Drinking Up The La Sportiva Mountain Cup: Analysis Through 6 Races

La Sportiva Mountain CupThis year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup is turning out to be the most exciting trail race series we’ve seen in years. Through six of ten series races, three men and three women have separated themselves from the field in the hunt for a $5,000 payday! However, many other runners remain in the hunt for second and third places, which earn the runners hefty $2,500 and $1,500 checks, respectively. For the most part, both of the master’s competitions remain in play, too. Any serious master’s trail runner still has a shot at some serious cash. That said, we’d practically beg Matt Carpenter and Simon Gutierrez to throw down against one another at the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase next weekend. We take that back, we will beg: Simon and Matt please come race in Park City next weekend… pretty please! Anyway, read on for our analysis of the open men, open women, masters men, and masters women fields competing for the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.

Open Men
Three of the top four men in the Mountain Cup raced this weekend and, in the process, they separated themselves from the rest of the series competitors. While their order remains the same, the battle for the top spot is tightening with Shiloh Mielke (67 pts) in first, Matthew Byrne (58 pts) in second, and Jason Bryant (52 pts) in third.

By winning the more competitive Eldora Trail 10k (iRF coverage), Byrne scored the most points on the weekend (24 pts, 20 pts for winning and 2 pts each for beating Mielke and Gutierrez). No other top-10 men in the LSMC toed the line in Squaw Valley (iRF coverage), so Jason Bryant picks up only the base 20 points despite a solid win. Mielke took home 15 points for his third place finish at Eldora. Simon Gutierrez (17 pts for second at Eldora and 2 pts for beating Mielke) is the big mover on the weekend, jumping from a tie for tenth to fourth in the series with 34 points. Tom Haxton (32 pts), who had been tied with Bryant for third, did not race and dropped back to fifth in the overall standings.

As you may know by now, only a competitor’s top five scoring finishes in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup contribute to the racer’s overall standing. With the Mountain Cup down to its final four races, now is the time when that rule starts to play a big role in the standings. Yes, Mielke has the overall lead with 67 points; however, that’s his total from five races. To improve his point total, Mielke will now have to improve upon his worst finish. At the moment that does not seem to be too difficult as he scored only 3 points at the Mount Washington Road Race. If Mielke runs well at a race next weekend, he’d then have to improve upon the lesser scoring of that finish or the 12 points he earned at the Barr Trail Mountain Race at either of the series’ final two races – the Half-Wit Half Marathon in Reading Pennsylvania and the Shop to The Top in Ketchum, Idaho. On the other hand, Matt Byrne has run only three Mountain Cup races and yet he is only 9 points behind Mielke. That means any points Matt scores at one of next weekend’s race and then in either Reading or Ketchum would count towards the series standings without bumping any of the points he’s scored at previous races. Jason Bryant has run four LSMC races, so all the points from his next series race will count in the overall standings. After that, Jason would have to improve upon the lesser of that finish or the 7 points he scored at the Barr Trail race.

We suspect that the top competitors will pull out all the stops over the next three weeks of racing given the $5,000 for first, $2,500 for second, and $1,500 for third that’s on the line. What we do know is that an awful lot could be decided by the time Jupiter Peak and Haulin’ Aspen are over next week.

Masters Men
Matt Carpenter’s win at his Barr Trail Mountain Race and the resultant 24 points is no longer enough to keep him atop the masters men’s competition. Simon Gutierrez now has 34 points after picking up 19 additional points this weekend. As Matt has only run one LSMC race and Simon merely two, each of them could accumulate points from any three remaining series races they enter. As we noted above, we’d love to see these two go head-to-head at next weekend’s Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in Park City. Think about it guys, the difference between first ($2,000) and second ($1,000) male master is a thousands bucks… we’d say the gas between Colorado and Utah would be a good investment. We’re not sure exactly who’s in the running for third men’s master ($500), but we know Bernie Boettcher is in the hunt with 15 points – 5 from Barr Trail and 10 from Eldora.

Open Women
We love the fact that the three three women who have won the first seven La Sportiva Mountain Cup Races have pulled away as the top three women in the series. With her win at Eldora at 67 total points, Megan Kimmel (wins at Rock2Rock and Eldora and second at Barr Trail) pulls ahead of Brandy Erholtz for the series lead. Caitlin Smith (59 pts) also pulled ahead of Brandy with her win at Squaw Valley. Caitlin previously won the Mount Diablo 25k and placed well at Barr Trail. Erholtz falls back to third (50 pts) after catapulting herself into the series lead with wins at Mount Washington and Barr Trail. None of the top three ladies has run more than three LSMC races, so each can garner all the points she earns at one race next weekend and then in either Reading or Ketchum the following two weekends. Of course, the top women could also run both races next weekend… as Caitlin Smith is planning on doing! Those points will come in handy as the women have the same series purse as the men: $5,000, $2,500, $1,500.

Masters Women
Master’s woman Lisa Goldsmith is now in fourth place overall for the women with 43 points after picking up 12 more points at Eldora. Tara Cardi of Rhodes Island remains in second with 19 points. With a third place finish at Squaw Valley, we believe Pat Matava moved into third with 15 points. While Lisa has a commanding lead, keep in mind that she’s already run four series races while any other master’s woman could step in and score points at all of the remain series races. Ladies, why not give it a try with $3,500 in cash on the line for women’s master?

More Information and Future Races
The official La Sportiva Mountain Cup standings aren’t yet up, but check back later this week. Next week, two of the final four series races – the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase and the Haulin’ Aspen Half Marathon will be run. We’ll be covering both races next week and updating you on the Mountain Cup standings. As a bonus, we’ll be racing Jupiter Peak. If you’ll be there, look for a man in an iRunFar.com hat and say hi!

As a side note, next weekend’s double race schedule adds a bit of intrigue as bonus points (2 points earned for beating someone in the LSMC top-10 as of the previous day) will shift between Saturday’s Jupiter Peak Steeplechase and Sunday’s Haulin’ Aspen Trail Half Marathon.

The La Sportiva Mountain Cup