Monday, December 30, 2019

Ultrarunner of the Year: My Ballot

I was thrilled to once again be asked to join the voting panel for Ultrarunning Magazine's Ultrarunner of the Year.  As always I find this to be an extremely gratifying yet significantly discomfiting task, causing no small amount of stress as I try to parse the various resumes and performances.  For the past couple of years, I've asked guests on the podcast to help me sort things out.  This year I was joined on the show by Rich Heffron and Phil Vondra, who were able to set me straight on a few things in time for me to revise my final ballot, which I present below.

As I stated last year: I continue to invite criticism by posting my ballot.  I'm not quite sure why I do this, other than that it's easy content creation.  I do enjoy debating the picks and hearing people's rationales for arguments for and against various decisions.  As with anything online it can get a little personal or angry, but for the most part people have been good-natured and civil about it.  Please continue to do so.  The debate is the fun part, but only if we respect each other's opinions.  Our sport covers a variety of distances, surfaces, and formats, and while these awards smush all of them together, we all value different things and have our own prejudices and biases.  Which is basically just to say: keep it civil.

Womens' UROY

1. Courtney Dauwalter
2. Kaci Lickteig
3. Brittany Peterson
4. Camille Herron
5. Clare Gallagher
6. Sabrina Stanley
7. Addie Bracy
8. Katie Schide
9. Kaytlyn Gerbin
10. Camelia Mayfield

As you'll see, this is significantly different from what I had discussed with Rich and Phil.  I won't say where I had ranked Camille initially, but if you listen to the show you'll find out soon enough.  What I'll say here is that while I stand by my arguments for having her as low as I did--basically, that one standout performance does not make a whole season, that it should be recognized in Performance of the Year, etc.--I didn't apply that criteria strictly enough across the entire category, and I'm not sure my internal reasoning held up.  Which is the point of the podcast, allowing my to realize where I might've made a mistake.  I'm pretty happy with how this list wound up, though it was difficult leaving off Amanda Basham, YiOu Wang, Kathryn Drew, Taylor Nowlin, and Emily Hawgood.

Womens' Performance of the Year

1. Camille Herron's world record at the 24 hour World Championships in Albi, France
2. Courtney Dauwalter's win at UTMB
3. Maggie Guterl winning Big's Backyard
4. Clare Gallagher winning Western States (#2 all-time)
5. Sabrina Stanley winning Diagonale des Fous

I think Phil, Rich, and I had basically the same top five in order, which certainly made me feel good about these picks.  Other standout performances I considered were Hillary Allen's win at Cortina, Amanda Basham's runner-up finish at CCC, Erika Hoaglund's Course record at Rio del Lago, Stephanie Case's runner-up at Ronde del Cims, and Elizabeth Northern's 3:19 at the 50K world championships.

Womens' Age Group Performance of the Year

1. Megan Laws (55 years old) 50K age-group world record (and 50M/100K AG American Records) at Desert Solstice
2. Connie Gardner (56) 18:16, win at Jackpot 100 (US Championships)
3. Pamela Champman-Markle (63) 118 miles in 24 hours at 6 Days in the Dome
4. Denise Bourassa (50) 17:01, 2nd place at Brazos Bend
5. Maria Shields (68) 100K in 12 hours at Dawn to Dusk to Dawn

Mens' UROY

1. Jim Walmsley
2. Zach Bitter
3. Pat Reagan
4. Jared Hazen
5. Tim Tollefson
6. Olivier Leblond
7. Tyler Green
8. Mark Hammond
9. Matt Daniels
10. Harvey Lewis

Jim is a likely unanimous pick for his unprecedented fourth straight UROY award; and beyond him the top half of this ballot was pretty easy for me.  The bottom half could go any number of ways, and there were multiple deserving folks who got left off, including Jeff Browning, Trevor Fuchs, Drew Holman, Cody Reed, Jason Schlarb, and Mario Mendoza.

Mens' Performance of the Year

1. Zach Bitter's 100 mile world record at 6 Days in the Dome
2. Jim Walmsley's 50 mile world record at Project Carbon X
3. Jim's astounding course record at Western States
4. Olivier Leblond's 3rd place at 24 hour World Champs
5. Pat Reagan's 12:21 at Brazos Bend 100 (US Champs)

The top three I'm assuming are basically written in stone, though the order is up for reasonable debate.  Other notable performances were Tim Tollefson's win at Laveredo, Jared Hazen's runner-up finish at States, Jim's CR at Santa Barbara Nine Trails, Seth Ruhling's 5:38 win at JFK, and Zach Ornelas and Austin Bogina both running 2:50:xx for 50K at Caumsett.

Men's Age Group Performance of the Year

1. Steven Moore (51) 18:14 (age group CR) at Western States
2. Don Winkley (80) 327 miles in 144 hours at Across the Years
3. Jean Pommier (55) 14:47 (age group national record) at Jackpot 100
4. Joe Fejes (53) 532 miles at 6 Days in the Dome
6. Ruperto Romero (55) overall win at Angeles Crest