Over 460 trail runners spent a day playing in the mountains of Los Alamos, New Mexico at what may arguably be one of the most challenging events in the TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) region and may rank up pretty high for the nation, the Jemez Mountain Trail Run. This year included course changes for both the 50 km and 50 mile events due to the devastating fires that caused significant heart-sick damage last summer. Race director, Bill Geist, and his course-mapping henchmen worked tirelessly over the last 6+ months to dial in a new challenging and beautiful course…a success from my personal experience and the feedback of many others!
The half marathon adventure was also the seventh stop of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series.
A few notes on the epic-ness of this event:
- All race distances (50 mile, 50 km, and 1/2 marathon) – Mostly one loop courses. The 50 milers had a few miles of duplicate trail – the front-side of Pajarito and one small three mile section leaving the Ski Lodge.
- The entire race occurs above 7,000 feet and peaks out at just under 10,500 feet.
- Nearly 10,000 feet of gain for the 50 mile, over 7,000 for the 50 km, and over 2,700 for the 1/2 mary.
Speedster, Patrick Garcia of Denver, Colorado gradually moved through the front of the lead pack and took the pole-position of the male race after bombing to the the Ski Lodge aid station on Pajarito Mountain (mile 16.4).
Still feeling good, it was at this point Patrick decided to dig in and go after it.
“It wasn’t until I started running out of there [Ski Lodge] that I knew my legs were solid and that it was going to be a good day. Having completely fresh legs at mile 20 is a GREAT feeling, and I think that’s when I really decided to make a good run at it and try to build a lead.”
Within the middle Caldera miles, Patrick estimated about a 10 minute gap from Albuquerque speedster, Jason Taylor, who was setting himself up for a strong finish.
Arriving at the last big climb of the race near mile 38, a grunt up the backside of Pajarito Mountain, Patrick called it simply – “sadistic.” Patrick recalls that it wasn’t the grade or distance that made the climb such a beast, but the trail-less terrain.
“The biggest challenge on that climb was the footing. The grass paddocks and rotting burnt rock were really frustrating because it seemed like the effort it took to get to the top was double what a normal (on trail) climb would be on a similar grade.”
After leaving Pipeline aid station (mile 39.5), the exposed rolling terrain and rising temps began to clamp down on Patrick’s pace. Jason was steadily closing the gap!
The race to the finish was on!
Nearing the final aid station, Rendija Canyon (mile 48.4), Patrick looks behind and sees Jason a couple hundred meters back. This is where Patrick had to tap into those deep and dark energy sources for the final two mile push.
“I was in that bad place where you pre-apologize to your legs for what you’re about to do to them.”
But would it be enough?
At 9:04:01, Patrick crossed the finish line winning the 50 mile scamper!
A mere 93 seconds later, Jason would cross the line for second.
Top 5 male
- Patrick Garcia (Drymax – CO) – 9:04:01
- Jason Taylor (NM) – 9:05:34
- Jeremy Duncan (CO) – 9:25:48
- Brett Gosney (CO) – 9:54:01
- Andrew Hahn (NM) – 9:57:41
Colorado and New Mexico were once again inspiring each other, this time for the female win. From Colorado, four time Hardrock 100 winner, Diana Finkel. And how about local jalapeno-footed, Erica Baron, who has won both the Jemez 1/2 marathon and 50 km. Erica is a runner that more often runs 50km and shorter events, she was going after the 50 mile adventure this year.
The two tough women, inspired each other throughout the day with each moving to the front at different sections of the course.
Diana recalls the journey through those mid-race Caldera miles, “I never had a true sense of the size or feel of it before the new course and it was beautiful.”
After 50 miles of racing…how does less than three minutes of separation sound?
How about fourth and fifth overall placing?
Diana Finkel was able to lead the two across the finish line and win the female race in 9:26:29 and fourth overall.
What did Diana think of the leap-frog’n adventure with Erica?
“It was fun running with her. She ran a great, strong race.”
Diana also recalls some of her most memorable moments of the New Mexico adventure.
“I love the single track last section of the run – the flowers adding color to the desert hues and the fire scars.”
“I loved the climb up the backside of Pajarito. I liked the variety of climbs, descents and flats.”
Top 5 female
- Diana Finkel (CO) – 9:26:29 (*4th overall*)
- Erica Baron (NM) – 9:29:17 (*5th overall*)
- Leah Fein (CO) – 11:12:19
- Shaheen Sattar (TX) – 11:33:56
- Katrin Silva (NV) – 11:37:04
Katie Arnold of Santa Fe, New Mexico, averaged a 11:17 pace to win the female race in 5:50:59 which also sealed in a top 10 overall placing.
Missy Gosney of Colorado finished second, 24 minutes later.
Top 5 female
- Katie Arnold (NM) – 5:50:59 (*10th overall*)
- Missy Gosney (CO) – 6:14:54
- Meaghen Brown (MT) – 6:19:28
- Lynette Padilla-Orpinel (NM) – 7:33:43
- Jayna Henstorf (TX) – 7:33:44
After a top five placing at the highly competitive Leona Divide 50 mile at the end of April, Boulder, Colorado athlete, Jason Schlarb, ran with a catch me if you can effort – no one did.
Jason firmly won the 50 km on his inaugural visit to the event.
What did Jason think of the run up and down Pajarito?
“Running up the ski slope and then straight down nearly falling ever step was awesome.”
Being his first Jemez run. What did Jason think of the adventure?
“I really, really enjoyed the course. Fun up and downs, great steep technical climb up the ski area and crazy down hills. I enjoyed the rolling technical ridge running back to the finish too. Well marked. Fun and beautiful. I’d recommend to anyone.”
Eric Bohn of Arizona finished alone in second.
Top 5 male
- Jason Schlarb (Hoka One – CO) – 4:28:30
- Eric Bohn (AZ) – 5:20:53
- Jacob Lawerence (NM) – 5:31:35
- Tom Steidler (CO) – 5:42:28
- Zachery Martin (CO) – 5:42:56
The half marathon win came down to Robert Krar of Arizona and Kristopher Houghton (La Luz Trail Run climb crusher) of New Mexico. Fast, they did run!
Both broke the previous course record of 1:36:47 set by another speedster, Ryan Woods back in 2010.
Robert created the 93 second gap to win the male race in course record time of 1:32:16.
Top 5 male
- Robert Krar (AZ) – 1:32:16 (*course record*)
- Kristopher Houghton (NM) – 1:33:49
- Ryan Woods (NC) – 1:44:26
- Chip Cooper (NM) – 1:48:50
- Christopher Payton (CO) – 1:53:30
Megan Kimmel of Colorado, set the pace in the early miles to run the fifth fastest female time on the course (she also has the second fastest time) and won the female race by over six minutes in 1:56:09.
Alison Bryant held off Petra McDowell for second place honors.
Top 5 female
- Megan Kimmel (CO) – 1:56:09
- Alison Bryant (NC) – 2:02:19
- Petra McDowell (NM) – 2:03:36
- Christina Bauer (AZ) – 2:04:47
- Shari Marshall (CO) – 2:05:51
Check out some of the wisest finishers. I hope this stuff fires you up as much as it does me.
- Lowell Harp (65), Norm Gagne (69), Robert Reedy (70), Richard Thompson (71), Hal Gensler (65), Bob Mercil (71), Bill Moyle (73) all played within the 1/2 marathon or 50 km adventures.
Life is play. Play is life.
The Tough-as-Nails Award
The final finishers of an ultra distance event are some of the toughest athletes that are willing to stick with it to the best of their current ability and cross that darn finish line.
The Tough-as-Nails award recipients:
- Angela Jaramillo (NM) finished the 50 km scamper in 14:16:29.
- TJ Quirk (CO) turned off the lights on the event in 16:24:25.
Race Reports and Pics
- “Once on the actually ski area, I tackled the steepest climb I’ve ever raced. The footing on this super steep ski hill was pretty rough. The “trail” was grown over with weeds, there were all sorts of lose rocks and wood as well from last year’s fire. Up one false summit followed by a descent straight down the ski run that was truly just weeds and not a trail.” by Jason @ SchlarBlog
- “Coming out of the aid station at 31 or 32, I was in fourth place, and was started hiking out of the caldera. I figured I’d take it easy on the way up and then throw down the hammer so I could try to catch the leaders. And then everything went wrong.” by SY @ A Run-In With the Law
- “Runners will appreciate this. There were several points on the course that elicited an out loud “Are you serious?!?” reactionary yell from me. Slipping down a dusty slope, climbing over a boulder, hopping from big rock to big rock, playing “don’t find the loose rock with your foot”. And this 1000 foot sudden short drop down a black diamond ski slope which I slipped and slid the whole way down.” by Libby @ the Active Joe
- “New Mexico does not believe in switchbacks it appears and you simply run straight down a ski hill. Now I was starting to feel really good, but didn’t want to dig myself a hole and tried to keep it under the hood during the mellow climb to the 50K junction. At the split, 50 milers head down a really really steep drainage. It was awesome in a masochistic way.” by Patrick @ Adventures in Runderland
- “With the course changes, Pajarito Mountain was essentially the main attraction of the day. Well more like a double feature I suppose. Not coincidentally, it was during the first of our “dawn patrol” workouts on Pajarito Mountain that I began to remember how absurd this race is. I had just hiked up the Aspen run to the summit and was beginning my descent down when I realized I’d have to do this not once, but twice, on race day.” by Jacob @ Santa Fe Trail Runner
- “In fact, when I coasted into the Pipeline aid station, I had pretty much decided I was going to drop into the 50k race. Then I met Tomas from NJ, the RAT. He pretty much looked like death warmed over, had an aid station volunteer helping him, yet he looks at me and says, “come on, we have plenty of time, if you decide to go, so will I and we will run the rest of the course together”. Again the dirty RAT!” by Marianna @ Run Happy
- Pics and reflections from Rendija aid station – by Steve @ Granny Nanny and the Old Goat
- David’s report
- Check out all the great pics: Jim Stein Photography (50 mile / 50 km Pajarito Mountain), Mark Schraad (half mary, 50km, 50 mile)
Talk some Dirt
- What did you think of the Pajarito climb(s)?
- What was your favorite section of the course?
- Those that have ran the pre-fire courses, what did you think of this year’s 50 km or 50 mile course?
Check out the TALON Race Guide
There are 150+ regional trail/ultra races in the TALON Race Guide. Be sure to check it out if you are looking for the most complete list of events in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. New events are always being added.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com
Posted on 25 May 2012
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