The men's race at Voyageur always comes down to who signs up at the last minute, so there's no point trying to predict who'll win. The women's race is the one to watch this year, anyway. Here's the players:
Helen Lavin - Odds on favorite to win. She won last year, she's in shape, she's been running well and she seems to have focused on this race in particular. She could be the first woman to crack the 8 hour barrier.
Julie Treder - More experienced than Helen and I think more talented, Julie could win this race if it's one she wants badly enough. She'd be the favorite if Helen didn't have experience on the course.
Kim Martin - Kim's been sort of flying under the radar since she moved to Minnesota from Ohio, but she is fast and tough and will be under 9 hours. How far under 9 is anyone's guess.
Tracy Hoeg - The darkest of dark horses in the race, she's done only one 50 miler and that on flat ground, but some people turn out to be born to race these things and she may be one of them.
Lisa Trainor - Lisa's the best hill runner - male or female - I know, but I don't know that she's ever run further than a marathon and her busy life outside running makes me wonder if she's ready for this. If she is ready, watch out! Just checked: Lisa won this race in 2003!
Kat Yarger - Kat runs this every year and always about 9:30. This year will be no exception.
Val Shuster - Val's been cutting off a few minutes every race, so she'll be under 10, maybe 9:45.
Julie Berg - Julie's been doing speedwork and hasn't been racing as much as in the past. I think she's going to surprise herself with a PR at the distance (9:58). I recently teased her that the Gnarly Bandit Challenge is a guy's thing; I'd like to publicly state that, if I can do it (and that's a big big if), she could do it in high heels and with the time she'd beat me by in each race, she could bake a cake from scratch.
April Cole - The last I checked, April hadn't signed up. She's done it the past two years in just over 9 hours. If she ever gets serious about it, she'd be challenging for the win. Another not signed up to watch for is Rochelle Wirth. And, if Kim Holak shows, all bets are off.
Kami Holtz - I always seem to underestimate Kami, but she should be a solid 4th or 5th place.
As for me, I've been sick all week with allergies and haven't run since Saturday. I seem to have a choice between hives and swollen eyes or medicines that make me tired and dehydrated. If I feel okay Saturday, the challenge will be to beat Bob Triplett and Jeff Mallach, which I think would give me an insurmountable lead in the Fab 5 Fifties series. If everything goes perfectly (and when has it ever?) I could run as fast as 9:30, but expect to be just under 10... I have to beat Julie Berg someday, right?
And if anyone going to the race knows Harry Sloan, please introduce me to him. He won the first ultra I ever ran in 1982.
5 hours ago