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Michael Benge Friday, 18 November 2011 09:13 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Ready or Not - Page 8

As Roes recounted his struggles at the finish, an animated Wardian, his arms flying for emphasis, said, "See, that's what I'm so pissed about! I didn't have that. I was expecting it and it didn't happen. I was like: This is my day!"

"What are you going to do with that trophy?" Mackey asked Roes, referring to the large metal figure sitting on a nearby pulpit.

"It won't fit in my bag, so I may give it to you," replied Roes, "for being the 'rabbit' and wearing those guys out."

A little over an hour later, a smiling Petrie crossed the line as first woman, in 10:11 and gave her friends Conte and Gill big hugs (the three had met several years ago, when they competed in the Trailwalker UK 100K on the same team). While not a household name in women's ultrarunning, Petrie, an economics professor at George Mason University, has been racing ultras for a decade. Her many victories include overall wins at Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine 100K in 2003 and 2004, and she had a strong 2011, with the win at D.C.'s The North Face 50-miler, a second at West Virginia's Highlands Sky 40-miler and third at Virginia's Promise Land 50K.

"The course really doesn't favor any particular runner. On the roads, it's a nice relief not to have to look down," she said at the finish. "And just when you tire of the roads, you hit a trail, and they were a nice mix of rocky and smooth. You could get a rhythm."

This was, by far, her best performance to date.

"I've lost 20 pounds since February, which has made it not only easier to exercise but also to recover," she said. "And I've been running faster than I ever have."

Back at Whetstone (mile 41), Petrie had said to Crosby-Helms, "Let's go home." But Crosby-Helms' hamstrings and quads weren't responding. Petrie says she never looked back, and during the ensuing miles had no idea what her lead was. "With 16 or so miles to go, I started `smelling the barn,' and thought it was OK to spend whatever I had left," she recalled. "I was running scared up the final hill, and finally looked back."

Crosby-Helms was the second woman, in 10:25. At the finish, she exulted, "I didn't quit! I didn't quit!" She had started four 100Ks, this year, finishing two of them, and, like Roes, fought off demons for much of the race. "I went to the well, and the well was dry," she said. "So I got a shovel and dug deeper."

Riddle-Lundblad was third, in 11:01.

While a few runners bemoaned the brutal steep, road finish, all gave high praise to the course overall, saying it truly did test a wide variety of ultrarunning skills. All that we spoke with said they would return next year.

Says Conte, "What took me off guard was the fact that this gathering of incredible talent felt more like a family reunion than a who's who of the sport. As Gill said, many of these runners are [even] better people than runners."


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