From one of my favorite papers, I hope to see everyone there next year and congratulations to all who braved the frigid weather to finish.
By KEITH JIRON
Sun Sports Staff
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The weather forecast for Saturday’s Soulstice Mountain Trail Run called for howling winds and a chance for snow.
Even so, that wasn’t going to keep Flagstaff’s Sara Wagner from hopping in her car and heading to the Coconino National Forest’s Sunset Trailhead. “When I heard it might snow, I thought it might be even more fun,” said Wagner, who won the women’s 11-mile race with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes, 56 seconds. “Before I moved to Flagstaff I used to come up on weekends and I would always hear about Soulstice.
“And when I did my first Soulstice in 2006, I understood why. It continues to be one if my favorite races. It’s just a nice reunion with all of my trail buddies.”
Saturday’s adverse weather conditions reminded race organizer Neil Weintraub a little about the rain-soaked 2006 race.
“Two years ago, we had torrential rains. We actually had the tail end of a tornado that ripped through the southern end of the Mogollon Rim and came north,” he said. “This morning I awoke (here) at 1 o’clock in the morning with 70 mph wind gusts and I thought, ‘My God, this is going to be an interesting day.'”
In 2006, 171 of 200 competitors crossed the finish line.
This year, all but four of the 200 completed the race.
“It seems like the worse the weather, the better the turnout,” Weintraub said.
He went on to say, “(Flagstaff runners) are just a hearty bunch of folks who want to come out and have a good time.
“It’s not about who wins, it’s just about coming out and having a good time on the mountain, and enjoying the beautifultrails we have here.”
Like Wagner, Flagstaff’s Brian Cannon said the party atmosphere the run seems take on every year made missing this year’s run not an option.
“It’s a great group of people The runners in Flagstaff are just a great crowd to be with,” said Cannon, who donned a hot-pink wing and wore a skirt over his running gear. “That’s the idea behind the wig and the dress.
“To just just to come out and have fun. Not to take it so seriously.”
On a more serious note, the race, which started in 1997, then took a three-year hiatus before kicking back into high gear in 2001, is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff.
Weintraub said the event raised in the neighborhood of $4,000 this year.
“Soulstice started as a good time for runners, but it got so popular we thought, ‘Geez, we could actually do something and donate to some good cause in town,'” Weintraub said.
Wentraub and event sponsor, the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association, will use the popularity of the perpetually sold-out event to try to raise even more money for the organization.
Starting today, the first 40 to pledge to raise $250 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff will ensure themselves a spot in next year’s run.
Weintraub, who is a Big Brother, said the way to get started is to e-mail him at http://www.natra.org
“We will sell out April 1st, when we open it, so someone wants to secure one of 40 spots, they have (to make that pledge),” he said. “All of the money we raise goes straight to Big Brothers.
“It’s basically a new way we can raise money for a fgreat orgasnization which helps kids in this town.”
Competitors had a choice between a 10k and an 11-mile race.
In the women’s 10k, Janet Nelson was the overall winner with a time of 54:33.
Judy Blubaum won the Masters Division with a time of 1:04.49.
As mentioned, Wagner was the first woman to cross the finish line in the long course.
Paula Aerts (1:35.01) won the Masters Division.
Chris Gomez won the men’s 10k in 39:09, while Mark Ulm was the Masters winner in a time of 44.02.
Jared Scott took first in the men’s 11-mile race with a time 1:09.37
The race’s Masters Division was won by Richard Doucett (1:22.43).