The fourth annual Continental Divide Trail Race took place in Laurel Springs, NC, on Saturday, August 25th. The course crosses over each side the Eastern Continental Divide twice. Racers are test by a challenging course that Megan Kimmel described as “true to the sport of trail running.” This is no run in the park. The terrain and footing vary frequently with climbs, descents, flats, grass, double track, and tight single track. David Roche appreciated the sections of off-camber, rocky, and rooty trail racing; calling it a race of truth. “How hard are you willing to go on the trails? Cause it is going to hurt.” The race served as the USATF 10 Km Trail Championships for the fourth year in a row.
David Roche came in with a game plan to go hard from the gun and to see who would try to stick with him. Bobby Mack was the only runner able to match Roche’s early hard pace. Mack moved to the front on the first climb back to the top of the mountain. But Roche struck back with another tactical surge to regain the lead and open a gap before getting into the first technical section of the course. He never looked back and continued on to claim his first national title in a time of 41:21. Mack followed in 42:42 and Duncan Hoge rounded out the top three in 44:08. The men’s masters competition was a hard fought battle, with the top 3 men finishing less than a minute apart. Jason Bryant captured his first USATF masters title after turning 40 earlier this month with a time of 44:51. He and Chad Newton traded places 21 times during the race, with Newton placing as the second master in a time of 45:30. Todd Callaghan followed close behind in a time of 45:43.
Megan Kimmel also took an early lead in the women’s race with the race plan to maintain a strong and steady pace throughout the race. She executed her plan perfectly and, after a very close second place in the spring in the USATF Half Marathon championships, captured her first national title in a course record time of 48:21, breaking the old course record by 7 seconds. Amber Moran returned to improve on her time and placing from 2009, finishing second in 49:35. Maria Dalzot finished in 52:58 for third place. In the women’s masters field, the top two women repeated from last year; Alicia Parr took the title with a time of 1:03:56 and Kelly Baity was second in 1:05:26. Laura Rain Tree was third in 1:07:09. For the fourth year, Joyce Hodges-Hite, now 75 years old, returned to challenge the mountain and earned her fourth 70+ USATF age group championship. Also of note, 11 years old Lauren Henderson had an impressive performance, placing 12 th overall in the women’s race and 9th in the USATF championship.
USATF teams also competed for national titles. In the men’s race, the Bull City Track Club repeated their team title with a total combined time of 3:51:49. The Carolina Godiva Track Club took second in a time of 4:32:01, and Gate City Striders, traveling in from New England, was third with a time of 5:02:12. For masters 40+ teams, the Carolina Godiva Track Club won the title again this year. Gate City Striders took second and the Igloi Track Club from Indiana was third in a time of 5:04:52. An Igloi Track Club masters 50+ team also competed, finishing in 5:30:14. On the women’s side, Bull City Track Club fielded the only complete team to earn the team title in 5:22:53.
Spectators were scattered over the course ringing cow bells and cheering. Kimmel commented on the ability to spectate and enjoyed seeing some of the guys race as there are separate men’s and women’s races. Roche said he got a boost, and chills, as he passed by all the spectators cheering at the half way point on top of the mountain as well.
The Continental Divide Trail Race would like to thank the sponsors that made this race happen: North Carolina USATF, Terramar, Sheetz, La Sportiva, Marathon Chiropractic, Laurel Ridge Camp, Trail Runner, Road ID, Larabar, RedStar, and Edu Sports. Handcrafted awards were provided by Throw & Sew, Shelton Vineyards, Phyillis Hinton Haile, SoyWorx, Village Pewter, and Derek Cernak.