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  • Three Ashlanders ranked in Ultrarunning magazine Top 20

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  • For the third year in a row, three or more Ashland runners have been listed in the national rankings put out by Ultrarunning magazine, the definitive chronicle of ultramarathon running.
    An ultramarathon is defined as a running race longer than a 26.2-mile marathon. A total of 493 ultramarathons were held in North America last year, according to Ultrarunning.
    A list of 20 race directors and other officials in the sport is assembled each year to select the top runners and performances. The process resembles the voting for football's Heisman trophy winner.
    "This list is totally secret," said Tia Bodington, editor of Ultrarunning.
    Bodington, who last year moved from Denver to Talent, is one of the 20 voters.
    "They (other voters) use their own criteria. For me, I'm looking for breadth and quality. Runners need to show that they can run 50K up to 100 miles credibly," Bodington added.
    Snagging the number five spot for Male Runner of the Year was Rogue Valley Runners store owner Hal Koerner. The 33-year-old improved on his number seven ranking from 2008, making 2009 his eighth consecutive year in the coveted Top 10.
    Koerner won both the 50K McDonald Forest run near Corvallis and the prestigious Western States 100-miler in California. His victory in the latter race, run under some of the hottest conditions ever recorded for the 33-year-old race, also earned him the No. 4 spot for the Performance of the Year.
    Erik Skaggs, 27, placed 16th for 2009, his third consecutive year in the Top 20. Skaggs won and set course records in both the ultramarathons he ran last year, the Siskiyou Out Back 50K at Mount Ashland and the Where's Waldo 100K at Willamette Pass. His commanding 56-minute course record in the latter race also earned Skaggs the No. 14 spot on the Performance of the Year list.
    The sport of ultramarathoning attracts many runners more than 50 years old. To celebrate outstanding performances of the older runners, the 20 judges also vote on the top age group performances.
    Rob Cain, 55, race co-director of the Siskiyou Out Back ultramarathon at Mount Ashland, was ranked No. 11 in the Men's Age Group Performance of the Year for his run at the Diablo 50 Mile race near San Francisco. Cain also is president of the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association.
    Kami Semick of Bend was voted top female Runner of the Year. Geoff Roes of Douglas, Alaska, was the male Runner of the Year.
    To read the full rankings, visit www.ultrarunning.com.
    Daniel Newberry is a runner and freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.
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