Brazos Bend 100 Mile – Needville, Texas
Trail Racing Over Texas calls the Brazos Bend 100 Mile race the fastest trail race in the U.S., and there’s been some fast times in history to support that. It’s 99.9% flat with only a 10-foot hill and on crushed rock, soft trails under trees, and easy horse trails. The multi-lap race gained 600 feet of elevation in total. The fast course set up as the 2021 U.S. 100-mile trail championships.
Pre-race favorite Mark Hammond delivered a win in 14:01. His laps went as fast as 1:54, his first, and as slow as 2:41, his last. Hammond’s certainly shown some versatility, having raced the definitely-not-flat Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile just three months ago, where he was fifth. He won last year’s Jackpot Ultra Festival 100 Mile in 13:04.
Mark Heider and Luis Resendiz were second and third in 14:38 and 15:18. And then much deeper in the results, but perhaps even more incredibly, Victor Valenzuela finished the 100-mile run in 29:44 while dragging a flat tire.
Salvador Escobedo topped the accompanying 50-mile race in 7:06.
Kalie Demerjian finished in 15:02. Like Hammond, her first lap was her fastest, but it was her third lap that was the slowest, and only slightly, as she ran pretty evenly throughout the day. She was third at last year’s Javelina Jundred Mile in 16:10 as a then 24-year-old.
Megan Eckert and Inga Maurer ran 16:51 and 19:43 for second and third, respectively.
Roxana Pana won the 50-mile race in 8:13.
XTERRA Trail Running World Championships – Kapalua, Maui, Hawai’i
One doesn’t think of the Ritz Carlton as a trail running venue, but that’s where the 13th XTERRA Trail Running World Championships launched from. This year’s race transitioned from its longtime home on Oahu to the island of Maui. The new 21k half marathon course gained 2,100 feet of elevation gain on a sometimes muddy, sometimes sandy course.
The race included four of the top five finishers from this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Championships, but it didn’t run entirely as a rematch from that August contest. Some new names broke up the mix. $10,000 was split among the top finishers with $2,000 to each of its winners.
Aloha means hello and goodbye, and that’s what Joseph Gray could’ve said on the start line. He flashed six fingers into the air at the finish, representing his sixth win at this event. He was almost two minutes ahead of everyone else with a 1:22 finish. Andy Wacker was again in that characteristic runner-up spot behind Gray, running 1:24. Najim Mahmoud was a strong surprise in third, also at 1:24 and only 18 seconds behind Wacker.
Brett Hales and U.S. team member Edward Owens ran 1:25 and 1:26 for fourth and fifth, and U.S. team member Joseph Demoor was eighth in 1:37.
Other than a Vertical K second place earlier this year, I don’t think Grayson Murphy‘s lost on trails this year, and she absolutely crushed this one. Murphy finished in 1:31, over seven minutes better than the next best woman. Like men’s winner Gray, she pocketed a giant $2,000 check and a floral lei at the finish. And also like the men’s race, a few names outside of the U.S. team broke up the finish order.
Bailey Kowalczyk was second in 1:38. She’s had a big year with podium finishes at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, the Broken Arrow Skyrace, and at The Rut Mountain Race.
Katherine Short (Canada) was third in 1:38, Megan Lacy was fourth in 1:41, and Sam Lewis was fifth in 1:42. Rachel Tomajczyk ran 1:48 for sixth and last of the U.S. team finishers.
Past race winner Polina Hodnette (née Carlson) was eighth in 1:52.
California International Marathon – Sacramento, California
CIM runs downhill and point to point, typically making for fast times. Lots of sometimes-trail runners took part.
- After a summer racing trails, his first, Tyler McCandless was sixth in 2:14.
- Boston Marathon 10th-placer CJ Albertson was eighth in 2:14. He split 1:05:14 through halfway.
- Travis Morrison, who has won XTERRA trail races in the past, was ninth in 2:15.
- Hoka-sponsored ultrarunner Rajpaul Pannu ran 2:16.
- One-time U.S. 50k national team member Mason Frank ran 2:17.
- Two-time world 50k champion Tony Migliozzi ran 2:18.
- Andrew Skurka finished in 2:32.
The next Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying cycle opens on January 1 and men will need to run better than 2:18, women better than 2:37.
Surf Coast Century – Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
Some 800 runners (all vaccinated) took part in the different distances at the 10th Surf Coast Century.
Anna McKenna was the women’s winner in the 100k. Her 9:04 finish just missed the course record, and it was her debut for the distance. Rhiannon Snipe and 2020 race winner Sarah Hedger were second and third in 10:33 and 10:50.
Men’s winner Ash Harink finished the coastal route in 9:39. Conor Dillon and Lachlan Day ran 9:54 and 10:13 for the remaining podium positions.
The 50k race covers the second half, and harder half, of the 100k. Daniel Caswell led Ethan Baker and Tim Dwyer to the finish. The group was very spread out at the finish with 4:19, 4:43, and 5:01 results.
Kellie Emerson won the women’s 50k in 4:31, finishing second overall. She also won in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Nicole Virant and Meg Norman ran 4:50 and 5:13 for second and third.
El Cruce – Villa La Angostura, Argentina
The 19th running of the stage race had both individual and two-person team classes.
Gamaniel Huaman Cordova (Peru) totaled 6:33 for the three days running, winning on days two and three after a third-place opening individual leg. His finish total was a single second ahead of Sergio Gustavo Pereyra (Argentina), perhaps indicating a planned-for tie. Franco Paredes (Argentina) was third in 6:40.
Three Argentinian women filled their podium with Roxana Flores out front in 7:50. Luciana Urioste and Paula Galindez were second and third in 8:15 and 8:21.
Additional Races and Runs
MaXi Race Madeira – Madeira Island, Portugal
Wow, Madeira definitely punches above its weight on trail running. The Portuguese group of islands has hosted a number of internationally competitive races this fall and winter. Men’s winners in the 100k and 55k were Bruno Coelho (Portugal) and Julien Chorier (France) in 12:58 and 6:46, and Soreini Rodríguez and Audrey Tanguy (France) won the women’s races in 19:13 and 6:59. Full results.
Anza Borrego Cuyamaca 50 Mile Run – Julian, California
Colton Carter set a new course best at the race’s second running. He finished in 7:39. Women’s winner Maria Dalzot successfully defended her 2019 crown, running 9:38. Full results.
McDowell Mountain Frenzy – Fountain Hills, Arizona
The Aravaipa Running event hosted two ultra distance races. Caleb Olson and Brianna Grigsby won the 50k in 3:36 and 4:29, and Adam Gloyeske and Jo Ann Saab won the 50-mile race in 7:49 and 8:45. Full results.
Capstone 50k – St. George, Utah
Randall Hinton and Shantel Pack won this five-lap race in 6:05 and 6:57. Full results.
Blood Rock 100 Mile – Pelham, Alabama
“Our little mountain at Oak Mountain State Park is only 700 feet tall and about 10 miles long, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in brutally steep, technical climbs and descents, and treacherous trails and endless miles of rocks and roots,” the Southeastern Trail Runs website says of the Blood Rock 100 Mile race. And Jeff Browning backed this claim up on social media afterward, calling out the 13-plus hours in darkness on leaf-covered trails as a particular challenge. Browning won though in 22:35, his 24th 100-mile win. Browning won here in 2019 too. It was not yet clear who won the women’s race, so leave a comment if you can share the women’s winner. Full results (when available).
Lake Norman State Park 50k – Troutman, North Carolina
Cam Kotas and Natalie Hensley Daniel were victorious in 4:06 and 5:16, respectively. Full results (when available).
Cloudland Canyon 50 Mile – Rising Fawn, Georgia
The Run Bum race happens inside a state park of the same name. Ben Lamers and Anna Curtis won in 8:59 and 9:49. Full results.
Next Weekend – Desert Solstice – Phoenix, Arizona
Whether running for 100 miles or 24 hours, the Desert Solstice track race is consistently one of the best chances for fast runs in the U.S. each year.
- Nick Coury – 1st 2021 Alexander County 24 Hour (148 miles)
- Arlen Glick – 1st 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile (13:14), four 100-mile wins in 2021
- Jacob Jackson – 2nd 2021 Jackpot Ultrarunning Festival (14:12)
- Pete Kostelnick – 1st 2020 Beast of Burden Winter 100 Mile (16:54)
- David Laney – 1st 2019 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile (14:03)
- Jacob Moss – 3rd 2021 Tunnel Hill 100 Mile (12:54)
- Scott Traer – 1st at 2021 Hennepin Hundred Mile (13:54)
- Matt Urbanski – 4th 2017 Javelina Jundred Mile (14:55)
- Camille Herron – 1st at 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile (14:03)
- Jenny Hoffman – 1st 2021 Pine Creek Challenge 100 Mile (15:55)
- Sabrina Little – 7:49 at 2019 Hoka 100k
- Marisa Lizak – 142 miles at 2021 Desert Solstice 24 Hour
- Nicole Monette – 1st 2018 Tunnel Hill 50 Mile (6:37)
- Micah Morgan – 1st 2021 Canal Corridor 100 Mile (14:52)
- Pam Smith – 4th 2019 IAU 24-Hour World Championships (152 miles)
Call for Comments
What other December race and run adventures can you share in the columns below?