Current Ultra News
March 26, 2000
NIPPERT, PARROT CROWNED NEW USA 100KM CHAMPIONS (Pittsburgh, PA, 25 March '00). Howard Nippert of Blacksburg, Virginia and Dana Parrot of Derby, Connecticut emerged as the new USA 100km champions in the 13th running of the national metric century title event, hosted by the GNC Ultramarathons at Pittsburgh's North Park Saturday.
Temperatures peaking in the mid-70's with high humidity made it a battle of attrition and foiled pre-race expectations of fast times, as exactly half the starting field of 70 could not complete the entire 62+mile distance.
Nippert and Parrot (pronounced 'pah-row') represent a new generation of promising American ultrarunners. Each is recent USA Olympic trials marathon qualifier (Nippert in 1996, Parrot this year), and the pair represents an upgraded injection of legspeed into what is sometimes perceived as more of an endurance event. It was only Nippert's second attempt at the 100km distance, Parrot's first.
The emergence of a new crop of aspiring world-class Americans was most evident in the women's results, as the top 3 finishers in that division were all novices at the distance and relatively new to racing beyond the marathon. Silver medalist Deb Bollig set a blistering early pace, and Parrot did not catch her until 40 miles. In contrast, bronze medalist Tracy Rose started very cautiously and gradually worked her way through the women's field. Defending champion Daniele Cherniak was forced to withdraw after aggravating a recent hamstring injury.
Nippert ran with veteran and defending Champion Kevin Setnes in the early miles, the pair following the early lead of guest Canadian Victor Hickey and Americans Courtney Campbell, Tim Hewitt, and Jim Garcia. The Virginian then struck out on his own shortly after halfway and never faltered, churning smoothly and steadily through to the finish as those in his wake wilted in the steamy conditions. Setnes prevailed for the silver and Garcia took the bronze.
The three men and three women automatically become the first official half of the USA National Team which will compete in the World 100km in Winschoten, The Netherlands on Sept. 9. The remaining members of the team will be picked by selection committees in mid-May.
Complete reults can be found here.
22 March 2000
The USA 100km National Championship will be hosted by the GNC Ultras in Pittsburgh's North Park, commencing 6:30AM Eastern Time Saturday, March 25. Early forecasts are for cooperative weather, so the most competitive field in the 14-year history of this American flagship ultra should have good conditions.
Will the men's field break the American record for most men under 7 hours in one race (1989 USA 100km at Ed Fitz: Charlie Trayer, Tom Zimmerman, Sean Crom, Rae Clark)? Will the women's field break 1993 standard for women under 8 hours (2: Donna Perkins and Kris Clark-Setnes)?
Will old fox Kevin Setnes prevail for his 3rd consecutive national metric century title, or will the next generation's Mark Godale take the next logical step in his new role as America's best ultrarunner? Going into the weekend, the form charts are calling the favorite's role a 6-man dead-heat among Setnes, Godale, Jim Garcia, Brian Teason, Howard Nippert, and Canadian guest Victor Hickey. Former national team members Brian Purcell and Scott St. John should also be in the hunt. Notable trail stars taking to the pavement in pursuit include Courtney Campbell, Ian Torrence, and Kevin Sawchuk.
Will not-so-dark horse Deb Bollig unseat Daniele Cherniak as America's current best at the global-standard distance? Cherniak comes into the weekend as odds-on favorite, with last year's national 50 mile champ Bollig her most likely challenger. Other national team members in the field include Janice Anderson, Sue Olsen, Holly Neault-Zinzow, and Lisa Smith. Other women who could make a breakthrough into their ranks include Nancy Drach, Ann Heaslett, and Jane Moser. An interesting late entry is Dana Parrot, last year's runaway USA 50km champ, fresh off a sub-3 hour Olympic Marathon Trial race. Half the 2000 USA National Ultra Team spots are up for grabs in this race.
LIVE COVERAGE: The race will be covered live on the website of the American Ultrarunning Association (http://www.americanultra.org/gnc). Preliminary info, including the starting fields, are already posted there. We're planning on hourly reports during the race, possibly even more frequently.
USA CHALLENGE SERIES DEBUT: This is a new national competition, in which the big four regions (East, South, Central and West) will compete for bragging rights to see who has the winning combination of ultrarunning champions. The unique scoring system takes the top 3 men and top 2 women from each region and combines their placing score to see who has the best ultrarunning region in the country at the race distance. Team captains are Jim Garcia (EAST), Janice Anderson (SOUTH), Kevin Setnes (CENTRAL), and Mo Bartley (WEST). The regional teams include virtually the entire race field.
Tune in Saturday to follow the action in the races for individual and regional team champions.
20 March 2000
POSTCARD FROM AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Bob Sweeney, a modern-day "American in Paris," sent his USA Ultra teammates a postcard, of sorts, this past weekend, saying, 'hey guys, don't forget me!'
Sweeney is now the least well-known world-class American distance runner, by virtue of his 6:57:40 victory this past Saturday in the Saint-Nazaire 100km in France. The story behind it is heartwarming and inspiring. By virtue of his wife Sue's job transfer a few years ago, aspiring American ultrarunner Bob Sweeney moved to Paris, where he has lived ever since. From that foreign base he pursued his dream of qualifying for the USA National Ultra team, a goal he finally achieved last year. Not considered a probable team scorer, he ran a personal best 7:18:11 to finish fourth of six Americans in the World 100km.
Since then, Sue gave birth to their first child, Corinne, and got herself transferred back home to the USA, a move which will, unfortunately, take place soon after next weekend's USA 100km National Championship. This turn of events makes it unfeasible for Bob to fly over to Pittsburgh for the that race, which serves as the selection race for the 2000 USA 100km Team, then back to France to pick up the family, then back home again. Fortunately for Bob, the USA does not select 100% of its team from its selection race, but leaves some room for outstanding performances elsewhere. So, Bob put all his eggs into the Saint-Nazaire 100km basket, where he ran the race of his life, becoming only the second American in the last two years to break 7 hours for 100km.
He thereby threw down the gauntlet for next weekend's field in the USA National 100km at Pittsburgh. In effect, he has set the bar at world-class height for that event: it's going to take six world-class American performances to keep him off the year 2000 USA Ultra team.
Way to go, Bob!
17 March 2000
2000 USA NATIONAL 100KM LOOMS AS BEST EVER HELD. It has taken over a decade for the American ultra stars to fall into alignment the way they did on a brisk autumn day in 1989 along the shores of Lake Superior. On that day, Charlie Trayer towed Tom Zimmerman, Sean Crom and Rae Clark under the benchmark 7-hour standard in the 3rd annual USA 100km National Championship. The quartet constituted then, and still does today, the most American men under 7 hours in a single 100km (62.137 mile) race.
On March 25 the field for the 2000 USA 100km National Championship will line up for 12+ laps of the 5-mile rolling loop around Pittsburgh's North Park Lake. At stake will be USA national titles, USA National Ultra team membership, and $10,000 in prize money. If ever an American field was poised to rewrite that 1989 entry in history, it is the one coming to Pittsburgh next week.
Race director Chris Gibson has attracted a sterling field for the GNC Ultramarathon, which will host the USA flagship ultra title event for the third time in four years. Once again, the event is serving as the selection race for the USA National Ultra team which will compete in the World 100km in The Netherlands on September 9. The highlight is expected to be the Men's race for the gold, with an American quintet and a Canadian guest in a virtual pre-race dead-heat for the "favorite" role.
Defending USA National Champion and course record holder Kevin Setnes, 46, of Eagle, Wisconsin will be shooting to make his 9th consecutive USA National ultra squad. Setnes was the top American scorer in last May's World 100km in France. Challenging the "old man" of elite American ultrarunning will be the hot, young upstart Mark Godale, 29, of Aurora,
Ohio. Godale was a close second-man to Setnes in France, then turned the U.S. ultra world on its ear in September with a completely unexpected new American road 24-hour record of 162.46 miles to take the U.S. all-day title. Right in the mix with that pair should be Jim Garcia, 41, of Westford, Massachussetts, whose spectacular sprint victory over Belgian Jan Vandendriessche in October's Chancellor Challenge 100km in 6:55:27 made him the fastest American in two years at the distance. Rounding out the American favorite group are Brian Teason, 38, of Dorset, Vermont (winner of last year's GNC 50 mile), and Howard Nippert, 34, of Blacksburg, Virginia. Nippert, a 2:17 marathoner, was third American at the World 100km in France and is the least experienced American at the distance, but has the best natural leg speed. Then there is the "spoiler," Canadian Victor Hickey, 42, who stunned the Yanks by
finishing as top North American (the only one under 7 hours) in the French World 100km, and followed with a Canadian National 100km Championship victory over Teason and a solid third behind Garcia at Chancellor.
The women aren't as well set to top their respective National 100km benchmark, the 1-2, double sub-8 hour finish of Wisconsin Badgerland Striders teammates Donna Perkins and Kris Clark-Setnes at the 1994 USA championship in Sacramento, but a rare sub-8 hour performance is possible from heavy favorite and defending National 100km Champ Daniele
Cherniak, 38, of Cohoes, New York. Cherniak, the leading lady of American road ultrarunning for the past two years, broke 8 hours for the first time in her long ultra career in the World 100km in France last May, finishing in the top 10 in that competitive crucible for the second consecutive year. Other top contenders for the USA national squad include former team veterans Janice Anderson, 33, of Kennesaw, Georgia, Holly Neault-Zinzow, 39, of
Whitewater, Wisconsin, and Susan Olsen, 42, of Burnsville, Minnesota. A spoiler could be Nancy Drach, 40, of Jupiter, Florida, who has made a national-class breakthrough in the sport after hitting the Masters age ranks. But the most promising likely newcomer to the team, and
challenger to Cherniak, is 36-year old Coloradan Deb Bollig, who came out of nowhere to capture the USA 50 Mile National crown in November.
The race, which starts at 6:30AM Eastern time on Saturday, March 25, will be covered live on the new website of the American Ultrarunning Association.
13 March 2000
Rich Hanna is Back!.... Rich Hanna ran 3:45:07 over the weekend to win the Way Too Cool 50km Trail Race, the country's largest 50km trail ultra. Rich, a 2:17 marathoner, was a 2-time USA 100km champion in the mid-1990's and scored as 2nd man (behind Tom Johnson and ahead of Bryan Hacker) on the USA National Ultra Team which took the bronze medal at the 1994 World 100km in Japan. Rich struggled with injuries for 4 years before recently getting back on track. One rumor has it that Rich will be looking for a late qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (Pittsburgh, May 7). Another rumor suggests he may be a last minute, surprise entry at the USA 100km on March 25 (also in Pittsburgh).... Whatever you do this spring, Rich, it's great to have you back among us!
6 March 2000
USA 100km NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The USA 100km National Championship is shaping up as the best American 100km in a decade. The March 25 event, hosted by the GNC Ultras at Pittsburgh's North Park, will feature co-ed regional team competition for the first time [top 3 men and top 2 women from EAST, SOUTH, CENTRAL, and WEST teams will vie for the inaugural AUA National Team title].
5 March 2000
BIG TROUBLE FOR IAU: IAU president Malcolm Campbell is desperately trying to maintain his grip on global ultra power in the wake of resignations by nearly half his Executive Council.
In June 1999 Geoff Hook (AUSTRALIA), Andy Milroy (ENGLAND), and Dan Brannen (USA - AUA Executive Director) resigned from the IAU Executive Council in protest over "unconstitutional, unilateral, and arbitrary" actions taken by Campbell. National IAU-member Ultra Associations from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France (forming the bulk of the grass-roots membership of the IAU General Council) have jointly expressed concern over the situation.
In a recent political move to marginalize this dissatisfaction within the General Council, Campbell has unilaterally offered IAU General Council membership to IAAF member Track & Field federations of these nations. USATF has been offered General Council membership in the IAU, despite the fact that AUA is already the USA member of the IAU General Council.
4 March 2000
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