Flagstaff, Arizona // Words and pictures by Josh Eberly
Sandwiched in between 2 full days of driving, the trail team took part in the Flagstaff Sky Peaks race in Flagstaff, Arizona. The event was held at the Snowbowl Ski Resort which holds Humphreys Peak, the highest natural point in Arizona.
Early Saturday morning at 5am, Benjamin Kusnetzky ( sophomore ), started the 50 mile trek that routed around the San Francisco Peaks. The first climb was the biggest, as it went straight up Humphreys Peak, which was just below the summit of 12,000 ft. Ben started and finished the race using his head torch, which he used to light his way through the dark. Ben was all smiles coming in the finish, along with teammate Josh Jones ( junior ) who jumped in at mile 41 to help pace Ben to the finish line. Ben finished up just over 14 hours for the 50 mile grueling distance.
“I under-estimated the first climb in that race. It took me longer than I thought. After the first climb, I found my pace and had a blast running around this beautiful mountain town.” – explained Ben.
The next race that morning started at 6am, which was a 50km distance that explored similar up and down hill climbs on Humphrey’s Peak. Jeshurun Small ( senior ), Doug Eby ( 2nd year graduate ) and Lindsey Herman ( junior ) were all a part of this 31-ish mile race. Jeshurun led from the gun and took the victory in just over 4 hours 42 mins. On the first decent, Jeshurun tripped up on a tree and did a full-front flip that luckily didn’t cause to much damage, just a few scrapes.
When asked about the race, Jeshurun expressed:
“It was a tough day out there. One of those days were you just have to put one foot in front of the other and get to the finish line. It was stunningly beautiful out there, but I was a bit tired from racing last week.”
Lindsey Herman started out smart and was passing competitors the entire day. At mile 18, she was sitting around in 6th place as she left that aid station. She passed another 2 females to get her just outside of podium in 4th place in 6 hours 47 mins.
She received a surprise at the finish line as her brother was there cheering her on, who that morning drove up from Albuquerque, NM. Herman didn’t have any idea that her brother was coming, so she was excited as she crossed the finish line.
Doug Eby had a good day as well. Eby had few rough patches in the last 10km, but was able to pull things together for a mere 40 min personal best in the 50km distance.
The Western Trail Team had 7 athletes run the 25km distance that started at 7am. Kieren Nay ( sophomore ) and Megan Bamford ( sophomore ) both received runner-up hardware in the 16 mile distance. Carter Baker ( freshman ), Elliot Shaw ( junior ), Josh Jones ( junior ), Julio Ramos ( freshman ) and Meaghan Forbes ( sophomore ) were all close behind, respectively. For freshman runners Julio and Carter, this was the longest foot-race they both have completed. When asked about the race, Julio said:
“I learned a lot today. I now know the importance of hydrating and nutrition during these longer races. My legs cramped up pretty bad towards the end, I definitely needed more sodium and electrolytes.”
“This course threw everything at these athletes today. A big reason why I love this sport so much. You have to be an all-around great athlete to be successful at these races. You can’t just be good at just one thing, you need to be good at up-hills, down-hills, eating/fueling, technical running and making sure we are focusing on pace early on. These athletes did an awesome job at learning some valuable lessons to take to their next race.”
Next up for these Western Trail athletes will be the W Mountain Race, which is a 2.8 mile race up Tenderfoot Mountain in Gunnison, Colorado.