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Grab bag

December 1, 2007

1. One of the most anticipated ultramarathons of the year, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler, took place yesterday in the Marin Headlands (north of San Francisco). First prize was $10,000 cash; 2nd prize, a hearty handshake. The men’s race, as expected, was a duel between Matt Carpenter and Uli Steidl, with Steidl prevailing, 6:57 to 7:10. Congrats, Uli! As shown at the end of Uli’s race report, he now has 11 ultramarathon victories in 11 attempts. Great Britain’s Lizzie Hawker, winner of the 2006 World Cup 100K and the 2005 Ultra Tour du Mount Blanc, was the top female (7:59), comfortably ahead of Jenn Shelton (8:22) and Bev Anderson-Abbs (8:25).

2. Also taking place yesterday was the lottery to determine who gets to run the Western States 100 next June. With 1350 applicants and 370 spots, there were bound to be a lot of disappointed people. Andy Jones-Wilkins is not one of them, having secured an automatic berth with his top-10 finish this year, but he laments the fact that many fast people were not selected. Bryon Powell, in discussing the lottery and how it could be revised, says, “WS needs to determine what it wants to be. It can’t be all things to all people anymore. The Board needs to decide whether to retain the old community as best it can, transform WS into a championship race, or be an inclusive race. Obviously those goals aren’t mutually exclusive, but there are only so many entry slots to work with.” I agree.

3. Ian Torrence recently forwarded me a link to the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund. By now, most running enthusiasts are aware that Shay died of a heart attack while competing in the Olympic Trials marathon on November 3rd. I didn’t know him personally, but Lauren Fleshman’s tribute to Ryan gave me a good sense of what he was like and why someone might want to contribute to his memorial fund.

4. My JFK race report was negligent in not mentioning the outstanding performance of Michael Wardian, whose time of 5:50 was the second-fastest ever recorded since the race began in 1963. Wardian thus added his name to the list of people eligible for selection to the USA’s 2008 World Cup 100K team. Magician Oz Pearlman is now on that list as well thanks to his 5:31 at the Chicago Lakefront 50-Miler in October. Perhaps athletes such as these will allow the US to send a full team of six men to the World Cup next year. (Only four have made the trip in each of the past two years.)

5. USATF has announced its USATF ultrarunners of the year: Nikki Kimball … and me! I suspect that many people share the opinion of the ultra listserv member who wrote, “As talented as he is, it surprised me that USATF would name Greg Crowther as the male ultrarunner of the year.” Therefore let me briefly explain why I think I was given this award. A. Only USATF members are eligible for the honor, and many ultramarathoners are not USATF members. B. The USATF “year” lasts from November 1st to October 31st, meaning that my excellent Sunmart performance (from December 2006) was considered but my dismal JFK performance was not. C. I won two USATF championships (50K road and 100K road) and did fairly well in the World Cup 100K race, which is also a USATF event in the sense that USATF coordinates the participation of the American team. I suspect that, in giving out these honors, USATF weights its “own” events more heavily than prestigious non-USATF-affiliated races. In any case, I’m grateful for the award … and I don’t feel TOO guilty about receiving it, since other deserving individuals are likely to receive recognition in other end-of-year polls, such as those conducted by the Wasatch Speed Goats and UltraRunning magazine.

16 comments

  1. Congrats on being Ultrarunner of the Year!! What an honor Greg!


  2. Congratulations on your award! You absolutely deserve it. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment for Rutland, VT and Williams as well, with Nikki getting the award too.


  3. Congratulations Doogie! You certainly deserve it. Despite following your exploits on your blog, I'd forgotten just how many terrific results you'd had during the timespan covered by the award. Will you be flying out to Hawaii to accept the award?


  4. Don't feel the least bit guilty; you certainly deserved it based on your fine year.My only beef, after reading about the selection criteria, is the fact that an athlete has to be nominated in order to be considered; that seems a bit odd. Shouldn't USATF keep themselves abreast of the major events and athletes? I'd hate to see a situation where the best runner was skipped simply because nobody nominated her.- paul


  5. GregCongratulations on your award; well-deserved. Looking forward to seeing a strong season from you next year; with maybe a win in a 100 miler – or at least a strong finish.Dave


  6. Alison: USATF Mountain Runner of the Year Chris Lundy also grew up in southern Vermont! Pretty crazy, huh?Jem: No, I wasn't even invited to Hawaii. Presumably that's because the voting for this award took place only a couple of weeks before the ceremony.Paul: I think it makes sense to have a nomination process so that all committee members can be reminded of the credentials of the leading candidates. However — and I think this is your main point — the process depends on people being informed enough to make good nominations. Last year's winner, Karl Meltzer, was not nominated until the last possible moment despite winning six 100-milers. One hopes that deserving candidates are not ignored in this way.Dave: It may be a while before I decide which races to run next year, but I do hope to fit in a 100-miler at some point — or perhaps a 12-hour race, since there is a serious lack of flat and fast 100's.


  7. Greg — congrats! The honor is certainly well-deserved. As a newly-appointed member of the MUT (Mountain, Ultra, and Trail) Council of USATF, I'll shed a little light on the process. Nominations were taken for approximately six weeks prior to the vote, which took place in late November. MUT Council members are mountain, ultra, and trail runners, coaches, and managers, and we of course try to stay up with the latest race results. I have to admit, though, with the proliferation of events across the country it's sometimes hard to keep up with all the latest news. That's why we request nominations from outside of the council. Once an athlete is nominated, someone generally gets in touch with them to obtain a list of all of their accomplishments for the year, so that none of their achievements are overlooked. It's an imperfect system, but the best we have right now. Looking ahead to next year, if you believe someone is deserving of the honor, please nominate them — even if you think it's such an obvious nomination that someone else would have already done it. That way, we can be sure that no deserving athletes are left out of the discussion.Cheers, and strong and healthy running to all,Anne


  8. Anne,First, I think Greg is fully deserving of the award. He had a great season. Two questions, though:1. If you noticed that a deserving runner had not been nominated, would someone from the council nominate them to make sure they weren't left out? Seems like at the very least winners of USATF championships and some other "major" races might get an auto-nomination?2. Is there a list of nominees somewhere? I haven't been able to find a list of nominees either before or after the fact.Thanks,Jasper


  9. So, Greg… would it be crass to ask what exactly you win by winning? Besides the glory of the title. ;)Congratulations.


  10. Anne: Congratulations on your appointment, and thanks for helping to clarify this widely misunderstood process.Kendra: I think the prize varies from year to year. 2002 winner Chad Ricklefs said that he got a nice plaque made by Kevin Setnes; 2006 winner Karl Meltzer said that he got a fold-up clock. Not sure what Anne was given in 2005….


  11. Jasper,Actually, the majority of the nominations are made by MUT council members, but like I said, it is sometimes hard to keep up with all of the events throughout the year…which is why we welcome nominations from the entire running community.I don't think a list of nominees has been posted in the past but I have contacted the members in charge of this and I think it will be posted soon (I'll let you know where as soon as I know).I've received two prizes — overall in 05 and masters in 06. The same fold-up clock that Karl received in 06 and a cute plaque thing in 05. Unfortunately I never get to see them because my eight year old stores all of my hardware in her room :-)Anne


  12. The motivation on USATF says it rather eloquently does it not? Why guilt?Congratulations."Greg Crowther, 34, Seattle, WA, is the ultrarunner of the year. Crowther was the USA National 50km Champion setting a course record of 3:04:35. He was the USA 100km Road Champion running 7:14:31, placed second at Miwok 100km trail, finished in eleventh place to score for the bronze-medal winning USA 100km Team at the IAU World Cup in The Netherlands running 6:52:52, first place and course record at Bridle Trails 50km, and first place at SunMart 50 Miler in 5:37:36. Crowther is on the faculty at the University of Washington, where he is acting lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He graduated from Williams College in Vermont in 1995 with a degree in biology and earned a Ph.D. in Physiology & Biophysics from the University of Washington.


  13. Sorry my last post showed up twice. I'm just getting the hang of these blog things. Here's the list of nominees for the Runners of the Year awards:Male Mountain Runner of the year:Rickey GatesClint Wells40+ Male Mountain Runner of the year:Simon GutierrezEric MorseFemale Mountain Runner of the year:Laura HaefeliChris Lundy40+ Female Mountain Runner of the year:Lisa GoldsmithAnita OrtizMale Ultra Runner of the year:Greg CrowtherScott JurekHoward Nippert40+ Male Ultra Runner of the year:Howard NippertRoy PirrungKevin SetnesFemale Ultra Runner of the year:Bev Anderson-AbbsDevon Crosby-HelmsNikki KimballAnne LundbladKami SemickJenn SheltonCarolyn SmithJulie Udchachon40+ Female Ultra Runner of the year:Bev Anderson-AbbsAnne LundbladKami SemickCarolyn Smith


  14. Anne,Thanks for the info. Congratulations to Greg, Nikki, and all the other winners. Very deserving all.-Jasper


  15. P.S. Perhaps I should correct a couple of errors from the press release. In May I moved from the UW Department of Chemical Engineering to the UW Department of Medicine, where my current title is Research Scientist. Also, Williams College is in Massachusetts, not Vermont.


  16. Greg, my sincere congratulations on your fine performances this year and receiving the USATF runner of the year. I can't think of a more worthy person.You had an impressive year, I am sure you learned a lot along the way. Keep road ultrarunning alive! Barney Klecker is probably grinning with joy.You were right up there in my selection of Speedgoat. Who knows… the skull may still end up on your wall… ahhh what a conversation piece that will be. I have you right in the mix with Jurek and Konya. Like artwork…to each his own.



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