For Immediate Release:
Nancy Hobbs, Chair
USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council
(719) 573-4405

June 7, 2003

Simon Guiterrez and Kari DiStefano Earn Berths on Teva US Mountain Running Team

Vail, CO - With a $6,000 prize purse as enticement, seven former mountain running team members competed in today's Teva Spring Run Off each hoping to earn a spot on the 2003 Teva US Mountain Running Team and in the process, receive some cash for their efforts. But with only two team spots guaranteed (top male and top female), most of the athletes would have to settle for the chance at an at-large berth on the team and perhaps an age-group victory.
The challenging 6.3-mile course boasted some long climbs as well as some screamer downhills. Race Director Mike Ortiz said, "The course is surprisingly dry after all the moisture we've had. With the condition of the course I'm sure it will boil down to a mental game - who can go out fast and stay strong through the finish."
Alamosa's Simon Guitterez, a member of last year's mountain team, led from the start and by mile four held a one-minute lead over his closest competitor 2000 team member and course-record holder of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon Matt Carpenter, Manitou Springs. Running strong on the downhill sections Carpenter was able to close the lead to within five seconds at the finish line for second place in 44:37.
"It was a tough race. The field was a lot deeper than I had expected and with Matt breathing down my neck the last few miles, I couldn't relax. I haven't really raced since Austria (site of the 2002 World Mountain Running Trophy where he finished a distant 121st after injuring his foot just two miles into the race) and I feel more fit than I did this time last year. My win here almost makes me forget my (bad) experience at Worlds last year," said Guitterez.
Scott Gall, who ran to an impressive fifth-place finish at Worlds in 1999, finished in third followed by Bill Ratter who recently moved to Estes Park with a goal of making this year's team. Ratter and other top men interested in making the Teva US Mountain Running Team can do so with a win at the Vail HillClimb on July 6 - the National Mountain Running Championships, at the final selection race on August 9 in Alaska, or being selected for an at-large spot by the 15-member USATF Mountain Ultra Trailrunning (MUT) Council.
On the women's side former team members Danelle Ballengee ('96, '97, '99, '01), Laura Bruess ('97, '98), Rene Frazee ('00) were dominated by Kari DiStefano who made her third consecutive US team with her win today. "I loved the course. It was custom-made for me with all the single-track downhill sections. Since I had a disappointing race season so far this year I had no expectations, so I'm delighted with the win and I'm psyched for Worlds in Alaska," said DiStefano who crossed the finish line in 53:02.
One of the world's top adventure racers Danelle Ballengee finished second and said, "This race showed me I need to spend more time running," as she hurried off to catch a flight to Salt Lake City to compete in an adventure race tomorrow.
Women have two more chances to make the team either at the final selection race or through selection for an at-large spot by the MUT council. The top male and female finishers at today's New England USATF Championships also earned automatic berths on the team (winners unavailable at press time). The team will compete at the World Mountain Running Trophy in Girdwood, Alaska September 20 and 21.
Gutierrez and DiStefano each earned a $1000 payday and were named USATF Colorado Association Trail Champions in the first ever association trail championship held in Colorado. DiStefano at 44-years-old also was named the USATF Colorado Association Masters Trail Champion. Forty-year-old Bernie Boettcher, Silt, won the men's masters title in 46:29 placing ninth overall.
Additional prize money winners included Ballengee and Carpenter who each won $750, Lisa Isom (third place female) and Gall with $500 each, and Laura Bruess (fourth woman) and Bill Ratter earning $250 each.
Race organizer Mike Ortiz was thrilled with the size and quality of the race field. With more than 250 participants, this year's race far exceeded last year's crowd of 78 runners. "Being part of the Teva Mountain Games has really made a difference for our event. Joining kayaking and mountain biking (among other events), trail running has been elevated to a major sport thanks to Teva."

For more information on the mountain running selection races, and our team sponsors, please visit the websites listed below: