Sacramento Running News

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Running Far at the Jed Smith Ultra Classic

February 11, 2013 By: John Blue Category: General Running News, Road Races, Ultrarunning

Amy Halseth wins the 50 mile race. (SRN photo)

Amy Halseth wins the 50 mile race. (SRN photo)

The green grass and warm sun of spring still seem far away on these cold and damp Valley mornings. But there are harbingers of happier times!

There are occasional, cheerful, sunny afternoons that remind me of how much easier it is on these old bones to run when it’s warmer, and how much easier it is to get out of bed when it’s daylight already when I wake up for work.

One such harbinger of spring is the Jed Smith Ultra Classic, put on by the Buffalo Chips Running Club each February since I was a wee lad in short trousers. (Actually, since 1979.) For as long as I can remember, it has been the first race in the Pacific Associations Ultra Grand Prix.

There are three race distances: 30K, 50K, and 50 miles. Unlike many ultras, Jed Smith is meant to be a fast race. It is not particularly hilly. It is a mix of pavement and smooth trail, and it is run on a 4.9-mile loop.

The fifty mile race started first and, after the first lap, last year’s 50K winner,Victor Ballesteros, of San Rafael, had a couple minute lead over Chad Worthen, of Sacramento, the 2011 50K winner.

Two minutes behind Worthen was Amy Halseth, of Minneapolis.

A few laps later, the race for the top positions was sorted and Victor Ballesteros won in a solid 6:07:15. Halseth finished second overall, and won the women’s race with a quite fast 6:19:44.

Worthen, who dropped from last year’s 50 mile race, held on to finish 3rd overall, and second man in 6:46:59.

Local race director Julie Fingar, of Granite Bay, ran steady to finish 4th overall and 2nd woman in 7:05:57. Fingar was followed closely by Katherine Plichta, of Redwood City, who finished the distance in 7:09:38.

Jamie Nye, of Sacramento, finished 6th overall and 3rd man in 7:26:02.

In this race, the 50K has always been the marquee event, and this year 100 starters made up the largest field for the race since 1999.

From the gun, Chikara Omine, of San Francisco, led from the start to win in a blazing 3:10:37.

Timothy Mallen, of Yuba City, was the second finisher in 3:42:20, and Mallen was followed in a couple minutes later by Sacramento’s Galen Farris, who finished third in 3:44:07.

Of the women, Danielle Widenmann of Vacaville, won easily with a finish time of 3:58:12. The next woman to finish was Trudy Nygren of El Dorado Hills, with a 4:29:45. Nygren was followed closely by Sacramento’s Tyler Lopez, in 4:33:36.

Trudy Nygren was also the top masters woman in the 50K, and the top masters man was Cupertino’s Jean Pommier, with a 3:46:50.

Jed Smith also hosts the area’s only remaining 30K. Sacramento’s Rich Hanna stepped away from timing duties to suit up and win the 30K race in a pretty speedy 1:53:55. Following Hanna in second place was the Buffalo Chips past president Edward Randolph, now of San Francisco, with a 1:58:51. Mark Lantz, of Gold River, was third in 2:01:01.

For the women, Jennifer Pfeifer, of El Dorado, was the winner with 2:11:40. Emily Mah-Nakanishi, of Sacramento, was second in 2:21:33, and Keli Turner, of Modesto, was third in 2:34:19.

All in all, a wonderful day for this time of year. The times were fast and the volunteers wonderful. The sun even made an appearance that afternoon. Who could ask for anything more?

Complete results for all races can be found here.


Full disclosure: The Jed Smith Ultra Classic is expertly directed by John Blue and Dennis Scott.

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