Race preview: the Mad City 100KApril 10, 2008
The course. Ten 10K loops around Lake Wingra and through the University of Wisconsin arboretum. (Simple, right?)
The stakes. Overall male and female winners will claim the title of USATF 100K road champion and will also earn automatic berths on this year’s World Cup 100K team. In addition, the top six finishers of each gender will receive prize money: $2000 for 1st, $1200 for 2nd, $750 for 3rd, $500 for 4th, $250 for 5th, and $125 for 6th.
The top men. Mike Wardian is arguably the favorite after his runaway wins at the JFK 50 Mile (in 5:50, the 2nd-fastest time ever on that venerable course) and the USATF 50K road championships (in 2:55, destroying my 2007 course record of 3:04). I cannot match Wardian’s speed, but I do have much more experience (six previous races) at the 100K distance. Steve Stowers is coming off of a strong 5:39 at the Jed Smith 50 Miler and will be shooting for a sub-7:20 time here. Sentimental favorite: Mark Godale, a former World Cup team member and current 24-hour American record holder with a lifetime 100K best of 7:08. His blog indicates that he’s been averaging 110-120 miles per week — probably more than anyone else in the field.
The top women. The leading returnee is Carolyn Smith, who was 3rd at this race last year. Look for a possible duel between Smith and Connie Gardner, since they finished a minute apart (in personal bests of 8:15 for Gardner and 8:16 for Smith) at the World Cup race in September. Gardner subsequently came within 40 meters of a new national record at the Ultracentric 24-hour race two months later. Sentimental favorite: Ann Heaslett, a Madison resident who, like Godale, has several previous World Cup races to her credit. She was 4th here in 2007 and has a personal best 100K time of 8:29.
The weather. As of this writing, a high of 37 degrees is expected on Saturday. That sounds like an improvement over last year, when temperatures remained in the 20s and water froze in its cups at the aid stations. However, the forecast also calls for 22-mph winds and a 60% chance of precipitation.
The media. Among the race-related pieces published so far are USATF’s preview and Tom Held’s blog entry for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Naturally, the race website has plenty of additional information, including an official program, the text of a commendation from the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly, and a link to the race-day webcast.