• The Moab Red Hot 50k+ Preview/History

    This weekend's Moab Red Hot 50k+ (33 miles) has grown a reputation over its short three-year history as an early season proving ground of sorts. The race provides dirt junkies from all over the Rocky Mountain West with a brief respite from mid-winter snow, and it therefore has great appeal at a time when local trail races are thin on the ground.

    In addition to the 50k, there is also a 33k event, but the longer version is definitely the main attraction. As it did last year, the event reached its 350 runner cap (between the two races) months in advance, and I personally know of many more that wanted to run but got shut out. Register early if you plan on running next year!


    The top six finishers in the menís 50k last year were Dave Mackey, Timmy Parr, Karl Meltzer, Ryan Burch, Dakota Jones and Phil Kochik. In 2008, the top seven went: Anton Krupicka & Kyle Skaggs (tied), Justin Ricks, Duncan Callahan, Johannes Rudolph, Ian Torrence and Karl Meltzer; and in 2007 Karl Meltzer, Ian Torrence, Ryan Cooper, Ryan Burch and Duncan Callahan went one through five. For those not familiar with the male trail and ultra racing scene in the Rocky Mountain West, those are pretty stout fields.

    Mackey and Parr went under Krupicka and Skagssí CR from 2008, setting the mark to beat this year at a zippy 3:58:50. In the 33k race, Steve Folkerts from Fort Collins set the current CR in 2009 (2:22), lowering the 2008 mark by 10 minutes.

    The history of the womenís race has also seen some good competition, with Anita Ortiz kicking off her 2009 Western-States-winning season with a victory over Samantha Sigle and Helen Cospolich. In 2008, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier (4th in 2000, low 2:30s) Susannah Beck beat Anita Ortiz, Darcy Africa, Samantha Sigle and Helen Cospolich; while in 2007, Darcy Africa beat Helen Cospolich for the honors.

    Susanna Beck holds the 50k CR at 4:28, while mountain running legend Anna Pichtrova holds the 33k CR at 2:37.

    This Year


    This year, the field in the menís race looks fast, if not electric. While the final start list is yet to be posted, of those names already on the list, two pop out as favorites: Former Ironman pro Tim Waggoner and Boulder trail speedster John Anderson.

    I raced John in Buena Vista last year, where he outlasted me through the last four or five miles of the 50 mile Collegiate Peaks race. He ended up finishing five minutes ahead of me and five minutes off Anton Kís course record. He puts in big miles in training, and if fit will definitely be in contention. Tim Waggoner is transitioning to ultra racing this year, with a view to competing at Leadville in August. From what I understand, heís a former 2:30 marathon runner who trains high (8-9000í), so he should be in the mix.

    Ryan Burch is on the list, but is a scratch due to an ankle injury, so the next two guys in the running will likely be Karl Meltzer and Ty Draney, both of whom are very experienced and fast ultra runners. Karl needs little introduction, and Ty is a familiar name in the ultra world; however, 33 miles is a little short for both these guys to be competitive for the win. The guy I like to beat both Ty and Karl for third is Kevin Shilling, who appears to run well across a range of distances, finishing only two minutes back on Scott Jaime at the Squaw Peak 50 last year - a fact which in my books makes him a podium contender.

    Other guys that might go well include Todd Gangelhoff (Golden Gate Dirty 30 Champ), Kevin Koch (2nd at Collegiate Peaks (25) and 7th at San Juan last year) and Jared Campbell (although a little short for him). Iíd like to think that I would have been in the mix for a top-three finish, but an injured calf has ruled out any possibility of that.

    The 33k looks like it will be all about John Tribbia and the clock. I say he dips under Steve Folkertsí CR, especially if someone shows up to push him. If another speedster fails to show, then Glenn Steckler should be next across the line, but probably a good 10-15 minutes back on John.


    The womenís race looks to be a good one. Anita Ortiz is back defending her title and will toe the line as favorite in my book. Mandy Hosford had a great 2009, winning the Speedgoat 50k, running second at Wasatch and third at Pocatello and is my pick for second, while Helen Cospolich should round out the top three in what for her is probably too short of a race. Karen Schmidt runs well year after year at Pikes Peak, and Iím saying that she and RunColo-contributor Sonja Wieck fight it out for four and five.

    In the 33k, I would be surprised if Jenna Gruben doesnít win, but Iíd be even more surprised if anyone went under Anna Pichtrovaís 2008 CR.


    The full start list is not yet online, so there could easily be some late entrants not yet on the list who may just shake things up: Timmy Parr, Anton K, Duncan C, Samantha Sigle Ö

    Should be a good one.
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. gosonja's Avatar
      gosonja -
      You crazy, just straight up crazy. I'm a TRIATHLETE, with a small ultra running habit. I'm just running this to try to break the habit.

      Good write up Nick, however, as a triathlete I am a little curious how this whole "predictions" thing started. It seems to be rampant in the ultra community.

      I'm very sad you won't be there...heal up my friend.
    1. Speedgoat Karl's Avatar
      Speedgoat Karl -
      Excellent work Nick, bummer that Ryan won't make it. His 4:16 would certainly put him in the mix. For me, it's a tune-up for Coyote Two Moon 100 on March 6th. Not sure what kind of shape I'm in. 19 days off in December, 10 days in a row off in January, (med procedure). But no injuries. and I"ve been on the "crash course" training over the past 12 days. I feel pretty good, but don't think I'll run 4:13 again. I was pretty fit last year after the AT and a good December-January.

      I pick Kevin Koch to win, unless of course someone shows up that we haven't seen. And at this race, that happens. I don't even think my name is on the list, but I know I'm runnin'.

      Hoping that my technical running skills give me a chance the last 14, cuz' the first 20, it's too smooth for me to keep up.

      Kevin Schilling is always a mystery man, when he's fit, he's as fast as almost anyone. Ditto on Ty as well. John Anderson, if he's fit, you are right, he'll be in it, then there's Waggoner, but if Waggoner doesn't run technical stuff well, and doesn't know this course like the back of his hand, he may end up at Corona Arch and start looking for the trail! :-) It's a tough one to follow, one that I know like the back of my hand. Definately a slight advantage to have some course knowledge the last 14.

      Great write-up!

      All this handicapping started with the Speedgoat odds over at Karlmeltzer.com a few years ago. Pretty cool stuff.

      See you at Wasatch Nick! You can get some redemption on Bighorn. I'll be coming off of Mt. Blanc, either ready to rip, or hammered tired. First I must nail Hardrock, cuz' that's the real dance!
    1. Nick Clark's Avatar
      Nick Clark -
      Sonja - quit the sandbaggin'! Last I checked, triathletes were runners too. Working on the healing thing.

      Karl - maybe you'll pull one out the bag this weekend - you've probably got as a good a chance as anyone, especially knowing the course like you do. And yeah, be sure to run Mt. Blanc hard
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      You hear a lot about how poorly marked the course is! That's too bad to think that the race may not go to the best runner on the day... just the more course familiar one.
    1. Nick Clark's Avatar
      Nick Clark -
      50k men:
      Meltzer 1st - 4:19
      Luke Nelson/K Shilling (??) 2nd
      Dakota Jones 3rd

      50k women:
      Anita Ortiz

      33k men:
      J. Tribbia

      33k women:
      K. Nelson
    1. georgezack's Avatar
      georgezack -
      Apparently conditions were pretty rough with snow, ice. Can't wait to see race reports.
    1. jmock's Avatar
      jmock -
      Would've been nice to have seen an Ortiz/Nelson race in the 50K.
    1. Nick Clark's Avatar
      Nick Clark -
      Sure would. My money would have been on Ortiz over Nelson. H.Cospolich 2nd, Sonja W. 3rd.
    1. Speedgoat Karl's Avatar
      Speedgoat Karl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
      You hear a lot about how poorly marked the course is! That's too bad to think that the race may not go to the best runner on the day... just the more course familiar one.
      The course is actually marked very well. It's just alot of slickrock, that if you run with your head down and don't pay attention, you constantly find yourself headed in the wrong direction. Then you look back and see a ribbon. I know all the nooks and crannies and where the course is always heading, so it's easy for me. It took me about 10 runs on that terrain to get it dialed in.

      Matt Crawford was second, I caught him at about 5 miles to go, the put a few minutes on him. I could not have run a smarter race. I waited till Gold Bar to start really pushing a bit. That's where it gets tough to follow. And early on, I was in 4th where the leaders Tim Waggoner and another guy made some tracks in the snow. My guess is they were working harder than we were postholing some. The rabbit rarely wins. :-)

      Now I can go run a real distance at C2M. 100 miles of fun in 3 weeks.
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