Leor Pantilat - Way Too Cool

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Way Too Cool 

By Leor Pantilat

Caitlin Smith brining it home! Photo courtesy Jean Pommier
Caitlin Smith brining it home! Photo courtesy Jean Pommier

The Way Too Cool 50k course is run along the forested canyons of the American River, traversing some of the same trails used in the famous Western States 100 miler. The race is known as the first "major" ultra of the season and attracts a quality field of athletes every year. New this year was an extended course (it used to be Way Too Short) to make it a full 50k (31 miles). Temps at starting time were a crisp 38 degrees with a chilly breeze that kept things on the cool side for most of the race. We were lucky there was a full week of sunshine to dry out the course after a rainy February.

After the first 2.25 miles on the road, the course hits the trails, with some fireroads but mainly single tracks. Eric Grossman was the early leader on the trails, but myself, Dan Olmstead (2nd place, 3:42:58), and Benjamin Berkowitz (3rd place, 3:45:29) caught up at the Brown's Bar hill (~mile 9). My favorite part of the course was the approximately five miles of single track between Brown's Bar and Auburn Lake Trails which traverses along the hillside under a forest canopy. Fortunately, this section is run twice! I took the lead at around the 10 mile mark on the initial trip out to Auburn Lake Trails and led the remainder of the course, finishing in 3:39:51. I felt pretty good throughout the run, although the hill up to the Goat Hill aid station (mile 26) and the final hill in the last mile of the race were a bit of a struggle.

Myself near the finish, photo courtesy Jean Pommier
Myself near the finish, photo courtesy Jean Pommier

La Sportiva teammate Karl Meltzer finished 20th in 4:08:24 and Thomas Reiss, feeling the effects of a cold, finished in 5:06:40. The new course distance refreshed the course records, but Uli Steidl's amazing 3:18:17 on the shorter course plus the extension would have still been a good 10-12 minutes, or more, ahead of my time.

The first woman to cross the finish line was La Sportiva teammate Caitlin Smith, who rocked the course in 4:12:20, which was also 24th place overall! Awesome job Caitlin!! Second place for the women was Beverley Anderson-Abbs in 4:17:15 and third was Joelle Vaught in 4:19:31. La Sportiva teammate Jenny Capel was the 25th woman finisher in 5:07:16.

Congratulations to all the participants! A special thanks to race director Julie Fingar, race management, and all the volunteers for a great day on the trails!

Read more on mountainrunning.com

Photos courtesy Jean Pommier, who has an excellent race photo album.

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