This Week In Running: February 27, 2017

This Week In Running’s trail and ultra recap for February 27, 2017.

By on February 27, 2017 | Comments

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRThe World Snowshoe Championships, a new American record over 24 hours by Courtney Dauwalter, an Ultra-Trail World Tour race at Transgrancanaria, and the Ski Mountaineering World Championships are among the highlights of this week’s big column. We also preview next week’s USATF 50k Road National Championships at the Caumsett 50k and the Way Too Cool 50k.


Fair weather kept the 6,684-foot summit of Mount Mitchell in reach. It was the 20th running of the Mount Mitchell Challenge, a 40-mile out and back that’s part-road race and part-trail race up and down the rooftop of western North Carolina. The peak is the highest east of the Mississippi River.

Nathan Holland, a frequent podium finisher at events in the southeast, won this year’s race in 4:49. He was just three minutes ahead of second-place Ben Fitzpatrick. Despite separating–and relocating–his shoulder near the summit, Mark Wulff was improbably third in 5:06.

Nathan Holland - 2017 Mount Mitchell Challenge champion

Nathan Holland, 2017 Mount Mitchell Challenge champion. Photo: Mount Mitchell Challenge

Women’s winner Jackie Merritt ran 5:31, finishing 10th overall. She’s working her way to the Georgia Death Race with an eye on a Western States Golden Ticket. Francesca Conte, a previous winner, and Elizabeth Minnick were second and third in 6:00 and 6:11, respectively.

Mark Sharafinski and Tracy Pogal-Sussman won the accompanying Black Mountain Marathon in 3:27 and 4:20, respectively.

Full Mount Mitchell Challenge results and full Black Mountain Marathon results.


Race director Jon Olsen hosted the event on a brand-new track with the promise of “on track for drama to unfold.”

Already assured a place on the U.S. 24-hour team that will compete at the IAU 24-Hour World Championships in Ireland in July, Courtney Dauwalter seemingly had little to gain here. Still, riding a recent hot streak, Dauwalter struck while the iron was hot and scored a new American record for 24 hours. Dauwalter ringed the track over and over to collect an even 250 kilometers, or 155.343 miles. The total haul was more than three miles better than Sabrina Little‘s previous American record, and only five kilometers back of Mami Kudo’s world best. With Katalin NagyTraci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman, and Pam Smith also on the U.S. 24-Hour Team, the Americans will be heavy heavy favorites in Ireland.

Courtney Dauwalter - 24-hour American record

Courtney Dauwalter on her way to setting a new 24-hour American record. Photo: U.S. 24-Hour Team

Second overall, Rich Riopel finished with 151.86 miles to run his way on to the U.S. men’s team. His qualifying mark currently ranks fourth. The qualifying window is set to close April 1. Already on the U.S. team, Bob Hearn was third overall with 144.41 miles.

The star of December’s Desert Solstice race, Gina Slaby totaled 132.72 miles. Pam Smith stopped after 100 miles.


iRunFar was on site with live coverage, and has recapped the 125k Transgrancanaria race separately in greater detail.

Third a year ago, Pau Capell (Spain) jumped to the top spot on the podium this year. The rising star ran 13:21, a new course record, and did it the hard way–by leading from the start.

Pau Capell - 2017 Transgrancanaria - Tunte

Pau Capell in Tunte on his way to wining 2017 Transgrancanaria. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Suddenly Lithuania is becoming an ultrarunning powerhouse! Little-known Vaidas Žlabys was second in 13:35. Didrik Hermansen (Norway), last year’s winner, started slow and consistently moved up late to finish third in 13:50.

After a string of races that revealed her as the world’s best, defending Transgrancanaria champion Caroline Chaverot (France) was surprisingly off the mark here and dropped early with physical issues.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered though. Azara Garcia (Spain) matched men’s winner Capell with her own wire-to-wire convincing win. Garcia completed the wild island adventure in 16:25. Second for the second-straight year, Andrea Huser (Switzerland) ran 17:15, and Mélanie Rousset (France) was third in 17:30.

Full results.

The next three Ultra-Trail World Tour events take place/start on April 7. Both the Patagonia Run 145k in Argentina and the April 7 100 Miles of Istria race in Croatia are held then, and the week-long Marathon des Sables stage race in Morocco starts that same day.

2017 Transgrancanaria - Azara Garcia

Azara García upon winning Transgrancanaria 2017. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell


Warm temperatures forced a course reroute at the World Snowshoe Championships. Racing in shorts and a singlet over questionable snow on the roughly 10k course, Joe Gray (USA) added another accolade to his long list of achievements. Gray finished first in 28:22, leading Nacho Hernando-Angulo (Spain), a former Southern New Hampshire University runner, and XTERRA triathlete Josiah Middaugh (USA). Hernando-Angula and Middaugh ran 29:33 and 29:41.

Joe Gray - 2017 World Snowshoe Championships winner

Joe Gray, 2017 World Snowshoe Championships winner. Photo: Saranac Lake ADK

Other familiar names in the results included David Le Porho (Canada, fifth) Scott Gall (sixth), Matt Lipsey (eighth), and Jared Burdick (13th). Zach Miller started the race, but suffered from a snowshoe problem and is not listed among the finishers.

Like Gray, women’s winner Ragna Debats (Netherlands) was also way out front. Debats was far ahead of second-place Annie Jean (Canada); the pair ran 34:57 and 36:48. Michelle Hummel (USA) was third in 37:14. Debats was third at the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships in Portugal, and Jean was fourth at the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships.

Other familiar names in the women’s results included Sarah Keyes (fourth) and Brandy Erholtz (eighth).

Full Results.


Individual Race

In the weekend’s opening race, Damiano Lenzi (Italy) skied ahead of Kilian Jornet (Spain) to win the ISMF World Championship event. Lenzi reportedly overcame a number of problems with his skis to finish in 1:52, a mere second ahead of Jornet. Third-place Anton Palzer (Germany) was just another 33 seconds back of Jornet.

Other familiar names included in the deeper results were: Marti Werner (Switzerland, eighth), John Gaston (U.S., 15th), and Rémi Bonnet (Switzerland, 19th).

Seemingly unbeatable, Laetitia Roux (France) won the women’s race in 2:03, nearly two minutes better than second-place Maude Mathys (Switzerland). Axelle Mollaret (France) was third in 2:06.

Deeper results for the ladies included: Emelie Forsberg (Sweden, fourth), Martina Valmassoi (Italy, ninth), Jessie Young (U.S., 13th), Ida Nilsson (Sweden, 14th), and Janelle Smiley (U.S., 21st).

Team Race

Two days later, Lenzi doubled back and teamed with Matteo Eydallin (Italy) to win the team race in 2:20. Werner was fourth with Martin Anthamatten (Switzerland), and Jornet was sixth alongside Oriol Cardona (Spain). The American team of Gaston and Max Taam was 11th, and Canadian teammates Rob Krar and Nick Elson were 17th.

Roux did not take part in the women’s team race, though France still did fine. Mollaret and Lorna Bonnel (France) were the women’s team victors, finishing ahead of Mireia Miro (Spain) and Claudia Galicia Cotrina (Spain). The Americans fared better here with Smiley and Young finishing fourth.

Sprint Race

In the short-course sprint race, Iwan Arnold (Switzerland) finished just ahead of Palzer and Cardona for the men’s crown. The women’s victory went to Claudia Galicia Cotrina (Spain), beating out second- and third-place Forsberg and Marianne Falton (Switzerland).

Vertical Race

The multi-day event concluded with the vertical race and here Jornet and Andrea Mayr (Austria) shined. Jornet beat out Lenzi by 12 seconds, and Marti Werner was third. Behind Mayr were silver- and bronze-medalists Forsberg and Mollaret.

Full results.


Still in New Zealand following a seventh-place finish at the Tarawera Ultramarathon two weekends ago, Matt Flaherty doubled down with another 85k of backcountry running. Flaherty’s 6:52 marked a new course record at the Old Ghost Ultra.

Matt Flaherty - 2017 Old Ghost Ultra champion

Matt Flaherty, 2017 Old Ghost Ultra champion. Photo: Richard Rossiter

The win came only after overtaking early pace-setter Vajin Armstrong (New Zealand) late. Armstrong was left in second at 6:56. Andy Good (New Zealand) was a distant third in 7:43.

Mel Aitken (New Zealand) championed the women’s race in 8:24, finishing way out in front of Ruby Muir (New Zealand). Muir’s second-place time was 9:07, and Caitlin Fielder (New Zealand) was third in 9:25.

The race takes place on a point-to-point route that gains 2,600 meters (8,530 feet) of elevation on the country’s South Island. The race also awarded 1,000 NZD to each of its men’s and women’s winners.

Full results.

Mel Aitken - 2017 Old Ghost Ultra champion

Mel Aitken, 2017 Old Ghost Ultra champion. Photo: Richard Rossiter


Power of Four

This 25-mile ski mountaineering race in Aspen, Colorado takes in each of the area’s four ski mountains. The 2016 race winners were in Europe, leaving Billy Laird and Brian Smith to complete the two-person team competition first in 5:30. Sari Anderson and Lyndsay Meyer topped the women’s field in 6:35. Full results.

Hillary Ultra

It’s high time for ultra racing in New Zealand. The fourth-year Hillary Ultra follows a trail named for the country’s famous mountaineer. Danny Garrett won the 80k race in 8:06, 17 minutes better than Andrius Ramonas’s previous course best from 2015. Beth Cardelli was first woman, fourth overall, in 9:56. She was just a minute off the women’s course record. Full results.

Phoenix Marathon

U.S. 50k team member Thomas Rivers Puzey ran 2:18:25 to finish second at the Phoenix Marathon. XTERRA Trail Run World Champion Polina Carlson won the women’s race in 2:39:26. Full results.

Richland Run Fest Marathon

With a chip time of 2:43:59, Ian Sharman was second at the Richland Run Fest Marathon in Washington. Full results.

Run Ridge Run

Chris Winter, a Canadian Olympian in the 3000-meter steeplechase, made his trail debut with a four-minute win at British Columbia’s Run Ridge Run 25k. Though he labeled the run as his “retirement hobby,” Winter’s 2:17 marked a new course record. Christina Porte won the women’s race in 2:51. Full results.

Carrera 4Refugios Non-Stop

Saintos Gabriel Rueda repeated as winner of Argentinian mountain adventure, finishing the highly-technical route in 6:36. Tania Diez won the women’s race. Full results (when available).

Cowtown Ultra

In big Texas, Calum Neff won the 50k road race in 3:09. Women’s winner Tracy Gruman finished in 3:44. Full results (when available).

Orcas Island 100 Mile 

Nickademus Hollon finished the four-loop course off the coast of Washington first in 20:44. Each of the top-three women finished the second-year race inside of last year’s winning time. Janessa Taylor was the best in 24:08, and was followed by Katie Mills and Jade Belzberg in 24:33 and 24:45, respectively. Full results.



  • Ryan Bak – 2nd at 2015 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Chris Denucci – 9th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Ben Koss – 7th 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Ivan Medina – 4th at 2016 Marin Ultra Challenge 25k
  • Chris Mocko – 8th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Paddy O’Leary – 4th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Cody Reed – 1st at 2016 USATF 50k Trail National Championships
  • Patrick Smyth – 1st at 2015 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Tim Tollefson – 5th at 2017 Hong Kong 100k
  • Scott Trummer – 4th at 2016 USATF 50k Trail National Championships
  • Stephen Wassather – 1st at 2016 Sean O’Brien 100k

Smyth has been nearly unbeatable in recent years before being off the mark at both December’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championships and at the recent USATF Cross Country Championships. Perhaps he’s vulnerable, such that Reed, Bak, or Tollefson could keep pace here.


  • Keely Henninger – 4th at 2016 Chuckanut 50k
  • Penny Macphail – 1st at 2017 Crystal Springs Winter 50k
  • Megan Roche – 1st at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • YiOu Wang – 2nd at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k

Just 48 seconds separated Roche and Wang at last year’s race. Look for the two to again be up front.

Full entrant list.


The 10-lap Caumsett 50k is again the USATF 50k Road National Championships. Neither field is particularly deep, but both hold the potential for fast times.


  • Tyler Jermann – 2:18 at 2016 Houston Marathon
  • C. Fred Joslyn – 2nd at 2016 USATF 50k Road National Championships

Absent any late entrants or competitors I may have overlooked, Jermann’s speed should result in a national-championship win.


  • Caroline Boller – 2016 USATF 50k Road National Champion
  • Heather Tanner – 2:51 at 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon
  • Devon Yanko – 1st at 2016 American River 50 Mile

With this trio, the excitement of the women’s race should surpass anything that the men may do.

Full entrant list.


This looks cool. Get a look behind the scenes of Trail Racing Over Texas–the Brazos Bend and Franklin Mountains race folks–with the new Texas Trail Blazer film. Ultrarunning-changed race director Rob Goyen’s life and all that goodness is in this flick. The movie is available online and is likely to also appear on the film-festival circuit.


  • It was a big week. Surely Dauwalter’s performance stands out, but what else was especially remarkable to you?
  • What other races can our readers add to this week’s column?
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.