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In this week’s running news, on her fifth and final try, Steph Bruce won the Great Cow Harbor 10K Run in grand fashion.
The soon-to-retire 38-year-old mother of two and member of the Hoka-sponsored Northern Arizona Elite team, not only won the 42nd edition of the iconic road race in Northport, New York, but she also smashed the course record, won her second U.S. 10km title and took home $10,000 in prize and bonus money.
She averaged 5:09 per mile enroute to winning in 31:52, 26 seconds ahead of Erika Kemp’s previous course record of 32:18. Part of the USATF Running Circuit, the Cow Harbor race was the ninth stop of this year’s series, which will conclude with the California International Marathon on December 4 in Sacramento, Calif.
For Bruce, who will retire from elite running at the end of this year, the win was extra special. She first ran the race 12 years ago and finished second, and in her three subsequent attempts at the race she finished second twice and fourth once.
“After the first time I was like, I have to come back and try to win this race one year,” Bruce told Race Results Weekly. “I kept coming back but, obviously, have not pulled off the ‘W.'”
But today, that all changed for the mother of two sons, Riley and Hudson, who were with her during the race weekend, along with Bruce’s husband, Ben.
Using her experience with the notoriously-hilly course to her best advantage, Bruce held back in the first half of the race. She was among the early leaders up the super-steep James Street Hill in the second mile, where the lead pack was cut from seven to four, and did not react when Nell Rojas put in a brief surge just before the halfway point to pick-up the $500 leader’s prime (16:05 at 5km). At that point the leaders were already ahead of the required pace to break Kemp’s 2021 course record.
“I think we were just four of us,” Rojas explained, referring to Bruce, Ednah Kurgat (U.S. Army), Annie Frisbie (Puma/Minnesota Distance Elite) and herself. “At the halfway mark I knew there was a prime… and no one else was surging. (I was) like, oh, I’ll put in a little surge. So, I got the prime, but that is so unlike me.”
The four stayed together through the 4-mile mark, and about a half-mile later Bruce was seen looking at her watch. She knew what to do.
“Everyone was just throwing punches,” Bruce said as she described the first half of the race. “After, I think, mile 4 when I knew it was a gradual climb up to 5, I said to myself, ‘you’ve just got to make it hurt right now.’ We’re all hurting, but I know the course. And so, I just kind of made a move and started grinding.”
Bruce, who is in the middle of training for the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6, felt strong. She didn’t let up, and her pace was just too fast for her rivals to catch up. She took full advantage of the final, downhill mile, and crossed the line in a superb 31:53, just four seconds slower than her personal best. Rojas was the closest to Bruce, clocking 31:56 to take second. Frisbie (31:59) and Kurgat (32:04) rounded out the top-four, all getting under Kemp’s previous course record, while Emma Hurley was fifth in 32:49. Kemp had an off-day, finishing eighth in 33:00. (Also of note, teen phenom Zariel Macchia, 16, from Shirley, New York, placed 18th in 36:00.)
“I knew I had to grind the finish because I knew Annie was coming in hot,” Bruce said, looking equal parts triumphant and relieved. “Those ladies took me all the way to the line out there. They were so tough.”
While delighted to have won today, Bruce thought that the example she set for younger athletes, both today and in the years before, was far more important.
“It’s exciting,” Bruce said of her win. “What do you want to be remembered by? I’m like, I shouldn’t be remembered because there will be better women who come after me. And that’s what I’m hoping. They’ll see age is not a number, even though I’m at the end I can still kick ass and they’re going to keep kicking ass, too.”
Brinkman, Mascarenas Win Pikes Peak Races
The Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.3-mile race to the summit of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak, drew its most competitive women’s field in the race’s 66-year history on September 17. That was partially because it was part of the Salomon-sponsored Golden Trail World Series this year and featured a $9,000 prize purse, plus additional bonuses for course-record times.
The race starts on the roads in the quaint downtown of Manitou Springs, Colorado, follows a steep ascent along Ruxton Avenue and then sends runners up dozens of switchbacks along Barr Trail to the top of the mountain. From bottom to top, runners ascend 7,700 feet and finish not far from where Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem that would become the lyrics for the song, “America the Beautiful” in 1893.
But this year it was Dutch runner Nienke Frederiek Brinkman (2:27:26) who was the first runner to reach the top of the purple mountain majesty, outrunning Switzerland’s Maude Mathys (2:28:40) by more than a minute to claim the $3,000 first prize. Brinkman is a rare athlete who succeeds at both high-level road running races and trail running races throughout the year. On the roads this year, she placed second at the Rotterdam Marathon in late April in a Dutch national marathon record of 2:22.51 and then on August 15 earned the bronze medal (2:28.52) in the marathon at the European Championships in Munich. She also won the Zegama-Aizkorri Alpine Marathon on May 29 in Spain in 4:16.43.
Mathys, who won the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2019, set a new 35-39 age-group record and took home $1,500. U.S. professional Nordic skier Sophia Laukli was third in 2:34:30, followed by Americans Allie McLaughlin (2:39:40) and Kim Dobson (2:40:45) in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Pikes Peak Marathon, held on September 18, is a 26.2-mile roundtrip race on the same course. Kristina Mascarenas of Colorado Springs won the marathon for the second time in five years by going up and down the mountain in 4:37:31. Not only did she outrun Denver’s Brittany Charboneau (4:50:46), but Mascarenas set a new 30-34 age-group course record for the descent.
She ran up the mountain in 3:03:56, an effort that gave her an 8-minute lead over Charboneau at the turnaround point and put her in 23rd place overall. But then she blazed down the mountain in a record-setting 1:33:34— a split that was only bested by five men—and helped her move all the way up to 11th place overall. Mascarenas, who also won the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2017 (4:38:54) and placed third in 2016 and 2018, took home $2,000 for the win.
Annie Hughes Earns Huge Payday at Run Rabbit Run 100
Annie Hughes continued her excellent track record in long ultras on Saturday, winning the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The 24-year-old Hoka-sponsored runner placed 10th overall and covered the 101-mile course in 21:26. That earned her the $15,000 winner’s paycheck, which is one of the largest in the trail running world this year.
Hughes, a resident of Leadville, Colorado, has won several races of 100 miles or longer since 2021, including the High Lonesome 100 in Buena Vista, Colorado, in July and the Cocodona 250 in Arizona back in April. She also won the Leadville 100 and Moab 240 last year.
New this year at Run Rabbit Run 100 was a two-person team competition with a $5,000 cash prize for the winning duo. Prior to the race, Hughes paired up with Peter Mortimer of Flagstaff, Arizona, and took the team name of “The Cocodonuts” because Mortimer had also run the Cocodona 250 this year. Mortimer finished 13th overall and 12th among men, in 21:35, giving them the team win with a combined time of 44:05:21 and Hughes a $17,500 total payday for her efforts.
Second place in the team competition went to Team M-Orr-S-Orr (Brad Orr of South Carolina, who was 12th overall and 11th among men, and California’s Maria Steinhauser, who placed 39th overall and 12th among women) with a combined time of 49:40:28.
Tara Dower of Wake Forest, N.C., finished second in the women’s race in 23:08 and took home $8,500, while Mary Baughman, of Boulder, Colorado, was third in 23:10 and earned $5,000.
Hughes credited her crew chief Olga King for helping her keep a good perspective throughout the race and also getting in and out of aid stations quickly.
“I just wanted to go out there, give it my all, and try to follow Olga’s pace chart that she wrote for me to the best of my ability. It really changed my mindset from racing other people, which is very unpredictable—especially in this sport where literally anything can happen—to racing for a time,” said Hughes, who is running the Halloween-themed Javelina 100 on October 29 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. “Truly so grateful for this unexpected win and for all of the support I had out on the course from Olga, my family, and all of the amazing volunteers! Couldn’t have done it without all of them.”
In the Run Rabbit Run 50-mile race, Georgia Porter of Flagstaff, Arizona, was the outright winner after beating all of the other 152 finishers. She finished in 8:29—13 minutes ahead of runner-up Rick Davey of Golden, Colorado—in the third-fastest women’s time in the race’s 17-year history.
Top-ranked N.C. State Wins Adidas XC Challenge
N.C. State, the No. 1-ranked women’s cross country team at the NCAA Division I ranks, easily won the Adidas XC Challenge on September 16 in Cary, North Carolina, by placing six runners among the top eight finishers.
Junior Samatha Bush won the 5km race in 16:14, just ahead of freshman teammate Marlee Starliper (16:20). Junior Mariah Howlett (16:37) was next in third, followed by senior Savannah Shaw (16:52) in fifth, sophomore Gionna Quarzo (16:59) in sixth) and freshman Brooke Rauber (17:12) in eighth. Post-collegiate runner Michaela Reinhart of Railroad Athletics (16:48) finished fourth to break up the dominant Wolfpack front five.
N.C. showed its depth and gave several younger runners a chance to compete while holding out several of the runners that should be among the program’s top seven this fall, including—Katelyn Tuohy, Kelsey Chmiel, Syd Seymour, Shannon Sefton and Alyssa Hendrix. Next up for the Wolfpack is Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational on September 30 in South Bend, Indiana.
As of this week, it’s officially fall marathon season. The September 25 Berlin Marathon is the first of a trio of World Marathon Majors this fall, with the London Marathon (October 2), Chicago Marathon (October 9) and New York City Marathon (November 6) following in succession. The Berlin Marathon will be broadcast in the U.S. via livestream at FloTrack.org (subscriber’s only) beginning at 3 a.m. ET.
America record-holder Keira D’Amato and Kenya’s Nancy Jelagat are among the leading entries for the elite women’s field in Berlin. D’Amato clocked 2:19:12 to win the Chevron Houston Marathon in January and went on to finish eighth at the World Athletics Championships on home soil in Oregon, running 2:23:34. The 37-year-old has the fastest personal best time among the 21-runner women’s elite field and has said she’ll be trying to lower her U.S. record, but there are seven other athletes faster than 2:21. Jelagat finished second in last year’s Berlin half marathon, running 1:05:21, and then won the Valencia Marathon in 2:19:31.
D’Amato will be joined by American compatriot Sara Hall, who sits third on the U.S. marathon all-time list with her personal best of 2:20:32 set from December 2020. The 39-year-old Hall, who recently finished fifth in the world championships in Oregon in July, is also entered in the New York City Marathon six weeks later.
Also coming up this weekend is Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5K in Crested Butte, Colorado. The 2017 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase has been hosting this race in her hometown to raise funds for the Living Journeys cancer support organization. The event, which is capped at 1,500 runners, runs through historic Crested Butte while also serving up stunning views of the nearby mountains and groves of golden aspen trees.
On the trails, the U.S. Half Marathon Trail Championships will be held September 24 as part of the Birkie Trail Run Festival in Cable, Wisconsin. The race starts and finishes at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead, where the country’s largest Nordic ski race has been held since 1973.
The NCAA Division I cross country season also heats up this week with the Bill Dellinger Invitational on September 23 in Eugene, Oregon, the Roy Griak Invitational on September 24 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Cowboy Jamboree on September 24 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, serving as early season barometers for many of the top NCAA Division I women’s teams. N.C. State is the top-ranked team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Assocaition poll, followed by No. 2 New Mexico, No. 3 Colorado, No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Stanford. After this weekend, the focus will switch to conference championships in late October, followed by NCAA regional championships in early November and, finally, the November 19 NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma.