USATF 50K Trail Championships Preview

Written by Lin Gentling, USATF Championship Liaison.

USATF 50K Trail National Championships – Fourmidible 50K, Auburn, CA.

While the southern part of California has been pummeled by high winds and significant amounts of rain, the Auburn area has not escaped the rain. The earth is saturated from the rains of the past week and still it continues. However ultrarunners are no strangers to inclement weather and many thrive on it.

The 4th annual Fourmidible 50K USATF National Trail Championships will start Saturday morning regardless of what Mother Nature throws our way. While parts of the trails are underwater, that only makes the race even more interesting.

This is Western States country and the lineup of runners for the national championship reflects the high caliber of these events. Race director Paulo Medina and his tremendous team from Single Track Racing has done a remarkable job seeing that the runners needs will be taken care of while directing a safe race and fun experience for all involved.

Course records will likely be seriously challenged with the exceptional field that will toe the 50K line. Ben Johnson from Folsom, CA currently has the men’s record at 4:09:15, set in 2014, while Bev Anderson Abbs, Red Bluff, CA has the distaff record at 4:55.34, also set in 2014. With the 2017 event bringing in 226 registrants from 8 states in the US and from Canada, this is over 3 times more than 2016 when 75 runners completed the Fourmidible 50K. Clearly the reputation of this event has spread within the ultra-community. Neither Ben nor Bev will be running this year, and with the current record in jeopardy, new champions and possible course records will be crowned.

Among the 226 entrants, Yiou Wang, 31, from San Anselmo, CA, looks to be the early favorite among the women. She was part of the 2016 US National World Ultra Trail Team and had a successful 2016 season. The queen of ultrarunning, Meghan Arbogast, 55, from Cool, CA, looks to be among the best master’s runner in the field as well as among the top overall female contenders. She has been a member and top finisher for 8 US 100K National Teams competing in the IAU 100K World Championships, is a 10 time top 10 finisher in Western States, and holds two world age group records in the 100K. The race course is her backyard and she is very familiar with the route and has been training well. Odds on favorite, Megan Roche, was unfortunately sidelined with the “wicked crud” illness the last couple weeks and instead will run in one of the shorter races. Others in the women’s field to watch include Addie Bracy, 30, Longmont, CO; Jennifer Pfeifer, 45, El Dorado, CA.

On the men’s side, it’s a very close call. It could go anywhere with Andy Wacker, 28, Boulder, CO; David Roche, 28, Sunnyvale, CA; Max King, 36, Bend, OR; Ryan Woods, 37, Boone, NC; and Cole Watson, 25, Ashland, OR all entered in the 50K. It may come down to who can run best on wet, submerged, slippery trail conditions. Andy won the 2015 US Trail 50k Championship and placed 2nd as a member of the 2015 US Mountain Team at the WMRA Long Distance Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland, and was a member of the 2016 US Mountain Running Team. Max was a member of the 2010 US Mountain Running Team, the 2014 US 100K Team taking the 100K World Champion gold medal individual and part of the 2014 World Champion gold medal 100k team. David is a 2-time 10K trail national champion in 2012 and 2014, member of the 2014 US Mountain Running Team and 2015 US Long Distance Mountain Team.

All in all, the day will dawn shortly and history could be made in the world of USA trail ultrarunning. Stay tuned as we do our best to provide updates as the 50K USATF National Championship race progresses.

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