Byrne Scorches Woods At Rock2Rock Run

Just six days after the showdown at the Jemez Half Marathon (iRF report), La Sportiva Mountain Cup runners again donned their shoes for the Rock2Rock Run near Asheville, North Carolina. Traveling thousands of miles east meant trading in a hot, exposed course for a humid green tunnel beneath an eastern forest canopy. It would be an unfair to call this gnarly mountain race “only a 10k,” as the race website suggests that a “good estimate [for finishing time] is to add about 60% on to your usual 10k time.”

What's not to love about a trail race with a course "map" like this? All photo courtesy of La Sportiva.

We’ll begin our LSMC race coverage by giving you the scoop on how the race went. Next, we’ll give you an update on the Mountain Cup standings. We’ll then move on to our giveaway contest (Raptors this week) before calling for your comments and finishing up with the full La Sportiva Mountain Cup schedule.

The Race
Rock2Rock derives its name from the two summits the course crosses. The course initially climbs on a mild grade with less technical footing. Near the top of the first climb the footing worsens and the trail pitches up more steeply. Likewise, the first descent is sharp and technical, so is much of the rest of the course. Good luck finding a steady rhythm while running Rock2Rock!

There's a bit of technical trail at the Rock2Rock Trail Run!

Men’s Race
Ryan Woods had bested Matt Byrne in each of the first two La Sportiva Mountain Cup races this season. Woods again took the lead on the gradual, non-technical trails at Rock2Rock. Byrne erased this lead as the trail pitched up more steeply and passed Woods shortly before the first of the race’s two summits. Byrne bombed down the 15-20% grade on the first summit’s far side and built a 20 to 30 yard lead by the second summit. From there, Byrne took off for the finish. Woods was no match on the calamitous second descent first through singletrack tightly flanked by the area’s thick rhododendrons and then over rocky terrain. Byrne (44:13) beat Woods (45:25) by over a minute.

Jason Bryant (47:18) ran strong to earn third place, his best showing in his three 2010 Mountain Cup races. Jason was followed by Thomas Cason (48:12) and Malcolm Campbell (51:38). Asheville, North Carolina’s John Kennedy (57:30) was the top master.

Jason Bryant (3rd place) at the Eden Rock aid station at Rock2Rock 2010.

Women’s Race
In early February, Alison Bryant had surgery on her knee. At that point, she hadn’t run in 3 weeks and she wasn’t allowed to do any weight bearing exercise for 7 or 8 weeks. She must have put in some killer pool workouts, because she bested the rest of the women’s field at Rock2Rock. Alison took the lead a mile into the race and cruised to victory. She raced the clock to finish in just undar an hour (59:59).  Alison intends on competing for the Mountain Cup and will be racing at the Rothrock Trail Challenge outside of State College, Pennsylvania next weekend. [Speaking of Rothrock, I’ll be attending the race, as well. Keep your eyes open for the redhead wearing an iRunFar hat. If you see me, come up and introduce yourself!]

Women's winner Alison Bryant at the Eden Rock at station during Rock2Rock 2010.

There was a tight race for second place. Laura Bowles (1:02:04) topped fellow Asheville resident Jennings Gary (1:02:30). Gary barely edged out Betsy Patrick (1:02:32), who took fourth. Elizabeth Callaway (1:03:39) of Athens, Georgia rounded out the top 5. Michelle Vruwink was the top master in 1:12:13.

Full Results
You can find the 2010 Rock2Rock Run results on the Rock2Rock website. Click on the middle circle (“Details”) in the upper lefthand side for access to a page that’s home to the results link.

La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
We’ve calculated the overall series standings through three Mountain Cup races ourselves. These are NOT official, but they should be pretty close. We’re still holding off on masters standings until we’ve got more returning competitors.

Men
Ryan Woods, Matt Byrne, and Jason Bryant have each run all three ’10 Mountain Cup races to date and are the only top men to have run more than one race. Therefore, it should be no surprise that they are the the top three men overall. In fact, there weren’t any changes in the Top 5 rankings this week. Byrne did make up 5 points on Woods, who now leads by only three points – his margin of victory at the Mount Penn Mudfest (iRF report). Here are iRunFar’s Unofficial Standings:

  1. Ryan Woods – 63 pts in 3 races (19 pts at Rock2Rock for 2nd including 2 bonus pts for beating Bryant)
  2. Matt Byrne – 60 pts in 3 races (24 pts at Rock2Rock for 1st including 4 bonus pts for beating Woods and Bryant)
  3. Jason Bryant – 39 pts in 3 races (15 pts at Rock2Rock for 3rd)
  4. Bernie Boettcher – 17 pts in 1 race (Did not run Rock2Rock)
  5. Tie Karl Savage and Michael Selig – 15 pts in 1 race apiece (Did not run Rock2Rock)

Women
None of the previous Top 5 women headed to North Carolina to run Rock2Rock; however, North Carolina resident Alison Bryant did show up and ended up winning the race. She jumped from a tie for seventh into sole possession of second. Here are iRunFar’s Unofficial Standings:

  1. Megan Kimmell – 37 pts in 2 races (Did not run Rock2Rock)
  2. Alison Bryant – 31 pts in 2 races (20 pts for 1st at Rock2Rock)
  3. Rachel Cieslewicz – 28 pts in 2 races (Did not run Rock2Rock)
  4. Laura Haefeli – 24 pts in 1 race (Did not run Rock2Rock)
  5. Rachel Earley – 21 pts in 1 race (Did not run Rock2Rock)

Official Standings
The official LSMC standings are available here (pdf). In case you are interested, here’s a link to the official scoring rules.

iRunFar.com La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
Ah, it’s time to give away our second pair of La Sportiva Crosslites in as many weeks. Kelly Bradbury of Smithfield, Utah, the Crosslites are yours! Enjoy them up in the Wasatch… and maybe the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase?

Need something grippy when running from rock to rock? How about La Sportiva’s Raptor. The Raptor uses La Sportiva’s sticky climbing rubber to grip rock like talons in flesh. Want a pair of Raptors for your next rocky run? Simply leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we report on State College, Pennsylvania’s Rothrock Trail Challenge held on Saturday, June 5. As a reminder, if you enter to win the Raptors, you’ll also automatically be eligible to win the grand prize at the end of August. Read up on the iRunFar.com La Sportiva Mountain Cup giveaway grand prize.

Call for Comments
If you ran the Rock2Rock Run, please leave a comment letting everyone know how you did and what you think about the race. Past racers are invited to comment, too!

The La Sportiva Mountain Cup

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (59)

  • wish I was going to be able to use m entry to Rothrock

    Spencer King

    Scranton Pa

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  • Really wanted to run Rock2Rock this year, but couldn't make it due to work requirements ... oh well, still sounds like it was a great time.

    Also, I'd love to get my hands on some Raptors. Tried on a pair at a demo day a few weeks back and was impressed ... felt like a potentially great training shoe.

    Brent

    Durham, NC

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  • Sounds like a great race, maybe someday I'll be in the east for it.

    Would love a pair of Raptors.

    Zach

    Stanford, CA

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  • daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

    peter

    harrison ny

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  • I'd love a pair of La Sportiva Raptors!

    Thanks

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  • Another freakin' sweet contest for free shoes-gosh I love this site!

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  • Blah for humidity!

    Patrick

    Denver, CO

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  • Joey

    Charlottesville, VA

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  • Great report on R2R! This was my first running of this race and it is as tough as described. The downhills are VERY technical but a blast to navigate while swinging from limb to limb.

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  • Raptor's look great, love the site, enjoy the updates!

    Shaun Hansen

    Mission, BC, Canada

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  • I'd love to try the Raptors!

    Tracy K., Alexandria, VA

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  • Early in my hiking days, I thought Vibram would make me invincible leaping rock to rock. Darn those bruised shins, those sprained anlkes! Maybe a pair of Raptors would help heal my damaged psyche. Chris Luck Whitefield, NH

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  • I would love to try the Raptors! Testing shoes right now so would be fun to check those out too.

    Heidi Dietrich

    Seattle, WA

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  • Always a La Sportiva fan, would love to give them a try!

    Jason D.

    Magalia, CA

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  • Running back East in the humidity has always been a challenge for me, it always tires me out. Would like to hear how other runners unaccustomed to humidity cope with it at race time, such as at the Rock2Rock Run.

    I really like the grippy Raptors, please enter me in the giveaway.

    Thanks for the great reports,

    Glenn Steckler

    Telluride, CO

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  • Thanks for this awesome report on this past weekend's Rock2Rock. Being a bit further back in the placement, I'd wondered how the winners actually started out on the course. This was my first race in the mountains. And, trust me when I say that everything in the race description is true. The initial couple of miles are not so touch or technical. But, the sudden steep incline and rocky trail around mile two are sobering challenges! I'm pretty sure that 90% of the runners had to power hike those initial hills. And, then, the downhill portion, part two of the race, was so incredibly technical. It definitely divided the pack between those who run downhill and those who don't. Literally swinging from Azalea limbs while scaling down toward a perilously rocky trail.

    My ankles are bruised and scraped, I had a blood blister on my toe, and my quads are still burning. It was one of the best runs I've ever had!

    By the way, I'd love to win a pair of those LaSportiva Raptors!

    Tobias | Raleigh, NC

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  • Great report and congrats to Byrne for topping Woods on the technical trail and especially Bryant for the big win coming off surgery. She must have some amazing rebound skills to get back on top that quick! Looks lithe series is shaping up to be pretty exciting. 3 points between the first two males!

    Kevin, Greenbelt, MD

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  • Cant wait to RothRock!!!

    Jorge Fernandez

    Downingtown, PA

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  • Ryan

    Lee's Summit MO

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  • After my first ultra my shoes are prettyy messed up from the rain/mud/sleet/snow and near freezing temperatures. I could defnitiely use some new shoes. Hook me up Bryon.

    Mark Ryan

    Edmonton, AB Canada

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