A pair of races at Colorado’s GoPro Mountain Games highlighted some of the country’s top short-course stars, and 100-mile races in San Diego, Bryce Canyon, Wisconsin, and Virginia filled the June summer weekend.
GoPro Mountain Games – Vail, Colorado
Hais Welday, an Eritrean who ran the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Olympics, won the Vail Pass Half Marathon, a road race that climbs 2,900 feet. Welday finished in 1:23 and earned a $1,200 cash prize. Last year’s winner, Joe Gray, cut three-plus minutes from his 2014 finish and was just 33 seconds back of the Eritrean. Andy Wacker ran 1:24 for third, and was just 81 seconds back of the race winner.
Former Mount Washington Road Race winner Chris Siemers was fourth, and Chad Hall, brother of the famed marathoner, was sixth.
The Vail Pass Half Marathon has been held every year since 2009, and this year’s women’s podium included the only women to have ever won the race. Morgan Arritola (2014, 2012), Kim Dobson (2011), and Megan Lizotte (2013, 2010, 2009) finished the 13.7 mile-uphill climb in 1:40, 1:41, and 1:45, respectively.
Arritola and Dobson were separated by just 83 seconds, and Lizotte earned a podium finish despite coming from sea level.
A day following the road race, and also part of GoPro Mountain Games, many of the same athletes doubled back for the steep up-and-down Spring Runoff 10k, which also offered a $1,200 first-place prize.
Joe Gray repeated as 10k champion, finishing in 44:11. Although the course has likely changed slightly, it was the fastest finish time since 2011. As in the day prior’s race, he was again trailed by Andy Wacker, who clocked 45:23. In third, and just a week following a sixth-place finish at the IAU Trail World Championships, Alex Nichols ran 46:49.
The race is always especially deep. Recent Adams State University graduate Matt Daniels was fourth in 47:22. XTERRA triathlete Josiah Middaugh was fifth in 48:58, Skyrunning standout Rickey Gates was sixth in 49:13, and Matt Kempton, currently second in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup rankings, was seventh in 50:58.
Morgan Arritola and Megan Kimmel flipped their 2014 finish positions. This year it was Kimmel on top, finishing in 51:44. Arritola just missed the weekend sweep, and was second in 53:58. Longtime U.S. Mountain Running Team member Brandy Erholtz ran 55:21 for third.
The women’s race was equally deep. XTERRA pros Sara Shuler and Emma Garrard were fourth and sixth, respectively. Laura Haefeli, bronze medalist at the 2007 World Mountain Running Championships, ran 56:47 for fifth, and Megan Lizotte, doubling back from the day prior’s road race, was seventh in 57:59.
Rory Bosio, like Garrard, competing as part of the multi-sport Ultimate Mountain Challenge, finished the run in 1:01. Garrard won the collection of races, which included the 10k, a mountain-bike race, a road-bike time trial, and a river event, and Bosio finished fourth.
San Diego 100 Mile – Lake Cuyamaca, California
Over 100 mountain miles east of San Diego, Bob Shebest was the best. His 17:09 winning time ranks as the fifth fastest at the 14-year-old race. With two wins at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile and one at the Pine to Palm 100 Mile, Shebest looks to have won four straight 100 milers.
Benjamin Bucklin chased all day and finished second in 17:44, and Gabe Wishnie was third in 18:36.
Just 12 minutes separated the first two women, and just 28 minutes the first three. Halfway into the race, Nadine Haluszczak was fifth, over an hour back of then-leader Susan Kramer. At mile 88, she’d cut that gap to just 10 minutes and had pulled even by the mile 93 aid station. Over the final miles, Haluszcak was unmatched and ran to victory in 23:37. Kramer held on to second in 23:49, and Jenny Welch ran 24:05 for third.
Bryce 100 Mile – Bryce Canyon, Utah
Florent Bouguin keeps gaining speed. I admittedly wasn’t familiar with the Canadian resident prior to this race, but he’s riding an impressive streak. Bouguin was second at this year’s The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile – New York event, 15th at Transgrancanaria, and third at last year’s Canadian Death Race 125k. Here, in the shadows of Bryce Canyon National Park, and in the race’s third year, he cut over two hours from the previous course best with a 17:58 finish.
Also taking nearly an hour off the previous event best, Bay Area runner Alex Ho had a breakout performance. Ho dipped under the 19-hour mark, finishing in 18:59:10. Defending champion Zac Marion was third in 21:23.
Jennilyn Eaton also scored a new course record in the women’s race. Finishing in 23:50, she is the event’s first sub-24 hour female finisher, and she won this year’s race by nearly three hours. Tonia Smith and Lee Conner battled for second and third, finishing close together in 26:31 and 26:37. Anna Weisbrodt was less than three minutes back in fourth at 26:40.
Rothrock Challenge 30k – State College, Pennsylvania
Zach Miller returned to his Keystone State roots and championed the super-technical route in 2:21. Miller’s time is over 11 minutes better than David Roche’s winning time from a year ago, indicating a possible course change. Matt Lipsey was second in 2:24, and Jason Bryant, last year’s runner-up, was third in 2:29.
Repeating as women’s champ, Meira Minard ruled with a 2:49 finish. Sayard Tanis was second in 2:53, and current La Sportiva Mountain Cup leader Maria Dalzot was third in 2:58. In her three Mountain Cup appearances this year, Dalzot has two wins and a third. The Cup continues with Colorado’s Vail Hill Climb on July 4. It will be the eighth of 10 races in the series.
Other Races and News
Training for the World Mountain Running Association Long Distance Championships, David and Megan Roche made easy work of the Denver Trail Half Marathon. Each was a nearly 13-minute winner. David finished in 1:17 and Megan in 1:30. Full results.
Nick Clark won his fourth straight Pilot Hill 25k, an out-and-back race in Laramie, Wyoming. Clark’s 1:40 is just over a minute off his own course record. Nicole Clement was the first female in 2:04. Full results.
A week after taking fourth at the Cayuga Trail 50 Mile, Tristan Williams dominated New Hampshire’s There’s A Black Fly In My Eye 10 miler. He finished in 1:02 for a 12-minute buffer on second. Full results.
Phil Kochik and Steph Harvey were individual winners at Washington’s Rainier to Ruston 50 Mile. The two clocked 7:08 and 8:34 leading marks. Full results.
Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine 100 Mile saw Jim Sweeney go sub-16, finishing in 15:43. Amy Ewing edged Mary Flaws for the women’s crown. Finishing in 22:01 and 22:02, Ewing was in front by just 37 seconds. Full results.
Olivier LeBlond repeated as Old Dominion 100 Mile winner. He finished in 16:45, 20 minutes better than last year. Kathleen Cusick topped the women’s card in 19:06. Preliminary results.
On Saturday, June 6, Scott Jurek crossed into his Virginia during his Appalachian Trail FKT attempt, following a 50-mile day. On Sunday, June 7, he reached the 2,186-mile trail’s quarter-way point. The effort may be taking its toll however. Pictures show a knee strap below Jurek’s right knee, and compression completing covering his left quad. Jurek continues to post regular updates on his Facebook page.
Dave Mackey remains hospitalized following his serious leg injury on Boulder, Colorado’s Bear Peak on May 23. Friend and fellow ultrarunner George Zack has posted an update on Mackey’s condition.
Next Weekend – Quad Rock 50 Mile – Fort Collins, Colorado
The fourth annual Quad Rock 50 Mile was washed out in May, when heavy rains forced the race to be postponed. Given the proximity to the Western States 100, it’s unlikely that Ford Smith will still take part. In his absence, Mike Aish and Ryan Burch headline the men’s field. Burch won the race’s 2012 edition and still holds the course record.
Silke Koester, third at the recent Ultimate Direction Dirty Thirty event, Jeanne Cooper, a former Olympic trials marathoner, and Becca Much, a former pro cyclist turned ultrarunner, top the women’s card.