by Alyssa Godesky
With the Ultra Race of Champions occurring two weeks earlier than previous years, it seemed we may beat the snow in Colorado; of course, that wasn’t the case! Runners awoke on UROC morning to a dusting of snow at the peaks around Copper Mountain, where the 2014 course was being run.
The two-loop course began with a section on the golf course at Copper. Runners got these faster miles out of the way quickly and were ascending the mountain as the sun was rising. Avery Collins, from Hampstead, NC, took out fast in the 50k race; the rest of the 100k frontrunners hung back and waited patiently for the day to unfold. Avery’s fast pace for the 50k dwindled, and he was reeled in by Matt Flaherty, the eventual 50k Champion, in 4:00:21. The men’s podium was rounded out by Rasmus Høeg and Jack Daly.
The women’s 50k was won decidedly by Ashley Erba, who also claimed the third overall spot for the race, in 4:21:47! Shawnie Mulligan, familiar with running Copper Mountain after her win at the Vertical K during La Maratona Verticale, came in second, and Heather Gollnick secured third place.
Meanwhile in the 100k, two King and Queen of the mountain competitions were being held, first at Copper Summit, won by Travis Macey and Anita Ortiz. The second, at Union Summit, was won by Chris Vargo and Anita Ortiz. From that point on Vargo lead the men’s race, winning with a time of 9:44:42. Looking strong the entire way in his longest run to date, the Nike-team runner has proven that he will be a force in the ultrarunning world for years to come. Dane Mitchell and Travis Macy took second and third, respectively.
The women’s race was quite close throughout the day, with both Cassie Scallon and Sandi Nypaver trailing only a few minutes behind Ortiz during the first lap of the course. The second lap proved to take its toll as the gap widened, and Anita Ortiz found herself taking home her first UROC championship in a time of 12:05:01! Cassie and Sandi held on for second and third to complete the podium. Our final finisher of UROC this year, Ross Bielak, won a special award, thanks to Nathan Sport’s “Run Stronger, Run Longer” campaign.
Finally, thank you to the volunteers who helped to make the 2014 UROC one of the most memorable yet!