Monday, June 29, 2009

How the Western was Won: Killing the Fluke

Hal Koerner slides into home first at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.

I knew Hal had it in the bag when, prompted by a cameraman, he retraced his steps for a photograph on No Hands Bridge. No Hands Bridge sits at the 96.8 mile mark along the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. The old bridge spans the American River and marks, for most runners, the realization that, yes, they are really going to finish a 100-mile foot race. For Hal, it marked the realization that, yes, he's really won this thing!

Hal had been leading the race since mile 56, but he really had no idea how far behind the next runner was. But you see, confidence was his thing. It was a feeling he was familiar with, because he had won this same race in 2007. He started this year's race with the confidence of a winner and ran throughout the day with a desire that only winners exude. He pushed hard at the start in order to create a gap from the rest of the field; only a few went with. When he reached the canyons through which the course weaved, Hal pushed harder in the 110-degree heat. He knew those behind him would have to match it or fall behind or fall down. So, by the time he reached No Hands Bridge in the day light (a feat only a few other winners have managed) he was confident enough to back track for that photographer. He did the work and he was determined to enjoy it now.

In the 25 miles I spent with Hal as his pacer, few words were spoken and all attention was paid to the following foot-step; focused. He worked hard the entire way and he stopped only twice; once to clear a small back spasm and once to clear a bug from his eye. I knew he was having some fun when a chuckle pursed from his lips when I asked him if he would kindly run faster so we wouldn't have to climb the final hill to Robie Point in the dark. There were never any identifiable issues; it was text book. It was an awesome thing to witness and physically be a part of.

In what Western States' race management has called the most competitive field in the race's history Hal Koerner was able to place one foot in front of the other, farther and faster than any of the other 399 contestants in the race. Hal covered the course in 16 hours, 24 minutes and 55 seconds. 27 minutes ahead of second place finisher Tsuyoshi Kaburagi from Japan and 29 minutes ahead of third place's Jez Bragg from the United Kingdom.

238 runners finished Western this year, a finishing rate of 59%. Tough odds! This held true to form for our local contingent as well. Along with Hal, Neil Olsen (from Central Point) finished in 22 hours, 54 minutes and 14 seconds in 46th place. Ashland's Rob Cain overcame serious back cramps to finish in 23 hours, 38 minutes and 40 seconds, for 66th overall. Under the tough conditions, Jenn Shelton (from Ashland) and Tom Pelsor (from Yreka) both stopped short of their goals, only to save themselves for another chance to dance again soon.

Jenn Shelton runs the downhills hard early in the race.

Hal makes it look easy early on.

Hal's up to his neck at the river crossing at mile 78. A welcomed sight after running through the dust and 100 degree temps.

Rob Cain; is he smirking? He loves the pain.

Neil Olsen approaches Michigan Bluff (mile 56). His expression says it all.

Hal Koerner is led by his pacer, Ian Torrence, as he comes into Rucky Chuck River Crossing (mile 78).

Here's a line up of the press folks:

Auburn Journal article

Sacramento Bee article

Mailtribune article

Runner's World article

Trailrunner Magazine

Ultrarunning Magazine

Final results for the 2009 Western States 100 Mile.

Photography was provided by Pete Zinsli, Glenn Tachiyama and John Medinger.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Big things are always happening. Let's see...there was an election earlier this year, there's great concern over Global Warming, and the economy is heading for the toilet. But here in our little world at Rogue Valley Runners we have become fixated as of late on one particular race. The buzz around the shop revolves around a 100-mile trail race that is about to unfold in Northern California's high country. This year the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run has, perhaps, the most competitive field ever assembled. The top men and women ultra runners from around the country, nay, the world are gathering near Lake Tahoe in order to head out over the snow covered mountains and into the 105 degree heated canyons to determine who the best 100 miler is of 2009.

We're invested in the event literally and figuratively. We're a running shoe store (who just so happens to love the sport of ultrarunning). Events like these not only get our juices flowing but everyone else's in the surrounding community. This results in a fire storm of interest and activity in the store and the sport we love so well. The race's defending champion is our very own Hal Koerner, the owner of Rogue Valley Runners. When he does well, so do we.

Five Rogue Valley locals are headed out to contest Western this year.

Tom Pelsor, who lives in Yreka, CA, but spends most of his time in southern Oregon, is headed to Western for the fourth time. Tom is the former race director for the Siskiyou Outback 50K and also runs communications for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon.

Central Point's Neil Olsen is headed to Western for the first time. He carries with him a great ultra resume. He's the winner of the 2008 USA Track and Field 100K Trail Championships (held in central Oregon at the Where's Waldo 100K) and he has dazzled many at other local Oregon ultras. Olsen has yet to finish a 100 mile race and looks forward to the challenge that lies ahead.

Ashland's Rob Cain, president of the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association and current RD for the Siskiyou Outback 50K, has finished three 100 milers (one of those being Western). As noted previously on this blog, he's battled his fair share of ailments (giardia and a hernia operation) so that he too can line up with the best in Squaw Valley.

The lone lady from the Valley headed to Western is Jenn Shelton. She's never run Western, but has impressed in her past four 100 mile finishes including the fastest American woman's trail 100 time: 14 hours and 57 minutes at the 2007 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile held in Texas.

And then there's the aforementioned Hal Koerner. The owner of your favorite running specialty store, Rogue Valley Runners, is prepared to defend his title as champion at this year's race. He's done his homework and ready to take the course by storm.

To learn more about these five runners click on this link. Daniel Newberry wrote this piece for today's Mailtribune.

There is another aspect to this race that makes it exciting, even if you aren't there. There is an excellent web tracking feature. During the race you can log on here and find out how runners are doing.

So look for these runners and their bib numbers:
Tom Pelsor: 353
Rob Cain: 157
Neil Olsen: 70
Jenn Shelton: 17
Hal Koerner: M1

To find out more about the course, the runners and the organization that makes it all happen check out the Participant Guide for the race.

And in conclusion we hope to see this man doing this same jig on his last lap around that track at Placer High School just before he crosses Western's finish line!

Good luck ya'll!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rogue Runners

For those who didn't get a chance to see the Rogue Valley Runners article in paper print, it's now up on the Running Times web site. Click here to see the article.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Granite Apples

Jenn Shelton sprints downhill.

The Granite Man Endurance Weekend has come and gone. The weekend's events were held at the always scenic Applegate Lake about 30 minutes west of Jacksonville, Oregon. There was an event for everyone. A 5K (on the Grouse Gap Trail), the 11 mile Granite Man Mountain Run (over Collins Mtn.), a 30K (one lap around Applegate Lake), a 60K (two laps around the lake), a triathlon, a duathlon and relay versions of the tri and du.

The Granite Man Mountain Run was the second race in the Oregon 2009 La Sportiva USATF Mountain Running Series. As predicted Rogue Valley Runners Erik Skaggs and Jenn Shelton ran away with the overall titles. Jenn covered the course over Collins Mountain in 1:29:43. Skaggs took a couple of minutes off his 2008 winning time by finishing in 1:12:40. With the always tough Richard Bolt out due to injury, RVR'er Ian Torrence was able to capitalize and finish second in 1:19:00. RVR Teammate Joe Griffin finished a strong fourth in 1:24:43. Full Results can be found here.

Erik Skaggs 100 meters into the Granite Man Mountain Run.

JC Callans, Greg Mueller and Adam Seibert finished top three respectively in the 30K. JC's winning time was 2:05:49. It was sweet revenge for Callans as Mueller finished ahead of him at last weekend's Pompadour Half Marathon. The women's race was won by Tawnei McDonald in 2:32:45. RVR Lady's Thursday Night Group Run leader, Maria Clementi, finished third in 2:52:51. Yeah Maria! Annie Crispino-Taylor finished fifth in 3:00:55.

Maria Clementi starts the 30 Kilometer Trail Race.

The 60K event was won by RVR'er Neil Olsen in 4:51:48. Northern California's Bev Anderson-Abbs won the women's race and finished second overall in 4:58:18. Ben Benjamin finished third in 7:00:11.

Joe Griffin is satisfied with his run. He would return the following day to take second overall in the duathlon event.

Results for all the runs can be found here.

Andy Atkinson was out along the course again taking photos. His shots can be found on his web site here.

While Richard Bolt (the USATF representative) was not running he was still at the event and taking photos as well. Here is his story. Here are his photos.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pompadour Half Marathon Results and Photos

Medford's Glenn Tucker took the lead from the start and ran away with the win and the inaugural course record of 1:16:36.

RVR'er Jenn Shelton used the Pompadour as a tune-up for the upcoming Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Jenn won the women's race and finished eighth overall in 1:31:54.

JC Callans cools off as temperatures began their climb into the 90's. JC finished fourth in 1:26:41.

Photos were taken by Andy Atkinson.

30-May-09 North Mountain Park Ashland, OR

1 Glen Tucker 29 1:16:36
2 John Leuthold 41 1:23:11
3 Greg Mueller 38 1:23:44
4 JC Callans 42 1:26:41
5 Todd Ragsdale 39 1:27:46
6 Daniel Hough 28 1:29:29
7 Chad Wilkander 36 1:30:56
8 Jenn Shelton 25 1:31:54
9 Josh Johnson 23 1:33:18
10 Michael Sotos 34 1:33:48
11 Joe Griffin 48 1:39:27
12 Sarah Wilson 31 1:40:55
13 Freeborn Mondello 29 1:43:23
14 Vic Harris 52 1:45:17
15 Becky Hacker 38 1:46:54
16 Karl Pryor 45 1:48:12
17 Matt Oliva 37 1:48:19
18 Piers Rasmussen 15 1:48:54
19 Mike Davis 49 1:49:30
20 John Theiring 34 1:52:21
21 Stan Potocki 52 1:52:45
22 Eddie Townsend 24 1:53:04
23 Carl Sniffen 56 1:53:07
24 Rene Millan 36 1:53:16
25 Molly Holzhsu 36 1:54:18
26 Gary Solberg 55 1:55:19
27 Desiree Barnes 26 1:56:28
28 Tara Pennington 39 1:58:33
29 Tamara Ellis 39 1:59:17
30 Shahid Ali 23 2:00:18
31 Chris Foster 42 2:01:34
32 Leshaya Spears 27 2:02:20
33 Molly Gramley 43 2:03:53
34 Jayme Hartwell 35 2:05:01
35 Lance Cooper 33 2:05:43
36 Jennifer Callans 36 2:05:53
37 Israel Mathewson 35 2:07:39
38 Susannah Bishop 23 2:08:47
39 David Bowman 50 2:09:37
40 Camden Stemple 14 2:11:16
41 Maggie Milligan 25 2:14:33
42 Steve Godwin 45 2:15:36
43 Robin Van Horn 45 2:15:52
44 Karolina Wyszynska 31 2:17:02
45 Lela Stemple 12 2:17:30
46 Gina Alvis 25 2:17:46
47 Rachel Richmond 40 2:19:57
48 Jasmine Merrit 20 2:20:10
49 Mindi Law 31 2:20:32
50 Erin Akers 31 2:24:26
51 George Wood 45 2:25:22
52 Ralph Humphries 43 2:25:25
53 John Griffin 58 2:28:20
54 Dodie Noles 47 2:28:58
55 Johnny Hutter 46 2:37:04
56 Norman Shaskey 61 2:43:27
57 Kara Stemple 40 2:48:45
58 Scott Stemple 43 2:48:45
59 Steve Mitzer 41 2:48:59
60 Stacey Golden 40 2:49:14
61 Stacy Mead 38 2:49:14
62 Misun Igelman 52 2:50:45
63 Nasra Ali 45 2:53:24
64 Risa Banks 27 2:59:18
65 Crystal Smith 30 2:59:18
66 Raquel Kahn 18 3:04:57
67 Roxanne Flynn 47 3:04:57
68 Jason Jepson 32 3:11:09
69 Tina Van Horn 25 3:45:27

Want to see your photo? More awesome photos can be found at Andy Atkinson's web site. Congratulations to all you runners who braved the hilly roads of Ashland!

An article about the race by Andy can be found in the Mailtribune here.