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The Las Conchas Fire’s legacy was far-reaching, enough so that it has had an effect on the upcoming Jemez Mountain Trail Runs.
The Jemez Mountain Trail Runs, an event now in its seventh year, is scheduled for Saturday. The competition has, in a relatively short period of time, attracted quite a following and gained recognition by running enthusiasts as a particularly challenging coursea.
The runs consist of a 50-mile, 50-kilometer and half-marathon. The 50-mile run gets going at 5 a.m., with the 50K set for 6 a.m. and the half-marathon at 8 a.m.
All the runs start and end near the Los Alamos Posse Shack on North Mesa.
One of the event organizers, Bill Geist, said that this year’s registration for the two longer races are down this year, however, although the half-marathon is completely filled up.
“We’re not totally filled for the 50-mile and 50K,” he said. “The fire may have had something to do with it. People aren’t registering as early.”
Because of last summer’s fire, part of the long courses had to be re-routed for 2012. Instead of going to Caballo Mountain and Cerro Grande, the longer races will steer more toward Pajarito Mountain and the caldera.
No different accommodations had to be made for the half-marathon, however.
The changes will actually result in an easier trek for the ultra-runners taking part Saturday. About 2,000 feet of elevation climb has been eliminated with the new route.
Unfortunately, the changes also seemed to spark some talk in the ulta-running community that this year’s JMTR won’t be the race it has been in the past.
“With the course changes, some people thought that it was just going to be a boring course,” Geist said. “There would just be an out-and-back several times.”
Regardless of the less-than-ideal pre-race buzz, there should still be some strong runners competing this year.
Last year’s 50-mile race was won by Nick Clark of Fort Collins, Colo., who posted a time of 8 hours, 7 minutes, 45 seconds, a blazing time. He finished over 90 minutes ahead of runner-up Brendan Trimboli in the men’s competition.
Angela Shartel of San Diego won the women’s 50-mile race with a time of 11:05:22.
Brian Crone of Santa Fe (5:44:36) and Molly Krehlik of Albuquerque (6:23:45) were the top finishers in the 50K event last year, while Bernie Boettcher of Silt, Colo. and local athlete Erica Baron were the top finishers in the half-marathon.
The half-marathon is part of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, a 10-race competition that includes events in various locations, such as Olympia, Wash., Smithville, Texas, and Reading, Pa.
The JMTR event is the seventh race in the competition.
Geist said for long-distance runners, the JMTR is a pretty big deal, not just for local runners, but nationally.
“People who run this course generally consider it one of the hardest three 50-milers in the country,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot of attention. Some of the top ultra-runners in the country have run here.”
Geist said organizers have had no trouble filling aid stations with volunteers. In fact, he said he’s actually had to turn some volunteers away because there’s no need for more.