Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Afton Champ Discovers New Running Venue

By Alex Kurt

Joe Moore, of Minneapolis, walked away from the Afton 25K Saturday with more than just a USATF Minnesota Trail championship.

He may have found his favorite new running spot, too.

“That was my first time running at Afton,” said Moore, a former Kansas State harrier who moved to Minnesota last November. “I didn’t know we had something that cool so close to the cities. I’ll definitely have to get out there to run more often.”

Moore’s lack of familiarity with the course did not seem to affect his performance, though, as he broke the course record in outpacing previous course record holder Ben Kampf, also of Minneapolis, 1:37:10 to 1:38:52. Team USA Minnesota’s Josh Moen, of Eden Prairie, was third in 1:40:20. Moen was also making his Afton debut.

“The first 12 or 13 miles, the three of us just ran together and shot the breeze, but I was wondering how we were going to figure it out,” Moore said. “After the Meat Grinder [hill], I knew Josh could catch back up pretty easily, and I didn’t want Ben to get away from me on the [singletrack] trails, so I tried to get a big lead there. But I didn’t know how far into the race we even were.”

“I was surprised,” he continued. “There were some serious hills there.”

In the women’s race, St. Paul’s Emma Lee – an All-American in cross-country and national champion Nordic skier for St. Olaf College – earned a USATF Minnesota Trail title in 1:55:13, good for eighth overall.

For the first eight miles or so, I could see the two women ahead of me, and I knew that if I held steady I could reel them in,” said Lee, who had trained at Afton but was also making her trail racing debut. “I didn't know my pace until I passed one of them and she asked me if I was on course-record pace.  I checked my GPS and figured that I must be close to it, and from then on I decided
to go for it.”

“The hills got harder and harder as the race went on – I had to ski-walk up a few sections, and I've never walked during a race before,” she continued. “I thought I might be able to get the record until I got to the last couple of miles.  I had to slow down a lot on that section to avoid shooting off into the woods or falling into the creek.”
Melissa Gacek, of White Bear Lake, was runner-up (11th overall) in 1:59:41 and 15-year-old Anna French, of Plymouth, finished third (13th overall) in 2:00:01.

300 runners finished the Afton 25K this year, thanks in part to the dissipation of the historically hot weather that had gripped Minnesota – and much of the rest of the country – in the week leading up to the race.

Complete 25k results can be found HERE.

Afton 50K Notes ... Afton also hosted a 50K – consisting of two 25K loops – which did not serve as a USATF Minnesota championship race. 

St. Paul’s Forrest Tracy won the race overall in 3:54:57, barely holding off Dimitri Drekonja, of Minneapolis, who finished second in 3:55:57. 

In the women’s race, Eve Rukavina-Rembleski, of Watertown, continued her dominance of the Afton 50K, winning her sixth – and third consecutive – race on the course in 4:21:29. In second was Baxter’s Becky George, who earlier this year won the Kettle-Morraine 100 Mile and Zumbro 50 Mile (she won the latter overall), in 4:33:32. 

Rukavina-Rembleski and George finished 7th and 16th overall, respectively.

Complete 50K results can be found HERE.

Alex Kurt is DtB's ultra running contributor.

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