Western States 100 Preview

It’s just a few days away from the Western States 100; a very big event in the ultra calendar. Don’t know about you but we think this year’s race is shaping up to be an exciting event. Very strong male and female contenders are racing; with the added complication that course has been re-routed this year due to significant snowfall.  A map of the changes can be found here.

Here is our preview of the runners and predictions for the male and female top 5.

Geoff Roes from the USA had a rough start to last year’s race, and was in fact 15 minutes behind with 22 miles to go. However, he found another gear (maybe 2 or 3!) late in the race, taking the lead with 12 miles left and then blasted his way new course record of 15:07. He’s got to be the favourite this year again, for that reason and because he still remains undefeated over 100 miles.

Anton Krupicka, also from the USA, was a mere 6 minutes behind him in what would have been a course record too. Sadly Tony has just been injured (quite a nasty one if you read his blog) and has obviously declared himself out. We would have placed Tony 2nd in this year’s race again, had he been running.

Another big US hope is twice winner Hal Koerner. Hal won in 2007 and 2009 (there was no race in 2008 due to forest fires). Hal won in 16:24 in 2009. He’s going to have to go faster to keep up with Roes if this year’s pace is anything like last years.

Nick Clark from the USA, a relative unknown before last year’s event had a closely fought battle with Kilian last year and finished just a couple of minutes behind him in 4th. I’m sure he’s looking forward to the showdown this weekend. Mike Wolfe from the USA came 2nd in last year’s UTMB and is looking to make a bigger name for himself this weekend.

Overseas competitors; Salomon Runner Killian Jornet Burgada, the 23 year old ultra running ‘rockstar’ from Spain came 3rd in last year’s event, and by all accounts had a very tough time in the latter stages. Here is his reflection on last year and lessons learned. So, he’ll be better prepared this year you’d think. He’s coming off the back of a record time win in the Australia North face 100. I don’t think he’ll be an hour off the pace this year (last year he finished 3rd in 16:04), but I’m not sure he can win it if Roes performs like he did last year.

From the UK, North Face runner Jez Bragg took an impressive 3rd in the 2009 event, in a time of 16:54. Clearly the 2010 pace was significantly faster that 2009, so Jez will have to hit top form to take 3rd place this year. Don’t bet against it, but competition this year is tough. Jez has just won notoriously tough UK event “The Fellsman” in a record time.

Also from the UK and very much up there with Jez is Ian Sharman, newly sponsored by North face too, who has recently won the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 in February a record (and hugely impressive) 12:44 beating Tony Krupicka into a shock second place. He’s also run a recent 2:33 in the Phoenix marathon. He took 8th spot in last year’s WS100 and but he’s obviously on fire right now, so I think he’ll make a huge improvement on last year’s time. He more recently had a disappointing race (by his standards) in the South Africa Comrades ultra, some 20 minutes off his best of 6:01. That said, we will make a daring predication and say he’ll beat Jez for UK honours, and could even get up there in the top 5 this year if he performs on the day.

So, our prediction:

1. Roes

2. Jornet

3. Clark

4. Sharman

5. Koerner

As far as the Women’s race is concerned then Tracy Garneau is favourite to retain her title after her debut win last year in 19:01. Meghan Arbogast is always a strong competitor and came 2nd last year. She’ll be hard on Tracy’s heels this year. Anita Ortiz won in 2009 but had an injury that kept her out last year. It’ll be interesting to see if she’s fully recovered.

Three time champion Nikki Kimball finished 3rd last year and is sure to be up there again. Other contenders are Canadian Ellie Greenwood, coming off the back of a win in the AR-50. She could find a spot amongst the USA ladies. Also Kami Semick (USA) finished in second in the AR-50 had a good race in this year’s Comrades, finishing 4th in 6:26, will be one to watch as well.

Women’s’ prediction is a tougher call, but here are our thoughts:

1. Tracy Garneau

2. Meghan Arbogast

3. Nikki Kimball

4. Ellie Greenwood

5. Anita Ortiz

Anything can happen in 100 miles, so head over to the official website for more details, the latest news and to pick up links to the live results and webcasts once the race gets underway on Saturday 25th June.

Beyond Marathon wish all the best to everyone taking part.

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