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USATF 50k Road Championships see cold temps, fast times


LLOYD HARBOR, NEW YORK – The 2015 USATF 50 km Road Championships staged in Caumsett Historical State Park saw cold temps and snow but champions prevailed on Sunday, March 1.


Up in the front of the men's pack, 2013 US Mountain Team member, Zachary Ornelas, 23, of Ann Arbor, MI, was pushing the pace with clear intent of breaking the course record set by Ethan Coffey, last year's 50km national road champion.  Ornelas held the lead from start to finish, breaking the course record in 2:52:16.


Going out with Ornelas, were the former 50km champion at this event, Joseph Gray, 31, Colorado Springs, a multi-time mountain team member and newcomer Tyler Andrews, 24, Arlington, VA, running in his first ultra, but with a 2:16 marathon background.  On the third lap, Andrews tweaked his hamstring and faded momentarily, but came back to finish in the runner-up spot, in 3:05:33.


Kory Cool, 27, of Manhattan, KS, was also in the mix, running consistent laps in the 18:30 range and never wavering, steadily moving up from 9th to 2nd, at one point, as others dropped off their early pace.  Cool finished in third place in 3:06:08 when Andrews found some reserve speed and went from 8th place in the 7th lap to grab the silver medal in his first ultra championship.


On the ladies side, defending champion and course record holder, Emily Harrison, 29, Flagstaff, AZ, battled with Sarah Bard, 30, Somerville, MA, throughout the race, with the lead changing numerous times.  Harrison struggled to find her groove and could not hold Bard off although her pace was off the mark she set last year.


Bard won the title in 3:23:28 as Harrison fell off the pace considerably in the final two laps, finishing in 3:33:01.  Taking the bronze medal was New York City's Keila Merino, 33, in 3:56:57.


Masters winner was Jean Pommier, age 51, Cupertino, CA, who finished in seventh overall, surprising many and garnering a top ten medal to go along with his masters title.  The next masters to finish was 47-year old Kevin Grabowski, WI, who set a 2-minute PR, followed by East Islip, NY's, Jerry Pannullo, 45, in 3:25:38.


A CR in colder temps, with little wind could be expected, but the course also had some patches of ice.  Bob Dodson, going for the 80-84, 50km age group American record, slipped and fell on his tenth lap, 1km from the finish.  With weakened legs, he fell again, just yards from the finish crawled to the timing mat, just 8 seconds shy of the record.


This was the tenth consecutive year the Greater Long Island Runners Club hosted the USA 50km Road Championships. They had plenty of sand thrown over the ice to lessen the risk of runners falling.  Once the snow fell on top of it, there was not much else that could be done.


Complete results can be located at


Contributed by Roy Pirrung, USATF MUT Liaison

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