Ultrarunners to tackle Tahoe Rim Trail | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ultrarunners to tackle Tahoe Rim Trail

Sylas Wright, Tribune News Service

Far, farther or farthest. Those are the options presented to ultrarunners brave enough to take on Saturday’s Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50M/100M Endurance Runs.

Truckee’s Gretchen Brugman, who has sampled each of the three distances, chose farther for what will be her fourth year competing. That’s 50 miles, beginning at the Spooner Lake start line at 5 a.m. and ending at the same location after 9,984 feet of elevation gain and loss.

“I need to take a year off from the 100-miler,” said Brugman, who finished the 100-mile race in 28 hours, 29 minutes last summer – climbing and descending nearly 20,000 feet along the way. “I’ll probably come back and do it again at some point.”

Brugman ran the 50-kilometer race in 2003 – the shortest distance – and the 50-miler in 2007. Although a sprained ankle has hampered her training of late, she hopes to eclipse her 2007 time of 11 hours, 5 minutes.

“I’d like to be faster than that, but we’ll see how it goes,” Brugman said.

The Truckee athlete is one of 143 ultrarunners registered for the 50-mile race, and one of 446 total between all three distances, according to the entrant list. It shows 189 entrants for the 50K race and 112 for the 100-miler.

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Included on the 100-mile roster is co-defending champ Erik Skaden of Folsom (Calif.), who shared the 2008 title with Mike Wolfe of Missoula, Mont., after the two crossed the finish line simultaneously slightly over 18 hours, 59 minutes.

In agreeing to finish together, Skaden and Wolfe shared the USA Track & Field National 100-Mile Trail Championship and its $1,000 prize purse. The event also serves as the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) 100-Mile National Ultra Championship and the RRCA Nevada State 50-Mile and 50K State Championships. It’s put on by the Sagebrush Stompers and the Tahoe Mountain Milers running clubs.

Unlike the men’s 100-mile field, the defending women’s champ, Nikki Kimball of Bozeman, Mont., as well as the runner-up, Beverly Anderson-Abbs of Red Bluff, are not slated to compete.

Truckee’s Peter Fain will return to defend his 50K title, which he won in 2008 with a time of 4:48:30, and won in 2007 with a course record of 4:33:29, while two-time defending 50-mile champ Thomas Reiss of San Luis Obispo is not on the entrant list.

Reiss holds the 50-mile course record of 7:52:09. The 100-mile record stands at 18:16:01, set by Jasper Halekas of Oakland in 2007.

While the trio of endurance runs are described on the race website as “a glimpse of heaven and a taste of hell,” Brugman said the scenery overlooking Lake Tahoe coupled with the friendly nature of the athletes and supporters is reason enough to return.

“I love the course. It’s beautiful,” she said. “And last year I had a great experience with all the people who are out there volunteering at the aid stations, and even the other runners. I really like the people.”