Once again, I was honored to be on the voting panel for thee 2017 UltraRunner of the Year. And while the 2016 voting was challenging, this year was increasingly so. But that's the fun of it, right?!?
For example, how do you compare the year of Tim Tollefson versus what Hayden Hawks did in 2017?
Tim completed 3 Ultra Trail World Tour races with amazing results (a win at UltraTrail Australia, 3rd at UTMB, and 5th in Hong Kong, and well as a podium at a highly competitive domestic race (2nd at Speedgoat). He showed success at the 50k to 100+ mile distances. But, he only completed those 4 races, and DNFed American River 50 mile. Hayden Hawks had a major international win at CCC, and an amazing domestic performance with a win and course record Moab Red Hot, as well as a win at Red Mountain 50k which is a relatively small race. Add to that two other strong performances at highly competitive domestic races with a 2nd place at Chuckanut and 3rd at TNF-San Fransisco. Hayden had successes at the 50k to 100km distances. He raced more, but also had a few races where he struggled, with a 77th at Transvulcania and 81st at the World Trail Running Championships.
Now - looking at those two resumes of their years, which would you vote for over the other?
Hayden completed 7 races with 5 strong performances. Tim started 5 races, completing 4, yet the four that he completed were all strong performances. Tim showed successes over a larger range of distances (50k to 100+ miles), however Hayden showed successes over a wider range of terrain ranging from technical mountain (CCC) to runnable rolling (Moab Red Hot). Hayden had a MAJOR win at CCC, but Tim had a podium at UTMB and a win at UltraTrail Australia.
Which is more impressive? You could make an argument for either of them, depending on how you value different factors.
And, looking down the list of well respected runners, incredible performances, and diverse results for 2017, it was an exciting challenge to sort through it all. Add to that the challenge of selecting top performances, and top age graded performances - and it can be a daunting (but fun) endeavor.
So, as an engineer, I decided that the best way to be objective and calculated about it was to write out my criteria, give a point value for different types of performances, and then just add up the total points accumulated for each runner. This helped me weed through the 50+ names provided and ultimately determine who was my top 10 UltraRunner of the Year.