Written by USATF Championship Liaison Lin Gentling. Photos by Lin Gentling.
Cold, cold, cold greeted the almost 700 runners from all over the United States to the 6th consecutive USATF Trail Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the Moab Trail Marathon on Saturday, November 2. Although Moab, Utah, was experiencing unusually cold weather, the desert highlands were sure to warm as the sun approached the canyon floor. And it was not to disappoint as the brilliant blue sky cast against the slick rock formations lent a majesty hard to find anywhere else. Runners remarked all day how beautiful this course is and one of the dominant reasons they return year after year. That combined with the impeccable leadership of race director, Danelle Ballengee provided for a perfect day.
The dry conditions saw several long sandy patches along the course, along with short gravel road sections, dry creek crossings, lots of single track trail and the beautiful slick rock all on a canvas that produced challenging efforts over altitudes ranging from 3800 to 5200 feet
The race leaders went our quickly as a group of four for the first 4 miles, after which time, Adam Peterman, a relative unknown to mountain and trail running decided it was time to veer off on his own. By mile 10 he had built a 13-minute lead and it really came down to 2 races for the men. Peterman and then the rest of the field, many of the top 10 hailing from Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado.
Adam Peterman, 24, Missoula, MT, is a man to watch over the next few years. He is relatively unknown to the big trail races but has been working hard building up to Moab. Peterman, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder, and an assistant coach for his alma mater, Hellgate High School in Missoula, ran for the Buffalos in both cross country and track and field. His training has been specific to Moab the past three months. He thought he might have a good shot at the win when he broke Jim Walmsley’s FKT on Mt Sentinel in Missoula by one minute this summer.
Of the Moab Trail Marathon, Peterman stated, “the first 20 miles I felt strong, but then miles 20 to the end were tough. I took more GU and seemed to feel better, but the last 5K were real hard.” His 2:57:28 was just under 2 minutes faster than last year’s winning time. His relaxed running style, conservation of effort, and the margin of victory with no one pushing him paints a great future ahead for Peterman.
Rounding out the top three were Western Colorado University teammates, Brian Whitfield, 23, and Jeshurun Small, 21, both of Gunnison, CO. Whitfield’s time of 3:08:54 put him almost 12 minutes behind Peterman and 1:30 ahead of Small (3:10:19). Both are seniors at the university, run on the Western Colorado University Trail Running Team, and have run this race previously mentioning it as their favorite event. They ran in the USATF Mountain Running Championships in New Hampshire on September 30, where Whitfield placed 8th and Small placed 13th.
Age group winners on the men’s side included age 40-44, Thomas Knowles, 44, Oakland, NJ, 3:42:35, age 45-49 Jason Troxler, Flagstaff, AZ, 3:45:47, age 50-54, Dan Vega, Colorado Springs, CO, 3:43:39, age 55-59, Dan Nielsen, 58, Avon, CO, 4:16:12, age 60-64, Tom Neuman, Millcreek, UT, 5:20:03, age 65-69 Randall Emmons, 67, Alamosa, CO, 5:56:34, and Bill Faulkner, 78, Broomfield, CO, 7:59:52. Nielson, Emmons, and Faulkner are repeat winners from 2018.
On the women’s side, champion, Chessa Adsit-Morris, 36, Santa Cruz, CA, led from start to finish. The two time PhD student in visual studies and in evolutionary biology at University of California Santa Cruz, she placed 3rd at the 2019 USATF 50K Trail Championships this past February and in 2015 won the NACAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association) Mountain Running Championship as a member of the Canadian Mountain Running Team. She has dual citizenship and is capable of running for both the US or Canadian teams. Her goal at Moab was to win and secure a national championship in the process.
This was her first time in Moab and on the course. The course was well marked, although she did go off course a very short distance a couple times but was quickly pulled back by the men running behind her. Adsit-Morris felt good for the most part, except she was very cold, “so cold, it felt like my eyeballs were freezing.” Training for this event was focused. She trains 4-5 times per week running and cross training with cycling on the other days and considers herself a bicycle racer as well. Concentrating on strength and altitude training the past three months, Adsit-Morris came to Moab prepared and feeling good about her chances. Her winning time of 3:40:31 was just over 9 minutes ahead of 2nd place, Collier Lawrence, 33, Bend, OR.
Lawrence, a 2016 Olympic Trails steeplechaser, took the 2nd spot in 3:54:44, followed closely behind by Tara Richardson, 28, Glenwood Springs, CO, making her comeback after a season of frustrating injuries in 3:56:43.
Age group winners on the women’s side included age 55-59, Susan Kendrick, 57, Hayward, WI, 7:03:08, age 60-64, Anita Rawlinson, 63, Moab, UT, 6:07:56, and age 65-69 Betty Wagner, 68, Portland, OR, 6:31:17.
Concurrently with the USATF Trail Marathon Championship were the open trail marathon, trail half marathon, and adventure 5K all happening on Saturday. On Sunday there was another trail half marathon to accommodate the many runners who wanted to participate in this incredibly well orchestrated event.
Results for all these events can be found at http://racingunderground.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16436&RId=401.
A very special thanks to Danelle Ballengee and her amazing army of Moab Trail Marathon volunteers. Each runner and their families and friends were welcomed to Moab, Utah, with each runner made to feel special and recognized for their incredible accomplishment. Regardless of where the runner finished or what their time was, everyone was treated as a winner!! This is definitely a race to be placed on your bucket list for the beauty, camaraderie, and sense of achievement.