Wednesday, December 9, 2015

North Face 50 - Race Report

photo by Aaron Johnson

I have been planning to run this race for years, but every year as December neared I bailed for one reason or another.  My tendency is to shy away from hyped up races.  My rationale is as follows:  I love running through beautiful mountains.  More people and hype takes away from soaking up the natural beauty.  While I will never shake this feeling, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the North Face Endurance Challenge with thousands of people out enjoying the magical Marin Headlands.  It definitely feels more like a race when you are passing others, and getting passed the entire race, which is fun.  And since there are so many people around, I ran into old friends from high school,  countless running friends, and got to hang out with a large group of fellow Hoka Athletes.

The 5am start in the dark was a nice way to kick off the day.  The rocky coastline with its foamy waves and the somber grey Pacific Ocean slowly came into view.  Looking back from the ridge before the Cardiac Aid Station, the overcast sky was streaked with intense pinks and reds over the city.  Black silhouettes of pines gave way to a canyon a thousand feet deep in darkness interrupted by a long line of snaking headlamps.  Moments like these make racing feel like a celebration of health.  Working with critically ill patients who are stuck in a hospital bed makes me feel grateful and even obligated to exploit my physical capacities in places removed from civilization.  Sure you can see San Francisco from the course, it's not like we were out running in the south 40, but the dirt out here and in most places sure beats hanging around on pavement all day.

The sun came up, the headlamps were turned off and the cool overcast coastal weather was perfect for running.  I probably went out a tad to fast in the first third of the race.  At mile 17, Jeremy Wolf, Jason Schlarb and Eric Strabel blazed past me and I really didn't feel like trying to hang with them.  I eventually did catch up with Jeremy and shared quite a few miles with him - fun way to meet someone, a Hoka teammate no less.

I managed the rest of the race well.  Cramps started to creep into my legs about 5 hours in, and an occasional Saltstick pill kept them at bay.  I ingested 300 calories an hour, mostly of VFuel gels, and potato chips and coke at aid stations.  I don't think I've ever raced 50 miles or more without having to deal with nausea, so I guess I'll be sticking to this fueling strategy for awhile.

Climbs after 32 miles were a little steeper, and felt a lot steeper.
My downhill legs held up and I was able to sneak past Eric Strabel and Daniel Metzger in the last 2 miles to finish 15th in 7:01.  I was stoked to land in the top 20.  I really wanted to finish under 7 hours, but what's a minute or two? 

Having my wife and the Schulte's there to crew, cheer and hang out with afterwards was perfect.  Thanks for all of your help!  This is the second race in a row that I've run with Hal Koerner where I've been mistaken for him.  Can't help but laugh... I'm not THAT good looking, and my beard isn't that manicured.  All joking aside, it was fun seeing Hal and chatting with him a bit before and after the race.

Sponsor shout outs:

HOKA!  My Challenger ATR's worked perfectly, and it looked like half of the field was wearing them.  Enough traction for the wet roots and steps in the middle sections of the course, light enough to race in, enough cushion to pound down the fast downhill sections.  Congrats to teammates Larisa Dannis (3rd), Jorge Maravilla (4th), Darcy Piceu (9th), Emma Roca (11th), Jeremy Wolf (17th), Bob Shebest (24th), Paul Terranova (26th) and Michael Wardian (52nd).  Full results.

Hoka roll'n deep at dinner
FLUID:  I forgot to pack my recovery fluid for after the race, and who do I see at the finish line after completing his first ultra?  CEO Rich!  Thanks for hooking me up with 4 scoops of Chocolate Wave and congrats on your 50k finish!


Drymax:  My trail running socks were money.  No blisters, hot spots, nothing.  My feet felt totally normal after the race, really.  My Challenger/Drymax combination works very well for me.

VFuel:  Used a ton of their gels during the race, with no nausea.  Hoping to join there team next year!

Last night I was saddened by the news of North Face founder, Douglas Tompkins dying recently.   The New York Times article I read was enlightening.  As a proud Patagonia wearer I did not know the extent of North Face's conservation and was pleasantly surprised to learn about it.  It's comforting to know that people like him are out there, running companies with motives that extend beyond profit.





Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Revel Canyon City Marathon

Had fun running from Crystal Lake down to Azusa last Saturday.  Got to hang out with friends, including Jenny Welch who ran a marathon PR, and Wendy Barth who ran a half marathon PR.

My goal was to run under 2:30.  I ran 2:31:00, close but no cigar, oh well.  Somehow I was the first finisher.  GI issues plagued me from early on, had to use the port-a-potty once and puked a bit.  Wasn't able to take in much water or calories (250?) but it was cool and I haven't been taking in many calories in training so I didn't fade too hard.

Coming down the mountain

Around 5 miles into the race Angel Echevarria, Ryan Lucker and I bunched up and ran together for 9 miles until Ryan pulled over to puke his guts out (and eventually dropped).  I think I passed Angel around mile 20 and kept the lead, he finished 2nd and Robert Leonardo 3rd (full results).  I'm not used to being able to run 3 people wide down a paved winding canyon road for miles, chatting a bit in the cool morning air.  It was fun for a change.  Sure beats being stuck behind some loudmouth beatnik from Bishop on buttery mountain single track.

I like that grass

Ahhh, shade
















The significant net elevation drop for the course puts a big asterisk on my marathon PR, but I enjoy running downhill and maybe running for 26 miles at a faster pace will help me speed up in general?  I'm going to call it a nice tempo 4 weeks out from North Face 50M in the Marin Headlands.  Time to head back to the mountains...



Sponsor shout outs:

Shoes:  Hoka One One Clifton 2's.  When these shoes first came out I thought... what's wrong with the original Clifton's?  After this race I realize that this updated model is more comfy and it feels like they'll be able to log more miles than their predecessor.  GREAT shoe for running hard downhill on asphalt for 20+ miles.  Feet felt fine afterwards, and they're so light!

Sunglasses:  Julbo Blast's with light photochromic lenses were perfect.  Lenses got darker as the day got brighter.  I knew it was going to be a bit breezy and the glasses kept the wind out of my eyes.

Socks:  Drymax Thin Running Socks. No blisters, no hotspots.  Stoked to see Drymax is the official sock of the US Skyrunner Series next year.

FLUID:  After every hard run I pound a bottle of Chocolate Wave Recovery, and it hit the spot after 26 miles on pavement.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rut 50k & Beyond

Elissa & I flew up to Bozeman and met up with the Schulte's at the Big Sky Resort before the race.

Idyllic setting for a Skyrunning event

Mike Wolfe bugles on his elk call and we're off.
photo by Myke Hermsmeyer

My knee had been pretty tender and temperamental in the weeks leading up to race and it flared up the day before the race on Erik and I's 4 mile shake out/cheering 25k racers.  I stretched a bit the night before the race, put a hand warmer on the knee the morning of the race and hoped for the best.  Surprisingly, the knee withstood all the rocks, 10,000' of climbing and 10,000' of descending on the course.

Up & over Headwaters Ridge, then Lone Peak
Saw a lot of Hoka Speedgoat's on the mountain, four of them here making their way down Headwaters Ridge.
photo by Dom Grossman

If my knee held up, I thought I was in sub 6 hour shape for this race, which would put me right around the top 10 in years past.  I finished in 5:59 and 12th place, 2 minutes out of the top ten.  While finishing in the top 10 at a competitive race like this would have been 100x cooler than finishing 12th, I'm still happy with my race.  It wasn't an A race for me (but should have been), I didn't toe the line in my best shape, but I was in decent shape, and these mountains and this type of course inspire me.  I paced myself well and had a blast.

Cruising over a graupel covered bridge in the early cruiser miles around the resort base.
photo by Meghan Hicks irunfar.com
After Hardrock back in July and some backpacking adventures in the Sierra's, my brain has constructed a governor for my speed, making it feel a bit unnatural to spin the wheels as fast as I should for a 50k.  Putting in some faster training runs prior to the race helped loosen up the governor a bit, but it's still there.

The Rut was an awesome event and I highly recommend it to people who appreciate big mountains, and aren't afraid of rocks.  I liked the energy of the event, tons of spectators, cowbells, hundreds of runners in each event every day, and the international field.  Little local races in majestic mountains are more of my "thing" but the atmosphere at races like the Rut are very cool to immerse oneself into.  It's easy to feed off all the energy around you and use it to fuel yourself up, over and around the mountains.  In addition to the Schulte's, we got to hang out with Andrejs Galienks, Dom Grossman, Katie Desplinter and I met Luke Nelson before he ran to a speedy 7th place finish in 5:47.  Good company.

Now what?  I'm going to take a couple weeks off then destroy this flimsy speed regulating relationship that is presently existing between my brain and my legs.  I think I'll jump into a fast road marathon, run a PR, then carry this newfound speed into training for the North Face 50M in December.

Hopefully I can arrive at the starting line of North Face better primed and feed off the competition and hype of that event and see if I can't surprise myself with what I'm capable of.  I feel like I have a lot of untapped potential that I'm slowly unraveling.  It is time to turn into a lean, mean running machine and work my way to the runner I want to become, gone are the days of showing up to work and polishing off half a dozen donuts.









Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hardrock 2015 Race Report

Arriving Early


In late June, Elissa and I drove out to Lake City. She and my friend, Erik Schulte, ran San Juan Solstice 50M.  We hung around Lake City for a couple days and I checked out three beautiful 14'ers: Uncompahgre, Redcloud and Sunshine.

View from Uncompahgre peak, the highest point in the San Juan's


We made our way to Silverton and camped mostly until race day.  Friends and family came, we experienced the magic of the San Juan's and race day came.

Dinner at the Teller House


Start to Cunningham


I was excited to start the race finally and jumped ahead of everyone.  Then I settled into a comfortable pace through the flat beaver damn filled flats with Adam Campbell and Killian Jornet.  Once we hit the first climb those two pulled ahead and some others caught up.  After making it over Little-Giant Pass with its fresh dusting of snow, we made our way down the steep descent to the aid station below:

The descent to Cunningham Gulch.  Little-Giant Pass on the right.
If you look closely you can see switchbacks to the right of the creek.
I passed Iker on the way down and was having a great time.  Seeing my parents, in-laws and friends at the aid station pumped me up a bit:

video



Cunningham to Sherman


I was quickly passed by Mike Foote then Iker Karrera on the stiff climb up to Green Mountain.  After winding across Stoney Pass and sliding down a cornice I pulled into Maggie Aid Station and shortly after Pole Creek AS.  Brendan Trimboli and Troy Howard passed me on the gradual climb to Cataract Lake but I passed them on the smooth descent to Sherman AS.

Sherman to Grouse


Troy and Brendan left the AS before I did.  I caught Troy on the road up to Burrow's Park AS and the trailhead for Handie's, but Brendan remained just out of reach.  Once we hit the trailhead and real climb, Brendan put more time on me.  It was sunny, then it started snowing and Troy passed me before the peak.

I caught up to both of them just as we reached Grouse Gulch AS:

Brendan Trimboli, Troy Howard and I arriving to Grouse together
photo: Dom Grossman


Grouse to Ouray


My first pacer, Eric Wickland, and I hiked/ran up to Engineer Pass.  It rained and hailed on us as we made our way down the fun muddy route that made its way to the rocky canyon of Bear Creek.

Bear Creek Trail a couple days before the race
Arriving in Ouray with Wickland
photo by Chamoun


Ouray to Chapman


My friends and family helped me eat a bit of food, change socks, throw my pack on and hit the Camp Bird Rd. and Eric Schulte began pacing me up the longest climb on the course.

photo by Chelsea Ryan
Iker had left the AS just before us and we could see him ahead of us on the way up to Governor's Basin AS, but did not catch him.  We did pass Adam just before the aid, and Troy caught us at the AS and left before us.  A couple miles later it got dark and the headlamps were turned on.  The dirt road ended and we scrambled up the steep, snowy route to Virginius Pass.  The final pitch had well formed steps kicked into soft snow and a rope available to help pull oneself up to Kroger's Canteen at the top.  Adam, myself, Iker, Troy and our pacers were all making our way up this pitch at the same time.  I sat down and scarfed a few Perogi's and made my way down the Mendota Ridge.  Thanks again for everything Roch!  Short video about Kroger's Canteen Aid Station here at Virginius Pass.

Halfway down the descent we passed Adam and continued to drop down the mountain in the dark.

Telluride to Chapman


Eric and I made our way through the city streets of Telluride to the AS, Elissa handed me a Redbull and excitedly told me that Troy just left a couple minutes ago.  I grabbed a handful of chips and headed out with Schulte, en route to Oscar's Pass.  I was feeling okay up the first half of the climb.  It started raining and my foolish decision to remove my waterproof jacket from my pack came to bit me in the ass.  Nausea set in and I wasn't able to eat much, then I pulled over and puked in the aspen and Adam passed me, offering words of encouragement.  I was still nauseous and didn't eat much for a long time.  I could tell that I needed to, especially since I was wet, cold and had no energy.

It started to snow and I became more tired, cold and light headed.  Schulte and I weaved back and forth across the creek, making our way up the basin under the pass until we hit a lot of snow on the ground.  My brain was fuzzy at this point, so I don't recall a lot.  I do remember post-holing waste deep in snow, not seeing markers anywhere, my pole breaking, and seeing headlamps spread out in the basin scanning in every direction.  Guys were yelling out to each other, "Donny... where are you?!"  "Over here, I think I found it!" "Hey!!!!!!, heyyyyyy!!!!!!!"  "What's it like over there?!"  It was dark and the snow flurry limited our visibility a bit.  We could make out the top of the basin, but without markers and with tracks in the snow going every which way, it was tricky to locate the correct pass and how to get there.  In the middle of our wandering, Troy Howard came out of nowhere and pointed us in the right direction.  I'm lucky that my pacer is an uber tough mountain man that helped navigate the way over the pass and steep icy snow on the other side.  I told him I was in bad shape and he started singing Beyonce, Brittany Spears and Neil Young to me to lift my spirits.  At the time I didn't think about it much, but in retrospect, I can't believe that my hair hippy friend knows every word to Beyonce's, "To the Left."

I moved like a sloth from halfway up Oscar's, all the way down to Chapman AS.  Hardrock broke me here.  I have never felt so depleted in a race or any other outdoor activity for that matter.  I was mentally gone.  I sat in a chair, asked for blankets, ate food and whined to my wife and friends.  29 minutes later I finally got up and made my way towards Grant Swamp Pass with my new pacer Mike Chamoun.

Chapman to KT


I warned Mike that this was going to be a long slog to the finish.  My soul had been crushed.  Shortly after leaving the AS we saw Iker and his pacer Gary Robbins catching up to us.  They were close enough for me to chat a bit with them, then we hit the steep scree field at the bottom of Grant Swamp Pass and I pulled away from Iker, but looking back I could see another pair of headlights close behind him.  Later I learned that this was 6th place finisher Brandon Stapanowhich.

The sky began to lighten just enough to make out Island Lake below the pass and my brain began to regain function.  My quads didn't feel as sore any more and I was able to run downhill a little faster again.

Island Lake from Grant-Swamp Pass

KT to Finish


Despite my disbelief, Mike told me I was doing great, and he encouraged me repeatedly.  After a couple hours of this I finally started to believe him.  He mixed a little cola into my water bottle at KT AS and we took off for the final climb of the course.  We ascended above tree line, then over Cataract-Porcupine pass where a couple campers told us that Troy was 10 minutes ahead and Adam 13 minutes in front of him.  Damn, with 10 miles left I didn't think there was enough real estate to catch Troy, he's finished 2nd here twice after all.

Chamoun and I quickly traversed over to the base of Putnam-Cataract Ridge and I could see Troy and his pacer Donny 8 minutes ahead.  I slowly inched my way up this final climb, soaking in the beauty around us.

photo by Chamoun

I folded my poles up and they pain I felt in my legs didn't matter as we ran down the Bear Creek Trail, because I knew this was the final descent on the course.  The Putnam AS volunteers said Troy was 3 minutes ahead.  When I caught up to him I asked if he wanted to run in the last 4 miles or so together.  He help me find my way over Oscar's Pass and saved me a lot of time and frustration, when I was a hot mess.  If it weren't for this I'm sure he would have finished in front of me.  He insisted that I run on ahead so I did.

I knew Adam was probably too far ahead to catch, but since my brain had the capacity to race again I figured I ought to put it to use.  I ran as hard as I could all the way to the finish but Adam finished 3 minutes ahead of me.  While it is a little hard to digest finishing just off the podium, I couldn't have asked for more of the run.  Leap-frogging with Troy, Adam, Brandon and Iker all day was awesome.  Getting to share the journey with them added a lot to the experience.  It's not everyday that you get to pass and get passed by competitors so frequently while running a hundred miler.

Adam giving me a high five in the chute
photo by Chelsea Ryan

Thank You

My mind is still trying to process our trip into the San Juan's this summer.  My wife ran a great San Juan Solstice race that I got to pace her in.  My friend Erik had to drop from the race unfortunately, but he and his wife Jessica hung out with us there in Lake City and then crewed/paced/hung out in Silverton with us as Hardrock approached.

Along with the Schulte's I've got to thank Eric Wickland and Chamoun for the crewing and pacing they did, the Ryan's for hanging out in Silverton and cheering me on at aid stations, my parents and Elissa's parents for coming out to support us as well.  My crew chief and wife, Elissa, worked extra hard this year to help revive me in the wee hours of the morning at Chapman, thank you.

Race organizers and volunteers put in countless hours, making this dream a realty for myself and other runners.  As I made my way through the aesthetic route that is the course, up and down mountains of huge scale, blanketed with wildflowers, I felt like I was in a fairy tale.  The sights and emotions experienced at Hardrock hardly seem real.

Etc.


The competitive side of me is embarrassed that I shit the bed so to speak above Telluride.  But I also know that I'm tougher from that experience and am growing from it.  After finishing 4th in my two runs at Hardrock, I know I've got what it takes to reach the podium and I can't wait to throw my name in the lottery for next year.  Another side of me doesn't really care about when I finished or how many people were before me.  I am fortunate to have been given the chance to participate and what I saw and felt over the span of 26 hours and 52 minutes was incredible (finishers list).  I eagerly await the opportunity to reunite with the Hardrock family next year, wether I am running, pacing, crewing, or volunteering.

Sponsors


Shoes: Speedgoat's by Hoka One One.  The perfect shoe for Hardrock and big mountain running.  The Vibram outsole with its aggressive lugs worked flawlessly in the mud, snow, creeks and rocks.

Socks:  Drymax 1/4 crew Trail Running.  I had 0 blisters on my feet after 100 wet miles.

Sunglasses: Julbo Blast's with Zebra Light lenses.  Comfortable frames and perfect lenses for conditions ranging from sunny to dark.

Recovery:  I pounded a bottle of FLUID Recovery after the long descent into Grouse and Ouray.  My quads were feeling beat up and I wanted to feed them.  Hours later I was able to hammer the downhills again.




Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Hardrock 100 Women's Predictions

There appears to be much more competition among the woman for first place than with the men this year.  But, you never know what'll happen on race day.


photo by irunfar
Darcy Piceu - She's won Hardrock the last three years in a row, and took 2nd two years in a row before that.  She's won Bighorn, Bear and San Juan Solstice as well.



Anna Frost - Won the Bear last year, won the Telluride Mountain Run 38 miler last year.  If she's healthy she's got what it takes to win.



photo by irunfar
Meghan Hicks - Women's winner of the Coldwater Rumble 52M this year and, 3rd overall.  Not any 100 mile experience (but does have 200mi experience from Tor de Geants), did win the Three Days of Syllamo 93.5 miler and did place 5th at the Marathon de Sables this year and 9th back in 2010.  She seems to be smart and methodical, which will come in handy with all the San Juan's can throw at you over the course of 100 miles and many hours.



Darla Askew - 2nd at Wasatch last year, in 2013 she finished 2nd at HR, then 3rd at AC 100 3 weeks later.  While I want her to win, the ladies above will be tough to beat.  She's so consistent I'll eat my hat if she doesn't finish on the podium.




Missy Gosney - Wow, definitely an oversight on my part omitting her from this list initially.  With wins at Bighorn and Cascade Crest, woman's Nolan's 14 FKT, along with solid results at basically all the tough and/or big mountain races around (Zane Grey, Jemez, San Juan Solstice, Speedgoat and the Bear) this Durangan will be running for some hardware.


Suzanne on her way to 5th place at Speedgoat 50k in 2010
Suzanne Lewis - 4th at Jemez 50M this year, 5th at HR last year, 3rd at Bighorn 100.


Betsy and Billy on course.
Betsy Kalmeyer - 2nd at HR last year, 5th in 2013.



Betsy Nye - 3rd at Pine to Palm last year, and 3rd at HR last year.  AND she's from Truckee.


Pam finishing Arrowhead 135

Pam Reed - 2nd at Badwater last year, 6th at Zion 100.



En route to a W at Wasatch last year.
Bethany Lewis (#7 on "never" wait list) - Won Jemez this year, Wasatch and Squaw Peak 50 miler last year.  In previous years has won San Juan Solstice, Bear, the Telluride Mountain Run 38 miler and Speedgoat.  IF she gets in she'll be contending for first female.  Hope she does!




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

HARDROCK 2015 PREDICTIONS

So when I did my predictions for Black Canyon 100k, I got a little flack for them being boring, and not funny like some of my predictions in the past.  Hopefully, these are a bit better.


MEN:



1) Kilian Jornet - He has the course record in the clockwise direction.  He'll probably get it in the counterclockwise direction this year.


Hi Kilian, yeah I know, running with a phone is great!


2) Iker Karrera - 2nd at UTMB twice, won Lavaredo.  I don't like putting two Euro's above all the 'Merican's, but they deserve it.




3) Karl Meltzer - He has won HR before (five times) as well as a couple other 100's.  Wouldn't be surprised to see him on the podium.






4) Troy Howard - 2nd at Wasatch last year, 2nd at HR in 2013 and 2009.




Adam running a 2:35 marathon, NBD.
5) Adam Campbell - Placed 3rd here last year after getting struck by lightening.  Has won Squamish 50k three times, Chuckanut 50k, 3rd at North Face SF 4 years ago.  Talented guy.



Foot'n'Paw
6) Mike Foote - Recently won Yakima Skyline Rim 50k, 2nd at Lavaredo last year, won the Ultra Marathon De Los Andes 80k, won Bighorn, and he's from Montana.



7) Jared Cambell - Has won Hardrock, Plain 100, completed Nolan's 14 and Barkley.





8) Scott Jaime - 5th at HR last year, 3rd in 2013.  I caught glimpses of him for hours that year but finished 13 minutes behind him.  I'm gunning for you this year Scott!  He's got this race dialed and is always in the mix.  He also set the Colorado Trail FKT a couple years ago.




9) Tsuyoshi Kaburaki - 6th at HR last year, won Bighorn the year before, as high as 2nd at WS in the past.  Can wall sit with the best of them.



10 Jamil Coury -  Somehow I didn't see that this RD extraordinaire was in this year.  He has many tough races under his belt including wins at Mogollon Monster 100, Zane Grey and Man Against Horse, multiple HR finishes and has nearly finished Barkley.  If he has a good day he could find himself on the podium.  Hopefully he won't throw up all over Handie's this year.


Looking good Matt
11) Matt Hart - He and Jared Campbell completed Nolan's 14 together, so he's uber tough and can persevere up and down big mountains over a long period of time.  He's also won Jemez, TRT 100, Bighorn 100 and was 2nd at HURT back in the day.  Not too shabby.







12) Brendan Trimboli - Finished 2nd at San Juan Solstice last year, 2nd at Miwok, and has run a bunch of local shorter races in the San Juan's.  Look's like he digs the skimo action as well.



13) Brandon Stapanowich - 2nd at Zane Grey this year, 5th at HURT.




14) Nick Coury -Recently won PCT 50, has finished 5th and 6th at HR.


Chris, pre-beer mile with helmet strapped tight.
15) Chris Askew - 100 miles is his distance.  He's got good results at Plain 100, Cascade 100, Bear, Massanutten and Kettle Moraine.  Look for him to clean up later in the race.




"Who's gonna coach ME!?"
16) Jason Koop - 3rd at Bear, 2nd at Zion.  When he shows up he shows up.  You know he's going to show up in Silverton.



Adam displaying his unorthodox stride at HR in 2013
17) Adam Hewey - Has placed 2nd at Cascade Crest and 2nd at San Diego 100.  Finished 10th here in 2013 after limping in the last 10 or so miles.

18) John Anderson - Being from Truckee is a good thing.  So are John's performances at TRT 50M (1st) & RRR (9th).



Frutarian
19) Denis Mikhavlov - Has won Virgil Crest 100, and placed 2nd at Massanutten.


Sad to see Tony Krupicka's name disappear from the list as deals with injury.  As with all my predictions it is likely that one or two of the guys above wont make it to the start line for some reason.  At least a couple will drop, and I'm forgetting a couple guys that deserve to be listed but aren't yet.  I hope to finish in the top 5 so that I can snag an extra lottery ticket for next year.

Women's predictions to be posted soon.