Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Looking forward to 2012
2011 has been a great year for ultra running in general with fantastic races all over the world, amazing performances by so many people and obvious growth in the numbers involved in the sport. Personally, I've had the chance to meet so many runners, including many who I'd only seen in magazines and have had my belief reaffirmed that there's no other sport like it in terms of friendliness and camaraderie. So I'm very thankful to everyone who's helped me do the races and been part of the experience.
In terms of reflections on the year gone by, Rocky Raccoon 100 was obviously a high point and I didn't expect to have such a near-perfect race there, with a 12:44 Course Record and the chance to race against some great runners. In many ways it just made the rest of the season a disappointment as I set my sights so high for Comrades in May that I raced too much in trying to get fast enough. But I still had a lot of fun along the way at some great events. Then I basically only ran trail ultras for the rest of the year but played catch-up on the recovery so am looking forward to a little time off right now that the season has ended.
Next year I'll be racing less but still want some road races in there as I found I really missed them in the last six months. They're also great for providing the speed work that can sometimes be put by the wayside when trail running.
So if I'm racing less I have to be a little more selective, although it means missing out on some great events that I'd love to return to, including Boston, Comrades, Mt Hood 50 and Waldo 100k. Luckily there're lots of top class races left and I had a look at http://www.ultramarathonrunning.com/ to help me decide (and to make sure I didn't miss out on anything I might not have heard about).
Below is what I've decided on so far, based on what I know I'm able to fit in logistically. I'm looking forward to seeing you all out on the trails and roads, so please say hi if you read this and can recognize me out of a costume. In particular it's difficult to choose which 100-milers to run since these take the largest commitment and Hardrock and UTMB, in particular, will have to wait for another year (maybe never for Hardrock if the lottery odds keep increasing).
4 Feb - Rocky Raccoon 100, TX (including a talk in Austin post-race)
4 Mar - Napa Valley Marathon, CA (Elvis Guinness World Record attempt)
31 Mar - Badger Mt 15k, WA (including a talk the day before at the 100 mile pre-race dinner)
29 Apr - Eugene Half Marathon, OR
5 May - Miwok 100k, CA (no costume this time)
23 Jun - Western States 100, CA
31 Aug - CCC 98k, Italy/Switzerland/France
29 Sep - UROC 100k, VA
Oct - Tri Cities Marathon, WA
Dec - TNFEC Championship, CA
It doesn't look like enough as I prefer to race most weekends, but sensible Ian is prevailing over tired-legs Ian. I'm also really looking forward to the Bad to the Bone All-Star Running Retreats starting in Feb and coaching people to some great results at races that include Western States.
On a lighter note, here are some general ultra predictions for next year:
1. Mike Wardian will win at least one really major trail ultra, finally proving that he can find his way through the woods as well as run fast.
2. Several people will run under 14 hours for 100 miles on various surfaces and at least a couple will break 13 too.
3. Western States will be run on the normal course and won't be as fast as the past two years.
4. Some men you've never heard of will win big ultras in the US but you'll have the same names for the women at the front of the top races.
5. China will join the ultra bandwagon, train up some marathon runners and send them to races to make them the 'Salomon' of 2012. These runners will then run away at the finish line and claim asylum.
6. North Korea will try to copy this 'success' but their runners will run away before the starting gun even goes off.
7. Races in the Euro area will become very cheap (to the rest of the world) as the currency becomes monopoly money.
8. In the quest for lighter and more minimalist shoes, one company will come up with the idea of injecting shoes with helium, which will lead to hilarious accidents on course as people with squeaky voices limp into aid stations.
9. Ultra beards will go out of fashion.
10. A tribe from the Amazon will be discovered who run all day and night in Hoka-like shoes and have done for centuries. A book will be written and Scott Jurek will race them.
Then something that probably won't happen (unlike the things above):
1. Hardrock's RDs will love having a fast field so much they'll change their entry criteria for 2013.
Bring on 2012! Assuming the world doesn't end.