Monday, September 14, 2009

Early Bird Equinox Predictor

Of course the News-Miner will have more of the inside scoop, as I do not travel in the same stratosphere, but with just a few days to go and based on early sign up, here's a rundown of the favorites.

Defending champ (and 2007 runner-up) Harald Aas will not be back. He's in Norway, said to be prepping for an outrageous ultra run of some type. Last year's runner up (and 2007 champ) Matias Saari of course is here and in hope of winning again. Matias had another excellent mountain running season, topped off by an improbable (due to Brent Knight's--who had been minutes ahead--collapse with 200 meters to go) but nonetheless outstanding win at Mount Marathon in Seward. I saw Matias last month at a high school cross country race, and he said he was looking forward to getting back to doing "speed-work" for the Equinox. Interesting take.

However, the favorite has to be Eric Strabel of Anchorage. Strabel has become increasingly tough over the long mountain races (hard to believe that this blogger was only 12 sec back at Equinox at age 46--and I had to wait 2:20 for that damn train while Strabel skooted through just in time), including a 2nd at Crow Pass with the 2nd fastest time ever on that rugged course. Crow Pass winner Goeff Roes is not entered.

Strabel is out (see comment #1 below)

Into the mix this year will be UAF graduate student Stian Stensland, who has run an impressive string of short races (5K and 10K). Guess they had an informal time trial at the old Musk Ox Trail Run course but I didn't hear the results, or that they were even going to have I don't know how Stensland held up over 12 rugged miles. He's fit and relatively young, so watch out.

Also, Tom Ritchie from Anchorage, while not yet listed, has said on his blog that he'll be there. Ritchie ran 2:37 at Boston last spring and will definitely be a factor here on September 19.

Win: Strabel - young and strong, can he go 2:45? I predict 2:46:52
Win: Saari - always hungry for a win and now a wily veteran 2:50:30
Place: wow, this is going to be close Stensland 2:50:47
Show: Ritchie (2:53:11) will be a factor, nipping at Saari's heels

Masters Men: Kramer, Brinegar, and Lindberg. No doubt Kramer and Brinegar will be going for sub 3 and Frank Bonzanich's 25 year old record of 2:58:02. A tall order, but I do think we'll see a sub 3. Lindberg has raced infrequently since a 2:46 at Boston, but ran 3:02 here last year.

Last year Laura Brosius won easily in her debut and she'll take it again. The question is will she beat Sue Faulkner's all time record of 3:18:15? I think so
If the results from previous local races are any indication the battle for 2nd should be a good one. Jane Leblond, one of only two women to break 3:20, has had a resurgent season (after years of battling injuries and graduate school). But Charity Walker has also been consistent this year and the two have gone back and forth at distances ranging from 5K to 16.3 miles. I haven't seen evidence of any of the top Anchorage women heading this way.

Win: Brosius and a new record in 3:16:07
Place: Leblond, experience on the EQ counts and she has it 3:22:45 (leblond is doing the relay)
Place: Walker, first timer will impress, 3:24:11
Show: Kristen Rozelle, sets a course PR 3:28:54

Masters Women: Dorli McWayne and Jane Lansford, now in their mid-50s might just take it. Sue Faulkner, also in club 50, is doing the ultra.

Traditionally the relay has not been very competitive and more for fun, although there have been some excellent legs. But last year, for the first time, a relay team beat the first male with a 2:42.54, a record by nearly 10 minutes. Their time also challenged Stan Justice's individual 2:41:30. This was a good team (the Aas Beaters), with UAF runners Chris Eversman (2:40 marathoner), Marius Korthaur (NCAA ski champ), and Einar Often (one of the 'Nooks's best runners), it also shows why Justice's and Pat Cross's 2:42:20 have not been approached by anyone for 25 years now.

I'm on a good team this year--no doubt over my head--with college freshman Werner Hoefler and David Norris taking the first two legs. Talk about improbable, how did I get myself into this? Combine their ages and I'm still 15 years older. My goal was to set up the first masters team to break 3 hours. That's all. But that stalled, and so here we are.

Only two teams (both last year) have ever broken 2:50. We have a solid shot at that, and that's all I'm saying.


Blogger Night Owl Racing said...

Strabel is out. He is not feeling great since Crow Pass. Mattias should win it and Ritchie will be strong in the race.

See you Saturday!!


12:02 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Evan, thanks for the update. See what happens when you're out of the loop! Too bad Strabel isn't running but you can only take in so much in a season.

Hmmm very interesting. And a new race strategy by Matias. Butter up the out of town competition with a nice profile and then prepare to strike--when it hurts most, no doubt.

Good luck in the ultra (and hope you you're not take too aback with my rant last week!)

2:06 PM  
Blogger Alaskan Assassin said...

No worries. I just read your rant and understand your thoughts. I wasnt even planning on running this race until 5 days ago. But alas I am an ultrarunner and if there is an ultra to run....I am there. I just wish Steve would have made the course harder. This looks like the easiest 50k course I have ever signed up for.

Maybe Steve will offer a 50 mile option next year instead.

Besides I think the relay is the real problem with marathon. You can never tell what place you are in and it plays on the mind when you are going through a funk and someone fresh blasts by you.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Agree, they'll need to limit the number of relay entrants at some point, well before the marathon/ultra reach large sizes.

In the past the relay teams wore a bib that made them identifiable. They should either have a tag on the back of the shirts of runners (like a race bib), or maybe carry an Eikiden type sash, like they do in Japan.

A good change this year is to limit vehicle traffic up the Dome, and relay runners will need to take a shuttle.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Night Owl Racing said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:26 AM  

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