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! History
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 Men
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. Women
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. Note
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.