Runners Chase Large Cash Prizes as La Sportiva Mountain Cup Kicks Off

This weekend kicked off the 2016 La Sportiva Mountain Cup—and with it, the race for some sizeable prize purses.

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This weekend kicked off the 2016 La Sportiva Mountain Cup—and with it, the race for the sizeable prize purses that the series has added this year.

With a completely redesigned structure and a brand new set of destinations, racers are now competing for a share of a $3,000 prize purse at each of the five regional qualifying races.

Those races build up to the championship race, the 16-mile Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, which takes place in Utah on July 30 and will give out a total of $10,000—one of the biggest prize purses in trail racing.

The cash purse at each regional competition is structured so no one can sit back and be comfortable with their place. The first-place man and woman each take home $1,000, while second and third win $300 and $200 respectively.

If this weekend’s race, the Marin Ultra Challenge 25K in the California Bay Area, is any indication, the cash prizes are drawing some strong competition.

It took place in wetter-than-normal conditions with gale-force winds blowing the rain sideways at times. Runners of all ages, from all over the U.S., toed the line for a chance to win the cash, fantastic prizes and a free entry into the championship Jupiter Peak race.

Runners could cruise on the smooth doubletrack that made up most of the course; Maria Dalzot, second-place female, said that the course was “one of the fastest 25Ks” she’s ever run. Meanwhile, competitive racers and recreational athletes alike could enjoy the beautiful, if overcast, sights along the Marin Coast.

The Bay Area’s trails are home to some of the fastest runners in the nation and many of them came out to compete, including top mountain runner (and Trail Runner contributing editor) David Roche.

One week removed from his win at the stacked Way Too Cool 50K, Roche completed the 25-kilometer course in just 1 hour 33 minutes, taking home the big check.

“My wife Megan couldn’t race because she was on-call in the hospital, and it ate me up inside to be at a start line without her,” says Roche. “So as we kissed goodbye at 5 a.m. that morning, I told her that if I won, I would fund our next 200 trips the local frozen-yogurt place.” 

In the women’s race, we saw a new face to trail running come through the finish line in just 1:46:59. Dani Moreno is a recent college grad who says she “just started trail running this year.” With a background in track and field, she’s looking to take her speed to the hills and expects to “be back to race at more Mountain Cup Races.”

Along with the wind, Moreno says the wet conditions made things “more difficult, but in the right way.” She explains, “You already have to be pretty tough mentally to be a good racer, but throw in some adversity, and that is when I believe you have the opportunity to prove you are a great racer.

“Some of those downhills were crazy slippery, so you had to really figure out which lines you wanted to take,” she adds. “I definitely almost took myself out on the second loop, but luckily I caught myself.”

At the end of the morning, Roche, Daniel Metzger and Craig Schmidt stood on the podium for the men, and Moreno, Maria Dalzot and Maria Malone for the women. Check out the full listing of results here.

Though he didn’t appear on any podium, race director Tim Stahler deserves just as big a shoutout. Stahler, the fearless leader of the Inside Trails organization, was awake for three days straight making this race possible. With course changes, venue changes and a torrential downpour at the start/finish, he was out there making it a great day for everyone.

The La Sportiva Mountain Cup’s next race is the Hyner View Trail Challenge in Hyner, Pennsylvania, on April 23. This race is already sold out, with 1,300 participants. If you would like to compete for a chance to win $1,000 on the trails and $3,000 at Jupiter Peak, or just have a great time on the singletrack, don’t wait to sign up!

Trail Runner is the official media sponsor of the Mountain Cup. La Sportiva would like to thank its other Mountain Cup partners: Clif Bar for providing nutrition to hungry racers and Farm to Feet socks for delivering dry socks to all these wet runners at the finish line!

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