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Badwater v. Western States Comparison
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Micah Ward
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:22 am    Post subject: Badwater v. Western States Comparison Reply with quote

Last year someone (Paul I think) wondered how Pam Reed, the Badwater champ would do at Western States. Reed ran WS this year as did the 2nd and 3rd place Badwater finishers. The comparisons are interesting.

Keep in mind that WS is 100 miles and Badwater is 135 miles.

Reed ran WS in 23:47:01 for a pace of 14:17 and ran Badwater in 28:26:52 for a pace of 12:38. Reed finished back in the middle of the pack at WS but won Badwater.

Monica Scholz ran WS in 23:34:51 for a pace of 14:09 placing just ahead of Reed. Scholz then ran Badwater in 33:41:29 for a pace of 14:58 and placed 3rd overall.

At this point you might look at this and say that a couple of middle of the pack WS finishers were able to take 1st and 3rd at Badwater, thus WS is harder. Reed ran a faster pace at Badwater even though Badwater is 35 miles longer and Scholz did not slow her pace all that much from WS to Badwater.

But then we have Dean Karnazes. Dean finished 5th overall at WS in a time of 17:43:54 for a pace of 10:39. He then finished 2nd overall at Badwater in 28:51:26 for a pace of 12:49.

What does all this tell us...other than the fact that I am not busy enough here with my classwork?

Karnazes is a big time ultrarunner with several top 10 finishes at WS to his credit. The fact that Reed beat him at Badwater indicates to me that she did not run WS as fast as she could. Another indication of that is Scholz finishing ahead of Reed at WS. Scholz is a very prolific ultrarunner (having done 24 100 milers in one year) but she is not a fast ultrarunner.

So I think our question of how well Reed could do at WS remains unanswered. And it also shows how difficult it is to compare different ultra events.
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Dan
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds to me like the big difference is who excels on various courses. With Badwater, it would seem the major challenge is withstanding the heat. The mountainous section at the end is somewhat of an afterthought, no? Whereas with WS, it's pretty much all brutally steep, right? If I'm correct on that, then Reed is the type of runner who can go forever at a decent clip on easy terrain but is lacking on the hill running power. The video I saw of her at this year's Badwater certainly didn't look like a hill climbing gazelle (aka a mountain goat)...

Dan
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Micah Ward
Olympic Medalist
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Joined: 08 May 2000
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Location: Hot&humid, GA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are probably on the right track. Western States is known for the toll that the hills take...both up and down. Karnazes is from San Francisco so he should be ok on the hills but would have to make an effort to train in the heat. Reed on the other hand lives in Arizona so she deals with the heat most of the year.

I remember seeing a list somewhere that rated the various 100 milers in difficulty. I'll try to find it and see how it compares WS and Badwater.
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Dan
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how they would even go about rating them? As your previous post indicates, the relative difficulty is quite subjective... Even if you take the average perceived difficulty, the differences of opinion probably just cancel each other out.

Dan
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