Monday, February 23, 2015

Black Canyon 100k Race Report

A loop on the Mayer HS dirt track at dawn to start things off.  

The race has been in the books for over a week now so I'll keep this short and sweet.  I had a great time at Black Canyon Ultras.  The course was beautiful.  The runners, crews, race organizers, Jamil Coury (RD), volunteers and everyone else involved created a memorable weekend - I highly recommend this race.

Saguaros under the morning sky.
photo by Geoff Cordner
The large lead pack of runners flew through the cool early morning miles as the course was smooth and fast for the first 30 miles or so.  The trail became moderately technical, it warmed up to about 85 F and things slowed down.  I was mistaken for Hal Koerner by a couple spectators.  Pfft, old man Koerner is back puking in the bushes I thought to myself as I had recently passed him.  

The handful creek crossings felt great as the afternoon heat crept in.
photo by Cria
Fast-forward 30 miles and I was the one throwing up in the bushes, quite a bit, in a projectile manner.  Emesis led to cramping and I had to stretch my legs out before I could walk let alone run.  Luckily I was only two miles from the finish where I was welcomed by my wife, old friends, new friends, pizza and beer.  

I finished in 7th place, much farther back in time and rank than I was hoping for.  I couldn't really race, rather I was running conservatively enough to finish without falling apart too bad.  My muscles just weren't there, most likely due to the lack of training I had coming into the race (it is February after all).  I enjoyed my time off over the winter and I'm hungry to get back into the swing of things now.  

Congrats to all the runners who made their way down the Black Canyon Trail on this lovely Valentine's Day (results).  Ford Smith and Dave Mackey, Caroline Boller and Gina Lucrezi earned Western States bibs (Angela Shartel was the 2nd place female but is opting not to run WS again). 

Shoes:  The Hoka Clifton's were the perfect shoe for this course, and at the finish my feet felt as if I'd run a 10 mile training run.

Next up: Jemez!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Black Canyon 100k Predictions

I'm looking forward to heading over to Arizona and checking out a new trail this weekend.  While I usually seek out races with more elevation gain and loss, this race looks fun.  I'll get to run through Saguaro Cacti and hopefully it will be technical enough to slow everyone down a bit.

course photo from

MEN - 1st finisher ~ 8:20:

1) Ryan Ghelfi 
photo by Nate Dunn

Looks like he's recently moved from Ashland to Flagstaff.  He placed 18th at North Face 50M last year, 4th at Run Rabbit Run 100, and 6th at Sonoma.  He runs a lot of competitive races and does well.  He's got my nod for the dubbya.

2) Catlow Shipek
photo by Criss Furman

He's a very well rounded runner, from winning Javelina Jundred in 14:51, winning Zane Grey to solid Skyrunning results.  He's stepped up his game recently and will earn the other golden ticket to the big dance at Western States since this is a Montrail Cup raace.

3) Hal Koerner 
photo from
While he hasn't raced since last April, and is recovering from a knee injury, he's still Hal.  If he shows up he'll do well.  He's won Hardrock, Javelina Jundred and all kinda of races in between.  If he's healthy he will be up front.

Kalib Wilkinson 
photo by Alberto R. Cardona
He placed 4th at JFK last year, has run a 7:29 100k, a 3:28 50k.   Word on the street is he is out.

Jacob Puzey

Another Flagstaffian, he's racked up a bunch of W's including a couple at Peterson Ridge Rumble.  He's been posting impressive stuff on Strava lately.  I don't think he's run anything over 50 miles.  

Dave James 

Dave has a very impressive long list of remarkable results, such as his 14:20 win at Javelina Jundred.  He's not consistently this good, so will he show up and end up on the podium, or have an off day.  Either way it's exciting to see his name on the list.

Ford Smith

Dude's only 18, but he's won his last 3 races, including a 5:48 50 miler.  He hasn't done as well at his couple 100 milers.  We'll see how he does at 100k.

Jeremy Wolf 

Jeremy has run well at a handful of sky running races lately, Flagstaff, Rut, and Speedgoat.  Seems like he likes the 50k distance.  We'll see how this Montanan holds up in the heat over a longer distance.  Will be running around overseas with Schlarb.

Michael Daigeaun

Hailing from Austin, Michael has some W's under his belt, including a 3:23 50k and 8:02 100k.

Michael Carson 

photo from
 Michael won this race last year and has done very well at tons of local races, including a W at Man V. Horse.

Brian Tinder 

He's won the Bootlegger 25k the last two years in a row, so he has speed.  He doesn't have as many stout results at longer distances, he did place 4th here last year.

Dennis Pollow Jr.  

He's run a 3:24 50k and has a lot of other fast times at local races.

Mark Richtman 

Mark will pass a lot of people towards the end.  He reminds me a bit of my friends Tommy Nielsen,  they're both seasoned veterans with a lot of talent.  People will be sitting around the finish line after the race talking about when Mark passed them, mile 40, 50, etc.  He placed 4th at Miwok last year.  He's looking fit on recent Strava runs and is primed for a solid result.

Michael Versteeg 

Michael placed 2nd here last year, and has a lot of solid results at Squamish, Lake Sonoma and last years Flagstaff 55k Skyrunning race.

Sion Lupowitz 

Fresh of a Cold Water Rumble 52k win last month, he'll be ready to party.  He hasn't run anything over 50M, so we'll see how an extra 11 miles of rocks treats him.

Jacob Singleton

Placed 4th at the Flagstaff 55k last year.  Hasn't run farther than 50 miles, but I gotta show my fellow San Gabriel Mountains front range runner from Glendora some love.

Zac Marion
Zac heat training.

Winner of the Ouray 100M and Bryce 100M last year.

WOMEN - 1st place finisher ~ 9:10

1) Kaci Lickteig 

photo by Belinda Agamaite
After placing 6th at WS last year she went on to win Javelina Jundred in 15:40

2) Michele Yates 

With many wins including North Face 50 and Run Rabbit Run, she's the real deal, pure athlete.  She hasn't raced since June and has an adorable two month old now.  Didn't Paula Radcliffe set the marathon record shortly after giving birth?  We'll see if two months of solid training is enough for her to run away with a victory.

3) Angela Shartel 

With Kaci already guaranteed a WS slot, I predict Angela will snag the second ticket to the big dance.  She just keeps getting better and better, winning Massanutten last year and placing 5th at Lake Sonoma.

Caroline Boller

photo by Ultrasportsphotos

Caroline tends to run competitive races and do well in them.  She placed 3rd this January at Bandera 100k and was 5th in December at North Face 50M.  It doesn't feel right to place her back in fourth, but it's a competitive field!

Neela D'Souza

Neela hasn't run over 50 miles yet, but she has won most of the races she has run.  This will probably be her most competitive run yet.

Sonja Wieck
photo from

While she's only run a handful of ultras, her results include wins at Moab 55k (pictured above) and a hundred miler in Utah, so she has speed and she can run far.  I believe she's a triathlete and has qualified for Kona before.

Gina Lucrezi 
photo by Tad Davis

A USATF 10k champ with a recent W at Silver Rush 50M, and good results at races like North Face, Chuckanut and Ice Age... I've got a feeling she's chasing the golden ticket.

Leslie Howlett 

With a win at Bryce 100M last year, a 4th at Run Rabbit Run 100M and other good results at competitive races, she'll be in the mix.

Katrin Silva 

Last years winner.  She Also won Chimera 100M last year and three other races.  

Katie Desplinter

Won Bishop High Sierra 50M last year, has been running PR's lately in training.  I expect a 100k PR for her this Saturday.

Holly Miller

She's won a couple 50k's, how will she do with twice the distance?

If I've learned anything from my history of feeble attempts at predicting ultra results, it's this:  At least a couple of the men and women won't show, at least a couple will drop and a couple will blow up but grunt out a finish.  As Jon Clark says, ultra running is a sport of attrition.  

I'm sure I've given too little credit to some, too much to others, or failed to see someone that should be mentioned.  Please let me know what you think!

As per usual I didn't put myself anywhere on the list.  I am feeling fresh, but a little undertrained.  Flat races aren't my forte, but I like to mix it up and this race looks like a good time.  I always have fun in Arizona, and/or when I'm surrounded by Arizonans, can't wait for Saturday!