A full weekend of racing crowned new USATF 50k road national champions and saw some of the sport’s top stars take to skis, snowshoes, and obstacle courses. Next weekend’s Way Too Cool 50k will introduce some new talent to ultra distances. Highlights from these races and much more are included in the latest This Week In Running edition.
Caumsett 50k – Long Island, New York
Michigan’s Zach Ornelas is this year’s USATF 50k road national champion. Ornelas, a former member of the U.S. mountain running team and a 2:20 marathoner, finished the 10x5k circuit in 2:52, a new course record. Tyler Andrews, a sub-30 10k runner and current world-record holder for the treadmill half marathon (1:07:19), overcame a hamstring injury to finish second. Kory Cool was third, previous winner Joe Gray was fourth, and Peter Maksimow fifth.
Sarah Bard, last year’s JFK 50 Mile winner, was the women’s champion in 3:23. Emily Harrison, last year’s Caumsett 50k winner, was second in 3:33, and Keila Merino took third in 3:56.
Mount Mitchell Challenge – Black Mountain, North Carolina
Daniel Hamilton, of Tennessee, powered past local Shaun Pope to win the 40-mile race up and down Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Hamilton finished in 4:54 to Pope’s 4:59. Ryan Thompson was third in 5:06. Jacqueline Palmer fought off the snowy conditions and competition to win the women’s race in 5:41. She was trailed by Robin Watkins and Elizabeth Minnick in 5:57 and 6:33.
Gabe McGowan and Keelin Schneider won the accompanying Black Mountain Marathon in 3:13 and 4:02, respectively.
Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race – Aspen, Colorado
Although I don’t intend for this column to include too many non-running results, star ultrarunners Rob Krar and Mike Foote did team for a fourth-place finish at this race that covers 11,600 feet of vertical gain over 25 miles. The pair finished in 5:44, just over 30 minutes back of the runaway three-time race champs, John Gaston and Max Taam.
Ultrarunners dot the rest of the results. David Ruttum, second at the 2013 Leadville 50 Mile and a former winner of the Old Dominion 100 Mile, was part of the fifth-place team. 2009 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile winner David Phillips was on the 12th-place team. Troy Howard, 2013 Hardrock 100 runner-up, was on the 17th-place team. The North Face athlete Paul Hamilton is listed among teams finishing with only one member.
Skyrunning phenom Stevie Kremer and Lindsay Plant won the women’s competition in 6:05, a mere two minutes ahead of the second-place team. Darcy Piceu teamed with Petra Pirc to finish a distant third in 8:23.
Nueces 50 Mile – Rocksprings, Texas
Just four seconds separated Anthony Jacobs and Zachary Szablewski at the front of the men’s 50 miler. The frontrunners clocked 8:06 to finish first and second, with Jacobs kicking to the win. Lorenzo Sanchez was just 25 seconds back of the race winner, 21 seconds back of second, to complete a very close lead three.
The women’s finish was less tightly contested with Cara Bass scoring a dominant win in 9:25. Julie Koepke and Andreana Haley ran 11:08 and 11:37 for second and third.
Tracie Akerheilm was the overall winner in the accompanying 50k at 4:33. Melanie Fryar was second overall in 4:49, also ahead of the first man.
Gustavo Reyes won Argentina’s Cuatro Refugios, a super-technical race won by Dakota Jones last year. Veronica Ramirez was the women’s winner, while Amy Sproston finished fourth.
In Lima, Peru at The North Face Endurance Challenge, Michael Wardian finished the tough 80k route in third. Remigio Huaman and Emerson Trujillo were first and second. [Update March 2: Today, Michael Wardian was declared The North Face Endurance Challenge – Peru winner after first and second places, Remigio Huaman and Emerson Trujillo, were disqualified for missing the final checkpoint.]
Brian Miller and Amy Phillips won northern California’s Salmon Falls 50k, finishing in 4:14 and 4:40, respectively.
Also in California, just east of San Diego, Steven Talley and Jeri Ginsburg led a small group of finishers at the Sycamore Canyon 100k. The two clocked 12:05 and 12:55 marks.
The Ultra Caballo Blanco Copper Canyon Ultra 50 Mile in Urique, Mexico was unfortunately canceled due to civil unrest.
Max King pocketed $1,000 as winner of “The Boss” race at the Atlas Race – SoCal obstacle-course event. Kimber Mattox, winner of last year’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championships, won the women’s race.
A month out from South Africa’s Two Oceans Marathon, Devon Yanko tuned up with a first-place 2:45 at the Napa Valley Marathon.
Long-time U.S. mountain running team member Brandy Erholtz kicked past Margot Branigan in Wisconsin to win the United States National Snowshoe Championship. The senior men’s 10k was won by Scott Gall.
Next Weekend – Way Too Cool 50k, California
The 26th running of the Way Too Cool 50k again features deep men’s and women’s fields.
Best grouped as veterans, these four men are well known in ultrarunning:
- Rod Bien, fifth 2014 Way Too Cool 50k
- Jorge Maravilla, second 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon
- Brett Rivers, fourth 2014 Way Too Cool 50k
- Joe Uhan, fourth 2015 Bandera 100k
A group of upstarts, with some ultra experience, should do well on the fast course:
- Ryan Bak, second 2014 Flagline Trail Fest 50k
- David Roche, fourth 2014 Flagline Trail Fest 50k
- [Added March 2] Tim Tollefson, eighth 2014 TNF EC 50 Mile Championship
- Jim Walmsley, third 2015 Moab Red Hot 55k
Believed to be making their ultra debut, these three could find immediate success:
- Tom Brooks, third 3000m steeplechase at 2007 U.S. Track & Field Championships
- Chris Mocko, just set his 2:23 marathon best over the weekend by winning the 2015 Napa Valley Marathon
- Pat Smyth, fifth 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships, 62:01 half-marathon best (Houston, 2010)
While his name hasn’t been in national-class results for some time, Brooks was a star steepler, and former Oregon Track Club member, in the mid-to-late 2000s.
While training toward a sub-65 minute half-marathon goal, Mocko ran 2:23:06 at the Napa Valley Marathon over the weekend, a race that he’s now won three times. Of his WTC debut, he said, “This is the second time I’ve been registered for WTC. The last time I had to withdraw due to injury. This time, I succumbed to peer pressure of a couple of friends who are trying to knock off an item on their bucket list.”
While he hedged on his chances, Mocko admitted, “I know a number of well-credentialed trail runners that are entered in WTC and I know myself too well–when the gun goes off, my competitive juices will be flowing!”
Smyth is a 62-minute half marathoner. He finished fifth at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in February and earned a spot on the U.S. team to compete at worlds in China on March 28. In consideration of that, Smyth explained, “I will be running WTC, but as a controlled long run, as world cross country will be my focus for the next month. It’s doubtful that I will factor into the overall results (at WTC), but I am looking forward to being a part of the event and supporting my teammates.”
The women’s race is equally compelling.
- Stephanie Howe, third 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championship
- Megan Roche, winner 2014 Flagline Trail Fest 50k
- Tyler Stewart, winner 2012 Way Too Cool 50k
- Lindsay Tollefson, 2:41 at 2013 Cal International Marathon
- Yiou Wang, winner 2014 Skyline 50k
- Hillary Allen, fifth 2014 The Rut 50k
- Caroline Boller, winner 2015 Black Canyon 100k, third 2015 Bandera 100k
- Erin Wachter, 2:50 at 2014 Chicago Marathon
Tollefson said it’s her husband, Tim Tollefson, who lured her to ultras. “It’s been refreshing to do something a little different. Running more difficult terrain is completely the opposite from the road and has its own set of challenges. I’m clumsy, so I really have to pay attention,” she said. “I have had decent marathons, so hopefully I can enjoy the longer races as well. Variety is the spice of life.”