White River 50 previewJuly 26, 2006
The White River 50-Miler will be held this Saturday at Crystal Mountain, Washington. Consistent with its designation as a USATF national championship trail race, White River always attracts a strong field. Here’s a look at some of this year’s leading contenders.
1. Phil Kochik (Seattle, WA). Two years ago at White River, Phil broke Chad Ricklefs’ heart by coming from behind to win the USATF title by 24 seconds. Since then, his smoking times have caused much additional cardiomyopathy among his rivals. Among his recent victories: the 2005 American River 50-Miler and Sunmart 50-Miler and the 2006 Way Too Cool 50K, Diez Vista 50K, and Miwok 100K.
2. Josh Brimhall (Henderson, NV). Josh won this year’s Zane Grey 50, one of the country’s most rugged and prestigious 50-milers, so he should be able to handle White River’s undulating, technical course. He also picked up a victory at the 2006 Lake Hodges 50K.
3. Kyle Skaggs (Glenwood, NM). Only 21, Kyle has already shown great potential, finishing 2nd to Uli Steidl at the Chuckanut 50K in March and 2nd to Josh Brimhall at Zane Grey in April.
4. Dustin Gilbert (Seattle, WA). Dustin is the top returning finisher from last year, having placed 5th, and was 2nd in the recent McDonald Forest 50K. He’s a favorite among female spectators such as my wife, who describes him as “totally hot.”
Dark horses: Guillermo Medina (North Hollywood, CA) and Andy Jones-Wilkins (Oakland, CA) both prefer 100-milers to the “short” ultramarathons but should still place well. Mike Wolfe (Bozeman, MT) is rumored to have defeated 2004 USATF 50K trail champ Scott Creel in some recent Montana races.
1. Nikki Kimball (Bozeman, MT). Nikki has not lost a trail ultra since … well, nobody can remember that far back. She won at White River in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and is also the course record-holder. I can claim Nikki as an old friend because we went to junior high school and college together; does that make me cool by association?
2. Kami Semick (Bend, OR). Second to Nikki at White River in 2005, Kami won eight other ultramarathons that year, including the Miwok 100K and the Helen Klein 50-Miler. Her 2:53 marathon speed could prove valuable on the downhill dirt road from Sun Top (mile 37) to Skookum Flats (mile 43.4).
3. Julie Udchachon (Eagle River, AK). Julie appeared to be fading badly — really badly — in the second half of last year’s White River race, then made an astonishing recovery to finish 3rd. A month later, she copped a USATF trail title at the Headlands 50K. Anyone who knows Julie and her son can tell that, if there is a perpetual motion gene, this family has it.
4. Annette Bednosky (Jefferson, NC). Annette had a sterling 2005 campaign, including a win at the Western States 100-Miler and a 2nd (behind the formidable Anne Riddle Lundblad) at the Mountain Masochist 50-Miler. However, she is returning from a hamstring injury and probably won’t be at full strength this weekend.
Dark horse: Carol O’Hear (Seattle, WA) has not raced much lately, but when she’s in shape, look out! She has decent road speed along with good trail stamina, as indicated by her 2004 results (1st place, Mt. Si 50-Miler; 3rd place, Western States 100 and Vermont 100).