It’s no mystery that Canada’s Anne-Marie Madden excels at everything she does. On Saturday, November 16, her talent reigned again as she raced to second place at The North Face 50 mile Endurance Challenge Championships. The cardiothoracic anesthesiologist and elite road, trail, and mountain runner finished in 7:38:04 against one of the fastest fields in North America. YiOu Wang won the race in 7:21:57, and Addie Bracy rounded out the women’s podium in third.
The North Face 50 mile champs was Madden’s “A” race. And with 3,251 metres of elevation gain over 80K, it was no small feat. Madden had finished this race three times before, and planned it last year before it was cancelled due to wildfires in California. In August 2019, Madden moved back to Vancouver from her fellowship in California, and continued to set her sights on having a strong race. By the time she toed the line, “I felt like I had done a consistent block of training with good workouts, but I wouldn’t say I was brimming with confidence. That being said, my legs felt peppy and niggle-free the week before the race, which is nice.”
During the race, the lead pack of women started out together and up the first climb. Madden felt comfortable and accelerated at the top of the climb. At about the 15K mark, she was running strong in ninth or 10th position. As runners headed up the Miwok trail climb, the sun rose and Madden could see the women in front of her. She passed Abby Levine, Keely Henninger, and 2019 Western States winner Clare Gallagher.
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Holy smokes. I stocked up a few mental toughness points yesterday, that’s for sure. Knowing this was my last race of the year I came in with really one goal – compete as hard as I could. While I wasn’t going to be the one to initiate a fast pace, I was prepared to respond if someone else decided to, and was ready to take some big risks if it came to it. The first 15 miles saw quite a few low 6 minute miles (and, at least one under) and I remember thinking “whelp, here we go.” The wheels started to come off around mile 30 and then my stomach went south. The last 20 miles were just survival mode and I’m so proud that I didn’t totally let it fall apart, because there were times when I could have let it. It’s not easy giving up 2nd place in the last few miles (although @am.madden earned that shit) and finishing in 3rd by barely over a minute. But, I can truly say I left everything I had in me out on those trails. • It’s easy to sometimes feel like I’m in a place of “frequently on the podium, but never at the top” situation. But, I believe this sport rewards those who stick with it and keep throwing their souls into races even if the result isn’t always what they want. So, my plan is simple – keep showing up. • Huge thanks to all the volunteers and people cheering out there. Much respect and ❤️ to all the badass women in the field that I have the pleasure of lining up with. Major 🙏🏼 to Richie who crewed me having never met me before! (Don’t worry @corey_conner_ – you haven’t been replaced as my number one crew chief) And, all the gratitude to the amazing folks behind @niketrail.running who were all over the course at all the right places. Leaving San Francisco with a full heart and some majorly sore quads. 📷: @baston.runs
Chessa Adsit-Morris spent the race supporting and crewing for Madden. Shortly after Madden dropped her headlamp and picked up a pack from Adsit-Morris, she heard from spectators Megan and David Roche that was she was in third place. Although she fell trying to dodge some of the 50K racers, she felt fairly strong. On the last stretch, Madden says, she “ran scared over the [Golden Gate] bridge and along the waterfront to Chrissy Fields, but managed to stay in second place behind local favourite YiOu Wang.”
Madden wasn’t the only Canadian crushing the course. Sarah Bergeron-Larouche raced strong, making it into the top 10 in a stacked field. Elizabeth Halleran came in top 20 after en epic bike ride in Moab the week before. Adam Kahtava came across the finish line a few seconds before Madden, snagging 18th overall in one of the toughest fields.
Chris Wedeles, Guillaume Carrier, Julien Lachance, Verner Lofstrand, Kimberly Anderson, Jennifer St Pierre, Pargol Lakhan, Patrick Jones, Owen von Richter, Allanah Fotheringham, Maude Langlois, Ren Pelletier, P Clune, Brendan von Richter, Yasushi Sasaki, Gil Korn, Shea McKinney, Lorna Ciccone, Glenn Jasechko, Amelie Lachance, and Paula Rochman all raced strong as well.
Top three men were Sebastien Spehler, Darren Thomas, and Thibaut Garrivier.