Once again, the person that has finished the most Ridge Runs, Andy Pilskalns, will be toeing the starting line. Hats off to Andy in his effort to tally his 23rd Ridge Run finish. It is disapointing to see that Pat Callis, who has the second most finishes, is not on the start list.
The Woman’s Race
Originally, it was looking like 2012 was going to be a dual between last year’s finishers Sabrina Schreibeis and Minde Erickson. Unfortunately Sabrina dropped from the start list due to injury. So look for Minde to notch her first overall victory. Those chasing Minde will be Alyssa Larsen, Kathryn Dolesh, Lyndsey Owens and Kyle Mckenzie.
The Men’s Race
Wow! When it comes to the men, 2012 hosts the deepest field of talent and speed in the history of the Ridge Run. This race promises to be extremely competitive. How exciting!
This year’s participants include a couple former winners and some recent second place finishers vying for the win. Here are some of the names that are sure to grace the top of the finishers list.
Mike Wolfe is the second fastest person to have ever run the Ridge Run. His Ridge Run PR (Personal Record) is 3:08. Mike has never won this race, but has finished a close second to Scott Creel several times. Mike is arguably the most talented runner in the field. He has been putting a lot of miles on his legs of late. Given his frequent participation in ultra-distance trail events, the Ridge Run is merely a short tempo run for him. But to race it fast it will require fresh legs. If he is rested and strong, look for Mike to run near his PR and challenge the course record.
Mike Foote is a former winner, 2010. His ridge Run PR is 3:27. Mike Foote has bested Mike Wolfe in some ultra-distance trail races in the last couple years. If Foote has a good day, look for him to be right up with Wolfe making for an exciting race. 2012 is the year of the Mikes (Wolfe and Foote). They could push each other to some sizzling times.
Zach Miller has finished second the last two years in a row behind Mike Foote in 2010 and behind Scott Creel in 2011. Zach’s Ridge Run PR is 3:23. Given his recent experience and the race wisdom that comes with it, look for Zach to be right up there in the mix.
Chad Anderson has won every year he has entered, 1993, 1994, 1996 and most recently 2009. His Ridge Run PR is 3:24. This year he is facing tough competition to remain undefeated.
Many others, such as Patrick Murphy PR 3:35, Rory Egelus PR 3:37, Dan Cambell PR 3:38, Damian Stoy PR 3:40, Peder Anderson PR 3:41,
Erik Petersen PR 3:51 and Austin Allen PR 3:58 have all predicted fast times for themselves and will be shooting for a breakthrough performance and placing well. Tough old characters like Mike Carey PR 3:55 will probably be right there chasing them and perhaps finish again in under 4 hours.
First timers Adam Sepulveda, Jeremy Wolf, Jon Clark, Daniel Kraft and Matthew Stewart have predicted fast finishing times of less than 4 hours for themselves. It is easy to underestimate the difficulty of the Ridge Run, but you never know, maybe one of them is the next Scott Creel.
Conditions permitting there could be more than a dozen men that finish in under 4 hours in 2012.
Conditions to Expect
As of this writing Monday August 6, we have had a long dry and warm spell. This has left the course dry dusty, gravely and pebbly.
When the course is dry, the rocks and dirt tend to loosen and break up with foot traffic. This leaves the surface rather slippery in places with loose small pebbles and rocks. The downhill sections below Sacajawea and above and below the M are affected the worse – kinda like running on ball bearings. Depending upon your footwear, the dust and heat can also be a contributing factor to blisters. These are things to take into consideration when choosing your socks and shoes.
Conditions would improve with just a little rain. Moisture helps bond the loose dust and gravel to the ground creating a better traction surface. But too much rain, like we had in 2010, can turn some sections into sticky or slippery mud.
Keep your eyes on the forecast. As of now, the long term forecast is for more of the same, warm with little chance of significant precipitation right on through race day. But thunderstorms can arise quickly and unpredictably, so stay attentive to the sky.
The greatest probability is for cool conditions (40’s) at the start and warming quickly into the 70’s and 80’s as the sun comes up. If the sun is out, the hottest section is the south facing slopes near the M and finish that get baked in the sun. Winds can be extremely strong up on the Ridge. They can help make things feel cooler, but depending upon their orientation, can make you work harder.
Watch for cloud cover Friday evening and night that can prevent things from cooling off and keeping the humidity high.
Back in 2008, it never cooled off at night because of a little overnight shower and cloud cover. It resulted in it being quite warm and muggy (humid) at the start. The clouds cleared by start time. It did not end up being a particularly warm day, but I remember breaking a sweat right from the start. Most years, I’m freezing and don’t warmup until I get down off Sacajawea onto the Foothill trail. The warm conditions right from the start in 2008 took a toll on runners. Many suffered from cramps. 2008 only saw 3 men finishing under 4 hours.
You can never be certain of the weather until you are in it.