Number 1 - Nikki Kimball - Bozeman. A top ultra/trail runner over the years, Nikki seemed to have a renewed energy upon entering the over 40 group in mid year. Many of her best performances came at out of state races at her specialty. But, she also showed some wheels in a fair number of races under the Big Sky.
- Big Butte Run 11K - 39 - 51:07 - 1st Woman
- Don't Fence Me In 30K - 39 - 2:46:03 - 1st Woman
- Bozeman Classic 5K - 40 - 19:46 - 1st Master Woman
- Bridger Ridge Run - 40 - 3:56:39 - 1st Woman, 9th Overall - still the only woman with a sub-4:00 finish.
- Bozeman Marathon - 40 - 3:15:18 - 1st Woman, 5th Overall
- Western States 100 Mile - 40 - 18:17:39 - 3rd Woman (5 seconds out of 2nd place)
- Bear 100 Mile - 40 - 22:19 - 1st Woman
- Antelope Island 50K - 39 - 4:41:19 - 1st Woman
- North Face Bear Mountain 50 Mile - 39 - 9:36:50 - 2nd Woman
- North Face Endurance Challenge Atlanta - 50 Mile - 8:57:54 - 1st Woman, 4th Overall
It's pretty hard to argue with those types of performances. Sub-20:00 5K to top 3 at Wester States 100 Miler. Man, that is some serious range of performance. Local or national fields, she performed at the front. Not only was she the top Master's Woman, she is always competitive against the open women's field. It was a spectacular way to enter the master's rank.
Number 2 - Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge. The 2010 Overall Women's Runner Of The Year, Nicole had a short but impressive season. Why so short - how about pregnancy (culminating in the birth of twins Roam and Ember in early November of 2011)!!!!!! She only got in four races in 2011 - not enough to get her back into the open ranks; but, the level of performance showed that she is clearly at the top of the women's masters field.
- AOH Shamrock Run 6 Mile - 36:50 - 1st Woman
- Ice Breaker 5 Mile - 32:16 - 3rd Woman, 1st Masters
- Big Butte Run 11K - 53:34 - 3rd Woman, 1st Masters
- Wulfman CDT 14K - 1:17:51 - 9th Woman, 1st Masters
Number 3 - Dani Shahan, Bozeman. Dani doesn't race a lot - sticking closer to home and the family in the Gallatin Valley. But, when she does venture out onto the roads, she is ready to rock and roll. Even with just the 3 listed races, Dani clearly demonstrates that she belongs at the top of the 40+ lists.
- Bozeman Classic 10K - 37:48 - 1st Overall Woman
- Seatte Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon - 1:19:40 - 6th Woman, 1st Master
- Bozeman Marathon - 1/2 Marathon - 1:20:26 - 1st Overall Woman
Number 4 - Jenny Newton of Missoula. With the exception of Nikki, it seemed as though the rule of the Montana master's women is to not race too often. Jenny raced a bit more than some of the others; but, still a pretty limited season. Jenny is a true racer who's at home on the track, roads and XC. She had pretty wide range of performances from 800 meters track to 12K roads.
- Mt. Sac Relays Master 800 Meters - 2:25.69 - 5th Master
- Diva Day 5K - 19:29 - 2nd Woman, 1st Master
- USATF Club Championships XC 6K - 23:24 - 12th Master
- MT Cup 7.2K - 29:09 - 9th Woman, 1st Master
- Bloomsday 12K - 48:17 - 5th Master
Number 5 - Julie Gilchrist, Missoula. Many people know Julie's daughter Paige as one of the best Montana girls prep runners...........but, if you've watched Julie race, you know that the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. Julie is a tough competitor. She tends to focus on the longer races; but, as can be seen from the MT cup results, she is pretty adept at the shorter stuff as well.
- Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon - 1:36:51 - 1st Master
- Run To The Pub 1/2 Marathon - 1:32:28 - 1st Master
- Eugene Marathon - 3:17:07 - 5th Master
- MT Cup 7.2K - 30:26 - 16th Woman, 2nd Master
Next year should be even deeper for the 40+ women as Jennifer Burke enters the mix (she turned 40 in October and just didn't have enough master's performances to be considered for the rankings this year). Would love to see the women race a bit more and would really love to see some more head to head performances within this group.
Performance Of The Year - Nikki Kimball's 3rd Place @ Western States 100 Mile. Western States is THE ultra trail race in North America; and, one of the top in the world. To finish on the podium at such a prestigious event is quite impressive.
Next up would be Jenny Newton's 2:25.96 800 Meters @ Mt. Sac. Those are some serious wheels, especially for a master's athlete. #3 would go to Dani Shahan and her 1:19:40 1/2 Marathon in Seattle - where she came through 10K faster than her winning time at the Bozeman Classic.
So, that wraps up our 2011 rankings. Looking forward to an exciting 2012 - full of fast and furious racing.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard.