Locals Rock the Competition at Rothrock Trail Challenge

La Sportiva Mountain Cup 2010If State College, Pennsylvania is sometimes referred to as Happy Valley, then nearby the Rothrock State Forest must be home to the Angry Mountains. The Rothrock Trail Challenge is the most technical trail race I’ve ever run. No joke. Lotsa tears. Ok, no tears, but definitely some nightmares! The first 4 miles of rocks claimed at least one digital camera and two runners. I know, because I was one of the runners and it was my camera. When the rocks weren’t beating up the top runners, they were beating each other into submission. It was the fourth race in this year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup after all.

Tussey Mountain Rothrock Trail Challenge

A laughably bucolic view of Tussey Mountain from near the start of the Rothrock Trail Challenge. The course does NOT look like this! Photo by Jonathan Lawrence.

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

As a bonus, we’ve got video interview with Jason Bryant, a top mountain runner who finished second at Rothrock. In the interview he talks about his race before concluding with some advice for beginner trail runners.

The Race
When I say that Rothrock was one heck of a challenging course, I’m not embellishing. Some of the Mountain Cup’s top runners – experienced, proficient trail runners – echoed my thoughts:

  • “That’s more than technical…. I just think it’s insane. This is Rock2Rock [last week’s LSMC race] times five.” Alison Bryant – Women’s Mountain Cup leader
  • “That was one of the toughest courses that I’ve ever run.” Michael Selig – Fourth place at Rothrock and in the Mountain Cup.
Rothrock Trail Challenge

The Rothrock course looks like THIS. Runners scale this. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence.

Men’s Race
The men’s race was a battle from the gun and got more interesting as the race went on. Mountain Cup regular Matt Byrne “tried to hang with Jacob Loverich as long as [he] could.” Loverich is a local State College cyclist who was running only his second trail race. (He even rode his bike to the race… it was only 20 minutes.) Byrne was running for the win and felt good for the first two hours. Around mile 13 he started falling back and his last 50 minutes were “tough.” It was then that Loverich pulled away for the win in 2:46:54.

Matt Byrne Jacob Loverich Rothrock 2010

Matt Byrne (l) battling Jacob Loverich (r) at the 2010 Rothrock Trail Challenge. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence.

Byrne first fell behind Michael Selig and then Jason Bryant. After much shuffling of position, Bryant moved into second where’s he’d finish with a time of 2:51:34. Byrne (2:52:21) passed Selig (2:54:50) to take third not far behind Bryant. James Rayburn (3:00:32) of York, Pennsylvania was the top master and fifth overall.

Women’s Race
Running her third Mountain Cup of season, Alison Bryant crested the first climb in first and then the reality that “it was not [her] course” kicked in. Three women passed her in the sketchy descent that followed. (If she was using an over abundance of caution on this descent, I can’t blame her. This is the same hill on which I fell hard, as did the person immediately behind me… after seeing me slip.) Alison passed all but one woman back on the second climb. This pattern repeated for miles as she would fall back to fourth on the descents and regain second on the ensuing ascent. She would eventually take the middle ground, finishing third in 3:46:51.

Rothrock 2010 women leaders

The early women’s leaders at Rothrock. Caitlin Strahota (green top) to the left, Alison Bryant (black top) in the center, and Meira Minard (white top) to the right. Photo by Jonathan Lawrence.

As in the men’s race, a State College resident won the women’s race. Meira Minard’s 3:34:17 was enough to put her ahead of yet another local State College runner, Kim Walter (3:44:44), by just over 10 minutes. Caitlin Strahota was fourth in 3:53:39, while Jennifer Fleming (3:59:07) was fifth. Tammy McGaughey (4:28:46) was the top master’s woman.

Full Results
Official results from the 2010 Rothrock Trail Challenge are available.

La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
I’ve calculated the overall series standings through three Mountain Cup races ourselves. These are NOT official, but they should be pretty close. I’m still holding off on masters standings until  more masters competitors have returned… though we believe Tadd Morris has just overtaken Bernie Boettcher for the lead.

There’s a change atop the men’s Mountain Cup rankings as Matt Byrne takes advantage of Ryan Woods’ off week to take over the top spot. Note that only a runner’s top five races count and Byrne has run four races to Woods’ three. With his strong second place showing, Jason Bryant widened the gap between himself and fourth place. Michael Selig capitalized on on his fourth place at Rothrock and 2 bonus points to move into sole possession of fourth. Selig has run only two races. Jacob Loverich took advantage of a bonus point rich field to move right into fifth in the Mountain Cup standings. Here are iRunFar’s Unofficial Standings:

  1. Matt Byrne – 79 pts in 4 races (19 pts at Rothrock for 3rd including 4 bonus pts for beating Selig and Morris)
  2. Ryan Woods – 63 pts in 3 races (Did not run Rothrock)
  3. Jason Bryant – 62 pts in 4 races (23 pts at Rothrock for 2nd including 6 bonus pts for beating Byrne, Selig, and Morris)
  4. Michael Selig – 30 pts in 2 races (15 pts at Rothrock for 24th including 2 bonus pts for beating Morris)
  5. Jacob Loverich – 28 pts in 1 race (28 pts at Rothrock for 1st including 8 bonus pts for beating Bryant, Byrne, Selig, and Morris)

By placing third in her third LSMC race of the season, Alison Bryant of North Carolina has jumped past Megan Kimmell and Rachel Cieslewicz and into the series lead. Bryant has run one more race than each of those women. On the strength of her win at Rothrock, Meira Minard moved into fifth in the series. Here are iRunFar’s Unofficial Standings:

  1. Alison Bryant – 46 pts in 3 races (15 pts for 3rd at Rothrock)
  2. Megan Kimmell – 37 pts in 2 races (Did not run Rothrock)
  3. Rachel Cieslewicz – 28 pts in 2 races (Did not run Rothrock)
  4. Laura Haefeli – 24 pts in 1 race (Did not run Rothrock)
  5. Meira Minard – 22 pts in 1 race (22 pts for 1st including 2 bonus pts for beating Bryant)

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

Video Interview with Jason Bryant

iRunFar.com La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
La Sportiva logoLast week’s Mountain Cup giveaway was for a pair of La Sportiva Raptors. Hopefully, Heidi Dietrich of Seattle, Washington can make use of a pair.

After Rothrock, Ian Achey from La Sportiva was telling me how the low profile of the Fireblade’s outsole is great for gripping rock face. I could have used them last weekend. You’ve now got a chance to win yourself a pair of these great low profile, but not “minimalist” trail running shoes. (iRF Fireblade review)

To enter the contest, simply leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we report on Barr Trail Mountain Race held on Sunday, July 18th. As a reminder, if you enter to win the Fireblades, 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 Rothrock Trail Challenge, 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

There are 90 comments

  1. Jeremiah

    Great race report, really makes me want to five it a try now! Added bonus, I've always wanted to try out the fire blades! Two for one, that's why I keep coming back here ;)

    Jeremiah Payer

    Kaneohe, HI

  2. Henry Bickerstaff

    That is one tough hill. I rode it with my daughter when she was a cyclist at PSU.

    Henry Bickerstaff

    Alva, OK

  3. Ultrarunning-Edge

    I'm glad to see a race with really gnarly terrain as part of the Mountain Cup! I've got tremendous respect for the leaders in the Mountain Cup competition (both last year and this year), but I HAVE felt that many of the courses were not representative of the technical terrain I'm used to seeing as a mountain ultrarunner.

    BTW, Ian Achey from La Sportiva is right: The Fireblades really rock on slickrock trails!

    Bruce Copeland

    Providence, UT

  4. Ted

    These are great shoes! I've used them in the past and a new pair would be just the thing to help prepare for the Leadville Marathon.

  5. Jorge Fernandez

    Trail running at its best! beautiful course, great after race food and felt great finishing the race and get right into the lake.

    Nice meeting you Bryon..sorry to hear about your slip. Going to be in Mammoth Lakes all next week for rock climbing (owens river gorge), let me know if you want to join us for a day of climbing. Any tips on some good trails to run around there ?

    Jorge Fernandez

    Downingtown, PA

    1. Bryon Powell

      Great meeting you, Jorge. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the Mammoth Lakes area and all the trails I know in the Yosemite high country are surely still buried deep under snow. They just opened Tioga Road across the park.

  6. Perry Ligon

    Great race report – nicely depicts the our rocks of Pennsylvania! Looked like tough tough terrain!

    Perry Ligon

    Harrisburg, PA

  7. Mark Ryan

    I have a pair of Fireblades, love them, except for the fact they are a little narrow for me, but they ride great. So I'd love another pair, just 1/2 a size larger than what i'm wearing now.

    Mark Ryan

    Edmonton, AB Canada

  8. Eric Sherman

    The drop into the 3rd aid station was nuts and the long, steep rocky climb out was even worse!

    Great course, lots of variable terrain.

    My first "real" trail race- please tell me they all aren't this tough :)

    Props to the volunteers- they treated us near the back of the pack great, a real top notch event.

  9. Alex

    I love reading these race reports and dreaming of the day I win the lottery and can afford to go around the country and visit some of these races.


    Pocatello, ID

  10. Brian Followell

    After this weekend's race, I could use some new trail running shoes. I need to find something that works for me. My current shoes aren't going to cut it!

    Brian Followell

    Upper Arlington, OH

  11. Andy H

    Great report … sorry to hear about the crash out and camera, bummer. Awesome course! The first descent was crazy … I would have felt better if I had a helmet and some rope. Same goes for the descent into aid #3 and the boulder climb after aid #3. I was able to escape with some minor scratches and a damaged toe, not too bad. Maybe some new Fireblade would make my toe feel better!

    Andy H

    New York, NY

    1. Bryon Powell

      Smashing cameras is an occupational hazard. Fortunately, it's just the screen that's smashed. I may try salvage the screen from camera on which I broke the zoom/focus mechanism to make a Frankenstein trail camera.

  12. Chris Luck

    And I thought the Half Wit Half trail marathon was the sickest race in PA. Ah, a new quest to pursue. Please enter me in the Fireblade give away. Thanks Chris Luck Whitefield, NH

  13. Nick Johnson

    I can't wait to get to a large body of land for more running space. Not very many trails like this on the island.

    Nick Johnson

    APO, AP (Okinawa, Japan)

  14. Jenn McConnell

    Ran this on June 5th- I write for our local newspaper about the local trail/mountain races I participate in and believe me – this is the HARDEST race around – rocky is just the beginning. Fun event. Glad to see the race getting so much deserved publicity.

  15. Eric Marshall

    Sorry about the camera Bryon. I came down just a bit behind you and broke my HR monitor falling backwards down the first descent (kettle trail). My watchband actually ripped on a rock while I tried catching my fall. Thanks for coming to Happy Valley!

    Eric Marshall

    Boalsburg, PA

  16. Tobias

    Well, if I ever visit my extended family in PA again, I now have something to do there. This trail looks amazing! Thanks for another great report. And, thanks for reminding me why I shouldn't bother to bring a nice camera along on a trail run. I'm probably more inclined to drop stuff than most people.

    Oh, and, of course, please put my name in the pot for the shoes:

    Tobias :: Raleigh, NC

  17. Dave Hunter

    Glad all you were "challenged" by this event. It is only one of four that we put on in our Grand Slam series. The final event is the Megatransect which is a few boulders short of a marathon in length. Sold out 10 months in advance when 850 signed up in 10 days and there are now 350 on the waiting list! If you like trail running….. Central PA is the were to come.

  18. Brad K

    Great report! That race looks awesome and I'll have to consider it for next year.

    I was always looking to give the Fireblades a try … throw my name into the hat, please!

    Brad K

    Cherry Hill, NJ

  19. Trail Dog

    As race director, I congratulate everyone who attended our event on June 5th. This course was very challenging and humbling. New pics on the site that show what the course was like. Can't wait for 2011. I hope to see LaSportiva here again. Please check out our sister race the Hyner Challenge set for April 16th. http://www.hikerun.com

  20. Jeff F

    Hey, that race is not far from where I live. I will have to give this one some consideration… Thanks for bringing it to my attention. ;)

    Jeff Faulkner

    Beaver Dams, NY

  21. michael mcneil

    Awesome event. Thanks to all involved. I took lots of pics during the challenge (400). I went thru & pickd out highlights (45). I will upload them shortly to my Flickr account. My username is michaelmcneil6298. I post link after upload. Enjoy

  22. John

    Had a fun time running this race, and did ok (29th). I hike/run these trails all the time and was still surprised at how technical some spots were. It was one heck of a feisty course. Definitely an ankle roller and toe stubber. Still though, it was a blast…and it was right down the street from my apartment. Doesn't get much better. Awesome performance by local NV-runner Meira Minard too!

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