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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 58.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Mad City 100K goes the distance
Madison hosts U.S. national championship
Greg Crowther wins the national championship.
Credit:David Medaris

Madison hosted the inaugural Mad City 100K Saturday, welcoming 56 solo ultramarathoners and 25 relay teams to the Vilas Park starting line for a race that doubled as this year's U.S. national 100-kilometer championships.

With temperatures in the low 20s and winds blowing 15-25 miles per hour, the hardy competitors set off on the first of 10 laps around the classic 10-kilometer course around Lake Wingra by way of Edgewood College, Nakoma Golf Club and the UW-Madison Arboretum. Ahead of them lay 62.1 miles of running -- the equivalent of almost 2.4 marathons all at once.

Pre-race favorites to make the U.S. national team included Seattle's Greg Crowther and Scott Jurek, both 33; Boulder, Colorado's Chad Ricklefs, 39; and, on the women's side, Alaska's Julie Udchachon, 36; Ohio's Connie Gardner, 43; Milwaukee's Carolyn Smith, 41; and Madison's own Ann Heaslett, 43.

With the event also drawing ultramarathoners who sought only to finish the endurance test, along with some high-spirited relay teams with fanciful names such as Racin' Rabbits and Weakened Warriors, enthusiasm ran high when the first-ever Mad City 100K got underway, as seen in this clip.

This next clip from early in the race demonstrates the way in which relay teams competing in the Mad City 100K are tracked throughout the event. Once a team's runner passes through the start/finish zone and the electronic monitor records the team's timing chip, the chip's band is remove from the runner's ankle and placed around that of the team's next runner.

After two laps, the lead runners remain clustered in close proximity as they vie for one of the six men's and six women's spots available on the U.S. national team. The top contenders pass through their second lap zone at about one hour, 20 minutes, an average of about 40 minutes per 10-kilometer lap -- a pace of just under six minutes and 30 seconds per mile. Those beeps you hear in this video clip are the electronic monitors recording the signal from the timing chips wrapped around each runner's ankle.

Chad Ricklefs, one of a handful of pre-race favorites, abandons the Mad City 100K after completing five laps and 31 miles. He has already qualified for the U.S. national team, he explains, because he has already finished a 100-kilometer race this season with a time below the seven-hour, 20-minute men's qualifying standard for the 2007 World Cup 100K. In this video clip, he assesses conditions he encountered out on the course.

A little more than half-way through the inaugural Mad City 100K, spirits remain high among members of the Racin' Rabbits relay team, as shown in this video clip.

Over the course of the race, Seattle's Greg Crowther opened up a lead and didn't let go. Despite fading to a pace of about 51 minutes for each of his last two laps, he won the inaugural Mad City 100K -- and the U.S. national championships -- by breaking the tape with a time of seven hours, 14 minutes and 31 seconds. In this video clip, captured minutes after he crossed the finish line, Crowther is wrapped in a warm blanket and appears relieved to have insulation against the brutal conditions in which he had run 62.1 miles.

Of the 56 solo ultramarathoners who started the inaugural Mad City 100K, 30 finished all 62.1 miles, including 11 women and 19 men. Their average time: nine hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds.

On the men's side, Scott Jurek was second to Crowther in 7:32.05, followed by:
3. Kevin Setnes, 7:51:49
4. Roy Pirrung, 8:49:28
5. Robert Pokorny, 9:00:13
6. John Finn, 9:25:01
7. Alarik Rosenlund, 9:37:42
8. Russell De Lap, 9:42:04 55
9. Joe Winch, 9:45:25
10. Steven Escaler 10:16:55 35

Julie Udchachon was the women's champion and fourth overall at 8:09:04, followed by Devon Crosby-Helms, second in 8:16:41 47; and Carolyn Smith, third at 8:36:39 23. All three times beat the 8:40 women's qualifying standard for the 2007 IAU World Cup.

Madison's own Ann Heaslett finished fourth among women, in 8:45:27 17, followed by:
5. Connie Gardner, 8:56:08
6. Francesca Conte, 9:11:31
7. Kim Martin, 9:27:00
8. Kimberly Holak, 9:35:24
9. Mary Gorski, 10:55:08
10. Deedee Grafius, 11:27:58 37

The Big Ten relay team won the relay division in 6:45:53, followed by:
2. Mad Masters, 7:04:07
3. Vilas Voyagers, 7:27:55
4. Go Pre, 7:52:16
5. Team Supreme, 8:25:56

Among the women's relay teams, Racin' Rabbits finished first at 7:55:21, followed by:
2. Suby Von Haden, 8:53:57
3. Sbr Me Asap, 9:17:06
4. Networks, 9:24:45
5. Weakened Warriors, 9:46:34

More about the Mad City 100K, including lap-by-lap results for each ultramarathoner and relay team is available at

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