Two more National Champions
For the first time that we could remember since Kris and Kevin Setnes did it a number of years ago we have a husband and wife pair of National Champions. Mark and Anne Lundblad won National 50 Mile Road titles Saturday at the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile in Boalsburg, PA, just outside of State College.
For Mark it was his 1st National Championship following a series of brides-maid finishes over the past couple years. Mark went out with a lead pack of 4 men including Eric Grossman, Leigh Schmidt, and Adam Lint. Lint was the first to slow around 16 miles. Some jockeying for position occurred at the aid stations as they filled bottles and ate and got back on the road, but the remaining three ran together side by side or single file till around 25 miles when Schmidt took a bit longer at an aid station and never caught back up. Grossman led and appeared to try to push the pace several times to drop Lundblad, but Lundblad appeared more in control awaiting the proper moment to execute his race plan. At the 42 mile aid station Grossman and Lundblad came in together but Lundblad went out alone by about 15 seconds while Grossman loitered. The two disappeared down the road in the near 4 mile out-and-back section. Just under a half hour later Lundblad emerged over 2 minutes ahead. In the final, mostly downhill 4 mile stretch to the finish Lundblad remained strong, gained confidence, and tacked 2 more minutes onto his lead to finish with a long awaited win in 6:03:00. The time was 2nd fastest all-time on the course and was very respectable considering the race temperatures which varied between 65 at the start to over 85 degrees at the finish. Grossman finished 2nd about 4 minutes back, followed by Schmidt in 3rd and Lint in 4th.
Anne Lundblad is no stranger to winning National Championships or breaking course records. Saturday’s race was no exception. Anne took an early lead over the women’s field. She charged through the early miles looking light on her feet and wading her way through over-ambitious men who had started out too aggressively. She crossed the half way mark having run mostly alone with her nearest female competitor ex-marathon specialist Missy Foy having been struck by a deer that ran onto the course. Missy was slightly injured and very shaken by the incident but chose to continue and still finished a very respectable 2nd. Meanwhile the longer haired Lundblad continued to charge through the remainder of the men’s field at a blistering pace through the hilliest late portions of the race. Soon only the top 4 men and the course record remained in front of her. Anne continued her solo push through the four mile out-and-back section from 42-46 miles and then down the 4 mile stretch to the finish to an easy win in a course record of 6:36:16, breaking the old course record held by American trail legend Nikki Kimball by nearly 8 minutes.
At the finish, although Mark and Anne were both excited by their own accomplishments, they were even more ecstatic with each other’s performances and a shut out on 2007 USATF National 50 Mile Road Championships by the Lundblad moniker.
While the earlier race date led to much warmer than normal race conditions, Mark’s 2nd fastest all-time and Anne’s open and master’s course records are all the more incredible under these tough conditions.