2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Championship Results

This race in a couple words: wet, a bit confusing, and wicked fast.

On Thursday night before Saturday’s race, The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships race administration announced a course change due to a Pineapple Express’ impending arrival, a nickname for the occasional but very wet weather systems that roll off the Pacific Ocean, to ensure athlete safety and logistical preparedness. The resulting course was composed of a 23-ish mile figure eight with a couple, small out-and-backs that was repeated twice.

Sheeting rain falling in the inch-per-hour-or-more range, blustery winds, and temperatures hovering in the 50s Fahrenheit greeted runners at the starting line. As the morning progressed, the wind calmed but the rain picked up before tapering into just clouds as the lead men and women finished.

The course, which was to be run twice by the 50-mile race and once each by the associated and simultaneous 50K and marathon races, became quickly mucked up and slick. Some runners, both at the front and the back of the pack, suffered navigation issues that added both challenge and confusion on the day. [Update: Adam Campbell, Sage Canaday and Jason Wolfe share their stories and thoughts of going off course while leading during the race.]

When all was said and done, Spaniard Miguel Heras (post-race interview) and Swede (living in Norway) Emelie Forsberg (post-race interview) were bothered not by water, mud, or the new course and emerged as men’s and women’s champions. They each take home a hefty $10,000 prize.

You can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and preview on our TNF 50 Mile Live Coverage page.

The bottom of this article includes links to TNF EC 50 Mile-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports.

Ps. To get all the latest ultra news from iRunFar.com, subscribe via RSS or email.

2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Men’s Race

As you can imagine when about three dozen highly talented men come together at a big-prize-money race, a massive group of dudes shot off the start line and kept on rolling. A couple of that group’s rabbits would suffer some time off course or the consequences of accidentally cutting the course (Sage Canaday, Adam Campbell, Jason Wolfe, Timmy Parr, and Mike Foote as examples), while others just plain couldn’t hang with the jet-speed pace. In the end, it was the guys who raced steadily, strongly, and perhaps most carefully who emerged on the money-bearing podium: Miguel Heras in first (winning $10,000), François d’Haene in second (winning $4,000), and Cameron Clayton in third (winning $1,000).

Miguel Heras wins the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships.
Photo: Brett Rivers, San Francisco Running Company

2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Men’s Results

Cameron Clayton after taking third.
Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

  1. Miguel Heras (Salomon) – 5:33:16 (pre-race & post-race interviews)
  2. François d’Haene (Salomon) – 5:46:42 (pre-race & post-race interviews)
  3. Cameron Clayton – 5:47:14
  4. Adam Campbell (Arc’teryx, Salomon) – 5:53:35
  5. Alex Nichols (Inov-8) – 5:55:20
  6. Jason Wolfe (Run Flagstaff) – 6:01:50
  7. Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) – 6:02:56
  8. Sylvain Court (Adidas) – 6:05:47
  9. Gary Gellin (Inov-8) – 6:06:41
  10. Shaun Martin – 6:07:17
  11. Mike Wolfe (The North Face) – 6:09:48
  12. Christopher Kollar – 6:13:46
  13. Ryan Ghelfi – 6:14:02
  14. Greg Vollet (Salomon) – 6:17:25
  15. Dave Mackey (Hoka One One) – 6:17:50
  16. Jorge Maravilla (Salomon) – 6:20:58
  17. Chris Vargo – 6:23:39
  18. Justin Ricks – 6:24:11
  19. Leigh Schmitt (The North Face) – 6:25:49
  20. Hal Koerner (The North Face) – 6:26:26

Full results.

2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Women’s Race

Maud Gobert set a hot and heavy pace for the women for the race’s first half while the rest of the elite ladies spread out into a chase train behind her, intermixed with the men. All day, Emelie Forsberg and Stephanie Howe lingered close, apparently waiting for their chance to pounce. With about 10 miles to go, Forsberg had forged herself a 2:30 lead with Gobert and Howe fighting for second and third. At the finish, Forsberg stayed strong and won by a margin of two minutes over Howe and seven minutes over Gobert. Forsberg takes $10,000, Howe $4,000, and Gobert $1,000 as payday for their efforts.

Emelie Forsberg wins the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships.
Photo: Brett Rivers, San Francisco Running Company

2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Women’s Results

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 6:39:18 (pre-race & post-race interviews and race report)
  2. Stephanie Howe (The North Face) – 6:41:36 (post-race interview and race report)
  3. Maud Gobert (Adidas) – 6:46:13
  4. Caitlin Smith (Salomon) – 7:05:00
  5. Silvia Serafini (Salomon) – 7:12:02
  6. Tina Lewis (Salomon) – 7:13:30
  7. Brandy Erholtz (New Balance) – 7:14:50
  8. Krissy Moehl (Patagonia, UltrAspire) – 7:19:27
  9. Bethany Lewis (UltrAspire) – 7:20:02
  10. Lizzy Hawker (The North Face) – 7:26:44
  11. Sandi Nypaver – 7:28:06
  12. Megan Laib – 7:32:13
  13. Joelle Vaught (Montrail) – 7:34:54
  14. Jennifer Pfeifer – 7:37:24
  15. Stacey Cleveland – 7:38:21
  16. Christina Clark – 7:49:01
  17. Rory Bosio (The North Face) – 7:51:01
  18. Helen Cospolich (The North Face) – 7:55:39
  19. Erica Namba – 7:57:08
  20. Candice Burt (Salomon) – 8:00:59

Full results.

Stephanie Howe racing the TNF 50.
Photo: Brett Rivers, San Francisco Running Company

2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Articles, Race Reports, and More

Articles and Photo Galleries

Race Reports

Last update: December 10, 11 pm MST

Meghan Hicks: is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

View Comments (155)

  • Too bad, sounds like Sage was well in route to a win until going off course

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    • It sounds like They went off course somewhere around mile 13. No one is ever "we'll on the way to win" at mile 13 of a 50 mile race... Even if its actually only 46 miles. Plus it sounds like they were able to improvise on the fly so that the leaders that did skip the lap early just ran it later so none of them actually ran any extra miles they just ran them at different times. be interesting to hear all the details of just what happened but until we do I think it's silly to make any assumptions about whose fault it was or what might have happened otherwise. I think this unfairly takes something away from everyone else in the race who accomplished what they did. Then again maybe details will come out that make it obvious that the strongest runner out there didn't in fact win the race, but unless that happens I think it's premature (and kind of disrespectful) to speculate.

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      • looks as if Canaday didn't even place based on the results. He was certainly supposed to be up there, so it seems fair to say that he probably would have done better otherwise.

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      • Well said Geoff. I had assumed based on Bryon's Twitter feed report that Sage was the leader at 36.8 miles

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  • going off course in a "money" race like this is totally unacceptable and I put the blame completely on the race organizers.

    this is NOT some local race where its "runner beware", in which case it typically becomes the runners fault.

    of course, the bad weather is also the race organizers fault :-(

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  • Hello kind readers,

    I hope that we only need to say once here that, while we welcome your comments, we welcome those of the constructive variety. If you would like to discuss or debate course-marking/navigation issues from today's race, please do so in a civil and respectful manner.

    Please also keep in mind that only the runners who participated in the race and the race administration/volunteers can speak from an actual place of fact; the rest of our commentary (Including mine, even though I was out on portions of the course and saw a goodly portion of the action.) is supposition.

    Thanks for listening,

    Meghan

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    • Meghan, I totally agree that all commentary should be constructive. Still, with all due respect, in Art's defense I read his tongue-in-cheek closing comment about weather liability to mean that even his first assertion is meant with some sarcasm.

      Great coverage and kudos, as always, to iRF for being out there and bringing it in real time. You certainly lived up to the "Mud, Mountains" tagline today. Many thanks.

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  • Meghan,

    While everyone appreciates this site, your frequent chastising of posters for innocuous posts detracts from it and adds nothing. Art's comment was fine. Let us speak freely, even critically!

    Mike

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    • Mike and Andy,

      I appreciate your comments and will think more about what you've said here for the future. It's our sincere hope to do good things (read: provide a venue for people to talk about issues be them trivial but fun, crucial to our sport's future, and everything in between) with the conversations that happen in the comments section of this website, and to prevent the evolution of these conversations into the sorts of nasty Internet interactions that happen in other online places. That's my simple intent. We're absolutely not opposed to critical commentary, but only if it's presented constructively so that something productive can come of it. If you have ideas on how to better keep conversations in the realm of constructive, I am all ears!

      I hope you'll notice that my comment was not directed at any particular commenter. Over on our CoverItLive feed from the race today, you might (have) notice(d) some folks speaking deconstructively about the circumstances of today's race and with no first-hand knowledge.

      My comment to this post was intended to keep conversation here a little more above the brow than what happened over there, a preemptive 'strike,' if you will.

      As for Art's comment, I read it as conveying multiple feelings, including the tongue-in-cheek/sarcasm that Andy also felt.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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    • Wow. I'm not sure what to say to this. I can't see how a pre-emptive "hey, everybody, let's all play fair" translates to chastising anyone. Frankly, I didn't read it as being a response to any of the above posters, just a recognition that today was a bit controversial, and given that this post may get a lot of commentors, a request for everybody to be civil. This site is Bryon and Meghan's party - her request that we not knock over the furniture and insult the other guests is entirely reasonable, I think.

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  • Meghan, thanks for the AWESOME coverage! I and many others greatly appreciate what you do. Let's think positive people!!

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  • As one who ran the course, I can offer the following general insights and criticisms:

    - The course was fairly poorly marked; there were many important trail junctions (in an area that, if anyone is familiar with The Headlands, has a myriad of trails), there were small markings that, with the severe weather, were susceptible to being knocked down and obscured. As a result, I, myself had to stop twice on the Coastal Trail (as I was alone and off the back of the pack) to route-find and - eventually - find and re-post two critical signs (one of which prevented runners from plummeting into the Pacific).

    - The weather was pretty awful. We runners were extremely grateful for the volunteers out there - at 5AM, in the dark, 30mph winds, and driving rain - helping out with course marshaling. However, it was clear that many junctions were inadequately staffed - either by people, markings, and/or lights. The conditions exposed weaknesses in the race organizations that, on a good-weather day, might've gone without issue.

    - Ultimately, for a race of this status - with its money and defacto "championship" status - needs to have a stand-alone 50M/championship race. The merging of multiple courses and multiple waves of runners confuses not only the runners but volunteers, themselves, creating a situation rife for foul-ups and controversy.

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    • I ran the race today as well. Man, that second lap was killer. Some of the sections were quite comical with the mud, especially the part going down to the beach and back up. There was nothing to do but laugh and try to make the most of it. Many people I talked to who did it in the past said it was tougher than the normal course, even with the shorter distance, at least for us middle of the pack runners.

      Regarding course markings, I thought it was well marked although I agree with the comment regarding all the runners converging on the same loops. I never got lost but was often paranoid that I went off course. Not sure if TNF could have done much about that though. Maybe they could have a backup course planned out in advance if one of the park services closes their section of the trail.

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  • Obviously everyone should be civil and constructive when possible.

    This does though bring up the difference between making comments about A) IRunFar B) The race in question and its organizers and C) the participants regardless of if they are positive or (constructively) critical.

    This is not as straight forward as it would seem since (I think it is fair to say that) IRunFar is the main outlet (meaning "media") covering and promoting the races and athletes and there is an undeniable "don't bite the hand that feeds you" synergy. So this coverage isn't the New York Times... but the comment section isn't an anonymous thread on LetsRun... it's a living room or bar after the race... When I re-re-re-read my comments before I post them, I ask myself: If I was standing with all the people I'm referring to 2 feet away, would I still say this? Because Ellie Greenwood reads the comments, Bryon reads the comments.

    My opinion obviously, but basically, act as if you, in person, were going to say it to that human being and be okay with the impact (positive or constructive) that it may have.

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  • Meghan thank you and Bryon for your amazing coverage on today's event.

    As you mentioned results aren't final until posted by race organization, but for what it's worth I finished in 6:22. Lost my bib on a fall, so I was giving my bib # at checkpoints.

    Again, great job, see you guys in '13!

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  • I hope this race will make everyone take a closer look (profile) at Shaun Martin who did an amazing job finishing out the top 10 ahead of many of the top runners.

    Big respect for the work he's doing in the Southwest.

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  • but I am sure you had that trademark ear to ear beam whilst face planting in the mud, right Jorge! Nice work to you and all the runners who braved what sounds like a pretty epic course.

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  • Agreed! Awesome coverage from a small crew of iRunFar peeps who were out battling the cold as much as the racers and I am sure much sleep deprived too. In the meantime, we sit commenting from the warmth and comfort of our sofas. Wow, sounds like quite the day - congrats to all who toed the start line.

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  • Very much agree - Shaun is the man! Although I had him picked for top-5, I still say he rocked it. And as great of a runner he personally is, he's a much better coach and role model to all the students at Chinle H.S. He has made a huge positive impact on the lives of probably 100s of his runners, as well as his community in general. Well done today, Shaun.

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    • Ahe'hee' (Thank You - in Navajo)

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  • Hey Jorge,
    We were posting results based on this afternoon's race org results. Thanks for letting us know when you came in. I saw you jump across the line from afar. :-).... no, wait, :-D .... that's better.

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  • I must say I find it confusing (comical?) that multiple runners going off course multiple times has been par for this course for several years since the very beginning. Go back and look at previous race reports and summaries from Uli Steidl, Mike Wardian, and others for several straight years now.

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    • I've run this course every year but this one and each year the markings were confusing - or poorly placed - and the course marshalls were - at some critical junctions - merely bored teenagers who seemed to care more about their personal conversations than directing the runners. I won't recommend this race nor run it again until NF steps up their game.

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  • After all, it's adversity that makes the best stories. And once again Trail Running shows that it's nothing if not an adventure. Congrats to all who completed the race, and came away with stories to tell for years to come.

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  • I ran 32 before having to drop with an ITBS flair-up. It was a lot of fun while it lasted for me. I thought the course was marked fine, but volunteers had to direct you at some points and they apparently didn't always tell runners the correct way to go. Toward the tail end of my race I was passed by several members of the lead pack (loop section where they were heading to the finish, and I was further back) and I was in awe that they could run that fast on a downhill through the slop and stay upright.

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  • Congratulations to Miguel. I am so glad that he has been able to stay away from the performance enhancing drugs for which his brother, Roberto Heras (who rode with Armstrong) was busted. Thank goodness for clean sports!

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    • ... did they drug test though?

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      • No, they didn't need to since everyone knows that trail runners have too clean consciences to cheat.

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        • "Everbody knows"?

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          • Testing isn't a bad idea for these championship races with lots of cash on the line. We've seen competitive road runners get busted recently

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          • if masters cyclists have been busted for doping in citizen races where the prize is tire or a six pack of beer, then i suspect there would be some temptations (if not already occurring) for elite ultra runners to cross the line for 10 grand....we were all duped by a certain cancer survivor, would be a mistake to think all elites have a "clear conscience'. we are at a point where the stakes are to high to not start testing ultra runners both during and out of competition. the top world 100K runners are tested all year and they are racing only for a trophy and a title (i.e., no $$$$).

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          • Just legalize it all already and quit testing. The top perfomers, in my opinion, are all doped to the gills.

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      • Hi from Spain!

        Here in Spain we are using LCC, PDLA, and CDB. The three are outstanding performance enhancers and they have been fielding tested many times and with very good results.

        Lentejas con Chorizo (LCC)

        Potage de la Abuela (PDLA)

        Cocido de Burgos (CDB)

        Best regards!

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        • Ha! Making me hungry Girona :-)

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          • Better tell Grandma to keep the epo, hgh and cera out of the 'potage'!

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  • I was watched the event yesterday and as the first runners passed through Tennessee Valley in the pre-dawn rain, I ran ahead to watch from a more remote spot near the ocean. While running I passed a race official who was marking the course with glow sticks. There were a a few lead runners who passed too and were a bit worried about which way to go at a junction. I directed them, they went on, then the official caught up and marked the junction.

    I worried about the future markings on the Pirate's Cove area where the leaders lost their way, but my biggest disappointment in this event is that it tries to be too much. Championship 50, 50K, Marathon, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, 10K, and Kid's fun run...forgive me if I missed one. Because of this the attention to certain details of a championship race may be overlooked.

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  • I ran the race too. Yeah, I with the course were less busy. But they were given only a few usable trails and 1000 runners, I'm not sure if they could have done a better job.

    As for the course markings, I found that the course was well marked, but some of the junctions were a bit confusing. Each marking was a bundle of four or five small ribbons, which sometimes made it blend in to the background. All the races were running more or less the same route, so they could have installed one big red strip... Another thing is that they didn't follow typical marking conventions. For example, if there's a Y junction and you need to take right, I'd expect marks on the right edge of the path before and after the Y. But I often saw a mark right at the fulcrum of Y, with no followup ribbons until a few hundred feet later.

    These minor complaints aside, I enjoyed the race a lot. I didn't know downhill mud running was this fun :) Thanks much for the organizers and volunteers.

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    • This was my first 50 (ish) and all things considered, it went really well for me. Junctions a bit confusing at times, but as a 10 hour finisher, I had some time (and patience) to thoroughly interrogate TNF volunteers regarding whether or not I was going in the right direction. Had I been running (capable of running ;-) a 7min pace, I suspect my day might have been a little different. The weather and mud (Ooohhhh god... the mud) just magnified all the difficult details of race directing and course management. Overall for me as a first timer, great experience on a course that could've EASILY been cancelled! So glad TNF pulled it together. A little bummed for the Sunday racers that missed out. Cheers to all!

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  • You guys nailed the top finishers in advance with your interviews! (Which I thoroughly enjoyed.) Nice work!!

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    • Yeah, that worked out pretty well, huh? ;-)

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