USATF 50K Trail Championships Preview


Written by race directors Tim & Diana Fitzpatrick

Tamalpa Runners, Inc., Marin’s largest running club, will present the Tamalpa Headlands 50k trail race on Saturday August 29th, 2015. Designated this year’s USATF National 50K Trail Championship, the race has attracted an outstanding elite field. It starts and finishes at Santos Meadow, located between Muir Woods National Monument Park and Muir Beach. The course takes the 250 entrants over some of Marin’s most rugged and scenic trails, including Pirates Cove, the Miwok trail, the Dipsea, Coastal, and Steep Ravine. With 7,300 feet of challenging and technical elevation change, the race is as challenging as it is beautiful. Founded in 1998 by Tamalpa Runners, the Headlands 50k is coordinated by race directors Tim and Diana Fitzpatrick of Larkspur, California. A total of $5,000 of prize money will be at stake, along with course record incentives.

Among the favorites for the men is Patrick Smyth, who recently won at the USATF Mountain Championship at Mount Bachelor on July 25th, 2015. Patrick, who ran for Norte Dame, is the current course record holder of the Way Too Cool 50K (3:04:58) and brings with him a marathon personal best of 2:15 (Houston 2012). University of Colorado alumni Andy Wacker (pictured at the Zermatt Marathon), second finisher at Mount Bachelor in July and at the Pikes Peak Ascent, is also among the favorites. He brings a 10,000 track best of 28:52 and will be competing in his first ultra marathon. Both Symth and Wacker could threaten the current course record of 3:41:49 (Alex Varner 2013). Last years winner Ivan Medina (3:47:35) of Hayward, CA and runner up Galen Burrell (3:52:22) of San Anselmo, CA are also entered, as is Ben Stern (Arcata, CA), the champion of the 2015 Miwok 100K. Other men vying for prize money are David Roche (Sunnyvale, CA), Jared Basset (Bend, OR), Mario Mendoza (Bend, OR), Chris Vizcanio (Walnut Creek, CA), Levi Miller (San Anselmo, CA), Will Christian (Norfolk, VA), Yew Ferarra (Upper Lake, CA), and Sam Robinson (Oakland, CA). Tamalpa Runner’s own age group phenom, Mark Richtman (Novato, CA) will be competing in his sixth Headlands 50K and should threaten the 60-69 age group record (5:11:35).

On the women’s side Megan Roche (Sunnyvale, CA) will look to defend her 50K Trail National Championship (2014 Flagline 50K, 4:00:40). Megan is the current Way Too Cool course record holder (2015, 3:41:56) and the 2014 USATF 10K Trail Champion (Continental Divide 10K). She is currently a medical student at Stanford University. Pushing the pace with Megan will be recent Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Caitlin Smith from Oakland, CA (Grandmas 2:42:40), as well as 2:32 marathoner Emily Harrison from Flagstaff, AZ. Megan, Caitlin, and Emily should all challenge the current women’s course record of 4:25:15 (Kami Semick 2006). Other women that will be in contention are Lindsay Tollefson (Mammoth Lakes, CA), Tracie Akerhielm (Denton, TX), Clare Blaney (Oakland, CA), Amanda Felder (Del Mar, CA), and Claire Bernard (San Anselmo, CA). Five-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and the 2012 Tamalpa Headlands 50K winner, Lisbet Sunshine (Larkspur, CA), will be competing for the 50-59 age group course record.

Tamalpa Runners, Clif Bar, the official nutrition provider, and The San Francisco Running Company will be sponsoring a pre-race gathering on Friday, August 28th at San Francisco Running Company in Mill Valley at 5:30 PM. The Headlands Race Directors, elite runners, and USATF Officials will be present and all Tamalpa Headlands 50K runners are invited to attend.