August 22, 2007
Pacific Association Runners Will Contend for Titles at USA 50 km Trail Championship
Top Pacific Association/USA Track & Field (PA/USATF) runners will vie for bragging rights at the 2007 USA 50 Kilometer Trail Championships on Sunday, Aug 26. The national USATF championship is hosted by the Golden Gate Headlands 50K for the fifth straight year. The event starts (7:00 a.m.) and finishes at Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Devon Crosby-Helms (San Francisco) is favored to grab the USATF national women's trail 50K (31 miles) title. On the men's side, defending national men's champion Bryan Dayton (Boulder, Colo.) will have a decided advantage over the rugged trails that compose the Golden Gate Headlands race course.
Crosby-Helms, 25, is one of the fastest rising stars in ultra distance running. She is preparing for the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 100 Kilometer World Cup (September 8 in The Netherlands) as a member of the USA 100K world team. Last year, in her very first ultramarathon, she placed 7th at the USA 50K Trail Championship. Then, Crosby-Helms won the Jed Smith 50K in 3 hours and 32 minutes, posting one of the fastest 50K times for American women in the past 10 years.
Crosby-Helms also won this year's Napa Valley Marathon, the Quicksilver 50K, and she placed second in her 100K debut at the Mad City 100K USA National Championships.
"I've been running the trails [in the Marin Headlands] for quite a while in preparation for this race and the 100K World Cup," said Crosby-Helms who is a culinary arts student at Bauman College in Berkeley. "But I don't know how fresh I'll be. I have a culinary event where I'll be on my feet for two days right before the race."
Caren Spore (Davis, Calif.) could challenge Crosby-Helms if she falters. Spore placed third at this championship last year, nine minutes behind winner Kami Semick (Bend, Ore.) who finished in 4:25:15. Spore is the current women's Senior Open division (ages 30 to 39) leader on the 2007 PA/USATF Ultrarunning Grand Prix circuit.
Also, 43-year-old Beverley Anderson-Abbs (Red Bluff, Calif.) could place on the medals podium. Anderson-Abbs was the 2005 USA 50K Trail Championships runner-up, and was second female at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2006 and 2007. She won this year's Way Too Cool 50K, the Pony Express 50K, and the Mount Diablo 50 Mile races.
Among men, all contenders will be eyeing Dayton, 34, who was crowned last year's USA 50K trail champion with a winning time of 3:59:53. Plus, Dayton has finished in the top three in the USA 50K Trail Championships in three past years (2002, 2003, 2005). He knows every aspect of the championship trail course for which he is perfectly suited.
"Dayton is a fantastic runner who lives in the thin air of Colorado year-round," according to Race Director Guy Palmer. "He has phenomenal uphill, and particularly downhill, running abilities."
Fast downhill speed is an asset on the singularly beautiful, but exceptionally hilly, trail course said Palmer. There are seven major hills, with a cumulative climb of over 7,000 feet, on the route that runs through the coastal headlands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Mount Tamalpais California State Park.
"When people think about the Headlands, they often picture the endless uphills," he said. "But that's only half the picture. Some of the downhill sections go on for about three miles. It takes tremendous conditioning to keep the legs turning over and striding out."
PA/USATF Ultrarunning Chair, Hollis Lenderking, agreed that Colorado's Dayton is the men's favorite.
"He's a speed merchant within the ultrarunning spectrum who can excel at 50K," Lenderking said. "On the other hand, California's ultrarunners tend to be stronger at longer ultra distances, 50 miles and up."
Among the Californians, Eric Skaden (Folsom, Calif.), who placed second at the 2006 and 2007 Western States 100 Mile, may challenge Dayton for the national title. Skaden also won this year's American River 50 Mile run. Other top Northern California/Pacific Association men's contenders include Jean Pommier (Cupertino), Chikara Omine (San Francisco), Mark Tanaka (Castro Valley), Michael Buchanan (San Carlos), and Bradley Niess (Oakland).
Mark McManus (Mill Valley) throws a wildcard into the men's field. Although his ultrarunning credentials are thin, the former NCAA Division II All-American for the University of California Davis trains on the flanks of Mount Tamalpais. Plus, McManus has registered the fastest times at the 7.1-mile Dipsea Race over Mount Tamalpais in 2006 and 2007.
The 2007 Golden Gate Headlands 50K also serves on the 17-event PA/USATF Ultrarunning Grand Prix circuit. The race is organized by the Tamalpa Runners. About 150 competitors will participate. A minimum of $3,500 in prize money will be awarded to top finishers.
"USATF applauds the Tamalpa Runners for stepping forward and organizing a race within a race by hosting the USA 50K Trail Championships," said Nancy Hobbs who chairs USATF's Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) Sport Council. "This year the MUT Council is thrilled to support 10 national championships which provide USATF members with numerous opportunities to compete for national titles."
For additional information and historical facts about the USA 50K Trail Championships, visit www.usatf.org (select "Events/Calendars" and then "National Championships") or www.headlands50k.org.
The Pacific Association is the largest member association of USA Track & Field (USATF). We serve northern California and northwestern Nevada. USATF is the National Governing Body for track and field, long distance running, and race walking in the United States. For more information about the Pacific Association, visit our Web site at www.pausatf.org.