Unsung ultramarathon performances of 2007January 20, 2008
In general, I think the magazine’s anonymous panel of judges does a good job with a difficult task, namely, sorting through and ranking results from every conceivable variety of ultramarathon, from pancake-flat road 50Ks to epic multiday trail races. The 2007 rankings seem mostly reasonable to me, with Scott Jurek and Nikki Kimball certainly deserving of their Runner of the Year titles. But how could Uli Steidl’s North Face 50 win and Kami Semick’s 9th-place World Cup 100K finish not be near the top of the Performance of the Year lists?
The San Francisco finale of The North Face’s “Endurance Challenge” series was plagued by problems with course marking and monitoring. Nevertheless, Uli knew the course and nobody could stay with him, including Matt Carpenter. Although times on brand-new courses are difficult to assess, I’m confident that nobody mentioned in the UltraRunning rankings could have beaten Uli on that course on that day. And if that isn’t a performance of the year, what is?
As for Kami: in 2006 she placed 11th at the World Cup 100K in Korea, a showing which was rated as the 2nd-best female performance of the year. In 2007 she improved to 9th, with a faster time, but didn’t even receive “honorable mention” status for this achievement. It just doesn’t make sense.
Of course, obsessing about these rankings doesn’t make much sense either. In a sport with so little media coverage, prize money, and sponsorship, racing well is usually its own reward.