Monday, July 27, 2009

Cheyenne Cañon Mountain Race - US Team Selection

Cool Temperatures Make for Fast Times at Cheyenne Cañon Mountain Race

Former Mountain Running Team Members Earn Spots on this year’s World Team

Colorado Springs, CO ---- Late afternoon thunderstorms are typical in Colorado Springs, but overcast skies and drizzle in the morning are rare – especially in July. This morning was an exception with intermittent rain showers and cool temperatures greeting runners at 7:00 a.m. for the women’s start of the Cheyenne Cañon Mountain Race (Sunday, July 26), an 8 kilometer up/down loop course which would determine two of the four members of this year’s Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. It was still cool for the men’s race at 8:30 a.m. for the 12 kilometer course with another two team spots up for grabs.

The course, designed by eight-time Mountain Team member Paul Low, started at the Stratton Open Space Trailhead in North Cheyenne Cañon, connected with the Gold Camp Path, joined the Chutes and followed the east side of the reservoir back up Gold Camp Path for the first loop (women and junior men ran two loops, while open men ran three loops for approximately 12 km), then back down to the finish.

“A few weeks before the race some of the women contending for a spot on the team figured the winning time would be about 41 minutes (for the women). Today when the first woman was climbing the final lollipop loop toward the finish she was set to go under 40 minutes. The cool temperatures not only helped set a fast pace, but the moisture helped pack down the dirt and scree to make for a quicker running surface,” said Nancy Hobbs, Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association.

Laura Haefeli, 41, Del Norte, CO, led the group on a blistering pace from the start around the first lollipop loop. But at the top of the first climb it was flatlander Kasie Enman, 29, Huntington, VT, ahead of a group of Coloradoans to the high point of the course at just under 7,000 feet. The group in the chase were included eventual winner Megan Kimmel, 29, Silverton, Haefeli, Megan Lund, 24, Basalt, Brandy Erholtz, 31, Bailey, and Gina Lucrezi, 26, Colorado Springs. Enman excelled on the downhill and picked up some distance on the group, yet was caught by Kimmel and Lund on the second loop.

Kimmel took the opportunity to surge ahead and bested Lund by just five seconds to take the victory in 39:23. On the final lollipop loop, Haefeli charged past Enman to finish in third position in 29:52 with Enman clocking 40:02. Rounding out the top five was Erholtz in 40:19.

Kimmel’s win earned her a spot on her second consecutive Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and will compete along with first-time team member Lund in Campodolcino, Italy, on Sunday, September 6 at the World Mountain Running Championships. The pair will join Christine Lundy, 38, Sausalito, CA, who won the USA Mountain Running Championships on June 28 in North Conway, NH, to make her fourth mountain team. The final member of the squad will be selected from the top finishers in today’s event.

On the men’s side local runner Ryan Hafer, 23, set a strong pace on the first kilometer while Tim Parr, 27, Gunnison, CO, sat comfortably in the chase pack and worked his way up to the lead with University of Richmond’s Andrew Benford, 21, Ravenswood, WV, going with him. “I felt great on the uphills,” said Benford, “Then Tim would pull away on the downhills. He was more aggressive on the downhills, especially on the last lap. I knew I was on the team when we topped out the last climb. Dan Petty (UR teammate) was there, along with my brother, telling me exactly where everyone was. The last downhill was sweet. I knew I was running my way onto the U.S. Team. It's a great feeling.”

Parr crossed the line in 47:13 to make his third U.S team (’04, ’05, ’09) while Benford makes his second U.S Team. Benford’s performance places him in the history books as the first U.S. runner to make a junior team (2006) and a senior team (2009). Albuquerque’s Kristopher Houghton, 28, finished third in 48:21 with local runner Alex Nichols, 24, in fourth with a time of 48:51, and 2007 mountain team member Payton Batliner, 25, Boulder, in fifth timed in 49:09.

Parr and Benford will join the top three runners from the USA Mountain Running Championships Joseph Gray, 25, Lakewood, WA, Zac Freudenberg, 31, St. Louis, MO, and Matt Byrne, 34, Scranton, PA, on the mountain team. The final member of the six-member squad will be announced on August 1.

With a tagline, “Once is not enough,” the 2009 Cheyenne Cañon Mountain Race presented by Walmart, was a first year event. Additional local support from ERA Shields brokers Marzolf/Blessing, Champion Health/Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, Bristol Brewing, Colorado Running Company, and Criterium Bike Shop. National sponsors joining the effort include SportHill and Teva.

There were 36 women finishers ranging in age from 18-64 and 46 men finishers ages 12 through 62. Every participant received a commemorative USA Mountain Running cowbell, a Teva music CD, post race refreshments, accurate results, and for those 21 and older – a beer certificate from Bristol Brewing.

Men's Race
1 Tim Parr , 47:13 $250
2 Andrew Benford , 47:48, $0
3 Kristopher Houghton, 48:21, $150
4 Alex Nichols, 48:51, $100
5 Payton Batlinger, 49:09, $50

Women's Race
1. Megan Kimmel, 39:23, $250
2. Megan Lund, 39:28, $200
3. Laura Haefeli, 39:52, $150
4. Kasie Enman, 40:02, $100
5. Brandy Erholtz, 40:19, $50

Top Juniors
Junior Men: Paul Petersen, Broomfield, 17, 39:57
Junior Women: Jessie Watkins, 19, Colorado Springs, 49:34

Not only is the event a fundraiser for the American Trail Running Association, but also served as a fundraiser for the Friends of North Cheyenne Cañon and Stratton Commons. Individuals may donate, as part of their registration, to any of these non-profit organizations. For additional information visit

Saturday, July 4, 2009

West Coasters Excel at USA Mountain Running Championships in New England

North Conway, NH --- On a humid, overcast morning in the New England hamlet of North Conway, NH, Washingtonian Joseph Gray, 24, Lakewood, and Californian Christine Lundy, 38, Sausalito outpaced one of the deepest U.S. mountain running fields in recent memory to become the 2009 USA Mountain Running Champions today. The pair also led team USA to gold medal podium spots in the men’s and women’s division of the North American Central American Caribbean Mountain Running Championships.

The race featured two 5.5 kilometer loops and 2400 feet of vertical gain which included a mixture of steep climbing, single track terrain, super fast descents, and flat sections across open meadows. Spectators at the base of the mountain could watch the runners as they climbed in the distance and then cheered runners on as they passed the start/finish area for the second and final loop.

A former collegiate steeplechaser, Gray, in his third season mountain racing, was with a lead pack of seven within the first kilometer which included Simon Gutierrez, 43, Alamosa, CO, Zac Freudenberg, 30, St. Louis, MO, Eric Blake, 29, New Britain, CT, Matt Byrne, 34, Scranton, PA, and Shiloh Mielke, 29, Asheville, NC. The group stayed together up the first pitch, but at the top of the climb Gray took off. Freudenberg and Gutierrez were in second and third respectively, followed closely by Gates, Byrne, and Blake. Mielke didn’t stick with the group on the first downhill.

After the first loop it was Gray leading by about 40 seconds posting a 28 minute loop with Freudenberg in second, Gutierrez in third, “I was feeling confident, like I could hold third,” said Gutierrez in a post race interview, “Even going up the second climb I felt good. Then Rickey and Matt caught me about 1 kilometer into the second climb. They started pushing it. Joe was gone. I could see Rickey and Matt until the last 200 meters of the climb.

“After that I survived to get down. My legs were shot, Eric passed me and I caught up to him and we ran together for the last 2 kilometers. Shiloh blasted by us with about ½ mile to go,” said Gutierrez who in a sprint-to-the-finish with Blake fell down just a few feet from the line to settle for seventh.

Gray kept a solid, steady, and rather blistering pace to finish in 48:37 followed by Freudenberg in 49:48, Byrne in 49:57, Gates in 50:04, Meilke in 51:38, Blake in 51:50, and Gutierrez in 51:54. Aaron Saft, Kevin Tilton, and John Tribbia rounded out the top ten.

With his win, Gray made his second consecutive Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. Freudenberg and Byrne also were named to the team. All three were members of last year’s bronze-medal winning team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland.

Lundy, with her win, becomes a four-time Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team member earning the sole team spot at Cranmore for the women. Lundy was on her first U.S. mountain team in 2005 and is the only two-time team gold medalist as a member of both the 2006 and 2007 U.S. teams at Worlds. She raced to victory posting a time of 57:16, besting her nearest competitor, Brandy Erholtz, 31, Bailey, CO, by approximately 35 seconds, and was followed by Laura Haefeli, 41, Del Norte, CO, in 58:30. Kasie Enman, Gina Lucrezi, Megan Lund, Abby Larson, Amber Moran, Trish Steidl, and Christa Benton, rounded out the top 10.

Masters champion Laura Haefeli, when interviewed about her race said, “I felt good. I was psyched that we (team USA in the NACAC competition – Lundy, Haefeli, Enman, and Erholtz) were all running together. The start was fast. Brandy, Chris and Kasie were in front of me, but we were all really close. Abby was close behind. Abby passed me on one of the steeper sections and I was fifth to the top after the first climb. On the first downhill, I knew Abby was running really hard and I passed her on the rocky section. I figured if I could get enough distance on her on the downhill I could hold her off on the uphill. I was hoping that anyone behind me on the first loop wouldn’t catch me.

“I was gaining on Kasie, and I thought I was even gaining on Chris. It was definitely tougher on the second time around. I caught Kasie just before the steep climb and started to put some distance right after the climb and increased my lead. Once I crested the top, I was gone. I knew from the first lap I was running well on the downhill and didn’t think anyone would catch me on the downs. By the time I crested, I didn’t see Brandy or Chris. At the last part of the downhill I saw Brandy, but didn’t see Chris. I wanted to minimize the gap from second place.”

When asked about the competitive field Haefeli said, “I definitely felt I had to step up my game for this race. I felt that there were at least eight girls going for the team. In 2007 when I was third at Worlds, I felt that I couldn’t lose contact with the top runners…and I felt the same today.”

In the NACAC competition the top two runners for each country scored. Lundy and Erholtz scored for Team USA to earn the gold medal with Canada in silver medal position. On the men’s side, Gray and Gates scored for Team USA which included Blake and Gutierrez. Final results were not available at press time for the men’s NACAC competition.

The Cranmore Hill Climb included open runners as well as USATF members vying for national championship honors in their respective five year age groups starting at 40 years old for masters runners. USATF results will be posted at

“We were really excited to have such high caliber runners come to the Mount Washington Valley and the race was a great success. We had 250 registrants and nearly 40 finishers more than our previous high. I would say this is due to the national championships which attracted runners from 22 states. The White Mountain Milers are planning to submit a bid to host the Championships again in 2011,” said event director Paul Kirsch.

Prize money was distributed as follows (equal for men and women): $200 first place $150 second place; $100 third place; $50 first place master. The top NACAC teams each won $200.

Race sponsors included Inov-8, Cranmore Mountain Resort, USATF-New England, Hammer Nutrition, Julbo Eyewear, CW-X Conditioning Wear, Tech-4o sports watches, Fuel Belt, OrthoLite insoles, and the White Mountain Milers. Results will be posted at

The second and final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race will be held in Colorado Springs at the July 26 Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race presented by Walmart where the top two U.S. women and the top two U.S. men will earn a berth on this year’s team. For details visit