Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Western States

Let me open my comments with the statement that absolutely I love the Western States Endurance Run. In fact, I am obsessed with it! I love the tradition, the mystique, the environment, even the heat. Most of all, indeed, I love the competition. I truly believe (selfishly perhaps) that a top-5 finish in Western States is paramount to winning another 100 miler. So, the comments I make below are largely out of love and respect for this amazing and are not, in any way, intended to be a criticism of the quandary the Western States Board finds themselves confronting this month.

With this in mind I thought I would throw out a simple scenario for the future:

What if, in addition to the previous year's top-10 finishers, winners of a dozen or so of the other 100 Mile races in the USA over the past year were also granted entry if they applied.

With that simple change the following people could be added to the list:

Jasper Halekas - Tahoe Rim Trail
Anton Krupicka - Leadville Trail
Jon Olson - Rio del Lago
Karl Meltzer - Bear and San Diego
Jorge Pacheco - Javelina

I can't remember if Todd Walker, Leigh Schmitt or Lon Freeman won any 100 milers this past year but if so they would be on the list as well.

In addition, just think of the excitement that would be generated at the following races in 2008:

HURT, Rocky Raccoon, Coyote Two Moon, Umstead, Masanutten, Old Dominion and whatever else I'm missing.

Do you think the RD's of those races would be psyched to have a smackdown at the front in their races!

Just a thought.



Paul DeWitt said...

That would be nice, but I think those days are over.

You used to get in automatically if you won a big mountain 100 (that's how I got in my 2 times).

I believe those spots are now tied up in the Montrail Cup spots. Given the low percentage of lottery runners getting in now, I just don't see them making it even harder for the average runner to get in, and they probably shouldn't. The lack of any one, two, or even all elites isn't going to affect their bottom line ability to put on a sold-out, very popular race.

speedgoat said...

Some of the races you mentioned, I think do not allow elite runners to enter after the fact, or are even considered as a special entry. When they fill up, they fill up, and it's called a success even if a few athletes wanting to make a great race can't get in cuz' they were a day late...or whatever. Again, my question is, what is the limit given from the Forest Service, Mr Torrence has mentioned they are grandfather-claused in the Wilderness area. At least they can have the run at all through these parts, we'll give the FS a thumbs up on that. They could have just shut it down and gone around or made another route. Although I fail to see where that makes a difference on Elite athletes getting in to make a great race.

Gundy said...

I think what you are proposing, while an interesting suggestion, would require an overarching body to bring these races together. This is something happening in the marathon scene (with the 5 major marathons putting together a "championship" series), but I'm not sure if the interest and economic incentive is at a point where this could be achieved. Think of how long it took all these marathons to put together some semblance of a championship series while respecting the fact a majority of income comes from the everyday consumer.

Honestly, I think the Montrail Cup is a "start", but what your proposing is a few more steps down the line. I think this is something you'd see if Western States generated more interest than a 30 min. program on a Saturday afternoon in August.



I have to agree with AJW. Maybe the winners of the 10 oldest 100s in the US. Do away with the Montrail Ultra Cup auto birth system. It's silly. The races, albeit great races in and of themselves, are not good deciding factors for States. Let's be honest, we all know 100s are their own beast. And, Miwok, being the closest in apples to apples out of the Ultra Cup, is too close. If you run that sucker hard, you blow your States race (more than likely).

I know this will probably ruffle some feathers, but I would even go so far to say only give top 5 male and female finishers in States auto births for the next year to open up 100 winner births. I'd rather see all the top 100 mile winners racing each other. It makes for a better deep race upfront and definitely ups the chances of all the proven 100 mile runner pushing each other to historic efforts. My two cents.

Anonymous said...