I have been thoroughly enjoying the last few days before the Big Dance this year. We arrived in Squaw Valley on Tuesday and have had a couple great runs and some wonderful family time in the Tahoe Basin.
But, now, it's game time.
It’s been interesting to look at the polling data from the blog over the past week or so. It appears as though the prognosticators see it as a two-man race between Geoff Roes and Killian Jornet with a strong chase pack of Nick Clark, Hal Koerner and Dave Mackey.
It's after those five fast guys that things get interesting.
Clearly, Mike Wolfe, Ian Sharman, Tsuyoshi Kaburagi and Jez Bragg have the inside track on the rest of the top-10 but beyond that it gets very, very interesting. Truly, this could be one of the most competitive top-10's in recent years.
As many who read this blog know I am somewhat obsessed with Western States and, in particular, the top-10. That said, I will be the first to say that this year will be my toughest test yet. (And Meltzer has already predicted my 15th place finishJ)
Back in 2004 when I first cracked the top-10 the gap between the winning time (Jurek’s then CR) and 10th place was over three hours. Last year, even with Geoff’s new CR, the gap between the winner and 10th placewas two and a half hours. Furthermore, back in 2007, I arrived in Michigan Bluff in 10th place and finished 4th. Just last year, I cleared Last Chance, a full 12 miles earlier than Michigan Bluff, in 10th place and ended up only finishing 9th. In other words, top-10 is getting harder. It is clearly the place for this sports badasses!
Looking ahead to this year with the easier course, the fast melting snow, and the forecast benign temperatures I am guessing that the winner will run under 15 hours and a top-10 finish will require a sub-17 hour run. Of course, time will tell and these things always have a way of sorting themselves out, but for me, I am getting to work tonight on my 16:45 split card.
I hope to see many of you at the panel discussion that I will be facilitating tomorrow night at the Squaw Valley Lodge at 6:30pm with Jim Scott, Scott Mills, Luanne Park, Craig Thornley and Nikki Kimball.