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The Spirit of Trail is Alive and Well at Chuckanut

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Not ones to miss out on the opportunity to cheer at their favorite runners (and humans, and a few dogs) Corrine Malcolm and Somer Kreisman headed up north to just outside of Bellingham, Washington for the 30th edition of the Chuckanut 50-kilometer. If you couldn’t make it out, or want to relive the weekend you can find Corrine’s race report and photos from Somer below. And while we have you, don’t you dare miss Ryan Thrower’s highlight video on the Freetrail YouTube channel.


While you may feel unbridled joy for the middle of March with Saint Patrick’s Day and the first day of Spring both around the corner – if you’re from the Pacific Northwest that bubbling enthusiasm you feel isn’t just for the extra three minutes of daylight we are getting a day (goodbye ‘Big Dark’) it’s Chuckanut weekend baby! The blessed 3rd Saturday of March. Since Doug McKeever and Richard West first breathed life into the race in 1993 the Chuckanut 50km has been an early-season staple for those who call the UpperLeft home, and since Krissy Moehl took on race director duties in 2002 it’s become one of the most competitive opening races of the year drawing talent from all over North America.

Chuckanut RD Krissy Moehl does the final course markings from Fairhaven Park
RD Krissy Moehl puts the final touches on the course race morning.
Scott Sowle of Vert Mountain Running Races onsite to cheer on the Seattle area runners.
Scott Sowle of Vert Mountain Running Races onsite to cheer on the Seattle area runners.
Jeff Fisher and Ryan Thrower ahead of the start.
Jeff Fischer and Ryan Thrower before the start of the Chuckanut 50km.

If you live in Washington State there’s a high likelihood that Chuckanut was your first ultra – it was my first ultra in 2016 and a race I continue to come back to each year even when I’m not pinning a bib on. I’m not sure who Krissy (or her Co-RDs Kevin Douglas and Tyler Pauley) bribed, but the weather could not have been better. Sunshine, the volcanos on full display from the high points of the course along the ridge – the Bellingham Tourism Commission had to be giddy.

Flamingos ready to cheer on Chuckanut 50km runners.
It’s not every race that flock of flamingos are there to cheer you on.
Really is there better energy?
Really is there better energy?

598 runners toed the chilly start line in Fairhaven Park and when all was said and done 585 of those runners clocked official finishes. While much of the credit is owed to the runners’ own training and preparation, I have to believe that our voice-losing-cheering and the incredible volunteers out on the course brought a lot of runners home.

The calm before the thunderous start as runners wait to tackle the notoriously fast first 10km.
The calm before the thunderous start as runners wait to tackle the notoriously fast first 10km.
Jeff Fisher gives out final instructions.
Jeff Fisher gives out final instructions.
The first 10km follows the interurban trail, affectionately called "the urb".
The first 10km follows the interurban trail, affectionately called “the urb”.
Krissy Moehl cheers on the start of the 30th Chuckanut 50km.
Krissy Moehl cheers on the start of the 30th Chuckanut 50km.
598 runners took the trails for the race, and 585 getting official finishes.
598 runners took the trails for the race with 585 clocking official finishes.

Chuckanut 50km is like a big squiggly lollipop with 10km of “urb” running on either end of it and a “middle 30km” that contains virtually all of the 5,000 feet of climbing. My goal at Chuckanut was always to try and “negative split the last 10km” – a naive hope that I wouldn’t go out way too fast at the start. Despite those attempts I’ve still had to power hike the slightest of inclines that comes just ahead of the final mile to the finish.

The men's lead pack drops into Arroyo.
The men’s lead pack drops into Arroyo.
2018 Chuckanut Champion, Keely Henninger leads out the women's race.
2018 Chuckanut Champion, Keely Henninger leads out the women’s race.
Ma Moehl says smile.
Gretchen Walla and crew become every runner's personal hypeman.
Gretchen Walla and crew become every runner’s personal hypeman.
The women's chase pack headed into the fragrance lake single track and the first big climb of the course.
The women’s chase pack headed into the fragrance lake single track and the first big climb of the course.

After choosing to not pin on a race bib for the weekend I made it my mission to get to as many places on the course as possible, lucky for me I know all the shortcuts. No dear runner, you were not hallucinating, I did in fact make it to what I’ll describe as everywhere – okay except for Lost Lake trail, I’ve cried too much out there for a casual visit. We caught up to runners grinding up Cleator Road, leaping and scampering down rocks on the ridge, putting their heads down as they forged their way up Chinscrapper, and caught them one last time before the finish as they made the turn towards home on the urb once again. While I might not have been racing I’m pretty sure I PR’d a few segments as I did my best to intercept the crazy fast field.

Matt Daniels chasing to a second-place finish.
Matt Daniels chasing to a second-place finish.
Francesco Puppi runs to a historic time dipping under the 3:27 mark.
Francesco Puppi runs to a historic time dipping under the 3:27 mark.
Matt and Francesco got the best out of each other and were rewarded with two of the fastest times in the 30 year race history.
Matt and Francesco got the best out of each other and were rewarded with two of the fastest times in the 30-year race history.
Dylan Humberger wins young gun of the day rounding out the podium at just 24 years old.
Dylan Humberger wins “young gun of the day” rounding out the podium at just 24 years old.

With up to a nine-hour cutoff, if you take the early start at 7 AM, Chuckanut has become a race for everyone looking to take on an ultrarunning classic. While the front end of the race is usually a smattering of a who’s who of North American talent and up-and-comers looking to make a splash this year’s men’s champion was one of the best 50km trail runners in the world, the Italian Francesco Puppi. Driven to a historically fast time Puppi was chased all day by Matt Daniels, who couldn’t quite close the gap and ultimately finished just over two minutes back. Both men went under 3:30, only something Adam Peterman has done previously, running 3:26:31 and 3:28:43 for first and second. The young Montanan who currently resides in Ashland Oregon, Dylan Humberger, rounded out the podium in third position running 3:39:41.

Claire DeVoe sneaks the win she's long been capable of after running alongside Isabelle Brauer all day.
Claire DeVoe sneaks the win she’s long been capable of after running alongside Isabelle Brauer all day.
Jade Belzberg charges home for second place sneaking under 4:15.
Jade Belzberg charges home for second place sneaking under 4:15.
After pivoting from a cancelled Way Too Cool 50km, Priscilla Forgie rounds out the podium.
After pivoting from a cancelled Way Too Cool 50km, Priscilla Forgie rounds out the podium.
Claire DeVoe surrounded by her Seattle running family - who had been waiting for this result as long as Claire.
Claire DeVoe surrounded by her Seattle running family – who had been waiting for this result as long as Claire.

On the women’s side, the race was a two-woman battle for much of the day between Claire DeVoe and Isabelle Brauer, literally running side-by-side where the trail was wide enough to do so. A lot can happen in the final flat 10km of this course, with upsets often coming in the final mile of the race. While Isabelle hit the urb first, Claire DeVoe was the runner who came charging through the Hundred Acre Wood to claim her spot on top of the podium in a time of 4:13:25 (Seattle erupts in applause). The women’s top five were only separated by five and a half minutes! Just behind Claire in second and third place were Jade Belzberg and Priscilla Forgie running 4:14:58 and 4:15:36 respectively.

Keely Henninger gets a hug from me (Corrine) after a gutsy run.
Keely Henninger gets a hug from me (Corrine) after a gutsy run.
Freetrail Fam unites after Hannah Allgood rounds out the top 5 women (all of whom cracked the top 11 times ever).
Freetrail Fam unites after Hannah Allgood rounds out the top 5 women (all of whom cracked the top 11 times ever)!

You can find complete results here.

Men’s Results

(1) Francesco Puppi – 3:26:31
(2) Matt Daniels – 3:28:41
(3) Dylan Humberger – 3:39:41
(4) Joshua Potvin – 3:41:06
(5) Zachary Perrin – 3:45:19
(6) Jeff Stern – 3:47:09
(7) Brandon Gardiner – 3:47:47
(8) Will Murray – 3:48:10
(9) Blake Slattengren – 3:49:05
(10) Gene Beverdige – 3:49:12

Women’s Results

(1) Claire DeVoe – 4:13:25
(2) Jade Belzberg – 4:14:58
(3) Priscilla Forgie – 4:15:36
(4) Keely Henninger – 4:17:00
(5) Hannah Allgood – 4:19:40
(6) Addie Bracy – 4:25:03
(7) Georgia Porter – 4:25:36
(8) Jaycie Thomsen – 4:26:23
(9) Andrea Lee – 4:27:33
(10) Isabelle Brauer 4:27:54

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