Saturday, December 30, 2017

USATF Runners of the Year 2017: better be USATF!

Our National USA Track and Field officials, most of them volunteers, met in Columbus, OH, a month ago for the 2017 Annual Convention. If, like me, you are particularly interested in MUT things (i.e. Mountain, Ultra and Trail running), you can consult the meeting minutes of the National MUT Council.

One thing which isn't in the minutes, however, is the result of the vote for the coveted USATF Runners of the Year titles. I must admit that this process was a bit obscure to me and I was stunned to discover that, this year, I had gotten three automatic nominations thanks to my three Master wins at the three Nationals I competed in (Fourmidable 50K Trail in Auburn, the epic 100K Road one week before my Boston podium, and the 50M Road in October). On FaceBook though, I admitted that this was just the result of a poor participation in these Nationals (lack of elite showing up at the Championships nowadays), and I was sure there would be plenty of additional nominations in the meantime, more worthwhile.

Personally, in the Masters Ultra Trail category whose competitiveness I know too well, I was thinking for instance at:

  1. Jeff Browning who finished 20th overall at UTMB, won the Bear 100-mile, and finished 4th overall at Western States, all this at 45!
  2. Michael Wardian who raced more than 50 times this year and placed on the podium most of the time;
  3. Paul Terranova: overall win at Bandera 50K, 22nd overall at TDS (Chamonix)
  4. Jesse Haynes: 5th at HURT 100 mile, 8th at Western States, overall win at Chimera 100-mile, 4th at Miwok 100K;
  5. Dominick Layfield: overall win at Montane Spine (UK) and Quicksilver 100K, 5th overall at Leona Divide 50-mile, 14th overall at Western States and 3rd at Rio Del Lago 100-mile.
But I must confess it's hard to keep track of who is doing what, every year, given the large number of ultra races around the world today, so I'm certainly missing key names.

Looking at the results, I became intrigued about the process and spent some time on the phone with Joe Fejes who stepped up to give up his time to administer this vote. I learned that 40 or so representatives of MUT Councils around the country were consulted (something I was surprised to learn since I now represent the Pacific Association for MUT, the largest USATF constituent in the US, but I did get the message).

Now, per Richard Bolt's post and call for nominations, that part of the process, the nominations, is actually very open since everyone can propose a name. I'm making a note of getting in the loop earlier next year and advertise this capability. I also suggested to Joe to ensure that each association had enough notice to nominate their best local candidates as they should know best what their local USATF members have achieved during the year.

Last but not least, as for the selection criteria, the number one is that, as the USATF RoY titles says, candidates have to be serious about USATF. Number one, be a USATF member in good standing ($25 yearly fee, or $20 if you register for 5 years). Number two, participate to USATF events, ideally at the National at least, and possibly at the International level for the best who are making Team USA. Number three, perform well at these events, if not in absolute with a National-class performance, at least relatively to the rest of the field.

With that, congrats to the 2017 USATF Runners of the Year whom you can find in Richard's post.
  • Mountain Runners of the Year:
    • Lyndon Ellefson Memorial Mountain Runner of the Year: Joseph Gray, 33, Colorado Springs, CO
    • Master’s Man: Chris Grauch, 45, Boulder, CO
    • Women’s Open: Addie Bracy, 31, Longmont, CO
    • Master’s Woman: Sara Wagner, 45, Flagstaff AZ
  • Sub-Ultra Trail Runners of the Year:
    • Men’s Open: Mario Mendoza, 31, Bend, OR
    • Men’s Master: Chris Grauch, 45, Boulder, CO
    • Women’s Open: Renee Metivier, 35, Bend, OR
    • Master’s Woman: Corinne Walton, 47, Portland, OR
  • Ultra Trail Runners of the Year:
    • Men’s Open: Max King, 37, Bend, OR
    • Men’s Master: Chad Lasater, 45, Houston, TX
    • Women’s Open: Courtney Dauwalter, 32, Golden, CO
    • Master’s Woman: Caroline Boller, 42, Solvang, CA
  • Ultra Road Runners of the Year:
    • Ted Corbitt Memorial Ultra Runner of the Year: Patrick Reagan, 30, Savannah, GA
    • Men’s Master: Olivier LeBlond, 45, Arlington, VA
    • Ruth Anderson Memorial Ultra Runner of the Year: Camille Herron, 34, Warr Acres, OK
    • Master’s Woman: Pam Profitt Smith, 43, Salem, OR
  • Contributor of the Year:
    • Tracey Outlaw
Why did Chad Lasater made the Ultra Trail Masters over the other names I mentioned above? Because he competed in two USATF Nationals this year and won the Masters division at the 100K trail and 100-mile trail championships in his local Texas. And not the others.

Anyway, thank you especially to Joe and Richard for organizing this vote, it was really cool to get nominated next to legends such as Max King, Olivier LeBlond, Pam Smith, Camille Heron or Courtney Dauwalter. At 54 next year, I don't expect that to repeat so let me savor the moment and capture it in a blog so I remember when I get too old for this... ;-) But, at a minimum, the process shows that it is open to many who are dedicated to USATF and its races which abound in age group awards at every National Championship around the country. Check the list of the MUT 2018 Nationals and plan accordingly then!

If you live in North California, and are not a member already, consider joining our Pacific Association and competing with one of our local teams, either in Cross-Country, ultra or road races!
With this ultimate post for the year, all the best in 2018, go full speed with MUT and USATF!

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