On Saturday, February 16, Singletrack Running’s FOURmidable 50K will host the USA Track & Field’s 50 km Trail Championships for the second time. First organized in 2013, the FOURmidable 50K hosted the 2017 championship with 2011 World Mountain Running Champion Max King and 2016 U.S. Trail Team member YiOu Wang winning their respective titles.
FOURmidable is known as one of the toughest races in the area, and is considered to be the first high profile event of the trail racing season for Northern California runners. Taking place just outside Auburn, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, FOURmidable uses some of the same trails as the famous Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. The course boasts more than 6000 feet of ascent and features FOUR big climbs; Cardiac Hill, K2, Knickerbocker and Overlook Hill.
$5,000 in prize money will be up for grabs as more than 250 runners are schedule to compete in the 50 km national championship. With the addition of a 35K, half marathon and 13K, a total of 600 runners will compete in four races taking place Saturday and Sunday.
According to race director Paulo Medina, “Hosting the USATF Championships is a great honor for our organization. We are excited to receive and show our trails to the USATF community and play a role in the U.S. TRAIL TEAM selection. Auburn is well known for the Western States 100 Mile but there are many other trails available to us. While FOURmidable does use a short section of the Western States course, runners will get to experience trails unknown to even locals.”
In addition be being a national championship, this event is the second and final selection race for the U.S. Trail Team scheduled to compete at the 2019 Trail World Championships in Portugal on June 8. The top 2 men and women will earn automatic selection to the team. *
Athletes who participate in USATF National Championships and Team USA competitions are subject to drug testing performed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. Last year 10 anti-doping tests were administered by USADA at three different USATF mountain, ultra & trail running championships.
As expected from a part of the country with so many strong trail runners, the elite field for this years event is chock-full-o-fasties.
On the women’s side, Daniella Moreno (Santa Barbara, CA), is coming off a strong 2018 when she won the 26K Broken Arrow Skyrace and the 27K Franklin Mountains Trail Run. Moreno was also a member of the U.S. team finishing 21st at the 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
Rachel Drake (Portland, OR), won the 2018 USATF Trail Marathon Championships hosted by the Moab Trail Marathon and also won the 2018 Waldo 100K. Perhaps she’ll find her distance sweet spot at 50K and bring home a second national championship title in four months.
Anna Mae Flynn (Marble, CO), has had strong domestic and international results over the past two years including a sixth place at the 2018 Transvulcania 73K and 13th at the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira. In the U.S. Flynn was second at the 2017 Pikes Peak Ascent and won the 2017 Speedgoat 50K. Earning versatility points, Flynn also won the 2016 U.S. Snowshoe National Championships in Ogden, UT.
Experienced ultra and trail runner Devon Yanko (San Anselmo, CA), will also toe the start line having been a past member of the U.S. Ultrarunning Team and competing in the IAU 100K (road) World Championships. Devon won the 2017 Dick Collins 50 Mile, the 2017 Leadville 100 Mile and finished second at the 2017 USATF 50 km Road Championships at Caumsett State Park, NY.
Among masters women, Trisha Steidl (Seattle, WA), is the defending USATF 50 km Trail masters champion having won last year’s event at the Ragged Mountain 50K. On the last day of 2018, Steidl won the UPWC – Owyhigh Lakes Loop 40 Mile race.
The men’s field is just a strong with a trio of former U.S. Trail Team members gearing up for the win.
David Roche (Boulder, CO), raced at the 2016 Trail World Championship where he helped the men win a team bronze medal and competed at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships. Roche has won a number of well know San Francisco Bay Area trail races including the 2018 Red Tail Ridge Trail Run, 2017 Oakland Hills Trail Run, 2017 Mt Diablo Trail Run and 2017 Cinderella Trail Run. Roche also finished third at the 2017 FOURmidable – the last time it was a USATF championship.
David Kilgore (New York, NY) has flown all the way across the United States to try some butter-smooth California single-track. Kilgore finished 3rd at the 2018 USATF 50 km Trail Championship and won the 2018 Breakneck Point 42K Trail Run. Getting the most from his trip West, Kilgore is also registered for the FOURmidable 13K on Sunday, the day after the championship.
Alex Varner (Mill Valley, CA), was a member of the bronze medal winning 2015 U.S. Trail Team at the inaugural Trail World Championships in Annecy, France and returned to the team again in 2016 when the Trail World Championships was held in Braga, Portugal. Varner won the 2018 Elk-Kings Trail Race (50K), has won previous editions of the famous Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and Quad Dipsea, and finished seventh at the 2014 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
Tim Tollefson (Mammoth Lakes, CA), will come down from 7881’ where he lives to a more reasonable 1200’ to race the FOURmidable. Tollefson was a teammate with Varner at the 2015 Trail World Championships. More recently Tollefson won the 2018 Javelina Jundred 31K, finished third at the 2018 Speedgoat 50K and was third at the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120K in Italy. In 2017, Tollefson finished third at the famous UTMB in Chamonix, France.
Ryan Ghelfi (Ashland, OR), has had strong results in Northern California and Oregon in the past year with a win at the 2018 30K Headwaters Trail Run, second at the 2018 Run the Rock 50 Mile and was 11th at the Eiger Ultra-Trail 101K in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
Not to be outdone by his wife, Uli Steidl is also the defending USATF 50 km Trail masters championship after winning the 2018 event at Ragged Mountain in New Hampshire. More recently Steidl finished second at the 2018 Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon in Enumclaw, Washington.
In addition to being a USATF Championship and sanctioned event, the FOURmidable is also a 2019 UTMB qualifying race.
* Complete selection criteria for the 2019 U.S. Trail Team can be found here: