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.
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
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
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 www.trailrunner.com.