The conditions for the USA 10 km Trail Championships on Saturday were humid, but the temperature topped out comfortably in the mid 70s. Post race comments varied as to each runner’s trail background. I liked Dave Dunham comments upon finishing,”That wasn’t bad, I was expecting some unrunable trails.” Most everyone agreed that the course was tough, but fun.  At least in the let’s go punish ourselves out on some beautiful mountain trails.

The men’s race started with some fog still hanging on the mountain top. Bobby Mack and Ryan Woods battled at the front, exchanging the lead a couple of times. Bobby proved to have some climbing legs, churning through the big climbs. Ryan was winning the battle of descending skills on the trails, reclaiming the lead briefly on the twisting descent just past 5 miles. But in the end, Bobby pulled away on the final ¼ mile climb at 22% grade, clinching the win in 41:59. Ryan Woods soon followed to finish line with 42:31. Ryan Moravec rounded out the top 3 in 44:22.

The masters men title was also decide on the steep, final climb to the top of the mountain. Tim Van Orden seized the masters division and 5th overall with 45:25. Chad Newton said later, “He just started back running sooner than I did on that last climb.” In case you haven’t run something that steep, everyone hikes portions on this course. Tim seemed right at home though on the tough singletrack. Chad made him earn it with his finishing time of 45:45.  A great guy and great trail runner, Andy Ames made the trip from Colorado to take the third masters position, running 47.35.

By the time the women started the sun had cut through any remaining fog, just as Gina Lucrezi cut through women’s field early on. She was in the lead by mile one and opened up a significant lead on the first tight singletrack section that includes the first big ¼ mile climb at only 18.5% grade. Gina grabbed the National Champion title, finishing in 52:04. Winston-Salem runner, Molly Nunn, traveled up the mountain to run down second place in 53:30. Another NC runner, Emily Potter closed out the top three with 55:02.

Annette Bednosky continues to prove age is mostly in the mind, claiming 4th overall and top master. She showed her always winning smile at the line with a time of 58:07. Two Carolina Godiva teammate rounded out the top three masters, with Alison Gracey finishing in 1:04:01 and Elizabeth Kempter in 1:05:20.

There were several runners battling for age group titles, but I particularly enjoyed seeing our 70+ runners on the trails. John Elliot drove down from Maryland to win the 70+ in 74:33. Jim Blevins came across the country from Oregon to run the course in 76:32. Jim Hite of Georgia took some falls, but pressed on to finish in 2:00:51. These guys showed they’re still willing to travel and compete. They also proved there are no excuses to get out and enjoy the trail. Joyce Hodges-Hite, 73, wouldn’t let these guys have all the fun winning the women’s 70+ in 2:17:16.

Personally, I enjoyed having friends from all over the country join us in the NC mountains for a day of fun, and suffering, on some tough trails. Trail runners are a wonderful covey of folks. Our race committee, and volunteers, appreciates all the runners coming and looks forward to next year. Please check out our race website, www.continentaldividetrailrace.com, for results. Photos and a race video will be coming soon.

PRESS RELEASE by Jason Bryant