XC Oregon elite skier Stephanie Howe and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay senior XC skier Santi Oscariz (spending Summer 2009 in Bend, Oregon) had podium finishes in the Saturday, August 1 Mt Ashland Hillclimb Run in Ashland, Oregon.
The 13.3 mile event begins in Ashland’s beautiful Lithia Park (el 1900′) and climbs on tree-canopied dirt roads and trails to finish on the Mt. Ashland summit (7533′), for a total of 5,600′ of climbing (over a vertical mile). Over the past half decade, the brutal event has become a summer proving ground of sorts for Northwest endurance athletes with cross-country skiers more than holding their own.
Howe easily won the women’s event in a time of 2:13:17, over 12 minutes clear of second place finisher Jenn Shelton. Last year’s winner, XC Oregon skier Evelyn Dong was set to compete this year as well, but had to skip the race due to a work conflict. Dong set the women’s course record in 2008 in a time of 2:08:40.
The men’s field featured some of the best mountain runners in the U.S. with winner Joseph Gray posting the second fastest course time ever (1:47:29) with 2008 winner and elite ultrarunner Erik Skaggs 4:01 behind. Ocariz finished 7:15 behind Gray in his first attempt at the Hillclimb. XC Oregon’s Zach Violett finished fifth in 2:00:31 with teammate Erik Jacobson 17th in 2:20:11.
With temperatures at the start line pushing 70 degrees, the 2009 event ended up being even harder than usual — but that had little impact on performances with arguably the best field in the event’s 32 year history.
The Mt Ashland Hill Climb Run has the second most elevation gain of any continuous hill climb in the continental United States. The Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado is the only event with more–7,800 feet. The race has more elevation gain than even the Mt Washington Road Race in New Hampshire (4,727′). The Run to the Sun on the island of Maui takes the cake, with 10,000′ going from sea level to the summit of Haleakela.
Additional race coverage provided by the Medford, OR Mail Tribune…