Runners `Escape from Prison Hill’ | NevadaAppeal.com
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Runners `Escape from Prison Hill’

Dave Price
Appeal Sports Editor

Challenging would be an accurate description of the inaugural Escape From Prison Hill Half-Marathon trail run on Saturday. And if it wasn’t difficult enough, race director Jeff Mark has proposed an idea use the 40-pound headstone trophies given to the overall winners as a way to handicap next year’s run.

“Not only do you have to carry it off, when you come back to run this race next year, you have to carry it with you, just to make it fair for everyone else,” Mark said, said jokingly during the post-race awards ceremony.

All kidding aside, 158 runners turned out for the half-marathon and two-person relay, which started and finished at Silver Saddle Ranch and covered a 13-mile route that included 9,500 feet of elevation change over the Bureau of Land Management’s Prison Hill Recreation Area. Despite the difficulty, the times were faster than expected.

“It was a lot faster than we expected,” Tim Tetz of Fleet Feet Sports and the Sagebrush Stompers running club said. “We figured if anyone broke two hours, they’d be flying.”

Overall, 14 runners ran better than two hours, including the two overall winners: Dan Stoll-Hadayia, 31, of Reno, who crossed the finish line first in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 26 seconds; and Lara Niell, 24, of Reno, was first among the women and ninth overall in 1:54:11.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s a good course with a good level of challenge, but it wasn’t so difficult that you couldn’t keep up a good pace,” Stoll-Hadayia said. “There’s a lot of different terrain – you have significant hills, then there’s some rolling and some downhill – I think the variety was the part I enjoyed the most.”

Niell, who was the only runner under the age of 30 to crack the top 10, also enjoyed the race.

“It was awesome; one of the better trail races I’ve ever done,” she said. “You could see Jobs Peak and the mountains. Even if you were tired up there, as long as you look around at the amazing views, you were going to be OK.”

Both of the winners are blue chip athletes and Ivy League students as well – Stoll-Hadayia ran track and cross country for Yale, Niell ran for Dartmouth.

April was a good month for Stoll-Hadayia, who on April 5 was named to the U.S. Orienteering Team that will compete at this year’s World Championships in Japan. He was also the overall 10K winner last Saturday at the Run4Life in Reno in a time of 38:04. In 1991, as a senior at College Park High (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) he ran 4:20.98 for 1,600 meters to qualify for the California state meet.

Niell finished 83rd in the women’s race at the 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships and was a team captain for Dartmouth during the track season. She was also a prep standout in Massachusetts who finished 53rd at the 1996 Foot Locker High School National Championships.

Fred Zalokar, 44, of Reno, finished second overall in 1:37:17. Zalokar was the overall 10K winner with a 35:46 clocking at the Jester’s Jog on April 9.

Michael Geralka was third in 1:39:15, followed by Dale Reicheneder (1:44:25), Curtis Johnson (1:45:19), Craig Denney (1:50:35), Dennis Pederson (1:52:46), Kevin Brunson (1:53:36), Niell and Ryan Sheltra (1:55:51) to round out the top 10. Pederson, 55, of Carson City, was the 50-59 men’s age group winner.

“There were other runners who were pretty close together,” Stoll-Hadayia said. “It was a good race.”

The two-person relay race was won by 13-year-old Richard Shroy and Carson High senior Shelby Moulden.

Mark described the race as a success.

“I was amazed at the turnout. We were hoping to get 100 for the first year and we ended up with 158,” he said. “The course was phenomenal. We got some great feedback from the runners. We had great teamwork to put all of this on from the Tahoe Mountain Milers and Sagebrush Stompers clubs, in coordination with Douglas County Search and Rescue. And we had some great times; it’s a real testament to how they kept themselves in shape over the winter.”

For Niell, the race helped her train for some upcoming triathlons, including Donner Summit in mid-July, and Stoll-Hadayia used it to train for the World Orienteering Championships in August.

“This is just a way to gauge myself and my training,” Stoll-Hadayia said. “I want to try and do the best I can at the World Championships and racing is a great way to get your high intensity training.”

Notes: Proceeds from the race go to benefit Douglas Country Search and Rescue. … Hand-carved milestones, the stone awards for the overall winners and tin mugs for the age group winners came from the Nevada Department of Corrections’ Silver State Industries. … Before the last runner crossed the finish, Mark was en route to Lincoln, Neb., where he is running the National Guard Marathon today.

n Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.