The winner of the poll was Jim Skaggs with 53% of the vote and a tight race for 2nd went to John Grobben with 24% and Karl Meltzer with 21%. This was an especially tough choice since all of the races are so valued and vary in distance and degree of difficulty. Thanks to each one of you for providing us a venue to indulge ourselves in.
Utah Ultra - Best of 2012 - Race/RD of the Year
Utah is fortunate to have a vibrant trail running community, due in no small part to the number of races that are offered in our great State. From the flat Pony Express and Salt Flat 100's, to the brutal Bear 100 and MAS 50. There are "official" races and classic "fun runs" such as the BoSho Marathon and Millcreek Midnight 50k. Here are a few of the races, and their Race Directors, that stood out to us this year.
Wastach 100 Mile Endurance Run. RD John Grobben
John Grobben and the wonderful Wasatch 100 Race Committee once again put on a great race with fast times, a competitive field, and enough sense to maintain Wasatch's characteristic, feels-like-home atmosphere. A record 213 out of 289 runners finished the race with Jeff Browning winning in the third fastest winning time of 19:33. 5 out of the top 10 were Utahns . Despite pressure from local governmental agencies to cut down traffic at some of the major aid stations, Grobben and Co. managed to come up with a plan that while controversial to some runners and their crew, allowed the race to proceed without a hitch and all runners to receive all the support they needed. Wasatch has done a remarkable job of maintaining it's low-key image. Anyone who ran it in 2012 was reminded again that despite the growing commercialism found in ultrarunning, Wasatch continues to embody the reasons so many of us run: friends, community and the wild places that the trails leads us.
Antelope Island Buffalo Runs. RD Jim Skaggs
Starting in 2006 with 146 finisher in 25 and 50 Km distances, Jim Skaggs has grown the Antelope Island Buffalo Runs into one of the premier early spring running events in the West. 2012 saw over 700 runners run the 25 and 50Km, 50 mile and 100 mile races. Juggling that number of runners, crew, and the various start times is a huge task. Jim has put together an amazing crew of volunteers to coordinate the weekend of running. He cooks 100 gallons of buffalo stew for the finishers and hazes the occasional "friendly" buffalo off the course. Throughout the weekend, Jim can be seen all over the Island with a quick smile, a joke and his trademark stuffed buffalo ball cap. If you spend any time at all on the local trails, you have seen a runner in one of the 3500 finishers shirts dispensed over the last 6 years. Odds are you have one of your own. If you don't, sign up this year and experience the wonders of Antelope Island on your own two feet.
Speedgoat 50K. RD Karl Meltzer
Once again, legendary ultrarunner Karl Meltzer put on a race that will not soon be forgotten. As if the reputation of being the toughest 50K in the U.S. with more than 11,000 feet of climbing wasn't enough to bring out the best of the best, this year Karl put together a purse of $12,000. The race was part of the International Skyrunning Federation's race series. 265 runners with arguably the deepest field of "elite" runners in 2012 started the race. There were more than 80 volunteers to ensure everyone stayed on course and minimize the carnage that has come to be expected in the latter stages of the day. Karl handled the controversial issue of winner Kilian Jornet cutting corners on some switchbacks with grace and equanimity. In doing so he guaranteed the race would stay a part of the Skyrunning series and continue to attract the top runners from around the world for years to come. Despite being one of the highest profile races of 2012 in the US, the Speedgoat 50K maintained a down-home feel with all participants mingling at the finish holding a slice of pizza in one hand and a bottle of Ultragen (or beer) in the other