hour events. Other highlights include running 146 miles at the North Coast 24 hour, winning the Keys 100, Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50, Hinson Lake 24 Hour, and many other finishes near the top of the field.

Tatyana Spencer- Tatyana won the inaugural Graveyard 100k in a time of 8:16. It was one of the fastest female, or male 100k times of 2012 (or since). She has run 3:47 for 50k, 16:12 at the Keys 100, won the Keys 50, and Peanut Island 12 Hour

1 comment:

Matthew Prineas said...

Thanks for posting the preview, Mike. I'm looking forward to my second running of this race, which is really unlike any other ultra I've done. Hoping this year to be actually able to run on Hatteras, but who knows this crazy winter we've been having will bring?