This Week In Running: March 28, 2016

This Week in Running Justin Mock TWIRThe Easter holiday thinned the weekend race volume, but next week’s card is full with events like the American River 50 Mile and the Gorge Waterfalls 100k both previewed, among other highlights, in this week’s column.

Elk Mountains Grand Traverse – Crested Butte, Colorado

Heavy snow and the potential for avalanches forced a course reroute. Instead of the typical Crested Butte to Aspen point-to-point route, which mimics an historical mail route, this year’s “Grand Reverse” both started and finished in Crested Butte. The revised course still approximated the customary 40 miles.

Aspen-based skiers Max Taam and John Gaston were unbeatable, skiing to a 6:30 finish in what was the race’s 19th edition. The duo also won last month’s Power of Four ski mountaineering race.

Max Taam and John Gasto - 2016 Grand Traverse

Max Taam and John Gasto after their win. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse.

No disrespect intended to Taam and Gaston, but in following ski mountaineering to a greater degree this year, I’ve often wondered how supposed world-best Kilian Jornet would do in these increasingly popular (among ultrarunners) Colorado competitions. Though the races likely are very different, Taam and Gaston actually raced in Europe at the Pierra Menta competition in mid-March. Taam and Gaston finished 15th in the four-day race, almost two hours behind Jornet’s winning team.

Marshall Thomson and Rob Krar were second for the second year in a row, finishing in 6:40.Brothers Ben and Nils Koons were third in 6:55. The two Kiwis skied using nordic gear rather than using faster ski mountaineering equipment. They both skied for Dartmouth and their previous adventures include a 4,000-kilometer cycling trip around Tibet.

Joe Grant and David Glennon skied to a strong fifth-place finish in 7:25.

2015 race winners Paul Hamilton and Scott Simmons did not compete in consideration of their recent winter ski completion of the Hardrock 100 course.

Lindsay Plant and Jessie Young won the women’s race in 7:46, three minutes ahead of runner-ups Nikki LaRochelle and Eva Hagen. Like men’s winners Taam and Gaston, Plant and Young, too, were a part of the 2015 national team.

Stevie Kremer raced alongside Jari Kirkland, also a 2015 national team member, to finish third in 8:05. It appears that Megan Kimmel was part of the fourth-place team, finishing in 8:25.

In the coed race, Kristi Knecht and Brian Tinder were victorious in 8:38. The duo also won the Power of Four race earlier this year.

Full results.

Other Races and Runs

Over in South Africa, Mike Fokoroni of Zimbabwe won the 56-kilometer Two Oceans Marathon in 3:13:33. South Africa’s Caroline Wöstmann defended her women’s title in a time of 3:44:44. Former South African and, then, American Olympian Colleen De Reuck made her ultra debut placing fifth woman in 3:53:07.

Gabe Wishnie and Cate Airoldi won the Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile race in Washington state, finishing in 19:16 and 22:01, respectively. Adam Harris won the accompanying 50 miler in just over 8 hours (8:00:16), while Kandice Marks won the women’s race in 9:32:35. [50 Mile corrected. Thanks, Ryan.] Full results.

The sixth annual White Mountains 100 Mile race got underway on Sunday outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Racers can compete on foot, by bike, or on skis. It appears that just 13 athletes took up the foot challenge and 18 miles in, Christof Teuscher was the early leader. Live tracking of the race is available.

Despite several injuries and setbacks, Adam Kimble‘s crossing of the U.S. is still underway. On March 25, Kimble was in Louisiana on his trip east. Kimble is presently targeting an April 7 finish in Georgia. He started the run on February 15.

Next Weekend – American River 50 Mile – Folsom, California

The point-to-point, part bike path, part trail race remains one of America’s largest ultramarathons. Last year’s race had 633 finishers. A small group of top-level men and women will compete for the win.

Men

  • Christopher Denucci — 9th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Matthew Morales — 2nd at 2014 American River 50 Mile
  • Ian Sharman — 1st at 2016 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
  • Christopher Wehan — 3rd at 2015 Miwok 100k
  • Coree Woltering — 4th at 2015 Leadville 50 Mile
Women
  • Jenny Capel — 16th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Nikki Kimball — 1st at 2015 Chimera 100 Mile
  • Devon Yanko — 1st at 2015 Javelina Jundred

Next Weekend – Gorge Waterfalls 100k – Cascade Locks, Washington

The Western States Endurance Run field is nearly complete. The Gorge Waterfalls 100k is the fifth of six Golden Ticket races and will deliver two more men, and two more women, onto the start line in Squaw Valley in June.
Men
Ben Stern is the top returning man to this year’s race, and he won’t be an unknown on the starting line this year. Since finishing third in 2015, Stern has since won the 2015 Miwok 100k and, earlier this year, was fourth at the 2016 Black Canyon 100kRyan Smith, 2015 winner of the Sean O’Brien 100k, is perhaps the other chief favorite, though the group will be joined by a long list of others.
  • Derek Blain — 1st at 2015 Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile
  • Gary Gellin — 10th at 2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Ryan Ghelfi — 10th at 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships
  • Jake Hegge — 1st at 2015 Superior 100 Mile
  • Alex Ho — 1st at 2016 Marin Ultra Challenge 50k
  • Jeremy Humphrey — 1st at 2014 River of No Return 100k
  • Dominick Layfield — 3rd at 2016 Georgia Death Race
  • Chris Mocko — 8th at 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Ford Smith — 12th at 2016 Tarawera Ultras 100k
  • Ryan Smith — 1st at 2015 Sean O’Brien 100k
  • Ben Stern — 3rd at 2015 Gorge Waterfalls 100k

Though registered, 2015 race winner Justin Houck will not start the race as he works to overcome  a double stress fracture.

Women
Expect to see Larisa Dannis and Ashley Erba up front in the women’s race. Dannis was third at December’s The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships, and after a strong early 2015, Erba is healthy and ready to return to racing. 3/27 UPDATE: Larisa won’t be running as she eases herself back into racing after returning from injury. [Thanks, David!]

“The trouble with healing up for me was that it wasn’t just an acute injury I was battling. I was working to heal what was directly injured while also fixing the imbalances, misalignments, and serious lack of flexibility which had all been contributors,” Erba, age 20, explained. “It wasn’t easy, but I think I finally have a handle on how I can prevent future issues in said areas. Though I do feel I’m healed, I will admit I haven’t been able to put in the running volume I would have liked this winter, so I’m well aware that some parts of my body will be a little shocked when I ask them to race a 100k!”

Last year in her 50-mile debut, Erba was third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. She turned down a qualifier to Western States, but said that won’t be the case this year, should she again earn a qualifier. “Last year I was brand new to ultras and coming off years of iffy running health at best. While the winter certainly hasn’t had the perfect training build up, I feel that with the experience and knowledge I’ve gained in the past year, I could toe the line at Western States ready to race rather than just hope to survive.”

The winter training has been mixed as she’s spent the past several months skiing and cross training in Ketchum, Idaho. “I love exploring and adventuring in new places, but an integral part of fully enjoying those endeavors is having a ‘home base’ to always come back to,” she said of her plans to return to Boulder, Colorado after this race.

Likely joining Dannis and Erba in the podium chase will be:

  • Jodee Adams-Moore — 4th at 2015 Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon
  • Amanda Basham — 10th at 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile
  • Tara Berry — 1st at 2015 Deception Pass 50k
  • Larisa Dannis — 3rd at 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile
  • Ashley Erba — 3rd at 2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Keely Henninger — 1st at 2016 Black Canyon 60k
  • Silke Koester — 1st at 2015 Bighorn 100 Mile
  • Corinne Malcolm — 5th at 2016 Chuckanut 50k
  • Darcy Piceu –– 2nd at 2015 Hardrock 100 Mile
  • Lisa Polizzi –– 7th at 2015 Squamish 50k
  • Angela Shartel — 1st at 2015 The Bear 100 Mile 3/27 Update: Ang Shartel has withdrawn for more recovery after Transgrancanaria.
  • Pam Smith — 1st at 2016 Hagg Lake 50k
  • Alicia Woodside — 4th at 2015 Gorge Waterfalls 100k

Next Weekend – The Barkley Marathons – Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee

What adventurers are part of the select few to take part in this year’s five-lap sufferfest, and which holds the best chance to finish the fun run, and the full 100-mile-plus distance?

Call for Comments

The San Francisco 100 Mile (results now available) and West Virginia’s Haulin’ in the Holler 50k were among the race’s we couldn’t locate results for this week. Readers, please fill us in on these results, and any other racing action from this weekend.

Justin Mock

is a family man, finance man, and former competitive runner. He gave his 20s to running, and ran as fast as 2:29 for the marathon and finished as high as fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. His running is now most happy with his two dogs on the trails and peaks near his home west of Denver.