Seattle runner wins Cougar Mountain Trail Run

July 14, 2009

By Ryan Piersol

Chris Charles, of Seattle, sprints the last 50 yards of the Cougar Mountain Trail Run July 11, coming in first with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 18 seconds. By Adam Eschbach

Chris Charles, of Seattle, sprints the last 50 yards of the Cougar Mountain Trail Run July 11, coming in first with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 18 seconds. By Adam Eschbach

It wasn’t his attire, a certain technique or even his endurance that eventually allowed Chris Charles to best all of his peers July 11.

It was all about staying on his feet.

The Seattle runner crossed the finish line minutes ahead of everyone else in the third leg of the 2009 Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series. Afterward, Charles credited his ability to complete the 10.3-mile course in 1:13.18 to his balance.

“I was just trying not to fall,” he said. “You get going on these switchbacks, and you come barreling around them. You have to grab onto limbs at parts, so you don’t twist an ankle or fall.”

Charles, who didn’t compete in either of the first two legs of the series, finished this one nearly three minutes ahead of runner-up Greg Crowther.The run began at the Sky Country trailhead on the west side of the mountain. The route for the 10.3-mile run changes every year, bringing a new round of challenges to annual participants.

Last year, winner Uli Steidl finished the 10.3-mile course in 1:15.16.

“You just get lost in the woods and it just goes by so quickly,” Charles said of the run.

Fellow participant Ben Haber had his own troubles with the winding trail. The Seattle runner made a turn a little too fast, hit a tree and took a tumble. He was covered with dirt on one side of his body, but still managed to place third with a time of 1:16.20, just 17 seconds back of runner-up Crowther.

“I got going a little too quickly around one of the corners,” Haber said. “I’m fine. I’m just a little dirty.”

Haber was the winner of each of the first two runs in the series. He finished the 5-mile jaunt in 32:10 to place first, and won the 7.6-mile run with a time of 53:20. He was nearly six minutes ahead of the next runner in the first race, and a full nine minutes in the lead in the second race.

A long-time runner, Haber is just getting back into the swing of it after a November 2007 accident in which he was attacked by a dog during a race and broke bones in his leg and wrist during an ensuing fall.

“These runs are really fun. The trails are beautiful, and are great for running,” he said of the series. “It’s nice to have that progression too, going from the shorter race to the longer races.”

The top four finishers in the 10.3-mile race were all from Seattle. There were participants from as far away as Alaska and Kentucky.

Roque Bamba was the top runner from Issaquah, placing 33rd with a time of 1:40.56. Also from Issaquah, Jenny Copson was 93rd, Christi Olson was 153rd, Bill and Courtney Favier were 160th and 161st, Kris Palmer was 169th and Cindy Yen 177th.

The final leg of the Cougar Mountain Trail Series will be a 13.2-mile trek at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 8. Registration can be made both online and at the starting line at Sky Country trailhead.

Compete in the next run
Get more information at www.seattlerunningcompany.com.

Compete in the next run

Get more information at www.seattlerunningcompany.com.

Reach Reporter Ryan Piersol at 392-6434, ext. 246, or rpiersol@isspress.com.

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