2014 Rocky Raccoon 100 Preview
The flat, speedy trails of the Rocky Raccoon 100 lure runners from all over the country to Huntsville, Texas this Saturday, February 1. Deemed a 2014 Montrail Ultra Cup race and the USATF 100-Mile Trail Championship, Rocky Raccoon is more than just a lot of miles on the trails. As part of the Montrail Ultra Cup, the top-three male and female winners will receive an automatic entry into Western States.
Whether watching the race mile-by-mile or in between your own run, stay tuned as Ian Sharman challenges his fellow runners to knock him and his course record off the board. And of course, keep your eyes peeled as the women push toward besting the now-eight-year-old women’s U.S. 100-mile trail record held by Jenn Shelton.
iRunFar will provide Rocky Raccoon 100 live coverage starting at 6 a.m. CST on Saturday morning.
Pam Smith, newly running without toenails, will nub the line at Rocky Raccoon among the other top women. Smith’s 2013 was pretty stellar, capped off by her win (and ninth overall) at Western States (post-race interview, race report) and her 100-mile track world record at the Desert Solstice Invitational. This is her first attempt at Rocky Raccoon.
Michele Yates stated in a previous iRunFar interview that she’s on the hunt for the women’s U.S. 100-mile trail record at Rocky. This race’s course record of 14:57:18, set by Jenn Shelton in 2007, is also the women’s U.S. 100-mile trail record. Yates had a great 2013, being named UltraRunning’s Ultrarunner of the Year. Most recently we saw her dominate the women’s field at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship in California in December. This woman may be hard to beat.
Nicole Studer, the impressive 31-year-old from Texas, will hope to continue her first-woman finish at every race, except one, where she placed second. She was the 2013 Rocky Raccoon women’s champion, running a swift 16:55:02. Accustomed to the Texas environment, Studer will be a tough competitor to outrun on her home terrain.
Coming off a third-woman finish at the Bandera 100k, Melanie Peters will be another top runner to look out for on the trails. This will be Peters’s second 100-mile race, yet her usual top-five placement in past races will be highly possible for this weekend.
The woman masters runner to look for on the trail is 50 year-old Connie Gardner. With more than 100 races completed, Gardner was the 2011 USATF Masters Ultrarunner of the Year. She has multiple Western States completions, a second-woman finish at the Badwater Ultramarathon, and recent first-woman place in the 24-hour category of the Desert Solstice Invitational.
Kara Henry, age 28 and from Colorado, is a rising name in the ultra world. She completed the 2013 JFK 50 Mile in third place with a 7:17:37 and had a top-10 finish at the 2013 Leadville 100 Mile. Now, with her name on the radar, her performance at Rocky Raccoon should be looked at a little more closely.
Kaci Lickteig is another young runner toeing the line this weekend from Nebraska. With an impressive string of previous performances such as two first-place finishes in Nebraska’s GOATZ Trail Runs 50k and the Market to Market 50k, Lickteig will bring the speed needed to keep her in the race. It appears that she hasn’t faced competition too often, with her most competitive race being the 2012 Moab Trail Marathon, where she was seventh behind Michele Yates and others.
Rocky Raccoon’s second-place finisher in 2013 with a time of 18:23:05, Shaheen Sattar will race this weekend. She also placed second at the 2013 Leadville 100 Mile. A look at her ultra results show that she’s been steadily improving the last couple of years.
Paulette Stevenson (née Zillmer), an experienced runner with many top placements as well as some middle-of-the-pack finishes, will race Rocky. In 2013, she ran to third place at both the Waldo 100k and Wasatch Front 100 Mile. With everything on track, Stevenson has the capability for a good race here.
Other women to look out for:
- Larisa Dannis, who completed the race in 2011 with a time of 25:10:12. She was also the 2013 Vermont 100 Mile winner.
- Julie Koepke may have some energy left over from her 12th-place finish at Bandera 100k.
- Rachel Ballard, finishing just ahead of Koepke in ninth at Bandera 100k is returning to Rocky Raccoon in hopes of beating her 2013 eighth-place finish.
Among the leaders will be Ian Sharman, who holds the course record of 12:44:33 from his 2011 performance, which was also the fastest trail 100 miler on American soil. Sharman was the 2013 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning winner and record holder, and he’s just coming off a tune-up win at the Crystal Springs 50k on January 11. He’ll certainly be on the hunt for another win and a shot at bettering his 2011 performance.
Escaping the freezing weather to run the race is Michigan runner Peter Hogg. A winner of the 2013 Ohio races, Mohican 50 Mile and Burning River 100 Mile. Hogg’s Burning River time was a speedy 14:25:14 and we think he’s a 2:32 marathoner, as well. Hogg’s race will surely find him among the top crew.
While Ryan Ghelfi will be aiming for his first 100-mile finish, he finished 2013 on a strong note, taking fifth at the UROC 100k before rounding out The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship’s top 10. Earlier in 2013, he was ninth at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
An early February run is on the 2014 schedule for runner Gary Gellin. Among his 2013 races are a win at the Mt. Tam Trail Run 30k in California and a 12th place at the UROC 100k. Gellin is looking to start 2014 off on a good, speedy foot. At age 45, Gellin also likely has the masters win on his mind.
Texas-native Steven Moore will surely use his home-state terrain to his advantage this weekend. Winner of The Wild Hare 50-mile race last November with a time of 6:50:33 and a frequent 100-mile racer, including his most recent win at the Mogollan Monster 100 Mile last September, Moore is also one to look for out on those trails. Moore is 46 years old, so we expect him to give Gary and the rest of the masters a run for their money.
John Cash, with at least six ultra wins in 2013, will be running his first Rocky Raccoon. He’s a member of the U.S. 24-hour team, which he was named to after running 140.41 miles at the U.S. 24-hour national championship at the 24 The Hard Way Race in Oklahoma last October.
The name Jason Lantz will also appear near the top of the pack. Due to his win at the 2013 Pinhoti 100 Mile and the 2013 Vermont 100 Mile, where he beat Ian Sharman by about 34 minutes, Lantz will be looking for another win to start 2014 off right.
Josh Katzman was the fifth-place finisher of the 2012 Rocky Raccoon, in 15:35:57. He seems to race primarily at the regional level, but he was 20th at the 2012 Western States. Hopefully he can remember the trail from two years ago to boost his advantage. [Update: We’ve learned that Josh Katzman isn’t racing this weekend. (Thanks, Michael McDuffie.)]
The youngin’ on the trails, Ford Smith, may not be well known, yet. This 17-year-old has at least five ultras under his belt in 2013. After a fifth-place finish at the Bandera 100k a couple of weeks ago, Smith is on his way to a good race. This appears to be his 100-mile debut.
Dave James, a double winner of the 2011 and 2012 Burning River 100 Mile in Ohio, is another guy to look out for during the race. For a guy who has completed over 50 ultras in nearly every state, the fast terrain and environment of Rocky Raccoon will be right up his alley. He’s had some injury issues of late, so we’ll have to wait for race day to see if he’s healthy.
Other men to watch for:
- Timmy Parr finished seventh at the 2011 Leadville 100, and has since gone on to finish fourth overall in the Desert Rats Trail Running Festival 52-Mile Race in Colorado. He also finished 17th overall at the 2013 Hardrock 100.
- Neal Gorman, winner of the Pinhoti 100 miler and 10th place at the 2012 Western States 100. Gorman was ill for a good chunk of 2013, so we’re eager to see if his previous fitness has returned.
- Lorenzo Sanchez came in seventh at Rocky Raccoon last year with a time of 17:18:22.
Ian Torrence, a masters runner with a wealth of ultra experience, we expect him to be in the mix for the masters win.[Update: Ian Torrence informs us he isn’t racing. He’s been sick.]
Both Scott Wolfe and Andy Jones-Wilkins are listed as entrants, but neither are expected to race this weekend.