Trail running is a great way to combine running and the outdoors and the Grandmaster Ultras was the race that brought folks over 50 to the Mohave Desert for some particularly challenging terrain. With trail runners coming all the way from New Jersey to compete Feb. 7-9, the Grandmaster Ultras hosted over 80 runners from 26 states.
The Grandmaster Ultras isn’t your typical marathon; distances for this competition began at 50k but they also offer 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile races and again, the age of the races is for people over the age of 50.
Fifty-five-year-old Karen Walrafen from Ashland OR won the 100-mile marathon for the women completing the race in just 25:32:02. Fifty-six-year-old Tor Gudnumdsen from Helena Mt. ran the 100 miles of rugged terrain in just 18:43:40 for the men’s win.
Participants ran along some foot trails but the 31-mile loop was made up of mostly ATV trails which contained some very large rocks, deep slopes and soft sandy hills. The first leg of their journey was a near 90 degree climb up the side of the mountain. Runners began behind the Beaver Dam Station and ran the first quarter of a mile on loose sand up the side of the mountain to Jones Flat.
100-mile runners completed the loop 3 and a half times. Walrafen said she kicked a lot of rocks in her overnight running and bruised several toes but that wasn’t the worst of her ailments. In her final hour of running, Walrafen suffered from an extremely pronounced lean to her left. It is a common phenomenon that affects some long-distance runners, but nobody knows exactly what causes it. Walrafen said this was her first 100-mile run, the first time she experienced anything like this and hopefully the last; it was very uncomfortable but didn’t stop her from completing her goal.
One of two oldest runners was 80-year-old Bill Dickey who placed fifth in the 100k run. Dickey is from Arcadia, CA and has been running long distance trails for 45 years. He paced himself, took the entire weekend to complete his run and finished in 40:27:30.
Hosting an event like this took many volunteers like Charles Williams, Lenore Huchins and Bill Spatz who kept worked out of the command center keeping in constant contact with the 7 stations set up throughout course. Williams and others had ATVs to run supplies back and forth and tend to runners as they came in the gate.
For more information on ultra-trail races, visit their website https://ultrasignup.com/default.aspx.