Runners Rip It Up at Rock2Rock Run

La Sportiva Mountain CupThis past Friday evening Black Mountain, North Carolina played host to the first race of the 2009 La Sportiva Mountain Cup (iRF’s LSMC coverage) – the Rock2Rock Trail Run. With a 1,640′ climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville and elite competition in both the men’s and women’s fields, this was no ordinary 10k! When you consider who toed the line for the Rock2Rock, it shouldn’t surprise you that huge course records were set in the race’s third running.

The simple, but sweet sole aid station high atop the Rock2Rock course.
(this and all photos in post by Chris Brown – click photos to enlargen)

Four runners – Matt Byrne (a US Mountain Running Team member), Jason Braynt (La Sportiva’s Mountain Running Team) (pictured on right), Shiloh Mielke (Vasque), and Aaron Saft (Inov-8) – took out the men’s race. At the top of the race’s huge climb, city-boy Matt Byrne and 2008 R2R champion Shiloh Mielke were only seconds apart. The race would not stay as close on the technical downhill that followed. Shiloh stormed down the technical rhododendron tunnel to beat Matt by more than a minute (43:48 to 45:02). In beating Byrne, Mielke broke the existing course record by two minutes. Finishing half a minute behind behind his Byrne, Jason Braynt rounded out the top three.

Megan Kimmel (La Sportiva) (pictured below and right) came east from the rugged San Juan Mountains of Colorado to dominate the women’s race. She bested second place Meadow Tavres (Inov-8) by nearly four minutes (52:17 to 56:10).Megan Kimmel Rock2Rock La Sportiva Kimmel also took 4 minutes off of Tavres’s course record set en route to winning last year’s race. Keri Nelson captured the final spot on the women’s podium for La Sportiva with her 56:57. We can only imagine how brutal this course is if it takes someone with the talent of Ms. Nelson almost an hour to cover 10k!

It should not be a surprise to anyone that local stud, Mark Lundblad (Inov-8) led the masters men with an eight place finish (51:03). It looks like local Barbara Baggett was the first masters woman to cross the line in 1:05:37. For full results, check out the race website. You can also read more about the race and the rest of Asheville’s ninth annual Mountain Sports Festival in the Asheville Citizen-Times and the newspaper’s blog. For more great photos of the race, check out Chris Brown’s Flickr album.

La Sportiva Mountain Cup Standings
Not much to report on the overall LSMC standings, as they mirror the race results. Check back next week for results from the Mount Diablo 25k and a look at how the Mountain Cup is developing. La Sportiva Mountain Cup Contest
La Sportiva shoesLa Sportiva CrossliteAs we’ve previously noted, we’ll be giving away a pair of La Sportiva shoes for each of the 10 races we cover in the Mountain Cup. Given the wicked climb and technical nature of the Rock2Rock race, we thought it fitting to give away a pair of La Sportiva’s award-winning Crosslite. (Runner’s World Best Buy in 2008). For more about this trail racing shoe, check out iRunFar’s Crosslite review. If you want to blaze the trails in a free pair of Crosslites, just leave your name and town (in the US or Canada) in a comment before we post about the Mount Diablo 25k trail run next week. As a reminder, if you enter to win the pair of Crosslites, you’ll automatically be eligible to win the grand prize at the end of August.

Final Thoughts
Did anyone run this race? If so, what did you think? Know if any of the top runners at Rock2Rock are planning to race the whole series?