Speaking of ultra, the ceremony actually started with us, before the three other LDR categories which are: Cross-Country, Road Racing Long (>10K), Road Racing Short (<=10K). Our Mountain and Ultra Trail (MUT) committee co-chairs, Bill Dodson and Hollis Lenderking, distributed the 12 individual and 4 team awards. After an amazing 2011 where our club took home the 4 team awards (Men, Women, Mixed, Overall), our Team Captain, Greg Lanctot, thought it was a good idea to leave a few to others to ensure a more open competition... ;-) We ended up grabbing only the Women division title this year as a result yet, 8 out of the 12 individual awards.
The award ceremony was orchestrated by our new LDR Chair, Tom Bernhard, who took over this key role from his club mate, Tyler Abbott who was recognized this evening with a Lifetime Service Awards for his 12.5 years of volunteering at this positions. Tom shared a few facts and numbers to illustrate how strong our association is, and how fortunate and grateful we are to have such an amazing support organization for our sport in North California. The Pacific Association is the oldest one out of 54 associations in the country. Most of the other associations don't even have the concept of Grand Prix, much less any staff to support their operations. Certainly, we must be the association to have 4 active Grand Prix, involving 1,400 participants out of 4,600 adult members. 1,200 of these participants actually compete in at least 2 Grand Prix with 100 logging points in 3 Grand Prix. The MUT Grand Prix counted 265 participants this year.
As an Impala herself, Lisbet spoke about the challenge and gratification of balancing an elite running career with a full-time job and raising children. She particularly insisted on the importance of a support network and gave credit to the Impala coach for discovering her talent while she was just a recreational runner and proudly logging 15 miles a week at the time. Lisbet earned a spot on the Olympic Trials with a marathon PR of 2:45:11 at Twin Cities.
Jon Olsen has an amazing track record which his 95% UltraSignup ranking reflects. Most of his finishes are in the top 3 and I'm amazed as the progress he has made these past years. So much that he made the 24-hour USA Team last year, with the second longest qualifying distance for Team USA with 158.53 miles at the North Coast Spring event in 2012. He also placed 7th overall at the 100K world championships with an amazing 6:48:52!
As for me, I'm just a Grand Prix "stud." After several years with the FFA (Fédération Francais d'Athlétisme) I became a USA Track & Field member in 2006 and earned my first points in the ultra Grand Prix when I ran my first 50-mile at Firetrails (and winning the Rookie Award, a very special bottle of wine autographed by co-race directors and ultra legends Ann Trason and Carl Anderson ;-). Needless to say, the race happening in October, it was too late to compete in the Grand Prix but this race plus Helen Klein 50-mile and Quad Dipsea triggered the idea to give a full try in 2007. I won my age group in 2007 which led me to try again in 2008 and the pattern has repeated itself 6 times... Overall I ran 4 of the Grand Prix races in 2006, 9 in 2007, 11 in 2008, 12 in 2009, 11 in 2010 and 2011, 8 last year and 1 earlier this month, for a total of 68 out of the 78 ultras I ran so far. Evidently, I'm... hooked! ;-) And, per Hollis' nice words, just getting better and more consistent.
I was nominated and awarded the UROY in 2007. Nominated again in 2008 when Erik Skaden was chosen. 2009 was Victor Ballesteros versus Chikara Omine, with a repeat in 2010. Last year, I was on a business trip in the Middle East and didn't even know I was nominated again (Dave Mackey was the obvious winner). Anyway, the 2013 PA UROY award naturally went to... Jon , not for his participation in our local competitions (none in 2012 as he was focusing on the world championships) but for his elite achievements at the international level. Congratulations to him and Suzanna Bon who is our other 2013 Ultra Running of the Year (Suzanna was 5th overall at last years' 24-hour world championship in Poland with 231 km or 143.5 miles!):