For Immediate Release
December 2, 2003

Grand Slam Record Breaker Joe Kulak and US 100-Mile Champ Connie Gardner Named Ultrarunners of the Year: Pam Reed and John Geesler Take Masters Honor

For performances in a variety of venues from the desert of Death Valley to altitude trails and multi-day track events in the US and overseas, USA Track & Field’s Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) Running Council selected the following ultrarunners as the 2003 men’s and women’s ultrarunners of the year in open and master’s categories.  “We have an impressive group of talent ultrarunners sharing the spotlight this year,” says Lorraine Gersitz, MUT Awards Coordinator.  “Their successes on road, trails, and tracks, over set distances and in timed events highlight the diversity in the sport of ultrarunning.  There’s a venue for everyone in the ultradistances.”

The USATF ultrarunners of the year were voted for by MUT Running Council members from nominees who ran exemplary performances at USATF National Ultra Championships, World Challenge 100K, and other significant races between November 1, 2002 and October 31, 2003 and who are current USATF members.  MUT members are appointed by USATF Men's, Women's, and Master's Long Distance Running Committee Chairs and the MUT Council Chair.  These athletes will be presented awards at the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons in Greensboro, North Carolina during the breakfast awards banquet at the USATF Annual Convention on Saturday, December 6, 2003.

Joe Kulak - (35, Colo.) Kulak completed six 100-mile trail races throughout the country from June through September shattering ultra legend Marshall Ulrich’s 14-year old record for the “Last Great Race Series” by 14 hours.  Finishing no less than sixth place in each of these races, Kulak won the Old Dominion 100 in Virginia in June and the Vermont 100 in July.  Four of these races comprise the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning” in which Kulak shattered Ian Torrence’s aggressive 2001 record by over 3 hours.  For these outstanding performances, Kulak is honored with the Ted Corbitt Award.

Connie Gardner - (39, Ohio) Gardner ran 16:22:15, a national record, at the 100-mile road championship in her home state of Ohio in September following her four first-place finishes at highly competitive 50-mile and 50K trail and road races.  These races earned her the Ruth Anderson Award as USATF’s female ultrarunner of the year award.  Gardner’s outstanding performance at the 2002 100K USATF Championship earned her a berth on the 2003 USATF 100K team.

Pam Reed – (42, Ariz.) Proving that her record-setting 2002 overall win at the Badwater Ultramarathon, the 135-mile race through Death Valley was not a fluke, Pam Reed repeated an overall win in July 2003 in 28 hours, 26 minutes and 52 seconds.  Reed demonstrated her versatility in addition to her talent by running 134.86 miles at the World 24-Hour Championship in the Netherlands this October to place as the first American woman in the race and sixth woman overall.  For these and other high placings in both the open and masters categories in significant national trail ultra races, Reed is awarded the Women’s Masters Ultrarunner of the Year Award. 
John Geesler (44, NY) –The 231 miles and 789 yards that John Geesler ran at the Ultracentric 48-Hour in Texas last November, ranked him fifth on the American all-time list of 48-hour performances.  Not limiting his talent to the track, Geesler ran an impressive 16 hours and 37 minutes to finish fifth overall and second masters at the Vermont 100 Mile trail race in July.  Geesler then went on to place eleventh at the 2003 World 24-Hour Championships by running 148.7 miles and was first American in the race.  These performances combined with his overall win at the Houston Ultras 48-Hour race where he ran 176.7 miles, earned Geesler the 2003 Men’s Masters Ultrarunner of the Year Award. 

The MUT Council was established in 1998 to assist USATF with the sports of mountain, ultra, and trail running.  For information about MUT and the USATF ultrarunner of the year awards, visit http://www.cerritos.edu/lgersitz/MUT/Home.html.

Theresa Daus-Weber
Mountain/Ultra/Trail Running Council


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