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La Sportiva Mountain Cup heats up in Los Alamos
Jemez runners on a rare stretch of pavement at the beginning of the race. Photo courtesy of La Sportiva
Several months ago, we ran a short preview of this year’s Jemez Mountain Trail Runs—a day of half-marathon, 50K and 50-mile races through the beautiful landscapes outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Though 156,000 acres were ravaged in 2011 by the Las Conchas Fire, forcing a reroute of the 50K and 50-mile courses, the half-marathon course has remained the same, even since the fire.
Taking place this past Memorial Day weekend, the half-marathon was the sixth race (of 10) in the 2013 La Sportiva Mountain Cup. Going into the race, Justin Ricks, 33, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, led the Mountain Cup with 56 points, following his strong finishes at Moab’s Red Hot 33K in Utah, Hell’s Hills 25K in Texas, and Don’t Fence Me In 30K in Montana. Though he and fellow Mountain Cup contender Jace Nye, 28, of Kaysville, Utah (with 30 Series points, prior to Jemez) ran strong races on Saturday, ultimately they were both bested by Albuquerque local Kristopher Houghton, 31.
Houghton took the victory by a solid margin in a time of 1:35, in spite of uncharacteristically hot temperatures, with Nye taking second in 1:38 and Ricks cruising in at 1:41. Said Ricks after the race, “I wasn’t ready for the heat and altitude … This course definitely kicked my butt.”
The women’s race ran hot on the heels of the top contenders of the men’s race, with Los Alamos local and 2004 Olympic Trials marathoner Erica Baron, 41, snagging the women’s win and a fourth-place-overall finish in 1:50. About 10 minutes later, fellow Los Alamos local Kay Ulrich, 41, cruised in for second, followed by Marisa Asplund, 35, of Durango, Colorado.
Baron’s victory ties her with Melanie Fryar, 33, of San Antonio, Texas, and Alicia Shay, 30, of Flagstaff, Arizona, for second place in the Mountain Cup, with Megan Kimmel, 33, of Silverton, Colorado, holding on to her comfortable lead in first. On the men’s side, Ricks holds on to his lead in the Mountain Cup, with Jordan McDougal, 25, of Warrenton, Virginia in second, and Nye in third.
Next weekend, the Mountain Cup heads to the east coast for the Rothrock Challenge in State College, Pennsylvania.
See www.mountaincup.com for a complete Mountain Cup schedule and results listing.
Full results from Jemez can be found at http://www.highaltitudeathletics.org/results.htm.