The fastest 100-mile ultrarunners during the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s

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I am always drawn toward the stories of the early pioneers of ultrarunning. I think it is important to take time to appreciate the history and accomplishments of the runners who paved the way before us. The birth of the 100-mile trail race has been attributed to Gordy Ainsleigh, who in 1974 wanted to see if he could run a 100-mile horse race in California, the Western States Trail Ride, on foot, instead of riding a horse. He was successful, finishing in 23:42, proving that a person could run 100 miles in the mountains in less than a day.

But ultrarunning, including 100-mile races, did not start there….

This started out to be a blog post, but turned into a free online book.

Download the entire book (PDF) here: Swift Endurance Legends

More than 2,700 downloads since May 3.

This book shares the running histories for the 65 fastest 100-mile runners that ran in America from 1970-1999.  It answers questions such as: Where did they come from? How did they became runners? What races did they run? How many years did they run 100-milers? How did they train? What became of them?  Where are they now?

A few of these fast ultrarunning pioneers have now passed on. By 2016, many were in their 70s and 80s. At times I have run with these ultrarunning legends on the same courses and never realized it. Their storied accomplishments are fading from the history of ultrarunning. Most of the current generation of runners have never heard of most of these runners. I hope they won’t be forgotten. Please take the time to learn about those who have paved the way for all ultrarunners of today.

These amazing runners came from all walks of life.  There were doctors, teachers, computer programmers, seven individuals with Ph.D.s, lawyers, mothers, coaches, a pilot, a bar owner, a bus driver, a nuclear chemist, a weatherman, a green beret, a brother of a U.S. vice-president candidate, several who became extremely wealthy, and one who now is homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.  When they were running together, they were the same, very fast 100-mile runners.

This book profiles these runners listed with their fastest 100-mile times during these early years. To find a list of the fastest early 100-mile runners, my search criteria was: Runners who finished a race in the U.S. faster than 15 hours (for the men), and faster than 17 hours (for the women) during the ‘70s, ‘80s, or ‘90s. I counted 100-mile split times for longer races, if published.

The Men

1 Don Ritchie 11:30 1977 Track
2 Yiannis Kouros 11:46 1984 Road
3 Andy Jones 12:05 1997 Road
4 Rae Clark 12:12 1989 Road
5 Bernd Heinrich 12:27 1984 Track
6 Jose Cortez 12:54 1971 Road
7 Stu Mittleman 12:56 1982 Road
8 Ray Scannell 13:06 1983 Road
9 Roy Pirrung 13:15 1989 Road
10 Eric Clifton 13:16 1996 Trail
11 Terry Martin 13:18 1988 Road
12 Lion Caldwell 13:19 1986 Road
13 George Gardiner 13:22 1981 Track
14 Ted Corbitt 13:33 1968 Track
15 Cahit Yeter 13:35 1986 Road
16 Don Marvel 13:36 1980 Road
17 Kevin Eagleton 13:40 1982 Road
18 Fred Savitz 13:40 1980 Road
19 Park Barner 13:40 1974 Road
20 Ben Hian 13:42 1997 Trail
21 Tom Possert 13:44 1989 Road
22 Jack Bristol 13:46 1974 Track
23 Max Telford 13:53 1979 Road
24 Don Aycock 13:53 1988 Road
25 Steve Warshawer 13:54 1984 Track
26 Kevin Setnes 13:54 1995 Trail
27 Ray Krolewicz 13:58 1988 Road
28 Mike Morton 14:08 1995 Trail
29 Nick Marshall 14:11 1983 Road
30 Paul Fendler 14:11 1989 Road
31 Tom Chiaro 14:13 1983 Road
32 Ken Young 14:14 1972 Track
33 Bob VandeKieft 14:19 1981 Road
34 Brian Purcell 14:23 1989 Track
35 Don Jewell 14:25 1984 Road
36 David Horton 14:26 1986 Road
37 James “Echo” Edmonson 14:27 1990 Track
38 Bob Emmons 14:34 1995 Road
39 Dave Obelkevich 14:35 1980 Road
40 Neil Weygandt 14:35 1982 Road
41 Joe Schlereth 14:38 1991 Road
42 David Luljak 14:38 1999 Trail
43 Paul Ryan 14:42 1979 Road
44 Paul Soskind 14:42 1979 Track
45 Don Choi 14:44 1978 Track
46 Carl Andersen 14:46 1993 Trail
47 Joe Hildebrand 14:47 1999 Trail
48 Frank DeLeo 14:48 1989 Road
49 Mike Fedak 14:51 1986 Road
50 Eric Rappold 14:51 1997 Trail
51 Tom McGrath 14:52 1984 Road
52 Jim King 14:54 1984 Trail
53 Chris Gibson 14:54 1987 Road
54 Gary Krosch 14:54 1983 Road
55 Gard Leighton 14:56 1985 Track
56 Roger Welch 14:57 1991 Road

The Women

1 Ann Trason 13:47 1991 Road
2 Sue-Ellen Trapp 15:05 1990 Road
3 Sandra Kiddy 15:12 1985 Road
4 Donna Hudson 15:31 1983 Road
5 Marcy Schwam 15:44 1980 Track
6 Randi (Bromka) Young 15:45 1992 Road
7 Sue Medaglia 15:51 1983 Road
8 Susan Olsen 15:55 1991 Track
9 Natalie Cullimore 16:11 1971 Road
10 Christine Gibbons 16:41 1989 Road
11 Ruth Anderson 16:50 1978 Track
12 Kay Moore 16:54 1986 Road
13 Linda Elam 16:58 1989 Track