Uphill races continued with Colorado’s Mt. Evans Ascent, and the Dipsea Race had its 105th edition. Skyrunning stars Emelie Forsberg and Stevie Kremer were among those who raced at locations around the world.
Mt. Evans Ascent – Idaho Springs, Colorado
Andy Wacker raced 14.5 miles up the high-altitude auto road in 1:39:42. The race climbs 3,600 feet on its way to a finish at 14,264 feet above sea level. It was the race’s second-fastest finish ever, trailing only Matt Carpenter’s 1:37:01 from 2008. Wacker’s mark thus eclipsed the previous second best, Glenn Randall’s 1:41:21 from 2010.
He was followed by Chris Siemers, a former Mount Washington Road Race winner, in 1:43:28 and Colorado trail running president Peter Maksimow in 1:45:26. Both Wacker and Maksimow will race next weekend’s Mount Washington race.
Both Wacker and fifth-place David Roche (1:52:24) will race the World Mountain Running Association Long Distance Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland on July 4.
Despite having just recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area for the summer season, Megan Roche handled the thin air with a first-place 2:10:03 result. She too will race the July 4 championship event in Switzerland. Roche, and men’s winner Wacker, each won a $300 cash prize, but missed out on the course-record bonus. Stevie Kremer’s 1:57:51 from 2012 still stands as the women’s best.
Second and third in the women’s race were Stephanie Hinds and Heather Jossi in 2:14:51 and 2:30:48, respectively.
Dipsea Race – Mill Valley, California
Fifty-eight-year-old Brian Pilcher won the 105th Dipsea Race. It was his second win at the race known for its unique age and gender handicaps, adding to a title he first won six years ago. Pilcher finished the 7.5-mile route from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach in 56:56. With an 11-minute headstart for his age, Pilcher’s adjusted time was 45:56.
Matias Saari was second in 47:54, the result of a three-minute headstart and a 50:54 run. Rickey Gates was third, finishing in 49:11. Gates’s run time of 50:11 was the day’s fastest, ending Alex Varner’s six-year-long streak of having the day’s fastest run. Gates reportedly fell twice, dislocating his shoulder each time.
Indiana Urban Wilderness Run – Indianapolis, Indiana
The first-ever 10.55k race on the city’s new urban trails doubled as the Collegiate Running Association Trail Championships. A $6,000 prize purse with $1,000 to each of the men’s and women’s winners ensured a competitive field.
On the men’s side, Joe Gray surged past Western Kentucky University’s Patrick Cheptoek. The pair finished in 33:01 and 33:33, respectively. Will Christian of Old Dominion University was third in 33:51.
Admittedly it seems odd to think of Joe Gray as a collegian, as he last competed for Oklahoma State University in 2006. The collegiate championships, however, are “open to any college students that have completed a class since January 1, 2015 and any students currently enrolled on race day,” and Gray looks to be enrolled at a bible college in Colorado.
Butler University’s Mara Olson controlled the women’s race, winning by over a minute with a 37:33 finish time. Two days earlier, Olson was 11th in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, running 33:55.
Bethany Sachtleben, of George Mason University, and Samantha Bluske, of the University of Toledo, ran 38:40 and 40:52 for second and third, respectively.
Quad Rock 50 Mile – Fort Collins, Colorado
After being rained out from its customary May race date, the rescheduled Quad Rock 50 Mile was slightly less competitive than usual. Nevertheless, Ryan Burch, the race’s 2012 champion and course-record holder, fought off high temperatures for an 8:17 first-place finish.
Frank Pipp and Mike Hinterberg finished the two-lap course second and third in 8:38 and 9:14, respectively.
Kerrie Bruxvoort won the women’s race in 10:11. She was also the race’s 2013 winner. Jeanne Cooper and Sandra Carpenter were second and third in 10:27 and 11:41, respectively.
Mike Aish and Reese Ruland each set new course records in the accompanying 25-mile race. The winners clocked 3:17 and 3:58, respectively.
Max King and Mario Mendoza raced way under the previous course best at the Bend, Oregon Footzone Dirty Half Marathon. The two pushed to 1:13 finish times despite the course’s rolling 2,000 feet of elevation gain. King was unofficially at 1:13:44 with Mendoza 10 seconds back. Full results.
On the Portuguese island of Madeira, Ricky Lightfoot and Stevie Kremer won the 55k Ultra Skymarathon Madeira. The pair clocked 6:09 and 7:33 on the steep and highly technical track. Kremer looks to have finished alongside husband J. Marshall Thomson. Full results.
Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg made easy work of France’s La Verticale du Mole, winning in 32:50 and 45:32. Full results.
The NUT 100k is a stunning point-to-point race along Oregon’s North Umpqua River Trail. Rod Bien and Janessa Taylor won the first-year event in 11:01 and 11:05, respectively. Full results.
In Pennsylvania at the Laurel Highlands 70.5 Mile race, Doug Stephens and Tina Jeon were victorious in 13:20 and 13:50. Full results.
Chris Vizcaino dominated the Rodeo Valley Trail Run 50k in the San Francisco Bay Area. He finished in 3:46 for a 31-minute lead on second. Bev Anderson-Abbs gained the women’s win in 4:36. Full results.
Scott Jurek continues his pursuit of the Appalachian Trail FKT. He is in Virginia and some 800 miles into the 2,186-mile trail.
Next Weekend – Mount Washington Road Race – Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire
“It’s only one hill,” the longtime road race affectionately snickers. That hill though gains 4,727 feet over 7.6 miles on a 12% average grade. A prize purse that awards $1,000 to each of the men’s and women’s winners, and a history that dates back to 1936, consistently make this one of the country’s top uphill climbs.
Joe Gray and Eric Blake, last year’s top-two finishers, headline the men’s race. Gray joined the elusive sub-60 minute club last year while gaining his first win. Gray also finished second in 2013 and 2012. Blake won the race in 2013, 2008, and 2006, and was second in 2010, 2009, and 2005.
Rickey Gates, who last won in 2011, Zach Miller, fourth a year ago, and Andy Wacker, who just won the Mt. Evans Ascent, are all also likely to contend.
Past winners Kim Dobson and Brandy Erholtz are expected to lead the women’s race. Dobson won the race in 2012 and 2011, and Erholtz won in 2009 and 2008, and was second in 2013, 2012, and 2011.
Other Ultra News
Trying to fill a void, Jason Friedman created the first Ultrarunning National Rankings. Friedman, a 39-year-old emergency-medicine physician from New York, has been running ultras for almost a decade and consistently notches top-10 finishes, but says, “as a runner, I’d describe myself as not nearly as good as I think I am.”
Regardless of what he thinks, his rankings are decent. The main barrier, however, is that he manually ranks races into his system and introduces subjective bias. “I haven’t given it a ton of thought in terms of how far I could take this project,” he said, but he has put considerable effort into the formulas to get to that first ranking, where Alex Varner and Magdalena Boulet were recognized as U.S.’s top runners.
The project started just for fun, and “the only real impact I thought it might have was that if enough people noticed, it might help some of the elites in their search for sponsors,” Friedman said. “Honestly, the biggest thing I’d like out of it is a UROY vote!”
“Right now it’s pretty fun, but it’s a lot of work,” he concedes. “I’d estimate it takes me a good five hours a week to collect and enter all the results, which doesn’t sound like much, but can add up when you’re doing it on top of work and training. I need to come up with some way to automate it, but I’m not computer-savvy enough to do that.”