This weekend elite runners from across the country (and world) will meet for a showdown the desert. Aravaipa Running’s 6th annual Desert Solstice Invitational is an event whose participants are selected by invitation or qualification only. On Saturday at 8:00 am PST, 27 athletes will toe the line and give it their all on a 400 meter all-weather track located at Central High School in Phoenix. Some will run for 100 miles; others will run for 24 hours.
Many of the runners this year are vying for a spot on the coveted 2017 US National 24 Hour Team which requires minimum 140 miles for men and 125 miles for women within a 24 hour time span. In addition they will be chasing national and world records on a track with a reputation for speed. 41 National Records and 10 World Records have been set at Desert Solstice. The weather forecast calls for near perfect conditions: a high of 68 and a low of 45 under clear skies.
Below are athletes reviews from Melia Coury and Joe Fejes (who is also competing in this year’s race). They are listed in order of Joe’s predicted finishes.
But as we all know, anything can happen on race day.
1) Melanie Rabb (36) DS Veteran; 100 mile: 15:17 (DS); 24 PR 136.95; Melanie is currently 5th for U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team standards for 2017 worlds qualification. Melanie ran a 15:17 100 mile at Desert Solstice last year and currently holds a personal best of 136.95 miles over 24 hours. “Prime Time” Rabb form Texas is crazy fast and capable of 145+
(2) Courtney Dauwalter (33) DS Veteran; 100 mile: 16:17 (DS); 24 PR 135.7; Denver, Colorado resident, Courtney is 6th on the current U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team rankings for 2017 worlds selection with her 135.7 miles at FANS 24 hour this June. Courtney also holds a 100-mile PR of 16:17. Earlier this year she recently set a new overall course record for Javelina Jundred 100K in 8:48:25! She won 6 out of her last 7 races including Run Rabbit Run 100 and a positive trend usually means great things ahead…
(3) Laurie Dymond (51); 100 mile: n/a but 135.5 in the 24. Laurie currently holds the 7th and 8th best 24 hour performances in the U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team qualifying standards for 2017 worlds and has a 24 hour PR of 135.5. She was 3rd at 2015 JFK 50 miler with 7:27. She should flirt with 140 miles if stars align, making the trip from Chambersville, Pennsylvania very worthwhile.
(4) Gina Slaby (35); 100 mile: 17:34 (Lumberjack) in addition to a 18:05 @ Vermont 100. She has won the Hurt 100 with 27:06 and Capitol Reef 100 miler.
(5) Whitney Richman (36); 100 mile: 17: 13 (Umstead). Richmond, Virginia resident has the leg speed potential for 140 in her 24 hour debut. She ran to a 2nd place finish at Umstead 100 in April in a qualifying time of 17:13:21. She will be attempting to meet the standard for the U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team .
(6) Jennifer Lockrem (40) DS Veteran; 100 mile: 17:48 (Hennepin). Local Phoenix gal ready for a big day. Has sufficient horsepower—18:27 Umstead bodes well. In 2015 she won the Hennepin Hundred in 17:48:37 and more recently placed second at Des Planes River Trail 50 Miler in 7:53:35.
(7) Adela Salt (43) 100 mile: 21:32; 116.53 24 PR; Second female at Javelina Jundred; 7:22 50 mile in 2007. Del will be looking to make the British Athletics National 24 Hour Team. She has been tearing up the trails in Arizona since moving to the area last year and is now part of the Aravaipa Running Racing Team. Her running resume includes being the British 100K and 50K champion in 2007 along with a bronze at the inaugural World Trail Running Championship and recently a 100-mile PR of 16:53 at the 2015/2016 Across the Years.
(8) Chavet Breslin (34) DSRookie; 100 mile: unknown; 120.7 24 PR; This Marathon Maniac and ultrarunner, from Denver, Colorado had a breakout performance at recent Northcoast 24 National Championships with 2nd place finish. Look for another PR on the fast red track at Desert Solstice. She placed third at Across The Years 24 Hour last year with a total of 110 miles.
(9) Dennene Huntley (39) DS Veteran; 100 mile: 18:22 (D3); 120 24 Hr PR; Dennene is an experienced runner on the world stage representing Canada on 100k and 24 hour teams. Rumors of solid training and peaking; Should crack the 120 mile barrier and PR. Dennene will be joined by fellow Canadian, Charlotte Vasarhelyi, in a bid to make the Canadian 24 hour team. #watchout
(10) April Ritter (47); DS Rookie; 100 mile: 23:43 Nanny Goat; 114 24 PR; Fast track, elite field and ideal conditions will lead to PR for this California ultrarunner. She finished 40 miles during a 6 Hour race earlier this year and also won the overall race. She also won the Nanny Goat 24 Hour.
(11) Charlotte Vasarhelyi (40); DS Veteran; 100 mile 18:20 (WC in France); 119 24 HR PR; Canada’s favorite multi-day specialist. She is also an experienced trail runner but looking forward to “some time back on the track”. Earlier this year she ran 160 miles in just 48 hours and 228 in 72 hours. This past August, she set a self-supported record at the Ontario Bruce Trail race (905 km). The last time she was on the Desert Solstice track she completed 114 miles in the 24 hour time period.
(12) Kristina Pham (44) DS Veteran; 100 mile unknown; 24 hour unknown. Kristina is a sub 100 miler specialist so a 24 hour performance at DS unlikely. She is on the Aravaipa Running Racing Team and is a 2:53 marathoner with a 6:55 50-Mile split at Across the Years in 2014. She will be going after some specific national and world age group records.