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July 16, 2007

Cuellar and Mielke Victorious at Final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team Selection Race

Competitors at yesterday’s inaugural Mt. Tam Trophy Race marveled at the coastline views of Stinson Beach before heading up the infamous Dipsea Trail for an approximately seven mile race.

The event was the third and final selection race for the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and it was the first time the west coast has hosted a selection race in the twenty-plus year history of the U.S. team competing at the World Mountain Running Trophy Event. The race featured runners from the Bay Area as well as athletes from as far away as the east coast, like Dave Dunham, 43, from Bradford, MA. Dunham had taken a mid-afternoon flight from Boston’s Logan Airport the day before the race after winning the Mt. Ascutney 3.8 mile hill climb in Windsor, Vermont earlier that morning.

“It was everything I'd hoped for, (it) brought back memories of the “good old days” and at the same time I got to see my friends from around the country. An added bonus was that I got to watch an excellent battle in the women's race,” said Dave Dunham who finished in ninth place just in front of the lead women, and witnessed the duel for the top women’s slot throughout the race. The duel included Rachael Cuellar, 25, Albuquerque, NM, who was first to the steep 12-plus rung ladder obstacle at .8 miles into the race, just ahead of Sarah Gall, 28, Cedar Falls, IA. Cuellar kept the lead to the aid station at the Pan Toll Ranger Station at two miles into the race. Gall dropped back and Laura Haefeli, 29, Del Norte, CO, emerged as another front runner to chase Cuellar up and down the course to the finish line. Cuellar was first to the line in 59:45 and with her win earned a spot on her second consecutive Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. Cuellar finished 10th among the world’s best women mountain runners at last year’s World Trophy competition and with her teammates won the gold medal.

After the race Haefeli, who finished just five seconds behind Cuellar, said, “I started my training a bit late this year and know that I really need to work on my climbing.” A very solid performance was also turned in by Abby Larson, 28, Salt Lake City, UT, who finished in third with a time of 1:00:38. Larson had finished fifth in the recent USA 10km Trail Championships in Steamboat Springs, just one place behind Cuellar and two places behind Haefeli. Sixth place female finisher Kelli Lusk, 37, Belchertown, MA, herself a former member of the mountain team, said, “That was such a fun course! I didn't run very well, but enjoyed the run (outside of the random bug bites!). I thought it was a great test of climbing, descending, and technical (terrain).”

For the men, Shiloh Mielke, 27, Weaverville, NC., led from the start and was first to the two-mile aid station. He emerged on the final climb in first place, just eight seconds ahead of Bill Fanselow, 40, Golden, CO who shadowed Mielke throughout . Mielke was timed in 52:01 while Fanselow ran 52:09. Rounding out the top three was John Tribbia, 25, Boulder, CO, in 52:34. Following the event, Fanselow remarked, “What an awesome race for everyone! Everybody had high praise for the course, and the organization of it all.” Mielke, like Cuellar, makes his second consecutive Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team.

The race start was located within two miles of Stinson Beach, at the intersection of Steep Ravine and Dipsea trails. The nearly seven mile route boasted an elevation change of 2600 feet and was run entirely on trail, much of which was single track with some technical downhills. The first ½ mile was rolling terrain, followed by a 1000 foot ascent up Steep Ravine Trail including a short ladder climb before the first mile. More climbing followed and within a mile from the Pan Toll Station, there was a one mile out-and-back section on the Ben Johnson Trail which afforded runners the opportunity to gauge their competition. After the 1100 foot descent into Muir Woods, the race climbed back out to Cardiac Hill and returned down Dipsea Trail to the finish.

The top three men and women shared the $500 prize purse which was donated by Irene Herman Insurance and Real Estate Services and the American Trail Running Association. The funds were distributed evenly between the men and women with $150 to first place, $75 to the second place, and $25 to third place. Cutting edge trail shoes and other prizes were provided by La Sportiva, Accelerade, 180s, and Tec Labs

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