Three races in Colorado, two as part of the GoPro Mountain Games, controversy around Robert Young‘s transcontinental run, and a preview of the giant Broken Arrow Skyrace are among this week’s highlights.
GoPro Mountain Games – Vail, Colorado
The weekend-long celebration of all things outdoors included a number of running events. Saturday’s EverBank Vail Pass Half Marathon climbed 2,900 feet over 13.7 miles, and awarded $1,200 to its first-place finisher, and $700 and $350 to the second- and third-place finishers.
Still, the men’s race lacked some of its punch from previous years. Only men’s champion Andy Wacker broke the 90-minute mark, finishing clear of the field in 1:26. A year ago Wacker was third in 1:24.
Josh Eberly, a 2015 U.S. mountain running team member and Olympic Trials marathoner, was second in 1:30, and masters runner Chris Grauch was third in 1:35.
The women’s race was similarly off of previous year’s results. In 2015, Morgan Arritola and Kim Dobson ran 1:40 and 1:41 at the front of the race. This year Rachel Viele’s 1:51 was the women’s best. Amy Smith and Hallie Silberman were second and third in 1:58 and 2:05, respectively.
Sunday’s Spring Runoff 10k offered an identical prize purse, and drew a stronger field to its course that winds up, down, and across the town’s famed ski slopes. Still, the race’s depth didn’t quite match up to that of previous years.
Joe Gray three-peated in the men’s race, and won quite convincingly in 44:48. Eberly was second for the second day in a row, this time finishing in 47:19. Alex Nichols ran 48:29 for third. Andy Wacker went for the weekend double, but finished well off the lead pace in 52:49.
Megan Kimmel ruled the women’s race, just as she did last year. Kimmel ran 53:49, finishing almost a minute ahead of second-place Nicole Mericle. Twelve-year-old Alayna Szuch was third in 56:43. Szuch was seventh at the US Mountain Running Championships earlier this year.
Szuch also won the Apres 5k on Saturday night, running 20:13.
WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Championships Slovenia – Podbrdo, Slovenia
Wacker is part of the U.S. team that will race at next weekend’s World Mountain Running Association’s Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, to be held at the Gorski Marathon in Slovenia. Also racing for the U.S. will be Peter Maksimow, Matt Shyrock, Mario Mendoza, and Ted Farley. Competing for the U.S. women will be Kimmel, Maria Dalzot, Anita Ortiz, Camelia Mayfield, and Kristina Pattison.
Rope Mill Trail Marathon – Woodstock, Georgia
The race was the fourth of six events in this year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup and awarded a $1,000 first-place prize, with $350 and $150 to its second- and third-place finishers. The race took place on an incredibly winding route through Olde Rope Mill Park.
Patrick Cheptoek, who looks to have previously run a number of 1:04 and 1:05 road half marathons, edged out Zach Miller for the overall win. Cheptoek finished in 1:17:38 with Miller just behind in 1:18:05. Pat Reagan, second at this year’s Mad City 100k, was third in 1:18:40. The group leapfrogged in the lead position for the first 10 miles before the order began to shake out.
Past Mountain Cup winner Ryan Woods was fifth in 1:25.
The top-three women finished in quick succession, running ninth, 10th, and 11th overall. The group was led by Taylor Ward in 1:30, and Rachel Harley and Joy Miller were second and third in 1:34 and 1:37, respectively.
The next La Sportiva Mountain Cup race is the July 23 Siskiyou Out Back 15k.
Mount Evans Ascent – Idaho Springs, Colorado
The 14.6-mile road climb starts at 10,600 feet and finishes at the 14,265-foot summit, or the parking lot just below the true summit. Topping out first was Timmy Parr in 1:46, just over a minute ahead of Matt Daniels. Daniels was a 4:02 miler and 13:50 5k runner while at Adams State University just a few years ago. Parr and Daniels gapped the field with Jordan Jones running 1:52 for third.
In the women’s race, Kim Dobson took down Stevie Kremer’s 2012 course record. Dobson ran 1:55, just over two minutes better than the previous course best. Dobson, affectionately known as the “Queen of the Uphill,” is also the heavy favorite for next weekend’s Mount Washington Road Race, a 7.6-mile climb in New Hampshire.
Trailing Dobson, Ashlee Nelson and Sarah Pizzo were second and third in 2:09 and 2:14, respectively.
Robert Young Transcontinental Run – Illinois
The U.K.’s Robert Young is over halfway across America on his transcontinental run, and is said to be ahead of Guinness world record pace (46 days, 1980). The sleuths at LetsRun.com however have questioned the validity of Young’s run, pleading for greater evidence after Young couldn’t be located outside of his support RV as it moved on the road at what looked to be a runner’s pace sans runner, a scene also captured on video. Although the LetsRun.com message board is generally fueled on speculation and anonymity, it has had success in outing marathon cheaters in several instances previously. Young has responded online detailing the measures he has taken to prove his run, though the message board and others have encouraged Young to go a step further and upload his GPS running watch data to Strava. A veteran team of ultrarunners have also pledged to spend a week by Young’s side to confirm or deny his record pace. The discussion on LetsRun.com, with dozens of different argument and counters, has stretched to more than 100 pages.
Other Races and Runs
The second-annual NUT 50k and 100k, along the North Umpqua Trail in Oregon, saw Max King and Rachel Drake win the 50k in 4:28 and 5:15. In the 100k, it was Scott Williams and Helen Pelster with 10:48 and 13:27 winning times, respectively. Full results.
Fifty-nine-year-old Brian Pilcher repeated as champion at the Dipsea Race. It was the 106th running of the popular 7.4-mile San Francisco Bay Area race, known for its age- and gender-grading format. Though not all consecutive, this was Pilcher’s third win at the race. Matias Saari was second, and Rickey Gates and Galen Burrell were fifth and sixth. Together Saari, Gates, and Burrell were a part of the first-place team. Alex Varner finished 13th, and Gus Gibbs had the race’s fastest time, ignoring age- and gender-grading. Full results (when available).
Chris Mocko tuned up for his first Western States Endurance Run with an easy win at Inside Trail’s Rodeo Valley 30k in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mocko ran 2:04, nearly 23 minutes ahead of his closest challenger. Katherine Fair championed the women’s race in 2:54. Full results.
The 20th annual Holcomb Valley Trail Run sent runners on a 33-mile loop through the San Bernadino National Forest in southern California. Race winners were Tony Torre and Jade Belzberg in 4:18 and 5:38, respectively. Full results.
After four laps through Flagstaff, Arizona’s ponderosa pine forests, Tommy Rivers Puzey and Zoe Bellinghausen won the Extreme Big Pine Trail Run 54k in 4:20 and 5:34. Full results.
Adam and Robin Watkins won Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands 70-Mile Run. The pair finished in 12:14 and 13:23 with Robin also finishing third overall. This was the 37th running of the point-to-point race. Full results.
Next Weekend – Broken Arrow Skyrace 54k – Squaw Valley, California
The first-year 54k is perhaps the most competitive race in Altra U.S. Skyrunner Series history. A strong group of San Francisco Bay Area runners make up much of the top-level men’s and women’s field.
Both the men’s and women’s fields will compete for a $1,000 first-place prize, a $400 second-place prize, and a $200 third-place prize. The 54k gains 11,000 feet of elevation.
The two-day event also includes a Vertical K race, which is also part of the U.S. Skyrunner Series, and a 26k race, which is not.
I see a small group of men that will legitimately challenge for the win, some with true mountain-running experience–Nichols, and some not–Reed. The recent second-place finish by Tim Freriks, also a former Northern Arizona University runner, at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile keeps Reed among the top contenders however.
- Josh Arthur – 2nd at 2016 Dirty Thirty 50k
- Max King – 8th at 2016 Comrades Marathon
- Alex Nichols – 1st at 2015 Mont Blanc 80k
- Cody Reed – 1st at 2016 Miwok 100k, former Northern Arizona University collegiate runner
Arthur won last year’s U.S. Skyrunner Series ultra division crown.
Other podium contenders include:
- Mike Aish – 1st at 2016 Quad Rock 25 Mile
- Galen Burrell – 1st at 2016 Boulder Mountain Marathon
- Morgan Elliott – 1st at 2015 Quest for the Crest 50k
- Yew Ferrara – 2nd at 2016 Mendocino Coast 50k
- Ryan Ghelfi – 4th at 2016 Gorge Waterfalls 100k
- Michele Graglia – 1st at 2016 San Diego 50 Mile
- Brett Hornig – 7th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
- Dan Kraft – 4th at 2016 Chuckanut 50k
- Cody Lind – 2nd at 2016 Moab Red Hot 50k+, 2nd in 2015 U.S. Skyrunner Series ultra division
- Levi Miller – 11th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
- Paddy O’Leary – 1st at 2016 Canyons 100k
- Sam Robinson – 2nd at 2016 Table Rock 25k
- Tim Tollefson – 1st at 2016 Silver State 50k
- Jeremy Wolf – 5th at 2016 Chuckanut 50k
The women’s field is nearly as deep as the men’s. The small group expected to challenge for the win includes:
- Larisa Dannis – 1st at 2016 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile
- Brittany Peterson – 1st at 2016 Moab Red Hot 50k+
- Joelle Vaught – 1st at 2016 Smith Rock Ascent 50k
- Sarah Woerner – 3rd at 2016 Georgia Death Race
Though Dannis is perhaps a heavy favorite, her status is uncertain as she balances her schedule with other responsibilities. Woerner won last year’s U.S. Skryunner Series ultra championship.
And the challengers for the podium include:
- Katie Desplinter – 4th at 2016 Georgia Death Race
- Samantha Drove – 6th at 2016 Gorge Waterfalls 100k
- Meredith Edwards – 2nd at 2015 Flagstaff Sky Race 55k
- Keely Henninger – 3rd at 2016 Gorge Waterfalls 100k
- Sarah Keyes – 1st at 2016 Hyner Trail Challenge 25k
- Emily Peterson – 5th at 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
- Julia Stamps-Mallon – 6th at 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
- Anne Wheatly – 3rd at 2016 Mt. Mitchell Challenge
Call for Comments
- As always, we encourage you to add additional races and notable runs via your comments!
- As for the upcoming Broken Arrow Skyrace, let us know any additional runners who could challenge for a top spot. Who do you think will win?
- What level of evidence do you think should be provided to validate an FKT like the transcontinental run?