Sunday, July 4, 2010

Afton Trail Race 2010

What. A. Great. Day.

And I wasn't even racing!! As I have found over the past few years of volunteering at a number of trail races, the days when I'm not wearing a race number can be just as enjoyable. And slightly easier to recover from...

It was a perfect day for being at the start/finish area as we had probably the nicest conditions of the entire race course - fabulous sunshine but a strong breeze and plenty of canopy cover for shade. I had the job of keeping track of awards for both the 25K and 50K so for the first few hours while the races were getting underway I got to catch up with people and take lots of photos. I got quite a few of the 50K 1st loop coming through AS 6 and the finish line for both races. Though I was caught off guard by the speedy 25K winner as I had mistakenly though the CR was over 1:40... and even though I was moving around well (and probably more than I should) with the gimpy leg I'm not quite up to 6:21 pace. Yet.

This year the race hosted the first USATF-MN Trail Championships so that added to the excitement - money to be won! And also to the complextity of the awards process. But Sam Rush was on hand to take care of that end of things.

We saw incredible times for the lead finishers in both races considering the conditions. Of course the course changes had people debating whether it was a faster or slower course. The new course has runners spending a bit more time in the open prairie so that may have been tough yesterday. But I think the climbs on the new course are pretty equal.

On the women's side the Masters dominated in both events. In the 50K Eve came through the 1st loop with Dani Ashford (running her first 50K) but Eve's strength on the hills and her affinity for the hot weather saw her pull away soon after and she went on to take the win in 4:24:11. Someway off her incredible CR of 4:13:21 (2008) but taking 3rd overall shows what a brilliant time it was on the day.

In the 25K Sue Ruben's 2:08:43 win set a new Masters CR by a few precious seconds! Replacing Elizabeth Flannery's 2:08:46 mark set last year. 2nd place went to a girl half her age Kelsi Upmann 2:10:40. The Senior Masters was won by Lisa Ann Trainor 2:21:01 - coming in less than a minute ahead of the second 50+ lady Sarah Barker 2:21:56. Gotta love that - women in their 40's and 50's running so strong while at the same time seeing more and more younger women drawn to the trails.

On the men's side the 50K promised to be quite the race with Pat Russell in town, Chris Lundstrom toeing the line and Brian Peterson hoping to continue his incredible season. All 3 came through loop 1 well under 2 hours with Pat maybe a minute ahead and Chris and Brian together at 1:54. Pat ran into issues and decided to pull the plug I think around halfway through the 2nd loop. Brian made the smart decision to let Chris pull ahead heading into the final lap so that by AS3 there was already a decent gap. Chris continued at the same pace and ran strong to the finish not hampered by a thrilling spill coming down Campground! We all knew the course record was in danger and sure enough Chris crossed the line in 3:48:10 (7:21 pace) - running almost even splits (wow!) and taking over a minute of the previous record (3:49:44) that had stood since 2005. Brian was next over the line in a time of 4:04:49. If ever there was a race to go out hard it is Afton on a day like this when the heat is almost always going to take it's toll on the 2nd loop. I also want to mention the 3rd place male (4th overall) Ryan Braun, who at 26 was one of the youngest guys in the longer distance. I first met Ryan at last year's Moose Mountain Marathon where we ran together for several miles. I remembered telling his (slightly worried) parents at the finish that this was just the start of his trail running career and sure enough he then took on his first 50K at Wild Duluth finishing 2nd, followed by a 9th place finish in a competitive field at the Superior 50K in May.

In the 25K it was a repeat win for Ben Kampf in 1:38:24, just under a minute off his CR set last year (1:37:39). He was followed by Ed Whetham in 1:44:44, bettering his time last year by 5 minutes. Of note, four of the top 5 finishers this year were also in the top 5 last year with a few changes in position. While there were several strong Masters runners in the 25K it may be a while until Matt Haugen's record of 1:50:29 is broken (set in 2004).

The age range on the trail is worth mentioning. 14yr old Connor Gabbert took on the 25K while for the girls we had several under 20, the youngest being 15yr old Kaylee Ryan who finished alongside her sister and mum. At the other end of the scale were 70yr olds Ken Norwood and Patricia Wolkoff showing us how it's done. In the 50K, 22yr old Wesley Rolnick, and 2nd place finisher Dani Ashford along with another 23yr old Alisha Mayer were the youngest out there, while 66yr old Herb Byun and 65yr old Kathy Schmidt represented the grand masters exceptionally well.

The results are already uploaded on the race website as well as links to the hundreds of photos (also posted below). I've included a few of the more memorable moments below.

To mark the race having raised more than $25,000 for the Afton State Park, park manager Gene made a presentation to John (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


Everyone had a chance to check out the new course map thanks to Jason's map-making skills (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


Steve was a bit worried he can going to have to wear a cut-off bright pink tee - but instead I decided to honor his blog that has at one time or another made us laugh, cry or just shake our heads in disbelief. Here is Bill modeling one of the shirts...


Ben winning the 25K (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


And picking up his award (all awards original artwork by race director John Storkamp)...


25K female winner Sue picking up her awards (Overall and 1st Masters)...


Kami and Igor finish the 25K together - 2 weeks after Kami's run at Bighorn 50M and 1 week after Igor's IM CDA finish...


You'd be forgiven for thinking this 25K runner was wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and had not suffered a bloody nose...


Unless you had seen her at the start of the race...


Chris winning the 50K in course record time (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


And picking up his award...


And later doing some core work (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


Classic finish by Brian (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


Eve finishing strong...


And picking up her award...


Vale racing to the finish line and demonstrating that her unique water bottle holding skills do not hamper her running ability...


Team TCRC does it again (photo credit Jen Pierce)...


Marcus ran the 50K in his Vibrams but switched to a truly barefoot feel by the end...


Zach trying to tell us he'd done a Steve Quick but with no blood and no bones sticking out we were having none of it...


It wouldn't be Afton without Tom & Nancy...



For more photos - and they are ALL worth checking out -

Helen (picasa)

Londell (picasa)

Jen (flickr) (Zach also posted a subset of these on his facebook)

Matt (picasa)

Once again it was a beautiful day to be on the trail. And a lot of fun to be at the finish line for the day... catching up with friends, meeting new people, some of whom I only knew from this blogland, a tasty hamburger (or 3) for lunch, followed by fresh strawberries from Lisa and washed down with a few unnamed beverages from Karen.

Congrats to everyone who raced, volunteered and supported - you are all part of a wonderful community. And kudos to everyone who completed their first trail race and/or ultra yesterday. There is no better place to do so than at the Afton Trail Run.

9 comments:

Kel said...

Thanks again for being out there, Helen. Are all of the winning times this year considered CR's since it's a (slightly) new course?

It seems like the Afton Trail Race is always hot & humid - a tough race for me, but a consistently awesome event. Best party in town if you're a trail runner!

Jen said...

As always, great report, and great to see you out there. Looking forward to taking YOUR picture when you set your next course record! :)

SteveQ said...

I have GOT to find out who #445 (Ms. Bloody Nose) is. She must be related to me somehow if she gets covered with that much blood and still finishes!

Paul H said...

Nice report Helen, but didn't Kaylee finish alongside her mum?

Chris Swenke said...

Thanx for the great post. What a memorable day!

Thanx for your advice, I actually finished my first 50k with plenty of room for improvement. Any 50k's coming up this fall you could recommend?

I have a little write up at my blog and used one of your photographs - hope you don't mind.

Helen said...

Kel - good Q - I am not sure but I guess there will need to be an asterick marking the new course results/records

Jen - they will need to change the course significantly for me to set any records :)

Steve - Abby Prine is your girl

Paul H - I wrote it that way so you could understand :) But have now changed it to the CORRECT spelling

Chris - sorry I missed you! I don't even know how I missed you as I see that you finished right before Tom Burr and I know I was at the finish line - I think I was focused on trying to get a good photo of Tom!! Glad you had a good race and looking forward to reading your report

RiverRunner said...

Thanks for volunteering on Saturday. I have been following your blog for quite some time, and it has been very inspiring. It's probably the main reason I ran the moose mountain marathon last fall.

Being from Duluth I way overheated on the second loop at Afton so I jumped in the in river at mile 25. After that I took off the Vibrams for the last 7 miles. Barefoot almost always just feels better, but the gravel on this course made it interesting.
Marcus

sea legs girl said...

Stop writing such good race reports! I'm trying to get some work done here! I just can't help noticing that Eve is super skinny, strong, fast and a babe. Some women have it all!!

Helen said...

She has a hot hubby too :)

Marcus - nice job Sat - crazy hot good call on the river. And again - very stylish Vibrams you were sporting!

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