Rookies rule at Way Too Cool

Cool, dry weather lead to fast times at 50K foot race
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Leor Pantilat was quick to thank his former law firm after his victory at the Way Too Cool 50K Saturday morning. The 24-year-old lawyer from San Carlos cruised to an impressive 3-hour, 39-minute finish to top a field that included many of the top ultrarunners on the West Coast. An unfortunate turn in his professional career may have helped him to the win. “I was laid off in mid-January,” Pantilat said. “I’d like to thank (my former employer) for giving me extra time to train for this.” Pantilat was one of more than 500 runners to toe the starting line at the event, which is the largest ultra in the United States. “It’s a really nice course,” said Pantilat, a former cross country and track runner at Rice University. “I’m a rhythm runner and I was able to get into a good rhythm on this course. I wanted to get top five, but I’ve never run in a field like this, so I’m really happy.” Fellow Bay area resident Caitlin Smith edged veteran ultrarunner Bev Anderson-Abbs to win the women’s crown. Smith and Anderson-Abbs ran side-by-side nearly the entire race until Smith pulled away with about four miles left on the 31-mile course. “I’m still kind of like, ‘Did I just do that?’” Smith said. “It’s awesome to be able to run with Bev. I’m new to ultras and I feel fortunate to get to know all these other great runners.” Smith works as a doula in the Bay area and is also yoga and pilates instructor. She received a call from a client on Friday who thought she was going into labor, though Smith said it was a false alarm. She often draws inspiration from her clientele when she’s hurting physically during a race. “I’m only out here for four hours and I’ve had some women who’ve been in labor for two days,” she said. Both Pantilat and Smith were rookies at the 20th annual Way Too Cool. While they were eager to test themselves at the 50k distance, many runners in the field were tuning up for longer races later this year. Dan Olmstead of Eugene, Ore. finished second overall, just over three minutes behind Pantilat. He was happy with his finish, but has his sights set on the Western States Endurance Run in June. “I got into Western States for the first time last year,” Olmstead said. “I’m running with a group of runners from Eugene and I’m just really looking forward to it.” Auburn’s Michael Cook was the first local runner to cross the finish line, taking 26th overall in 4:13. Tim Twietmeyer took second in the men’s 50-54 age group. The Auburn resident who finished Western States 25 consecutive times under 24 hours, is 50. Newcastle’s Douglas Croall took second in the men’s 55-59 age division and Auburn’s Tom Harper was second in the men’s 60-64 age group. Lotus resident Barbara Ashe won the women’s 60-64 age division, edging Newcastle’s Janet Pucchi. Cool’s Diana Lundy took second in the women’s 55-59 age group. Auburn’s Bill Finkbeiner finished his 20th Way Too Cool race in 5:36. He’s completed every race since the event’s inception, when it was called the Cool Canyon Crawl. For complete results of Way Too Cool, click here: