Stephanie Howe Violett and Justin Ricks take national championship titles at the USATF 100k Trail Championships held in conjunction with the Bandera 100k – a Tejas Trail event.
Men’s early leaders, were misdirected by a spectator and failed to realize their error, in spite of indications that clearly indicated they were going the wrong way. Both of the top two men eventually dropped out.
Stephanie stated that winning this was a sweeter and bigger deal than her first national title because she overcame achilles problems the previous year. To come back and run well was a her goal, but to win and gain entry to Western States 100 mile Endurance Run, offered to the top two male and female runners at Bandera was on her mind. She is a former winner of Western States and was thrilled to gain entry.
She will now take some down time and ski and do yoga and prepare for UTMB (Ultra Trail Mont Blanc). She is a sports nutritionist and coach, sponsored by The North Face, Clif-bar and Nathan. She loved the technical course and said the volunteers were “awesome”.
First male and first time national champion was Justin Ricks of Colorado Springs, CO, 36, a professional race director, in 9:13:11. He also was misdirected by a spectator, but when he saw the Wrong Way sign he turned back and went on the correct trail. He said the trail was well marked, with well over a 1,500 markers.
Although gaining the “golden ticket” entry to WS100, he said he would not run it because he directs a race that day and he does not run well in heat. Today’s 20 degree starting temperature and highs in the low 40s was ideal for him.
Justin has reached the podium as a second place finisher and twice as a third place finisher in shorter trail championships of a half or full marathon, all in Moab, UT.
Second female, Camille Herron, on the rebound from a hamstring injury, with only 3 weeks of hill training and 3 weeks of speed work, was not in true form. The IAU 100k World Champion, struggled through the first 50 miles and suddenly everything started to feel better and she began to pass some the men. Catching the guys got her “pumped” and she finished in 9:29:56.
A professional runner, under contract with Nike, she will use her Western States entry. She is also doing Comrades Marathon the week prior and her goal is to win both of these major events. First she plans to get healthy. She will also run the Tarawera race in New Zealand, part of the Ultra World Tour.
The 35 year old from Oklahoma City, OK, will concentrate on ultras. In the future she hopes to run some of the classics, such as Greece’s 153 mile Spartathlon and the Styr Labs Badwater 135 from Death Valley to Mount Whitney.
Nicole Kalogeropoulos, 34, a Dallas based attorney, placed 2nd here in 2015 and is a past winner of the 100 mile Rocky Raccoon, in Huntsville State Park, TX. She started running ultras in 2011.
Jeff Ball, 27, from Duncanville, TX was the male runner up in 9:12:141. He moved up to the 100k after running the 25k the past two years. He works for the ad agency that produces The North Face Endurance Race Series.
Jeff plans on running the Western States 100 and prior to the June race in Squaw Valley, CA, he will run the American River 50 mile and Wings for Life, and international event that has races all over the world on the same day to benefit spinal core research. This was only his second 100k race.
Third place honors for the men went to Joel Frost-Tift, 28, of Los Angeles. He will accept the Western States entry turned down by the leader, where he has run as a pacer. He is signed up for the Sean O’Brian 100k, but may drop down to the 50k to prepare.
Prize money of $4,000 was distributed to the top open and masters runners.
USATF only championship results with age groups can be found here.
Complete race results are posted at http://edsresults.com/bandera17/
For photos of the race visit Enduro Photo.