This Week In Running: August 24, 2015
The Leadville Trail 100 Mile and UltraVasan 90k both received lots of attention this weekend, but add to that the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k, the Squamish 50 Mile, and the Waldo 100k and it was a full weekend. Highlights from each of these races and more are below.
Matterhorn Ultraks 46k – Zermatt, Switzerland
For the third time in as many years, the technical mountain run was a Skyrunner World Series event. With a loop starting and finishing in Zermatt, views of the Matterhorn are everpresent as runners climb and descend from 3,100-meter Gornergrat.
Fresh off a Dolomites Sky Race win, America’s Megan Kimmel seized the early lead and topped out on Gornergrat first. Shortly thereafter, at 2,583-meter Schwarzsee, Kimmel would drop from the race. Stevie Kremer, also of the U.S., and Maite Maiora, of Spain, were then overtaken by Italy’s Elisa Desco on the up-and-down track back to Zermatt.
Desco would arrive at the finish in 5:23, 59 seconds ahead of second-place Kremer, who won last year’s event in 5:18. Maiora would follow in 5:31.
The Czech Republic’s Anna (née Pirchtova) Strakova, the legendary Sierre-Zinal course-record holder, was 10th in 6:09, while competing at age 42.
Desco now leads the Skyrunning Sky series with Kremer second.
In the men’s race, it was Switzerland’s Martin Anthamatten, one of the course’s designers, who mastered the track. He powered home in 4:45, just two minutes off Kilian Jornet’s 2013 course record. Spaniards Manuel Merillas and Aritz Egea ran 4:54 and 4:56 for second and third, respectively.
Merillas sits atop the Skyrunner Sky series rankings, and Egea is third.
Leadville Trail 100 Mile – Leadville, Colorado
For the second time in the last three years, Ian Sharman won the “Race Across the Sky.” Finishing in 16:33, Sharman was three minutes off his 2013 winning time, and eight minutes better than his third-place time from 2014. Ever a mark of consistency, Sharman gained the lead in the race’s second half and finished over an hour ahead of his closest chaser.
28th overall in 2012 and fourth in 2013, Kyle Pietari jumped to second this year with 18:16 on the clock. Juan Carlos Sagatsume, of Guatemala, was third in 18:29.
Sharman’s chief challenger, last year’s runner-up Mike Aish, dropped from the race.
In the women’s race, Liza Howard, who like men’s winner Sharman is also a coach with the eponymous Sharman Ultra Endurance Coaching, also earned her second Leadville win. Howard overcame a hot early pace from Silver Rush 50 Mile winner Kara Henry to finish first in 19:34, 20 minutes ahead of Henry.
Howard had previously finished second twice, in 2014 at 20:01 and in 2012 at 20:44, and won the 2010 edition in 21:19.
Danielle Hilson, in what is believed to have been her 100-mile debut, was third in 22:28.
UltraVasan 90k – Mora, Sweden
Frequent second-placer Jonas Buud was the class of the field in his hometown race. In the event’s second year, Buud lowered his own course record, running 5:45 over 90k, a pace that is roughly 6:12 per mile for 55 miles. Buud was 17 minutes better than a year ago.
A hot early pace fueled by primes and Buud’s late-race strength left Max King in second. King held off a strong charge by Norway’s Didrik Hermansen as the two finished in 6:06 and 6:08.
American Matt Flaherty, who will also contest the IAU 100k World Championships on September 12, was seventh in 6:18.
The women’s race lacked the large early pack of the men’s race, but was perhaps more exciting. Jasmine Nunige of Switzerland led throughout, and held off Sweden’s Ida Nilsson to win. Nunige’s 7:02 finish would mark a new course record, six minutes better than the winning time in last year’s inaugural event. Nilsson, a two-time NCAA champion while competing for Northern Arizona University between 2001 and 2005, made her ultra debut.
Sweden’s Petra Kindlund was third in 7:34.
Squamish 50 Mile – Squamish, British Columbia
Nick Elson repeated as champ, and with 7:31 on the clock, finished within a minute of his 2014 result. He earned a $2,000 cash first-place prize.
In a race that’s been held four times, Elson now holds the race’s second- and third-fastest times. His diverse year also includes a fifth at the Mount Marathon Race and a win at the North American Central American Caribbean Mountain Running Championships.
Mike Foote, in his first race since a second at the Hardrock 100, was runner-up in 7:58 and Mike Murphy, last year’s second-place finisher, was a close third in 8:06.
A year ago Cassie Scallon was third here while coming back from long-term injury. She was nearly an hour better this year, running 8:37 to finish first. Catrin Jones edged out Amanda Basham in the race for second, finishing in 9:12 and 9:15, respectively.
Both Scallon and Basham look to be building towards September’s Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile.
Waldo 100k Trail Run – Oakridge, Oregon
Ryan Kaiser, this year’s 11th-place finisher at the Western States 100, looped through the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests with a 9:18 winning time. Kaiser’s masterpiece sits fourth on the race’s all-time charts, trailing only well-known names David Laney (2013), Dave Mackey (2011), and Erik Skaggs (2009).
He was joined on the podium by Tyler Green, second in 9:32, and Nathan Stroh, third in 10:14.
In the women’s race, Larisa Dannis was similarly victorious. Her 10:43 mark ranks third on the race’s all-time charts, following times by Joelle Vaught (2009) and Aliza Lapierre (2011).
Dannis is next registered for September’s Ultra Race of Champions 100k and December’s Desert Solstice 24 Hour.
Behind the race winner, Leslie Semler and Luanne Park ran 12:44 and 13:15 for second and third, respectively.
Emelie Forsberg won the U.K.’s Salomon Glen Coe Skyline event, finishing second overall in 7:44. Joe Symonds was the only runner ahead of Forsberg, winning the men’s race in 7:36. Full results.
David and Megan Roche won the 40th running of California’s Bill Flodberg Mt. Madonna Challenge. David finished the 30k route, which gains 2,900 feet of elevation in a series of loops, in 2:12, a new course record. Megan won the 18k in 1:29. Full results (when available).
At South Dakota’s Lean Horse 100 Mile, Mary Flaws was first overall in 18:13. Her finish trails Jenny Capel’s 2008 course record, but Flaws is the first female to win outright in the race’s 12-year history. Michael Borst won the accompanying 50 miler in 6:03, a new course record. Full results (when available).
Dave James and Cat Bradley won the Silverton Alpine 50k, an Aravaipa Running event in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. James and Bradley finished in 4:35 and 5:33, respectively. Full results.
Next Weekend – Cascade Crest 100 Mile – Easton, Washington
The women’s race at the 17th running of the Cascade Crest 100 Mile looks most exciting. After three fast but low-key 100-mile wins, a streak that leaves her undefeated at the distance, Janessa Taylor will likely face tough competition from Alissa St. Laurent.
Taylor’s successes include the Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile, the Antelope Canyon 100 Mile, and the Mountain Lakes 100 Mile all within the past 12 months. She will be looking to bounce back from a DNF at the recent Tushar Trail Run 93k, a U.S. Skyrunning series event.
“At mile 45 I dropped. Coming into mile 43, the second-to-last aid station, I was running a fever with incessant coughing. I left that aid station and began the longest and final climb, but two miles up, it was obvious I just needed to stop and descend,” Taylor recalled.
St. Laurent was the overall winner at the Canadian Death Race three short weeks ago.
“I’ve been conservative with my training this August, so I feel like I should have something left for Cascade Crest,” St. Laurent said of her race schedule. “I have no control over the rest of the field, but obviously I’ll be there to do my best.”
St. Laurent said she is unfamiliar with the course, while it was a summer trip to the Cascades that has Taylor excited. “There is no shortage of challenging terrain and climbing. It is such a great area to run,” she gushed.
The two favorites are likely to be joined by Jenny Capel, Alicia Woodside, and Tara Berry.
The men’s race looks to be between Pierre Loic Deragne, Yassine Diboun, and Oliver Utting. Deragne was fourth at last year’s Bear 100 Mile, Diboun second at this summer’s White River 50 Mile, and Utting has podiumed at a long list of shorter Canadian trail ultras.
Next Weekend – Tamalpa Headlands 50k – Muir Beach, California
Held continuously since 1998, this scenic tour of Marin County is the USATF 50k Trail National Championships for the fourth time. The loop-style course includes 7,300 feet of elevation gain over the popular Dipsea, Miwok, Pirates Cove, Coastal, and Steep Ravine trails.
Competitive men’s and women’s fields feature a mix of out-of-state runners and Bay Area locals, all competing for a share of the $5,000 prize purse.
In the men’s race, Patrick Smyth has been red hot all year long. His successes include a course-record win at the Way Too Cool 50k earlier this year and recent victory at the US Mountain Running Championships. Second at the mountain running championships, and at the Pikes Peak Ascent, race-often Andy Wacker is likely to be Smyth’s biggest competition.
The two will be joined on the start line by Bay Area runners David Roche, Galen Burrell, Ivan Medina, Chris Vizcaino, and Sam Robinson.
Ben Stern, who won this year’s Miwok 100k, and Mario Mendoza will also challenge up front.
A group that includes Megan Roche, Caitlin Smith, Emily Harrison, and Linsday Tollefson headlines the women’s race.
Roche, like Smyth, also won the Way Too Cool 50k earlier this year. Smith just gained another Olympic Trials Marathon qualifying mark, and Harrison has raced little this year, but was second at the 2015 Caumsett 50k.
Shayla Houlihan is a potential wildcard in the women’s event. Houihan appears to have competed, quite successfully, in one low-key 50k this spring, but she’s best known as a former Olympic Trials steeplechaser.
Bay Area locals with the potential to advance to the podium include Clare Blaney, Amanda Felder, and Claire Bernard. After a string of Texas wins, Tracie Akerhielm will for look for the same.