The USA National 100K Teams have competed at the annual World 100K Championships for well over 20 years, racing in such venues as the Netherlands, Gibraltar, South Korea, Belgium, Taiwan, Spain, Japan, France, Russia, and - most recently - Italy.
In the Netherlands in 2011, our American men brought home the Team Gold Medal, and the American women, the Silver.
In Italy in 2012, it was our USA women who brought home Gold, and the men won Silver. We had three American women – Amy Sproston, Meghan Arbogast, and Pam Smith - finish among the top five, with Amy winning the individual world crown. And in the men’s competition, four Americans – David Riddle, Jon Olsen, Michael Wardian, and Joe Binder – ran to top ten finishes.
The USA is represented each year by a team of six men and six women. Prospective members of the team must first meet rigorous time standards, and then are selected from the qualifying pool by a vote of representatives of USATF’s Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) Council. Information on qualifying for the USA National 100K Team can be found on the USATF 100Km Qualifying Standards page.
The 12 USA athletes are accompanied to the world championships by a management group consisting of a team leader, an assistant team leader, and a team physician, also selected by vote of the MUT Council. These three support positions see to all administrative and logistical details so that the athletes can focus on but one objective: to run the fastest race they can, against the best ultramarathoners in the world.
The world 100K championships are always a road race. The courses vary depending on the host country. We have run on 5K loops, 10K loops, out-and-back courses, and multiple irregular loop courses. Some courses have been flat, and some quite hilly. Experience has shown that a 100K road race is actually two races in one: the first 80K and the last 20K; the leaders at the 50K mark are seldom the first to cross the finish line.
The 2013 world 100K championships will be held on October 13 on Jeju Island, South Korea. This event is labeled a World Championship under the patronage of the International Association of Ultrarunners, under the umbrella of the I.A.A.F., the world governing body for track and field and long distance running.
Photos courtesy of Darryl Schaffer