The women’s 2018 field at the Desert Solstice 24 Hour race in Phoenix, AZ is diverse and intriguing. It’s a mix of experienced 24 hour runners and an impressive group of ultra runners taking on the 24 hour format for the first time. For the first time, two of the biggest names and longest resumes in ultra running, Courtney Dauwalter and Camille Herron, will be competing on the same track. They have each run the red track at Desert Solstice and have stated their respective goals are to top the current 24 Hour WORLD RECORD held by Poland’s popular, elite ultra runner, Patrycja Bereznowska.
Target: 161.55 miles (259.991km).
The weekend could produce some World or American records or it could showcase major blow ups if the 24 hours are not well managed (for men and women). Unlike last year’s warm afternoon temps, the weather will be near perfect (high in the mid60’s/low in the mid 40s). We are ready for fireworks and the sound of falling records. Here are some of the women competing this weekend:
COURTNEY DAUWALTER (24 Hour PR: 159.32)
Courtney will grace the front page of the Sunday New York Times Sport page with a feature article titled: “The Woman Who Outruns the Men, 200 Miles at a Time.” The miles will not hold true this weekend, but the premise may. In a strong men’s field, Courtney or Camille could both prevail as the overall winner. Courtney returns to Desert Solstice after taking the overall win in 2016. Since then she has continued her meteoric rise in the ultra running world. (That is actually an understatement). She set and still holds the American 24 hour record from Soochow 24. She won the Moab 240. She won Western States in her debut. She was second at the Tahoe 200. The list goes on and on. You pick the surface or distance or timed event, Courtney has won it.
The biggest question for Courtney is whether she has had time to recover from her Last DNF finish at Big’s Backyard Ultra with 279.2 miles covered in 67 hours. That was six weeks ago.
Her eye is on the 24 Hour World Record of 161.55 miles (259,991 km) held by Poland’s Patrycja Bereznowska. Crew Chief: husband and ultraunner, Kevin Schmidt.
CAMILLE HERRON (24 Hour PR: N/A)
Last year was Camille’s first race on a track since 2006 and it was a 5k. She did win three state titles on the 400k close loop, but that was in her words: “that was a very long time ago and I have a tad further to go.” Last year see publicly stated she wanted to set records – and she did just that, rolling along to take the 50 mile and 100k American Records and and 12 Hour World Record.
She set another world mark, 12:40:42 for 100 miles at Tunnel Hill. She was named the Ultrarunning Magazine’s Female Runner of the Year and also was the 2015 IAU International Athlete of the Year Award for winning WC’s at 100k and 50k.
She has won South Africa’s Comrades Marathon, again one of the deepest and talented international fields in the world and the Tarawera 103k race in New Zealand. She is an experienced talented runner and seeks out new venues and terrains to test herself. 24 Hours on a track may well be one of the toughest challenges she’s faced.
Her eye is (also) on the 24 Hour World Record of 161.55 miles (259,991 km) held by Poland’s Patrycja Bereznowska. Crew Chief: husband and ultraunner, Conor Holt.
CONNIE GARDNER (24 Hour PR: 149.37 miles)
We should just provide a link to Wikipedia to showcase all of Connie’s accomplishments! 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.
We are not sure what Connie has for race goals, LAst year she placed third with 107.1 miles, behind her protege, Emily Collins (also back this year). She also won Olander with 110.1 miles in September.
MAGGIE GUTERL (24 Hour PR: 146.5)
Guterl was on the 2015 USA National Team and placed 4th female in the world, helping the USA Women win team GOLD. Six weeks ago, she was the second best DNF at Big’s Backyard with 183.3miles in 44 hours, second female to Dauwalter. In the past five months she has crushed all her races ranging from 15k to 6 hours. Watch out when she gets rolling, and she appears to be, as she was in 2016 when she won Brazos Bend with 14:47:02.
Let’s talk about momentum. Whitney, from Richmond, VA, has won each race she has entered since June – a list that includes an 8 and 12 hour race and two 100 mile races, the Kansas Fall Ultra Extravanganza and the Lighthouse 100 in Michigan (which she also won overall). Her current PR of 116.44 was on the Desert Solstice course one year ago. We KNOW she is capable of much more. Last year, we thought she was done midway through, but she showed HUGE heart and determination and still finished strong – making the 116.44 even more impressive. This could be a breakout race.
STACEY COSTA-ZWEIFEL (24 Hour PR: 130)
Stacey placed 4th place at Riverbank last year with 126.7. Her last race here was in 2015 when she recorded 121.9 miles. With Andy Noise in her corner, look for a big weekend.
DEL SALT-SMITH (24 Hour PR 129.1)
When running for 24 hours you want an experienced crew to help you through the ups and downs. Adela has one of the best – Canadian Dennene Huntley. Tonight they ran a few laps around the track together, where, four years ago, Dennene ran her first 24 hour race and qualified to represent Canada at the 2015 24 Hour Worlds in Turin, Italy. Adela finished 6th here in 2016 and then went to finish first at ATY last Dec with her PR of 129.12.
SUZI SWINEHART (24 Hour PR 128.3)
Suzi placed first at Badwater Salton Sea this year. Last year she was 17th at Western States with 25:09:50. She was first at St. Pat’s 24 with her PR in 2017. Her last race on ultrasign up was July so we suspect she she is well rested for a big weekend!
EMILY COLLINS (24 Hour PR: 125.5)
Emily is a strong runner and has quickly progressed with her mentor and fellow Ohioan, Connie Gardner, by her side. Last year she won the Olander 24 hour race outright with 120.07 miles, then two week later, she ran the NorthCoast 24 Hour Race and finished 4th female with 108.328 miles. She finished second at Desert Solstice last year with 110 miles., then won on D3 this year with 113.3. This year at NorthCoast she was second to Megan Alvarado with her PR of 123.5 miles. We are confident she can top that this weekend.
CHAVET BRESLIN (24 Hour PR: 121.5)
We witnessed her tenacious third place here in 2016 with her 24 hour PR. When things did not go well early, she could have bailed. She stuck with it and had an amazing day. She is on roll this year taking the overall win at the Nanny Goat 24 hour in 20:38:06 and placing first female at Prairie Spirit 100 and the Jackpot ultra Festival 12 hour race. She was second at the Daytona 100 in 16:46:21.
MICAH MORGAN (24 Hour PR: N/A)
It takes a team. Micah Morgan, from Alabama, finished third at Badwater this year in record high temperatures. She credited her team who “kept me hydrated and motivated throughout the entire adventure.” With no 24 hour experience, she will need the same teamwork for this weekend’s adventure. 24 Hours on a track is a different animal, but he brings experience with the 135 miles Badwater race and has some fast 100’s – and first place finishes at the Daytona and Keys 100s. (100 mile PR 14:55:45). Hardly a dark horse, Morgan could surprise a lot of people in her debut at DS.