Saturday’s races brought the trail running community back together after a long absence. Above, two runners finish the grueling 50k (31 miles) event (Ed Otto Photo).

Saturday’s races brought the trail running community back together after a long absence. Above, two runners finish the grueling 50k (31 miles) event (Ed Otto Photo).

Air Fills Lungs as Runners Return for Island Ultramarathon

The windy day did not deter the 10-mile and 50k (31 miles) runners from enjoying their day.

  • Thursday, June 10, 2021 3:48pm
  • Sports

By Bruce Cyra, Co-Race Director

For The Beachcomber

June 5 blew new life back into island running as the 11th Vashon Island Ultramarathon & Trail Run returned to the Island Center Forest and Fisher Pond trail system last Saturday.

The windy day did not deter the 10-mile and 50k (31 miles) runners from enjoying their day, running on a new route which was slightly longer than in years past, starting and ending at Pacific Research Northwest (Sawbones). The races brought the trail running community back together after a long absence, with exciting racing and more than a few instances of the incredible spirit of trail runners.

First, the results: In the 50k (this course is well over the official 31 miles), Meredith Edwards from Durango, Colorado finished first in 4:39:03, with islander Camille De Guzman in second place in 4:48:38 in her first long-distance trail race. Both women made it into the top ten finishes ever for the event despite the long course. For the men, there was a group of three running together through 20 miles before Normandy Park’s Paul Young pulled away for the win in 3:46:10. The first islander to cross the finish line was repeat runner Rusty Knowler in 4:55:51, who stated that he might not have started running were it not for this local race.

Perennial front-runner, past winner and former islander, Christine Mosely, took time out of her race to stop and help another young woman who had fallen and hit her head, by stopping, calling her emergency contact and running back to the nearest aid station to alert the wilderness medicine trained Captain, islander Tara Vanselow. Vanselow took the runner back to race HQ to get checked out by the attending emergency medical doctor on staff, islander Meghan Ahearne. Christie went on to finish in third place in 4:59:39.

72 years separated the youngest and oldest runners — perennial runner Bob Norton, 83 (left) finished in 3:06:06, and islander Harrison Decker, 11 (right) finished in fifth place in 1:21:53 (Lisa Cyra Photo).

72 years separated the youngest and oldest runners — perennial runner Bob Norton, 83 (left) finished in 3:06:06, and islander Harrison Decker, 11 (right) finished in fifth place in 1:21:53 (Lisa Cyra Photo).

In the ten-mile race (closer to 10.5 miles), Olivia Manci from Port Orchard won the women’s race in 1:23:56, with Kristy Salinas the first islander to finish in 1:42:00. For the men, Alex Calderwood from New Haven, Connecticut, was the winner in 1:16:48, with islander Wyatt Golding coming in second place in 1:19:01.

There was also the biggest age gap in the history of the race, with 72 years separating the youngest and oldest runners — islander Harrison Decker, 11, finished in fifth place in 1:21:53, and perennial runner Bob Norton, 83, in 3:06:06. Another notable finish was the run of Leah Blakemore of Tacoma, finishing in 2:04:53, at 30 weeks into her pregnancy.

The race remained dedicated to the local community, with the t-shirt design featuring an owl on the back designed by island artist Lynanne Raven, and the medallions that were handed to the finishers designed and made by the artist Sailor Frith. The course was well marked by a crew led by Casey Lawrence, with trail markings picked up after the race by the Vashon Island High School Cross Country team, led by runner Jesse Dungan.

Leah Blakemore of Tacoma finished in 2:04:53 at 30 weeks into her pregnancy (Linda Cyra-Korsgaard Photo).

Leah Blakemore of Tacoma finished in 2:04:53 at 30 weeks into her pregnancy (Linda Cyra-Korsgaard Photo).

A large crew of volunteers made sure the runners were well fed, with aid station fare and final boxed lunches made from scratch by island chef Lisa Cyra. At the disco-themed Borrow Pit aid station, runners were greeted by volunteers and music, who asked the runners to “shake their booty” for prizes. For the first year, the race was certified as Trail Sister Approved, with equal starting line access for women and menstrual products at each of the two aid stations.

Results for the 2021 Vashon Island Ultramarathon & Trail Run 50K can be found online.


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