Saturday, August 6, 2011

La Luz Trail Run - 2011 Preview

The portal to 2hrs of agony disguised as scenic vista
Tomorrow is the 46th running of the La Luz Trail Run, the oldest and most storied trail race in the state. It's going to be a real barn-burner with a stellar field scheduled to break from the line at the 7am start. Both men's and women's defending champions are in the field, as well as both an Olympic marathon trials qualifier and a six-time champion on the women's side. Last year's mens runner-up and third place finishers are running.

The women's race is crazy competitive so I'll list this one first. Erica Baron is the two time defending champ. She also won in 2003 with a best time of 1hr30min, is a multiple winner at Pikes Peak and ran in the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials in St Louis. Baron's on the start sheet along with Magdalena Donahue, runner up in 2009. Donahue ran a 2hr44min Olympic Trials qualifier earlier this year and is gunning for her first win on Sandia's west face. After a year absence champion Rachael Cuellar is on the start sheet looking to add to her record 6 titles. The sortable entry list at makes it easy to spot the other top runners in this year's field including: Christie Aschwanden (CO), a past La Luz runner-up and third place finisher; Molly Krehlik (Abq), 2011 Jemez Mountain 50K champ; and Whitney Dreier of Santa Fe, (waddup!) the 2011 Valles Caldera marathon runner-up.

On the men's side we have last year's champion and un-official two time winner Kris Houghton. Houghton bandited and won in 2009 which may have led to a change in race sign-up from a manual lottery to the online system being used this year. He's also a 2:22 marathoner/adventurer/ultra guy/all around bad-ass. Following him up the trail for the second straight year is Santa Fe's Marc Esposito, last year's runner-up and 2010 Valles Caldera runner-up. Marc and Kris chase antelope in their spare time and put together do-it-yourself ultras from Albuquerque to Chimayo. These two are pals, but Espo is going to have to bring it to steal a third second title from Kris (but what would be his third straight win). Also in the mix is Houghton's Abq training partner Jesse Armijo, a 2:24 guy and top-20 national XC guy who I'd thought had finished third overall last year. Anyway, Armijo can move and will be up front with the leaders. Other top ten runners include:  Loren Woheltz (Los Alamos), perennial top ten finisher and 2010 Valles Caldera champ; Peter Doane (Abq), 2008 runner-up; Daryl Dagel (Abq); fellow outdoors blogger Jason Halladay (Los Alamos); and Santa Fe's Matt Dreier (waddup!).

A notable change in this year's race registration is that it has finally moved online. La Luz used to be a real benchmark in trail running circles and just did not adjust well when the popularity of the sport took off. It's nice to see it finally getting with the times a bit, and it's nice to see a field as stacked as this year's is. 

Race report and results here >>  La Luz Trail Run - 2011 Results

Recent years' results:
  -  2010 La Luz Trail Results
  -  2009 La Luz Trail Results
  -  2008 La Luz Trail Results

 List of Previous La Luz Champions

View La Luz Trail Run - Albuquerque, NM in a larger map

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