Friday, March 29, 2013

US Men Capture Silver at World Cross

Bydgoszca, Poland - Mass start of the junior men's race
On Sunday, national teams lined up in Poland for the toughest race on the planet. Cross country is often called the soul of distance running, and for good reason. Distance specialists from across the spectrum come together for one common race, a field loaded with talent from mid-distance to the marathon, they compete over purposefully rugged terrain, and lay it all on the table for individual and national glory. This year's race hosted in Bydgoszcz, Poland, had a terrific array of course challenges including snow, mud, and sub-freezing temperatures. The American Men ran tough as nails, securing the highest team showing in a generation by placing two runners in the top ten (Ben True in 6th, Chris Derrick in 10th), and nabbing the second podium spot from perennial favorite Kenya. Ethiopia claimed gold.

Ben True
True, sixth at the US Championships, worked his way up from 25th to 6th over the six laps of the course, relying on his winter background as a Mainer, excelling in cross country ski racing where he raced collegiately at Dartmouth. Derrick is the newly crowned US champion, notable for being the most accomplished collegiate runner never to win an NCAA title (while at Stanford) yet apparently strong enough for both a senior title and a top ten finish at Worlds. Gives an idea of how deep the talent is on the NCAA level right now. Rounding out the team scoring were Ryan Vail (formely of OK St) in 17th and Bobby Mack (formerly of NC St) in 19th.

The team silver is the best finish by a US men's team at World Cross in nearly thirty years. That 1984 team was lead by legends Pat Porter, Ed Eyestone, and Craig Virgin, who paced the team to silver in front of a home crowd at the Meadowlands of NJ. The toughest race in sport has lost a bit of luster in recent years as prize money and lucrative payouts have listed heavily in favor of road racing and the marathon (see: unknown athletes running 2:05s, and the drop-off of elite 10,000m races on the track). With Boston, London, and Rotterdam marathons only weeks away, several of the world's top endurance athletes passed on Poland. This was most conspicuous with the makeup and finish of team Kenya, though even the triumphant Americans ran without their front line of top athletes (Rupp, Ritzenhein, Jager, Lomong, Tegenkamp).

Neely Spence
The US women finished a very respectable fourth, behind Kenya, Ethiopia, and Bahrain which is the de facto Kenyan B team. The Americans were lead by up-and-comer Neely Spence in 13th. Neely is of course the daughter of Steve Spence, Olympic marathoner and bronze medalist at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. Stalwart US champion Deena Kastor ran fifth for the women for 34th place overall. In a stoic display of old-school grit, Kastor is fresh off a solid performance at the Los Angeles Marathon in February and just celebrated her 40th birthday. A poignant reminder to the new crop of American distance stars that the objective of competing is to race, not to watch from the sidelines.

Related Posts:
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Boston!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winter Sunrise and the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs

La Cienega sunrise and the Sangre de Cristos
Was out in the Caja del Rio for a sunrise-ride this last Sunday. I had been poring over maps of this area since last fall but just couldn't motivate to drive out there when a dozen other trails could be had from my front door step. I finally struck on the idea that I could access the Caja from the south, beginning from the Petroglyphs (common access is from the east off CR 62 near Marty Sanchez golf course). This two-for-one option suddenly made it worth the drive. My genius is truly without limit.

The riding out on the Caja del Rio is mixed, undeveloped two-track and four-track, embedded rock, several range-fences to stop at and navigate through (or over). Riding the Caja without a tubeless setup or without tools and the know-how to use them is something I'd discourage. Direct access to the rock-art requires a dismount and scramble. But the area is remarkable in its quiet beauty and remote feel so close to town. Very few locals seem to know this, but the Caja is 9,000 acres of public National Forest land that stretches out and beyond Diablo Canyon to the north. That's nearly La Cienega to San Ildefonso, bordered on the west by the Rio Grande. The potential of this area beyond grazing, wood-cutting, and random shooting practice is a bit staggering particularly in light of the successful recent transformation of La Tierra.

Sunday's dawn was magnificent and included a chorus of coyote howls, barking dogs, and the call of roosters from nearby ranching homes. A fine way to start a ride.

Mesa break to the Caja del Rio Plateau.
Maybe the most mesmerizing view of 2013 to date

Up close with my omni-present running/cycling partner - Tetilla Peak. 

Sandia Peak a tower in the near distance

Lonely road through the Caja, framed by the snow-capped Jemez range to the north

Past is prologue
Distance:  18.5 miles
Duration: 1hr 42min
Terrain:  Four-track, unconsolidated rock and basalt, and improvised cross country sections

View La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Thursday, March 14, 2013

UNM Lobos Crushing It

Caldwell - All American
Catching up on events from the past week, notably the NCAA Indoor Championships. Some pretty spectacular performances throughout but my attention was focused in particular on the two UNM runners that were straight-up dealin' against some of the toughest collegiate fields in years. Junior Luke Caldwell grabbed All-American honors and 8th place with a 13:46.44 finish in the men's 5000m. Senior Josephine Moultrie finished just off the scoring in the women's 3000m with a placing of 10th in a field of 16, with a time of 9:14.84. Moultrie ends her collegiate indoor career owning a sweep of school records in the 600m, 800m, Mile, and 3000m.

Joe Franklin's teams have been crushing it the last few seasons. In February the UNM men claimed their first indoor conference title in 46 years. This follows a UNM resurgence in cross country, owning the conference championship for four straight years on the men's side, and five straight years for the women. I find all of this to be of special interest for the reason that UNM (and Albuquerque) is hosting the NCAA Indoor Meet next year, and the men and women in red are going to run the legs off the field with the handy advantage of 5,000 feet of elevation.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Banff Returns to Santa Fe - March 18 & 19

Kent Little is once again bringing the Banff Film Festival to Santa Fe and the Lensic Theatre. Along with sponsors Hutton Broadcasting and KBAC Radio Free Santa Fe, Santa Fe Prep, and the Lensic Performing Arts Center, two screenings of the 20th Annual Banff Film Festival are scheduled for 7pm on March 18 & 19th .

Kent used to host the annual Banff screenings as owner of Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works, which sadly closed its doors two years ago. But Banff lives on! - and Kent has remained active through his position on the Board of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust to continue the annual screenings. The Banff World Tour is a best-of screening of the year's top outdoors video-shorts and animation.

The screenings will showcase a different mix of Banff winners on each night. The shows are nearly always sellouts, seating is first-come-first-served, cash bar provided by the Lensic pre-show and at intermission - which is nice. Proceeds benefit the Santa Fe Conservation Trust (the driving force behind construction and maintenance of the many new rec. trails around Santa Fe), and the Lensic Theatre.

Related Posts:
  - Banff Film Festival 2012
  - Banff Film Festival 2011
  - Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works Closes its Doors
  - New Mexico Outdoors Calendar

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Charms of Winter Trail Running

Sunrise along the Santa Fe River - Picacho Peak in outline

The shorter days can sometimes crush the motivation for getting out. Tights, hat, a pair of gloves and weekends are a solid defense for this insidious malady. Along with a few friends I've been diligently keeping the rust at bay with morning runs that canvass the foothills above town. The rewards of trail outings in the off-season are the near total solitude and the incredible beauty of snow and winter light.

Morning light on the Sangre de Cristos from Dorothy Stewart

Moon and sun mountains cast tall shadows toward the Sandias

Atalaya's north ridge with new snow - Sangres in the distance

Sending one of the steeper sections on the Atalaya Ridge - Hadji and his two wonder-dogs up ahead
Morning summit of Atalaya - views over the Rio Grande Valley of the Ortiz and Sandia Mountains

And a few gratuitous non-running images:

The snow covered Jemez from La Tierra - Caballo Peak partially obscured by cloud
Winter weather and snow descend on the Sangres before breakfast

Thompson Peak and snow-filled Valentine chutes at sunrise with morning storm clouds 

Thompson Peak at left from a closer vantage on Dale Ball trail, Hadji and Adam at center, Picacho Peak at right. 

Mini-me enjoying a run with Dad past a sunset so dazzling it obscured the photo

Related Posts & Trail Maps:
  - Atalaya Mountain
  - La Tierra Trails
  - Dorothy Stewart Trail


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