Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Elites Complete For $10k Grand Prize in The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship This Saturday

$10k each to the male and female winner - the largest prize ever in ultrarunning - at the North Face Endurance Challenge at the Marin Headlands this weekend. Quite a roster of runners! Check out the press release below.

- SD

Elite Endurance Athletes Brace for The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship

World’s top long-distance runners vie for biggest prize purse in trail ultrarunning

San Leandro, CA, November 26, 2007— The North Face Endurance Challenge, a four-region, nationwide running event for outdoor athletes seeking to explore their personal limits, culminates in grand fashion on the Pacific shores north of San Francisco on December 1, 2007. The event, which offers distances of 10K, Half Marathon, 50K, and 50 Miles, is also the series’ championship event, where 50-mile participants will compete for the largest prize purse in trail ultrarunning. The male and female winners will each receive $10,000.

Many of the world’s most elite endurance runners have registered for the event in hopes of going home with the big prize. The entrant list is highlighted by several members of The North Face Endurance Team as well as many other legends of the sport that have never competed toe-to-toe.

Devon Crosby-Helms (San Francisco, CA)
Crosby-Helms, 24, has quickly established herself as one of the up-and-coming elite female endurance runners in the country. In March 2007, she won the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon with a time of 2:52:49. She is also a member of the U.S. Women’s National 100K Team, having finishing 15th overall at the 2007 World 100K Championships in September.

Susie Gray Dyck (Ankeny, IA)
Dyck arrives at this weekend’s Endurance Challenge championship courtesy of her impressive win at the September 1 Des Moines race, where she credits positive energy—and pacing from her dad—for delivering a win in her first-ever ultramarathon. Her time of 8:10:10 was 45 minutes faster than that of her closest competitor.

Elizabeth Hawker (Chester, United Kingdom)
A member of The North Face Endurance Team in Europe, Hawker arrives at the Endurance Challenge Championship just two months after registering a record run from Mount Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu – a distance of 188 miles with over 32,000 feet of climbing and 46,000 feet of descent which she covered in three days, two hours, and 35 minutes. Sporting a unique blend of mountain durability and road-running legspeed, “Lizzy” won gold at the 2006 100K World Championships in Korea and is a past champion of The North Face Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc, widely considered the most difficult and prized mountain endurance title on the continent.

Justine Morrison (Washington, DC)
Morrison, 27, is still a relative newcomer to endurance running, but had an attention-grabbing, breakthrough win in the August 4 Washington DC Endurance Challenge when she finished with a time of 8:32:20. Morrison registered a strong sixth-place showing at the Mountain Masochist 50 (Lynchburg, VA) on November 3 in what appeared to be a warm-up for the Challenge Championship.

Kami Semick (Bend, OR)
Semick, a member of The North Face Endurance Team, headlines one of the most competitive women’s endurance race fields in some time. She has had remarkable success racing on the trails where the Endurance Challenge championship takes place; in 2007, she won the prestigious Miwok 100K here, and she also took the 2006 Headlands 50K USATF Trail Championship. She enters this weekend’s race after winning the October 6 Endurance Challenge 50K (Seattle) and the November 4 San Jose Marathon with a time of 2:55:28.

Jenn Shelton (Virginia Beach, VA)
At 23 years old, Shelton is more than one of the future stars of endurance running – she is a current star. In 2006, she won the Lynchburg (VA) Ultra Series, a circuit of three tough 50K and 50-mile mountain races. Also in 2006, she placed second in the highly competitive Mountain Masochist 50 (Lynchburg, VA), clocking an astounding time of 7:57.

Caren Spore (Davis, CA)
Spore, 39, brings legspeed and a bevy of experience to The North Face Endurance challenge Championship. Locally, she has won two consecutive Dick Collins 50 Milers (Oakland, CA) as well as the very burly Ohlone 50K Wilderness Run (in course record time). In 2007, she was a very close third at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.

Diane Van Deren (Sedalia, CO)
Van Deren, who is a member of The North Face Endurance Team, clicked off a streak of impressive ultramarathon wins on her way to the 2007 Trail Runner Trophy Series Ultra Title. She won the Dances with Dirt 50 Miler (Hell, MI), McNaughton Park 150 (IL), and the 24 Hours of Frisco (CO), where she registered a record 114 miles on high altitude trail along the way. The 10,000+ of vertical climbing on the Endurance Challenge course will play to Van Deren’s strengths, as she trains and races regularly in the rugged Rocky Mountains.

Matt Carpenter (Manitou Springs, CO)
Matt Carpenter casts a long shadow over every race in which he toes the line. The 43-year-old has claimed titles in some of the world’s most prestigious off-road running events, ranging in distance from 10K to 100 miles. In 2005, he demolished the Leadville Trail 100 course record with a time of 15:42:59—90 minutes better than the previous record. Also, Carpenter owns the course record and has won eight times at the Pikes Peak Marathon, a beyond-grueling event which climbs 7,815 feet to the top of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak before descending another 13 bone-crunching miles. He also has the record for the Pikes Peak Ascent—a race which he has won a record six times.

William Emerson
(Portland, OR)
Emerson, 44, is a past champion at the Quad Dipsea, a 28.4-mile run on some of the same trails covered in The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship. He is the recipient of multiple USATF Masters Ultrarunner of the Year Awards and in 2004 won an amazing 18 ultramarathons.

Karl Gilpin (Russellville, MO)
A newcomer to the sport of endurance running, Gilpin won the Endurance Challenge 50 in Des Moines, Iowa, by averaging a 6:47-per-mile pace. Iowa was his first-ever attempt at the ultra distance, but his pedigree indicates he could be a diamond in the rough. Gilpin, 28, was a former Division II All-American cross-country runner.

Phil Kochik (Seattle, WA)
Kochik nipped at the heels of Uli Steidl (see below) during the October 6 Endurance Challenge and promises to be right near the front of the pack again on December 1. He owns the very fast course record at the Rainier-to-Ruston 50-mile ultramarathon (6:19, set in 2006) and placed fifth at the 2007 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (17:26). No stranger to the 50-mile distance, Kochik won the USATF 50-Mile Trail Championship in 2005 when he ran 6:58 on a very difficult mountain course in Crystal Mountain, WA.

Hal Koerner (Ashland, OR)
Koerner comes into the Endurance Challenge Championship after claiming one of the sport’s most prestigious and sacred titles: in June, he beat out a deep, elite field to win the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Koerner’s record also includes a win at the 2006 Angeles Crest 100-Miler and five victories and a course record at The Bear 100 in Idaho’s rugged backcountry.

Joe Kulak. (Oreland, PA)
Kulak, who runs on The North Face Endurance Team, has completed the grueling Leadville Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run in high-altitude Colorado 11 times. A past Trail Runner Magazine Trail Runner of the Year, he owns the speed record for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, having completed the nation’s four most renowned 100-mile races (Western States 100, Vermont 100, Wasatch Front 100, Leadville Trail 100) in the same summer in a cumulative time of 75 hours and seven minutes.

Guillermo Medina. (Solvang, CA)
A member of The North Face Endurance Team, Medina has won many ultramarathons covering distances up to 100 miles. In 2005, he was the winner of the Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run in southern California and is a perennial top-three finisher at the nation’s toughest endurance races.

Leigh Schmitt (Conway, MA)
Schmitt comes to The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship by way of winning the August 4 50-Mile Endurance Challenge in Washington, DC, with a blazing time of 6:59:34. Schmitt owns course records at the Vermont 50, Vermont 100, Jay Challenge Marathon (VT), and Finger Lakes 50 (NY).

Uli Steidl (Shoreline, WA)
Steidl, who received a trip to The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship by winning the Endurance Challenge 50-mile race in Seattle on October 6, excels at a wide range of distances. He’s run in the World Cross Country Championships and notched 13 sub-2:20 marathons—a distinction that places him among the world’s most elite runners. At the ultramarathon distance, he has been unbeatable—literally. He has won every 50K and 50-mile trail ultramarathon he has ever entered, breaking course records in all but two of them.

Sam Thompson (Seattle, WA)
Thompson is widely considered one of the sport’s up-and-comers and has exhibited remarkable durability and resilience in notching top finishes at the country’s toughest ultramarathons in 2007. In 2006, Thompson shuttled throughout the country while completing 51 marathons in 51 days in 50 states, plus Washington, DC.

Results to The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship, plus the other three distances offered by the event (10K, Half Marathon, and 50K), will be posted at www.thenorthface.com/endurancechallenge by Monday, December 3, 2007.

Dates and locations for The North Face Endurance Challenge 2008 events will appear on the website later in December 2007.


  1. Wow. Each and every race has its drama, but this has all the makings to be the ultra smackdown of the year...decade? If ever there was going to be a race with full media coverage, this would be it. Can't wait to read the race reports coming out of this one.


  2. That is quite a field, and should make for a fun and exciting race, but I didn't see your bio up there Scott?!?

    Since I didn't see your name registered for the Woodside 50K, I figured you would be runnin for the money up in Marin this weekend...or are you pulling volunteer duty at your driveway aid station?

  3. Its going to be a really interesting race. I can't wait to watch it go down first hand! It seems like everyone is putting their money on Carpenter. I think Uli will be the one to beat though.
    I'll be thrilled just to even crack the top 10!!
    Rod Bien

  4. Wow! For once, the biggest ultrarunning event in Northern California on the first Saturday in December won't be the Western States lottery.

    Running a smart race won't work at this one; to win, someone is just going to have to run out of their mind from the gun.

  5. I'm certainly not fast enough for this race! Uli is amazing - I think he's the one to beat.

    I'm hoping to volunteer at the Woodside 50k this weekend, and am taking a rest from running. SB9T really sucked the life out of my legs - tough course!


  6. Kami and Jen, and Uli/Matt. My pick for the battles:)

  7. My money's on Carpenter. Uli will battle hard but I can't see old 93vo2max man going down in this one. He's just too tough. Plus the course is just technical enough to challenge Uli and play into Matt's San Juan Solstice style power.

    Glad I'm sitting here in the snow getting fat!


  8. Shame on you Northern California for your over-abundance of trail running related activities.

    Curse you Western States Lottery,
    damn you PCTR and your scenic Woodside Trail Run and I spit in your (North) Face for scheduling an Endurance Championship on top of it all.

    - Paul

  9. Andy's right; Matt will win. Even though Uli is insanely talented, Matt has a laser focus when it comes to preparing for a race. If he shows up, he's ready and will kill it. Also, even though his marathon PR is 2:19 from many, many years ago, he was capable of much faster and is somehow not slowing down with age...he just broke his own course record at the Barr Trail Mountain Race this summer, which has been around for 7 years. It's really hard for me to bet against him. And, he's just way too strong on hills. Obviously.


  10. Matt trounced Uli here in CO (Pikes Peak a few years ago), but I think 50 miles at sea level is more Uli's bag. If the course is where I think it is (Miwok and Dipsea area?), the trails really aren't very technical but the hills tend to be shorter and steeper than in Colorado. I also think having more experience at 50 miles will help Uli. Should be a great race and I would not be surprised to see 3rd place a full 30-45 minutes back.

  11. Uli takes it. Gotta go with speed (him) over strength (Matt) when NOT at altitude. I bet Jen Shelton runs well. How can her bio not mention the fastest ever womens 100 mile trail run in history by over an hour (RR THIS year!)

  12. I think Jenn will do really well, too. She's been flying below most people's radar the last couple years, but since she moved to Bend, OR this summer I think she'll gain more trail experience (all of her training used to be almost exclusively on flat paved roads in Virginia Beach) and that combined with her short speed(she's run a 2:53 marathon and 35:30 10K this year) will do some real damage in the coming seasons--including this weekend.

  13. You can find an interview with Uli Steidl (the winner) here.



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