Sunday Jul 04 2010
A new era for endurance sports scene?
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
The enthralling race that took place last Saturday on the Western States Trail is being hailed by many observers around the world as a major breakthrough for the sport of ultrarunning. The men and women who devote countless hours to training and competing in this event have toiled in relative obscurity for decades. But it seems this year was different. The Western States Endurance Run featured well-known stars like Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner and Killian Jornet. But the Twitter phenomenon along with several live blogs and up-to-the-minute updates from I-Phones and Blackberrys made the race fairly easy to follow from a computer throughout the day. Within hours of the start of the race, photos and videos were being posted all over the Web. Several of the runners updated their blogs or Tweeted their status within minutes of finishing the race. Auburn Community Television put together a sharp documentary on the 2010 race that aired less than 24 hours after the finish. While ultramarathons will probably never catch the attention of the masses, it’s safe to say the sport is gaining popularity like never before. Instant access is making it much easier to follow and smart race directors are keeping up with the technology that allows people from all over the world to keep up with their events. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, it took several hours and sometimes a full day to get information from the trail to the masses. But thousands of running fans are thankful they were able to track last week’s thrilling race from their computer screens as it happened. … Gordon Ainsleigh knows how to make an entrance. And the man who wears bib No. 0 showed he hasn’t lost his touch at the Western States awards ceremony last week. Ainsleigh, who first made the 100-mile journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn on foot in 1974 was a victim of the clock as he checked into the Robie Point checkpoint just after the 30-hour time limit late Sunday morning. About a mile from the finish, Ainsleigh pushed on, loping onto the Placer High track for an unofficial finish as the awards ceremony was already underway. Like the efforts of course record breaker Geoff Roes and historic amputee runner Amy Palmeiro-Winters, Ainsleigh’s finish captured the spirit of the unique race to a T. … The Journal sports staff said, “fåravel,” to sports writer Eric Gourley this week. Gourley was an invaluable asset to the Journal and to the foothills’ sports scene over the past two and a half years. He is off to Sweden, where he plans to become a hockey expert and pursue his passion for snowboarding, among other things. Gourley will be sorely missed and we have some big shoes to fill.