It's not been a secret that I'd like to finish in the Top 10 and come away with an automatic entry to next year's event, so I can have this much fun all over again! But that is not going to be an easy feat, as the field boasts an all-star cast and will most likely be the most competitive race all year.
On the women's side, I think there will be two separate races going on: a race for the victory and a race to round out the top 10.
I am grouping Nikki Kimball, Tracy Garneau, Meghan Arbogast, Joelle Vaught, and Devon Crosby-Helms up front, with Annette Bednosky as somebody else who could factor in.
After that I think there are 11 women with a solid chance for a Top 10 (I'd like to think I am part of this group) and then five more women who just might pull it off if they really throw down a good one that day. That's 22 women for 10 spots! Top 10 will not be easy to pull off and there are certainly no guarantees! But isn't the challenge part of the fun??
Oh yeah - I heard there might be some guys running at Western States, too. ;)
Also up for grabs is the Montrail Ultra Cup. Annette is way out in front but that is because she has more races than anybody else. Since only four races count and Western States has the most available points, the totals from everyone's three best races are:
Devon Crosby-Helms 159.25
Annette Bednosky 155.83
Pam Smith :) 155.17
Meghan Arbogast 154.70
Jill Perry 129.94
I am so honored to be in the middle of that group of ladies, but I will freely admit I had to run 12 miles more than anyone else to get there (points are proportional to miles run). But there is no option to add extra miles at Western States to let me compete in that talent pool! So I'll put myself finishing in 4th, just outside the money.
The fastest winning women's time this decade is 18:12. Assuming none of the ladies run faster than that, each point will be worth at least 10.92 minutes. That gives Devon a 37+ minute lead over Annette and nearly a 50 minute head start over Meghan. I don't know who'll be first to cross the line in Auburn, but I think Devon can stay within the spread to stay at the top of the scoreboard and win the cup. Jill is an amazing runner, but she is going to need someone to DNF (please not me!) if she is going to move up on the list.
This guessing and speculation is all just fun and games to keep me busy in my extra free time while I taper. ;) I enjoy it because I am over-analytical, but I don't plan to get caught up in it. When the gun goes off, I won't be paying any attention to the race around me (well, ok maybe a little bit...) and just run my race, my way.
Feel free to add your predictions to the mix!