| 2003 GLOBAL ULTRA RANKINGS: FATTORE & SAKURAI LEAD WORLD
Compiled by Andy Milroy (ARRS)
The annual ARRS/Ultramarathon World Rankings for 2003 attempt to present objective ultra rankings for the year. They are based on:
1. Success in major events - championships and Comrades [major prize money]
2. Head to head competition
3. Quality of times and distances achieved.
4. Overall performance throughout the season.
5. Highly competitive international events; e.g. Comrades, 100km, 24 hours rate more highly than less competitive events - multi-day, 50km, etc
6. Only marks made on tracks and accurately measured road courses can be considered, otherwise the degree of uncertainty makes proper comparisons impossible. However, trail races are sometimes included in the overall assessment of the year’s performance of a runner - to assess dominance and competitive record.
2003 was yet another uneven year in terms of ultra performances. At the 100km distance, a number of major runners were missing from the World event that took place on a very tough course with high humidity and heat in Taiwan in November. The leading women runners from the European 100km and the Comrades Marathon, Tatiana Zhyrkova and the Nurgalieva twins (all three from Russia), did not run in the World 100km. Neither did the fastest woman in the world in 2003, Norimi Sakurai of Japan. On the men’s side, the repeat winner of the World 100km, Mario Fattore, and the fastest man in the world in 2003, Jose Aubeso, chose not to run in the European event, as did leading women Elvira Kolpakova (Russia), Tania Hoos-Schafer (Germany) and Danielle Sanderson (Great Britain).
The results were at best mixed for anyone who attempted more than two major events for the year. This phenomenon was exacerbated by the overbearing conditions of the World 100km, which produced the personal slowest times ever recorded by many of the world’s top competitors: some of the men ranked in our top 10 were beaten by the top women in that event.
In the inaugural World 24 Hour at Uden, The Netherlands, the absence of dominant figure Yiannis Kouros actually made for a more competitive men’s race. Apart from the missing Kouros, the new 24-Hour World title event exhibited the greatest field, race, and depth of results in the history of the event.
It is interesting to note that neither the year’s fastest man for the 100km (Jose Aubeso, Spain) nor for the 24 Hours (Valmir Nunes, Brazil) are ranked among the Top Ten.
The continued dominance of Russia in the rankings is attributable this year, in part, to the fact that the fastest 100km race in the world in depth was held in Russia and supported by most of the top native performers.
Europeans continue to dominate the sport. It is interesting to note that not a single ultrarunner from the Western Hemisphere ranks among the top 10 of either sex.
1. Mario Fattore (Italy)
2. Farit Ganiyev (Russia)
3. Grigoriy Murzin (Russia)
4. Fusi Nhlapo (South Africa)
5. Oleg Kharitonov (Russia)
6. Paul Beckers (Belgium)
7. Yiannis Kouros (Greece)
8. Ryoichi Sekiya (Japan)
9. Mario Ardemagni (Italy)
10. Igor Tyazhkorob (Russia)
1. Mario Fattore (Italy) ran two 100km races and won them both. He won the hilly Faenza race in 6:54:02.15 and then went on to defend his title in the World 100km in Taiwan in 7:04:56, in the slowest conditions ever for this signature event.
2. Farit Ganiyev (Russia) won at Chernogolovka (Russia) ahead of Grigoriy Murzin (who took the European title) 6:28:27 to 6:29:41. Ganiyev also headed Murzin in the Torhout (Belgium) race 6:39:32 (2nd) to 6:40:22 (3rd) but lost to Murzin at De Bezana (Spain) 6:39:40 (1st) to 7:14:37 (3rd)
3. Grigoriy Murzin (Russia) was second in the World 100km but was twice beaten by Ganiyev.
4. Fusi Nhlapo (South Africa) beat Oleg Kharitonov (see below) in the 89.179 km Comrades Marathon (South Africa). Nhlapo's time (5:28:52) on the downhill course (the race alternates uphill and downhill years) was slower than the first four ran in the 2001 Comrades when Andrew Kelehe ran the second fastest ever on the down run. Nhlapo’s time makes him ninth fastest ever at Comrades.
5. Oleg Kharitonov (Russia) lost to Fattore, 7:04:56 (1st) to 7:22:08 (5th) and Murzin at the World 100km, and to Nhlapo in the Comrades, where he ran 5:31:41 (2nd) for 13th all-time (with the 14th fastest time).
6. Paul Beckers (Belgium) ran 270.087km in 24 hours, the second best distance of the year. He won both the World and European 24 hours, beating Ryoichi Sekiya (Japan, 267.223km) Beckers was beaten by Yiannis Kouros (Greece/Australia) in the longer 48 Hour event at Surgeres, 438.813km to 374.574km, but Kouros did not contest the far more competitive 24 Hour World event.
7. Yiannis Kouros (Greece/Australia) covered a greater distance in the first 24 hours at the Surgeres 48 hours than Sekiya did in the World 24. He also beat Beckers at 48 hours with a distance bettered only by him on the all-time 2-day event list.
8. Ryoichi Sekiya (Japan) ran 261.640km behind Valmir Nunes (273.828km: world-leading distance for the year) in Taiwan, but Nunes was well beaten (235.094km) by both Beckers and Sekiya in the World event.
9. Mario Ardemagni (Italy) lost to Murzin at Chernogolovka and in the World 100km at Tainan, Taiwan, and to Ganiyev in Chernogolovka, but beat Igor Tyazhkorob (Russia; winner over Murzin and Ganiyev at Torhout) in Chernogolovka and Verona, 6:41:48 (1st) to 6:49:52 (3rd), and Taiwan, 7:43:28 (9th) to 8:01:25 (13th). He also beat Yoshiaki Kobayashi (Japan; winner of the Yubetsu/Saroma 100km) in Taiwan, 7:43:28 (9th ) to 9:00:12 (48th).
10. Igor Tyazhkorob (Russia) twice lost to Ardemagni, but beat Kobayashi in the World 100km and lost to both Ganiyev and Murzin in the European and to Murzin in the World 100km, 7:08:20 (2nd ) to 8:01:25 (13th).
1. Norimi Sakurai (Japan)
2. Monica Casiraghi (Italy)
3. Tatiana Zhyrkova (Russia)
4. Elena Nurgalieva (Russia)
5. Olesya Nurgalieva (Russia)
6. Irina Reutovich (Russia)
7. Edit Berces (Hungary)
8. Galina Eremina (Russia)
9. Marina Myshlianova (Russia)
10. Nadezhda Karaseva (Russia)
1. Norimi Sakurai (Japan) won the Yubetsu/Saroma race in 7:20:02 and then ran the Verona 50km/100km track race. She beat Monica Casiraghi (Italy) in the 50km (3:33:23.3 to 3:39:06.6) before setting new world track bests at 50 miles (5:48:12.0), 6 hours (83,200km), and 100km, [7:14:05.8, fifth fastest performance road or track all-time/fourth fastest performer). She did not run the World 100km. So Sakurai is 1-0 over Casiraghi, is the only unbeaten runner of the top four, and has run the fastest time in the world for the year.
2. Monica Casiraghi (Italy) won the World 100km under brutally difficult conditions in 8:04:46. She was second in the European 100km Championships in 7:28:00. Tatiana Zhyrkova (Russia), winner of the European 100km, did not run the World event, nor did the Nurgalieva twins (Russia). Casiraghi won 8 ultra races this year, including the World 100km, Faenza (7:59:41.55) and the Swiss Alpine Marathon (6:47:55). Three of those races were against domestic opposition. She was beaten in two races, the European 100km by Zhyrkova and the track 50km at Verona by Sakurai. So Casiraghi is 0-1 to Zhyrkova, 0-1 to Sakurai, and 1- 0 over both Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva. She never finished worse than second in any race.
3. Tatyiana Zhyrkova (Russia) won the best race in depth of the year, running 7:19:51 (then 5th fastest all-time) at Chernogolovka in the European 100km, beating Monica Casiraghi, 7:28:00 (2nd). Elena Nurgalieva and Olesya Nurgalieva finished 3rd and 4th in 7:31:14 in that race. Zhyrkova also ran the fastest-ever third place (6:17:50) at Comrades.
4. Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) won the 89.179 km Comrades Marathon in 6:07:46, the fourth fastest time ever (behind Van der Merwe, Trason and Bak), and nipped her twin sister for third in the European 100km (7:31:14). Zhyrkova and Elena are 1-1 on race wins. However, Zhyrkova won by a bigger margin at 100km over a deeper quality field than Elena did at Comrades. A very close call, but Zhyrkova gets the nod.
5. Olesya Nurgalieva (Russia) ran second to her twin sister at Comrades (6:12:07, fifth fastest all-time performer, sixth fastest performance), and finished in an almost virtual tie with her (7:31:14) in the European 100km.
6. Irina Reutovich (Russia) won the World 24 Hour (237.052km), the most competitive long-range race of the year, beating Galina Eremina (232.050km). World Record holder Edit Berces finished 4th in 225.710. Reutovich took second to Berces at the Worschach 24-Hour and the Surgeres 48-Hour, and she won the Brno 48-Hour.
7. Edit Berces (Hungary) ran 228.906km in the first 24 hours of the Surgeres 48Hour, 227.777km to win the Taipei 24-Hour, and finished fourth in the World 24-Hour at Uden with 225.710km. Berces beat Reutovich at the Worschach 24-Hour (237.645km, best performance of the year, to Reutovich’s 231.576km). Berces also beat Reutovich in the final tally at Surgeres (369.749km to Reutovich's 358.288km). Reutovich ran the second best 48 hour of the year at Brno, 366.927km. Berces has the best distance of the year, but faltered when it counted most, losing the dominant 24-Hour ranking position to Reutovich, who rose to the occasion at the right race.
8. Galina Eremina (Russia) finished second in the World 24-Hour with the third best distance of the year. Her winning distance in the Russian championships was 207.366km.
9. Marina Myshlianova (Russia) finished fifth in 7:33:21 at the European 100km.
10. Nadezhda Karaseva (Russia) finished sixth in 7:35:01 at the European 100km. Although Paola Sanna finished second in the World 100km in 8:15:12, she otherwise ran some relatively mediocre performances, 8:26:19.4 to finish 3rd in Verona, 8:31:31.8 to finish second in Faenza. Thus, Myshlianova and Karaseva win the final ranking spots over Sanna by virtue of significantly faster times in what turned out to be the most significant 100km of the year, the European 100km.