24th Annual Angeles Crest 100-mile Endurance Race
By Al Morrissette
Last Saturday morning a small army of international runners stretched and limbered up in the 40 degree coolness of the Wrightwood climate. With fire engines revolving their lights the 24th annual Angeles Crest 100-mile race began its start at precisely 5am between the banks near Vivian Null Park. Over 160 registered participants took route south on Park St in hopes that they will finish the 100 mile grueling endurance into Loma Alta Park in Altadena. Though the course record is 17:35:48 most runners finish over 24 hours and run through the night. The finish line picnic is on Sunday, July 24, free to runners, but staff and spectators pay a minimal fee.
The event began Friday morning as all participants had to pass a medical checkup. The afternoon led into a trail briefing and other information. The evening was filled with a Spaghetti dinner fundraiser to benefit the Tri-Community Royalty Reading Program. That program consists of local pageant winners reaching out to Snowline elementary schools through a classroom reading day.
Saturdays run goes up Park and over to Acorn, then steeply pass the Maria Stella camp where through switch backs the runners reach Pacific Crest Trail, across Blue Ridge behind Mountain High and onward to the first check point at Inspiration Point. They continue along the PCT to Vincent Gap where they ascend 13 miles to 9,399-ft Mt. Baden-Powell. And then onward to Islip Saddle, Mt Williamson, Cloudburst and Chilao. Onward to Newcomb’s Saddle, Mt. Wilson Toll Road, Idle Hour and down into the park.
Because of the deadly 2009 Station Fire much of the course is through the burn areas of the San Gabriel’s. The runners will not only witness the charred remains of the fire, but also the new growth arising to replace it. There will be plenty of vistas and wildlife as the runners go forth into Big Horn Ram territory, and the vast deer ranges both of which also are the homes of black bear, rattle snakes and mountain lion, so the runners need to keep their eyes on the trail as well as the soaring hawks and eagles.
The race has kept most of its original profile and runner range in age from 24-62 and though most are from California, several runners are from far away such as Alex Bellingham, Singapore, Darren Quigley, East Syracuse, NY and Tetsuro Ogata, Tacamatsu, Japan and 24 runners were women. The runners must carry their own water and equipment. Runners must have participated in an ultra-marathon run of no less than 50-miles in the past year and all participants must complete at least 8 hours of trail maintenance.
The first finisher was the youngest runner, Dominic Grossman, 24, Playa Del Rey, finishing at 1:20am with an overall time of 20:20:00. Second was an hour and 17 minutes later when Ruperto Romero, 47, Huntington Beach, Third place one hour and five minutes later, Tom Nielsen, 51, Laguna Niguel. The first woman finisher was Paulette Zillmer, 29, Scottsdale, AZ in 23:47:00 taking 7th place. The event is helpful to the Wrightwood community because it brings a world renowned sports event to the community spotlight and was an influence when the California bicycling AMGEM was chosen to go through the community last year.