At today’s Broken Arrow 26K Skyrace in Squaw Valley, CA, Sam Sahli, 24, Evergreen, CO, and Morgan Arritola (pictured above – photo by Michael Scott), 33, Ketchum, ID, edged out a competitive field to earn the final automatic spots on the USATF Long Distance Mountain Running Team scheduled to compete in Argentina on November 16.
Sahli finished second overall in a talented field of US and international runners who were racing for points in the second stop on the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup circuit. Thirty-two year old Andrew Douglas, World Cup points leader having won the first race on the circuit, was again victorious taking a commanding lead just one kilometer into the course and extended a lead of three minutes by the 10K mark to nearly ten minutes at the finish line.
Douglas who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, posted a time of 1:56:31 over the challenging course boasting nearly 5300 feet of climbing. Sahli was timed in 2:06:18, followed by Italy’s Henri Aymonod in 2:08:03. The top three were all under the record set by Max King in last year’s race of 2:09:21, but the course was a bit shorter this year due to the amount of snow causing a few alterations.
Catching up with Sahli at the awards ceremony, he talked about putting Broken Arrow on his race schedule, “I wanted to make the mountain team. That’s why I came out. Competing on a US team is an incredible opportunity. I wanted to be the first American and also stick my nose in a race with Europeans.
“I just ran on the US Trail Team with high caliber athletes. It was awesome to be with my teammates in Portugal and race on a super technical European-style course to test myself.” In today’s race, Sahli stated that after about one kilometer into the race, it was clear that Douglas would not be caught. For much of the race, Sahli traded positions going from second to fifth, and then back up to his eventual silver medal finish.
“Climbing is where I feel the most comfortable so the climbs on the snow that were super steep were good for me,” said Sahli. “I don’t consider myself as strong on downhills, but today I felt good on the descents on the snow. I’m a skier and that is comfortable terrain for me.” It was hard to miss Sahli clad in a bright cutoff Buc-ees tie-dyed T-shirt. “I was inspired by my friends who came out and were rocking 2 XLs of the same shirt. It was awesome to have support from those who are close to me,” said Sahli.
On the women’s side competition at the finish line was much closer, but like Sahli, Arritola settled for second and top American as Canadian obstacle course racer, Lindsay Webster, 29, Ontario, rang the finish line bell first in a time of 2:22:35. Arritola crossed the line in 2:24:24 with fellow American and former US Mountain Running Team member Kasie Enman, 39, Huntington, VT, in third with a time of 2:29:09.
Arritola and Enman had both run the VK on Friday as part of the three-day Skyracing festival with Arritola striking gold in 45:50, and Enman finishing in bronze position timed in 49:27.
Arritola was thrilled to earn her spot on Team USA. “I’m super pumped to make the team and go to a new place,” she said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on a team. Today was a good opener for me. I fought as hard as I could based on my fitness. Luckily, there’s a lot of time between now and November.”
Next up for Arritola is the popular Cirque Series. “These are short hard efforts which is good for me. I’ll build up and do some longer distance toward the end of the summer. I also plan to do the USATF Mountain Running Championships at the end of September,” said Arritola.
Both Sahli and Arritola earned $750 for their second-place finish in addition to their team spot. There were 424 finishers in the 26K.
In addition to the VK on Friday, there was a 52K and an 11K on Saturday, and a kids 1K on Sunday. But, the weekend was not just about running. A vendor village included title sponsor Salomon and a number of other brands as well as ATRA.
Max King, 39, Bend, OR, won the VK proving his climbing strength reaching the finish line in 42:46. This translated to 13:45 per mile pace over a rugged and steep course which gained 2976 feet from start to finish. As mentioned, Arritola was first for the women and fourth overall with a stellar 14:45 per mile pace. Each won $500 for their wins. There were 156 finishers in the grueling uphill climb.
In Saturday’s 52K, it was Hayden Hawks, 28, Cedar City, UT, and Megan Kimmel, 39, Ridgway, CO, victorious. Their times were 4:25:50 and 5:09:40 respectively over the two-loop course with more than 10,500 feet of climbing. Each celebrated a $7500 pay day for their wins. There were 385 official finishers in the 52, which had a cutoff of 12 hours.
The 11K, featuring 1840 feet of ascent, saw New Englander, Gregory Krathwohl, 27, Ipswich, MA in a time of 51:47 first to the line. Californian Jennifer Schmidt, 27, Davis, was timed in 1:04:34 to win the women’s division and seventh overall. There was no prize money in the 11K which had 226 finishers.
One aspect of the Broken Arrow festival weekend was the challenge which is the Triple Crown. This is a test of grit and determination as the program recognizes athletes who finish the VK on Friday, the 52K on Saturday, and the 26K on Sunday. There were ten athletes who completed the trifecta with Vicki Oswald, 55, Port Costa, CA, as the sole female finisher in a cumulative time of 12:10:53 for top honors and Aaron Newell, 26, Olympic Village, CA, edging out the other eight men for bragging rights with a time of 8:19:58. Among the finishers in the trio of events was Michael Wardian, 45, Arlington, VA, who, earlier this year, ran a marathon on every continent winning each race.
Broken Arrow Skyrace is an ATRA race member and for the fourth time in its inception, the race has been held the weekend before Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, also an ATRA member. According to Broken Arrow co-race director and event founder, Brendan Madigan (see video interview below), Plans are already underway for year five.
Complete race results can be found on the Athlinks website.
More photos & videos by ATRA’s Richard Bolt, Tayte Pollmann and Nancy Hobbs are on Google Photos for the 26 km, 52 km and Vertical Kilometer (VK). USATF LDR Chairperson Michael Scott posted his photos on Google Photos.