Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the American Trail Running Association website and is reprinted here with permission.
Cloudy skies gave way to sunshine by the 7:00 a.m. start for today’s USATF 30km Trail Championships held in conjunction with the Pikes Peak Ultra in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Coupled with temperatures in the mid-50s, there were bound to be some fast times on the course in spite of some wear and tear on the trails underfoot from recent rain storms.
Ashley Brasovan, in her debut race in Colorado Springs, came into the event focused on a course record, “I obviously wanted to place at the top, and I wanted to go after the course record,” said the 27-year-old from Westminster, CO. “I thought it would be a good, fast course for my road background, but you never know until you get out there.
“I thought 2:15 would be doable (the existing record of 2:17:55 was set at the championships in 2016 by Megan Roche),” said Brasovan. “I tend to go out fast and just hold on…that’s always the goal.”
Brasovan took the lead from the start on a challenging course complete with single track trails, fire roads, a short paved section, and 3,500 feet of climbing, to cross the finish line in 2:06:59, winning her second national trail title in record time. “I’m really happy to go under my goal time,” she said. “The 30K is my sweet spot right now, that two hour range.”
Brasovan’s nearest competitor, Kate Jamboretz, 25, San Francisco, CA, finished nearly ten minutes later, but still under the previous course record. Her time of 2:16:29, edged out Brittni Hutton, 28, Santa Barbara, CA, who finished third in 2:18:11.
On the men’s side, Colorado Springs’ Joseph Gray, 34, amassed his 15th national title holding off a surging Andy Wacker, 29, Boulder, by a mere 27 seconds. Gray’s time of 1:49:10, although not a record – Gray cruised to a 1:47:35 when he raced to the win in the 2016 event – was a solid effort on the day.
Comparing the 2016 event to this year, Gray said, “The course was more chopped up from the weather, and the race was a bit more tactical with runners you know were going to run strong from start to finish. Andy and I changed leads a bit for the first 4K, and then I led the rest of the race.” Asked if he looked over his shoulder, Gray said, “I was pretty confident I could hold on for the win.”
Next up for Gray is Sierre-Zinal, a 31K mountain race in Switzerland on August 12, boasting 2200 meters of climbing. Sierre-Zinal is also race #3 in the WMRA World Cup. “Today’s race fit really well into my training. It was a time to get a solid output the whole way.”
Rounding out the top three men was Anthony Costales, 29, Salt Lake City, UT, who posted a time of 1:53:07. Top master was Chris Grauch, 45, Nederland, CO, who finished in sixth overall in a time of 2:06:28, to earn his ninth national masters title.
Other age group national champions included Steve Shank, 44, Colorado Springs, Dan Vega, 50, Colorado Springs, Mark Tatum, 58, Colorado Springs, Dudley Blauwet, 64, Louisville, CO, Doug Beagle, 68, Houston, TX, Shelly Buhlinger, 55, Bartlesville, OK (first masters woman), Anita Rawlison, 62, Red Lodge, MT, and Jo May, 70, Houston, TX.
This was the fourth year for the Pikes Peak Ultra event, which this year included the third annual 30km, the second annual 50km, and the fourth annual 50 Miler. Year one saw 60 runners, whereas this year had nearly 400 registrants. “We are super excited to host the championships,” said Justin Ricks, Mad Moose Events. “I think we have world-class trails here and we want to share them. We started our series to host championships and give people an opportunity to earn prize money and awards.”
USATF liaison to the event, Lin Gentling, said, “Justin and Denise have been an absolute joy to work with. The course was beautiful, the organization has been superb, and there have been lots of happy runners.”
Runners like Rawlison who, with her seventh national championship title, exclaimed, “Best day ever!”
Pikes Peak Ultra results available at www.madmooseevents.com.
Over 100 photos by Nancy Hobbs can be found here.