Geoff Roes of Douglas has developed into one of the nation's most accomplished ultra-marathon runners and Saturday he delivered another astonishing race record.
Roes, 34, not only won his debut in the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, he obliterated the race record by more than 30 minutes.
Roes covered the 100.2-mile race through California's historic gold country from Squaw Valley to Auburn in 15 hours, 7 minutes, 4 seconds. That slashed 30:37 off the previous record set by seven-time Western States winner Scott Jurek in 2004, when he clocked 15:36:27.
The first sentence Roes wrote Tuesday in his final blog entry detailing his pre-race preparation -- "Western States looks to be falling into place nicely,'' he wrote -- looks prescient, if typically understated.
Smashing records has practically become Roes' standard performance the last couple years.
Last year, he won three 100-mile races in course-record fashion, won a 50-miler with a course record and seized the Crow Pass Crossing marathon-length backcountry race from near Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center in yet another record time. Both Roes and previous Crow Pass record-holder Eric Strabel became the first runners to crack the three-hour barrier -- Roes clocked 2:57:12 to top Strabel (2:58:30), and both men trashed Strabel's 2006 mark of 3:05:18.
Roes was voted UltraRunning Magazine's North American ultra-marathoner of the year and was awarded its performance of the year for his record run in the Wasatch Front 100-Miler in Utah.
Earlier this year, Roes won 50-milers in New York and California and finished third in a 50-kilometer (31-mile) race in California.
Roes needed to run a record time Saturday to prevail in a race that features about 18,000 feet of elevation gain and about 23,000 of descent because Anton Krupicka, 26, of Boulder, Colo., also smashed Jurek's 2004 mark. Krupicka, a two-time champion of the Leadville 100-Miler in Colorado, finished second in 15:13:53.
About 44 miles into Saturday's race, Roes ran in the lead with Krupicka and Spain's Kilman Jorget Burgada, 22, the three-time defending Skyrunning world champion. Roes' two rivals edged ahead of him over the next 34 miles and built a 15-minute cushion on him through Mile 78. From there, Burgada began to fade -- he finished third in 16:04:49, nearly an hour behind Roes -- and Roes slowly cut into Krupicka's advantage.
At a checkpoint 90 miles into the race run primarily on mountain trails and fire roads, Roes owned a one-minute lead over Krupicka and held that advantage for nearly four miles before pulling away to win by nearly seven minutes.
Roes averaged 9:03 per mile to Krupicka's 9:07.
The victory earned Roes more glory in the ultra-running community and, undoubtedly, satisfaction, but no money. The top man and woman in the race have their names engraved on a perpetual trophy and are awarded a bronze Western States Cougar Trophy. All who finish in less than 24 hours receive a hand-made silver Western States Endurance Run belt buckle, and those who finish under 30 hours receive a hand-made bronze belt buckle.
According to the race schedule Roes maintains on his blog -- http://akrunning.blogspot.com/ -- he will defend his title and record at Crow Pass on July 24. Strabel has said he is training hard for another duel with Roes.
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