With a come-from-behind victory, Stevie Kremer, bested the field of more than 1800 runners at the 20th Jungfrau Marathon in Interlaken, Switzerland on September 8, to win gold in a time of 3:22:42. For her victory Kremer earned 10,000 CHF, approximately $10,500.
“The race was nothing short of spectacular,” said the 28-year-old Kremer, “From the organization to the support, to the course and the views, this was an amazing race. I am thrilled to have been a part of it and so proud and excited for TEAM USA!”
Kremer refers to Team USA’s gold medal team victory in the World Long Distance Challenge division of the race. The team of five, with three to score was selected in mid-June before Kremer indicated her interest in racing Jungfrau, so she was not a scoring member for the team.
Leading Team USA – an all-Colorado squad – to the gold medal was third-place finisher Kim Dobson who posted a time of 3:26:58. “Wow, what an incredible race!” said the Grand Junction resident, “The scenery was breathtaking and the crowd’s enthusiasm was so exciting it brought tears to my eyes. I am so thankful I was a part of this race. I would love to come back!”
Cracking the top ten, was the second scoring member of Team USA, Melody Fairchild, 38, Boulder, who finished in ninth position with a time of 3:44:22. “The World Long Distance Running championship is a test of every skill a distance runner possesses,” said Fairchild.
Third scoring member for Team USA was Brandy Erholtz, 35, Evergreen, who finished in 16th place timed in 3:49:29. “Incredible experience and views! I was feeling a little under the weather last week at Worlds and wasn’t sure what to expect, so I took it out conservatively and felt great the entire race (pretty much),” said Erholtz. “It was an amazing experience and I would definitely do it again. So proud of my American teammates! Big things are happening in U.S.A. Mountain Running—excited to be a part of it!”
Rounding out the team finish was the Carbondale-based pair of 25-year-old Ashley Arnold, and 30-year-old Gina Lucrezi who finished just 49 seconds apart with Arnold posting a time of 4:02.00 for 32nd place while Lucrezi finished in 35th place.
The scoring for the World Long Distance Challenge is calculated based on combined times of the top three runners. Team USA won by nearly ten minutes over home country Switzerland. Austria finished in third position. Results at this link. http://services.datasport.com/2012/lauf/jungfrau/RANG052.pdf
“All the other teams and race organization were most complimentary of our women. I think they see the USA as serious about, and committed to the sport of mountain running,” said team manager and Team USA men’s member Jason Bryant.
Commenting on the experience at Jungfrau Bryant added, “It is great being back in Europe to race. The crowds in all the towns, the noise of cheering and cowbells, the excitement surrounding a mountain running event are incredible.”
How the race unfolded was described by Bryant, “With the easy first 15K at Jungfrau, the race started fast. None of our women, including Stevie, were with the front pack. At 15K, Stevie was in the second or third pack of women and Kim was a little farther back with about 1-2 minutes on the rest Melody, Brandy, Ashley, and Gina running as a group. They all ran so smart beginning to move up as the climbing began, then continuing to move forward as the sustain climbs of the second half of race wore on. (The race gains more than 2200 meters over the 42-kilometer course.) We were able to see the women several times as we progressed from train stop to train stop, plus passing them and cheering from the train. Watching the women run so well was so rewarding and motivating. I look forward to our guys’ race tomorrow.”
The men’s race in the 9th WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge was held September 9, 2012, and Team USA won the silver medal led by an outstanding performance by Boulder, Colorado’s Sage Canaday who finished in fifth place. Team USA amassed a finish time of 9:38; just six minutes shy of the gold medal.
“It was an honor to take part in the Jungfrau Marathon – the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge – and help the men’s team to a second-place performance. I felt like I had a solid race although my hamstrings cramped up pretty bad on the climbs and I actually had to stop and stretch a couple of times,” said the youngest member of the team Canaday, age 26.
“The views up the mountain were top-notch and despite the pain of the effort I tried to enjoy the mountain views. Being a part of the U.S. team also helped motivate me as I knew my teammates were counting on me in the competitive team title. Also inspiring was the U.S. women’s team performing so amazingly well the day before.”
Just missing the top ten was San Francisco’s Galen Burrell, 33, who finished in 11th place in a time of 3:10:58 to Canaday’s 3:06:47. Burrell related, “Jungfrau is a unique among mountain races in that demands both leg speed to run a fast half marathon and climbing strength to ascend 6000 feet in 10 miles. This is one of the most intriguing aspects of the event, but also quite challenging to train for.
“For my part, I focused on the climbing this summer and it paid big dividends in the race; I moved up 13 places on the climb alone, and set the fastest split among all competitors on the final 18% grade climb. Although I ran faster than I did in 2007 when I finished fifth, this year I finished in 11th place – a testament to the depth of competition. Extra motivation was certainly provided by being a member of the team; I was proud to compete with such a talented group of American runners.
The final scoring member of the team was The Netherlands-based Zac Freudenburg who lists his home town as St. Louis, MO. Freudenburg finished in 32nd position with a time of 3:20:34. Talking about his race, the 34-year-old said, “A day with ups and downs, but a silver medal is good to end with. I started more conservative than last time and felt good longer, but may have hit the wall harder.
“I was happy to have been able to suck it up enough to not get passed anymore on the last climb and hall down the last one-kilometer decent. Knowing I was still third on the team was a big motivation. Thanks to Galen and Sage to carry us to a silver, and with the women’s victory (on Saturday) it was a proud weekend to represent the U.S.”
The USA men’s team of five included 29-year-old Josh Ferenc, Saxtons River, VT, and Jason Bryant, 40, Elkin, NC who served as both a team member and manager of the squad. Of his 3:32:21 finish time for a 43rd place, Ferenc said, “This was an amazing experience and being part of a team that finished second in the world is unreal. This was the most scenic, beautiful and challenging races I’ve ever done. This area of Switzerland is overwhelming with its mountains views. The race was awesome. Racing with Galen and watching his race unfold was fuel to grind, grind, grind. The last 3k was the hardest section of any race I’ve ever done, but with Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau towering net to me, made ever step worth it.
“On a last note: my atoms are bleeding… I had to hike a good portion of the last 3k and lost loads of time (25+ min), but was pumped that Sage, Galen and Zac had great races. I fought as hard as I could in the case that I was the last scoring member of the team and not knowing (about their great races) made me keep digging.”
Bryant finishing in 3:37:29, said, “Being a part of the team was very rewarding. The experience will be one of my top running experiences. It was hard to be off today and have to depend so heavily on the other guys, but that is the great part of being on a team. The crowd support was even more amazing to experience as a part of the race.”
Switzerland won the men’s team competition with a time of 9:32:11 while the bronze medal was awarded to Germany with a combined time of 9:42:22. Individual and team results at www.datasport.com.
This is the second time the Jungfrau Marathon, located in Interlaken, Switzerland, served as the host race for the World Long Distance Challenge. www.jungfrau-marathon.ch. This was the 20th anniversary of this world-renowned event with nearly 6500 runners crossing the finish line.
Prize money went ten deep for both men and women and there were also sprint premiums at different points along the course. The prize purse was 56,500 CHF, approximately $60,000.
The 10th World Long Distance Challenge will be held in Szklarska, Poręba, Poland on August 3, 2013.