|Who will take home the cougar this year?|
Historically, fans have favored those with quick marathon times in the pre-race hype. If Runner A is ten minutes faster than Runner B at 26.2 miles, then simple math says Runner A should be nearly 40 minutes ahead of Runner B at the finish of 100 miles. But this is folly! Anyone who has run a 100 miler knows simple math enters the Twilight Zone about two-thirds of the way through the race: a place where simple addition and subtraction can confuse Mensa members, where the distances between aid stations are warped and don't seem to be represented by rational numbers, and where paces are no longer predictable. A place where lightning fast marathoners can get beat by middle-aged plodders (and routinely do!).
Sure runners with impressively fast legs will continue to captivate us, but when it comes to the 100 mile distance, leg speed is not enough. A runner must possess the right combination of leg speed, gastro-intestinal fortitude, and mental strength. But how can you weight these things to figure out which runner will come out on top?? This is where my very scientific formula comes into play. Just assign numbers to each category and add up the score. The highest scoring runner in the field is guaranteed to be hoisting the Robie Cup at this year's Western States award ceremony. (small print: results not guaranteed)
1) Marathon time: Ok, running 100 miles requires a lot more than just leg speed, but there is no denying that being fast is a benefit at any distance. Sub-2:45(M)/3:00(F) = 5 pts; Sub-2:35(M)/2:50(F) = 7 pts; Sub-2:28(M)/2:43(F) = 9 pts. No additional points for being faster than that because if you are, you are probably better trained for the marathon than 100 miles!
2) Ultra Sign Up Score: We all know when it comes to running ultras, your Ultra-Signup score is the be-all, end all representation of your ultra-potential. One point for every percentage over 90.
3) Strava Crowns: If you are the best over lots of little sections than surely you will be great over one big section. And we all know that after your Ultra Sign-up score, Strava crowns are the most meaningful proof that you are a badass. One point for every crown. Not on Strava?? Minus 2 points.
4) GI fortitude: GI woes can derail even the speediest of runners in a 100 miler. How well does your stomach hold up? Minus 3 points for every race that has suffered due to GI issues.
5) Gag reflex: Will you be able to choke down a gel at mile 85 or will you start gagging on that sticky sweet wad of goo. 5 points if you have ever swallowed a live goldfish; 4 points if you can eat organ meats, tripe, or haggis; 2 points if you like sushi.
6) Nutritional product sponsor: If you have a nutritional product sponsor, you obviously have the benefit of the most awesome product on the market. We know this because you tell us every other day on Facebook. 5 points for each nutritional product sponsor.
7) Game strategy - Running 100 miles doesn't require intelligence per se, but it does require a certain mental focus and an ability to strategize. 5 points if you can complete a 'Hard' sudoku, 5 points if you like strategy board games, and 5 points if you can read a scientific paper without falling asleep AND you understand what you just read.
8) Experience: When it comes to 100 milers, experience counts. 1 point for every previous 100 miler. Of course, there are several people who have won Western States as their first 100 miler, but almost all of these people were experienced ultra-runners at the 50 mile and 100km distance. So 1 point for every three 50M or 100km races you have completed (Sorry, running a 50k has NOTHING to do with running 100 miles, so they don't earn you any points here. But hopefully they make your Ultra Signup Score look good.)
9) Toughness: Are you tough enough to stick with it through the rough patches? Minus 3 points for every DNF.