Mountain Cup & USATF Showdown at Nueces

2011 La Sportiva Mountain CupThis weekend, the La Sportiva Mountain Cup traveled down to Texas to make its Lone Star State debut at the Nueces 25k, one of four Nueces Endurance Trail Run races held on Saturday. To make things even more exciting, the Nueces 50 mile was the USATF trail 50 mile championship, so we’ll talk a bit more about a Mountain Cup sister race that usual.

That means after starting off with our LSMC race coverage we’ll take a look at USATF trail 50 mile championships. After taking a pass on the Mountain Cup standings (results weren’t available when we wrote this… and it’s early in the season), we’ll move on to our La Sportiva shoe giveaway contest before calling for your comments and finishing up with the full La Sportiva Mountain Cup schedule.

The Race
Women’s Race
The women’s race was the one to watch in this installment of the Mountain Cup. Meghan Kimmell nearly won the race outright. Kimmell, a La Sportiva runner and 2010 Mountain Cup champ, was reportedly worried heading into the race as she lives up in snowy Silverton, Colorado and has run all of 60 miles this season. That obviously wasn’t a problem as she set a new course record.

Former local runner Melanie Fryar battled for second with Rachel Cieslewicz, a Mountain Cup competitor as well as a Newton and Xterra runner. Three minutes behind Kimmel, Fryer won that battle by two minutes as well as the La Sportiva Standout Award from RD Joe Pursaitis. Cieslewicz took home third along with 15 valuable Mountain Cup points, which puts her in the lead for the 2011 series. You can read more about her race here.

  1. Megan Kimmell – 2:00:27
  2. Melanie Fryar – 2:02:11
  3. Rachel Cieslewicz -2:05:18
  4. Rachel Hector – 2:20:38
  5. Pauline Hernandez – 2:23:46
Rachel Cieslewicz Megan Kimmell Nueces 25k

Megan Kimmell (first) and Rachel Cieslewicz (third) after the Nueces 25k. Photo courtesy of Rachel Cieslewicz.

Men’s Race [Updated]
The men’s results were slower to trickle in from the Texas sticks, but the full results are now up. The winner, Waylon Calabrese of Texas set the course record.

  1. Waylon Calabrese – 1:59:12
  2. Justin Gonzalez – 2:01:20
  3. Chris Chancey – 2:02:33
  4. Brandon Gerard – 2:05:05
  5. Christopher Whelchel – 2:09:03
        1. Liza Howard – 8:09:59
        2. Parvaneh Moayedi – 10:13:38
        3. Jameelah Abdul-RAhim Mujaahid – 11:41:34

    Full Results
    Full results are now available.

    La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
    As we don’t have full results we can’t update the Mountain Cup standings, so we’ll take this opportunity to remind you that series results are based on a runner’s top five scoring races. In each race, points are awarded to the top 15 runners of each gender. The top five runners receive 20, 17, 15, 13, and 11 points, respectively. The sixth through fifteenth place runners receive points descending from 10 points for sixth place to 1 point for the final scoring runner. A runner will also receive 2 bonus points for beating another runner who ranked in the series’ top 10 going into the race. You can take a look at the official scoring rules by going to the Mountain Cup website and clicking on the About tab.

    Nueces 50 Mile, the 2011 USATF Trail 50 Mile National Championships
    To give you some perspective on the course, we’ll share Dave James’ take:

    The Nueces course was harder than Bandera 100k course (the 2011 USATF trail 100k championship), more rocks and Joe (RD) marked some sections that were not really trails which made for slow going. It was windy at the 6 a.m. start. Sunrise was about 7 a.m., so the first 30 minutes were very dark and strange. The day was sunny with some clouds, windy on the ridge tops. The course was three loops and very well marked, but slow because of all the little rocks. There were also two water crossings and two suspension bridges each lap.

    On the men’s side, Chris Kollar, a former 1500 meter specialist at NC State (who allegedly had never raced over 10k), took out the pace on the first of the three 16.7 mile loops, running it in less than 2 hours. James rolled through the first rocky, rolling lap in 2:04 in second place. James reports that after going out to hard on the first lap he “was toast after that and had a hard time.” Jason Schlarb rolled by James at the start of the third lap and sped away to win in 6:28:26. James hung on to finish second in 6:43:24, just ahead of Jason Bryant (a frequent Mountain Cup competitor). Bryant (race reportschedule) ran a much more controlled 2:15 first lap en route to a 6:51:35. Steven Moore (7:00:07) and Jack Pilla (7:01:01) rounded out the top five. In a comment, Moore shared, “Jason B., Jack P., and I ran together for much of the day and had a great time.” Full men’s results are found here.

    Olga Varlamova reports in a comment, “The early leader of 50M had dropped after second loop, which he finished together with Dave and Jason.”

    Neuces USATF Trail 50 mile national championship

    The Nueces course is remote. Photo courtesy of Rachel Cieslewicz.

    It’s no surprise that the women’s race was a one woman affair. Liza Howard dominated, even though she wasn’t fresh (in the past two months she’s won the USATF trail 100k national championship and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile) and things didn’t go quite as planned. We’ll not commandeer any of Liza’s words as we think you should go check out her always humorous blog. Here’s her Nueces 50 mile race report.

    Here are the top three women (only three women finished):

    iRunFar.com La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
    La Sportiva logoBack in February we offered up a pair of La Sportiva Crosslites in our Uwharrie Mountain Run race report and now it’s time to announce their winner – Jacob W. of Sante Fe, New Mexico! Congrats, Jacob.

    La Sportiva RaptorGiven the rocks and longer distance of the Nueces 25k (and with a nod to its 50 mile kin) we’re offering up a pair of La Sportiva’s Raptors (iRF review), a technical trail shoe with a sticky rubber outsole that’s perfect for gripping rocky terrain. Want to clutch a pair of your own talon-like Raptors? Simply leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we write about the next Mountain Cup race, the Bel Monte Endurance Run 25k on March 26 in Sherando Lake, Virginia. As a reminder, if you enter to win the Raptors you’ll also automatically be eligible to win the grand prize at the end of August. Read up on the iRunFar.com La Sportiva Mountain Cup giveaway grand prize.

    Call for Comments
    If you ran any of the Nueces Endurance Trail Runs, please leave a comment letting everyone know how you did and what you think about the race. Past racers are invited to comment, too!

    The La Sportiva Mountain Cup

    [Thanks to Rachel Cieslewicz, Dave James, and Ian Achey for providing information for this article.]

There are 76 comments

  1. Christopher Whelchel

    Great times out there at Camp Eagle! The staff were all great, perfect morning weather and Tejas Trail put on quite an event. A special thanks to La Sportiva and the volunteers for helping to make it all happen! Count me in for next year and I think I'll shoot for a PR…. with my new Raptors that I'm going to win….

    Right!!??

    Oh… and I can pick them up in Idaho… see ya there!

  2. Chris R.

    However, if all the USATF races are held at end of year then how many people will be able to do them all? The 100K race happened so early this year that it could almost be viewed as a 2010 capstone. Plus it didn't conflict with any other big races. In the summertime it would conflict with the big 100 milers and late in the year it would bump against North Face. It seems like to me that it would make more sense to spread the USATF races throught the year. Then again my body is not able to run an ultra/month like a lot of people can.:-)

  3. Schlarb

    There are some large assumptions being made here!!!!

    The USATF interview would be essential Byron.

    I am far from experienced on this difficult subject, but after just a few minutes talking with Tania Pacev (USATF) and Jason Bryant after the race, I learned a little bit of the process for these National Championship races.

    Apparently we are lucky to have even got a Trail 50 Mile Championship this year.

    Here are some big factors or obstacles in this situation from my understanding:

    -"Races" have to bid for the championships. I believe Nueces was the only bid… (White River 50 didn't bid).

    -And the biggest reason I think USATF championship races are not what they could be:

    Race Directors don't care about USATF Championships.

    Once again this leads right back to the dozens of long blog conversations on fostering and promoting a competitive Ultra Trail scene. Many of the RDs are "old school" and aren't interested in adnvancing the sport in this manner. Pretty much all established Ultra Trail races have no issues filling up, quite the opposite, as we ALL painfully know. RDs have no issue running a full race. They have their race's reputations, supply is less than demand and they can hold lotteries, igonre sponsorship opportunites and potentials and just award a shinny belt buckle to top finishers.

    Tania Pacev and USATF wants to have the championship races be amazingly competitive.

    P.S. Nueces was on the brink of being one of the most competitive races of the year. Had Michael Owen, who I think would have been running up front, not been injured (he was registered and had all intentions of running), scheduling been a bit different for Dakota Jones (registered too) along with school/travel to CA, Dave Mackey was thinking of racing too, we would have had a hell of a top 7.

  4. Bryon Powell

    Congrats on your win, Jason! There are some large assumptions being made and I hope to clear some of them up in the near future.

    It's awesome that RD Joe stepped up to make a Trail 50 mile championship race happen. That said, there have long been rumblings about the USATF ultra championships (and, likely, always will be), but having three finishers in the women's field brings the issues into tighter focus, both on the USATF and why aren't races bidding sides. From what I've heard USATF isn't sure that aiming for the most competitive field is even the direction they want to head in and they're looking for feedback on a number of issues. I'll stop there as I want to save something for the future articles!

  5. Ian Sharman

    Bryon,

    It's a similar issue in the UK where not many people really go out of their way (read: mainly locals run) to fit in the national ultra championship events. And that's in a small country, unlike the US where travel is much farther and more expensive.

    Personally, I'm not even eligible for any USATF awards or prizes since I'm not American, but it's a shame their races aren't stacked with ALL the best runners. It's one thing to have a deep field, but a championship should attract EVERYONE who's fit and has a shot at winning. Imagine if Bolt decided he didn't think the Olympic 100m was worth going to – winning wouldn't be quite as significant.

    What I think many ultrarunners are missing (not that this is easy to conjure up from nothing) is races at various distances where you're guaranteed to find anybody who's anybody. And that runners fit their season around these events to be certain they fit in.

    WS100 and UTMB come close, without a doubt, as does the TNFEC final. It's cool to get to race a great field, but it's definitely cooler to race against everyone in the country/world who is good.

    Road stuff gets a bit closer to this, although the 100k and 50k Worlds are not quite as competitive as they could be. Any number of runners from (large prize purse) Two Oceans 56k or Comrades 89k would easily take those wins.

    Anyway, I look forward to your article and hope USATF does want to make their races more competitive.

  6. Thomas Bowling

    Great job & interesting blog as usual Bryon! I got to run the Nueces 25K & have to say it was a fun, challenging course with some great views & terrain. I ran in some Hokas & felt like they handled all of the rocks very well, but I would love to try out some raptors on the south Texas trails! P.S. Joe Prusaitis has created a great race at a beautiful venue — I predict this race will get much bigger as the word spreads. I'll be back for the 50K or 50 miler next year!

    Thomas B.

    San Antonio, TX

  7. Jeremy Pade

    Just to expand on some of the points Jason brought up – and there was quite a bit of discussion about this after the race – I think that USATF needs to be more open and communicate more. Not only on the process for selecting Championship races, but on furture plans when it comes to Mountain/Ultra/Trail. The support is currently not there with a tiny purse, very little support for the athletes, and basically no promotion of the events

    Its also a two-way street, as much as USATF needs to provide more support for Ultras, Ultra runners and Race Directors would need to get behind the USATF as well.

    Some ideas for improving the process:

    1. Open up the process and encourage more RDs to apply for Championships

    2. Provide more support for the athletes (at a minimium how about a discount/free entry for USATF athletes)

    3. Have qualifiers to ensure a competetive field.

    4. Improve promotion and utilization of online tools. The USATF site is horrible for finding information and good luck trying to get race results, let alone live updates.

    There are many different ways this could go, and maybe USATF is not the venue for determining Ultra Championships, but at least we are having the discussion.

  8. Zag

    Definitely a thread worth continuing; great to see the comments and viewpoints. Bryon's got some good material to run with! For the record, I made it back to Austin from the Nueces race in 2:45hrs. It seems more 'out in the sticks' than that but it's really not that far. If we used some of this 'social media' to help out-of-town runners catch rides with locals we could ease the pain of travel a little. I'm glad it was in my 'back yard' this year and I'm glad as many of y'all made the effort to come down to Texas as there were. See you on trail, Steven M.

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