Written by USATF MUT Council vice-chair Meghan Laws.
The Jackpot Ultra Running Festival hosted the 2021 USATF 100 Mile Road Championships in Henderson, Nevada on April 24 where $10,000 in prize money was up for grabs.
With temperatures predicted to reach into the 90s, and wind gusts up to 40 mph for the USATF 100 Mile Road Championships, it was recommended by the race director Ken Rubeli to modify all goals to something more compatible with the weather. At 8:00 am, 60 degrees felt comfy for the 46 USATF athletes to start off at a quick pace.
Favorites Camille Herron, Marisa Lizek, Micah Morgan, and lesser known Stephanie Flippin made up the competitive field, with Herron leading early on. In the men’s field Zach Bitter (pictured above), Patrick Reagan, Rajpaul Pannu set an aggressive pace, with Pannu eventually pulling ahead with the lead in the early miles.
As promised, the temperatures crept higher, the paces slowed, stomach turned, and muscles cramped. Both Pannu and Reagan took extended breaks – Pannu for his stomach, Reagan for a troublesome calf. After a spell, they rallied again, falling back in placement, while veteran Jacob Jackson now ran in second place, as steady as clockwork.
Meanwhile in the women’s race, Herron battled stomach issues and heat with several stops in a cool tent and got iced multiple times, and time after time, she bounced back and held her lead for several more miles. Stefani Flippen and Marisa Lizek were often working together and switching their positions, with Micah Morgan carefully sticking to her own race plan. All four women were now ahead of the third place male.
Bitter continued to look strong on every lap, stopping to be doused every time. Pannu ran several more laps, but eventually could not get past the effects of the heat and the early fast pace, and called it a day. While Reagan was running well again, the gap between him and Jackson would prove to be too big to close.
Flippin and Morgan continued their steady pace, eventually overtaking Herron on one of her many crew stops, with Lizek not far behind. But as the temperatures cooled, Herron kept the fire under her feet and became focused on closing in on them all. She reeled in Lizek, and then Morgan, while Flippin’s lead had extended to more than one lap.
Bitter strategically took advantage of the absence of Pannu and Reagan to put as much distance on them as possible as he was feeling very strong, and it paid off. Now all eyes were on him and the clock, as the course record of 13:02 seemed very doable. With 3 laps to go, he took a short walking break, making us all a bit nervous, but he soon was running again, and cruised in to a course record finish of 12:52:14. Jacob Jackson ran well to second place and first male master in 14:12:52. Patrick Reagan finished third for the men in 14:51:54.
— USATF Mountain Ultra Trail (@usatf_mut) April 24, 2021
With seven laps to go Stefani Flippin was in a zone, and didn’t appear to be breakable. Each lap Herron tried to close in a bit more, and both women had some fast splits at the end, but Flippin held on despite a cramping body and a chin splitting fall on her last lap. Her time of 14:35:21 was a new course record. Herron was second in 14:42:18, and Morgan third, in 14:44:59. Amazingly, all top 3 women were on the last lap at the same time. And all three broke the course record.
Lizek was first female master in a quick 15:21:14. Sixty-four year old Larry Stephens of Portland, OR, came in second master, first in the age group of 60-64 with an impressive 16:51:12.
Overall USATF Championship race results are shown below: