46 year old, Simon Gutierrez, and 40 year old, Erica Baron said, “Catch me if you can!”
On August 5th, the 47th running of the nine mile La Luz Trail Run took place on the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico under run-happy conditions (cool) for the 400 lucky lottery entrants. 16 states and the country of Zambia represented.
The unique aspect of the scamper, a nine mile grunt that provides over 4000 feet of climbing goodness with the finish waiting for you at 10678 feet. The race provides an interesting effort management puzzle and will drop a tough lesson if you burn too many matches early on. Opportunities to recover??…I guess at the finish.
10-time race winner (1997-1999, 2002-2008), Simon Gutierrez, took off with a small six man group of youthful, fast-food tread that created a gap from the rest of the field within the early strides after the word “Go!” At the one mile mark of steep road running to the trailhead, the lead pack already began to stretch out with Simon and 2010-2011 winner, Kris Houghton, setting the pace at the front. Moving through the field, New Mexico State cross country runner, Jonah Ruybalid, was positioned in third as they started the singletrack adventure.
Around mile three, Jonah caught Kris and received some motivation from the defending champ.
“I found myself caught up to Kris Houghton (who won the last two years) about three miles into the race and he told me that I could get Simon. I kept pressing and I noticed that Simon was only 30 seconds ahead of me. That’s when it occurred to me that I actually had a shot at getting him. I thought that if I could close the gap and then push the last 1000 meters after the rock slide that maybe, just maybe I could get him.”
Effort management…not always easy for those that have multiple gears.
“I felt good but it was going through my mind that maybe I was making my move too early.”
With 2.2 miles from the finish, Simon held onto a 25 second gap with Jonah in chase.
Jonah continued to push but with one mile to go, the effort from the previous miles were beginning to climb on his back.
“From there on I was just trying to maintain and keep second place.”
Simon went on to win the male race in 1:21:47, his fastest time since his 2005 win.
Jonah held onto second in a spicy 1:23:57 effort.
Jonah was stoked about his effort.
“I was so happy to finish the race this year in second. It really shows that my hard work has been paying off and gives me the confidence to shoot for the win next year.”
Top 5 male
- Simon Gutierrez – 1:21:47
- Jonah Ruybalid – 1:23:57
- Dustin Martin – 1:26:10
- Ryan Fenton – 1:27:17
- Kristopher Houghton – 1:29:44
New Mexico athlete known to put her tread at or near the front of 50 km and shorter distances, Erica Baron, was chasing men in the top 10 of the overall on the challenging La Luz trail.
Erica reached the top of Sandia Crest in ninth position, winning the female race in 1:34:59.
Molly Roberts earned runner-up honors.
Top 5 female
- Erica Baron – 1:34:59
- Molly Roberts – 1:48:51
- Lisa Valle – 1:49:54
- Jean Herbert – 1:55:34
- Katrin Silva – 1:56:40
Race Reports and Pics
- Couldn’t find any race reports. Feel free to share your experience in the comment link below.
- Many sweet views along the course. Any particular one you really liked?
- The boulder section. The stairs. Any comments?
Special thanks to Jonah Ruybalid for sharing with us and Albuquerque Road Runners for the race pics.
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