Today’s wrap on the weekend’s racing has to do more than simply report results and provide insight on how races unfolded. Those details are certainly important and have been repeatedly shared over the past couple of days. For example, the fact that 47 year-old Matt Carpenter made what amounts to a definitive move on Daryn Parker at Barr Camp in the 2011 Pikes Peak Marathon is very important. Just as 41 year-old Dave Mackey’s course record at this year’s Where’s Waldo 100k shouldn’t be left-out of any worthwhile wrap on the racing we all witnessed this weekend. And what about the Leadville Trail 100? Wow. The Sandman struck gold up there in that old mining town. And a young gun who goes by DBow came in second. These results are important, too.
But today, like most, Inside Trail wants to try and put some of this into perspective, propose a pattern or two we see developing across these great mountainous plains, of this country and beyond. But first, of course, there were some fantastic results this weekend put forth by some incredible athletes.
2011 Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
On Saturday, the 5th race of the Skyrunner World Series got underway in downtown Manitou Springs, CO. What could have been a potentially epic battle between 29 year-old Mario Macias from Alamosa, CO and 24 year-old Glenn Randall of Mesa, CO became a one-man show due to Randall’s curious DNS. The ever-informative Pikes Peak message board sheds a little light on said DNS; the fact that Randall missed the entry declaration deadline (for even past winners) appears to have been too much for him to reconcile. Without getting caught-up in what’s appropriate or ethical here, we all just wish he had been more punctual with his declaration (for his own sake, for any critics of “preferential treatment,” and for all mountain running fans who would pay to see Randall and Macias battle 13.3 and 7800!). Tommy Manning, representing the U.S. mountain running team, finished 2nd in the Ascent in 2:15:43, and the ageless Simon Gutierrez, at 45, finished 3rdin 2:18:15.
Macias’ 2:08:57 is exceptional, keeping record books conscious for the second year in row (after Randall’s 2010 2:09:28 ((at 23))). These superb back-to-back rookie Ascent times will hopefully give other talented Ascent virgins something to consider. It’s a world-class mountain running race, along with its big brother, the Sunday Marathon; it’s part of the Skyrunner World Series after all with years and years of mountain running lore to make this race tough to ignore.
How did the international contingent fare on America’s mountain? Italy’s Jean Pellissier, who going-in was 17th in the current Skyrunner World Series rankings, finished 8th in the Ascent in 2:30. Andorrans Oscar Casal Mir and brother Marc (ranked 12th and 18th)
finished 14th and 19th, respectively. Spaniard Xavier Martinez, ranked as high as 4th in the world, finished 15th at 2:36, and finally, Spaniard Oscar Roig finished 11th at 2:33. Certainly, such lengthy travel takes a toll. Still, fans would be thrilled to see more of the top international athletes make their way to Pikes each August to test themselves ala the great Ricardo Meija from Mexico through out the 1990s (a quick glance at mid-2000 results reveals steady, resilient international competition in the marathon, often selected as a race in the Skyrunner World Series, as well). Maybe we’ll see the internationality of trail and mountain running (as seen at the American ultra especially) encourage more great mountain competition at Pikes Peak in the future.
Kim Dobson, 27, provided adequate punctuation to Inside Trail’s women’s preview by submitting a near course record of 2:34:07; she did in fact set the 25-29 AG record. Sniffing Lynn Bjorklund’s 30 year-old record of 2:33:31 means the ground was definitely shaking in and around Manitou Springs on Saturday. Fantastic stuff, courtesy of Aurora, CO. Cynthia Arnold, of Glennwood Springs, CO was about 14 minutes back, and Nederland, CO’s Lisa Goldsmith (2:50:55) rounded out the women’s top three.
There was indeed an upset in the women’s marathon as Joanna Masloski, 33, of Highlands Ranch (5:09:38), put too much space between her and Maria Petzold on the ascent for Petzold to catch her. Despite Petzold out-splitting Masloski on the descent (1:45:54 to 2:00:13), the 29 year-old from Eldorado Springs, CO came up a couple of minutes short (5:12:07). Andrea Williams, 30, also of Eldorado Springs, finished 3rd in 5:21:10.
In predictable fashion, the 2011 Pikes Peak Marathon was turned-over to Matt Carpenter in very Carpenter-like fashion. The PikesPeakSports website has great video footage of the Pikes weekend. By the interview of Daryn Parker (and hearing what other people have said about him), we can take-away that this is a classy competitor, and a great mountain runner. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the men’s marathon field continually get out-classed by arguably the greatest mountain runner of our (or any?) generation. Though the Parker video interview has probably gone relatively viral at this point (do check it out), his description of running step-for-step with Carpenter over the first half of the ascent
becomes a little chilling when he says he couldn’t discern Carpenter’s breathing. Granted, a man is running up a steep hill at massive elevation and already has much anxiety and perhaps feels the onset of fatigue-induced hallucinations coming-on. But Carpenter is not breathing. This underscores my point about Carpenter in our Pikes Preview: his dominance, like his breathing on Sunday, may be surprisingly inconspicuous in that he could have been even more mind-bogglingly angelic on that mountain through the years had he had to work! Either way, the robotic Carpenter shuttled Parker to Barr Camp before making his aforementioned move that sealed Carpenter’s 12th marathon victory and his sixth in a row. And 48-year-old Bernie Boettcher of Silt, CO finished 3rd, again. This is getting complicated. More so to read about Carpenter’s weight concerns and how along with this (apparently dealing with some kidney concerns), his intense fear of (losing) and respect for the mountain almost kept him in bed Sunday morning. Let us truly appreciate what we have in this mammoth talent.
Like Carpenter, and even Boettcher, another mountain (40+) Master went berserk on Sunday. Dave Mackey went up to the Waldo 100k and demoted Erik Skaggs’ CR by around 20 minutes, at 9:06. Second was a very talented Ian Sharman, 30, more than 30 minutes behind. To be continued. . .
2011 Leadville Trail 100
Inside Trail had a ball covering this Colorado high-country ultra. From our “Chat” that previewed the race, to Tim’s travels, pre-race teetotaling and eventual race triumphs, to our initial live on-course twitter coverage (thanks Steve and Kathleen of Happy Trails) this was a lot of fun. In our picks, I went Parr, Bowman and Gorman in that order. Ryan Sandes of Salomon Running blew that up, but it was just a replacement at the top. Tim liked Bowman a ton along with Sandes and Gorman, I believe. I really hope you enjoyed the follow-up articles that highlighted the super talented South African adventure racer. First of all, he’d been in the high country for well over a month, crewing and pacing for teammate Julien Chorier in a very successful HR100 campaign, and then inhabiting Leadville to train and acclimatize for his LT100. Along with his steady diet of long-distance running, the guy’s specific focus for this event was spot-on. According to Tim and other reports, his race strategy was impeccable. His early intelligent pace restraint enabled him
to take complete control of the race after Winfield. Reports were consistent of his great form and team organization and execution. Only Bowman could really hang-on. But did he ever. Please take a look at the posts that followed our preview to see how nicely we tried to package this race. And read Tim’s race report for some depth into this one.
Ryan Sandes (Capetown SA) 16:46:54, Dylan Bowman (Aspen CO) 17:18:59, and Neal Gorman (Washington DC) 17:48:51. Great performances by these guys and a host of others. Not to forget, the women’s race came down to some inspired running by Lynette Clemons, of Leadville, who managed an incredible 19:59:06 for the win and 10th overall. Rhonda Claridge (21:11:24) and Andrea Metz (21:13:14) rounded-out the top 3. 622 started the 2011 Leadville Trail 100 but only 340 finished, and of those finishers only 92 went sub-25 hours to earn their big buckles. Sounds like a blast!
One footnote on the weekend, offering a tiny tip of an iceberg for the following discussion: in the Pikes Peak Ascent, one Chuck Smead, 60, of Mosca, CO, he of some American mountain running glory days, finished 48th and set the age group CR with a terrific 2:58. Apparently, as passed along by a fellow bus rider on the ride back to town, the next Chuck Smead Pikes Peak sighting will be in about 5 years, with another CR in mind. And in Leadville, Charles Corfield, 53, of Los Altos, CA finished 8th overall in 19:09:32. Awesome!
Two final points need introduction here. We are in a golden age of mountain running (hopefully every generation is lucky enough to say that). Matt Carpenter is arguably the greatest ever. And he deserves much more “ink” here at Inside Trail. His accomplishments at Pikes are incredible. Speaking of Leadville, the day his CR is taken-down will be a very very special day in trail ultra history. There are too many more records and races and race anecdotes to cover here, now. We need to appreciate that kind of a competitor. Dave Mackey is another genuine trail genius. As fans we have to glorify this kind of trail career. He has many more gem performances up his sleeve, but this guy is just plain remarkable. What we would have given to seem him toe the line with Carpenter again at the Pikes Peak Marathon last Sunday. Hmmm. Great stuff. (Not to be outdone, the great Jonathan Wyatt continued his comeback from injury ((and dealing with age)) back on August 13 at the steep ascent of Skaala; his lovely wife won the women’s race.
These are a couple of great runners, competing just this past weekend, at the highest level. Naturally, we need to ask two important questions. How much longer will they compete like this, especially Carpenter? Secondly, who is the next Matt Carpenter or Dave Mackey? By this we mean when will an American dominate at such lengths, at so many different venues, for so many years? The second question leads us to consider what is happening in American ultra or trail racing today. We know what the summer of 2011 has become. Short of Geoff Roes, Mike Wolfe, or Dakota Jones, et al., doing something incredible overseas next weekend at the UTMB, the non-American ultra runners have clearly laid claim to some very big ultra prizes (what does this do to the UROY award?). And no we are not trying to encourage some of kind of culture war or accentuated regionalism, or whatever else might come to mind. Competitive sport is that: competitive. And international play taps this kind of alliance or allegiance that generally comes pretty naturally to the competitive spirit. Just ask those international athletes. Lastly, we are not falling for the high-road here. “Fine if those countries want to battle it out; we’re just here for the fun.” What?
Salomon Running has utterly dominated a lot of racing recently. Let me charter a few names to take-in the scenery: Miguel Heras, Kilian Jornet, Julien Chorier, Ryan Sandes (NF50 San Fran, WS100, HR100, LT100). I am not going to leave-out Rickey Gates and his phenomenal Mt. Washington win (nor the team’s elder statesman, Jono Wyatt). The sense we have is that this is a team that means business; and make no mistake: we are not talking about selling shoes. Salomon is bigger than shoes and so are these wins by a team that is very committed to cleaning-up, bullying the respective fields at whatever races they target. “Wait. It’s only one year, this pattern of Salomon dominance.” True. But the way it’s been handed-out seems strikingly clinical, even industrial. Each “assignment” is delegated, seemingly, to only one highly trained “operative.” Who is pacing these respective winners to their respective victories? Gates, et al., at WS100; Sandes, et al., at HR100; and Anna Frost, et al., at LT100. The teamwork is sensational. The execution is marketing genius. And what are they marketing?
Indeed, here’s the last question: why? Why such a concerted effort to dominate? Coincidence? To sell red shoes? A competitive cycle that happens from time to time? Or this the beginning of something else of which the Americans, or at least other running brands might want to take note?
All we know is it’s happening. Competitively, these patterns (an aging, perhaps less focused American contingent and a European team/brand dominance) convey. Ignoring them certainly is no fun.