Monday, June 20, 2016

Merry Statesmas! My WS100 Picks and a Pre-Squaw GUR Top 50 Update



The most anticipated day of the ultra running season is almost here.  Merry Statesmas, everyone!

Trying to handicap this race is almost impossible.  The field is so deep every year, and the course is such a demanding test; you need to be able to survive the high country, but still have legs after Foresthill to throw down when the real racing starts.  Couple that with the unpredictability of the weather and it makes picking the winner very difficult.  But, everyone is giving it a shot, so I might as well do the same.  My best crack at predicting the men's and women's races:

Ladies
Seven of last year's top 10 women are back this year, and they're found by a murderer's row of talent from the Golden Ticket races and elsewhere.  Fourteen of last year's Gunksrunner Ultra Rankings top 50 are set to run; sixteen of the current 2016 top 50 are entered (including four of the top 5).  I think the women's field is at least as deep as the men, which is not always the case.  The only difference is the relative lack of top women from overseas, but I don't expect that to affect the quality of the race one bit.

1. Magdalena Boulet
Final 2015 GUR: 1
Current 2016 GUR:32
2015 WS finish: 1
Everything else aside, this is Magda's race to lose.  The defending champion and the top marathoner in the field has both the mountain chops and the leg speed to meet any challenge.  Her early season results have shown her to be on form.  Anything can happen over 100 miles, but from where I sit, she's the overwhelming favorite.

2. Aliza Lapierre
Final 2015 GUR: 8
Current 2016 GUR:28
2015 WS finish: 4
She had a monster 2015, with top finishes at Bandera, TGC, States, and UTMF.  She's had a bit of a quieter start to 2016, but a dominant win at Miwok shows she's ready to go.

3. Kaci Lickteig
Final 2015 GUR: 5
Current 2016 GUR:2
2015 WS finish: 2
The Pixie Ninja is clearly in top form following her second-place finish at Lake Sonoma and has placed in the top 5 at WS in both 2014 and 2015.

4. Devon Yanko
Final 2015 GUR: 84
Current 2016 GUR: 22
2015 WS finish: NA
She's more known for her prowess on the roads, but she's been running very well on both roads and trails since her return to the scene at Two Oceans last spring.  States tends to look kindly on speedsters, and she's got one of the fastest marathon PRs in the field.

5. Caroline Boller
Final 2015 GUR: 27
Current 2016 GUR: 17
2015 WS finish: 8
After she crushed me--and the national master's record--at Caumsett in March, I'm looking for her to improve on last year's finish.

6. Alissa St. Laurent
Final 2015 GUR: 43
Current 2016 GUR: 79
2015 WS finish: NA
Flying a bit under the radar, but incredibly consistent across multiple distances.

7. Amy Sproston
Final 2015 GUR: 82
Current 2016 GUR: 31
2015 WS finish: NA
I like the road speed, I like the experience, and I like that she won Black Canyon to race her way in to WS.  I feel like I might actually be selling her short here.

8. Janessa Taylor
Final 2015 GUR: 56
Current 2016 GUR: 36
2015 WS finish: NA
She's won almost everything she's entered the past two years, save a second place only to Cassie Scallon's CR at Bandera.

9. Nicole Kalogeropoulus
Final 2015 GUR: 7
Current 2016 GUR: 18
2015 WS finish: 6
She DNF'd at Rocky Raccoon in February, but has won a couple of smaller races since then, and I'm a bit afraid to bet against her after what she did at UTMB last year.

10. Bethany Patterson
Final 2015 GUR: 18
Current 2016 GUR: 3
2015 WS finish: NA
Another incredibly consistent performer and a very prolific racer.  Most of her success is on more technical tracks, though, and I'm not quite sure of her flat-speed credentials.

Hedging my bets
11. Anna Mae Flynn
12. Amanda Basham
13. Meghan Arbogast
14. Maggie Guterl
15. Amy Rusiecki

Dudes
Unlike the women, none of last year's top four are back in 2016.  If anything, though, the men's race is a little tougher to handicap, because I find the top Europeans to be a bit of a confounding variable.  Partly because I don't follow the Euro circuit nearly as closely as the US events, but also, I'm never sure how their success translates on this side of the pond.  In the nine races of the PJE (Post-Jurek Era), only one foreigner (the great Killian Jornet) has won States, and it even took him two tries to do it.  Last year's European contingent was as strong as any in recent memory, and scored an impressive 4-5-6 finish, but can one of them break through for the win?  Regardless, despite the Euros, and despite the presence of eleven of both the 2015 and 2016 GUR top 50 in the starting field, I feel like this is a three-man race for the win, between Jim Walmsley, Sage Canaday, and David Laney.

1. Sage Canaday
Final 2015 GUR: 45
Current 2016 GUR: 29
2015 WS finish: NA
After an unbelievable 2014, Sage had a bit of a frustrating 2015, as evidenced by his disappointing (for him) 15th at Comrades and his injury-induced DNF at UTMB.  But he still managed a dominant win at Speedgoat and put up four sub-2:21 marathons in a 12-month stretch, and since barely missing the OTQ and recommitting to the trails, he looks to be back to his old self.  I don't want to bet against Jim or Dave, but I'll back my fellow Cornell XC/track alum.  Go Big Red!

2. Jim Walmsley
Final 2015 GUR: 18
Current 2016 GUR: 1
2015 WS finish: NA
This feels a little bit crazy.  No one beats Jim Walmsley these days.  (I mean, like no one.  He hasn't lost in over a year.)  It's his first crack at 100 miles, but States has seen rookies have plenty of success in the past.  (Look at Krar in 2013, or Magda last year.)  Can leg speed and overwhelming talent trump experience?

3. David Laney
Final 2015 GUR: 6
Current 2016 GUR: NA
2015 WS finish: 8
Ranking last year's UROY as the third choice makes me feel sick to my stomach.  Let's just move on.

4. Thomas Lorblanchet
Final 2015 GUR: NA
Current 2016 GUR: NA
2015 WS finish: 5
He's the top returning finisher from last year and may have more of the profile of the Europeans who are successful at States (which is to say, "fast," rather than strictly mountain-goat).

5. Didrik Hermansen
Final 2015 GUR: NA
Current 2016 GUR: NA
2015 WS finish: NA
I know very little about him, but he won TGC this year, so what the hell.

6. Ian Sharman
Final 2015 GUR: 7
Current 2016 GUR: 4
2015 WS finish: 7
Ian will finish sixth because I feel like Ian always finishes sixth.

7. Francois D'haene
Final 2015 GUR: NA
Current 2016 GUR: NA
2015 WS finish: 14
I always think of him as more of a mountain runner, but he's won huge 100-milers all over the world and unless something goes wrong I can't see him outside the top 10.

8. Bob Shebest
Final 2015 GUR: 12
Current 2016 GUR: 142
2015 WS finish: NA
My dark horse pick, I can't understand why this guy doesn't get more attention.

9. Jeff Browning
Final 2015 GUR: 69
Current 2016 GUR: 46
2015 WS finish: NA
I just love his form recently.  Third at UTMF in September and first at HURT in January.

10. Jesse Haynes
Final 2015 GUR: 82
Current 2016 GUR: 13
2015 WS finish: DNF
He's always hanging around the back half of the top 10, and has been running well in early 2016.

Hedging my bets
11. Paul Giblin
12. Andrew Tuckey
13. Christopher Denucci
14. Paul Terranova
15. Andrew Miller

Pre-Western States GUR Top 50 Update (as of 6/18)


Men
State
Points
Women
State
Points
1
Jim Walmsley
AZ
159
YiOu Wang
CA
104
2
Paul Terranova
TZ
85
Kaci Lickteig
NE
61.9
3
Brian Rusiecki
MA
75.6
Bethany Patterson
VA
56.8
4
Ian Sharman
CA
72.5
Sabrina Little
TX
54.5
5
Christopher Dennucci
CA
67.675
Anna Mae Flynn
CA
54.3
6
Dylan Bowman
CA
61.85
Corinne Malcolm
WA
53.35
7
Matt Flaherty
IN
61.6
Cassie Scallon
CO
50.3
8
Mario Mendoza
OR
59.9
Kathleen Cusick
FL
50
9
Jared Burdick
NY
58.5
Jodee Adams-Moore
WA
40.75
10
Tim Frericks
AZ
55
Ellie Greenwood
Can
40
11
Tyler Sigl
WI
50.5
Keely Henninger
MA
38
12
David Roche
CA
47.5
Alicia Shay
AZ
37.75
13
Jesse Haynes
CA
46.7
Bev Anderson-Abbs
CA
37.7
14
Andrew Miller
OR
45
Sarah Bard
WA
36.8
15
Chris Mocko
CA
41.625
Laura Kline
NY
36
16
Stephen Wassather
CA
41.5
Amy Rusiecki
MA
35.325
17
Jorge Pacheco
CA
40.2
Caroline Boller
CA
35
18
Michael Daigeaun
PA
40
Nicole Kalogeropoulos
TX
35
19
Masazumi Fujioka
CA
39
Emily Peterson
CA
31
20
Ed Ettinghausen
CA
38.4
Erika Lindland
CA
30.8
21
Dominick Layfield
UT
38.2
Rachel Ragona
CA
30.6
22
Ryan Bak
OR
37.5
Devon Yanko
CA
30
23
Chris Vargo
AZ
37.375
Megan Roche
CA
30
24
Zach Miller
CO
35
Julie Koepke
TX
29.275
25
Daniel Metzger
CA
34.5
Denise Bourassa
OR
28.8
26
Mark Hammond
UT
33.8
Heather Hoechst
PA
28.75
27
Paddy O’Leary
CA
33.75
Sarah Schubert
VA
28.6
28
Chikara Omine
CA
33.6
Aliza Lapierre
VT
27.5
29
Sage Canaday
CO
33.5
Traci Falbo
IN
26.6
30
Chase Nowak
MN
30
Kelly Wolf
AZ
26.2
31
Charlie Ware
AZ
28.5
Amy Sproston
OR
25.5
32
Jorge Maravilla
CA
28.5
Magdalena Boulet
CA
25.5
33
Jason Lantz
PA
27.4
Amy Clark
TX
25.25
34
Caleb Denton
TN
27
Pam Simth
OR
25
35
Jared Campbell
UT
25
Camille Herron
OK
24.7
36
Nickademus Hollon
CA
24.4
Janessa Taylor
OR
24.5
37
Karl Meltzer
UT
24.3
Anne-Marie Maddon
Can
24
38
Aaron Saft
NC
24.125
Kaytlyn Gerbin
WA
23.875
39
Steve Barber
TN
24
Katrin Silva
NM
23.25
40
Jeremy Wolf
WA
23.675
Courtney Dauwalter
CO
23
41
Olaf Wasternack
TN
23
Sheryl Wheeler
NY
22.8
42
Patrick Caron
MA
23
Amanda Basham
OR
22.5
43
Nicholas DiPirro
VA
22.5
Brittany Goicoechea
ID
22.5
44
Jean Pommier
CA
22.1
Keila Merino
NY
22.125
45
Mario Martinez
CA
21.6
Liz Bauer
SC
22
46
Jeff Browning
OR
21.5
Bree Lambert
CA
21.6
47
C Fred Joslyn
NY
21.325
Lee Conner
OH
21.6
48
Cody Reed

21
Shawn Chapler
IN
21.55
49
David Goggins
TN
21
Natalie Larson
CA
21.5
50
Brett Hornig
OR
20.65
Darcy Piceu
CO
21.375















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