As hurricane Irene pummeled the North Carolina coast on Saturday, runners at the third annual Continental Divide Trail race enjoyed sunny skies and comfortable mid 60’s temperatures. The race took place at Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp, located in Laurel Springs, NC, situated right on the Eastern Continental Divide. Racers plummeted off the top of the mountain four times, always returning to the top of the mountain. The race served as the USATF 10 Km Trail Championships for the third year in a row.
The men’s race heralded the most competitive field to date, with the top five runners finishing within a minute and a half. The race was close between Joe Moore, Bobby Mack, and Ryan Woods. Moore and Woods came off the final single-track section of trail neck and neck before Moore pulled away for the win in 41:37. This race was Moore’s trail racing debut, we hope that he will test his abilities on more trails in the future. Woods placed second for the third year in a row, running 41:46. Mack finished in third (42:05), Jared Scott was fourth (42:36), and Alex Varner was fifth (42:58). The master’s race was also very competitive with Chris Wiley returning to capture the USATF masters title in a time of (44:33) after winning the race's 40-49 age group in 2009. The infamous Dave Dunham finished as second master this year (46:44) and Tim VanOrden captured third place for masters (47:52).
The women’s field was not as deep as the men’s field but had some impressive performances. Ester Erb of Zap Fitness won the race in a convincing manner, running 50:30. Maria Dalzot, traveling down from West Virginia, followed only 1:10 behind for a second place finish. Molly Nunn was third (54:03), Alison Bryant fourth (54:29), and Holly Ortlund fifth (56:38). For masters women, Alicia Parr (59:27) won the USATF title, Kelly Baity (1:06:22) was second, and Hollis Oberlies (1:09:44) was third. One of the most impressive finishes for the women was that of Joyce Hodges-Hite, who has run this race all three years and at the age of 74 set a new course PR with a time of (2:11:52).
USATF teams also competed for national titles. In the men’s race, the Bull City Track Club loaded up and emerged victorious this year with a total combined time of 3:58:52. The Appalachian Mountain Goats took second in a time of 4:18:27, and the Rosemont Running Club was third with a time of 4:29:44. For masters teams, the Carolina Godiva Track Club won the title with a time of 4:31:23 and the Igloi Track Club from Indiana was second in a time of 4:52:33. On the women’s side, the Twin City Track Club won the title with a total combined time of 6:11:46 and Carolina Godiva Track Club was a close second with a time of 6:19:14. In the masters team race, the order was reversed with the Carolina Track Club winning (4:08:10) and Twin City Track Club taking second (5:06:12).
The Continental Divide Trail Race would like to thank the sponsors that made this race happen: North Carolina USATF, Terramar, Sheetz, La Sportiva, Marathon Chiropractic, Laurel Ridge Camp, Foot Rx of Asheville, Highgear, Injini, Clean Bottle, Trail Runner, Larabar, and Edu Sports. The fourth edition of the Continental Divide Trail Race will take place on August 25, 2012 and will again serve as the USATF 10 Km Trail Championship.