Southeastern Utah is home to some of the most awe inspiring vistas, unique rock formations, and brilliant winter weather. It was also the setting for the second annual Moab Red Hot 50K+ and 33K.
The La Sal Mountains from Poison Spider Mesa...the setting of the last six miles of the race.
Roughly 300 runners lined up for these two races on what would turn out to be a gorgeous February day. It was the perfect escape for many runners from the cold and snowy environs they had been inhabiting since last November. The race would, in turn, attract the most competitive ultra field thus far for 2008. The 50K has 4,500 feet of gain and takes runners over some classic Moab trails like Gemini Bridges, Metal Masher, Gold Bar Rim, and Poison Spider Mesa.
A View of what's to come. A glimpse of the course from the starting area. Runners would navigate up the Gemini Bridges Trail across the snowy cliff face to the right. Ultimately runners would end up on top of Gold Bar Rim (the cliffs in the far distance).
Race Director, Chris Martinez, shouts out last minute instructions.
Torrid paces were set from the beginning. Young ultraspeedsters, Tony Krupricka (CO) and Kyle Skaggs (NM), set a fast early pace in order to distance themselves from the competition. They were challenged late in the race by Justin Ricks (CO), but were able to out pace him and tie for a win and set a new course record in 4:03 (taking 22 minutes off of Karl Meltzer's 2007 course record). Ricks finished third in 4:04. Johannas Rudolph finished fifth overall and won the men's master's title in 4:22.
A pre-race photo with (l to r) Karl Meltzer, Ian Torrence, Tony Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs.
Perhaps the most exciting race of the day was battled out between Susannah Beck (of Eugene, OR) and Anita Ortiz (of Eagle, CO). Beck, a relatively new face to ultrarunning, see-sawed back and forth most of the race with Ortiz. In the last five miles Beck was able to build one last final lead to win and set a course record in 4:28. Ortiz finish second and won the master's race in 4:34. Darcy Africa, last year's Red Hot winner and course record holder finished third in 5:02.
...And they're off!
In the 33 kilometer race, Romiero Paris won the men's race in 2:32, while Anna Pichrtova won the women's race and finished second overall in 2:37. Anne Pence won the women's masters race in 3:34. Brandon Haddick won the men's masters race in 2:53. 155 runners completed the 50K course, while 84 runners covered the 33K course.
Full results can be found at Red Hot 50K's web site. Another good race report can be found on La Sportiva's Mountain Running Web Site.