The NYC Half, NCAA Indoor Championships and many other events might have been called off this weekend, but not every race faced cancellation. The USATF 50-mile trail championships went ahead as planned on March 14 in Folsom, Calif., with Tim Tollefson and Ashley Hawks taking the wins.
To cancel or not to cancel
As with most other races and events, it was questionable whether or not the USATF 50-mile trail championships would be run or if they would fall victim to COVID-19 and be cancelled. Folsom is part of Sacramento County, and the region’s website says it is following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends postponing or cancelling gatherings of more than 250 people, and, luckily for the USATF and its trail runners, the race on Saturday only saw 89 people take to the start line, so it was given the OK to go ahead.
The women’s race
In the women’s race, 28 women competed for the various age group and overall national titles. By the first checkpoint at 17.9 miles, Hawks—who was debuting at the distance—had a lead of almost six minutes over the next closest woman.
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Had the best 50 mile debut I could ask for. Won the USATF 50 mile championship at Pioneer Spirit 50! I am happy, excited, and tired! Grateful for an amazing race put on by @singletrackrunning , the best nutrition products from @univedsports , @altrarunning shoes, but most importantly my amazing crew and family @hawks_hayden and Crosby! Truly couldn't do it without their support! #altraredteam #zerolimits #pioneerspirit50
Eventual second-place finisher Kalie Demerjian managed to shave a couple of minutes off Hawks’ lead, but it wasn’t enough. Hawks won in 8:31:30 to finish as the top woman and 15th overall. Demerjian stopped the clock in 8:34:18, and Olivia Amber rounded out the podium in 8:42:50.
The men’s race
While the women’s race saw just three minutes separating first and second places, the men’s race was much less dramatic. Tollefson took the win by over 20 minutes, setting a new course record of 6:22:31. Second place went to Max King, who finished in 6:47:02. Third place was Kallin Khan, who wasn’t far behind King, crossing the line in 6:48:44.
— US Mountain & Trail Running (@usmrt) March 14, 2020
With his win, Tollefson added another big result to his already impressive resume, which includes multiple Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc podium finishes.
Full results can be found here.