First off, this is a tough one. There are so many solid runners in this race, it could go to any of the top 10 I have listed below. I like to think experience will play a role in who takes home the cake!
The men:Ulli Stiedl 5-2. No doubt Ulli is the fastest in the field when it comes to turnover. The man runs like a gazelle. He’s the only guy in the field this year that’s gone under 7 hours, won the innaugural and was a close second last year….he gets the nod from me again. Dave Mackey 3-1. Dave will take the place of Carpenter this year and stay right on Ulli’s heals if he’s not ahead of him to begin with. Dave’s incredible 7:51 at Miwok this year tells all of us he’s got it down at Marin and won’t lose the trail. He’s the man to dethrone Ulli, if Ulli is not on his game. Dave will be on his game. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki 4-1. 3rd last year and has to get the nod to place the same. He ran super strong at WS. What this tells me is he is a tough competitor and will dig deeper than anyone else if it comes down to a sprint up that last little hill nearing the finish line. Geoff Roes 9-2. What can we say about Geoff, he’s the “Ultrarunner of the Year” for 2009 (in my book) and after his Masochist performance, is probably not getting as much love on this list as he deserves. He broke Mackey’s record by about 20 minutes at MM, so he’s got it in him to pay for his Alaskan flight if he’s still on fire. My guess is that he’s still on fire. MIke Wardian 5-1. He’s kind of a mystery man to me, although I certainly know he’s capable of running up front….something will happen putting him 5th in the end. Sal Bautista 6-1. Sal won two NF 50 qualifiers, beating some tough comp, so if he’s fit he’ll be one of those guys not everyone up front recognizes, and this is somewhat of his home turf. Chikara Omina 7-1. Super fast at Helen Klein and over the past few years has been running strong. He’s the guy that might surprise us all if he has a good day. Leigh Schmitt 8-1. Another guy who ran well here last year, I think 5th. So like Geoff doesn’t get as much love as he should on this list, but certainly one who’ll be in it for the cash. He’s faltered a few times in races at the end, hopefully not at this one. Hal Koerner 9-1. Fresh off a 6:06 at JFK, so he’s got some speed, but his camera might slow him down. He claims to be this year’s front running photographer. Chris Lundstrom 10-1. I’ve been notified he’s a super fast guy form the upper midwest, but failed to get good google results when I looked, so he slips in the top 10.
Other men looking to run well, but won’t make any money: Maybe they’ll win some shorts for the size of elephants in a age division category!Sam Thompson, MIke Wolfe, Chris Rennaker, Sean Meissner, Dakota Jones, AJW only gets mentioned here cuz’ of his 5:14 mile recently. Don’t forget I stumbled upon two other Japanese runners….Hidefumi Kimura, and Minehiro Yokoyama, who knows, they might be fast too. If they are wearing a billboard like Kaburaki, you can count on them being quick.
Kami Semick 3-2. It’s her home turf, she’s the previous champion and is likely the “Ultrarunner of the Year” again. She’s fast, but will have lots of pressure on her, especially from the two listed below. She may end up being the richest NF athete in town when it’s all over. Caitlin Smith 3-1. Caitlin has what it takes to win this thing if the stars line up for her, but it’s hard to put her ahead of the other two. She ran well at Miwok, but was beaten by Kami. She’ll earn some cash. Joelle Vaught 4-1. Joelle is my sleeper to perform well here. Most won’t be watching her, and on a good day can run with the best of em’. She’ll look to squeeze out $1000 bucks for third. Lizzy Hawker 5-1. Fast girl that hasnt’ proved herself to me yet on this track, but like Joelle, she’s quick and could surprise the few girls ahead of her. Helen Cospolich 6-1. Helen doesn’t give herself enough credit and with 10,000′ of climbing here, it works with her strength. If she holds together the whole day, she’ll be thinking about $1000 bucks too. Chris Lundy 8-1. Don’t know much about her, so I give her some love on the list, we’ll see what happens. Anton mentions she’s just run a 2:40 marathon at Twin Cities. And beat Kami and Susannah there. I guess on Anton’s recommendation look for her to be the sleeper. Still, it’s 50 miles, not 26.2……..very different in my opinion. But that’s only worth a penny.
Just my two cents, worth about a penny!Check out this flyover of the course, brought to you by “run scout”
Don’t forget the real mountain race, the Speedgoat 50k applications go online on January 1st. We know I”ll keep mentioning it. My prize money is no $10,000, but I”m working on $500 for the winners. It’s a mountain race with real vertical!
After this one, I won’t promise odds for the last 100 of the year….the Chimera 100 in Southern California. My last race and thankfully my last 100 of the year. This year was slim for me, only 7 100s. Next year we may almost double that….we’ll see.