June 25 2005
Western Runners Earn Spots on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team
On what promised to be the hottest day of the year in the east, two runners from the west earned berths on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team today at the USATF New England Mountain Running Championships. At the 9 a.m. start time temperatures had already climbed into the upper 70s with the humidity rising along with the mercury.
Northfield Mountain located near the Vermont/Massachusetts border played host to the championships with the men running 15km (three rolling loops of 5km) and the women running 10km (2 loops of same 5km). Newcomer to the mountain scene, Chris Lundy, 34, Sausalito, CA although finishing second to Czech Republic's Anna Pichrtova (timed in a blistering 42:17), was the top American finisher in the race thereby earning a spot on her first Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team.
Lundy, the first Californian to make a mountain running team, ran a solid 45:58 to eclipse second American and two-time Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team member Julie Bryan, 36, Jackson Hole, WY who posted a 47:55.
Lundy and Bryan were head-to-head on the first loop and much of the second. According to race director and second place masters finisher Dave Dunham who ran in sight of the top women remarked, "Julie just hammered the descents, but she couldn't close on the uphills. It was an incredible race to watch."
Bryan also missed a turn on the second loop, but had no excuses at the finish line. "There was tape across the trail and I just missed it. I even helped mark the course yesterday. I couldn't have caught Chris even if I'd made the right turn. Fortunately I didn't take too much of a detour, caught myself, and still finished third."
Lundy having been to New Zealand in the mid 90s was eager to return this September, "I had a great time in New Zealand before and I'm thrilled to be going back as part of the team."
Lundy almost canceled her plans for Northfield due to a recent bout with strep throat. "I almost didn't come," said Lundy. She smiled and nodded when another athlete overheard her remark and said, "Bet you're glad you came now."
The men's race quickly became a battle between three-time Teva U.S. Mountain Running team member Simon Gutierrez, 39, Alamosa, CO and Eric Blake, 27, Plattsburg, NY. The pair ran side-by- side as they reached the end of the first loop with three-time USATF Mountain Runner of the Year Paul Low, 31, Amherst, MA within 20 seconds of the leaders.
"I knew after last week's race at Mt. Washington (where Gutierrez, Blake, and Low finished one-two-three) those guys would go really hard on the flats…and they did. They also flew on the downhills. The second loop Simon and Eric kind of pulled away a bit at a time. On the steep downhill I'd make up some time, but I couldn't catch them," said Low.
Gutierrez ran 58:30 to edge out Blake by just nine seconds for the victory. "I felt good. I knew I was fit going into the race. I have been doing lots of uphill, so the course was a bit different than what I've been used to. From the start I wanted to go out hard with the front pack…and I did," said Blake.
Not sure how close Blake was as he approached the final straightaway, Gutirrez looked over his shoulder then quickly raised his hands in victory as he sprinted the last few yards.
"I loved the course. It was speed oriented and not too technical. There was a bit of quad pounding on the downs and the ups weren't too long. Even without much downhill training I felt comfortable," said Gutierrez.
Ryan Pauling, 31, Rochester, NY a 2001 mountain running team member returned to Northfield in hopes of making his second mountain team and finished just one second behind Low with a time of 1:00:51. Peter Maksimow, 26, Springfield, MA rounded out the top five in 1:01:34.
Top female master runner was Nederland, Colorado's Lisa Goldsmith, 40, a member of the 1997 mountain running team. Her third-place finish time of 49:54 put her well ahead of three-time team member Suzy West, 42, Putney, VT who finished fifth in 52:25. Kelli Lusk, 35, Amherst, MA was the top New England finisher with a fourth place finish in 50:52.
"I've been recovering from an injury and haven't been able to do any fast training," said Lusk, "I just didn't have any leg speed today. I think I'll be ready for the next team selection race (July 16 in Merrimac, WI at Devil's Head Resort) because I have a few weeks to train hard."
Bryan also plans to travel to Wisconsin next month in hopes of locking up the third automatic selection spot. Lundy, Bryan, and Goldsmith all ran the first selection race in Vail on June 4 finishing second, fourth, and sixth American respectively. Bryan and Lusk will face tough competition in Wisconsin with top American woman finisher at the World Mountain Running Trophy for the past three years Anita Ortiz, 41, Eagle, CO planning to race along with Lisa Isom, 33, Vail, CO who finished just ahead of Bryan in Vail and raced on the bronze medal women's team in Sauze d'Oulx, Italy last year with Ortiz.
The top U.S. male and top U.S. female finisher in Wisconsin will be named to the team with the final selection race to be held at Mount Cranmore, NH on August 7 where the top U.S. male finisher will earn a spot. The additional team spots will be decided after Cranmore by USATFs Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council.
Lundy and Gutierrez will join Timothy Parr, 23, Gunnison, CO and Laura Haefeli, 37, Del Norte, CO on the 10-member open squad of six men and four women (junior squad includes three junior men and two junior women) slated to compete in the 21st World Mountain Running Trophy race on September 25 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Parr and Haefeli, both members of the 2004 Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team, were named to the 2005 team based on their finish at the Gore-Tex U.S.A National 10km Trail Championships in Vail, CO on June 4. Parr was the second U.S. male finisher and Haefeli was the top U.S. female finisher and third overall. Matt Carpenter, 40, Manitou Springs, CO also earned a spot on the team with his victory in Vail, but has declined his spot due to his commitment to run the Leadville Trail 100 in August.
As the last of the 103 runners crossed the finish line in Northfield, the temperature had reached 92 degrees. "It was getting so hot the duct tape holding up the banners was melting," said Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team leader and race finisher Richard Bolt, "In spite of the heat and humidity everyone seemed to have a great time including me."
For complete results additional information on the visit the websites listed below:
Northfield Mountain Race www.USATFne.org
Teva Devil's Race www.trailrun.wors.org
Mt. Cranmore www.whitemountainmilers.com
World Mountain Running Association www.wmra.info
USA Track & Field www.USATF.org
World Mountain Trophy 2005 www.mountainrunning.org.nz/
All American Trail Running Association www.trailrunner.com
Teva – team title sponsor www.teva.com
SportHill Clothing – team sponsor www.sporthill.com
180s – team sponsor www.180s.com
Ground - team sponsor www.groundwear.com