Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Grand Slamming 2013

Keith Knipling's GPS profiles from 2006

Since before my friend Paul Terranova got into Western States via the 2012 lottery and decided that meant he should do the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100 and Wasatch 100 all in one summer), I'd considered it. Given he'd never run a 100-miler before and he added on the Kona Ironman to his summer, it was an impressive target to aim for. And even more so given he then won the Slam this year with a combined time of 80h53m, only about six hours off Neal Gorman's 2010 record.

2012 was my third consecutive Western States so I told myself that if I felt like I could recover from it well and be ok to run a 100 miler on the day of Vermont 100 then I'd go for it in 2013. The main difficulty in going for the GS is that Western States is very difficult to get into given a very oversubscribed lottery or a few places available for automatic qualifiers. One of the ways to guarantee an entry is to be top 10 in the previous year's race so I luckily had that hurdle out the way and no practical impediments to giving it a go (it also helps I don't have kids and a work a flexible enough schedule).

In the last week several top runners have shown an interest in going for the GS - Karl Meltzer, Nick Clark, record holder Neal Gorman, Nick Pedatella and Jay Aldous. Even if just a couple of them do, it'll make for a competitive year and make it much more interesting as that record gets seriously challenged. Plus Neal is quicker than he was in the year he got the GS record.

Some numbers:

Race                Neal's GS record   Clarky's best times    Potential record

Western States        18:14                          15:44                          15:45-16:30

Vermont                  16:33                                                             15:00-16:00

Leadville                  18:47                           17:11                         17:30-18:30

Wasatch                  21:19                          20:21                          20:00-21:00

Overall                   74:54                                                            68:15-72:00

This is a best case scenario and even if someone's on these fast splits, it doesn't count unless the last race goes well too. And Wasatch is a beast so a bad day could add on a lot of extra time on tired legs.

Note that Neal ran 16:18 at the 2012 Western States, and he's almost certainly faster than in 2010, but the conditions play a large part in these races so tough weather at more than one of them would probably mean no chance of a record. But whether it's record-breaking or not, I'm very excited to go up against a fast group of great runners and try out three new classic races.

But who wants to bet that Nick Clark can get 3rd in all four of the races?


  1. will be a fun GS summer if Nick C, Nick P, and Karl M toe the line.

  2. hahaha!!!
    I'll take the NC gets 3rd in 3 of the 4!

  3. Good luck to you Ian. Does that mean you'll be holding back at WS?

  4. Oli, it'll take a full effort at WS to get into the top 10 and be able to do it again the next year without the hassle of requalifying, so I'm not sure there's much benefit in holding back. 100 miles wrecks you no matter how easy you go :) Will you be going for the lottery?