Friday, January 21, 2011

The Muddy Buzzard's Open Male Runner Of The Year

This was a bit easier of a choice than in 2009 due to Alan King's dominance at a wide variety of events, conditions and distances.  Within the state's border's Alan I believe that Alan suffered just 2 defeats all season.  When the racing was tough and the competition tougher, Alan pretty much rose to the occasion in all instances.

Here are some of his highlights for the year:

US 1/2 Marathon Championships, Houston, January 17th - 69:37
USATF XC Championships, Spokane, Februyary, 12K @ 39:35
Twice under 16:00 at 5K - Shamrock Run & Heart & Sole in Billings - (March & June respectively) - 15:54 and 15:59
Solo 67:28 1/2 Marathon on same course used by the Montana Marathon events
32:02 on the Track in Bozeman at the Big Sky Conference Last Chance Qualifier
New Course Record in Big Sky State Games 10K @ 33:49
Qualtiy of Life Run 5-Mile in August @ 24:09
Montana Marathon 1/2 Marathon in September (1:14:47 (after running with me over the first 4 miles at about 24:00)
Ice Breaker 5 Mile - 2nd overall @ 25:39
Montana Cup XC overall champion in 20:20
MSU Billings XC Invitational - 8K @ 24:59

Alan @ 2009 Ice Breaker

Just a very solid year for Mr. King.  When he showed up at a race in 2010 there was no doubt that he was going to be considered one of the favorites.  And, if he was going to be beaten, it was going to take some fast, hard and painful running to get the line ahead of him.

Alan's only off moment all year came in December at the California International Marathon.  After coming through the half at 69:31 (right on pace for an Oly Trials qualifier), he developed a bad stitch and fell off the pace.  At that point he dnf''d rather than abuse the body any further.  But, don't count out Alan and his Trials Qualifying quest just yet.  His recovery after CIM went really well and he's geared up to take another shot at the ING Miami Marathon on 1/30 (less than 2 weeks from now).  He just ran a sub-9:00 3K on the indoor track (in the midst of his marathon training) and looks primed and ready to go at South Beach.

As easy a choice as Alan may have been for the Runner Of The Year - the guys that followed him were a bit more of a challenge.  What to do with guys like Jimmy Grant, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote and Keifer Hahn?

Behind that would perhaps have to be The Big Bird himself - Thomas Jodoin of Helena.  Okay, he had a bit of an off day at MT Cup (9th in 21:46  - but still only 20 seconds out of the top 5); but, the rest of his year was pretty solid.  New course record of 14:07 at Anaconda AOH 5K, wins Veteran's Day for 4th year in a row, double win at Governor's Cup 5K & 10K, 2nd at Wulfman, 1st in Don't Fence Me In 12K Trail in Helena and a 15:49 5K in San Diego in late December.

In the end though, he was 0-2 against Alan and that bumps him off the top spot.  An ideal year for 2011 would be to see Alan and Thomas injury free, running fast and going head to head on 4 or 5 occassions.  That would be some hot, hot, hot competition.

Jimmy Grant - the 2009 Runner of the Year - gets the next nod.  He didn't race a whole lot in 2010; but, they were all solid performances.  72:51 to win Snow Joke:, 31:44 at Riverbank Run 10K; 39:20 for 34th overall at Bloomsday and 71:09 for 1st in Missoula Marathon 1/2.  Only off day was a 6th against a stacked field (including several Washington runners) at River Roots - where he still ran 20:21 for 4-miles.

Next up is Mike Wolfe of Helena.  2nd @ Snow Joke, 4th in 10K at Riverbank Run (0-2 against Grant), 6th in Riverbank 5K (and 4th in the Trifecta), 1st in Don't Fence Me in Trail Run 30K in Helena, 3rd @ MT Cup and new course record at Big Horn 100 mile.  His biggest performance of the year though was the Europe based North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - were he place 2nd against an international field over the wet, rugged 100K event.

Mike Foote of Missoula (and an employee at The Runner's Edge) is next on the list.  He had wins at the Bear 100 in Utah, the Bridger Ridge Run, the Colter Run and the Pengellay Double Dip.  He was 3rd at the Hardrock 100, 2nd at the Don't Fence Me In 30K and 4th at MT Cup (and 0-2 against Wolfe).  I also witnessed a morning where Mike had done about 3 hours of warm-up around Mount Sentinel, then did a 4:53 in the Missoula Mile (4th overall) then finished up with another hour on the trails up the Rattlesnake.  Pretty impressive range of distance and terrain.

Keifer Hahn's list of events was just a bit too short to move into the top 5.  But, he had perhaps the performance of the year (for runs within the state's borders).  His 2:30:37 solo effort at the Missoula Marathon was a thing of beauty.  Breaking his own course record by 2 1/2 minutes - he was oh so close to the sub-2:30 barrier.  And done all by himself.  Winning by over 10:00 - he had no help with the pacing or keeping the pace on track.  It's probably the best marathon performance in Montana in at least the last decade, if not longer.  Keifer is a focused, talented athlete - he doesn't toe the line often; but, when he does show up - you know he's going to be cranking the pace and making the race fast.

One last mention - I've obviously excluded collegiate athletes.  My focus here are post collegiate athletes who have remained committed to the sport.  That being said - there is one Montana collegiate athlete who reached the rarified air of the super elite.  Yes, I'm speaking about Patrick Casey - Laurel Locomotive Alum and current MSU Bobcat.  3 races pretty much tell the tale of his talent level.  Fist up is his 4:07.9 at the Big Sky State Games Montana Mile.  Pretty impressive for mid-July for a collegiate runner.  Of course, this is nothing compared to the 4:04.44 he ran in Bozeman on the indoor track in the winter.  Both of which paled in comparison to his big day - how about this for some big time flames spewing out your butt type of day - 3rd place at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in 4:01.87.  Impressive indeed. 

But, as I said - the Buzzard is focused on those of us who have left the nest of high school and college, have stayed involved in the sport and continue to compete against the best that the Big Sky State has to offer.

So that's the view from the Buzzard's roost.  You may or may not agree with my picks; but, either way - would love to hear you weigh in on your thoughts on who you think is the best of the best. 

Next up - Masters Men (aka Old Men Running).

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard


Nicole said...

Fantastic write up Tony! Thanks for taking the time to write it. Some of the performances I was not aware of too.

Anonymous said...

Lyle Weese?