Run4Water 24 Hour Race – Women’s Preview

Joe Fejes is currently in the last spot on the US Men’s Team with 145.6 miles, but going into the last days of qualifying, there could be big shake-ups on the team. Below is Joe’s take on the top female athletes competing in this weekend’s stacked Run4Water 24 Hour race.

Run 4 Water

Untitled
Joe Fejes on left, running with race favorite, Jon Olsen.

Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee

All eyes of the Ultrarunning community will be focused on the state of Tennessee on Saturday April 1, 2017. April Fool’s day is the start of the legendary Barkley Marathons at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg Tennessee. Tennessee is also playing host to the Run4Water 24 hour run that is being held in Lebanon Tennessee, about 120 miles east of Wartburg.

Run4Water is the last opportunity for runners to qualify for the 2017 24 hour USA national team before the qualifying window closes April 2. Run4Water is the brainchild of Greg Armstrong, a member of the 2015 USA 24-hour team who was gracious enough to put together a first class even in a short time frame. Team USA will compete in the 24 hour IAU World Championship to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 1. The Run4Water men’s field is loaded with runners hoping to qualify for one of the 6 slots available for both the men and women’s teams.

The current weather forecast is calling for decent conditions with a high/low outlook of 70/48 and overcast skies which should be favorable for runners looking for big miles. There is however still a significant variance (13 degrees!!) in the forecasted temperature between Friday and Sunday as the high temperature is supposed to be 64 on Friday and 77 on Sunday. Anything over 70 degrees will feel quite warm since the course is fully exposed half mile paved blacktop oval encircling a middle school.

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Women’s Race Prediction

The women’s field at Run4water 24 hour has several entrants with potential to run more than 140 and making the US team. They include but are not limited to the following women (note late update with Melanie Rabb not running):

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  • Megan Alvarado, (Age 28) currently has the 6th team spot with 140 miles (personal best) she ran in November 2106 at the New Jersey One Day race. In December, she won the Pistol 100 mile run with a solid 16:05. She can certainly add a few miles to her best performance if she has the right weather conditions and avoids stomach issues.

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  • Melanie Rabb, (Age 35) In December 2015 at Desert Solstice, Mel ran a 15:17 100-mile personal best which suggests she can run 150+ in the 24 hour. Since then she has run three 24 hour races with a personal best of 136.95 at 2016 D3. Melanie will not be running.

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  • Whitney Richman. (Age 36). 100 mile 17:23 at 2016 Umstead for a 2nd place finish. She had a disappointing run at Desert Solstice but is primed for redemption at Run4water.

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  • Laurie Dymond, (Age 51) has run two 130+ performances in the past few years 135.50 miles personal best at 2015 Northcoast and a 133.22 at 2016 D3. Laurie also had a 3rd place finish at the JFK 50 miler with a 7:27. She will need to execute her perfect race to have a chance to reach 140 and bump Megan from the 6th. She has a 3:06 marathon PR.


PREDICTION:  Flip a coin between Megan & Melanie for the “W” in the high stakes Run4water 24 hour shootout. Both are gunning hard to represent the USA in Belfast and both have the potential to exceed Pam Proffitt Smith’s current 5th spot of 143.66 miles. Whitney and Laurie both have a glimmer of hope in making the team as long as the stars to align. Stay tuned for potential late entrants to the race.

Run4Water 24 Hour Race – Men’s Preview

Joe Fejes is currently in the last spot on the US Men’s Team with 145.6 miles, but going into the last days of qualifying, there could be big shake-ups on the team. Below is Joe’s take on the top male athletes competing in this weekend’s stacked Run4Water 24 Hour race.

Run 4 Water

Untitled
Joe Fejes on left, running with his race favorite, Jon Olsen.

Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee

All eyes of the Ultrarunning community will be focused on the state of Tennessee on Saturday April 1, 2017. April Fool’s day is the start of the legendary Barkley Marathons at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg Tennessee. Tennessee is also playing host to the Run4Water 24 hour run that is being held in Lebanon Tennessee, about 120 miles east of Wartburg.

Run4Water is the last opportunity for runners to qualify for the 2017 24 hour USA national team before the qualifying window closes April 2. Run4Water is the brainchild of Greg Armstrong, a member of the 2015 USA 24-hour team who was gracious enough to put together a first class even in a short time frame. Team USA will compete in the 24 hour IAU World Championship to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 1. The Run4Water men’s field is loaded with runners hoping to qualify for one of the 6 slots available for both the men and women’s teams. Currently, I am the owner of the last spot on the men’s team with 145.6 miles.

The current weather forecast is calling for decent conditions with a high/low outlook of 70/48 and overcast skies which should be favorable for runners looking for big miles. There is however still a significant variance (13 degrees!!) in the forecasted temperature between Friday and Sunday as the high temperature is supposed to be 64 on Friday and 77 on Sunday. Anything over 70 degrees will feel quite warm since the course is fully exposed half mile paved blacktop oval encircling a middle school.

===========================================================================

Tier 1 (160+ miles):

run4water

For the men, the prohibitive favorite is Jon Olsen (age 42), the 2013 24-hour World Champion, with a personal best of 167 miles, second best US 24-hour performance behind only Mike Morton’s 172 miles. Jon is also the former American record holder in the 100 miles with an 11:59 performance.   He is coming off a 2:33 win at Modesto marathon last weekend and should be primed for a breakout run. Some runners questioned the wisdom of running a fast marathon so close to race day. I believe Jon was prudent to run the marathon as a final “tune up” as a way for him to gain confidence in his health and fitness level.

If Jon is healthy on race day, then everyone else at Run4Water is running for second place. The race is Jon’s to lose however we all know nothing is guaranteed in a 24-hour event. Jon is brilliant with race strategy as evidenced by his nearly identical 1st half vs. 2nd half split (5:28/5:31) running his 100-mile record on the indoor track in Ottawa. At the 2013 World Championship in Steenburgen, Netherlands, Jon executed his race strategy perfectly from start to finish and was not baited into running with the front runners that went out fast. I suspect Jon’s sole goal at Run4Water will be to win the race by running a minimum amount needed to make the team. I don’t envision him (or anyone else) running more than 155 miles.

Lurking behind Jon are at least six (6) runners capable of running 150+ miles.

It will be discouraging for aspiring team members if they, at any point of the race, believe they will be unable to make the team; either due to their own race or that of another, especially if Jon O is having a big day. Expect a lot of early drops as the race progresses.

Tier 2 (140-150+):

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Olaf Wasternack. Age 37. Local Nashville runner who has solid leg speed and has competed in two prior 24 hour races with a 140 PR at last year’s North Coast. Olaf will have plenty of fan support and is my surprise pick for eclipsing 150 miles and relegating Bob Hearn (see below) to the sidelines.

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Greg Soutiea. Age 32. Greg won the Run4Water 24-hour race earlier this year with a 130-mile performance, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees, and also put up a solid 143 miles at Desert Solstice in December. He is in absolute superb condition, is a 2:54 marathoner, and has gained sufficient experience in the 24 hour to be realistic 150+ mile threat.

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Adrian Stanciu. Age 47. Adrian fooled a lot of people (including me) into believing he wouldn’t be competing for a team spot notwithstanding he previously held the #6 slot. He has since “unretired” and even ran in last month’s Riverbank 24-hour last month. If hungry he should be in the mix with Olaf, Greg, et al.

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Bob Hearn. Age 51. Bob is currently holding down the #5 team slot with 149 miles. Bob’s entry into Run4Water was a last-minute decision in his effort to defend his #5 spot. Bob will be challenged mentally as running defensively often doesn’t lead to optimal results. I suspect Bob will be constantly monitoring performances and will run hard at least until the qualification picture clears. I do not however see a personal best happening from him under the circumstances.

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Andrew Snope. Age 30. Love me some Snope Dog! At Desert Solstice in December Andrew broke his own barefoot record by running 138.81 miles. Andrew is very smart with pacing and the Run4Water course and atmosphere should be an excellent opportunity for him to achieve a new personal best.

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Phil McCarthy. (Age 48). The 48-hour American Record holder with 257 miles has been on multiple 24 hour USA teams and has a 24-hour personal best of 153 miles set in 2011. Phil still has excellent leg speed as evidenced by a 3:35 performance recently at Caumsett 50k. If healthy and dialed in mentally then Phil should be a contender with the Tier 2 group. His success largely rests on how he fares between 13-18 hour mark.

Tier 3: (130-140+miles):

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Sho Gray. (Age 29) Sho is a 29-year-old local Tennessee runner from Knoxville, who put up a whopping 86 miles in the Delano 12 hour which supports a significantly higher 24-hour performance than his current 123-mile pr. Conditions are ripe for a substantial improvement in miles run by Sho (provided of course he slows his young ass down the first 12 hours!).

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Charlie Engle. (Age 54) Charlie is coming of a solid 17:10 100-mile performance at the Daytona 100 miler in December which supports a 130-135 mile 24 hour. Charlie without a doubt has the most experience and varied ultrarunning resume of all participants. He is also the author of “Running Man,” a recently released memoir (available on Amazon) chronicling his amazing life as an ultrarunner and adventurer along with overcoming many life challenges.

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Steve Barber. (Age 46) Steve, a local native of Oak Ridge Tennessee has won numerous ultras across the Southeast including the 2015 Pistol 100 mile run in 15:39, which suggests he has 140 mile wheels for the 24 hour. Look for a breakout run by Steve who may very well crack Tier 2 standards.

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Kevin Grabowski. (Age 48) KG put up 127 miles last year at North Coast 24 hours in his debut. He is one of the faster runners in the field with a 100k PR of 7:17 and should improve significantly on his debut performance.

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Joe Fejes. (Age 51). 6 Day American Record holder with 606 miles. Ran 156 miles in 2013 and currently holds the #6 spot for the team with 145.58 miles. Current fitness (or lack thereof) level and weight gain will make Fejes a non-factor in this race. Struggled in recent Columbia marathon (3:23 marathon). Sadly, Fejes is likely to be more focused on the plethora of food offered at the aid station rather than running big miles.

Joe’s Prediction:

  1. Jon Olsen 154 miles (bumps Bob & Joe)
  2. Olaf Wasternak 150 miles (bumps Bob and Joe)
  3. Greg Soutiea 146 miles (bumps Joe)
  4. Adrian Stanciu 143 miles
  5. Andrew Snope 142 miles
  6. Phil McCarthy 141 miles
  7. Bob Hearn 140 miles
  8. Steve Barber 140 miles
  9. Sho Gray 139 miles
  10. Keven Grabowski 137 miles
  11. Charlie Engle 135 miles
  12. Joe Fejes 130 miles

Riverbank One Day Classic -Joe Fejes’ Men’s Preview

The Riverbank One Day Classic race will be held on the brand new track at Riverbank High School in the Central Valley of California. This 24 hour, 12 hour and Team Relay races will be run on a certified 400 meter track and will be both an IAU Bronze Label event and USATF Sanctioned. This is the 2nd annual running of the race c0-directed by Jon Olsen, the 2013 International Association of Ultrarunners’ 24-hour world champion.

For the elite athletes, this is a great opportunity to make the 24 Hour National Team which requires a minimum 140 miles for men and 125 miles for women within a 24 h10275578_10153428070398267_1179432807538863412_oour time span. The USA team will be made up of six men and six women team who will compete in Belfast July 1-2 at the World Championships.

Below is Joe Fejes’ infamous race analysis and predictions, which we always look forward to!  But as we all know, anything can happen on race day….and we are on track for lots of drama to unfold this weekend.

Men:

The men’s field includes numerous proven performers as well as those whose race statistics scream out loud “BIG MILES AHEAD!!”, including but not limited to the following six (6) runners:

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Rich Riopel (43): Rich was the top American at the 2015 24-hour World Championship in Torino, Italy with 159.53 miles, finishing in 8th place overall. Rich qualified for the 2015 US Team with 146.96 performance at Desert Solstice with a 15:14 split. He has been putting in mega training miles and should be chomping at the bit to put up a big number. Rich is a 2:55 marathoner.

bob-hearn

Bob Hearn (51): What about Bob? Peeps always ask me, “Fejes, why don’t you run a smart race pace strategy like Bob? I’ll tell you why. Because Bob is what we call an “outlier”. Bob possesses the highest IQ in ultrarunning and maybe on the planet. He holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from MIT. Early in his career as a software programmer, he co-wrote ClarisWorks, one of the most successful Apple Mac programs of all time. His hobbies include astronomy, cosmology, juggling, quantum mechanics. He also likes to play the harpsichord along with his analog modular synthesizer.

Among his other hobbies, he uses artificial intelligence programming, to teach robots to learn. I’m not kidding. Here is a brief excerpt from an interview with him a few years ago, in a science journal,

“Right now, I can teach a robot dog to learn to stand up in a way that uses hierarchical brain representations. These representations are analogous to having a higher-level representation of the state of a game in your head. The dog has built a representation of its body posture as it learns to stand up. So, it’s not only learning that from one body state it needs to move its left leg like this, but it actually has a higher-level representation of “Oh, I’m lying on my side.” Each individual leg has to learn that “If I’m in this posture and I want to be in that posture, I have to go through this other intermediate posture.” But it’s not like the robot is dancing or anything. There is still a long way to go.” And THAT is why Bob is an outlier!

As far as his running resume is concerned, Bob is the current 24-hour American record holder for the 50-54 age group with 149.24 miles at 2015 Desert Solstice which performance put him in the #4 slot on the Team (directly in front of me-dammit). His 100-mile split was 15:55 which means his pacing was virtually even throughout the race. In December, Bob ran 144.71 miles with a 100-mile split of 16:43. Bob has been itching to crack the 150-mile barrier and should be prepped to do so at Riverbank. He is a 2:58 marathoner and has sufficient speed to improve on his current performance.

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Chikara Omine (34):  Chikara possesses wicked leg speed even at the advanced age of 34. On December 4, 2016 Chikara ran a 2:28 marathon at the California International marathon to go with a pair of 2:34 (Modeston) and 2:40 (Blaine) marathons earlier in the year.

Chikara has represented Team USA in 3 prior IAU 100k World Championships (2016, 2015 & 2010). In November, he finished 18th (and 3rd American) at the 2016 IAU 100k World Championship in Los Alcazanteres with a blistering 6:48. In 2015, he finished 26th in the World (4th American) with a 7:02. In 2010, he finished 9th in the World (1st American) with a 6:58 performance.

He also is a veteran of ultrarunning having run more than 81 ultra’s (winning 30 of them!) competitively since 2000 when he was 18 years old.

Riverbank won’t be Chikara’s 24-hour debut. In 2015, he ran 132.62 miles at the San Francisco 24-hour race. Chikara is an absolute wildcard for Riverbank. He has definitely has potential for 150+ miles if he runs a smart race and is motivated to make the team.

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Jean “the ageless speedster” Pommier (52): Last week Jean, a prolific racer with 138 ultra-races under his belt, won the master’s division at the USA Track and Field 50k national championship (FOURmidable 50k) with a 4:32. Two weeks prior he took 2nd overall at the Jed Smith 50k with a fast 3:19. His past 5 24 hours were, 124.3, 123, 129.44, 133.35 and 127.32. He still has the speed and certainly has the experience to put up a much bigger (150+) number. Look for Riverbank to be his breakout race.

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Ed Ettinghausen (52): Last month Ed put up 118 miles at the 24-hour Celtic Winter Classic. In December 2016, he won the Across the Years (ATY) six-day race with 451 miles. Two weeks prior to ATY he ran 127 miles at Desert Solstice with a 17:16 100-mile split. In 2013 at Desert Solstice he ran a personal best 144.62 miles with a 14:50 1000 mile split which was the former American 50-54 age group record. I’m generally a proponent of “use it or lose” racing strategy as far as the wisdom of racing frequently is concerned. However, Ed really has put a lot of miles up in the past two months so it will be interesting to see the number he puts up at Riverbank.

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Lt. Cmdr. Steve Slaby, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18, (36): Steve’s got to feel a little pressure on him to perform at Riverbank since he is probably being introduced to at pre-race meetings as “Gina’s husband”. No worries, Riverbank will give him his own opportunity to achieve fame as well as the chance to earn a spot on the US 24 men’s team with opportunity to hopefully join his wife in Belfast on July 1 at the 2017 24-hour World Championship.

Steve can certainly handle pressure. In addition to being a Naval officer he has been competitive in numerous marathons including winning the 2015 Seattle marathon, with a time of 2:38:15. He also has a personal best of 2:29 in the 2009 San Diego marathon. He isn’t only a one trick pony either—his ultrarunning resume is just as stellar. Earlier last year he won the rugged Plain 100 with a time of 29:22. In his ultrarunning debut at the 2006 Hellgate 100k, Steve ran (11:42) taking 2nd behind Eric Grossman and just in front of the legendary 24-hour runner Serge the “surge” Arbona.

Steve’s credentials suggest he can put up 160+ numbers in the 24. However, he has the same crash and burn risks that Gina does in deciding what his goal will be at Riverbank. In fact, he has even higher risks of because of the “T” factor. [sorry I lied about abandoning sexism in my predictions]. The safest and likely smartest choice would be for him to run a conservative pace and shoot for a performance of at least 150 miles to bump Bob Hearn from the #4 spot. Choosing a “safe” goal isn’t easy though—especially for a relative youngster like Steve with some serious speed issues. Steve and Gina will both be tempted to hit the gas pedal and rev their high-performance motors. Word of caution for Lt. Cmdr. Slaby- keep your eyes on your rearview for Rich Riopel driving a hot rod Lincoln.

CONCLUSION:

Joe’s Prediction:

(1)        Rich Riopel-156ish

(2)        Steve Slaby-152ish

(3)        Bob Hearn-151ish

(4)        Chikara Omine-149ish

(5)        Jean Pommier-145ish

(6)        Ed Ettinghausen-132ish

Riverbank One Day Classic – Joe Fejes’ Men’s Preview

The Riverbank One Day Classic race will be held on the brand new track at Riverbank High School in the Central Valley of California. This 24 hour, 12 hour and Team Relay races will be run on a certified 400 meter track and will be both an IAU Bronze Label event and USATF Sanctioned. This is the 2nd annual running of the race c0-directed by Jon Olsen, the 2013 International Association of Ultrarunners’ 24-hour world champion.

For the elite athletes, this is a great opportunity to make the 24 Hour National Team which requires a minimum 140 miles for men and 125 miles for women within a 24 h10275578_10153428070398267_1179432807538863412_oour time span. The USA team will be made up of six men and six women team who will compete in Belfast July 1-2 at the World Championships.

Below is Joe Fejes’ infamous race analysis and predictions, which we always look forward to!  But as we all know, anything can happen on race day….and we are on track for lots of drama to unfold this weekend.

Men:

The men’s field includes numerous proven performers as well as those whose race statistics scream out loud “BIG MILES AHEAD!!”, including but not limited to the following six (6) runners:

11149805_10152893807968719_6265814648119580223_o

Rich Riopel (43): Rich was the top American at the 2015 24-hour World Championship in Torino, Italy with 159.53 miles, finishing in 8th place overall. Rich qualified for the 2015 US Team with 146.96 performance at Desert Solstice with a 15:14 split. He has been putting in mega training miles and should be chomping at the bit to put up a big number. Rich is a 2:55 marathoner.

bob-hearn

Bob Hearn (51): What about Bob? Peeps always ask me, “Fejes, why don’t you run a smart race pace strategy like Bob? I’ll tell you why. Because Bob is what we call an “outlier”. Bob possesses the highest IQ in ultrarunning and maybe on the planet. He holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from MIT. Early in his career as a software programmer, he co-wrote ClarisWorks, one of the most successful Apple Mac programs of all time. His hobbies include astronomy, cosmology, juggling, quantum mechanics. He also likes to play the harpsichord along with his analog modular synthesizer.

Among his other hobbies, he uses artificial intelligence programming, to teach robots to learn. I’m not kidding. Here is a brief excerpt from an interview with him a few years ago, in a science journal,

“Right now, I can teach a robot dog to learn to stand up in a way that uses hierarchical brain representations. These representations are analogous to having a higher-level representation of the state of a game in your head. The dog has built a representation of its body posture as it learns to stand up. So, it’s not only learning that from one body state it needs to move its left leg like this, but it actually has a higher-level representation of “Oh, I’m lying on my side.” Each individual leg has to learn that “If I’m in this posture and I want to be in that posture, I have to go through this other intermediate posture.” But it’s not like the robot is dancing or anything. There is still a long way to go.” And THAT is why Bob is an outlier!

As far as his running resume is concerned, Bob is the current 24-hour American record holder for the 50-54 age group with 149.24 miles at 2015 Desert Solstice which performance put him in the #4 slot on the Team (directly in front of me-dammit). His 100-mile split was 15:55 which means his pacing was virtually even throughout the race. In December, Bob ran 144.71 miles with a 100-mile split of 16:43. Bob has been itching to crack the 150-mile barrier and should be prepped to do so at Riverbank. He is a 2:58 marathoner and has sufficient speed to improve on his current performance.

56996_3988407061953_1600416422_o

Chikara Omine (34):  Chikara possesses wicked leg speed even at the advanced age of 34. On December 4, 2016 Chikara ran a 2:28 marathon at the California International marathon to go with a pair of 2:34 (Modeston) and 2:40 (Blaine) marathons earlier in the year.

Chikara has represented Team USA in 3 prior IAU 100k World Championships (2016, 2015 & 2010). In November, he finished 18th (and 3rd American) at the 2016 IAU 100k World Championship in Los Alcazanteres with a blistering 6:48. In 2015, he finished 26th in the World (4th American) with a 7:02. In 2010, he finished 9th in the World (1st American) with a 6:58 performance.

He also is a veteran of ultrarunning having run more than 81 ultra’s (winning 30 of them!) competitively since 2000 when he was 18 years old.

Riverbank won’t be Chikara’s 24-hour debut. In 2015, he ran 132.62 miles at the San Francisco 24-hour race. Chikara is an absolute wildcard for Riverbank. He has definitely has potential for 150+ miles if he runs a smart race and is motivated to make the team.

14361382_666873683463006_3105120328057998767_o

Jean “the ageless speedster” Pommier (52): Last week Jean, a prolific racer with 138 ultra-races under his belt, won the master’s division at the USA Track and Field 50k national championship (FOURmidable 50k) with a 4:32. Two weeks prior he took 2nd overall at the Jed Smith 50k with a fast 3:19. His past 5 24 hours were, 124.3, 123, 129.44, 133.35 and 127.32. He still has the speed and certainly has the experience to put up a much bigger (150+) number. Look for Riverbank to be his breakout race.

12604845_1319693244723153_5144601893327167634_o

Ed Ettinghausen (52): Last month Ed put up 118 miles at the 24-hour Celtic Winter Classic. In December 2016, he won the Across the Years (ATY) six-day race with 451 miles. Two weeks prior to ATY he ran 127 miles at Desert Solstice with a 17:16 100-mile split. In 2013 at Desert Solstice he ran a personal best 144.62 miles with a 14:50 1000 mile split which was the former American 50-54 age group record. I’m generally a proponent of “use it or lose” racing strategy as far as the wisdom of racing frequently is concerned. However, Ed really has put a lot of miles up in the past two months so it will be interesting to see the number he puts up at Riverbank.

14379878_986255948170913_4472305977002768166_o

Lt. Cmdr. Steve Slaby, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18, (36): Steve’s got to feel a little pressure on him to perform at Riverbank since he is probably being introduced to at pre-race meetings as “Gina’s husband”. No worries, Riverbank will give him his own opportunity to achieve fame as well as the chance to earn a spot on the US 24 men’s team with opportunity to hopefully join his wife in Belfast on July 1 at the 2017 24-hour World Championship.

Steve can certainly handle pressure. In addition to being a Naval officer he has been competitive in numerous marathons including winning the 2015 Seattle marathon, with a time of 2:38:15. He also has a personal best of 2:29 in the 2009 San Diego marathon. He isn’t only a one trick pony either—his ultrarunning resume is just as stellar. Earlier last year he won the rugged Plain 100 with a time of 29:22. In his ultrarunning debut at the 2006 Hellgate 100k, Steve ran (11:42) taking 2nd behind Eric Grossman and just in front of the legendary 24-hour runner Serge the “surge” Arbona.

Steve’s credentials suggest he can put up 160+ numbers in the 24. However, he has the same crash and burn risks that Gina does in deciding what his goal will be at Riverbank. In fact, he has even higher risks of because of the “T” factor. [sorry I lied about abandoning sexism in my predictions]. The safest and likely smartest choice would be for him to run a conservative pace and shoot for a performance of at least 150 miles to bump Bob Hearn from the #4 spot. Choosing a “safe” goal isn’t easy though—especially for a relative youngster like Steve with some serious speed issues. Steve and Gina will both be tempted to hit the gas pedal and rev their high-performance motors. Word of caution for Lt. Cmdr. Slaby- keep your eyes on your rearview for Rich Riopel driving a hot rod Lincoln.

CONCLUSION:

Joe’s Prediction:

(1)        Rich Riopel-156ish

(2)        Steve Slaby-152ish

(3)        Bob Hearn-151ish

(4)        Chikara Omine-149ish

(5)        Jean Pommier-145ish

(6)        Ed Ettinghausen-132ish

Riverbank One Day Classic – Joe Fejes’ Women’s Race Preview

The Riverbank One Day Classic race will be held on the brand new track at Riverbank High School in the Central Valley of California. This 24 hour, 12 hour and Team Relay races will be run on a certified 400 meter track and will be both an IAU Bronze Label event and USATF Sanctioned. This is the 2nd annual running of the race c0-directed by Jon Olsen, the 2013 International Association of Ultrarunners’ 24-hour world champion.

For the elite athletes, this is a great opportunity to make the 24 Hour National Team which requires a minimum 140 miles for men and 125 miles for women within a 24 h10275578_10153428070398267_1179432807538863412_oour time span. The USA team will be made up of six men and six women team who will compete in Belfast July 1-2 at the World Championships.

Below is Joe Fejes’ infamous race analysis and predictions, which we always look forward to!  But as we all know, anything can happen on race day….and we are on track for lots of drama to unfold this weekend.

===============================================================

World record potential (emphasis added) this weekend from a dream team lineup of ultrarunners, especially the gals.

On Saturday (February 25-26) at 9 am PST, the Riverbank One Day 24-hour race will be held at the brand-new Riverbank High School Track in Riverbank California. The current weather forecast for Riverbank calls for absolute ideal race day conditions with a high of 56 and a low of 37 under partly cloudy skies with slight (10%) chance of showers.

Please understand that my predictions are my opinion only and are certainly do not represent the views of anyone else. Advance apologies to all participants if you believe any of my commentary (or lack thereof) is false, hurtful or defamatory. Hugs, kisses and free counseling for anyone that is offended or insulted.

I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler prognosticator in 2017. Also, to avoid any claim of gender inequality (sexism), bias or favoritism I have decided that my projected picks will cover the ladies first instead of the men as I usually do.

Women:

The women’s field at Riverbank is potentially the strongest talent level ever assembled in the history of 24 hour ultrarunning. In fact, don’t be surprised in the top 3 ladies podium at Riverbank duplicate their feat at the 2018 24-hour World Championship in Belfast Northern Ireland.

12794679_859925037470672_5983761215829266423_oGina Slaby (age 34): Lt. Gina Slaby, logistics support officer with Fleet Logistics Center Puget Sound burst on the ultrarunning scene three months ago, breaking Ann Trason’s100 mile World Record by running a 13:45 on the track at Desert Solstice under less than ideal conditions.   She broke Ann’s 13:47 record that had stood for more than twenty-five years with approximately two minutes to spare.

What might be even more impressive than her 100-mile World Record is her marathon resume. In February 2016, Gina ran a 2:44 marathon at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles finishing in 31st place. She previously qualified for the Trials with a 2:40 marathon at the 2013 Chicago Marathon.

In 2011 at the Twin Cities marathon she also qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials with a 2:39 personal best time despite running on a broken foot the last 10 miles.

So far in her relatively brief ultrarunning career Gina has won all 15 of the ultrarunning events she has competed in including the 2016 Vermont 100 (18:05) and the 2015 HURT 100 (27:06).

Gina certainly has the speed, talent and mental toughness to break Mami Kudo’s 158.63 World Record. In fact, Gina’s 2:39 marathon best is ten minutes faster than Mami’s (2:49). Speed alone however isn’t the only variable in the mileage equation. A successful 24-hour runner must also sustain their pace for the duration of the event to achieve big miles.

Mike Morton, the American 24-hour record holder with 172 miles, is a master at b1_1739sustainability. I competed against Mike at Hinson Lake when he ran 164 miles as well the 2012 World Championship in Poland when he broke Scott Jurek’s American Record. In both races, Mike never appeared to possess blazing speed compared to some of the shorter ultra-distance specialists. Mike’s marathon and 100 mile personal bests are only 2:36 and 13:11 respectively. In my opinion what set Mike apart from other elite 24 hour runners was his uncanny ability to effectively maintain his groove for the remaining 11 hours even after having run his best 100-mile performance.

For Gina to run 158.64 miles and break the women’s World Record, she will likely need a 100-mile split of at least 14:30 (8:42 per mile).

For comparison sake, below are a few historical 24-hour track performances and corresponding 100 mile splits:

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At Desert Solstice, Gina’s strategy was to put “time in the bank” by running an 8-8:15 minute per mile for as long as possible and then progressively slowing down. It will be interesting to see if she changes her pacing strategy significantly at Riverbank. Note: one concern with a “progressive slowdown” strategy is the 37 degree forecasted temperature at night may feel a wee bit cold to some of the runners when their pace slows significantly. I’ve seen many 24 hour runners drop from the race once they start to shiver. Having to add layers of clothes to keep warm also isn’t an ideal solution. As a result a consistent pace strategy might be optimal under the circumstances.

Here is the pacing strategy I would use if I were trying to break the record:

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Then Gina is a much faster runner than I am and might be able to handle a faster starting pace (i.e. 8-8:15) than my (8:30). Her marathon best (2:39) is 8 minutes faster than mine (2:47) and her 100 mile best (13:45) is almost an hour faster than mine (14:41).

Pete Kostelnick, a 2:41 marathoner ran his 163.8 mile performance at Desert Solstice with the pace per mile average listed below:

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Before the race starts on Saturday, Gina must also decide what her race goal is.

  • to win?
  • to qualify for the US 24 hour team by running at least 140.1 miles?
  • to break Sabrina Little’s 152-mile American Record?
  • to break Mami Kudo’s 158.63 world record?

The pace required to achieve each goal is substantially different.

If, Gina’s goal is to qualify for the team by running 140.1 miles, then her required 100-mile split would only have to be 16:20 (9:48 per mile pace) (or even slower if you run even splits like Bob Hearn).

A possible compromise between qualifying for the team (140.1 miles) and breaking the World Record (158.63 miles) would be for her to attempt to make the US Team and break Sabrina Little’s 152-mile American Record. 15:25 would be an ideal 100 mile split for 100 miles if she chooses this goal.

Another intriguing factor in the race will be that Gina’s husband Steve Slaby will also be competing and will be trying to make the USA men’s 24 team in his 24-hour debut. Steve and Gina regularly train and race together. However, under USATF rules they will be prohibited from running laps together otherwise they will potentially be accused of receiving unfair assistance regardless of their intent. Note: on a 400 meter track it is virtually impossible for two equally talented runners NOT to run laps together. They must make an intentional effort to stay apart from each other.

One other challenging fact is that although Gina is already an accomplished ultrarunner Riverbank will be her debut at 24 hours. The 24 hour is a much different animal than the 100-mile run. Very few runners run reach their potential in their first attempt. It even took Mike Morton a few attempts (153) and (163) at the 24 hour before he realized his best performance.14542354_10209354912701445_2038296706847998826_oPam Proffit Smith MD (42) People often overlook the fact that Dr. Pam Smith was the former 100-mile World Record holder on the track until Gina broke her 14:11 (8:31 pace) mark at Desert Solstice. Ann Trason’s 13:47 100-mile record was actually run on the road. Pam has both the speed (2:55 marathoner) and experience to win the race and break Sabrina Little’s 152 American Record. She currently has the 9th best American performance in the 24 hour having run 143.66 miles in her 24-hour debut May at D3. Breaking the world record will be daunting but not impossible for her based on her 100-mile personal best time. To break the WR, she will undoubtedly have to mimic Mike Morton’s ability to sustain a consistent pace for almost 9 hours after running within 30 minutes of her best 100-mile time. She is currently sitting in the 4 slot for team USA.15774928_10100771991395053_3555420075341002728_oCourtney Dauwaulter (32): I loved the title of recent interview with Courtney. “Meet the Unknown Woman Taking the Ultra World by Storm”. Yes indeed, my good pal Courtney has been on fire! Last September, Courtney shocked the ultrarunning world by winning the 2016 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile and taking home the $12,000 first prize. In December, she won the Desert Solstice ending up with a 147.49 miles which ranks the 5th best on the American 24 hour performance. Her 100-mile split during Desert Solstice was 15:08 which is plenty fast enough to go 152+ and break the American record.

Courtney only has two knocks against her:

  • Fashion faux pas-her trademark baggy basketball running shorts rivals the ugly ass orange ones that the great Ray Krolewicz wears;
  • She is a Mountain Trail Runner

I am perplexed why Courtney is even running Riverbank since her USA team spot is virtually certain. However, a quote from her recent interview gave me insight on her likely motivation “I’m intrigued by longer distances and timed events to see where your brain goes and what your body is capable of, even when it feels like it’s failing,” she said. “I still have so much to learn; seeing what’s possible is the main drive.”

Bottom line is Courtney really gets and enjoys what the 24-hour race is all about. Even though she might not have quite the raw leg speed of a few of her competitors—look out for baggy shorts—she will be in the mix to win. 10864015_10152893813793719_1353847031228428133_o

 

Connie Gardner (53): My mentor and good friend Connie Gardner currently has the third best US women’s 24-hour performance with 149.36 miles set in 2012 at the World Championship in Katowice, Poland. At the 2012 World Championship she was the silver medalist and her performance also broke the American record. She is an 11-time USATF national champion in distances ranging from 50 miles to 24 hours. Her best marathon and 100 mile times are 3:04 and 15:48 respectively.

Connie is trying for perhaps the last time to make the US 24-hour team. She still has the speed, and motivation to run 140.1 miles and make the squad. In my opinion her best chance in achieving the 140.1 miles is by targeting a 100 mile split of 16:30 and letting her adrenaline and experience bring her home. Note: Connie also needs to be prepared to run further than Pam’s 143.67 assuming Gina makes the squad and Pam is relegated to the #6 spot.14380040_10154844232203888_6301859364710691532_o
Stacey Costa (48): Stacy is another friend of mine that I have had the pleasure of running with in multiple 24 hour races. Stacey notched 130 miles at the Dome indoor track a few years back and has a 17:28 100-mile split in the Desert Solstice 24 hour. Riverbank is only an hour drive from her home in Castro Valley California. Although 141 miles is a reach, don’t be surprised if the low expectations coupled with the hometown atmosphere propels her to a personal best. She may also find herself in contention if the thoroughbreds implode.

CONCLUSION:

Joe’s Prediction: Super tough call between Gina and Courtney for the “W”.

Gina has jet like world class speed as evidenced by her 100 mile World Record. The only issue for her is the “jet” hasn’t yet flown in a 24 hour race. She has a high degree of risk that she crashes and burns in her debut especially if she tries to duplicate her Desert Solstice pacing strategy. If however she starts the race at a slower pace between 8:20-8:30 and thereafter progressively stair-steps down her pacing a/k/a the “Kostelnick” method, then I predict she wins and breaks the World Record.

Courtney, in her trademark baggy basketball shorts, runs 152.04 breaking the American record but takes second losing to Gina.

Pam. I’m not sure if Pam’s goal for the Riverbank. Is she focusing on the 100 mile or trying to improve on her 143.67. If I were in her position I would probably conservatively in case both Connie and Gina threaten her team standing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her a defensive and slower than normal pace from her at least until the race develops.

Connie: Connie’s race plan is entirely contingent on both Gina and Pam’s performance since Connie will need to run at least 143.67 to bump Pam from the team assuming Gina wins. If Gina falters then she can make the squad with 141 I see Connie exceeding the 140 but falling short of 144.

Stacy runs a personal best of 132 and has an easy drive back home with a smile on her face.

 

 

 

2016 Desert Solstice – Women’s Preview

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.

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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+

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(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…

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(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. 

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

2016 Desert Solstice – Men’s Preview

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.

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(1) John Cash (43) 100 mile PR 14:25 (DS); 154.51 24 PR. Hailing from Washington, Missouri, John set his 100-mile & 24-hour PR at the 2014 Desert Solstice: 14:25 and 154.6 miles respectively. That performance landed him on the 2015 USA National Team that competed in Italy. Earlier this year he ran an 84.4 mile 12 hour and ran second to Greg Armstrong at the Vol State 500k with an impressive performance.  Teamed with crew chief, Meghan McCarrick, they are a tough combination and John is among the race favorites.

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(2) Anders Tysk (44) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR 15:38 (DS); 152.95 24 PR. Anders is from Sweden and making he return to DS.  In 2014 he ran a 15:38:50 for his 100 mile mark and then went on to finish 152 miles in the 24 hour time period. He is a brilliant runner-robotic steady pace from start to finish. If healthy he will repeat or better his 152 PR.       11/9 UPDATE: WILL NOT RUN DS 2016

 

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(3) Olaf Wasternack (36) DS Rookie; 100 mile PR 18:44 (Pinhoti); 140.85 24 PR. Olaf completed 140 miles at NorthCoast 24 Hour Endurance Run in 2015. He has also won 6 marathons this year, two of which were on trails. Olaf has sufficient torque to put up a big number. His last 24 hour race at Northcoast 24 National Championship was a bust which means Olaf is redemption ready and could have an incredible day.  11/9 UPDATE: WILL NOT RUN DS 2016

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(4) Bob Hearn (51) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR 15:55; 149.24 24 PR. Bob is currently sitting at 4th on the U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team rankings for 2017 selection with his American Age Group Record performance of 149.24 last year at Desert Solstice. EArlier this year, we became one of a handful of Americans to post a sub 30 hour time in Spartathlon, the 153.4-mile race from Athens to Sparta.  Watch out – he could be looking to improve on his 200K & 24 hour age group records. The most disciplined runner in the field, we expect Bob to challenge for a top spot in the race and break into the 150s.

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(5) Greg Soutiea (32) DS Rookie; 100 mile PR (16:53 @ Run Around the World). Greg has two great 24 hour performances this year. The first at 3 Days at the Fair- 24 Hour he completed 123 miles. Then at the Run Around the World 24 Hour he finished 130 miles under terribly hot temps. He has the potential for 150+ at DS and a podium spot.

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(6) Joshua Finger (43) 100 mile PR 15:49 (Rocky Raccoon); In 2015 Joshua finish 152 miles in 24 hours at Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn Ultra. Earlier this year he completed a 50 mile race in 6:38:03. He possesses sufficient leg speed to surpass 146 miles. Has struggled past couple of 24s but his could be the race to turn things around.

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(7) David Huss (35) DS Rookie; 100 mile PR is 16:41 (Umstead in 2015); David, from Seattle WA, finished the Woodstock Festival 100 mile earlier this year, in 20:40:16. Look for a surprise 24 hour debut. Umstead 100 time is faster than the likes of Riopel, Worts, Gardner and Armstrong.

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(8) Andrew Snope (30) DS Rookie; 100 mile PR unknown but has 136.98 PR barefoot Guinness Record on the track. He ran a 24-hour 136.98-mile barefoot run at Six Days in the Dome in 2014 broke the previous barefoot record by 5.55 miles. Andrew recently won the Fort Clinch 100 in a new course record of 16:54:41. He also won the screwed division (unsupported) at the Vol State 500k earlier this year.

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(9) Ed Ettinghausen (54) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR 14:50 (DS 2013); 144.62 24 PR. No doubt with is the Jester in the above photo with Pete Kostelnick and Bob Hearn. Ed ran the first edition of this race in 2010.  In 2013 Ed ran his PR 14:50 100-Mile during Desert Solstice on his way to setting a 24-hour PR of 144 miles.  Can Ed repeat 2013 magic?  He’s on a roll already for 2016 with records in the 1,000 KM and 10-Day, so we shall see….

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(10) Joe Fejes (50) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR 14:41 (DS 2012); 156.62 24 PR. Joe is currently sitting at 5th on the U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team list for 2017 qualification with  145.582 Miles (234.291Km)  at Dia de los Muertos, Lillington, NC on 10/24/2015 . In his own words, “Weight & fitness level may trump experience and past performance”. We will see ….

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(11) Thomas Podell (37) DS Rookie; 100 mile PR 15:54 (Long Beach 100 set last year); 122 24 PR. No activity in 2016. 130 seems feasible goal for debut based on 100 speed. He has a long history of strong 100 and 100+ mile races.

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(12) Padraig Mullins (35) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR: 17:08 (DS in 2013); 125.69 24 PR. 135+ is a strong possibility. In August of this year he completed 52 miles in just 8 hours; a new PR for his 100 mile time may be on the horizon.

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(13) John Ticer (60) DS Veteran; 100 mile PR: 16:35 (2004 Javelina Jundred). 122 24 PR at the NorthCoast 24 Hour Endurance Run in 2010. John has been an ultrarunner since early 80s. He will likely challenge 60-64 age group AR.

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(14) Jay Aldous (55); DS Veteran; 100 mile PR: 13:52. 50-54 WR age group. 24 hour hasn’t been DS goal but he will be eyeing some American age group records with the main goal of a World Best in the 100 mile 55-59 age group (currently 15:14:35 set back in 1934). We believe this is a real possibility. Jay has gone on to set a 100-mile PR of 13:52 (at Desert Solstice in 2011) which is a standing World Best age group performance.  In 1980 Jay ran the Western States Endurance Run on a whim where he ran a sub-24 at age 18. Since then,  he has seen success in everything from technical mountain 100s to the track.

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(15) Zach Bitter (30); DS Veteran; 100 mile PR: 11:40 (2015 DS). Currently, the fastest 100 mile runner on the Planet. He recently set a new course record at Javelina Jundred 100 mile in 13:30:28 on a record hot day in the desert. In 2014 he was the National Champion for the 100 kilometer distance and has represented Team USA at the World Championship multiple times. He will challenge 100 mile WR if fully recovered from recent 100k WC performance. 24 hour hasn’t been Zach’s DS goal.  11/9 UPDATE: WILL NOT RUN DS 2016

5 Questions – Pete Kostelnick

This weekend was the 41st running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Pete Kostelnick ran the race eight years ago to lose weight. Since then he has been quite an journey – most recently, winning Badwater twice, (setting a course record this year) and  winning the Desert Solstice 24 Hour Race that placed him as the first qualifier for the US National 24 Hour Team.  Oh, and last week he set a new Guinness record that has held for 36 years.

On Monday, October 24, 2016 5:30 pm ET, Pete Kostelnick, made his way up the New York City Hall steps completing a 3,067 mile journey.  These last few steps marked a new Guinness record for the fastest crossing of America.  42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes after leaving San Francisco (on Monday, September 12th at 11:am EST), Pete arrived in NYC to hugs and cheers from his family and friends.  He also received the baton from Frank Giannino, who held the previous record (46 days, 8 hours and 36minutes).

Below are our “5 Questions”and Pete’s responses:

US24HR: What were your favorite moments from your race across America?

PK (Pete Kostelnick): “There were so many moments as I reflect on those 42 days (and 8 hours and 30 minutes), but I would have to say running thru the snow on a mountain pass in Utah; running thru Grant, Nebraska on the far west part of the state where it seemed like the whole town came out to cheer me on and run with me were highlights.  I also really enjoyed running thru my most recent residence of Lincoln, NE and thru my home town of Boone, IA.  Running with Dave McGillivray (Boston Race Director, who also made the USA crossing) on my second to last day,  finally seeing the New York City skyline as I crossed the George Washington Bridge and receiving the baton from Frank Giannino were also very special moments that I will never forget.” 

US24HR:  Was there a time that you had doubt you would be able to accomplish this goal and was there a moment when you KNEW you would accomplish it?

PK: “The only time I had any doubt was when I had to take a day off (day 7) due to some painful tendonitis in the ankle/shin area. However, looking back on that day, I was still fairly confident overall. There was one other moment at the end of day two just west of Yosemite where I was told I still had another mile or two to go up a steep road. I tossed my water bottle and was devastated for a few moments. Zandy Mangold took a photo that captured it perfectly! I did get up and finish a few more miles up the mountain.

One moment that marked my confidence that I could break the record was during my 75 miles on day 14 in eastern Utah.  It was then I was starting to finally feel “broken in” to the daily grind and routine, and that I would definitely stay on track if nothing out of the ordinary happened.”

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US24HR: Ultra running continues to grow in popularity. What advice to you have for those considering an ultra?

PK:  “For me, it’s been quantity over quality. I have seen a direct correlation in my performance with avg weekly mileage in training. It takes time to build up to without getting injured, but I always tell runners to lean towards slower and longer training sessions than faster and shorter for ultras. Also, I think it is certainly a sport that favors patience and experience. Don’t be afraid to sign up for some races that you know you won’t be fully prepared for. The experience will work wonders for your body’s ability to adapt to the mileage, and maybe most importantly, your stomach’s ability to turn over food into energy well.”

US24HR:  Was it strange waking up in NYC on Day 43 and not run 71 miles? What did you do that day?

PK: “I didn’t run at all, but somehow I did manage to work in over 10,000 steps just by going here and there. It was a pretty hectic day with five different stops for interviews and other events. But it was fun, and great to have my wife, family and close friends with me all day.”

US24HR: We HAVE to ask – what’s next? 

PK: “I’m excited about the 24 Hour World Championships in Belfast 2017.  Belfast will be the top focus of 2017. I haven’t decided yet which other races I’ll do, but likely avoid any FKT (fastest known times) attempts. It feels like full recovery for this will take lots of time, so I’ll use the winter to make sure that happens.”



Pete currently holds the top qualifying spot on the US National 24 Hour Running team with 163.68 Miles (263.418Km) at the Desert Soltstice 24 Hr Race in Phoenix, AZ on 12/20/2015.

The United States 24 Hour National Team will compete in the 2017 International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 24 Hour World Championship under the patronage of the IAAF on July 1-2, 2017 in Belfast, Ireland. The United States will be represented by the USATF 24 Hour Team of up to six men and six women ultra marathon runners.  Qualifying will be open through Sunday, April 2, 2017 and the team will be announced on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.belfast2

24 Hour European Championships – Women’s Race Preview

 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.
us-joe-fejes-1He 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.
ENJOY!!!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 TEAM PREDICTIONS:

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
8. Denmark
9. Norway
10. Austria
11. Finland
12. Ukraine
13. Croatia
14. Czech
15. Spain
16. Serbia
17. Estonia
18. Latvia
Countries with less than 3 runners:
Belgium
Ireland
Netherlands
Lithuania

24 Hour European Championships – Men’s Race Preview

 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.
us-joe-fejes-1He 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.
ENJOY!!!

Joe Fejes’ 2016 24 Hour European Championship Race Preview:

Runner / BirthYr / Country/ 24 PR (km)/(mi)
Aleksandr Sorokin (81) Lithuania 260/161
Robbie Britton (86) GBR 261/162
Marco Bonfiglio (77) Italy debut
Dan Lawson (73) GBR 242/150
Kim Hansen (75) Denmark 257/160
Marco Consani (74) Great Britain 256/159
Bjorn K. Taranger (79) Norway 257/160
Stephane Ruel (66) France 252/157
Pat Robbins (72) GBR 256/159
Steve Holyoak (64) GBR 252/157
Kim Sorensen (84) Denmark 246/153
Henrik Westerlin (75) Denmark debut
Guillaume Laroche (76) France 244/151
Johan Steene (73) Sweden 242/150
Bela Mazur (78) Hungary 247/153

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Aleksandr Sorokin (Lithuania)– My prohibitive race favorite based on raw leg speed, age and recent 24 hour performance. Aleksandr has wicked speed for a 24 hour runner having finished 10th in last year’s 100k World Championship in a blistering 6:50 with a 50k split of 3:15. For comparison sake, in the 100km, Aleksandr was more than 8 minutes faster than the first Team USA 100k runner. Joseph Binder, Matt Flaherty, Chikara Omine and Jim Walmsley ran (6:58, 7:01, 7:02 and 7:05) respectively. Aleksandr also had a phenomenal 260k 24 hour race earlier this year in Athens Greece under tough weather conditions with virtually no competition. Can Aleksandr realize his potential in Albi and add his name to the list of legendary runners that have run 275+ kilometers–Kouros, Zhalybin, Morton, Schwerk, Kruglicov, Sekiya, Nunes…Sorokin???

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Robbie Britton (Great Britain)– At age 30, Robbie is the third youngest entrant in this year’s championship. Robbie is looking to improve on his spectacular 3rd place finish (261 km) in last year’s 24 hour World Championship in Turin IT. He will no doubt be in the mix for the podium again. Robbie is also a talented writer and outspoken advocate for the sport of ultrarunning. His only character flaw is a weakness for fell running- he is dangerously close to giving up the grandeur of the road and track to the darkside of running up mountains.

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Marco Bonfiglio (Italy) —Marco is destined to put up a big number in the 24 hour. He has more than enough leg speed as evidenced by his sub 14 hour 100 milers and 7:02 100k time. Last month he finished 2nd at the Spartathlon with a 23:36. If he is fully recovered, he will be likely be the top horse for Italy with sights on the podium. Look for Marco to go 260+ KM in his 24 hour Euro Championship debut.

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Dan Lawson (Great Britain) – Dan  finished 3rd in the Badwater 135 earlier this year with a solid sub 24 hour race (23:52). In May 2016 he also ran an impressive 142 km in 12 hours at Steenbergen which suggests he is capable of a 265+km 24 hour performance. He also finished second in last year’s Spartathlon (23:53) one minute in front of Kim Hansen. Albi will definitely be the stage where Dan can excel. In fact, Dan might give even give his young’un stud protégé teammate Robbie Britton a big brother like whuppin.

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Kim Hansen (Denmark) – The first of three Danes I selected in my top 15. Kim finished 3rd in last year’s 135 mile Spartathlon only one minute behind Dan Lawson. Look for yet another dog fight within the top 5 between these two tough runners. With relatively cool conditions expected at Albi I project Kim to challenge Marco, Robbie and Dan for a podium spot.

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Marco Consani (Great Britain)-Marco knows the recipe to success in the 24 hour event. His wife Debbie Martin Consani is also an elite 24 hour ultrarunner having placed in the top 10 of the European Championship the past several years. Look for Marco to run the race lock step of his for teammates Pat Robbins, Steve Holyoak, Robbie Britton, Marco Lawson and Dan Lawson.

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Bjorn Kronen Taranger (Norway) – gotta love the Norwegian Wild man—heavily tattooed and a hard core drummer in the pop punk band “Goldenboy”. He also wears hot pink arm and calf sleeves for his runs. Make no mistake–Bjorn is legit—a 2:39 marathon PR with an eye popping 257.60 kilometer (160 mile) 24 hour PR he ran indoors in Bislett.

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Stephane Ruel (France) – 50 years old and the second oldest of my top 15 picks behind only Steve Holyoak. In my 24 hour selections yes I do discriminate based on age (unless of course your surname is Kouros or Kruglicov). Stephane is extremely experienced ultrarunner with more than 58 events and is sure to whip the local French spectators into a frenzy. I had a tough time picking him over Pat Robbins for the 8 spot but really believe home field advantage will pay dividends.

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Pat “Paddy” Robbins (Great Britain) – Pat represents at the big show. He had brilliant performances at both Turin (256km/7th) and Katowice (246 km/11th). Flip a coin between Robbins, Larson, Holyoak and Consani—all will be right there at the end.

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Steve Holyoak (Great Britain) – Steve is my oldest pick in the competition (age 52). He loves to perform on the World Stage. In fact his two best 24 hour performances were at the World Championships in Turin (252 km/11th) and Steenbergen (246 km/12th). Expect another strong performance from Steve as it is likely to be his grand finale for the IAU Championship with Father Time’s stop watch running.

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Kim Sorensen (Denmark)– Kim’s 24 hour PR was set last year. I believe this is his first 24 hour outside of Denmark and will be his debut at the European Championship. Adrenaline alone will give him 5k. Look for a 250km performance.

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Henrik Westerlin (Denmark) – Another solid Dane runner who has above average leg speed having run 7:49 at the competitive Lake Sonoma 50 miler. He also had a solid 6th place in the 2015 Spartathlon with a 26:19. A successful debut by Henrik along with the 2 Kim’s (Hansen and Sorensen) gives the Danish team a fighting chance to podium in the team competition.

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Guillaume Laroche (France) -Guillaume will benefit from home field advantage in France particularly in light of his prior experience with the venue. He set his PR at Albi last year winning the non-championship event. He will need a new best performance for team France to podium.

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Johan Steene (Sweden) -Johan is poised to step up his 24 hour number and has proven himself to be an incredibly tough runner especially in the longer multiday events. In 2014 he put up 384 km in the 48 hour and possesses more than sufficient leg speed to put up a 250+ 24 hour performance. He also won the 500k Vol State screwed division with an almost untouchable performance of 95 hours.

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Bela Mazur (Hungary) -Don’t overlook the Hungarian. Bela notched his 24 hour PR earlier this year and is poised to improve at Albi. (Photo credit – Don Razzino)

TEAM PREDICTIONS:

1. GBR -they have only improved since Turin.
2. France-hometown advantage carries them far.
3. Denmark-success largely depends on Westerlin’s debut
4. German-without their anchor Florian, it will be difficult
5. Italy-without their anchor Ivan, it will be difficult
6. Norway-potential to be best Norweigan team ever
7. Ireland
8. Hungary
9. Ukraine
10. Finland
11. Netherlands
12. Poland
13. Latvia
14. Serbia
15. Croatia
16. Austria
17. Spain
18. Czech Republic
Countries with less than 3 runners:
Lithuania
Sweden
Belarus
Macedonia