Susa, Italy — At today’s 20th annual Challenge Stellina Race the USA contingent of Joe Gray, Simon Gutierrez, and Rickey Gates fared well finishing fourth, seventh, and ninth respectively.

According to the jet-lagged Gutierrez who arrived in Italy on Thursday just shortly after winning the Pikes Peak Ascent on August 16, “The race went overall pretty good. There was additional entry of three top road racing Kenyans who are based in Italy which added some flavor to the early pacing. Through the first half of the 15.4 km race Rickey, Joe, and I worked together in fourth, fifth, and sixth position. One Kenyan came back, and we were joined by Robert Krupichka of the Czech Republic. No sight of Jonathan Wyatt or the two other Kenyans. At the finish and as expected Wyatt won hands down in 1.17.59. Second place went to a Kenya runner in 1.20.50, third place was Krupichka running 1.20.06. Joe Gray, team USA, in fourth with a time of 1.21.10. I was seventh in 1.22.20, and ninth was Rickey Gates running 1.23.24 (4min better than last year when he finished in fifth and not quite up to top speed today).

“Overall, a good showing for our team and a good solid international tune up for USA for the trophy in three weeks. Joe will be a top-10 threat. Just landing here I was a bit fatigued by Sunday race day, but I still ran better than 2004 when I was 17th in the World and training dictates I am fitter than 2006. Rickey has made the wise decision to ease up on the bike tour and do some specific running for the next three weeks…he will be ready for a top 10-15.”

Next up for Gutierrez is the La Sportiva Mountain Cup series finale race in Vail, CO, on Sunday, August 31. Joining Gutierrez at the roughly 6 mile uphill La Sportiva Vail Trophy Race will be Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team members Brandy Erholtz and Laura Haefeli. Former team members also expected to compete include Lisa Goldsmith (’97 and ’06), Andy Ames (’04), Shiloh Mielke (’06, ’07), and Payton Batliner (’07).

The Challenge Stellina Race starts in the town of Susa at an elevation of 500 meters and continues across the streets of the town until it reaches Urbiano at 2.3 km. Here the asphalted road ends. From Urbiano starts the uphill mule track that first reaches Madonna dell’Ecova (710 m asl) then Borgata Braida (870 m asl) and Nicoletto (1094 m asl); from here, leaving the old mule track, the race goes to Chiamberlando through a steep path leading near Cippo Ricordo (1375 m asl). The race continues on a dirt road, on an apparently flat ground going slightly downhill and it goes first through frazione Sollietto (a small hamlet 1300 m asl) and then through “case Fago inferiori e superiori” (a small hamlet 1280 m slm). It then starts a demanding uphill mule track which reaches Servel (1618 m asl) and then from Servel begins a short, steep descent until an altitude of 1562 metres asl. From there starts the most demanding and difficult part of the race. First there is an uphill path reaching Grange Sevine (1762 m asl) and then starts a very demanding uphill grassy slope which reaches alpe Arcella (2000 m asl). Apart form the last 250 meters before the arrival to Costa Rossa (1960 m asl), which are on a grassy downhill slope, the final part of the race is mostly on a dirt road. The total length of the race is of 15.420 m with a difference in height of 1.500 m.

For additional details and results from Stellina, please visit: www.atleticasusa.it/en_default.asp