"The what awards," you ask? The Slasher awards. Nope, you've never heard of the running Slasher awards, because I just dreamed them up last night in a sleep-deprived-semi-awake-baby patrol-comatose state of mind. But if there's one thing the ultrarunning world needs, it's Slasher awards. I know it's a bit late in 2010 at this point to be handing out awards for 2009, but it's high time the running world saw Slasher awards.
So what exactly is a Slasher award? I'm awarding Slasher awards to the top men's and women's runners of 2009 that I feel have exemplified the Slasher mindset. That is to say, they have excelled not only in the trail-running world but also found success in the oft-forgotten road running genre (i.e., trailrunner SLASH roadrunner). As a trail running bum (dare I say dirtbag?!?) myself, I feel it's very easy to live in a bubble and to ignore and shun our leaner, better-groomed, more meticulous, pavement pounding brethren. Likewise, road runners in general probably couldn't care less about what the bearded, smelly, muddy contingent is doing galivanting around in the mountains. Ah, but once in a blue moon (which incidentally happened this past December for anyone counting), there comes along a runner who truly bridges the gap. This rare runner is able to fly through negative splits while sucking down gels in a marathon with ease, and in the very same year can slosh around in the mountains slamming cheeseburgers with the best of them. This runner carries a proverbial white flag of peace as a constant beacon of running unity to all the world. So, in an effort to bridge the gap, spread the love, and further the path toward a running utopia, the Slasher awards have arrived. In the famous words of Mr. King, "Why can't we all just get along?" Thanks, Slashers, for being so awesome!
So without further ado, I'd like to announce the first ever Slasher award winners. While I'm certain I've overlooked some noteworthy runners, I've gathered the information at hand and am now happy to announce the 2009 Slasher Award Winners. I haven't made a ranked list. Rather, I'm just naming an outright winner and one honorable mention spot.
- On the women's side, Kami Semick is undoubtedly the Slasher of the Year. Her incredible world class performances in 2009 both on road and off were absolutely unrivaled. With world championship victories on the road at both the IAU 50km World Championships in Gibraltar and the IAU 100km World Championships in Belgium, she showed the incredible footspeed and turnover of a true road runner. Meanwhile, she excelled on technical mountain trails throughout the year, clinching wins at uber-competitive Miwok 100km, American River 50 Mile, and the White River 50 Mile this year (not to mention a smoking fast 2:47 at Twin Cities Marathon...). Kami is a Slasher with a capital 'S,' and she pounds the traivement like no one else.
- The honorable mention spot goes to Devon Crosby-Helms, who has also had an incredible Slasher year. From a stellar course record win at the fabled JFK 50 to a smoking 2:53 at Boston, Devon kept her jets blazing regardless of the surface this year. She also had a killer 4th place finish at the IAU 100km World Championships in Belgium.
- On the men's side, the 2009 Slasher of the Year Award goes to Michael Wardian. The sheer volume and scary speed of his marathon running in 2009 are mind boggling, and he threw in a handful of impressive finishes on the trail this year too. With at least 10 road marathons in 2009, he posted a year's best 2:21 at Vermont City Marathon, and finished 3rd in the world at the IAU World 50K championships in Gibraltar and 6th at the IAU World Cup 100K championships in Belgium and won the Caumsett 50k in a scary 2:56. Meanwhile on the trail, he finished very strongly in the top 3 at the White River 50 mile and in the top 5 at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship. Add to all that a crazy fast 2:34 marathon run at the Route 66 Marathon... while pushing his son in a stroller!
- The men's honorable mention spot was a really tough call and I'm fudging a bit to include historical data pre-2009 (seeing as how this is the first year of the award and all...). I assure you this won't happen again in future years. That said, the honorable mention spot goes to Uli Steidl, who has had a pretty spectacular track record as a Slasher. This year he ran a blistering course record race at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship. Though I couldn't find any road results for 2009, I wouldn't be surprised if he slipped in a few fast performances under the radar. That said, Uli ran to victory 8 years straight at the Seattle Marathon and boasts a marathon PR of 2:13. (*edited added note: Uli did indeed slip in an amazing '09 road performance... a blazing 2:19:42 at the Dusseldorf Marathon!)