Torrid Torrence pace wins Mountain Mist
By Jim Oaks


Ian Torrence and Hal Koerner, two friends and fellow Montrail Ultra team members, attempted to run the 473-mile Colorado Trail in record time last August. After seven days and 305 miles, much at altitudes over 10,000 feet, Torrence had to pull out of the attempt due to injuries while Koerner went on to set the record at nine days, 10 hours and 19 minutes.

Saturday, both were in Huntsville for the 10th Mountain Mist 50K (31-miles) Trial Run in Monte Sano State Park and the Huntsville Land Trust. This time it was Torrence who set a record and Koerner who ended the race about mid way with a severely sprained right ankle. Torrence won the race in 4 hours, 1 minute, 58 seconds breaking Huntsville’s DeWayne Satterfield’s mark of 4:03:47. Second place went to Josh Beckham, 27, from Nashville who was also under the old mark at 4:03:45. Satterfield came in a very respectable third in 4:12:46.

The women’s title, also under Kathy Youngren’s course record of 4:43:28, went to Michelle Richardson, 39, of Asheville, N.C., who ran 4:39:53.

Torrence, 31, is a bioscience technician for the National Park Service in Moab, Utah. He is a native of Maryland and ran track and cross country at Allegheny College in Penn. Since moving west he has become one of the top ultra runners, winning 40 of the 100 ultra races he entered before turning 30.

Even though this race was not at high altitude, Torrence said the climbs made it a considerable challenge.

“I was seeing stars in that last mile coming in,” he said.

The reason for his hard effort was not only an attempt to establish a new course mark but to stay ahead of Beckham who surprised race organizers with his performance. A graduate student at Vanderbilt, Beckham, a native of Austin, Texas, ran for Washington and Lee University and enjoys running the hills in Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. It prepared him for Saturday.

Brian Wieck of Helena, Mont. led at the first aid station, but Beckham moved to the front by the time the lead group reached aid station two in “The Sinks.” At the half way point at Fearn Drive, Eric Grossman of Louisville, Ky. assumed the front position but in the Land Trust area, Torrence made his move. Although his lead was only 14 seconds over Wieck entering Old Railroad Bed Trail, he had taken a commanding lead by aid station five at Monte Sano Blvd.

Satterfield said he would have liked to have defended his title, but was not at all disappointed with his run considering the car wreck in early December that injured his knee.

“When I consider where I was a month ago I must say I am very happy to be able to run this well today,” he said.

Richardson was a surprise to race director Dink Taylor.

“Mike Allen had told me she could win the race,” Taylor said. “I should have seeded her higher.”

Richardson ran with number 110, as tenth women’s seed. But there was nothing 10th best about her performance. She took the early lead from defending champion Courtney Fenstermacher of Penn., and led the women’s pack at each of the five stations. Her lead of 20 seconds at station one grew to a minute and a half at station two and by Fearn Drive her near 3-minute lead over Krissy Sybrowsky meant the race was over. Sybrowsky’s second place finish in 4:48:29 placed her in an elite group of four women runners who have finished in under five hours.

Collette Calderwood, 26, of Salt Lake City, Utah, finished third in 5:02:23. Calderwood’s parents live in Huntsville and she is a Grissom graduate who now teaches elementary school in Utah.

“When I’ve been home at Christmas some of the folks I run with had told me I should come to this race,” Calderwood said. “I saved some money for a trip back this weekend. It was a great race.”

Taylor said some of the credit for fast times must go to Jeff Kyser who had worked hard to clear many trees from the course.

“I’ve never seen it so clear,” Taylor said. “Usually you have to jump over a bunch of trees in McKay’s Hollow.”

A record number of 302 registered for the race this year and 278 started. There were 265 finishers, up from 205 last year.