Multiple FKT holder Joe McConaughy, 30, of Seattle has won the second Cocodona 250 ultra in Arizona in 59 hours 28 minutes, shattering Michael Versteeg’s inaugural course record from 2021 of 72 hours, 34 minutes. Michael McKnight, 32, of Smithfield, Utah finished second in 65 hours, 39 minutes. Annie Hughes, 24, of Leadville, Colo. was third overall, with a time of 71 hours, 13 minutes, and Matt Smith, 41, of Big Bear City, Calif., was third male, in 73 hours, one minute.
Lauren Jones of Atlanta was the second woman to arrive in Flagstaff, in 78:34:16. She was 12th overall. Sarah Ostaszewski of Flagstaff was third, in 84:21:24.
Versteeg, who has lived in several towns along the route and still lives in Prescott, started this year’s race as well, but was forced to drop out after a few miles due to a back injury. “Seizing up and riddled with pain, I just couldn’t do it this year,” he said on Instagram. “I really just wanted to be a part of what I see becoming the premier American endurance foot race.”
The course follows a 250-mile (402.5 km) route from Black Canyon City to Flagstaff, starting in the desert and climbing 10,000 feet (3,048 m) in the first 50 km. It was the brainchild of Aravaipa Running’s Jamil Coury and Anthony Culpepper as a way to create a challenging route linking many of their favourite Arizona towns and trails, and traversing mountains, valleys, ponderosa pine forests, desert grasslands, lakes and unique rock formations.
Hughes has racked up an impressive number of podium finishes in the three years she’s been racing on the ultra scene, including the 2020 Bryce Canyon 100 miler (third) and last year’s Leadville Trail 100 and Moab 240, both of which she won, less than two months apart. She also won the Coldwater Rumble 100 miler in January 2022.
McConaughy holds the self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail (northbound), which he set in 2017 at 45 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes. He held the FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail from 2014 to 2016, and last year he set the record on the 800-mile Arizona Trail, which no doubt came in handy this week as part of the Cocodona course follows the trail.
The race had to be partially rerouted in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s start, due to the Crooks fire burning near Prescott–one of many possible nightmares for a race director but one that seems not to have dampened the enthusiasm of the participants in any way.
Congrats to Canada’s Stephanie Simpson, who finished fifth in the women’s race (24th overall), in 89 hours, 46 minutes, 29 seconds.
At the time of writing, there were still scores of runners on the course. For more results, click here.