Big 2014 MUT racing begins this weekend at the 2014 Bandera Trail Run. The 100K main event is the distance’s USTF national championship. Need less to say, the effects of this week’s fracas will be felt throughout the year. Not only are there Montrail Ultra Cup points at stake this weekend, but (perhaps more importantly) WS100 entry will be rewarded to members of the 2014 men’s and women’s podium, as well (this is the case for all Montrail Cup races – podium points toward season long Cup championship and entry in WS100).
Looking at the Montrail Ultra Cup, one has to say “it” has played a significant role in what goes down in the mountain ultra trail universe. The popularity or celebrity of WS100 gives the Cup lots of tred. Nuff said. But this early season elite running rendezvous has had even bigger ramifications. The significance begins this weekend at Bandera 100k.
One change in the event schedule of the 2014 Montrail Ultra Cup has the Sean O’Brien 50/50 taking the place of the Leona Divide 50. In the end, the representation of So Cal appears to remain intact. SOB certainly will not disappoint as the assembling field promises a fantastic inaugural Malibu melee with all kinds of elite trail pride on the line. Although this is the first running of the SOB 50/50, this appears to replace the Ray Miller 50, which was terribly affected by recent fires in the area. Race director Keira Henninger has put together a solid race organization and the fact that it’s part of the MUC says quite a lot.
In passing the torch to SOB, let’s not forget Leona Divide’s most recent contribution: Rob Krar. Certainly, he made a few people’s radars last year with his Grand Canyon exploits and a blistering Moab 55k in February 2013, but his LD 50 5:53:51 was ginormous. The front of the race included legitimate talent, but running about a min/mile faster than 2nd place figured to make quite a statement; as we all know, this statement or separation was reiterated throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2013. All this to say: some of these early season races prove insightful on what to watch for the rest of the year.
Bandera 100k has recently been quite adept at helping create this same kind of early season narrative. The ’12 and ’13 versions were very propitious for the races’ leaders. The men’s podium in 2012: Olson Mackey Uhan, with Bowman and a thirsty Nick Clark rounding-out the top 5. On the women’s side: Scallon, Howard and Pam Smith. If we recall, this was Tim Olson’s forewarning of things to come. Later that year he smashed the WS100 CR and finished 2nd to Morton for UROY. In 2013, the men’s winner was Sage Canaday. Again, Bandera 100k as an early season harbinger for what was to be a fantastic (yet underachieving – which is a compliment mind you) year for this ultra running trail/media mogul. 2013 also saw Michelle Yates crowned USTF 100k trail champ at Bandera; go read-up on how 2013 unfolded for her. Obviously, Bandera 100k is the ultra season’s Palantir.
Endurance Buzz has a cool write-up on the event. The men’s race appears to be amongst Jorge Maravilla, Chikara Omine, Joe Uhan, Oregonian David Laney, Chris Wehan and Texan Paul Terranova, who wields a nice 2013 WS100 top ten. Omine has a 2nd at Bandera in 2010 and has shown some genuine speed on some of the lower-profile California trails. I recall noting his skill-set 4-5 years ago, confident he would make a splash in some bigger events against richer fields; here’s his chance. Laney set the CR at Waldo 100k, so all of these fine favorites should keep an eye on him. The ageless Meghan Arbogast leads the women’s championship field. Local Liza Howard ought to be joining her at the front.
Be sure to check back for more race coverage. Cheerio.