The Battle for the Barr Trail

After a three week break, the La Sportiva Mountain Cup rocketed back to life on Sunday with the Barr Trail […]

By on July 15, 2009 | 39 comments

La Sportiva Mountain CupAfter a three week break, the La Sportiva Mountain Cup rocketed back to life on Sunday with the Barr Trail Mountain Race in Colorado. While Buzz Burrell rightfully called the previous La Sportiva Mountain Cup race, the Mount Washington Road Race,” was “probably the most competitive mountain race in America,” the women’s field at Barr may have been the best of any trail race in the US this year. Perhaps just as notable is that this race was dominated by local runners from Manitou Springs or Colorado Springs or, at the very least, from other parts of the Colorado Rockies.

The Course
The race starts at an oxygen-deprived 6,700′ and only climbs from there. By 6.3 miles, runners have ascended another 3,630′ towards the summit of Pikes Peak. If climbing 575′ per mile up the mountain wasn’t enough to deaden a runner’s legs, reversing course and bombing down that which was just climbed ought to do the trick! For a more detailed course description, go here and read the course description as far as Barr Camp.

Barr Trail Mountain Race startThe start of this year’s Barr Trail Mountain Race.
(This and other photos courtesy of La Sportiva)

The Race
Brandy Erholtz Barr Trail Mountain RaceLadies, ladies, ladies! Now this is what we’re talking about! The top woman from each of the first three Mountain Cup races – Megan Kimmel (Rock2Rock), Caitlin Smith (Mount Diablo), and Brandy Erholtz (Mount Washington) (pictured) – showed up for a showdown on the Barr Trail. By the end of the run, Brandy (1:49:08) had established a new course record and had also established herself as the woman to beat on the trails and in the LSMC this year. Meghan (1:50:09 – 25-29 age group record) put in another good showing in finishing just a minute behind Brandy. LSMC newcomer Letitia Dusich (1:53:59) snuck in before Caitlin Smith (1:54:52) to earn these two women third and fourth respectively. Stacey Chamberlain (1:55:32) of Boulder crossed the line in fifth and set the 35-39 age group record in the process. Local runner Eva Hagen (7th – 2:01:14) edged out LSMC returnee Lisa Goldsmith (8th – 2:03:29) for the masters win. Full women’s results are available here.

Uh… this was a race in Manitou Springs and some townie named Matt Carpenter toed the line. Game over. Matt won in 1:32:33. The biggest surprise is that second place runner Alex Nichols of Colorado Springs (1:33:26) kept Mr. Carpenter within a minute. Three more Front Range runners – Ryan Hafer (1:35:20), Daryn Parker (1:36:03), and Michael Selig (1:37:00), made it in before the first returning La Sportiva Mountain Cup contender, Shiloh Mielke (6th – 1:39:44), who finished more than 7 minutes behind Carpenter. The only other returning man from the LSMC top 10 was Jason Bryant, who managed 9th (1:41:53). At age 44, Carpenter was easily the top male master on the day with Bernie Boettcher (11th overall – 1:43:38) the second master across the line. Check out the complete men’s results if you like.

For more insight into the Barr Trail Mountain Race look no further than Buzz Burrell’s excellent report that includes commentary from some of the top La Sportiva Mountain Cup runners. (Buzz also posted a great race preview.) La Sportiva runner Caitlin Smith candidly writes about what she felt was a disappointing performance.

La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
Caitlin Smith Barr Trail Mountain RaceWith five of the top ten Mountain Cup women running Barr Trail, the winner would pick up at least 8 points in addition to the standard 20 points for winning a LSMC event. It turns out that Brandy Erholtz picked up a whopping 28 points (20 points for 1st and 2 points each for beating Kimmel, Smith, Goldsmith, and Cieslewicz) and sole possession of first in the LSMC overall standings with 50 points. Second place at Barr Trail brought Meghan Kimmel 23 points (17 for 2nd and 2 points each for besting Smith, Goldsmith, and Cieslewicz) and moved her into second place in the overall standings (43 total points). Caitlin Smith (pictured) dropped to third overall, but picked up 17 points. Keri Nelson, who didn’t race this weekend, is now in fourth overall (32 points) just ahead of Lisa Goldsmith (31 points), who picked up 10 points on Sunday (8 points for 8th and 2 points for beating Cieslewicz).

Having only run two races each, Erholtz, Kimmel, and Smith have put themselves in a good position for an overall podium spot if they finish three more La Sportiva Mountain Cup races. Keri Nelson is well positioned to move up to a podium spot if one of the top three ladies falters or fails to finish three more Mountain Cup races, but she’s yet to show that she can run with them on any given day. Lisa Goldsmith has set herself up well for the masters women’s title, but her 31 points aren’t as strong as the four women ahead of her as it’s taken her three races to accumulate those points. Remember, points can only be accumulated from any five of the Mountain Cup’s ten races.

By chalking up another 12 points (10 points for 6th and 2 points for besting Bryant) this weekend, Shiloh Mielke established a solid lead in the men’s competition with 52 points. Even without racing thi
s weekend, Matthew Byrne (34 points) and Tom Haxton (32 points) remain within shooting distance due in large part to the fact that they have only run two races while Mielke has accumulated points in each of the first four races in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. One win apiece is enough to put Rickey Gates (26 points – off this week) and Matt Carpenter (24 points – 2o points for the win and 2 points each for beating Mielke and Bryant) in fourth and fifth respectively. Matt also took over the men’s masters lead from Simon Gutierrez (15 points)

The official La Sportiva Mountain Cup standings are now up. There’s no LSMC race next week; however, be sure to stop back in three weeks when we cover the Squaw Valley Mountain Run and the La Sportiva Eldora Trail 10k.

La Sportiva team Barr Trail Mountain RacePart of the La Sportiva Mountain Running team at the Barr Trail Mountain Race La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
La Sportiva shoesThis week finds Chris Grove of Colorado Springs winning a pair of La Sportiva Skylites. Chris should be rocketing up the Front Range as soon as the Skylites arrive.

La Sportiva FirebladeA good choice for the Barr Trail Mountain Race might have been La Sportiva’s Fireblade. A stable yet light trail runner well suited for mountain running. (Read iRunFar’s Fireblade review for more.) If you want to hit the trails in your own pair of Fireblades, just leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we write about the Squaw Valley Mountain Run and the La Sportiva Eldora Trail 10k in three weeks. As a reminder, if you enter to win the pair of Fireblades you’ll automatically be eligible to win the grand prize at the end of August.

Call for Comments
If you ran the Barr Trail Mountain Race, please leave a comment letting everyone know how you did and what you think about the race.

The La Sportiva Mountain Cup

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.