Monday, November 26, 2012
Top 10 ultrarunners of all time?
Recently stumbled across this article. It's a Runner's World piece that describes an ESPN competition for the "greatest athlete of all time." The athletes are broken down by category, and, perhaps surprisingly, there's a sub-category for ultrarunners.
Who was selected as the greatest ultrarunner of all time, according to ESPN?
Here's a link to her ultrasignup.com page. She's a heck of an accomplished ultrarunner, but she's rarely been the best runner in any given race she's run. She won Badwater overall in 2003. But she's not now and never has been the best ultrarunner in the world.
Nonetheless, that got me thinking. Who are the best ultrarunners of all time? I googled the question. No answer, and not even much speculation. And since I couldn't find a helpful source on the web, I decided to try to make a little list myself.
Please enjoy with the caveat that I am not an authority on this subject. Just a fan with a keyboard.
Top 10 ultrarunners of all time:
1) Yiannis Kouros - 100 miles in 11:46? 186 miles in a day? Yeah. Everyone else is competing for second.
2) Kilian Jornet - Just 25, but he races a ton, and he almost never loses. Would be the favorite in almost any ultra or mountain race on the planet.
3) Ann Trason - 13 wins at Western States; record at Leadville that looks incredibly daunting. Had no competition during her era.
4) Bruce Fordyce - 9-time winner of Comrades
5) Ellie Greenwood - Won Western States and JFK 50 this year with course records, not to mention a second place at Comrades. Here's link to her ultrasignup page. That's a whole lot of first place finishes, without much of anything else.
6) Geoff Roes - Past or present CR holder at: Western States, Wasatch, HURT, Bear, Susitna, RRR 50, etc.
7) Scott Jurek - 7-time Westen States champion? Doubt that will ever be topped.
8) Karl Meltzer - Most 100-mile victories of all time. Depending on the course, can still beat anyone in the world even today.
9) Lizzy Hawker - 24 hr. record holder for women, multiple UTMB titles, 100k World Champ; RRR 100 champ.
10) Julien Chorier - Alternated victories at Diagonale de Fous w/ KJ over the last four years. Came over to the US and owned the competition at Hardrock in 2011. Won UT-Mt. Fuji this year. Likely the second-best Euro today, after KJ.
[Update: As Nomad points out in the comments, Don Ritchie belongs on this list, and probably near the top. Check out this article for his background. Pretty humbling for anyone who thinks that modern runners are superior to those of prior generations.]
Honorable mentions: Tim Twietmeyer, Matt Carpenter, Tony Krupicka, J. Philippe Marie-Louise, Max King, Hal Koerner, Mike Morton, Mike Wardian, Ryan Sandes, Kami Semick, Nikki Kimball, Elena Nurgalieva, Kyle Skaggs [Update: Dave Mackey]
Whom did I forget? Feel free to post your own list in the comments. If I get enough, I'll do a crowdsourced list later.