Written by Lin Gentling
The day dawned as the weather person had predicted, cool temperatures (39 F), calm winds and a beautiful sunrise. Twenty-five runners toed the line as the USATF National 100K Championship started in Madison Wisconsin. The predicted weather was variable all day, from sunny skies to overcast, from calm to very windy conditions (31 MPH) blowing off of Lake Wingra, making for very chilly temperatures for the spectators, but very pleasant conditions (sans wind) for the runners.
This event also served as the first ever IAU 100K Americas Continental Championship which drew runners from 3 different countries, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. Additionally this race would serve as the first 100K to be included in the selection process to determine the 2018 100K US national team competing at the 2018 100K world championships in Croatia.
A 100K race really does not unfold until the 50K mark and then it often becomes a race of psychological strength coupled with physical ability and raw guts. A smart and patient runner with a well thought out strategy will often succeed in this type of harsh road race.
Jesse Davis (IN) ran strong the entire race. Davis, a 2:18 marathoner and 2015 member of the US 50K national, team, hit the 50k in 3:27, leading Isaiah Janzen (KS) by 2 minutes 18 seconds and 3rd place, Juan Moran (WI) by 4:23. At 70K Davis and Janzen remained 1st (4:51:28) and 2nd (4:54:53) with the time span increasing only a very little between the two runners with each lap. However at this point Mike Bialick (MN), the 2015 100K national champion, was in a dead heat with Juan Moran, both finishing 70K in 5:00:19. By 80K Davis was increasing his lead over Janzen, but ever so slightly, with the battle between Bialick and Moran continuing, with Bialick finishing 80K just 1 second ahead of Moran. Both men were showing the wear and tear of the competition, physically and psychologically. At 90K, Bialick’s lead over Janzen was 38 seconds. The race between Davis and Janzen was playing out as predicted. Davis was slightly increasing his lead with each lap in the later stages. However, it was anyone’s guess for the 3rd place.
The 10th and final lap showed why Davis is the 2017 100K National Champion. He was able to hold off the competition from the start and increased his lead over Janzen at the finish by 4:34. Credit Janzen. He gave it everything he had and held on as long as possible yielding only a few seconds with every lap. However, with the 3rd place up for grabs between Bialick and Moran, that final lap proved to be the determining factor. This is where runners dig deep and often run on shear guts to get to the finish line. Bialick ran a 43:11 10K final lap while Moran ran 55:26, and this was the difference.
On the distaff side, Dani Filipek (MI) was running with purpose. Filipek, a 2:42 marathoner, entered the National 100K to win. In her own words,” I went for it, fearless, gutsy, and wanted to win, I have no shame in admitting that. I led till I collapsed, went through the marathon in 2:57, and was even under American Record (at one point) and course record pace”. Filipek ran 4th overall and 1st woman throughout her race. Unfortunately that early pace came back to haunt her as he went down with medical problems at 80K and was forced to withdraw.
Heavily favored Caroline Boller (2016 50K national champion and 2016 50K national team) ran a very smart and controlled race. At 50K, it was Dani Filipek (MI) running way out in front at 3:31:33. Boller (CA) arrived at the 50K mark in 3:39:06 and Katalin Nagy (FL), 2014 24H world champion, at 3:52:35. All three women looked like they were running under control and seemed to be doing well. The order of the women remained the same at 70K, however Boller was increasing the distance slightly between she and Nagy. At 80K Filipek dropped from the competition, holding onto 4th place overall until that time. This put Boller into 1st positon with Nagy 2nd, and Canadian, Julie Hamulecki, in 3rd place. Hamulecki was 14th at last year’s IAU 100k World Championships as part of the Canadian team.
Going into the last and critical lap of the 100K race, there was less than 5 minutes separating Nagy and Hamulecki. After 100K, the US 2017 100K national champion was Caroline Boller (CA) finishing in 7:51:03. There was a sprint to the finish between Nagy (FL) and Hamulecki (Canada) with Hamulecki finishing 11 seconds ahead of Nagy. After 100K, sprinting to finish within 11 seconds of one another is most impressive.
Those USA runners representing the USA in the first ever IAU 100K Americas Continental Championship did our country proud. Jesse Davis (1st), Mike Bialick (3rd), Caroline Boller (1st) and Katalin Nagy (3rd) all finished in the top 3. Perhaps Boller said it best, “The honor of wearing the ‘USA’ singlet will always challenge me to bring the best race I can deliver. The lead-up to the race had been a less-than-ideal training cycle, which resulted in a tough last few loops. Ultimately, though, persistence won the day. My heartfelt thanks go to race director Tim Yanacheck, and all of the organizers and volunteers for all of their hard work in putting together a top quality event”.
A very special thank you to Timo Yanachek and his outstanding crew of volunteers. This is the 11th year that Mad City has hosted the 100K national championships. Without exception, runners agree that Timo will do absolutely anything to make sure the runners have an exceptional and very personal experience, fulfilling their every need plus more.