It's only two and a half weeks until what has become quite the showdown at the Bandera 100K west of San Antonio in the self-proclaimed "cowboy capital of the world," Bandera, Texas. I'm completely stoked on so many levels. This was where, last year, I ran my first 100K. The race is put on by Tejas Trails(Joe & Joyce Prusaitis) and I love their races. Joe is a father figure of sorts to the Central Texas trail running community and he is an excellent steward of this position.
Anyhoo, enough gushing.
The race course itself is a lot of loose rock with steep small hills, unavoidable slicing from sotol cactus, and some long stretches of flats where you can turn up the heat. The most appropriate word is "rugged." Aid stations are great(both the food and drink and the volunteers.) Also, last year they had an iPad and a larger screen set up so that when folks came across the line, their results were immediately visible. That was pretty cool.
This year I'm not running the race, but still get to enjoy it by volunteering. One of the many benefits of this is that I get to check out this pretty tough field that I now can partially recognize because of my recent ultra-geeking on the runners.
Here is a brief list of some of the folks that could take it home:
Timothy Olson-This two-time winner of the Pine to Palm 100 has also taken home first place finishes at the Silver State 50M and the Waldo 100K. Most recently, while running The North Face Endurance Challenge in San Fran battling cramps and going off course for about ten minutes, he still took 4th.
Nick Clark-Looking at his UltraSignup profile, it looks like he has not finished under third place in all but one of the ten races they show. Blatantly absent from these results is his continued domination and course record at the 2011 Vertical Beer Mile.
Paul Terranova-An Austinite who has the advantage of familiarity with the course, Paul is a top 3 runner at almost all of the trail races he enters, though most of them are at 50 miles or less.
Dylan Bowman-With this year's first place finish at the San Diego 100 and second place at Leadville Trail 100, Dylan looks like one tough cookie at only age 25. His blog lets you know that he doesn't have much of a poker face when it comes to this year's Bandera:
"Since October, my training has been laser focused on this particular race. I can say with full confidence that I’ve never been this fit or enthused in any December of my life."
Dave Mackey-On his blog he states that he is only using this run as a tuneup race and that he feels "recharged and ready to go." Keep in mind, though, he won this race last year while setting the course record of 8:16:48.
Men's Postscript: I could not make out if the David James from Phoenix, AZ who is registered this year is the Dave James from Northfield, OH and last year's Bandera who was second and came in under the previous course record in 8:33:36. If he is, then, Yeah, him too!
Pam Smith-After last year's 2nd place finish at Bandera and this year's win at Miwok 100K, Pam gets an automatic entry into the front running of this race. The fact that she just trained and ran a 2:55 road marathon means she will have a little speed for making time on the flats.
Joelle Vaught-UltraSignup.com shows Joelle as having 5 first place finishes this year plus her 3rd place finish in TNFEC in San Francisco. Here again, these results are for races 50 miles and under, though she does still hold the course record for her 10:23:32 finish at the Waldo 100k in 2009.
update!!! I've been told Joelle is out of this race.
Liza Howard-A resident of nearby San Antonio, Liza Howard loves hundreds. And they love her back. She won 2010's Leadville. This year she both won and set course records at both the 50 mile and 100k version of the USATF National Championship. This year she also won and set the course record at the Javelina Hundred and took first at Rocky Raccoon 100 in 15:33. All from someone who just started running ultras in 2009 at age 39.
Darcy Africa-She has a ton of first place finishes on her resume. The last three big races that I saw her finishing were 1st at Golden Gate Dirty Thirty 50K, 2nd at Hardrock 100, and 3rd at UTMB. Pretty freakin' impressive.
Bree Lambert-Two time winner of Tahoe Rim Trail 100 as recently as this year and fourth at TNFEC SF are a couple of quills in Bree's hat. She is definitely going to help fill out the field.
Kara Henry-Kind of a wildcard, Kara is a former collegiate steeplechaser delving into ultras. She took first at the Bear Chase 50M and second at the Quad Dipsea.
WARNING! Though you may be exhausted by this geekiness, it is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to adjust my outlook.
Good luck to all the runners and I look forward to seeing all of you out there!