By: Hal Winton and Ken Hamada RD’s
In the end we made it to a cool and calm race day start in Wrightwood on September 17th. The fire and access roads as well as sections of Angeles Crest Highway 2 were hammered by near 100-year record winter storms. As a result, our runner’s crews had to drive a long way around the closed stretch of Highway 2 between Vincent Gap and Islip Saddle and walk 3 miles up Chantry Flats (75 miles) closed road to the aid station. Kudos to the runner’s crews and pacers, who were a big part of the reason for the success of the race this year.
In the weeks before the race Cal Trans made history by deciding to allow our run officials to pass through the locked gates on Highway 2, in order that we could remain in charge of our responsibilities. The Forest Service cleared the fire roads for us so we could perform crucial trail work and put our 3 remote aid stations in place. As a result the race went reasonably well in spite of less than perfect trails and road conditions.
Three-time champion Jorge Pacheco had trouble after leading one third of the way. Guillermo Medina several years ago said that he would someday win the AC100 and this was his day. With a young child and twins on the way, this is a big year for him as he won the race and the Ram Award. Andy Jones-Wilkins was close behind Guillermo winning the 30 plus Cougar Award. Tom Nielsen at age 46, relocated back to California from the East, did very well in 3rd place winning the 35 plus Horse Award. Twenty-year old Tarahumara Indian, Carlos Torres also ran very well in 4th place. Recently married, Jay Grobeson in 7th place won the 40 plus Rhino Award with a sub 24 hour run while finishing his 10th AC100 run and winning the Elk Award for 10 finishes. Devin Corcoran was in 8th place winning the 45 plus Eight Point Buck Award. Bill Ramsey was recognized for completing his 10th straight AC100 run winning the Eagle Award for 10 straight finishes. In 19 years of the race Jay is only the second winner of the Elk Award and Bill is the fifth winner of the Eagle Award.
Julie Fingar in 9th place, with 4 sub 24-hour runs at WS100, won the Ram Award and Tracy Bahr from Portland, Oregon won the 30 plus Cougar Award for the second time. Catra Corbett won the 40 plus Rhino Award.
Jussi Hamalainen and Garry Curry have finished all 19 AC100’s. Next year, they will both be competing for Grizzly Award’s for an incredible 20 years straight finishes. Norm Richardson and Dan Brenden (with nine 100s this year) both completed the Last Great Race, six 100s in a year.
Eight runners broke 24 hours to earn the silver buckle. All other finishers earned the 33 hour bronze buckle except Julie Fingar who earned the 2nd Sunrise bronze buckle. With 93 starters and 58 finishers the finish rate was 62%. Last year we had to overcome extreme fire conditions and this year the destructive forces of 100-year storms. However, we appear to be coming out of the draught cycle and anticipating better conditions ahead. Thanks to all who made this years race a success including runners working the trails and volunteers working: checkpoints, HAM radio stations and the Johnson‘s Field kitchen.
We would like to give recognition to Assistant Race Director George Evans who coordinates all of our Wrightwood activities including: drop bag pickup, spaghetti dinner, set up of the start banner, use of the Community Center, Wrightwood Fire Fighter support of medical checkup and lighting the start banner at 5 AM Saturday morning and sale of T-shirts. George is one of many volunteers that work in the background making the race happen every year. Also to runners from prior AC100’s such as Evelyn Marshall our 3 time women’s winner and current record holder, Brad Norris and Bob Moses for traveling long distances to help at our aid stations this year.
We are looking forward to the 20th anniversary race on Saturday September 16, 2006 and invite you to come and be a part of it all.