The 2nd edition of the Pass Mountain Trail Runs featured slightly modified courses of the 50 Km and 26 Km routes and the consolidation of last year’s 10 Mile and 9 Km into a single 11 Km race. With an overall entry limit of 200 runners, we knew we could only offer three race distances this year. During race week, the race sold out (the 2nd DRT Series race in a row to sell out) and we were primed to have 200 runners join us for a beautiful day out at Usery Mountain Regional Park.
The changes to the two longer courses were slight: we moved runners from the sandy and convoluted Channel Trail up on top of the Levee Trail which is flat and fast, offering spectacular views of the Flatiron and Superstition Mountains directly to the East. There was also the addition of the Cat Peaks Pass Trail, bringing one additional hill into the mix.
50 Km runners traverse two big loops (a mix of mostly flat trails within Usery Mountain Regional Park and a loop on the Pass Mountain Trail within the Tonto National Forest), but only return to the start/finish line at the end of the race. Over 30 runners joined us this year for the 50 Km distance including last year’s 50 Km women’s winner Paulette Zillmer, Deb Hamberlin who won the Cave Creek Thriller 50 Km this year, Michael Smith who placed 2nd at the Cave Creek Thriller, and Scott Bajer who placed 4th at the Cave Creek Thriller 50 Km. Smith led early on the first loop around Pass Mountain, holding a 9 minute lead over 2nd place Scott Bajer from Flagstaff coming into the Blevins Aid Station. Rhet Stinson followed 2 minutes behind Bajer and was closely followed by Tory Kendrick from Missoula, M0ntana and Jordan McKnight.
Smith paid a bit for his quick first lap, slowing down on his second trip around Pass Mountain, but held on to the win in 4:39:51. Tamas Varga who was in 6th place after loop 1, surged ahead and finished 2nd just 6 minutes back of Smith in 4:45:43. Bajer, Kendrick and Stinson rounded out the top 5 all finishing within 5 minutes of each other (4:46, 4:48, & 4:51).
Paulette Zillmer led the women’s race from the start, building up a 6 minute lead after the first loop over Aimee Kendrick visiting from Missoula, Montanta. Zillmer continued to build up her lead on the second trip over the mountain and with a strong kick, squeaked under 5 hours to finish in 4:59:53, 7th overall and lowered her time from last year by almost an hour. Magi Redlich (Winner of this year’s Man Against Horse 50 Mile) of Tempe finished 2nd in 5:19, followed closely by Kendrick in 5:21.
Ultra Points Standings – After two events, Michael Smith is leading the Ultra division with 1923 points, followed by Scott Bajer with 1833 points and Tamas Varga in third with 1775 points. Deb Hamberlin is currently leading the women’s field with 1872, Margaret Dehesse is in second with 1664 and Carin Schmidt with 1577. Points are awarded based upon a percentage of the winner’s time at each race up to 1000 points. Up to three races may be scored.
The 26 Km runners also enjoy a trip into the Tonto National Forest around the Pass Mountain Trail. The 2nd race in the DRT Series really kicked up the competition this year with some runners laying down some fast times! Brian Folts shot out of the gates and led the race wire to wire sporting pink compression socks and a speedo printed with “Smashing it for Sally”, showing support for the Sally Meyerhoff 5K on December 10. Brian finished in 1:57:30 and held off Nick Goodman of Fountain Hills and Cave Creek Thriller 30 Km runner up Paul Kramer who finished in 1:59:21 and 2:00:03 respectively.
The ladies race wasn’t quite as close as some in the past, as Lauren Besenfelder of Scottsdale took the win in 2:15:59 over Ivana Jourdon in 2:20:43. They were both way under last year’s female best time of 2:38. There were a total of 94 finishers in the 26 Km race.
Trail Points Standings – Paul Kramer is currently leading the DRT Trail Series with 1979 points, Eric Weber is second with 1724 and Eric Weber is third in 1688. Michelle Patuto is leading the women’s series with 1855 points, Mary Knott is in second with 1784 and Erin Glenn rounds out the top three with 1732 points.
The 11 Km was a totally new distance and course this year, following roughly the same trails as the 26 Km, with the noted exception of the 800+ foot climb over the difficult Pass Mountain Trail. Runners were still treated with fantastic views of the Supersition Mountains and the beautiful trails within Usery Mountain Park. John Borrego who placed 4th at the Cave Creek Thriller 10 Km in October pulled off the win (50:26) over CCT champ Tim Merritt (51:19). Following closely in third was 16 year old Benjamin Krakoff of Paradise Valley (51:45). After her win at October’s CCT, Lisa Raykowski (59:40) was edged out by first time DRT runner Shelby Lile of Tempe (58:00) in the women’s race. A total of 78 runners finished the 11 Km.
We want to thank Jennifer Johnston, park supervisor of Usery Mountain Regional Park, Don & Molly Quinn, park hosts at Usery Mountain Regional park, the Tonto National Forest, and Solomon for coming out and setting up their booth at the race.
Stay tuned for next year’s Pass Mountain Trail Runs to be held November 17, 2012 with a 250 runner limit!