Mountain Cup & USATF Showdown at Nueces

2011 La Sportiva Mountain CupThis weekend, the La Sportiva Mountain Cup traveled down to Texas to make its Lone Star State debut at the Nueces 25k, one of four Nueces Endurance Trail Run races held on Saturday. To make things even more exciting, the Nueces 50 mile was the USATF trail 50 mile championship, so we’ll talk a bit more about a Mountain Cup sister race that usual.

That means after starting off with our LSMC race coverage we’ll take a look at USATF trail 50 mile championships. After taking a pass on the Mountain Cup standings (results weren’t available when we wrote this… and it’s early in the season), we’ll move on to our La Sportiva shoe giveaway contest before calling for your comments and finishing up with the full La Sportiva Mountain Cup schedule.

The Race
Women’s Race
The women’s race was the one to watch in this installment of the Mountain Cup. Meghan Kimmell nearly won the race outright. Kimmell, a La Sportiva runner and 2010 Mountain Cup champ, was reportedly worried heading into the race as she lives up in snowy Silverton, Colorado and has run all of 60 miles this season. That obviously wasn’t a problem as she set a new course record.

Former local runner Melanie Fryar battled for second with Rachel Cieslewicz, a Mountain Cup competitor as well as a Newton and Xterra runner. Three minutes behind Kimmel, Fryer won that battle by two minutes as well as the La Sportiva Standout Award from RD Joe Pursaitis. Cieslewicz took home third along with 15 valuable Mountain Cup points, which puts her in the lead for the 2011 series. You can read more about her race here.

  1. Megan Kimmell – 2:00:27
  2. Melanie Fryar – 2:02:11
  3. Rachel Cieslewicz -2:05:18
  4. Rachel Hector – 2:20:38
  5. Pauline Hernandez – 2:23:46
Rachel Cieslewicz Megan Kimmell Nueces 25k

Megan Kimmell (first) and Rachel Cieslewicz (third) after the Nueces 25k. Photo courtesy of Rachel Cieslewicz.

Men’s Race [Updated]
The men’s results were slower to trickle in from the Texas sticks, but the full results are now up. The winner, Waylon Calabrese of Texas set the course record.

  1. Waylon Calabrese – 1:59:12
  2. Justin Gonzalez – 2:01:20
  3. Chris Chancey – 2:02:33
  4. Brandon Gerard – 2:05:05
  5. Christopher Whelchel – 2:09:03
        1. Liza Howard – 8:09:59
        2. Parvaneh Moayedi – 10:13:38
        3. Jameelah Abdul-RAhim Mujaahid – 11:41:34

    Full Results
    Full results are now available.

    La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
    As we don’t have full results we can’t update the Mountain Cup standings, so we’ll take this opportunity to remind you that series results are based on a runner’s top five scoring races. In each race, points are awarded to the top 15 runners of each gender. The top five runners receive 20, 17, 15, 13, and 11 points, respectively. The sixth through fifteenth place runners receive points descending from 10 points for sixth place to 1 point for the final scoring runner. A runner will also receive 2 bonus points for beating another runner who ranked in the series’ top 10 going into the race. You can take a look at the official scoring rules by going to the Mountain Cup website and clicking on the About tab.

    Nueces 50 Mile, the 2011 USATF Trail 50 Mile National Championships
    To give you some perspective on the course, we’ll share Dave James’ take:

    The Nueces course was harder than Bandera 100k course (the 2011 USATF trail 100k championship), more rocks and Joe (RD) marked some sections that were not really trails which made for slow going. It was windy at the 6 a.m. start. Sunrise was about 7 a.m., so the first 30 minutes were very dark and strange. The day was sunny with some clouds, windy on the ridge tops. The course was three loops and very well marked, but slow because of all the little rocks. There were also two water crossings and two suspension bridges each lap.

    On the men’s side, Chris Kollar, a former 1500 meter specialist at NC State (who allegedly had never raced over 10k), took out the pace on the first of the three 16.7 mile loops, running it in less than 2 hours. James rolled through the first rocky, rolling lap in 2:04 in second place. James reports that after going out to hard on the first lap he “was toast after that and had a hard time.” Jason Schlarb rolled by James at the start of the third lap and sped away to win in 6:28:26. James hung on to finish second in 6:43:24, just ahead of Jason Bryant (a frequent Mountain Cup competitor). Bryant (race reportschedule) ran a much more controlled 2:15 first lap en route to a 6:51:35. Steven Moore (7:00:07) and Jack Pilla (7:01:01) rounded out the top five. In a comment, Moore shared, “Jason B., Jack P., and I ran together for much of the day and had a great time.” Full men’s results are found here.

    Olga Varlamova reports in a comment, “The early leader of 50M had dropped after second loop, which he finished together with Dave and Jason.”

    Neuces USATF Trail 50 mile national championship

    The Nueces course is remote. Photo courtesy of Rachel Cieslewicz.

    It’s no surprise that the women’s race was a one woman affair. Liza Howard dominated, even though she wasn’t fresh (in the past two months she’s won the USATF trail 100k national championship and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile) and things didn’t go quite as planned. We’ll not commandeer any of Liza’s words as we think you should go check out her always humorous blog. Here’s her Nueces 50 mile race report.

    Here are the top three women (only three women finished): La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
    La Sportiva logoBack in February we offered up a pair of La Sportiva Crosslites in our Uwharrie Mountain Run race report and now it’s time to announce their winner – Jacob W. of Sante Fe, New Mexico! Congrats, Jacob.

    La Sportiva RaptorGiven the rocks and longer distance of the Nueces 25k (and with a nod to its 50 mile kin) we’re offering up a pair of La Sportiva’s Raptors (iRF review), a technical trail shoe with a sticky rubber outsole that’s perfect for gripping rocky terrain. Want to clutch a pair of your own talon-like Raptors? Simply leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we write about the next Mountain Cup race, the Bel Monte Endurance Run 25k on March 26 in Sherando Lake, Virginia. 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 La Sportiva Mountain Cup giveaway grand prize.

    Call for Comments
    If you ran any of the Nueces Endurance Trail Runs, 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

    [Thanks to Rachel Cieslewicz, Dave James, and Ian Achey for providing information for this article.]

There are 76 comments

  1. Matt Smith

    Looking forward to more complete race reports from Nueces as they come in – congrats to all the top finishers in the various races. The Rothrock Challenge is the only LSMC race I could possibly run this year, if you can call Rothrock 'running'…

    Matt Smith

    Chatham, NY

  2. olga

    Melanie Fryer is a former (yet very proud) local runner who now resides in CO, but comes to visit family and friends often. She is also a member of National 100k team and a Team Traverse. First 4 finishers in 25k went from 1:59 up 1 minute apart. The early leader of 50M had dropped after second loop, which he finished together with Dave and Jason. He ran without a bottle – something you don't do on trails, in ultras, in Texas (even though the weather was very nice and pretty dry for the day). And it's not harder…just ask Jason Bryant! It is just a bit more technical:) Wherever your strength is.

  3. Peter

    dave james has had quite a season so far. 1st at american canyon and the coastal challenge costa rica, 2nd at bandera and nueces.

    size 11 raptors would fit my feet nice.


    harrison ny

  4. Blair

    Looks like Geoff Roes was right about Jason Schlarb being a runner to watch this year. Congrats to him and all of the other runners.

    Blair Williams

    Manchester Center, VT

  5. Todd

    Thanks I Run Far for the great race coverage that you provide. You make those of us not able to participate get a glimpse of the excitement.

    Todd S,

    San Antonio, TX

  6. Zag

    Results are now posted on Tejas Trails and USATF.

    Jason B, Jack P and I ran together for much of the day and had a great time.

    Jason S nailed it and David J would have been there if not for the silly rabbit that he was chasing! Thanks to all for coming to Texas for some fun in the Hill Country.

    Steven Moore

    Austin TX

  7. Alex

    For some reason I didn't notice that the Don't Fence Me In 30k was a part of the cup until this report.

    I loved that course!! Should be a great course to race on too.

    Alex J.

    Pocatello, ID

  8. Glenn S


    Great coverage, as usual. Also, enjoyed reading about your PF recovery, training and racing, as I am plagued by some running and overuse injuries at the moment. But I'll be back. Would love a shot at the Raptors, they seem like a rad shoe.


    Telluride, CO

  9. Anonymous

    A total of 4 women finishers in the field at the 2011 USATF 50 Mile Trail National Campionships? 11 hrs 41 minutes takes the women's Bronze Medal?

    1. Bryon Powell

      Nope. Only 3 womens finishers who were registered with USATF… that'd be $150 and a USATF bronze to the third place finisher. There were five women's finishers in the race. This is worse than sad, it's appalling. Sincerely, it's a shame to the USATF.

      [Mar 9 Update: I was a bit too strong in my initial judgment, so I've changed "shame on the USATF" to "shame to the USATF," as there's no question this is sad affair that further detracts from the standing of the USATF championships. That said, a good deal of the problem lays outside the USATF. I'll explain more on this soon.]

      1. Ian Sharman

        They really need to rethink things since they pick races almost at random (it seems) and don't do anything noticable to get top runners to show up, apart from some meager prize money which wouldn't cover most people's travel expenses. Either do it properly or don't bother pretending it's a national championship.

        Everybody knows that the only 50 miler that will be close to a national (or even international) championship is in San Francisco in December.

        On a separate note, does it make sense that the 50k road and 50 mile trail USATF championships were on the same weekend? These events do overlap in terms of competitors.

        1. Michael Owen

          Totally agree Ian.

          I think the fact that it changes every year (or two years) from site to site, date to date people just don't know about the USATF championships.

          Why can't the championships be the same place, same time every year. Maybe thats their new aim. But why did they take a race like Nueces that was only a year old and make a championship? Why not take an existing popular 50 miler?

        2. Speedgoat Karl

          yah, pretty pathetic with only 5 girls in that race. Like others, no offense to the ladies….you showed up!

          USATF does what they do….Just hang tight people, the BIG DANCE is coming….and it ain't gonna be in San Francisco. The NF50 is certainly the 50 mile championship race, and it's at the END of the year….kinda makes sense. The 100 mile defacto is coming.

          Joe is a great RD! Nueces looked like a great course and well organized as all of Joe's races are.

          One thing I don't understand about USATF championships…so the 100k is now complete? Mac Daddy is the champion, but we have 10 months left in 2011. Why have we seen two USATF championship races already. For most people, the season isn't even started, unless you're a freak like me.

          Bryon, I now dare you to approach USATF with an interview on their view of there championships. You put yourself in this position! Make it happen man, we're all here waiting. :-)

  10. Kelly

    While the Crosslites are my shoe of choice for ≤50k, I have been wanting to try out those La Sportiva Raptors for longer distances.


    Smithfield, UT

  11. Chris R.

    Byron, it would be interesting for you to interview Roy Pirrung or someone from USATF on their selection process. Maybe there is a piece of the story we aren't getting. Personally I thought Bandera was a great site for the 100k. Great variety of trails that challenges all skills, close to SA and Austin, and it is during a time of year that people are looking for a warm place to run. Nueces is beautiful and challenging but it is far to get to get to and lack of female runners was disappointing. I will say there may not ne a better RD than Joe Prusaitis.

  12. Chris R.

    Ian, that is why I wish Byron would interview USATF. Everyone bashes USATF so it would be good to get their perspective. How do they select races? What are the bidding requirements? Do they have a vision on what they hope to accomplish? How do they market (or not) to elite runners etc.?

      1. Jon Allen

        Matt Carpenter and USATF had a nice little discussion a while back somewhat on this topic:

        It really is sad that anyone might consider it a national championship with only 3 "eligible" entrants (no offense intended to those 3). It's like if the Olympic Trials marathon only had 3 people show up, and one of them ran it in 4 hrs? I'll be interested to see what you write, Bryon.

        And throw my name in for the shoes- Greenville, SC

  13. Dave Bales

    I don't know if they make these shoes to fit my size 14's, but the grand prize would be awesome. Thanks for all the great work you do.


    Neptune, NJ

  14. Rachel Cieslewicz

    Hey Bryon, as always a fabulous write up. It is people like you who at a grass roots level are making a difference. It is sad that USATF doesn't give the off road world much attention. Very sad. I hope soon they will wake up an realize the ever growing aspect of running in the USA they have neglected for so long and finally give to and embrace it as they do their road and track stars…

  15. Clint

    Greetings from Austria, Bryon. Frequent reader of your blog but first-time commenter. As has been echoed so many times before by the iRunFar commentariat, great articles and coverage of the ultra community.



  16. Mike D.

    As always Bryon, nice write up.

    Having only been running for a year, my trail shoe has been the Brooks Cascadia. I sure would like to give these Raptors a try, though (hint, hint)!

    Why is a championship determined at the beginning of the year and not at the end?

    Mike D.

    Casper, WY

  17. Christopher Whelchel

    Great times out there at Camp Eagle! The staff were all great, perfect morning weather and Tejas Trail put on quite an event. A special thanks to La Sportiva and the volunteers for helping to make it all happen! Count me in for next year and I think I'll shoot for a PR…. with my new Raptors that I'm going to win….


    Oh… and I can pick them up in Idaho… see ya there!

  18. Chris R.

    However, if all the USATF races are held at end of year then how many people will be able to do them all? The 100K race happened so early this year that it could almost be viewed as a 2010 capstone. Plus it didn't conflict with any other big races. In the summertime it would conflict with the big 100 milers and late in the year it would bump against North Face. It seems like to me that it would make more sense to spread the USATF races throught the year. Then again my body is not able to run an ultra/month like a lot of people can.:-)

  19. Schlarb

    There are some large assumptions being made here!!!!

    The USATF interview would be essential Byron.

    I am far from experienced on this difficult subject, but after just a few minutes talking with Tania Pacev (USATF) and Jason Bryant after the race, I learned a little bit of the process for these National Championship races.

    Apparently we are lucky to have even got a Trail 50 Mile Championship this year.

    Here are some big factors or obstacles in this situation from my understanding:

    -"Races" have to bid for the championships. I believe Nueces was the only bid… (White River 50 didn't bid).

    -And the biggest reason I think USATF championship races are not what they could be:

    Race Directors don't care about USATF Championships.

    Once again this leads right back to the dozens of long blog conversations on fostering and promoting a competitive Ultra Trail scene. Many of the RDs are "old school" and aren't interested in adnvancing the sport in this manner. Pretty much all established Ultra Trail races have no issues filling up, quite the opposite, as we ALL painfully know. RDs have no issue running a full race. They have their race's reputations, supply is less than demand and they can hold lotteries, igonre sponsorship opportunites and potentials and just award a shinny belt buckle to top finishers.

    Tania Pacev and USATF wants to have the championship races be amazingly competitive.

    P.S. Nueces was on the brink of being one of the most competitive races of the year. Had Michael Owen, who I think would have been running up front, not been injured (he was registered and had all intentions of running), scheduling been a bit different for Dakota Jones (registered too) along with school/travel to CA, Dave Mackey was thinking of racing too, we would have had a hell of a top 7.

  20. Bryon Powell

    Congrats on your win, Jason! There are some large assumptions being made and I hope to clear some of them up in the near future.

    It's awesome that RD Joe stepped up to make a Trail 50 mile championship race happen. That said, there have long been rumblings about the USATF ultra championships (and, likely, always will be), but having three finishers in the women's field brings the issues into tighter focus, both on the USATF and why aren't races bidding sides. From what I've heard USATF isn't sure that aiming for the most competitive field is even the direction they want to head in and they're looking for feedback on a number of issues. I'll stop there as I want to save something for the future articles!

  21. Ian Sharman


    It's a similar issue in the UK where not many people really go out of their way (read: mainly locals run) to fit in the national ultra championship events. And that's in a small country, unlike the US where travel is much farther and more expensive.

    Personally, I'm not even eligible for any USATF awards or prizes since I'm not American, but it's a shame their races aren't stacked with ALL the best runners. It's one thing to have a deep field, but a championship should attract EVERYONE who's fit and has a shot at winning. Imagine if Bolt decided he didn't think the Olympic 100m was worth going to – winning wouldn't be quite as significant.

    What I think many ultrarunners are missing (not that this is easy to conjure up from nothing) is races at various distances where you're guaranteed to find anybody who's anybody. And that runners fit their season around these events to be certain they fit in.

    WS100 and UTMB come close, without a doubt, as does the TNFEC final. It's cool to get to race a great field, but it's definitely cooler to race against everyone in the country/world who is good.

    Road stuff gets a bit closer to this, although the 100k and 50k Worlds are not quite as competitive as they could be. Any number of runners from (large prize purse) Two Oceans 56k or Comrades 89k would easily take those wins.

    Anyway, I look forward to your article and hope USATF does want to make their races more competitive.

  22. Thomas Bowling

    Great job & interesting blog as usual Bryon! I got to run the Nueces 25K & have to say it was a fun, challenging course with some great views & terrain. I ran in some Hokas & felt like they handled all of the rocks very well, but I would love to try out some raptors on the south Texas trails! P.S. Joe Prusaitis has created a great race at a beautiful venue — I predict this race will get much bigger as the word spreads. I'll be back for the 50K or 50 miler next year!

    Thomas B.

    San Antonio, TX

  23. Jeremy Pade

    Just to expand on some of the points Jason brought up – and there was quite a bit of discussion about this after the race – I think that USATF needs to be more open and communicate more. Not only on the process for selecting Championship races, but on furture plans when it comes to Mountain/Ultra/Trail. The support is currently not there with a tiny purse, very little support for the athletes, and basically no promotion of the events

    Its also a two-way street, as much as USATF needs to provide more support for Ultras, Ultra runners and Race Directors would need to get behind the USATF as well.

    Some ideas for improving the process:

    1. Open up the process and encourage more RDs to apply for Championships

    2. Provide more support for the athletes (at a minimium how about a discount/free entry for USATF athletes)

    3. Have qualifiers to ensure a competetive field.

    4. Improve promotion and utilization of online tools. The USATF site is horrible for finding information and good luck trying to get race results, let alone live updates.

    There are many different ways this could go, and maybe USATF is not the venue for determining Ultra Championships, but at least we are having the discussion.

  24. Zag

    Definitely a thread worth continuing; great to see the comments and viewpoints. Bryon's got some good material to run with! For the record, I made it back to Austin from the Nueces race in 2:45hrs. It seems more 'out in the sticks' than that but it's really not that far. If we used some of this 'social media' to help out-of-town runners catch rides with locals we could ease the pain of travel a little. I'm glad it was in my 'back yard' this year and I'm glad as many of y'all made the effort to come down to Texas as there were. See you on trail, Steven M.

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