Copper Mountain UROC ultrarun 100K sees strong turnout
For 18 hours, 55 minutes and 13 seconds, Ross Bielak of Denver walked, jogged or climbed up and down Copper Mountain’s network of trails. Shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday morning Bielak stopped, crossing the finish line as the last official finisher before the cutoff time of the 2014 Ultra Race of Champions (UROC). In that time he covered 100 kilometers (62.14 miles) and climbed 10,543 feet. The top finisher, Chris Vargo of Colorado Springs, crossed that same line over nine hours earlier. He finished in 9:44:43 — averaging a 9:26 pace.
Why would anyone subject themselves to that kind of punishment? The common answer among ultrarunners is somewhere between the joy of being out in nature to the challenge of such an arduous undertaking. Any race longer than marathon distance — 26.2 miles — qualifies as an ultrarun. Typically they are 50K, 100K or even longer. For many in the ultrarunning world, the time it takes doesn’t matter, it’s finishing that counts.
“Running over 60 miles up and down the mountain is definitely a huge accomplishment,” UROC operations director Alyssa Godesky said Sunday.
Close to 150 runners took to the starting line early Saturday in Copper Mountain’s Center Village, running in either the 100K, 50K or half-marathon trail runs that were a part of this year’s UROC.
Fifty-four of them finished the full 100K, another 47 finished the 50K and 25 the half marathon.
While one might think that the 100K is a distance purely for the elite runners of the world, more and more the trend appears to be for even the casual runner to partake in these long-distance runs.
“We definitely had more middle of the pack runners this year,” Godesky said. “A lot more people are getting out and giving the distance a try.”
She said it was race winner Chris Vargo’s first 100K.
Longtime ultrarunner Anita Ortiz, 50, of Vail was the first female finisher. She ran the challenging two-lap course in 12:05:04.
The race, previously held on the east coast, was in its second year in Colorado. Last year’s UROC took place on a course that started in Breckenridge and finished in Vail. Organizers did not say if the race will return to Colorado next year.
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