Eric had both Scott Wolfe and Lewis Taylor on his tail, two great runners from my hometown of Eugene, OR. Eric and Scott paced together all the way to Beal's Point (27.4 miles) before Eric surged to the win, and Scott finished second (6:29:35). Lewis paced with Mark Lantz all the way to Rattlesnake (39.9 miles) before turning on the afterburners and racing to third place (6:31:41). Lewis won the Way Too Cool 50k just four weeks ago, so that's two top finishes in the Montrail Ultra Cup. Nice work, Lewis! Way to put the heat on Phil Kochik. ;-) Scott Wolfe has clearly healed from his injuries that knocked him out of last year's Western States, and is leveraging Eugene's damp winter climate to train well for tough conditions. Mark Lantz finished fourth in 6:41:33 (also a Master's Division win), with Mexico's Osvaldo Lopez (6:45:08) and Mark Tanaka (6:51:28) also finishing under 7 hours.
Reno, NV-based powerhouse Jenny Capel battled headwinds and a slippery slope to finish 10th overall and win the Women's Division. I watched Jenny power through the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile in 2005, setting a women's 9:00:17 course record that still stands. She is serious talent. As are Tera Dube (7:22:22) and Caren Spore (7:24:53) who dueled with Suzie Lister (7:25:13, for a Women's Masters win). for the hotly contested 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place, respectively.
A shout out to Turlock, CA's Tim Quinn who gracefully entered the 60-69 age group this year with an age group win at the American River 50!
Much like the Boston Marathon I just finished, when the weather sucks, the day belongs to the volunteers and supporters. They are the real endurance athletes for sure, and they're out there when we need them most. AR50 Race Director Greg Soderlund had this summary for me:
"Wet and cold pretty much sums up AR this year. Rained all day. While it's tough to run in the cold and rain, it's even tougher for the volunteers tending to all the runners at the aid stations. We're very blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers along with Wayne Miles and Mike Saling managing all the aid stations, the start and the finish line. As I have said before - - anyone can finish a 50 on a good day, it's takes a very tough person to finish a 50 when the conditions are less than ideal. 496 starters, 477 finishers, 96% finish rate."96% finishing rate? Damn straight. Congrats to all the runners, volunteers, and supporters who braved Mother Nature to make the AR50 (and Boston) races to remember.
Here's one more article with interviews with Eric Skaden, Tim Tweitmeyer (7th in 7 hours - what is this, like his 23rd AR50 or something?), and Mark Lantz.