So who’s running Eastern States this year? I was curious what type of person would sign up for the race so pulled together the below numbers. Huge honkin’ disclaimer: these numbers were pulled from Ultrasignup and while they are very accurate for US races, they don’t have a lot on international races. Also, some runners may have had their results split and I may not have accurately captured that for everyone. And since we’re still a couple weeks out from 8/12, the actual people toeing the line that day may be a little different.
Breakdown by age and Gender
Participants are generally young and male. When I ran Umstead earlier this year, there were a bunch of people over 60 and several over 70 years old. Typically, the 40-49 year age group will be the largest, however the 30-39 takes top billing at ES100. And while females are typically underrepresented in 100 miles, 15% seems really low. Though I really don’t have anything to compare this to.
Breakdown by Racing History
Not all of these results are ultras, but you can generally get a feel for how experienced people are by the number of races on Ultrasignup. Averages can get skewed by fat tails (i.e. “max” above), so I’ve added in the medians which represent someone in the exact middle. So the typical runner this year has done 15 races, been doing ultras for 4 years, and has finished one other hundred.
This chart gives a bit more color on the number of years running ultras. Since I’m still relatively new to the whole ultra thing (ran my first in April 2014), I just assume everyone else at the starting line of these races has tons more experience than me. The surprising thing here is that only 21% of the 223 runners have been doing ultras for more than 7 years. I’m not sure if this is because ultras are still relatively new (Born To Run was published only 8 years ago) or because people who run them typically burn out quickly. Maybe a combination of the two?
Details on 100 Mile Finishes
Now these numbers really surprise me. Six finishes puts me in the top 15% of runners?!?! And 57% haven’t finished more than 1? That is a whole heap of inexperience being led to the slaughter. I had finished 2 races heading into last year and this race was orders of magnitude harder than Oil Creek or C&O Canal. I can’t imagine trying to finish this race without having completed another. For all those looking for buckle #1 this year, I wish you the best of luck.
And the Veterans
About 10% of the runners starting on the 12th have finished ES100 before. There are only 6 out there with multiple finishes and three that have done so each year. Your best bet is probably finding one of these runners and shadowing them the entire time. Run when they run. Walk when they walk. And eat, drink, and pound electrolytes when they. . . well, you get the idea.
Good luck to everyone heading to Waterville.