When you report on the running of the American River 50-mile race, you have a couple of choices.
You can get to the start, in the darkness before the dawn, and then spend the day jumping in and out of your car, bouncing along spectating points, and watching the race develop through the day.
Or, you can sleep until sunrise wakes you up. Go for a nice long run, shower, have a leisurely breakfast as you check the race on the live feed, and finally wander to the finish in time to catch the hopefully exciting finish.
This year, I chose the latter, arriving at the Auburn Overlook shortly before noon. I laced up my trail shoes, threw on a pack with camera and notebook and jogged down the road to look for the leaders.
The weather was perfect for a four or five mile jog, but probably a bit warm for running a 50 or 25 mile race after training in the winter. This is a common issue for spring races!
There was a 25-mile race underway, which had started an hour after the 50-mile event, so the road was peppered with those finishers on about 5-hour pace. I was looking through these runners, trying to spot the 50-mile race winners.
About a mile from the finish, I found the leader, and eventual winner, Scott Trummer, 25, of Livermore, jogging up the hill. He looked to be moving
well and in good spirits. We shouted “Hello!” and “Good morning!” at each other and then he was around the bend and off to the finish.
About a mile later, I run across Zach Bitter, 31, of Sacramento, moving well up the hill.
Just 90-seconds after Zach had passed me, I spotted another runner coming quickly up the hill. It took me a moment to realize it was Rich Hanna, 53, of Sacramento.
I had been looking for Tim Tollefson, who’d been in 2nd place at Beals Point, but he was nowhere to be seen. It turns out that was as far as he went, due to a lingering illness. (Although I’d see him run 59 minutes the next day at SacTown 10, so he must not have been that ill.)
Rich seemed surprised to hear that Zach was just in front of him, and it seemed they’d been just a couple of minutes apart, all day.
The leaders would finish in that order. Trummer in 6:03:30, Bitter in 6:16:39, and Hanna in 6:18:40.
As a 30-year old, Rich Hanna had won this race back in 1995. It’s amazing he’s still kicking down these fast times!
The women were a bit more spread out this year, and Janessa Taylor, 38, of Redmond, OR, prevailed with a 7:29:09 finish.
Melissa Penwell, 30, of Rocklin, in her 50-mile debut, finished 2nd in 7:37:17.
Kelly Cronin, 40, of Auburn, rounded out the ladies’ top-3 with a 8:26:05 finish.
The top finishers in the 25-mile race were long gone by the time I arrived on the scene, but I did hear complaints that the field wasn’t as soft as expected.
Patrick Reagan, 30, of Savannah, GA, was the overall winner in a speedy 2:50:31.
Max Hardy, 25, of Boise, was second with 3:04:37.
Brian Boyer, 37, of San Jose, finished third in 3:47:07.
The top woman was Folsom’s Erin Wachter, 30, who ran the distance in 3:47:42.
Next in was Keri Strang, 44, of Bend, OR, with a 4:10:50.
And the third place woman was 31 year old Annie Ciernia, of Davis, who brought it home in 4:13:21.
Complete results are here.