Who will be in the hunt at Huntsville State Park?

December 3, 2006

The Sunmart 50-mile and 50K races will be held on December 9th at Huntsville State Park outside of Houston. The courses are fairly flat and nontechnical, so they favor those with good legspeed. Below are the 50-mile entrants who, according to this blog, are most likely to place “in the money,” which goes four deep ($1000 for 1st, $600 for 2nd, $400 for 3rd, and $200 for 4th).


1. Oleg Kharitonov (age 38; from Russia). Set a world track record of 11:28:03 for 100 miles in 2002; other PRs are 2:17 for the marathon (set last year) and 6:29 for 100K. At the Comrades Marathon, has placed 4th in 2002, 2nd in 2003, 3rd in 2004, 2nd in 2005, and 1st in 2006. If the weather is good, should have a shot at the $1000 bonus to be awarded for a new course record (currently 5:20:25, set in 2000 by former Comrades champ Charl Mattheus).

2. Denis Zhalybin (age 26; from Russia). Ran the second-fastest 100-miler ever in 2002, finishing just 1:29 behind Kharitonov. Tied with Kharitonov for 2nd place at the IAU World Cup 100K in October and has a 100K PR of 6:36. Once covered 93,247 meters during a six-hour indoor event, which must have been fun. Another legitimate threat to break the course record.

3. Giorgio Calcaterra (age 34; from Italy). A late entrant who effectively replaces American Howard Nippert, who has withdrawn due to illness. Calcaterra is a 2:13 marathoner who, according to David Monti of Race Results Weekly, recorded 16 sub-2:20 marathon finishes in a single year (2000). More recently, has run 6:45 for 100K and led much of this year’s World Cup race, completing the first 50K in 3:09 before fading to an 11th-place 7:04. Surname can be translated very roughly as “crowded terrain”; may indeed find the trail a bit crowded, since nearly a thousand runners will attempt either the 50-miler or the 50K.

4. Greg Crowther (age 33; from Seattle, Washington). Lacks the credentials of the three above but did run a 6:59 100K in February, becoming only the second American to break the seven-hour barrier since 2002. (The other is Nippert, who’s done it three times.) Marathon PR is 2:22. Like Calcaterra, is relatively new to ultramarathoning, having run his first 50K in September of 2004. The sole representative of the Seattle Running Company at this year’s event, since 2005 champ Phil Kochik won’t be defending his title, 2004-05 runner-up Hal Koerner has left the SRC to start his own running store, and 2004-05 50K winner Uli Steidl is vacationing in Kenya.


1. Anne Lundblad (age 40; from Swannanoa, North Carolina). Like Nippert, has run many of her best races at the IAU World Cup 100K, placing 6th in 2004 and 2006 (the latter in a PR 7:47) and 2nd in 2005 and leading the American women to the team gold in 2005. Named USATF’s female ultrarunner of the year for 2005. In addition, has won the last three editions of the sporadically contested national 50K road championships: in 2001, 2004, and 2006.

2. Kami Semick (age 40; from Bend, Oregon). Won eight ultras in 2005, including the Helen Klein 50-miler, where she set a blazing course record of 6:13. This year, ended Nikki Kimball’s seven-year trail ultra winning streak in August by defeating Kimball at the national 50K trail championships, then placed 11th at the World Cup 100K in October with a time of 7:56. Marathon best is 2:53.

3. Connie Gardner (age 43; from Medina, Ohio). Knows her way around the Sunmart course as well as anyone, having won the 50-miler in 2002 and 2004 while placing 2nd in 2003 and 2005. Her best time here is 7:14. Copped the national 100-mile trail title in February at Rocky Raccoon to go along with her national 100-mile road trophy from 2003, when she was USATF’s female ultrarunner of the year.

4. Tania Pacev (age 47; from Littleton, Colorado). Despite being well into the masters age bracket, has been the overall female winner of four marathons and three ultras this year. In 2005, clinched the United States women’s team victory at the World Cup 100K with a 9th-place 8:29.

Invited 50-mile runners besides those listed above include Eric Bindner, Scott Eppelman, Mark Godale, Jim Harrington, Andy Jones-Wilkins, Hal Koerner, Kim Martin, Ragan Petrie, Roy Pirrung, Bob Pokorny, and Todd Walker.


  1. G * O * G * R * E * G * G * O O O O O !!!!!! He may not seem aware of what dad is doing, but Phil is no doubt behind you 100% !!! Have fun 🙂

  2. Greg, good luck. You are very humble about your achievements. I've been following your blog since you started it and didn't know about you being only the 2nd American since 2002 to break the 7-hour barrier. My calculator tells me that is 6:45 per mile for 62 miles. That's impressive!

  3. The story of Kharitonov and Jalybin/Zhalybin running 100 miles in 2002 is amazing!http://www.americanultra.org/news/2002news/23oct02b.htmlIt would be quite a treat to meet them in person.Can you recommend a training regimen for an amateur who wants to run a road 50 mile PR?Best,Balto

  4. I would never rule out Anne Lundblad…although she often uses non-championship races for training, but if she is racing, watch out. Kami Semick is also new to the ultra scene somewhat and recently has been beating some of the top, undefeated ultrarunners like Nikki Kimball…so I say it's a race between those two. With $1000 on the line, for ultra-running that is like $100K in road money…, it will be interesting. Sorry, no idea on the men but I wish you well, new Dad.

  5. Good luck!

  6. Good luck Greg! Those are some pretty impressive ultra distance competitors. I am betting you will do well as long as you don't lead from the start. Have fun!

  7. Thanks, everyone.Balto: I agree; that story is awesome! Regarding your training regimen question, ask me again after the race, when I'll know whether my current program worked!Duncan: Your comment about my humility made me laugh, since that "2nd American since 2002" stat, though true as far as I know, is one I devised for self-promotional purposes. (Why since _2002_? Because a couple of other Americans went under 7 in 2000 and 2001. I made the cutoff 2002 to make the sub-7 club seem more exclusive.)Jennifer: I agree with your prediction. I listed the contenders in predicted order of finish.

  8. Best of luck to you Greg. I hope you can get some good sleep beforehand to fire on all cyclinders. I look forward to the result.

  9. Good luck in Houston.

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