Gellin, Stewart take top honors at Way Too Cool

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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COOL — Gary Gellin had an in-depth scouting report on the top contenders and carried notes with his split times at Saturday’s Way Too Cool 50k Endurance Run. Tyler Stewart approached the popular season-opening ultramarathon as a casual weekend training run. Their diverse approaches both worked as they came out on top Saturday in Cool. Gellin finished with a time of 3 hours, 27 minutes to set a record on the new course and take the men’s title. Stewart, a former professional triathlete, blazed to a time of 3:49 to top a competitive women’s field. A semi-retired mechanical engineer from Menlo Park, Gellin carried notes with him to keep track of his past splits at each checkpoint. The 43-year-old found himself in a battle with fellow veteran Rich Hanna and Shawn Martin at the bottom of the brutal Goat Hill climb, about six miles from the finish. “Most people walk it, but I took off and ran the whole thing,” Gellin said. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. I started to cramp, but I stayed calm and tried to keep it rolling. I started to tear up when I crossed (Highway) 49.” The win was a breakthrough for Gellin, who had expected to battle with former WTC champion Leor Pantilat on Saturday. But Pantilat pulled out of the race with an injury. Gellin took advantage of the opportunity. Gellin has his sights set on a monumental record this year. On Aug. 13 he will take aim at Kilian Jornet’s Tahoe Rim Trail record. Rocklin’s Jacob Rydman made his way from 10th with just a few miles left to third place at the finish. The 27-year-old former William Jessup cross country runner finished in 3:34. Stewart was quick to point out she’s not a trail runner. But she is quickly becoming a convert, especially after cruising to victory in her first Way Too Cool. “I’m just starting to get into trail running,” said Stewart, a real estate agent from Novato. “From doing Ironman (triathlons) I know how to pace myself. The thing I like about trail running is, it’s so meditative. You have to be focused on every step.” Stewart said her goal is to run a 100-miler this year. June’s Western States Endurance Run would be the ultimate. “It’s right in our backyard, so it would be perfect,” she said. Megan Laib was the second female across the finish line, clocking in at 4:00. Caitlin Smith, the 2010 winner, took third in 4:05. Hanna nearly added a fourth Way Too Cool title to his remarkable running resume. He won in 1993, ’94 and 2000. He wound up second with a time of 3:30. “We were trying to keep the young guys honest,” said Hanna, who will turn 48 this year. “I know Gary is a super smart runner and he was stronger on the uphills. He got a gap at Goat Hill and I never saw him again.” Placer High senior Christian Finkbeiner had another impressive performance at Way Too Cool. He placed 10th last year and the 18-year-old raced to 36th on Saturday in 4:10. Fellow Placer High senior Austin White finished his first ultra in 5:56. Auburn’s Michael Cook placed 43rd with a time of 4:16 and five-time Western States champion Tim Twietmeyer was 107th in 4:42.