Words by Levi Stone / Full Results here
Our own Mountain Sports Trail Running Team headed to Virgin, Utah to compete in the Zion Trail Festival over the second weekend in April, 6th – 9th, the only race on the roster for the spring semester and racing season. The team was blessed with comfortable temps, overcast skies, and a breeze, setting up the ideal weather for some trail racing.
Four athletes toed the line Friday morning at 6am for the start of the 100K and 100 mile races. Jeshurun Small, Kendal Cox, and Clark Thompson represented in the 100K race, and Kelsey Swanson was the only athlete to wear a red W in the 100 mile race. All four athletes rolled through the 30 mile aid station tired, but chipper and determined.
To finish up the Friday racing day, Smalls was the first athlete to finish a race over the weekend with a time of 12:50:30.2, snagging him 11th place, and a first place for his age group. Thompson rolled into the finish in just under 14 hours, setting a PR, and Kendal Cox finished in just over 18 hours, her first ever ultra event.
Saturday morning began at 6am with the 55K race. Athletes in this event included Marcel Such, Daniel Bloom, Kevin Geisen, Ande Loyde, Bryant Knigge, Amanda Campbell, and Kat Hebda. Such was able to hang with the top pack and pull together a 5th place in this event, and teammates Bloom and Geisen were close behind finishing within a second of each other, making their finish by far the most exciting finish of the weekend. Their times were 5:03:32 & 5:03:33, respectively.
Campbell, Hebda, and Knigge also ran strong and finished their first ultra events. Knigge, a transfer to Western just this semester, has only been running for three months before his 50K over the weekend, showing great potential for the fall racing season.
At 7am on Saturday, the half marathon began, signaling the last race start of the weekend. Timberlin Henderson, Levi Stone, Samantha (Bob) Maddox, Dannielle Sweet, and Eleanor Skinner were the athletes competing in this event. Henderson was the first Mountain Sports Athlete to cross the line in 8th place, followed closely by Stones in 10th. Sweet, Skinner, and Maddox all had strong performances, finishing well.
Finally, the last finisher, but certainly not least, was Kelsey Swanson crossing the finish line Saturday afternoon, completing her first ever 100 mile race in 33:29:19.1. Swanson topped off the racing weekend for the team with another great finish.
A big shout out to the teammates who paced their friends and teammates during their ultra events on Friday, and through the night into Saturday. Some even went on to compete in their own races the next morning. Special thanks go to the fantastic Trail Team coaches, Josh Eberly and Bill Hibdon, who are the reason this team finished the weekend with zero DNFs and top finishes.
Keep an eye out for more incredible results from this great group of athletes later on when they return for their fall racing season in the 2017-2018 academic year.