This Week In Running: March 16, 2020

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRMay you live in interesting times, they said. Oh geez, what a week, friends. Is everyone doing as okay as they can? My family readied ourselves for a longer-term lockdown by getting the kids a puppy. It’s a 10-week-old collie named Max! On our “This Week in Running” front, a great many races were understandably canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that light, we have a bit of racing news to report on, and a lot more cancellations.

[Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic is a highly dynamic situation. Since this weekend’s races were run, the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance calling for large gatherings of 50 or more people to be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. Please see our COVID-19 Trail Running and Ultrarunning Community Guide for more on the CDC guidance update, COVID-19 more generally, and what we as individuals and our community as a whole need to do to help slow its spread.]

Pioneer Spirit 50 Mile – Folsom, California

Everyone is taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19, and in California state officials are currently mandating for the cancellation of gatherings of over 250 people. The Pioneer Spirit 50 Mile race looks like it had 89 starters, and 19 entrants that chose not to start. There were also marathon and half-marathon distances with another 70 finishers. The race was run on a point-to-point trail from Cool to Folsom, California, but the coronavirus, or COVID-19, forced the cancellation of pre-race shuttles. Additionally, volunteers at all 11 aid stations wore latex gloves.

It was the race’s seventh year, and this year’s race was the USATF 50-Mile Trail National Championships with $1,000 going to each of its winners.

Women

Ashley Hawks scored a signature win and national title in 8:31. It was close, but she led most of the way in what was her 50-mile debut. The posted finish times appear off, and instead USATF mountain, ultra, trail social media reports that Hawks finished in 8:31. That’s nine minutes back of Meghan Laws’s 2018 course record.

Second-place Kalie Demerjian was in hot pursuit in 8:34, and rising star Olivia Amber followed in 8:42 for third.

Local runner Kenzie MacPhail grabbed fourth in 9:00, and Sunduk Kim was fifth, though her finish time is not yet known.

Men

Tim Tollefson is running the Western States 100 this year and he’s probably pretty familiar with those trails already, but got some race time on them too. Tollefson won in 6:22, and it was a new course record, almost an hour better than the previous best.

The posted results again look off here and don’t show a finish time for Max King, but it’s believed that he was second, about three minutes behind Tollefson. Recent USATF 50k Road National Champion Kallin Khan was third in 6:52, a single second ahead of fourth-place Christian Gering.

Asher Catterall ran 7:00 for fifth.

Full results.

Additional Races and Runs

Ultramaraton Baja Trail

Social media spots Humberto Red as the winner of Mexico’s Ultramaraton Baja Trail 50k race. He finished in 4:58, but it wasn’t yet clear who won the women’s race. Full results (when available).

Lhotse 24-Hour Endurance Challenge

The Lhotse 24-Hour Endurance Challenge ringed a 400-meter track in Oklahoma. Yvonne Naughton was the overall winner with 133 miles, and that was enough to qualify her for the Irish 24-hour national team. Tor Gudmunsen was second overall, first male, with 113 miles. Full results.

Bel Monte 50 Mile

Bad to the Bone Sports had 50-mile and 50k distances at the ninth Bel Monte group of races in Virginia. Amy Rusiecki won the women’s 50-mile race in 10:30, while Haley Bellerby was second in 10:52. Travis Zipfel edged Brian Rusiecki in the men’s race. The two finished in 7:58 and 8:11. Rachel Veale and Jacob Roberts won the 50k races in 6:06 and 5:43. Full results.

Photo: Bel Monte Endurance Races

3 Days of Syllamo

Arkansas’s 3 Days of Syllamo stage race happened. We know Ashley Nordell won again for the women, but haven’t heard yet about the men? Can any readers fill us in on this 150k Ozark Mountain run?

Everglades Ultras

Michelle Malia and Ashley Slaughter were women’s and men’s winners at Florida’s Everglades Ultras 50-mile race. The pair went for 9:26 and 8:31 runs, respectively. Kelsey Holden and Kyle Krafft won the 50k race in 5:40 and 4:04. Full results.

Fastest Known Times

With so many races being canceled, it’s an easy time to instead target fastest known times, and while these weren’t on the most well-known trails, below are among the most recent additions to the Fastest Known Time website.

  • On March 14, Braden Lenz ran 2:21 to set a new FKT on Washington’s 20-mile Burke-Gilman Trail. It’s a paved rail trail in King County, just above Seattle.
  • Iain Ridgeway covered the Monossnoc Ridge Trail in Massachusetts in 2:14, also on March 14. This is a singletrack out-and-back trail in the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation.
  • Michael Wardian is targeting a number of FKTs with the lack of races available. On March 13 he finished Maryland’s Billy Goat C&O Loop in 1:10. It’s a 15k track that links three trails. He was back at it again on March 15 and set the Washington DC 50 States Route FKT which is a 62-mile loop linking up all the 50 U.S. state-named streets within Washington, DC.
  • Arizona’s Mt. Wrightston stretches to 9,456-feet above sea level. Alison Baca went up and down in 2:23 for a new FKT.
  • Justin Grunewald and Amanda Basham ran the Sea to Sky Trail 16-mile route above the San Francisco Bay Area in 2:05.

Race Postponements and Cancellations

This Weekend

Hundreds of races globally were canceled for this weekend. Here’s just a smattering.

  • Even a low-key race like Salida, Colorado’s Race Through Time Marathon had to abandon its plans for a race this weekend. The race may be rescheduled for either August or October.
  • The same cancellation fate befell Rogue Valley Runners Tar ‘n’ Trail 6-miler in Ashland, Oregon.
  • Mad Moose Events puts on a number of races around Moab, Utah, and the schedule was greatly hurt this week. Both the March 14 Canyonlands Half Marathon and March 21 Behind the Rocks Ultra were canceled, and registration was paused for near-term later events.
  • Maryland’s Hat Run 50k had a streak dating back to 1989, but that ended this weekend when the race was canceled.
  • Indiana’s Knobstone Knockout 50k was called off.
  • Add California’s Old West Trails 50k to the cancellation list too.

Next Weekend

A couple examples of races canceled or postponed for this coming weekend.

  • Washington’s March 21 Chuckanut 50k has been postponed to a date yet to be determined.
  • California’s Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run was also to have been next weekend on March 21, but has been moved to June 20.
  • Utah’s Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50k, 50 Mile, and 100k has been canceled.

Later Weekends

And here we share a few more farther-off events that have been canceled or postponed.

  • The big (4,500 entrants) Lyon Urban Trail race in France was pushed back from March 29 to November 1.
  • It would’ve been the 28th year for Virginia’s Bull Run Run 50 Mile on April 4, but that race was canceled.
  • The folks of Centurion Running in the U.K. have postponed three events and canceled one. The South Downs Way 50 Mile was moved from April 4 to October 25, the Track 100 Mile was outright canceled, the Thames Path 100 Mile will be postponed from May 2 to September 5, and the North Downs Way 50 Mile was moved from May 16 to July 4.
  • South Africa’s April 11 Two Oceans Marathon is off.
  • It seemed like I just heard about the Run Hundred race, a 100-mile track race on the Nike campus in Oregon. One-hundred-mile standouts Camille Herron and Zach Bitter were expected to push the record books, but that April 13 event too was canceled.
  • The U.K.’s Highland Fling 53-mile race on April 25 was canceled.
  • Ethan Newberry’s second Run Tiger Claw race in Washington was pushed from May 2 to a date later in the year.
  • The Ultra Skyrunning Madeira events, scheduled for May 29 and 30, were canceled. This includes the Madeira Skyrace which is part of the 2020 Skyrunner World Series.
  • Further out, the 110th Dipsea Race in the San Francisco Bay Area for June 14 was canceled.

Ultra-Trail World Tour Cancellations

Cancellations impacting the UTWT are so great that they’ll be separately identified.

  • Croatia’s 100 Miles of Istria race was originally slated for April 12, and has now been postponed until September 24.
  • The Patagonia Run race in Argentina was to be April 13 but was pushed back to November 27.
  • Also formerly on April 13, Spain’s Penyagolosa Trails race is now expected to happen on October 16.
  • The April 23 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji in Japan was canceled. This race has been through a tough stretch in recent years with several earlier cancellations because of weather.
  • The April 25 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail race in Portugal was also canceled.
  • That all means that the next UTWT race, for now, is the May 16 Ultra-Trail Australia 100k. Race owner Ironman has issued a COVID-19 response, but has not yet postponed nor canceled the race.

Road Marathons

Several of the world’s most competitive marathons dates have been moved this week, such that they will now all, hopefully, happen this fall. The tight schedule is going to make for some tough decisions about prioritizing races, or potentially doubling up on marathons within a season.

  • August 8 and 9 – Olympic Marathon
  • September 14 – Boston Marathon
  • September 27 – Berlin Marathon
  • October 4 – London Marathon
  • October 11 – Chicago Marathon
  • November 1 – New York City Marathon

Call for Comments

  • Given that “This Week in Running” is a race-results column and most races are likely to be canceled for the forseeable future, we’re making plans to host a different kind of fun here each Monday during this time. Stay tuned next week!
  • What other results or cancellations would you like to mention from this weekend?
Justin Mock

is a family man, finance man, and former competitive runner. He gave his 20s to running, and ran as fast as 2:29 for the marathon and finished as high as fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. His running is now most happy with his two dogs on the trails and peaks near his home west of Denver.

There are 25 comments

  1. Jon

    Justin, you can’t talk about a new puppy without showing us pictures of him! In these uncertain times, I think we could all use more puppy and kitten pictures!

  2. Ian

    At the 2020 3 Days of Syllamo stage race, Ashley Nordell won the overall as well as the women’s race. Steve McBee won the men’s stage race.

  3. Brian

    It’s worth noting that all prior editions of Pioneer Spirit were held in July where temps are typically above 90, so course record comparisons aren’t really applicable (although I’m pretty sure Tim and Max would have been able to set course records there in any conditions).

    1. speedgoat

      FKT’s should only be on iconic trails. Not routes created on Strava. FKT’s have kinda gotten out of control on routes where only one person runs them. Seems kinda odd to me.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Here’s my own current personal thinking on Western States, I’m not thinking about Western States. It’s nearly 3.5 months out. The same goes for the Hardrock 100 (in which I’m entered) in four months.

      Basically, I’d look at the nearest two months… and assume everything is cancelled or postponed. After that, we simply don’t know nor can we. This morning, I got an email from a vendor that their various Chinese-sourced custom production is now 100% back online, after some of that production picking back up two weeks ago. The point of mentioning that is China went from being the epicenter of the outbreak to returning to work in 2-3 months. (I have no idea on the current status of large social gatherings in China.) Whether it’s the CDC’s call for a 2-month ban on large events or the Ultra-Endurance Sports Science & Medicine’s call for a 3-month ban on events, even official guidance isn’t looking as far out at Western States and other summer events. For now, we train… and if everything’s cancelled, we’re fit for some great solo adventures this summer.

      1. J

        China was a 2-4 week period where production was halted. The big issue was the timing of the virus hitting and people traveling during the Chinese New Year. A lot were unable to return to where they reside/work due to restrictions in place to lessen the spread.

        Fully stand behind self distancing and any closures as following these directions should hopefully allow us to resume events in a more timely manner.

  4. Whatajoke1

    20 miles on a flat bike path at 7 minute pace does not constitute an FKT. Sorry- just gotta call a spade a spade. That’s a run that even a mediocre runner could pull off any day is the week. Labeling these type of mediocre efforts FKT’s just doesn’t make sense.

    I think we need to tighten things up here, otherwise this whole FKT business is going to get out of control.

    1. Bryon Powell

      In chatting with Meghan, who edits TWIR, about this, I think part of the reason so many FKTs were included this week was to a spur a discussion of what they are and what they mean to our community. Hopefully, we can have a civil, respectful conversation about it.

      Personally, I think the concept is a bit over broad and over championed these days. Go out and challenge yourself. Have an adventure. Set a personal best. Kudos to you. Personally, I don’t find the need to label a good effort on a cool adventure anything beyond a good time (pun intended), but others can label such outings as they like.

      1. scott

        When the general running community got turned on to it, “FKT” and “fastpacking” became really broad really fast.
        Streets in a city? A circle in a park famous because of Netflix?

        I don’t know…that’s not the world I signed up for. But it’s so subjective. I feel like an FKT has to “make sense” otherwise it’s just devolving to “I went from this bench to that bench.”

    2. Adam

      “Whatajoke1”, Please go back to LetsRun. Your statement “That’s a run that even a mediocre runner could pull off any day is the week” is totally unsubstantiated and comes across as derogatory. If you are critical of this FKT then please explain in a respectful sensible way. If you are critical of it being featured on the website then feel free to disregard or explain your reasoning to the author. Unless someone proves otherwise it is indeed an FKT. There is no qualifier for an FKT other than Fastest Known Time. I was surprised to see it on this website but I got to admit it’s got me a bit motivated to try and I think that’s the point of FKTs.

  5. Jonathan Gardner

    I kept an eye on my inbox all week, expecting Bel Monte to be cancelled, but they pulled it off. There were some sensible adjustments, such as only prepackaged foods and an added drop bag location for people wanting their own food.

    I would agree that we should expect just about every race in the next couple of months to be cancelled.

  6. The Woodsman

    The Inaugural Drift 100 was held Friday-Sunday north of Pinedale, WY traversing the Continental Divide twice along the way. Starting out small, with a mix of 30 total participants including runners, fatbikers and a couple of skiers. Notable runners included Pam Reed and Ty Draney. Official results aren’t posted yet but Brent Ahorn took 1st male runner, and Pam Reed 1st female: http://trackleaders.com/drift20 Got hit by a wicked blizzard on Saturday morning causing many to drop or wait it out.

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