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 true expert on all things ultra running. I am honored to share his unique perspective as he handicaps the 2016 European Championships in Albi, France. 180 of Europe’s best ultrarunners representing 24 countries will compete.
Below are his overall predictions, analysis of the Top 15 runners, followed by his team predictions.
Joe Fejes’ 2016 24 Hour European Championship Race Preview:
Runner / BirthYr / Country/ 24 PR (km)/(mi)
1. Maria Jansson (85) Sweden 242/150
2. Pat Bereznowska(75) Poland 238/148
3. Szilvia Lubics (74) Hungary 232/144
4. Anna M. Vernet (67) France 239/148
5. Cecile Nissen (72) France 234/145
6. Isobel Wykes (78) GBR 230/143
7. Annika Nilrud (75) Sweden 230/143
8. Viktoria Makai (80) Hungary 225/140
9. Julia Fatton (72) Germany 230/143
10. Sharon Law (75) GBR 226/140
Maria Jansson (Sweden) – Maria placed 3rd after USA’s Katalin Nagy and Traci Falbo at the 2015 World Championships in Turin, Italy. She held on after an exciting battle with Maggie Guterl who finished 4th. Maria is poised for the big show especially in light of the 238.96 performance in Turin. Even though she is a youngster at 31 she is a grizzled veteran ultrarunner having competed in more than 30 events. She also isn’t afraid of the extreme races evidenced by her 40:17 performance in the Goretex Trans Alpine Run stage race and Taby 100 mile Extreme Challenge.
2. Patrycia Bereznowska (Poland) – Pat has only been running ultras since 2013 however took the silver medal at the European Championship last year in Turin with a 233km effort that was only 5 kilometers behind gold medalist Maria Jansson. Less than 6 months later, Pat ran her 238 km personal best 24 hour in Katowice Poland.
3. Szilvia Lubics (Hungary) – Last month Szilvia ran a solid 134 km in 12 hours and appears ready to peak for Albi. She is a three time winner of the Spartathlon in 2011, 2013, 2014 and has also won the Ultrabalaton 212km in Hungary multiple times. Szilvia has a motor and has run 141km in 12 hours which suggests an even greater 24 hour pr. Szilvia is also a prolific trail runner and has competed in numerous tough technical races. Reaching the podium of the 24 hour European Championship is one goal however that has eluded her. Albi will be an excellent opportunity for her to shine golden.
4. Anna Marie Vernet (France) – Anne-Marie (age 48) has run at least one 24 hour race since 2007 with her personal best set way back in 2008. Earlier this year she ran and won the Brive 24 hour with 222km. Additionally in 2013, at the European Championship in Steenbergen, she won the women’s race with a 229km effort. With the fervent hometown French fan support behind her, she has an excellent shot at outrunning Father Time and reaching the podium.
5. Cecile Nissen (France) – Cecile performs her best in Championship races. In 2012 in Katowice Poland at the European 24 hour Championship, Cecile took the bronze medal with her personal best of 234 km. The following year in Steenbergen Netherlands, she took the silver medal with a 227 km effort. Her one exception is last year in Turin which appears that she dropped early. She hasn’t had any significant perforamcnces since 2013 though she did set her 6 hour personal best earlier this year with 64 km performance. (Photo: Serge Djian/France 3 Midi-Pyrénées)
6. Isobel Wykes (Great Britain) – Isobel took 4th in last yea’rs European Championship in Turin Italy for GBR with 227 km. In 2014 she an her personal best of 230 km on the track at Tooting Bec.
7. Annika Nilrud (Sweden) – Annika took the Bronze in last year’s EU Championship with 230 km in 24 hours. She hasn’t raced this year though so it remains to be seen what her fitness level is. She is a wildcard to watch in the race and has two strong teammates in Jansson and Lundqvist that she can garner inspiration and support from.
8. Viktoria Makai (Hungary) – My sleeper pick. Viktoria’s 225 km personal best was achieved in April this year. She appears to be close to peaking based on a strong 129 km 12 hour performance last month and finishing only 5k behind Szilvia.
9. Julia Fatton (Germany) – A prolific ultrarunner, Julia has completed more than 90 races since 1994! Her 24 hour personal best was set way back in 2010 however she did have a 226 km 5th place finish in Turin last year. Additionally she had a solid 66 km 6 hour last month likely as a final tune up to Albi.
10. Sharon Law (Great Britain) – Sharon has fared well in the past two EU championships having finished 9th in Turin with 219km and 3rd in Steenbergen with 226km. She has been quiet in 2016 with only one event in March. With the men’s GBR team being loaded with talent she will have plenty of inspiration from her male counterparts to keep her moving. Look for a strong outing from her.
Other notables: The 3rd scoring team member often is the most critical for a team to podium. Looks for Sweden’s (Sandra Lundqvist 226 km), France (Sylvie Peuch 225 km), Hungary’s (Boglarka Vago 223 km), Germany’s (Heike Bergmann 24 km) GBR’s (Debbie Martin Consani 221 km) and Poland’s Monika Biegasiewicz (debut) to play pivotal roles if there team is to succeed.
1. Sweden-What! Gold medal in something other than Winter Games?
2. Hungary-Cinderellas’ story
3. France-worst case scenario for home team is bronze
4. Great Britain-on the podium bubble along with Germany
5. Germany-on the podium bubble
6. Poland-next year is the charm
7. Italy-deep bench
Countries with less than 3 runners: