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Roes chases down his foes

Alaskan races to record after finding his rhythm late in 100-mile race
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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There were moments Saturday when Geoff Roes couldn’t help but question the blistering pace of the leaders at the Western States Endurance Run. By Saturday evening, Roes was setting the standard — an historically fast one. The 34-year-old from Juneau, Ak. shattered the course record in the 100-mile race from Squaw Valley to Auburn, winning with a time of 15 hours, 7 minutes, 4 seconds. Roes remained unbeaten in 100-mile races, outlasting Anton Krupicka, who finished seven minutes behind to take second place. Krupicka led for much of the race, but Roes flew past him around the 90-mile mark and steadily pulled away. The showdown everyone was waiting for materialized just like many had anticipated. “Everybody knew there was potential for some special things to happen today, but there was also potential for some disasters to happen,” Roes said. Killian Jornet Burgada helped push the punishing pace early. The 22-year-old ran alongside Krupicka up until around the 80-mile mark. Jornet settled for third place, finishing at 9:04 p.m. Nick Clark, a first-time Western States runner from Colorado, took fourth. It looked like Jornet and Krupicka might duel it out for the win after they built a lead of about 12 minutes at one point between Devil’s Thumb and Foresthill. But Roes made up a huge chunk of time after crossing the middle fork of the American River at Rucky Chucky Crossing and eventually passed his two top competitors. “I wish I could say it was a strategy, but I was feeling really bad at about mile 40,” said Roes, who won the Way Too Cool 50k and the American River 50-miler earlier this year. “I had a rough patch there. When I picked up my pacer Dave Mackey, we pushed it pretty hard right away, a little too much, so I told Dave I wanted to hold back a bit. Then it just really started to flow. “I remember saying to (Mackey), ‘If I don’t win this race it’s not going to be because of me, it’s because they run the most phenomenal race imaginable. Somewhere around mile 70 or 75, it started to feel good. I finally got warmed up, I guess.” Krupicka, a graduate student at Colorado University, had never lost a 100-mile race that he finished. The 26-year-old whose long hair and beard conjured up images of a young Gordon Ainsleigh, settled for the second-fastest time ever. “I thought I had it until Geoff comes blowing by at about 88,” Krupicka said. “Geoff was just super strong. I saw him about 50 yards ahead at Highway 49, I just couldn’t get there.” “I thought maybe 15:13 would win today,” Krupicka said with a chuckle. “But Geoff ran pretty awesome.” Two-time defending champion Hal Koerner was just a few minutes behind the leaders until about halfway through the race. He ran into physical problems and slowed down considerably after Michigan Bluff. Koerner was still on the course at press time Saturday night. In a wide open race for the women’s crown, first-timer Tracy Garneau, from Vernon, B.C. took the lead early. Despite rumors of her demise, Garneau was still on the course Saturday night, leading Meghan Arbogast by more than 20 minutes at the 89-mile mark. Just about the only thing to slow the frontrunners Saturday was the heavy snow still on sections of the trail – mostly near Robinson Flat. But that was no problem for the three frontrunners, who all hail from mountainous areas that see heavy snow each year. “I should have brought my (telemark) skis,” Montana native Zachariah Miller commented as he crested Little Bald Mountain. Roes said he runs about 40 miles a week in the snow and enjoys the change of pace it provides. “I love running on the snow,” Roes said. “I think it’s fun when you’re running on stuff that’s more like an obstacle course. It takes your mind off of things.”