The Trail Runner Trophy Series, presented by Altra Running, is a points-based, season-long series of more than 200 trail races around the country. This year’s Trophy Series has two grand prizes: the runner with the most miles at season’s end will win a trail-running tour beginning in Chamonix, France, led by Run the Alps, and the runner who finishes the most races will end up on the cover of an issue of Trail Runner.
With the series in full swing, here are some of the latest stories from the last couple weeks. Jeff Lynn, 48, of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, is still in the lead to be our cover model with six races. The race to win that dream vacation in the Alps continues to be neck-and-neck, with three runners tied at 181 miles!
Valles Caldera Runs: June 18, Los Alamos New Mexico
The Valles Caldera Marathon has been in the national news a lot lately. It was the site of a terrifying bear attack on 53-year-old Karen Williams, who had nearly finished the marathon when she topped a hill to find herself face-to-face with a mother black bear. Fortunately, Williams, a nurse, knew how to behave when bears get aggressive, so she curled into a ball and played dead as the bear shook her, clawed at her and bit her. Eventually, the bear lost interest and left Williams, alive but with several deep gashes and a broken orbital bone in her eye. Other runners soon discovered Williams and she was taken to a nearby hospital. She will recover from her injuries, but the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game did have to track down and euthanize the mother bear in order to test her for rabies. Her two cubs were eventually found, rescued and taken to a veterinarian, and will be returned to the wild.
“I was just being an ultrarunner, and she was just being a bear,” Williams told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “It was unfortunate that we met.”
Burton Creek Trail Run: June 19, Tahoe City, California
Local activities company Big Blue Adventure put on a 6K, 12K and half-marathon on Father’s Day that showcased Lake Tahoe’s ideal running weather, summer wildflowers and wildlife with both bear and bobcat sightings. Even without the usual 50K, the three distances—as well as the post-race barbecue—attracted over 200 runners.
Black Hills 100: June 24-26, Sturgis, South Dakota
This year’s Black Hills 100 broke records of every kind: men’s and women’s 30K and women’s 50-mile, with a temperature record to boot. The 100-mile on June 24 hovered around the upper 90s, and only one racer finished under 24 hours.
“Michael Jimenez took the lead between miles 29 and 36 and never let it go,” says race director Chris Stores. “He placed seventh at Badwater last year, so he’s run well in heat before.”
Saturday’s temperatures dropped, which allowed for much faster 50-mile and 30K races. Men’s 30K winner Jon Kuehler had dropped from the 100-mile the day before after 29 miles and asked race directors if he could come back for the next day’s race. He proceeded to a course record. Returning victor Tanja Cutting won the women’s 30K in a 10-minute improvement, and the women’s 50-mile was especially impressive, with both winner Kristina Hein and runner-up Erin Walter crushing the previous course record by over an hour.
Taylor Mountain Trail Run: June 25, Issaquah, Washington
In true Pacific Northwest fashion, the Taylor Mountain Trail Run began with a creek crossing and continued through 13.1 miles of mud. But the tough conditions didn’t dampen the racing spirit. Ian Fay, a senior at Cedarcrest High School who’d never run a half-marathon before, took the victory in 1:28:27.
The 17-year-old had never run more than 12 miles, but he’s been tracking his mileage since he was in the first grade. A half was a big jump from the 5Ks and 1600-meter races that are his specialties at Cedarcrest (for whom he’s competed at the Washington State meet every year of his career so far) but he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
“I thought it was much easier than my usual 5K because I could cruise at an easier pace. And I liked the hills—if the course was flat, I might not have done so well.”
Fay already has another half planned as preparation for his second running of the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay, which will run from Blaine to Langley, Washington, on July 15 and 16.
Wildcat Mountain Trail Race: June 26, Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire
The third Wildcat Mountain race showed just how unpredictable weather around Mt. Washington can be. After last year’s two inches of rain and temperatures in the 30s, this year couldn’t have been more different with 85-degree dry heat.
“It’s famously some of the worst weather in the world,” says race director Bruce Hurley. “But runners quickly found the Peabody River next to the finish line to cool off in.”
Race volunteers and spectators were shuttled to the summit of Wildcat Mountain and one of the Northeast’s best mountain views, only to wait through a delay caused by a nearby ATV convention. But a late start didn’t keep runners from hitting the trails even after the gun went off, including competitors in Wildcat Mountain’s first team category.
Trophy Series Standings (as of June 22, 2016)
Age Group Standings –Female
10-19: Elizabeth Shaffer, Jersey Shore PA, 13, 3 races,43.8 miles, 158 points
20-29: Cheyenne Albert, Morrisdale PA, 26, 6 races, 85.5 miles, 285.1 points
30-39: Saige Ballock-Dixon, Idaho Falls ID, 34, 2 races, 37.2 miles, 148.8 points
40-49: Meira Minard, State College PA, 42, 4 races, 59.3 miles, 237.7 points
50-59: Rebecca Whitesell, Bellefonte PA, 54, 4 races, 59.3 miles, 223.7 points
60+: Jane Kone, Howard PA, 62, 6 races, 77.4 miles, 260.5 points
Age Group Standings – Male
10-19: Nathan Bonham, Westfield PA, 19, 4 races, 93.4 miles, 173.6 points
20-29: Matt Lipsey, Kersey PA, 26, 6 races, 85.42 miles, 328.66 points
30-39: Adam Russell, Rome PA, 37, 6 races, 109.84 miles, 211.2 points
40-49: John Johnson, Ulster PA, 43, 4 races, 59.3 miles, 223.7 points
50-59: Jeff Smucker, Centre Hall PA, 50, 4 races, 59.3 miles, 237.2 points
60+: Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, 64, 5 races, 74.36 miles, 196.14 points
Ultra Standings – Female
Karen Jackson, Santee SC, 46, 1 race, 140.6 miles, 562.4 points
Allison Miles, Talladega AL, 47, 2 races, 151.4 miles, 505.78 points
Lisa Grippe, Lawrence GA, 53, 2 races, 126.2 miles, 426.2 points
Ultra Standings – Male
Nathan Dewey, Mt Pleasant SC, 33, 1 race, 140.6 miles, 562.4 points
Gabe Wishnie, Redmond WA, 33, 2 races, 162 miles, 524 points
Andy Kwan, Houston TX, 38, 2 races, 150 miles, 450 points
Jeff Lynn, Slippery Rock PA, 48, 6 races
3 tied at 181
Trophy Series presenting sponsor Altra Running is a leading trail-running shoe brand. Based in Utah, Altra’s running-shoe innovations—including a cushioned Zero Drop shoe and a foot-shaped toe box—are born from long hard runs in the nearby Wasatch Mountains.Follow @AltraRunning and #ZeroLimits on Twitter,Instagram and Facebook. PR Contact: Colleen Logan, VP Marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Run the Alps offers a variety of guided and self-guided trail-running trips throughout the Alps, for all abilities. Founder Doug Mayer is also a contributing editor at Trail Runner; you can read a few of his stories about running in Switzerland here and here. More information is available at their website: www.runthealps.com.