In case any readers have been in cave the last few days, there has been a good bit of angst created by the WS100 lottery results. There are many other races that either fill up quickly or require a lottery to gain entrance, yet one hardly ever hears much of a complaint about those (ironically, 2 of the races that are a Montrail Ultra Cup backdoor into WS100 are just such races, meaning you have to be fast at the keyboard and fast on the trails should you hope to make it to Squaw Valley this way). The situation with WS100 is complicated by the fact that it wants (even claims?) to be the holy grail of 100 mile trail running in the US. The fact that the number of entries flooding into the WS100 office continues to rise in the face of every increasing choices for 100 mile trail races amazes me, but that is a topic for another day.
In my opinion, since we don’t have any control over the entrants selection process at WS (probably a good thing!), and there are plenty of other races out there that do not fill up early, why not let WS do its thing and simply choose another race to be our informal “championship.” Of course no one race will be ideal for everyone, just as WS isn’t now but surely there are other races out there that would love to see a highly competitive and deep field show up. I will make this promise; if there is any way to vote/decide on such a race, I will be there. I figure I have only a certain number of quality races left in me, and at this point in my life I want to either run fast races or competitive races, and if the two happen to be the same all the better. Many will say that the race in question would have to be a longstanding event with a lot of history, such as WS100. Well, speaking of history, the WS100 course has changed so many times over the years, that despite its long history it is still hard to figure out how you stack up with the runners of yesterday. In fact, I’d like to see all races list both “Event Record Holders” and the various “Course Record Holders” along with a brief description of the differences of each course.
Ideally, I’d like to have several races and rotate through them over the course of 3 or 4 years. If nothing else, this would help avoid the “one course wonder” type phenomena that you sometimes notice with runners. For example, if you can not only beat all the best runners two years in a row, but do it at say Superior Trail one year and Rocky the next, I think you might just be the best 100 miler out there.
Let's Play Poker
Another idea I've been kicking around for awhile, and I've talked with a few good runners about it and got some decent feedback, is whatever race is picked, have an option of putting up your own money to make things interesting, sort of like the big Poker tournaments. For example, if you think you should be worthy of "special consideration" at WS100, surely you are feeling confident enough to put up a few hundred dollars!
Rocky - fast, anyone can get in
Superior - slow, anyone can get in
Leadville - high, anyone can get in
Bear (don't know if this fills up)
Angeles Crest (don't know)
Burning River (midwest)
Something on east coast?
edit on 12/05 - Tahoe Rim Trail another good choice. Only mild altitude so not much of an issue for flat-landers.
edit on 12/06 - Let's add AT and Javelina to the list.