The weekend couldn’t have been much bigger. Races like the Comrades Marathon, U.S. Mountain Running Championships, and Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira are highlighted in this week’s jam-packed column.
Comrades Marathon – Durban, South Africa
For the first time since 1997, an American woman finished on top of the Comrades Marathon, a race celebrated as the world’s most competitive ultramarathon.
Eighteen kilometers into this year’s 89k uphill run, Camille Herron (USA) was already four minutes in front. She would increase her lead to at least seven minutes in the middle of the race before giving back a couple minutes in the race’s second half. She also gave up time with 500 meters to go by stopping in the finish chute in apparent confusion as to where the finish line was. Ultimately, she led wire-to-wire for a convincing 6:27 victory. Herron’s win came 20 years after Ann Trason last won this race for the U.S. That same year Trason also won the Western States 100. Herron will try to replicate that feat in three weeks’ time.
Though perennial race winners Olesya and Elena Nurgalieva do not appear to have taken part in this year’s race, Russian runners did compete. Alexandra Morozova (Russia) was second in 6:31. Defending champion Charne Bosman (South Africa) was a distant third in 6:39.
Other familiar names included in the deeper results were:
- Jasmin Nunige (Switzerland) – 5th, 6:46
- Sarah Bard (USA) – 6th, 6:49
- Colleen De Reuck (USA) – 7th, 6:55
- Devon Yanko (USA) – 10th, 7:05
- Emma Roca (Spain) – 23rd, 7:45
Men’s winner Bongmusa Mthembu (South Africa) added to a 2014 title with a second Comrades win, becoming the first South African to win twice since Bruce Fordyce in 1990. Mthembu ran 5:35, three minutes better than runner-up Hatiwande Nyamade (Zimbabwe). 2015 race winner Gift Kelehe (South Africa) was third in 5:41.
Other familiar names among the men’s results include:
- Ludwick Mamabalo (South Africa) – 4th, 5:42
- Steve Way (U.K.) – 9th, 5:49
- Fritjof Fagerlund (Sweden) – 10th, 5:49
- Patrick Reagan (USA) – 12th, 5:53
- Brendan Davies (Australia) – 50th, 6:21
U.S. Mountain Running Championships – North Conway, New Hampshire
The Cranmore Mountain Race has been a frequent site for the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, and this year’s up-and-down, 10k course was tailored to mirror that of the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy on July 30. Each of the top-four women and men make the national team to compete at worlds.
Roughed up at last week’s Zegama Marathon, Addie Bracy found her stride back stateside and repeated as women’s champ for the second year in a row. Bracy shook off a big fall on a muddy section of downhill trail and raced to a 53:56 finish.
2014 U.S. Mountain Running Championships winner Allie McLaughlin was a surprise race-morning entrant, and the thrill-seeking skydiver chased to a 54:23 second-place finish. 2011 World Mountain Running Championships winner Kasie Enman still has it too. She finished the challenging course and its 3,000 feet of climbing in 56:04. Enman won last week’s Vermont City Marathon in 2:50. Following the July 30 World Mountain Running Championships, both Bracy and Enman will also race the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, also in Italy and just one week later.
Caitlin Patterson, a world-class Nordic skier, was fourth in 56:42, earning the final team position. On a team full of veterans, Patterson will be the lone first-year member.
Fifth-place Sandi Nypaver ran 58:00, the last female under the 60-minute mark on what was said to be an exceptionally difficult course.
Joe Gray is pretty much a dynasty in U.S. mountain running. He won, for the second-straight year and fifth time ever, and made the U.S. team for an incredible 10th-straight year. Gray finished in 45:48, and he also will be the defending champion at worlds in July.
Up to this point, second-place Patrick Smyth hasn’t had a very good year on trails. He was way back at the Way Too Cool 50k and dropped from the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Smyth did much better here, though, and finished just 23 seconds back of Gray while moving up on the race’s second lap. Smyth won the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in 2015, but did not take part in worlds that year.
Brett Hales is back on the team. Hales, who was seventh at worlds in 2016, ran 46:56 to finish third, and Andy Wacker, who was 20th at worlds last year, was fourth in 47:06.
That left Cole Watson in the hard-luck fifth-place position at 48:56.
Full results for women and men.
Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira – Madeira Island, Portugal
A real ‘sea to sky’ race, the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira was 55k long and included 4,000 meters of elevation gain. Second a year ago, Hillary Allen (USA) won this year’s race in 7:06, seven minutes faster than last year, and did it while leading from start to finish. The win also vaulted Allen into the lead of the Skyrunning World Series.
Ekaterina Mityaeva (Russia) and Elisabet Masanés (Spain) were second and third in a distant 7:34 and 8:35, respectively. Anna Frost (New Zealand) dropped from the race near halfway.
Men’s winner Jon Albon (U.K.) scored a new course record in 5:45. He was 15 minutes better than the previous record, and 10 minutes better than early leader and eventual second-place finisher Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz (France). Dmitry Mityaev (Russia) was third in 6:07.
The next Skyrunning World Series race is the June 9 Scenic Trail 113k in Switzerland, in the Sky Ultra category.
Cayuga Trails 50 Mile – Ithaca, New York
Both Dani Filipek and Chris Raulli became surprise first-time national champions at the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile. The race again served as the USATF 50-Mile Trail National Championships. Filipek, whose lone previous ultra entry looks to be a low-key 50k win, ran 9:03 to finish 18 minutes in front of second-place Sabrina Little. Third-place Kelsey Allen was another 10 minutes back of Little, officially in at 9:31. Filipek now, though, is a lock for the U.S. team that will compete at the 2018 IAU Trail World Championships in Spain.
Men’s winner Raulli ran 7:32, and his previous ultra experience includes a third at this year’s Caumsett 50k. Michael Owen was second in the USATF standings at 7:41, and Zach Merrin was third in 7:52. Cayuga regular Matt Flaherty ran 7:59 for fifth.
6/5/17 Edit – Note that the above results speak to the USATF competition. Overall, Karen Holland was second in 9:13, and Little and Allen were third and fourth. The same pattern was true for the men’s race too. Brian Rusiecki was second in 7:40, Owen was third, and Flaherty sixth.
Full results (when available).
Golden Gate Dirty Thirty – Black Hawk, Colorado
Less than four minutes separated the top-three ladies, all finishing the mountain circuit around Golden Gate Canyon State Park in Colorado in under six hours. Abigail Levene was able to slip away from Abby Mitchell and Kristi Knecht to earn the win, and the $1,000 first-place prize. Levene broke the tape in 5:54, two minutes better than Mitchell, who was another two minutes ahead of Knecht.
Amity Elliot won the accompanying 12-mile race in 2:04.
Much like the women’s race, the top-three men were also closely bunched. Winning the men’s Golden Gate Dirty Thirty was Brian Condon. His 4:50 finish time on the high-altitude course was less than two minutes up on Daniel Nally. Third place was Cody Lind was in 4:55.
Former Wichita State runner Ryan Phebus crushed the 12-mile race in 1:33, bettering 2016 U.S. Mountain Running Team member Matt Daniels‘s short-lived course record from last year.
Other Races and Runs
Vashon Island 50k
U.S. 24-Hour Team members Gina and Steve Slaby took the top positions in 3:55 and 3:47 at this Washington state event. Gina’s time marked a new course record by some 27 minutes. Full results.
War Eagle 50k
Hobbs State Park in Arkansas hosted the War Eagle 50k. Race winners were Zoe Rom and Nick Lewis in 5:03 and 3:59, respectively. Full results.
North Fork 50 Mile/50k
Forty miles southwest of Denver, Colorado, new course records were set in the women’s and men’s North Fork 50 Mile/50k in both 50-mile races as well as the women’s 50k. Elizabeth Gold and Michael Hewitt topped the 50-mile race in 8:30 and 7:17. For Hewitt, it meant that he broke his own course record by almost 15 minutes, a mark that had stood since 2012. Maggie Walsh and Zach King won the 50k race in 4:28 and 4:24, respectively. Walsh’s result was a new course record by about 13 minutes. Full results.
Mt. Diablo Trail Runs
Bev Anderson-Abbs and Loren Baker won the Mt. Diablo Trail Runs 50k in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in 6:57 and 6:10, respectively. Amy Leedham and David Roche won the event’s half marathon in 2:18 and 1:53. Full results.
Shadow of the Giants 50k
In California redwood country, the Shadow of the Giants 50k race dates way back to 1990. This year’s winners were Nicole McManus and Gary Gellin in 4:41 and 3:45, respectively. Gellin won by 36 seconds over Steven Waite. Full results.
Worlds End Ultramarathon
What a name, the Worlds End Ultramarathon! The race takes place in the Worlds End State Park in Pennsylvania, leading to its name. Kristina Folcik won the 100k in new course-record time. Can anyone share details of the men’s race? Full results (when available).
Kettle Moraine 100 Mile
In Wisconsin, Kelly Teeselink and Travis Shields led the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile. The pair of frontrunners ran 21:12 and 18:26. In the 100k race, it was Mika Thewes and Cory Logsdon, victorious in 11:48 and 9:13, respectively. Full results.
Bob Graham Round
Ryan Smith hit the famed England Lake District circuit for a Bob Graham Round. His 14:17 finish is, unofficially, the second-fastest ever on the famed fell running loop.
Mt. Baker Ultramarathon
The inaugural Mt. Baker Ultramarathon brought back the country’s oldest mountain race, last run in 1913 from downtown Bellingham, Washington. Due to permitting, this year’s race was a 50 mile out and back from Concrete, Washington (elevation 276 feet) to Sherman Peak (elevation 10,160 feet) on Mt. Baker. The final three miles to the turnaround and back was snow and glacier travel. The race started at midnight on Saturday. Despite near perfect weather, an early creek crossing proved too dangerous to cross. Search and rescue crews were dispatched to ferry runners across the creek. The race restarted from this spot at 3 am. Scarlett Graham topped the women’s field and was second overall, finishing unofficially at 3:09 PM, according to “spot live” tracking. This was Graham’s second 50 miler after her second-place finish at last year’s Squamish 50 Mile. Piotr Chadovich was the overall winner, finishing unofficially at 2:48 PM.
Next Weekend – IAU Trail World Championships
This year’s IAU Trail World Championships will take place on the Trail Sacred Forests 50k race course in Badia Prataglia, Italy. After two years’ worth of 80k courses, this year’s shorter course and its 3,000 meters of climb should favor shorter-distance ultra specialists who run well in steep hills. As it has been for the last several years, both the women’s and men’s races are stacked.
For the women, it looks like Spain’s Azara García and Gemma Arenas should challenge for the win–they are back after finishing second and fifth last year. The USA’s Megan Roche will be in contention for the individual gold medal, too. This year, France is bringing a passel of lesser-known, shorter-distance specialists, and we think a couple of them have individual podium potential. Watch out, too, for Ragna Debats (Netherlands) and Nathalie Mauclair (France), who were third and fourth last year, though both tend to specialize at longer distances. The women’s team race looks like it’ll be close race between Teams Spain and France for the win, and Team USA has a solid chance for the women’s team podium, too.
In the men’s race, 2016 and 2015 IAU Trail World Champions Luis Alberto Hernando and Sylvain Court are back to race. French trail phenom Nicolas Martin should challenge for the podium as well as in in-form Marco De Gasperi (Italy). The U.S.’s best hope for an individual podium performance is probably Hayden Hawks. There are about a dozen other men who are potential podium finishers and who’ll play chase in the men’s individual race. The men’s team race looks like its favoring Team France for the gold medal, and like Teams Spain and USA both have a chance for a silver medal.
iRunFar will be on site to cover the race live, and we’ve published our in-depth men’s and women’s previews.
Call for Comments
We covered a lot, but what other races happened this past weekend? Leave a comment to share more race results with the community. Thanks!