Instant classic | Inaugural Castle Peak 100K could be among nation’s toughest

Ryan Dempsey of San Francisco races through the Palisades at Sugar Bowl Resort during the inaugural Castle Peak 100K this past weekend.

Ryan Dempsey of San Francisco races through the Palisades at Sugar Bowl Resort during the inaugural Castle Peak 100K this past weekend.

The Castle Peak 100K was the brain child of Truckee ultrarunner Peter Fain. Last Saturday, after years of planning, and with the help of Co-Race Director Helen Pelster and an entire team of volunteers, the inaugural event came off without a hitch.

The course, designed by Fain, covers 62.5 miles of trail, gains over 11,000 feet of elevation, and is already considered by many to be one of the toughest 100Ks in the country.

Beginning at Stampede Reservoir, the course follows the Commemorative Emigrant Trail to the Donner Lake Rim Trail. Runners then make the steep climb, about 1,200 feet in 1.2 miles, to Castle Peak before making a steep descent to Castle Pass.

The Hole in the Ground trail brings runners to Donner Summit, where they take on the most technically challenging portion of the race — traversing the Palisades between Sugar Bowl’s Mt. Disney and Mt. Lincoln. Runners then descend through Coldstream Canyon to the finish in Donner Memorial State Park.

Jace Ives of Ashland, Ore., was the overall winner with a time of 10:53:16.

Upon crossing the finish line in 13:02, first female finisher Roxanne Woodhouse immediately looked at Fain, pointing her finger in his face, and declared emphatically, “Great race!”

That sentiment seemed to sum up the feelings of most of the runners.

South Lake Tahoe’s Ryan Weibel, who finished second overall in 11:44, described the course as, “Incredible! But so tough.”

He and Woodhouse were in agreement that the first 10 miles were super fast, but there were several sections that you simply had to accept were not even runnable.

Primary among these was the Palisades. It appears this highly technical section, which required the use of hands and a lot of comfort with exposure, could turn out to be the defining feature of the Castle Peak 100K. This unique traverse will likely draw mountain runners from near and far to this Truckee race.

The race had a 1 a.m. cutoff, with the 20-hour time limit attesting to the difficulty of the course. Forty-seven of the 54 athletes who started the race reached the finish within the cutoff.

Truckee’s Chris Cloyd joined Ives and Weibel on the podium, as he edged out Chaz Sheya of Sacramento with a time of 12:42:21 to Sheya’s 12:44:23. Both Cloyd and Sheya are board members with the Donner Party Mountain Runners club.

Following Woodhouse in the women’s race was Nu Ma of San Lorenzo (13:52:11) in second, and Reno’s Miriam Smith (14:03:17) in third.

Among other local finishers, Truckee’s Joel Tebbutt finished 11th, Sam Skrocke was 14th, Betsy Nye was the fifth woman and 17th overall, Angela Costamagna was the seventh woman, Paul Sweeney was 30th, Jesse Wilfley 32nd, and Javier Castellar 35th.

Complete results are available here.

— Author Gretchen Brugman is a Truckee ultrarunner and member of the Donner Party Mountain Runners. Sierra Sun sports editor Sylas Wright contributed to this story.


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