This year, It looks like there will be some mud and snow, although not as much as I would have thought two months ago.
All my training has been on a treadmill. All of it; okay, except for two weeks in Denmark in March. How 50K on the trails will go down, I have no clue. I know I'll be wearing my clunky Inov8 Mudrocks (Mudrox?), which I don't really like. All my other shoes are racing flats. No, the Girl has not been able to hook me up with a pair of Salomons.
I looked at the list of entrants and found plenty of competition.
Jake Hegge would normally be the favorite, but he ran the Zumbro 50 Miles. I have trained some with Hegge, and I know he recovers fast. I still remember how he outsprinted John Storkamp up the last hill in 2012. Jake was on the UW La Crosse track team, but chose to focus on trails. If I am with him near the end, I need to drop him before the last hill. Most likely, I will be far behind him, and if not, I don't see myself dropping him anyway.
At least Mike Borst is not on the list. When Jake and Mike, the two wise men of La Crosse, show up, they usually place 1-2.
Jordan Hanlon is faster than me for sure. I beat him at Afton a few years ago, only because he started out with the leaders, while I was weaseling away at my own pace. I think he has a 2:35 marathon, which may be faster than Hegge (although Hegge has a sub-15 5K as I recall).
Chris Rubesch could kill me at 50 miles. 50K is a little short for him, but in any case, he is peaking for Ice Age, so he may just use this as a training run.
John Storkamp is always running in the front group, chatting away and cracking jokes. Like Rubesch, he is a pure ultra guy, and 50K may be a little short for him. Maybe the mud benefits him?
I may have missed some names on the list, and obviously some fast folks from outside the group of usual suspects may show up.
The women, you ask? I honestly think the Girl would win this one, but in her absence, I did see Christine Crawford on the list. I did not see the Scotches (nee Lavin) on there. Alicia Hudelson is injured and far away. I did not see the fast Duluthians, like Christi Nowak or Leslie Semler. But, honestly, there are so many women excelling at ultras that someone whose name I don't recognize could show up and chick me.