YAKIMA, Wash. — Long, steep climbs have become something of a habit for former Eisenhower cross country runner Carter Svendsen.
Sure, his legs still ached on the final ascent up to White’s Ridge in Saturday’s Grey Rock Trail 50K, especially since he ran 50 kilometers while summiting and running around Mt. Adams two days before. That didn’t stop Svendsen from pushing through the four-mile uphill and coasting down to the finish line at Tree Phones Campground with a winning time of 4:54:10.
“It was the most painful thing,” Svendsen said. “I knew once I got over the top I could drink some Gatorade and it was smooth sailing. My legs were a little heavy.”
He’s training for the White River 50 mile endurance run this July and said he’s wanted to run Grey Rock the past two years. Injuries derailed those plans two years ago and in 2018 the race filled up before Svendsen could register.
In the meantime, the 24-year-old’s been working hard on another ambitious goal. He’s climbed 56 mountains as part of a quest to become the youngest person to summit all 100 Washington mountains on the Bulger List, a title held by Linsey Warren, who accomplished the feat when she was 27.
While Svendsen’s steady pace outlasted his competitors, former collegiate runner Clayton Bailey set a much faster pace to shatter the 12K record with a time of 54:05. Still, the winding, challenging trail forced him to nearly come to a full stop a few times as he blazed down the mountain.
“There were some interesting calls on some of the turns,” Bailey said. “It gets rocky and some of the switchbacks are more than 90 degrees.”
British Columbia runner Katrina Abram missed breaking the 25K women’s record by less than two minutes, finishing in 2:42:38. Abram said she’s used to longer distances but decided to go for the 25K due to recent injuries limiting her fitness.
Jessica Mencel came up from southern Oregon to run the 50K with no ultra racing experience and no expectations other than finishing. Even after closing fast and clocking an impressive 5:27:46, the second-fastest women’s time in course history, she responded with shock when race director Richard Betancourt awarded her the gold medal for first place.
“I had no idea how well I would do on the second half,” Mencel said. “I was so nervous.”
Some 50K runners, including second-place men’s finisher Joel Port, experience a different kind of shock thanks to a cougar spotted near the trail after the 25K turnaround point. Port said he froze, then began waving his arms and yelling to convince the big cat to walk away.
Jill Janak from Richland was the top women’s finisher in the 12K with a time of 1:19:58.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the overall winner of the 25K was yours truly with a time of 2:28:47.
Grey Rock Trail Runs results
50K men: 1. Carter Svendsen, Yakima, 4:54:10; 2. Joel Port, Portland, 5:27:48; 3. Michael McNeill, Richland, 5:47:32.
50K women: 1. Jessica Mencel, Jacksonville, Ore., 5:27:46; 2. Bridget Fisher, Shoreline, 6:34:30; 3. (tie) Leanne Smith, Kennewick; Kristin Whitman, Milton, 7:03:23.
25K men: 1. Luke Thompson, Selah, 2:28:47; 2. Rob Ziegler, Puyallup, 2:38:03; 3. Chris Conant, Chatham, Ill., 2:51:09.
25K women: 1. Katrina Abram, Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, 2:42:38; 2. Aleah Mickelson, Yakima, 2:51:23; 3. Amelia Rutter, Yakima, 2:59:34.
12K men: 1. Clayton Bailey, Snoqualmie, 54:05; 2. Justin Bolt, Yakima, 1:03:14; 3. Jacob Cabe, Kennewick, 1:05:27.
12K women: 1. Jill Janak, Richland, 1:19:58; 2. Grissvi Medina, Zillah, 1:20:45; 3. Jay Hunt, Yakima, 1:21:57.