Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hill Climb Heats Up!

The Mt Ashland Hillclimb Run this weekend was a huge success, in 28 year's the run had never seen so many participants and dusty shoes. In the end, Rogue Valley Runner's posted a number of top finishes. Store employee's Ixel Sanchez, Darcy Kleiman, and Ian Torrence found out why so many people shy away from this monster run, 5,500 feet in 13 miles! John Leuthold and Neil Olsen both finished in the top 15 along with Ian and Hal, as did fellow ultrarunner's John Anderson and Lewis Taylor who traveled far and wide to participate in this unique race. The Mail Tribune covered the run and had a phenomenal write-up as can be seen below. Do we have to wait until next year?

ASHLAND — Bob Julian jokingly referred to them as "those darn mountain goats."

They were actually nationally-ranked, professional cross country skiers from Bend, and they ruled the 28th annual Mt. Ashland Hill Climb Run on Saturday.

"We're used to really hard, uphill climbs for long periods of time, but that was definitely the hardest run I've ever been in." — Brayton Osgood, winner of Mt. Ashland Hill Climb Run.
Brayton Osgood, 26, won the grueling 13.3-mile run that started at Lithia Park and ended at the summit of Mt. Ashland in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 14 seconds.

Ashland's Hal Koerner, 31, the defending champion and the winner of the Western States 100-mile ultra marathon in June, pulled even with Osgood with a couple miles remaining but Osgood found another gear while scaling the final, brutally steep ski runs between the Mt. Ashland lodge and the finish line at the top of the mountain.

Koerner completed the race five minutes faster than last year but settled for second in 1:57:56.

Zach Violett, 25, another Bend-based cross county skier, took third in 1:58:19.

Two other members of the Bend group known as XC Oregon — J.D. Downing and Colin Mahood — finished ninth and 13th, respectively, while the group's Evelyn Dong and Sarah Max went 1-3 among the women.

"We're used to really hard, uphill climbs for long periods of time," said Osgood, who didn't even seem out of breath as he conquered the top of the Tempest ski run to reach the finish line. "But that was definitely the hardest run I've ever been in."

Asked what would prompt a person to compete in a run that goes uphill virtually the entire way, gaining 5,600 feet in elevation, Osgood laughed and said: "That's a good question. Maybe just being able to talk about it the next day and having people say, 'You did what?'"

Osgood, who grew up in Vermont, and Violett, who hails from the Lake Tahoe area, are ranked among the top 15 cross country skiers in the country and are aiming for the Olympics.

"This is one of the best training exercises we could do," said Violett, a former standout skier at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. "Working out that hard for two hours does wonders for your body. You're in a steady state of pain, but once it's over, you feel good."

The XC Oregon skiers worked out at Diamond Lake Friday, using custom-made roller skates while wearing their Nordic boots, and planned another workout near Crater Lake on their way home.

Koerner, no slouch himself when it comes to challenging fitness activities — he runs a dozen ultra-marathons a year — started conservatively and was in sixth place at the halfway point. He put on a burst the last few miles and pulled even with Osgood shortly before reaching the ski lodge.

"He (Koerner) came out of nowhere," said Violett.

Koerner had visions of defending his title, but he was no match for Osgood on the steep ski runs.

"I gave it a go but my quads (quadricep muscles) said no," said Koerner, who moved to Ashland from Seattle 11/2 years ago to open a running store. "He (Osgood) had a fantastic push up that steep pitch."

Koerner has competed in an uphill half-marathon on Pike's Peak in Colorado that starts at 7,000 feet elevation and ends at 14,000 feet.

"To have a race here that mirrors that one is awesome," he said.

Julian, meanwhile, had the lead with about 31/2 miles to go but then, he said, "All the mountain goats took over."

"Mountain runners are a different breed," he added.

Julian, a two-time runner-up in the event, wound up 11th in 2:07:0 as he struggled to get past the lodge and up the final ascent.

"I don't think this is as hard as a marathon," Julian, 39, said. "It doesn't tear you up, but you use up so much energy. My mistake today was not using the aide stations enough. You lose time at them, but you end up losing more time out on the course if you're not well-hydrated and fed."

Dong, the women's winner and 17th overall finisher in 2:17, said endurance trumped speed during Saturday's taxing run.

"You don't need much speed in this race," she said, "just a strong pair of legs and lungs."

Top 15 Finishers

1, Brayton Osgood, 1:57.14; 2, Hal Koerner, 1:57.56; 3, Zach Violett, 1:58.19; 4, John Anderson, 2:00.44; 5, John Swain, 2:01.56; 6, Lewis Taylor, 2:03.04; 7, Andrew Stevens, 2:03.34; 8, John Leuthold, 2:04.38; 9, J.D. Downing, 2:05.20. 10, Andy James, 2:06.12.

11, Bob Julian, 2:07.00; 12, Richard Bott, 2:08.38; 13, Colin Mahood, 2:11.49; 14, Ian Torrence, 2:12.32; 15, Andy Barber, 2:13.0


AJW said...

My only question is, did anybody beat Hal back down the mountain?


Hart said...

nice run hal and ian! sounds like a cool event you got there.

Darcy said...

Good job Ixel, way to come in second in your age group. Not bad for your first half marathon!