The past weekend saw a pair of big trail races contested in the U.S., with the Canyons Endurance Runs 100K (a Western States 100 Golden Ticket event) in California and the USATF 100-Mile Road Championships in Las Vegas. British ultrarunner Beth Pascall won the Canyons 100 in impressive fashion, taking the win in just over 10 hours, and American Zach Bitter won the 100-mile national title in course-record time in Vegas, crossing the line in 12:52:14. Both races produced stellar results, and they marked the continued comeback of the ultrarunning race scene in the U.S.
Pascall has run to two top-five finishes at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a fourth-place finish at Western States 100 and a Bob Graham Round FKT in the U.K., among many other top results. She entered the Canyons 100 as a heavy favourite for the win, and she didn’t disappoint, running away from the rest of the women’s field and winning by more than half an hour.
Pascall crossed the finish line of the Canyons 100, which features more than 4,000m of elevation gain over the course of its 100K route, in 10:01:55. Abby Hall of Boulder, Colo., finished in second place, reaching the finish long after Pascall and stopping the clock in 10:34:39. Third went to France’s Audrey Tanguy, the winner of the 100K Hoka One One Project Carbon X 2 race earlier this year. Tanguy finished just behind Hall in 10:35:52, and fourth-place Emily Hawgood of Zimbabwe was just as close, posting a time of 10:37:14.
As the race winner, Pascall was first in line to receive a Golden Ticket for Western States, but thanks to her top-10 finish in 2019 (the last edition of the race), she already has a spot booked in the race. Hall had not yet qualified for Western States, so she got an automatic entry with her second-place finish.
The Canyons 100 offers Golden Tickets to the top two finishers, so Pascall’s unused ticket rolled down the list, skipping Tanguy (who had also already qualified for Western States) and landing on Hawgood. After missing the race in 2020 due to COVID-19, Western States is set to make its return on June 26 in California.
The Jackpot 100 was the host of the 2021 USATF 100-Mile Road Championship, and Bitter ended up beating the course record with his 12:52:14 finish. The previous Jackpot 100 record belonged to Mark Hammond, who ran 13:04:50 in 2020. The course followed a 1.175-mile loop that Bitter and his competitors ran a whopping 85 times. This setup was ideal for runners to get water and nutrition on a regular basis as they passed by aid stations and their crew, but it had to be a dizzying and exhausting route to follow.
— USATF Mountain Ultra Trail (@usatf_mut) April 24, 2021
Bitter not only beat the course record on Sunday, but he also absolutely smashed the rest of the men’s field. Second place went to Jacob Jackson, who finished more than an hour back of Bitter in 14:12:52. Third-place finisher Patrick Reagan crossed the line nearly two hours after Bitter took the win, stopping the clock and rounding out the podium in 14:51.
In the women’s race, all three podium finishers beat the previous course record of 15:15:00, which Marisa Lizak set in 2020. In a much closer battle than the men’s race, Stefani Flippin won in 14:35:21. She finished just seven minutes ahead of Camille Herron (14:42), and Micah Morgan (14:44) crossed the line just a couple of minutes later in third place. After the race, Flippin took to Instagram to write about her win.
“With tough conditions of temps in the high 80s as well as the most competitive field I’ve ever been a part of, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she wrote, “but [I] made the call from the start to just shoot my shot.” That approach worked out for her, and she not only took the win, but she also ran a 100-miler PB of more than an hour. “[I] am headed home with such a full heart from memories made and those awesome post-race hugs we’ve all missed so much. I absolutely would not have pushed myself so hard if it weren’t for the incredible women and men in this field.”