Clear skies and crisp early morning temps welcomed over 50 runners at the Deadman Peaks Trail Run near Cuba, New Mexico on October 19. A remote, visually delightful scamper along the Continental Divide Trail that included a 50 mile, marathon, plus 10 km and 5 km community run/walks.
The 50 mile men’s race saw Jacob Lawrence of Minnesota and Brandon Stepanowich of Colorado hang out with the small lead pack in the early miles until the sun began to light the surrounding desert beauty.
A little over 10km in the race, Brandon decided to dial up the effort.
“At around seven miles, I was leading the group and the trail became more technical as it dropped down from Mesa Portales. I tried to move quickly and efficiently over the terrain and created a little distance between myself and the others. I thought I’d have a better chance of doing well with a sustained steady effort than with any late race pushes.”
Brandon now alone at the front, with the companionship of steady breathing, feet gently tapping the ground, and the open landscape. As the miles progressed, a marathoner or two would run by heading the opposite direction as they started at the 50 mile turnaround.
At mile 20, Jacob bridged the gap back up to Brandon and took the pole position.
Brandon was happy to hang out in the wing-man spot for a while before a slight navigating snafu took Jacob off-course and put Brandon back at the front with a bit more intention in each stride.
“I followed for several minutes and he seemed to be moving really well on the flats and downs. At one point, he missed a trail marker as it veered to the right. I yelled at him but he didn’t hear. The mistake was marginal and just allowed me to take the lead as he soon realized his error. Knowing I wasn’t alone anymore, I began to run with a little more fire in my legs.”
Brandon left the turnaround with a two minute gap on Jacob.
Another 26+ miles to the finish. Settle in…this is going to get fun!
And then over the next 21 miles Brandon continued the push…at the front…alone.
“At the crest of the last hill, with no more than five miles to go, I thought if I hadn’t been passed by now, then it wasn’t going to happen.”
Periodic cramping began to pick at Brandon but the turnover continued. So close!
Four miles to the finish…
Three miles to the finish…
And then a short and technical downhill section before the final dirt road miles to the finish, Brandon heard a sound.
“As I slowed to negotiate the terrain, I heard some rocks shift behind me and turned. It was Jacob. And rather than confusion this time around, my heart sank and I knew, despite my efforts to circumvent it, there would be a bit of late race drama.”
Brandon tried to surge but Jacob hung off his hip and would eventually move past and take the lead.
Brandon now hung on Jacob’s hip.
Together they pushed the effort.
Speed. Relaxation. Try not to vomit on self.
Gradually Jacob would separate as he found yet another gear in the closing miles. Brandon held steady but had no more gears on this day.
Jacob crossed the finish with the male win and new course record by nearly four minutes in 8:50:40!
Brandon would finish shortly, under the previous course record time and bring home runner-up honors.
50 (53-ish) Mile Men’s Results
- Jacob Lawrence – 8:50:40
- Brandon Stapanowich (Pearl Izumi) – 8:53:12
- Loren Wohletz – 9:27:39
The women’s 50-some-plus mile scamper had Suzanne Lewis of Utah leading the scamper through the midway point of the race. Katrin Silva of New Mexico was in second position but dealing with unhappy tummy issues and managing her multiple layers of clothing from the early morning chill.
“The warmth of the sun is a welcome feeling, though it creates new issues. Fearing hypothermia, I have dressed in a ridiculously large number of layers and lined up at the start looking like a homeless woman who has lost her shopping cart. By 8:00 AM, I am drenched in sweat, I am ready to shed two jackets, a half zip, two sets of gloves, and a woolly hat. I arrange these items around my waist in a bulky, irritating wad that keeps sliding down toward my knees. Busy as I am rearranging and retying this awkward bundle, I get off course twice, and spent about a minute each time looking around for pink ribbons. By mile 15, things are looking up. The ice has melted. My fingers have thawed. My intestines have stopped twisting. When I finally hand the gigantic bunch of fleecy fabric to an aid station saint at mile 17, I am feeling really good and begin to pick up the pace a little.”
After seeing Suzanne on way to the turnaround, Katrin turned up the g0-jo with a focused determination.
Shortly after the turn-around, Katrin moved to the front, competitive juices bubbling.
And then something much bigger envelopes Katrin on her return trip to the finish.
“My competitive mood evaporates, and one of those genuine, intense ultra highs replaces it. I feel energetic, almost bouncy, and happy to not be done yet. I am a lucky woman. I still have 26 more miles over remote and challenging terrain left to go on this gorgeous day among wonderful friends. The weather is perfect now, sunny and slightly breezy. Under the seamlessly blue sky, the views from the mesas are intoxicating in their beauty. I run alone for many miles, serenely basking in the silence of the desert, content to just be. My iPod remains in my pack. This day needs no soundtrack other than occasional bird voices and friendly aid station conversations.”
Celebrating her 21st Wedding Anniversary with husband, David, who completed the marathon and was anxiously waiting at the finish, Katrin wins the female 50 mile race in 10:15:49!
Suzanne would finish a dozen short minutes later for runner-up honors.
50 (53-ish) Mile Women’s Results
- Katrin Silva – 10:15:49
- Suzanne Lewis – 10:27:50
- Aimee Hoyt – 11:18:02
57 year old Jean Herbert of Albuquerque, New Mexico would finish third overall as she crossed the marathon finish line for the win in 4:42:18!
Cherilyn Sackal finished 5th overall with runner-up honors.
Marathon Women’s Results
- Jean Herbert – 4:42:18
- Cherilyn Sackal – 5:03:46
- Rene Grobecker – 6:42:39
In the early minutes of the men’s marathon race, Dan Vega of Colorado was off the front looking to grab a win on his birthday.
Dan cruised at the front through the first 14-16 miles before the run became real as has been the theme this year.
“I’ve had a lot of trouble this year beyond 16 miles in all the races I’ve done. Go at a good pace, hope to hang on and hopefully not fall apart.”
Digging in a bit deeper with each passing mile, Dan passes an on-course photographer at mile 19 where she provides a brief signal that there is someone hunting close behind. That hunter being Steven Rodgers of New Mexico.
Steven’s stalking provided an adrenaline boost that supported Dan’s final push to the finish and win in 3:54:06!
Dan shares a few memories across the adventure…
“The amazing amount of marking were incredible (bush full of shoes hanging on it, Hoka and Stiletto that I remember). At the aid stations, people were wishing me happy birthday at each one. The amazing views off the cliffs. On one of the plateau, you were running on a sand beach it seemed like. Great race directors and volunteers.”
Steven Rodgers was alone for second place honors.
Marathon Men’s Results
- Dan Vega – 3:54:06
- Steven Rodgers – 4:04:13
- Neil Galvez – 5:02:23
The Tough-As-Nails finishers was John Perrin of Arizona who finished the 50+ mile adventure in 16:15:23!
Inspiration Point included William McQueen (age 66) and Ian Maddieson (age 71)!
Special thanks to Brandon Stapanowich, Katrin Silva, Dan Vega, and Sarah Jackson for their support with this article!
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Posted on 25 Nov 2013
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