MOUNT IDA -- The top ultra-marathon runner in the world added another title to his long list of achievements Saturday afternoon with his 46th 100-mile race win and his first in Arkansas.
Karl "Speedgoat" Meltzer, of Sandy, Utah, claimed a course record for his 100-mile finish of the LOViT 100 in 19 hours, 36 minutes and 36 seconds when he crossed the finish line inside the East Cove Pavilion at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa Saturday afternoon at 12:36 p.m. Pierre Loid Deragne, of Meyzieu, France, set the previous course record in 2020 with a time of 21 hours, 1 minute.
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"I like running in the woods," Meltzer said after his win. "You know, it's 85% single track, and I knew it was kind of rocky, kind of hilly, so for me, where I'm at in my career right now, I think it was just, it was a good course for me. ... It was tough. You know, it was, it was hard. I mean, the first 30 miles was easier and faster, so it was kind of a teaser course, where you kind of go along, and I was thinking, like, 'If it's all like this, I'm gonna get smoked, because it's just too much running.' But ... it's a great course, was well-marked, the organization was great. You know, it's just another nice one to check off the box."
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With 71 100-mile races completed and 46 wins, Meltzer has won at least one 100-mile race for the last 22 years.
"Some years I've won more than that, but yeah, I mean, it's now it's over with. It's February; I don't have to train," he said with a laugh. "So I mean, I kind of got that out of the way this year, but I like to, you know, I like to come to a race where I know there'll be some competition.
"I knew (second-place runner) Chris (Lyle) would be tough. That was a no-brainer. I've coached him. So I know his ability; I know his ability here. You know, the other guys that are behind, they're a little behind, but 100-milers are -- a lot of things can happen out there. You know, my stomach could have gone bad. I could have rolled an ankle; I could have done anything. And then Chris catches right up, so he kept it really interesting, which made it a great race."
Race director Dustin Speer said that Meltzer's win gave him and the rest of the race committee the chance to see how the course compared to others across the country.
"He's just incredibly experienced," he said. "He's won more of these events than anybody else. He runs just a ton of them and has a lot of experience in ultra running. So he, he knows how to take care of himself. He knows how to handle himself during the race, so it's not surprising to see him do really well, in spite of the conditions.
"And, you know, it's just fun to see, you know, how well he did. It kind of helps us see like, what's possible, you know, more of what's possible on the racecourse. We always knew our event was pretty challenging and difficult. But to see, you know, a really strong runner like Karl run 19:35, and that kind of helps level set what the difficulty of the course would be where somebody of his experience would run a good bit faster on easier terrain or on an easier trail."
Speer said that the event went "really well, at least in the parts that we can control," noting that rain did cause some slowdowns on the course late Saturday.
"We have to try to make sure our aid stations are well supplied and that we've got experienced people there and that we, you know, that we take care of the runners in the best way we can," he said. "The weather obviously is what presented the biggest difficulty, and we're never going to be able to fully control that. So we just try to do what we can to mitigate some of that impact or to make sure they're, you know, the runners are taken care of in spite of that."
One of the things that Speer enjoys about the LOViT 100 is the family atmosphere.
"I think the type of event that you see LOViT being is an event that really feels more like a family," he said. "So a lot of our runners have come back and run with us multiple years in a row, and we really get to know them. We get to see them out on the course, and I guess go through this experience with them. And that's the kind of feel we like about the event. Most ultramarathons are like that; that's something we really try to embrace and foster. And it's fun to see that actually play out year after year -- people that we might only see once a year at the event, we feel like friends and family."
He also credited the volunteers who helped put on the event for making it a success, estimating around 120 people helped in some aspect of the event.
"Every year I'm just surprised and blown away by how much people give of themselves to help others have a great experience out there," he said. "We have volunteers who will be awake nearly the entire race and will literally give people the shirt off their back, or hike -- just voluntarily just decide to go down the trail with them to make sure they make it safely to the next aid station. Just to know that people are willing to give up themselves so much to help someone else have even just a better day is something that we don't take for granted, and we can't say enough thanks."