|Geoff (on the ground) and me on the Western States 100 finish line, 2010. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.|
I'm aware that all of that might sound nauseatingly self-serving, considering I was one of the prominent actors at the front of last year's race, but as a semi-obsessed fan of mountain racing--both contemporary and historically--I am highly aware that:
A) people raced really hard back in the earlier days of the sport as well, and
B) there have been plenty of other defining moments in the recent history of ultra distance mountain racing (Matt's 2005 Leadville, Kyle's 2008 Hardrock, Kilian's 2008 UTMB and Geoff's 2009 Wasatch, just to name a few, all stand out in my mind).
However, what made WS 2010 a little different was that, while all of those performances were notable for their singularity and sheer domination over history and the competition, at WS last year there was true head-to-head racing right up until the very end, in addition to a shattering of previous-fastest times.
Luckily for fans of the sport everywhere, ultrarunner and filmmaker JB Benna had the ambition, vision, enthusiasm and know-how to scrape together the resources and actually document the race last year through incisive pre- and post-race interviews with the top contenders and exclusive inside-the-lead-pack race footage. Fun stuff if you're a geek like me. The film's website is here.
And if you haven't yet seen this elsewhere, here is the excellent trailer:
As great as last year's race was, this year's event--in a little more then three weeks--is shaping up to be every bit as exciting, and probably even more so.
The high country snow is even deeper and more lingering than last year.
Two-time winner Hal Koerner is back healthy (he was injured last year, and had to depart the race at 80 miles) and racing better than ever.
Geoff and Kilian are returning for a reprisal of last year's battle.
There is maybe even more top-level depth with the likes of last year's 4th place break-out performer Nick Clark clearly in the best shape of his life, veteran Dave Mackey lacing together an undefeated season at top races on the circuit, WS rookie Mike Wolfe running well, foreigners Jez Bragg and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki back after podium finishes in 2009, and a whole slew of other notables that will pounce if any of these guys falter.
Sadly, I am probably the only podium-threat who won't be back at the race this year, my running continuing to be drastically hampered by tibial tendonitis ever since the Rocky Raccoon 100 way back in February. But I'll definitely be scouring the internet all day on June 25th hanging on every update just as every other fan who can't make it out to California should be.