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World Championships

Preview: Camille Herron, Courtney Dauwalter lead the pack for 24 Hour World Championships

It’s no secret that ultra-running has been growing in popularity for some time now, so in some ways, it seems only natural that interest in the sport would splinter off into other subsections under the ultra-running umbrella. Of course, races like the Iditarod and the Big Backyard Ultra proudly take the concept of a long-distance race, break it down and flip it on its head. Then there’s another rapidly-growing obsession, fueled by some recent record-setting efforts: The 24-hour race.

This past December, 36-year-old Camille Herron ran around a high school track in Phoenix, Arizona as many times as possible for 24 consecutive hours – finishing after 162.9 miles and establishing a new world record by about two miles. Less than a year later, Zach Bitter took to an indoor track in Milwaukee to make history, setting the world record by running 104.8 miles in 12 hours – almost as an afterthought following his obliteration of the fastest 100-mile run record. 

Although many athletes have been proudly running in circles for years, there suddenly seems to be renewed interest in such offshoots of ultra-marathoning. It makes a lot of sense, then that the upcoming 2019 IAU 24 Hour World Championships is boasting increased numbers – and participation from folks like Courtney Dauwalter and Herron.

World Championships

“Based on provided data we are expecting to have 363 athletes from 45 countries (38 for women and 44 for men),” the International Association of Ultra-runners says in a statement dated September 27. “This is a 26% improvement comparing to the last Championship in Belfast in 2017. With respect to individual distribution, it will be 153 women and 210 men. It is another improvement comparing to the last Championships of almost 19% and over 32% respectively.”

Set for October 26-27, this year’s 24 Hour World Championships will take place in Albi, France. It is one of the IAU’s four main world championship events (along with the 100km World Championships, the Trail World Championships, and the 50km World Championships) and the only one based on a time format rather than distance. Currently, the event’s standing records belong to USA’s Michael Morton (277.543 kilometers, in 2012) and Japan’s Mami Kudo (252.205 kilometers in 2013).  

World Championships

Episcopal city and birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi has a population that hovers around 50,000 and a humid subtropical climate. Operating as the world governing body of ultra-running, the IAU regulates and sanctions ultra-marathon championships and tracks records.

Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them tracking some new ones later this month. For starters, Camille Heron will be working to improve the incredible pace of 8:03/mile that she maintained in December when she set her records (she also captured the women’s world record for running 100 miles on a track). 

“I’m coming from a marathon background, so I know it’s hard to wrap your head around running 100K, and then 100 miles, and than 24 hours,” Herron, who ate a Taco Bell Double-decker taco and a beer at 2 am in the middle of her record-setting performance, told OutsideHow Camille Herron Set a 24-Hour Running Record“. “I really had to work with my husband and coach, Conor, to think about what I might experience while running through the night and dealing with sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and nutritional needs. There are all these things you have to deal with on top of the actual running part. It’s more about your mind than your legs. It’s trying to will the legs to keep turning over through sleep deprivation. My legs just started getting really stiff and I was doing wind sprints just to try and keep my legs turning over.”

World Championships

Although she may be the record holder, Herron will be competing with more than just herself in Albi. Courtney Dauwalter continues to cement a career of near-legendary proportions, having recently won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In 2018, she finished 2nd overall in the Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra and also broke the women’s course record for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Dauwalter is perhaps best known, however, for her breakthrough performance in the Moab 240 race – her 2 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes were faster than any man in the pack and she finished more than 10 hours in front of the second-place finisher. 

Unfortunately, Zach Bitter will not be participating – but since she holds the record for a fastest 24-hour race among both men and women, any of the other 362 athletes hoping to dethrone Herron will be able to challenge her (and, perhaps, take a few notes) in person.

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paul chappel

ITRA QUARTZ Elite program engages 71 top athletes in anti-doping program


By Larry Carroll

The International Trail-Running Association has released its list of athletes engaged in the QUARTZ Elite Program, revealing a growing number of entrants over past installments. Touting the included names as the first time “a discipline gives its elite athletes the chance to contribute actively to a doping-free sport by signing up for a unique health monitoring program,” the ITRA reports that 71 male and female runners have elected to participate.

Using the ITRA Performance Index as a guide, the program is offered free of charge to top 10 athletes in the men’s and women’s rankings, as well as the top 3 in each trail category and athletes returning from suspension after having previously tested positive at an event.

Among those listed are such high-profile names as USA’s Jim Walmsley, Tim Tollefson and Tim Freriks, Spain’s Kilian Jornet Burgada and Pau Gapell, and French athletes Francois D’Haene and Nicolas Martin. Female athletes who have responded to the invitation include USA’s Megan Kimmel, Camille Herron and Katie Schide, Caroline Chaverot and Nathalie Mauclair from France, and Sweden’s Ida Nilsson and Lina Helander.

Camille Herron
Photo Credit: Camille Herron

Organized by Athletes for Transparency and the Ultra Sports Science foundation, the QUARTZ program’s stated mission is to “allow everyone to contribute to a sport without doping, whilst safeguarding the health of the runners.” Touting its worldwide growth, the program is divided into 3 sub-programs: QUARTZ Elite, QUARTZ Event (“for race organizers who wish to make runners’ health a priority”) and QUARTZ Regular (“for all runners who wish to act on behalf of their own health”). The program’s site says that more than 300,000 users have registered since the program’s 2015 inception.

Photo Credit: 71 athletes take part of the Elite QUARTZ Program.

Athletes for Transparency was launched in 2004, with the intent of developing the sport’s rules and ethics, as well as promoting the health of its athletes in a doping-free environment. ITRA was created in 2013, aiming to give a voice to the world of trail running while promoting tenets of strong ethical codes, diversity, race safety and runner health as well as fostering exposure with national and international institutions interested in the sport.

Photo Credit: 71 athletes take part of the Elite QUARTZ Program.

As part of the process, QUARTZ Elite runners have the opportunity to make their data public. As any observer can see on the organization’s public profiles page , these athletes have chosen to provide information on their use of medications, dietary supplements, and other information that can only contribute to the sport’s transparency.

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Camille Herron

Desert Solstice 2018 Re-Cap

World class runners, unconstrained
Camille Herron has smashed the records with her performance at Desert Solstice this Saturday. Herron broke the Women’s World Record for 24 Hours with a distance of 162.9 miles, the event’s best performance. Herron also claimed the 100 mile American Track Record for Women, with a time of 13:25:00. Herron exhibited blazing speed day and night, and this performance marks an important addition to her already extraordinary trove of awards and achievements.

Desert Solstice 2018 Re-Cap

The Desert Solstice Track Invitational played host to 33 world class runners, who looped endlessly in unison.

Desert Solstice was a cache of stellar performance on the whole. 24 Hour distances beyond the 150 mile milestone are already incredibly rare; there were merely a couple in all the preceding months of this year. Yet, five runners from the Solstice roster surpassed that tormenting marker, going 150 miles or more.
These are stunning results from a stacked field. Although trail events may offer more dramatic enticements in terrain and scenery, track based events such as Solstice oblige some world class runners to put on the best performances of their lives. 11 world records have been set here. And 60 national records, too. Such achievements speak to how important records-based events such as Solstice can be.

Andrew Snope, barefoot, loops around the Desert Solstice track.

Other notable performances include Oswaldo Lopez, who has established a new 24 Hour Men’s Record for Mexico with a distance of 139.6 miles, and Andrew Snope, who ran 144 miles barefoot. Greg Armstrong, coming in third, also completed his 155 mile run in Teva sandals!
Some notable participants had to call it early for injury and fatigue, such as Courtney Dauwalter and Zach Bitter. Such impediments are endemic to such long distances, and comprise the central struggle of such events. We are excited for these athletes’ performances to come, in the 2019 season.
The Desert Solstice race consists of only 33 participants, and is a qualifier for the National 24 Hour Team. The race offers prizes for Men’s and Women’s 100 mile and 24 Hour performances, but records for 12 Hour are noted as well; Herron also set the Women’s World Record for 12 Hour last year with a performance of 149,130 meters.

Serious road damage on Andres Snope.

Some may find such events too detached from running’s primal character, from the experience of trekking real land as our ancestors once did. Yet the constrained arena of track ultra performances fosters its own necessity. By evening the runners’ experience of the racing environment, replacing rocky paths with rubber, we gain a more accurate measure of athletes’ performances.
This is the case not only from runner to runner, but also from year to year. While natural path conditions can alter drastically with temperature and humidity, the rubber track retains a consistent foothold from season to season. Events such as Desert Solstice, then, offer us a site to reflect on more neutral measures of endurance, and on running performances across the years. Of course, subjective influences such as pain and digestion can never be eliminated, as attested by the top rank early drop outs this year, but that’s just part of the sport. Cheers to all participants!

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desert solstice

This Weekend: Desert Solstice 2018

World class runners, unconstrained

This Saturday, December 8th, is the Desert Solstice Track Invitational, hosted at Central High School’s 400m all-weather track in Phoenix, AZ.

Although trail events may offer more dramatic enticements in terrain and scenery, track based events such as Solstice oblige some world class runners to put on the best performances of their lives.

This is pure, unconstrained running. Absolute endurance.

11 world records have been set here. And 60 national records, too.

The Desert Solstice race consists of only 30 participants, and is a qualifier for the National 24 Hour Team. The roster has some of the most lauded runners in the world: Courtney Dauwalter, Camille Herron, Zach Bitter, among many others.

The Desert Solstice race offers prizes for Men’s and Women’s 100 mile and 24 Hour performances, but records for 12 Hour are noted as well; Herron set the Women’s World Record for 12 Hour last year with a performance of 149,130 meters. Just for a sense of the tempo Desert Solstice: the qualification standard is at least 124 miles in 24 hours, or a hundred miles in under 17:30. These are top rank prerequisites.

Some may find such events too detached from running’s primal character, from the experience of trekking real land as our ancestors once did. Yet the constrained arena of track ultra performances fosters its own necessity. By evening the runners’ experience of the racing environment, replacing rocky paths with rubber, we gain a more accurate measure of athletes’ performances.

This is the case not only from runner to runner, but also from year to year. While natural path conditions can alter drastically with temperature and humidity, the rubber track retains a consistent foothold from season to season. Events such as Desert Solstice, then, offer us a site to reflect on more neutral measures of endurance, and on running performances across the years. Of course, subjective influences such as health and diet can never be eliminated, but that’s just part of the sport!desert solstice

Keep your eyes peels for our live stream this weekend, and click here to view the race participants or for more information.

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