Joe Fejes is one of the top ultra runners in the world. He races marathons and 24 hour races, but specializes in multi-day races. In May 2015, Joe became the first modern-day American to break the 600-mile barrier in six days at the EMU World Trophy races in Hungary.
He has been on the US National 24 hour Team and is a big fan of the NC24 National Championships. So much so that he creates an annual race preview and Top 10 predictions.
I am honored to share his unique perspective as he handicaps the 2016 NC 24 Hour National Championships.
JOE FEJES’ 2016 NORTH COAST 24 HOUR MEN’S RACE REVIEW:
Harvey (40 years old) is a local Ohio boy and the prohibitive favorite in the race. Last year he won and set a course record with 157.90 miles. Harvey has a personal best of of 158.74 miles at last year’s 24 World Championship in Turin, Italy finishing in 9th place overall right behind USA teammate Rich Riopel. Zero weaknesses.
Olivier (43 years old): took 2nd last year with a 153.23 miles and is likely to be Harvey’s strongest competition for the “W”. Olivier is a powerful runner that has probably the best running form suited for 24 hour races. He makes running for 24 hours look effortless. In 2013 Olivier ran 150+ miles winning Desert Solstice 24 hours with 152.54 and was on the 2015 USA National Team that competed in Turnin, Italy.
Youngster Andrew Snope (30 years old) has serious leg speed (5:15 3rd place finish at 2016 Strolling Jim 40 miler) and is primed for a breakout race. In 2014 at the Six Days in the Dome, he ran a 24 hour PR of 136.98 which broke the Guinness Book of Record for barefoot running. Andrew is also signed up to run Desert Solstice 24 hour in December which I believe might be a slightly better venue for his minimalist running style.
In his 24 hour debut, Olaf (36 years old) took the 3rd spot on the podium in last year’s NC24 with 140.85 miles. He currently is holding down the # 6 qualifying spot on the team USA and is looking for a 150 mile performance this year. Olaf is a speedster as evidenced by his 5:04 at Strolling Jim in 2014.
Rich (42 years old) took 8th at last year’s 24 hour World Championship in Turin Italy with 159.53 miles right in front of Harvey Lewis. Rich however is still recovering from a significant injury (groin tear) and isn’t likely to be in racing shape for a few more months.
Amos (34 years old) ran 123 miles at last year’s race and 117 miles recently at 3 days at the fair 24 hour. Amos ran 18:15 at Old Dominion 100 recently in June and seems primed to step up his 24 game to 130/140 mile territory. In 2015, he finished Leadville 100 mile in 21:26 which was good enough for a 14th place finish.
Serge (51 years old) is the sleeper in this year’s race unless he gets scythed by Father Time. Serge has been one of the most consistent and prolific 24 hour runners in the USA. In a one year span between May 2012 – May 2013, Serge ran three 24 hour races of 150 miles or greater with performances of 153, 154 and 151 miles respectively. His 24 hour personal best is 156.48 miles that he ran in 2010. More recently in July 2016 Serge won the Montour 24 hour race with 111 miles. In May he won the 3 Days at the Fair 72 hour race with 303 miles averaging more than 100 miles per day. Last year he won the NJ 24 hour with 135 miles and the Back on my Fee Lone Ranger 24 with 132.93 miles. Serge is quite capable of hitting a mid to high 140 mark if he is fit and serious about garnering a team spot.
Matt (38 years old) is another local Ohio runner who ran 130 miles at the NC24 two years ago. Word on the street is that he has put in significant miles recently gearing up for this goal race. Matt is a friend of fellow Cincinnatian, Harvey Lewis, and has been key member of his select Badwater crew.
Josh (45 years old) had a personal best of 128.52 miles at last year’s NC24 hour race and is looking for bigger miles this year. He has focused on multiday races the past two years and is hoping the experience with the longer distances translate into elevating his 24 hour game. He is quite capable of surpassing the qualifying mark if he puts the pieces together.
Joahua (43 years old) has significant leg speed having run 16:26 at Vermont 100 and 15:49 at Rocky Raccoon 100 in the past few years. NC24 represents a great opportunity for him to achieve his goal in the 24 hour.
Jason (40 years old) is a trail specialist. He has run the Mt Mitchell 40 Mile Challenge three times (in 2011, 2014, 2015) and was fifth every time. This year he was fifth at Bandera 100k and 13th at Caumsett 50k (both US Championships) and also won a 50k in California.
Brian (36 years) “Trail Slayer” Pickett is a notorious Southeastern trail specialist who has reached the podium in some of the toughest technical trail races the past few years including: (2nd Pinhoti 100 (20:03); (5th Grindstone 100 (22:45); (3rd Thunder Rock 100 19:28). He also has a couple solid finishes on the roads as well- (4th Pistol Ultra 100 16:56) and (4th Strolling Jim 40 miler 4:51).
Thomas (36 years old) is from Cali ran a sub 16 at the Long Beach 100 miler as well as an 18 hour Nanny Goat 100. NC24 will be his 24 hour debut.
Jean (52 years old) has run over 130 ultras and is primarily a 50k/50m specialist and speed demon though he placed 3rd in the 2014 NC24 with 133 miles and had 123 miles at the NJ 24 hour last year.
Dan (38 years old) ran on 24 Team USA in 2010 at Brive, France. 3rd place podium way way back in 2009 NC24 with 139.28 miles to go with a more recent 127.5 in 2012 UltraCentric.
Adrian (47 years old) is very experienced trail specialist with 83 races. 9th at Leadville 100 miler; 4th Bryce 100 (22:32) 13th Zion 100 (22:02); Although primarily a trail specialist, Adrian also ran 137.75 at the 2015 UltraCentric.
Jim (35 years old) has the most leg speed out of all participants evidenced by the following performances: (2nd place 2012 Umstead 14:14); (1st place 2015 Kettle Moraine 15:43);(1st place 2013 Umstead 15:21); (3rd place 2013 Burning River 15:48); (4th place 2014 Mad City 100k 7:11); (8th place 2014 JFK 50 miler 6:20).
9/15 Addendum. After Joe Fejes published his “TOP 15” prediction (below), he realized there were FOUR runners that SHOULD be in the mix. Below is his take on Kevin Grabowski, Isaiah Janzen , Sho Gray and Ed Ettinghausen. Joe acknowledges they could ALL be in the Top 15 and could even be in the mix for top spots in the end. “Wow–this field IS loaded,” he commented!!
Joe ran with Kevin at Desert Solstice and “remembers smoke coming from his wheels”. Only question mark on him is he is somewhat of a short ultra specialist notwithstanding his excellent Kettle 100. He has gone 7:17 for 100k and I believe 18 hours at Kettle Moraine 100.
We know Isaiah liked this course. In his debut, he went over 154 miles at NC24 in 2015. He qualified for the US National 24 Hour ream that competed at the World Championships in Italy. If he is fit and healthy, he could move into the #2 slot. And he should be, earlier this year he summited Mt Everest.
Sho (28 years old) is from Knoxville, TN. This kid has the desire and leg speed to run 150 plus miles in 24 hours. He also has greatly improved his timed event performance over the past year. In March, Sho set the course record at the Delano 12 hour race with 86 miles which substantiates his potential for big miles.
“The Jester” Ed Ettinghausen (54 years old) knows a little about endurance runs. In April he finished second at the Sri Chinmoy 10 Day race, Queens, NY with 770 miles. He followed that up with the Nanny Goat 24 hour, San Diego 100 miler, Western States 100, Badwater 135 and now the NC 24! And Ed is also fast, with 17:13:40 at the DS 100. In 2015, he was an alternate to the US National 24 Hour Team.
JOE FEJES’s 2016 NC24 Predictions for the top 15 spots at NC24 for the men (in order of projected finish): Runner; 24 PR; Comments
1. Harvey Lewis; 158; Prohibitive favorite & Ohio boy done good-this horse can RUN
2. Olivier Leblond; 153; Smoothest form in the field — certain to place
3. Serge Arbona; 156; Sleeper podium pick unless Father Time runs interference
4. James Sweeney; Debut; Leader at 12 hr- Attitude: podium or bust!!
5. Olaf Wasternack; 140; On the bubble-Olaf ready for prime time?
6. Andrew Snope; 136; Count on the Snope dog to surprise-he’s a gamer and smart.
7. Adrian Stanciu; 137; OMG! A mountain trail beast running hardtop circles too?
8. Joshua Finger; 143; Primed for big miles with the motor to do it.
9. Brian Pickett; Debut; Southeastern trail slayer looking to tame the pavement.
10. Matthew Garrod; 130; OH runner ready for his goal race having put in the miles.
11. Josh Irvan; 128; Has the tools & experience. Time now for JI to get it done.
12. Jean Pommier; 133; Even at age 52 JP is still thumping the young guns in 50k’s
13. Dan Rose; 139; O brother where art thou has Dan been? 2010 Team USA
14. Jason Friedman ; Debut; Sleeper pick #2 based on his 5th place Mt. Mitchell Challenge
15. Rich Riopel; 159; Top gun recovering from injury. NC24 likely a training effort