As the weather’s been heating up, so has the competition. The Ultimate Direction athletes have been hard at work though, taking home the gold and setting new FKTs! Wonder what your favorite athletes and ambassadors have been up to?
Michele Yates conquered the competition at the Gorge 100k in Cascade Locks, Oregon, taking first place for women AND setting a new course record. This speedy performance not only proved that she’s back in action after having a baby girl just four months earlier, but it also earned her a spot at the prestigious Western States. This past weekend, Yates also competed in the Indiana Trail 50, running the muddy 50-mile course in a speedy time of 7:38.
Nick Pedatella and Scott Jaime set an FKT on the Kokopelli Trail in March, running the 141 miles from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah in 30:20:58. Though it’s a popular course for mountain bikers, the Kokopeli Trail is rarely completed in a single effort on foot. By finishing in less than 32 hours, Pedatella and Jaime surpassed the previous record of 32:47:41 held by UD Athlete Peter Bakwin and his wife, Stephanie Ehret.
Galen Burrell’s 2015 race season has been off to a strong start. Burrell first trumped the competition at the Marin Ultra Challenge 25k in Sausalito, California, speeding through the course in a lightning-fast time of 1:39 to take home the win. This past weekend, Burrell competed in the Miwok 100k in Stinson Beach, CA, making his debut in the 100k ultra distance. His performance did not disappoint though as he came through the finishing chute with an outstanding time of 8:58, taking the silver medal home with him.
Gina Lucrezi started off her racing season in February, battling it out in the Black Canyon 100k. Running against tough competition in the toasty Arizona desert, Lucrezi’s fierce race and 11:51 finishing time earned her both a spot on the podium (3rd place for women) and a spot at Western States! More recently, the accomplished distance runner took to the trails in the Cimarron 50k, shattering the women’s course record (previously held by UD athlete Michele Yates), and finishing as the first place lady in 4:14.
In March, Travis Macy took on the grueling 68-mile trek known as the Georgia Death Race in Blairsville, Georgia. Macy powered through the 20,000 feet of elevation gain on wet, sloppy trails, completing this “hard as nails” course in 10:55 for a third place finish. Since then, Macy’s been hard at work, charging down his new path as an author and promoting his book, The Ultra Mindset.
Candice Burt, queen of fastpacking, headed down to Patagonia, Chile for her first big race of the year, competing in the inaugural running of the Ultra Fiord 173k in April. On a course which she explains included “bushwhacking, off trail traversing, 50k of up to thigh deep mud and bogs, chest high river crossings, glacier traversing, and class 4 rock climbing,” Burt let none of it slow her down, and she finished the 108-mile distance in 37:12 as the first woman and 5th racer overall. For a more thorough review of Candice’s ultra running excursions, check out her blog.
Heather Anderson took on the infamous Barkley Marathons 100 mile race in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee this March, making it onto her third loop before exhaustion and delirium had her call it quits. In a field that consisted of 40 highly talented and well-trained ultra runners, only 14 individuals were even able to complete the second loop, and none were able to complete the race in its entirety. The two loops were a huge success for this year’s attempt, and Heather states in her blog that she’s considering taking on this long distance beast again in the future.
Justin Simoni’s been up to all sorts of adventures as he prepares for his ultra marathon debut this month at the Ultimate Direction Dirty 30. Since the year’s beginning, he’s completed more than 50 summits of Green Mountain in Boulder, CO (climbing the 2,500 feet of elevation each time), made the trip from Boulder, CO to the base of Longs Peak roundtrip, on a bike, three times (40 miles each way, 4,000+ feet of elevation gain), climbing another few thousand feet up the mountain with crampons and ice axes before riding 40 miles back home, and he’s spent the remainder of his time scrambling up 5.12 routes at the local climbing gym and hitting it hard on some outdoor climbs as well. For more info on Justin’s ultra running, biking, and climbing adventures, check out his blog.
Sage Canaday took to the pavement and ran an impressive 2:20 at the LA Marathon in March. Cruising along at a 5:20 pace, Canaday fought though the California heat to place 12th among an incredibly talented field of distance runners. The skilled MUT runner kept up with his road-focused speed training as he headed to the Boston Marathon, racing through chilly and rainy weather to finish in 2:19. This high-speed race led him to a 16th place finish, a great victory in one of the world’s most famous road marathons.
Jason Schlarb took on the Motatapu Torpedo 51km Adventure Run in New Zealand this March. Running through technical backcountry terrain, the racers summit four peaks, climb nearly 10,000 feet, and cross numerous rivers before heading to the finish. Schlarb swiftly navigated the route to finish first in 7:12, completing what he said was one of the “top 3 most fun races (he’s) ever done.” Since then, he’s continued with his scenic running expeditions in the land down under, filming “Kiwi Tracks” while running through the South Island of New Zealand.
With three big races already under his belt, Ethan Veneklasen has been putting in some serious miles in 2015! In February, Veneklasen participated in the Chabot Trail Run 50k ultra marathon in Castro Valley, CA, finishing with a time of 4:45. By April, he’d ramped up his training to take on the highly competitive Lake Sonoma 50 miler, finishing that course in a time of 9:54. With both of those races in the books, Veneklasen took on his first 100k of the year, racing the Miwok 100k in a stellar time of 11:29.
Sarah Lavender Smith
Sarah Lavender Smith has been cruising past the competition in distances from the half marathon to the 100k ultra marathon this year, starting off her race season with the Steep Ravine 50k. She finished that race in a time of 5:56 to place first among the ladies and fourth overall. Her next stop was at the Tarawera Ultra 100k in New Zealand. Smith ran a competitive race to finish the challenging course in 11:57. The talented mountain runner suited up once again with her Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta to compete in the Diablo Trails Challenge half marathon in April. Racing against a tough field of competitors, she did incredibly well and placed 7th among the women.
Justin Ricks is two for two so far this year, winning gold at both the Run Through Time Marathon and the Cimarron 50k. In his first race of the year, Ricks battled through the snow, ice, and mud of a wintery Salida, Colorado to complete the 26.2 mile course in 3:17. Fellow Ultimate Direction Ambassador Josh Arthur also participated in the race, coming in close behind in 3:31 to place seventh. In his second race of the year, Ricks yet again earned a spot at the top of the podium, blazing through the Cimarron 50k in a record-setting time of 3:35.
A big congrats to all the Ultimate Direction athletes and ambassadors for some great performances so far this year! Check back in again soon as they move into an exciting season of summer races.