This Week In Running: December 16, 2019

This Week In Running’s trail and ultra recap for December 16, 2019.

By on December 16, 2019 | Comments

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRCue the holiday music, and the oddly named and themed races. We’ve got just a light snowfall of races this week with the Desert Solstice race in Arizona making the biggest impact, and the 2020 Ultra-Trail World Tour schedule dropping too. I wish it was Sunday, ’cause that’s my fun day.

Desert Solstice – Phoenix, Arizona

For the past decade-plus, the Desert Solstice race on a high-school track in Arizona has turned out fast times, particularly at the 100-mile distance and the 24-hour fixed time. This year’s race was perhaps down a notch from some of the recent record-breaking years.


Hello, Marisa Lizak. The 40 year old from California jumped the field and was the overall winner with 148 miles over 24 hours running. The IAU 24-Hour World Championships just happened and won’t be back until 2021, but Lizak’s total positions her fourth on the current rankings for the next U.S. team.

Yvonne Naughton edged Adela Salt for second, 117 miles to 116 miles with just over a mile between them.

In earlier results, Meghan Laws stopped at 100k after 8:41 running, and split 3:56 for 50k en route. It appears via social media that the Queen’s 3:56 50k is a 55-59 age-group world best, and that she may have set other age-group records along the way. We’d love to hear more, so leave a comment on how exactly Meghan’s run shakes out in the record books.

Marisa Lizak, 2019 Desert Solstice champion. Photo: Aravaipa Running/Rebecca Collicott


Rolfe Schmidt won the men’s race, and was second overall, with 145 miles over 24 hours. Oswaldo Lopez was just behind at 141 miles, and Zach Szablewski ran 115 miles for a distant third.

Earlier results included Mark Hammond running 12:35 for 100 miles, and Zach Bitter ran 100k in 6:39. That positions Bitter well for a qualifying spot on the U.S. team to compete at the September 2020 IAU 100k World Championships in the Netherlands and according to social media might be an American 100k track best. If anyone would like to leave a comment to share more and confirm, please feel welcome!

Full results.

Zach Bitter and Meghan Laws at the 2019 Desert Solstice. Photo: Aravaipa Running/Jamil Coury

Other Races and Runs

Hellgate 100k

It might be the midnight start from the Hellgate Trailhead in Virginia, the fact that the race is somewhere around 66.6 miles long, and that mid-December weather in the region can be volatile, but each year the Hellgate 100k seems aptly named. On-site reports are showing lots of rain and just-above-freezing temperatures overnight before the weather yielded a little later on. Official results aren’t online yet, but it looks like from social media that Kelly MacDonald came away with the women’s win in 14 hours even. We haven’t been able to identify the men’s winner, so leave a comment to fill us all in!

Deception Pass

Rainshadow Running’s Deception Pass 50k in Washington is in a state park of the same name on a course of rugged coastline, steep cliffs, and thick forest. Katherine Short (Canada) won the women’s race in 4:39, and Eric Sauer set a new course record in the men’s race at 3:49. Full results.

Snowberry Creek 50k

Both Ginny Meadway and Kevin Kamai set new course records at the second-annual Snowberry Creek 50k in Folsom, California. The two winners finished in 4:26 and 4:11. Full results.

Bigfoot 50k

Ohio is the sixth-best state to spot Bigfoot, according to the internet, and a lot of those sightings happen at Salt Fork State Park, host of the Bigfoot 50k. Racing a 10.4-mile loop on repeat, Alicia Rich and JR Luyster won the race in 5:46 and 4:32. Full results.

USATF Club Cross Country Championships

There’s the USATF Cross Country Championships, and there’s the USATF Club Cross Country Championships. The former generally has faster runners, and the latter has deeper fields. This was the latter, the USATF Club Cross Country Championships and it was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 2019 USATF trail half marathon national champion Lee Berube was 124th in 33:19 in the men’s 10k. 2019 JFK 50 Mile third-placer Luke Paulson finished 319th in 35:34, and-blast-from-the-past-former-La-Sportiva-runner Shiloh Mielke was 411th in 36:41. Over in the master’s men’s race, also over 10k, Jorge Maravilla was fourth in 33:23. Full results.

Naked Nick 50k

It’s not St. Nick, but rather the Naked Nick 50k in eastern Pennsylvania. It’s a back-to-basics race. Corinne Williams and Jeff Powers won in 5:13 and 4:13, respectfully. Full results.

Arctic Frog 50k

Frogs generally hibernate during the winter, but Arctic Frog 50k runners race no matter the conditions. This four-lapper north of Chicago in Illinois was championed by Lauren Kersjes and Jason Ming in 4:10 and 3:41. Full results.

Spartan Trail U.S. Championships 

The first-ever Spartan Trail U.S. Championships hit the central California coast on 21k and 10k courses. Regina Lopez won the 21k in 1:29:25, while Bailey Kowalczyk bested everyone in the 10k contest in 39:37. In the men’s 21k, Andy Wacker won in 1:15:10 while Joe Gray took home the men’s 10k victory in 33:24. Full results.

Other News – 2020 Ultra-Trail World Tour Calendar

The races might be run with legs, but wow, when it comes to competing trail and ultra race series, it’s an arms race and the Ultra-Trail World Tour bulked up, and not just for the holidays. What was once a 20-race circuit with seven ‘discovery’ races (in which you couldn’t score tour points) is now 28 races strong with a tiered scoring system and with outposts in far-away lands like Korea, Russia, and China, among many of the familiar races from the circuit’s previous years.

  • January 17 – Vibram Hong Kong 100k, 62 miles
  • February 8 – Tarawera Ultramathon 102k, 70 miles (New Zealand)
  • March 4 – Transgrancanaria 128k, 80 miles (Spain)
  • March 23 – Gaoligong by UTMB 165k, 102 miles (China)
  • April 4 – Patagonia Run 161k, 100 Miles (Argentina)
  • April 17 – 100 Miles of Istria 161k (Croatia)
  • April 18 – Penyagolosa Trails 110k, 68 miles (Spain)
  • April 24 – Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 167k , 104 miles (Japan)
  • April 25 – Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k, 71 miles (Portugal)
  • May 8 – Whalers’ Great Route Ultra-Trail 118k, 73 miles (Portugal)
  • May 16 – Ultra-Trail Australia 100k, 62 miles
  • May 22 – VVX Volvic-Volcanic Experience 110k, 68 miles (France)
  • June 20 – Mozart 100 112k, 70 miles (Austria)
  • June 26 – Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k, 75 miles (Italy)
  • June 27 – Western States 100 161k, 100 miles (USA)
  • July 3 – Val d’Aran by UTMB 101k, 63 miles (Spain)
  • July 19 – Eiger Ultra Trail 101k, 63 miles (Switzerland)
  • July 19 – Golden Ring Ultra-Trail 100k, 62 miles (Russia)
  • August 26 – TDS 145k, 90 miles (France, Italy)
  • August 28 – CCC 101k, 63 miles (France, Italy, Switzerland)
  • August 28 – UTMB 170k, 106 miles (France, Italy, Switzerland)
  • September 13 – Harricana Ultra-Trail 122k, 76 miles (Canada)
  • October 10 – Trans Jeju 110k, 68 miles (Korea)
  • October 17 – Ultra-Trail Ninghai 100k, 62 miles (China)
  • October 17 – Cappadocia Ultra-Trail 119k, 74 miles (Turkey)
  • October 31 – Javelina Jundred 161k, 100 miles (USA)
  • November 28 – Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k, 62 miles (South Africa)
  • December 3 – Oman by UTMB 130k, 81 miles

Call for Comments

  • Can you spy any more trail or ultrarunners in the long list of USATF club cross country championship results?
  • Do any of the new UTWT race locations sound particularly intriguing?
  • We have several missing data points in the races we do report this week, so leave a comment if you can fill in the information gaps on those. Thanks!
Justin Mock

Justin Mock is the This Week In Running columnist for iRunFar. He’s been writing about running for 10 years. Based in Europe, Justin has run as fast as 2:29 for a road marathon and finished as high as fourth in the Pikes Peak Marathon.