Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Ultrarunning: year in review" review

Recently the March issue of Ultrarunner landed in my mailbox. It might be the most anticipated issue of the year as it has the "year in review" section in it.

Here's my review of the review:

Ultrarunner of the year MEN:
No question, Geoff deserves the UoY award. In almost any other year Karl's record would have given him the UoY title, but Geoff's breaking (crushing) of several CRs at big-time races - and his head-to-head win against Karl at Wasatch - clearly give him the nod.

Ultrarunner of the year WOMEN:
Anything but a unanimous vote for Kami would have been a big surprise.
Caitlin Smith had more wins, and she might challenge Kami this year for the title, but Kami's 6 wins were all at big-time races, and she beat Caitlin head to head at Miwok.

Ultrarunner of the year voting: A

Performance of the year MEN:
While one could argue with the order of the top 5 performances on the list, overall I pretty much agree with the choice of the voters.
It is interesting to note, though, that Anton Krupicka got a FIRST place vote for breaking my CR at White River by 30 some seconds while I didn't a single vote when I set the record in 2004 (Ultrarunning March 2005).

Performance of the year WOMEN:
Again, Kami's IAU 100k win was clearly the PoY. I have no idea why 2 voters voted for Kami's 50k win. The 100k has a much stronger field than the 50k, and a 3:30h 50k on the road is not that impressive. 2:57h marathon + 5 miles.

Performance of the year voting: B+
Performance of the year voting 2004: C-

Most competitive fields:
I guess there is no good, objective way to determine the competitiveness of races. UR's way of determining it has the advantage of not depending directly on people's votes. The pitfall with that method is that very strong runners who don't run several ultras a year and foreigners will not contribute points to the competitiveness score for that race. So at TNF 50 myself (1st), Chris Lundstrom (2:17 marathoner, 3rd), Kaburagi (Japan, 4th) as well as the French guy who was 2nd at the Tour du Mont Blanc (dropped out) did not add any points. Had Matt Carpenter been there, as was his plan, he, too, would not have added any points.

JFK 50 had the fastest field in the history of the event (average of the top runners on the men's side), but didn't make the top 10.

Competitive field analysis: B

Significant course records:
Judging the significance of a course record solely by the number of years the event has been around is not all that useful in my opinion. Sure, the older the race the more runners have raced it (generally). And some of the most prestigous races are also some of the oldest.
(not graded)

100mile - 100k - 50mile - 50k:
Top 100 lists: Sort of interesting, though times are hard / impossible to compare.
(And the TNF 50 San Francisco results are missing for the women.)

Top graded performances: What the $&@#??? Who came up with the grading algorithm? They were either high on something or simply rolled the dice. Examples:
100M: Geoff's Wasatch (performance of the year) is graded as the 3rd best 100 mile performance.
50M: Geoff's Mtn Masochist CR, my TNF San Fr. CR and Antons White River CR are graded as the nuber 14, 15 and 19, respectively, 50 mile performances. Yet 7 of the top 12 performances are from the JFK 50 (a race that's - wrongly - not rated among the 10 most competitive ones).
50k: If a 3:06:49 at Caumsett gives you a rating of .6030 and a 2:56:36 gives you a .570, does that mean that Keith Pierce's rating of .536 (at El Scorcho) is worth about a 2:46 at Caumsett?

Grading of performances: F

I appreciate the thoughts of others on the "year in review"!