Bend, Oregon trail runners Mario Mendoza and Renee Metivier earned more national championship titles at the Moab Trail Marathon and USATF Trail Marathon Championships. Mario finished in 3:13:55 while Renee, in her first trail marathon crossing the finish line in 4:08:03.
More than 1800 runners participated Saturday’s races which included the Moab Trail Marathon, the USA Track & Field Trail Marathon Championships, the Moab Trail Half Marathon, and an Adventure 5K. On Sunday, there will be another edition of the Moab Trail Marathon, which is expected to attract another 500 runners for this increasingly popular and scenic race weekend.
With so many runners on a course that boasted significant elevation gain (some 3500 vertical feet in the marathon and 1800 vertical feet in the half), and long stretches of single track, a wave start is implemented on both Saturday & Sunday races. This served a two-fold purpose. It reduces congestion on the course and it lengthens the festivities at the start/finish area to the delight of the hundreds of spectators.
Temperatures for the 8 AM national championship race start were in the 50’s; warmer than in past years and overcast for most of the day. Strong gusty winds provided extra challenge for runners on the course and in the start / finish area which was pelted by periodic blowing sand.
In the USATF Championships division, medals for the top ten overall as well as masters age group awards and $3500 in prize money were up for grabs for the more than 50 USATF competitors.
2015 winner Mario Mendoza, 32, Bend, Oregon, came back strong in 2017 to win his 4th national championship title and earn an automatic spot on Team USA for the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. According to Mendoza; “I executed on my race plan the way I wanted”, running the first 10 miles under control before dropping Anthony Costales and Patrick Parsel by the big climb at mile 14.
Anthony Costales, 29, Salt Lake City, Utah, finished second in the USATF championships division with a time of 3:19:20, and Patrick Parsel, 31, South Lake Tahoe, California rounded out the top three in 3:24:27. Fun fact; Mario Mendoza and Patrick Parsel were roommates in college and share the same winged foot tattoo on their calfs.
On the women’s side, Renee Metivier, 35, Bend, Oregon, bested last year’s 4th place finisher Sandi Nypaver, 29, Boulder, CO, to the finish line to earn the victory and her second USATF trail running championship. In October 2016, Metivier won the USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships in Bellingham, Washington. According to Metivier; “compared to road marathons, trails are more mentally fatiguing. On the roads it’s all about pace but on trails more mental focus is required”. Like Mendoza, Metivier earned a spot on Team USA for the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
Metivier posted a time of 4:08:03 to Nypaver’s 4:08:57. Rounding out the top three was Michelle Hummel, 22, Albuquerque, New Mexico, timed in 4:17:50.
Most athletes who had previously run the race felt this year’s course ran slower due to the dry, sandy conditions as well as the out-n-back turn around location being further up the canyon which added another half mile. Some runners including women’s winner Renee Metivier ran about a mile off course having missed the turn around due to a late arriving volunteer at the turn around.
In addition to the top-ten overall USATF awards, there were age group winners including one master (age 40 and over), who broke into the top 10. Chris Grauch, 45, Nederland, Colorado, 3:51:55, in his fifth marathon effort at Moab, finished tenth overall. Corrine Walton, 47, Portland, Oregon, was the top masters female among the USATF finishers timed in 6:02:58. Both earned $250 for their masters’ wins.
For Chris Grauch, 10th overall was his best place finish at Moab but 3:51:55 was his slowest time in five appearances. According the Grauch; “I started at a comfortable pace and slowed down from there.” Not fazed, Grauch looks forward to more national championships with hopes of adding more masters titles to his current collection of seven in four different events (Marathon Trail, Mountain, Half Marathon Trail & 30K).
For their wins, Mendoza and Metivier each pocketed $499. Nypaver and Costales each earned $401 for 2nd, Hummel and Parsel each took home $300 for 3rd, Anna Dalton and Jeff Colt each received $200 for 4th, while Abby Levene and Jeason Murphy won $100 for 5th.
Other age group winners included Michael Robbert, 42, Lakewood, CO, 4:18:13 (40-44); Ted MacMahon, 51, Flagstaff, AZ, 4:05:05 (50-54); Dan Nielson, 56, Avon, CO, 4:42:11 (55-59); Anita Rawlinson, 61, Red Lodge, MT, 6:29:04 (60-64); Len Hall, 64, Enfield, NH, 5:39:01 (60-64); Randall Emmons, 65, Alamosa, CO, 5:53:24 (65-69).
Complete results can be found on the Racing Underground website.
Race pictures by Richard Bolt can be found on Google Photos.