Posting my ballot has inspired a lot of good-natured (and not-so-good-natured) criticism in the past, and this year with the launch of my new podcast, The Pain Cave, I decided to be a bit proactive in addressing this. I invited New York ultra stud Jason Mintz, one of my staunchest (if friendliest) critics, on the pod to debate our picks. Unfortunately Mintz had to cancel at the last minute, but our mutual friend Laura Kline was kind enough to step in and provide the counterpoint to my ballot. Listen to the episode here; I'll list my ballot below, but Laura and I get into the nitty-gritty a little bit more and really go through our reasoning and justification for some of the decisions we had to make.
I don't yet have the final results tabulated for the Gunksrunner Ultra Rankings for this year, which is unfortunate since I like comparing them to my ballot. I hope to have the results finished by the time Ultrarunning publishes the UROY results, and we can do a little comparison then.
Just a reminder: FKTs are not to be considered in this voting, not for UROY or Performance of the Year. A separate committee votes on the top FKTs of the year. So, feel free to tear apart my ballot, but dear god, don't criticize me for not including FKTs.
1. Camille Herron
2. Courtney Dauwalter
3. Clare Gallagher
4. Katylyn Gerbin
5. Magdalena Boulet
6. Jacqueline Merritt
7. Kelly Wolf
8. Katalin Nagy
9. Cat Bradley
10. Devon Yanko
I'm not going to delve deep my reasoning for any of these categories; listen to the podcast as we spent nearly an hour doing that and I don't feel like rehashing that here. The Camille vs. Courtney debate for the top spot was incredibly difficult, but Clare Gallagher was a pretty easy choice, for me at least, at #3. Spots 4-6 were basically identical and I would've been happy with any order. Toughest omissions: Keely Henninger, Anna Mae Flynn, Kathleen Cusick, Hillary Allen, Megan Kimmel, Sarah Bard, and Sabrina Little.
Women's Performance of the Year
1. Camille Herron's 100 mile WR at Tunnel Hill
2. Camille's win at Comrades
3. Courtney Dauwalter's 24-hour AR at Soochow
4. Camille (again!) 12-hour WR at Desert Solstice
5. Rory Bosio's overall win and women's CR at Tahoe Rim Trail 50-mile
Tough omissions were Cat Bradley's unexpected come-from-behind win at Western States, Clare Gallagher's win at CCC, Courtney's dominating win at Run Rabbit Run (despite temporary blindness), Katalin Nagy's (transient) 24-hour AR, and Michelle Leduc's Canadian Record at 100 miles (made easier to leave off the list by the fact that Camille ran over two hours faster this year).
Women's Age Group Performance of the Year
1. Liz Bauer (58 years old), first at Across the Years 6-day (418 miles)
2. Meghan (Arbogast) Laws (56), 9th at Western States
3. Sally Brooking (61), 4th at Mountain Mist 50K (5:46--and that's not an easy course)
4. Roxanne Woodhouse (54), first at Tahoe Rim Trail 100-mile
5. Jean Herbert (61), 9:21 at JFK 50
1. Tim Tollefson
2. Jim Walmsley
3. Alex Nichols
4. Tim Freriks
5. Avery Collins
6. Sage Canaday
7. Mark Hammond
8. Hayden Hawks
9. Max King
10. Patrick Reagan
God, was this an unpleasant task. Again, listen to the podcast for most of my reasoning; Laura and I discussed if it's fair to grade Jim on a curve, how much a DNF should count against you, why I'm such a Cornell XC homer, and the importance of big international races like CCC, Comrades, and UTMB. My toughest cuts in this category: Dylan Bowman, Bob Shebest, Olivier Leblond, Jeff Browning, Jason Schlarb, Cody Reed, Brian Rusiecki, Kris Brown, Anthony Kunkel, and Eric Senseman.
Men's Performance of the Year
1. Olivier Leblond's 48-hour AR (262 miles)
2. Geoff Burns' 5:14 at Chicago Lakefront 50-mile
3. Tyler Jermann's 2:48 50K at Caumsett
4. Hayden Hawks' win at CCC
5. Guillame Calmettes' win at Big's Backyard Ultra
I found this category much easier this year than last, for some reason. Jim had some amazing performances again this year, but nothing that captured the imagination of the ultra world like many of his 2016 exploits. For some reason Tim Tollefson's third place finish at UTMB was fifth on my ballot last year but not this year. So much for internal logic. But I was much happier with this list than with my UROY top 10. Toughest snubs: Jim's CR runs at Tarawera and Gorge Waterfalls, Tim's aforementioned UTMB race (and Jim, DBo, and Zach at UTMB, for that matter), and Tim Freriks' two huge wins at Transvulcania and North Face.
Men's Age Group Performance of the Year
1. Thomas Devers (60 years old), 3:38 50K (and first place) at the Tallahassee Distance Classic
2. Bob Hearn (51), 151 miles in 24 hours at Run4water
3. Rich Hanna (52), 6:18 at American River 50-mile
4. Jean Pommier (52), 3:19 at Jed Smith 50K
5. Gene Dykes (69), finishing the Triple Crown of 200s
So there you go. Same rules from last year apply: feel free to rip me apart in the comments, but you have to vote for me for Run Ultra's Blogger of the Year first. Cast your vote and flame away!