For many, racing is at the heart of the trail running experience—not just PR’s and finishing times, but the camaraderie forged by a few hours in the woods, the support of strangers-turned-friends and the satisfaction of reaching beyond your limits.
The Trail Runner Trophy Series, presented by Altra Running is designed to celebrate trail racing culture, with a healthy dose of friendly competition.
The 2017 series kicked off in March, with races in Virginia, Tennessee, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and more. Though it’s still early in the season, we do have some emerging front-runners.
This week, we are highlighting Dan Riefenber, 34, of Chicago, Illinois, who leads the ultra-distance category for men. Riefenberg found trail running just last year after a disappointing season of road running left him just shy of a Boston Marathon qualifier. “I had maxed out my marathon speed, and wanted another challenge,” he says. “So I signed up for the Kettle 100K.”
He did his first trail run a week before the race, and wound up finishing in eighth place.
“I figured I had something going there,” he says.
This year, he is starting out with a bang: back-to-back races at the Land Between the Lakes 50 on March 11 and Lake Martin 100 on March 18.
“I signed up the Wednesday before the race,” he says of the Lake Martin 100. “It was my first 100 mile race with no support crew or pacers.”
The Lake Martin 100 was a rainy affair this year, which made for slick running—but also conveniently kept the heat at bay. Riefenberg started the day with the goal of simply running under 24 hours, so he was somewhat surprised when he came into the mile-19 aid station and learned that he was in first place.
“I didn’t think much of being in first place,” said Riefenberg, who had never won a race before. He continued on to the second loop, then the third.
When he entered the mile 87 aid station far ahead of the other runners, he realized he had a comfortable lead.
“There was no one in sight for second place,” he says. ” I decided to power hike the remainder and play it safe in the darkness.”
He ultimately ran to a first place finish in 21 hours 13 minutes, a 100-mile PR and his first first-place finish.
As for the rest of the season, Riefenberg is looking forward to re-testing himself at the Kettle 100K in June. In October, he plans to run the Hennepin Hundred and Chicago Marathon in a single weekend, to raise money for a former running partner who was recently diagnosed with ALS.
“The challenge of 100-mile races intrigue me,” he says. “Each one is a different journey. The [Trophy Series] races cater to a more local community. I love getting to learn about the trail and enjoy the scenery.”
Current Trophy Series Standings as of April 10, 2017
Dan Reifenberg, Fox River Grove, IL, 450 points, 2 races.
Brandon Benefield, Spokane WA, 400 points, 1 race.
Tie: Evgeny Sotnikov, Victoria BC, 300 points, 1 race / Trey Clark, Prattville AL 36067, 300 points, 1 race.
Tie: Jess Mullen, Seattle, WA, 400 points, 1 race / Elaine Stypula, St Clair Shores MI, 400 points, 1 race.
Tie: Van Phan, Maple Valley WA, 300 points, 1 race / Helen Summerford, Ridgeland MS, 300 points, 1 race.
Tie: Anne Crispino Tayler, Portland OR, 200 points, 1 race / Leah Ling, Durham NC, 200 points, 1 race / Dena Carr, Montgomery AL, 200 points, 1 race / Donna Loparo, Winter Springs FL, 200 points, 1 race / Cathy Downes, Evansville IN, 200 points, 1 race.
10-19 Drake Fertig, Eleanor WV, 62 points, 1 race.
20-29 Tie: Benjamin Gee, Suffield CT, 62 points, 1 race / Jared Rock, Buckhannon WV, 62 points, 1 race.
30-39 Luke Bosek, Vienna VA, 62 points, 1 race.
40-49 Dale Reicheneder, Malibu CA, 129.4 points, 4 races.
50-59 Bill Markunas, Mt Signey VA, 62 points, 1 race.
60+ Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, 80.2 points, 3 races.
10-19 Tie: Keely Holland, Ceredo WV, 62 points, 1 race / Haley Stern, North Garden VA, 62 points, 1 race.
20-29 Tie: Molly White, Winfield WV, 62 points, 1 race / Diana Banks, Lexington VA, 62 points, 1 race.
30-39 Tie: Michelle Foster, Hurricane WV, 62 points, 1 race / Patty Legrand, 62 points, 1 race.
40-59 Samantha Weaver, Jersey Shore PA, 74.4 points, 3 races.
50-59 Tie: Fely Castillo, Winfield WV, 62 points / Sandy Williams, Charlottesville VA, 62 points, 1 race.
60+ Karen Conger, Evansville IL, 57 points, 1 race, [email protected]
Run Most Races
Dale Reicheneder, Malibu CA, 45.42 miles, 4 races.
Second – Samantha Weaver, Jersey Shore PA and Gerald Bailey, Glencoe KY, both 3 races
Run most miles
Dan Reifenberg, Fox River Grove, IL, 150 actual miles, 2 races.
Second – Matt Campbell, Redmond WA, 131 miles.
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, [email protected]
For questions about the Trophy Series, please consult our Trophy Series page, or email us at [email protected]