With the highest overall finish (Men/women combined) in national ultra championship history since Ann Trason won overall in 1989, Carolyn Smith of Milwaukee continued her 3-year steady rise to the top of American women's ultradistance racing at the National 24-Hour Run Championship in Grapevine, Texas this weekend. Smith bested former National 24-hour champ Rebecca Johnson of Lafayette, CO by nearly 5 miles in raising her personal best distance for the all-day/all-night race by over 13 miles. In doing so, she fell less than 1/2 mile short of taking the Men's silver medal and moved all the up to #4 on the all-time American women's 24-Hour list.
On the men's side, Alex Swenson of Vashon, Washington continued a similar route to the top among American men, having taken the bronze medal in last year's national title race and then scored as #2 man for the U.S. team at this year's World 24-Hour. He's now a national champion, after running away from the field and winning by over 6 miles. Taking the men's silver medal for the second year in a row was the amazing 58-year old Roy Pirrung of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who won his first national 24-hour title 17 years ago with barely 5 more miles than he ran this weekend. Pirrung's singular tribute to the extended athletic capacity of "seniors" in ultradistance racing was reflected throughout the field. In this OPEN national championship race, the median age of the top 10 men was 45, of the top 10 women, 43.
The top 10 men and women also included one "household name" celebrity of each sex. With best-selling books, numerous national TV appearances, and major print media feature stories on their resumes, Pam Reed and Dean Karnazes each found time in their busy promotional schedules to drop in for a weekend of round-the-clock running. Unfortunately, Reed, one of America's most consistent long-range female ultrarunners over the past half-decade, had an off race but still finished in the top 10. Karnazes, having just completed his "50 marathons in 50 days" whirlwind tour of the U.S., then set out to run back home to California from New York, took a brief hiatus, flew into Dallas for the weekend, barely missed winning the men's individual bronze medal, and finally headed back to Virginia to complete his transcontinental run.
Guaranteed spots on the 2007 U.S. 24-Hour Run National team (to the World 24-Hour in Quebec, Canada, July 28-29) went to the top 3 men and women. Three additional team spots for each sex will be determined and announced shortly.

"Ultracentric" 24-Hour, National 24-Hour Run Championship,
Grapevine, Texas, Nov. 18-19, 2006

1. Alex Swenson, 42, Vashon, WA, 146.40 miles ($1,500*)
2. Roy Pirrung, 58, Sheboygan, WI, 139.68 miles ($1,500*)
3. Philip McCarthy, 38, New York, NY, 138.72 miles ($1,500*)
4. Dean Karnazes, 44, San Francisco, CA, 137.76 miles ($500*)
5. Scott Eppelman, 40, Coppell, TX, 135.36 miles ($500*)
6. Chuck Goetschel, 40, Trabuco Canyon, CA, 126.96 miles ($500*)
7. Akos Konya (HUN-guest), 32, Oceanside, CA, 126.24 miles
8. John Geesler, 47, Saint Johnsville, NY, 124.08 miles
9. Bill Lockton, 58, Santa Monica, CA, 123.84 miles
10. Rudy Afanador, 48, Medford, NY, 116.88 miles

1. Carolyn Smith, 41, Milwaukee, WI, 139.20 miles ($1,500*)
2. Rebecca Johnson, 37, Lafayette, CO, 134.4 miles ($1,500*)
3. Connie Gardner, 43, Medina, OH, 132.72 miles ($1,500*)
4. Laura Nelson, 41, Woodstock, VA, 123.12 miles ($500*)
5. Debra Horn, 47, Beachwood, OH, 121.2 miles ($500*)
6. Stephanie Ehret, 43, Boulder, CO, 115.92 miles ($500*)
7. Bonnie Busch, 48, Bettendorf, IA, 105.12 miles
8. Pam Reed, 45, Tucson, AZ, 103.44 miles
9. Carilyn Johnson, 39, El Paso, TX, 102.95 miles
10. Dorit Attias, 44, Cerrillos, NM, 101.52 miles

*Pending selection to 2007 U.S. National 24-Hour Run team and participation in 2007 World 24-Hour (July 28-29, Quebec, Canada) as a member of that team.