LAUREL SPRINGS, N.C. -- The runners at the USATF 10 km Trail Championships enjoyed beautiful weather and views as they tackled the challenging course. The race took place at Laurel Ridge Camp and Conference Center in Laurel Springs, NC, right on the Eastern Continental Divide. The course provides runners with a mixture of challenges as the terrain is constantly changing. From the start on top of the mountain, runners are continually descending then climbing all the way to the final ¼ mile climb at 22% up to the finish. Fast times on the course require both speed on the smoother trails as well as technical ability on the singletrack sections. The soft conditions from recent rains added to the challenge for 2014 version. This year an even 100 runners took on the mountain with many excellent performances.
David Roche (Sunnyvale, CA) repeated his National Championship from 2012. He started off the race at a blistering 4:15 pace, trying to open up a gap on the other runners. A large group followed closely for awhile, but they were soon left strewn in his wake. Despite turning his ankle and falling twice, Roche ran away from the field early and ran most of the race solo, with a fine finishing time of 42:43. Mario Mendoza (Bend, OR), defending champion from 2013, finished in the runner-up position this year in 44:48, improving his time from last year. Jason Bryant (Elkin, NC) secured his 11th 3rd place finish in a USATF Mountain-Ultra-Trail championship with a time of 45:58. He was also the first 40+ Master’s runner and the first NC USATF finisher, beating out many runners in their 20s and 30s.
Megan Roche (Sunnyvale, CA) won her first National Championship, running from the front as the male winner did, to finish in a time of 48:59. You may have noticed that the male and female champions share the same last name. They are newlyweds, celebrating their honeymoon with a trip to NC to run in the USA 10Km Trail Championships. They will also be travelling together to Italy next month to compete for the USA in the World Mountain Running Championships. Expect to see more from this new power couple of mountain/trail running! Dominique Stassuli (Lillington, NC) took second place in 55:47 and Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, TX) was the third USATF finisher and first 40+ Masters finisher in 57:30. Lorraine Young (Raleigh, NC) was the top NC USATF and top NC USATF Masters finisher.
The competition was also intense in the USATF age groups. The men’s 65-69 age group had 6 runners competing for USATF medals. Joyce Hodges-Hite (Millen, GA), now 77 years old, secured her 5th 70+ USA 10km Trail Championship age group title. On the other end of the spectrum, Lauren Henderson (Columbia, SC) took her second Juniors championship title. USATF teams battled in several categories. Bull City Track Club is beginning to exert a bit of domination in the 10km Trail Championships. In the Open competition, they claimed their 3rd team title in 4 years on the Men’s side and 2nd Women’s team title. The Rosemont Running Club travelled down from Pennsylvania again to take second in the Men’s Open team division. Bull City also claimed matching titles in the Men’s and Women’s 40+ team competition. Finally in the 50+ team categories, the Igloi Track Club from Indiana was able to take the Men’s team title and Piedmont Pacers took the Women’s 50+ team title. Piedmont Pacers then got the Men’s team title in the 60+ category.
Complete results are posted at www.mountiangoatracing.com.
Written by Alison Bryant