The record of 21:42 isn't exactly soft, but 21:30 or even 21:15 is possible with the talent that's run the race in the past. The winners have been 2:31-2:36 marathoners. Anyone who could do a marathon in 2:15 is probably too much of a road marathon specialist to do well at a trail 100, but there hasn't been an elite-class ultrarunner entered in the race, either (and you can probably name all of them yourself, if you're reading this).
What's the ultimate record time for Sawtooth, the time that could be done under perfect conditions? I think 20:00. There's a nice 3:1 ratio between finish times at Sawtooth and the Voyageur 50, with Voyageur usually won in about 7:15-7:30 (Gardner won in 6:55 in 2010), which leads to Sawtooth times in 21:45-22:30, which would be fast winning times. The reason I use this is that Scott Jurek set the record at Voyageur at 6:41, after a number of tries, and that's the best elite-level comparison that can be made; three times that is 20 hours.
I used three different methods to come up with split times for a 20 hour Sawtooth and what I found was interesting (to me, at least):
Split Rock 1:16-1:32
Beaver Bay 3:20-3:30
Silver Bay 4:13-4:26
Co. Rd 6 7:56-8:10
Looking at Gardner's actual splits when he ran it, he was as much as a half hour ahead of pace at Co. Rd. 6 and only 7 minutes behind at Sugarloaf. That doesn't mean he could've run sub-20, though; as tough as he is, he's more of a 50 Mile/100K runner and not a night-running specialist. Adam Schwartz-Lowe has shown how fast the night sections can be done and his 149 minutes from Crosby to Sugarloaf is (coincidentally) exactly what I have in my splits above. Also worth noting is that Helen Lavin's splits through the first 4 aid stations are proportional to what I have listed; in other words, she ran exactly perfectly even splits for 40 miles, which wouldn't surprise anyone who's raced against her.
The common wisdom of the race has been that, as one can't run technical as fast at night, one should try to get in as many miles as possible before nightfall. Hitting Crosby by sunset has been the standard, and that's exactly what I have above. Several people have hit that mark, but none of them were capable of a 20 hour finish; they've run the first half too hard.
Men: Chris Gardner (22:10), Ben Hian, then any of: Joe Boler, Kevin Grabowski and Adam Schwartz-Lowe.
Update (Wednesday): Toss-up between Gardner and Hian. Steve Moore and James Kerby should finish before Boler and Grabowski and probably before Schwartz-Lowe. Thanks to those who caught the oversights!
Women: Sheryl Wheeler (26:55), then Rebecca George and Christi Nowak. Wheeler gets the nod because of experience, but the other two could be very fast in their first 100's. Kristina Folcik, Kim Martin, April Cole and Veronica Jarlehag also deserve consideration.
Added: This post needed a photo. Enjoy.
|It was this, or start "Shark Week."|