Final Cougar trail run tests endurance with grueling hills

August 11, 2009

By Christopher Huber

David Morgan (left) of Issaquah, and Andrew Lee, of Bellevue, carry an injured Tiffany Moreno, of Seattle, across the finish line Aug. 8. Moreno rolled her ankle about two miles into the 13.1-mile Cougar Mountain Trail Run.By Christopher Huber

David Morgan (left) of Issaquah, and Andrew Lee, of Bellevue, carry an injured Tiffany Moreno, of Seattle, across the finish line Aug. 8. Moreno rolled her ankle about two miles into the 13.1-mile Cougar Mountain Trail Run.By Christopher Huber

As runners crossed the finish line of the fourth and final Cougar Mountain Train Run, they joked that, after winning the 13.1-mile race, Uli Steidl might take off for another 13-mile jaunt through the woods just for fun.

Well, the Shoreline runner, who has won multiple Seattle marathons and run in various world-championship races, didn’t do another half-marathon on Cougar Mountain. But when he crossed the finish line Aug. 8, he simply glanced at his watch and stopped, not even out of breath, chatted with race organizers and took off for a 10-minute cool-down.

Steidl came in at 1 hour, 34 minutes and 16 seconds, about six minutes ahead of runner-up Chris Charles.

Steidl said he is preparing to race in Italy in September.

“I took this as more of a training run,” he said as he rested. “The time is not important. I just want to run strong on the up and down hills.”

Seattle resident Jeanine Stewart, the first-place female runner, came in at 2:03:12. Having won all four races, she ultimately won the series for the women with four points.“The last part was really steep,” she said after catching her breath. “The placement of the hills was really tough.”

She said she did a lot better than she expected and was glad she didn’t sleep in.

“I was almost not going to come,” she said.

Mark Henderson, of Woodinville, and Michael Wittrock, of Seattle, shared the series win for the men with six points each. Henderson finished the Aug. 8 race in 1:54:04 and Wittrock ran it in 1:51:14.

The 13.1-mile trail run was the final of the four-race 2009 Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series. In the first three races, participants ran five, 7.6 and 10.4 miles, respectively.

Steidl acknowledged the challenge of the four hills along the Cougar Mountain course — runners began the race from the Sky Country trailhead. The key to not getting too tired, runners said, was to start out at a moderate pace and conserve energy for the final stretch, which included the 1.2-mile Quarry Trail hill that gained more than 600 feet of elevation.

Former Skyline High School standout Simon Sorensen, and coach and Beaver Lake Middle School teacher David Clymer, ran the race together. They came in about four minutes apart, crossing at 1:44:40 and 1:48:41 respectively.

“He was going to run my pace, but ended up pulling me on,” Clymer said after the race.

Clymer regularly brings the Skyline cross country teams to Cougar Mountain trails for training runs.

“It’s our favorite place,” he said.

Despite the fact they know the terrain, Clymer and Sorensen said the hills wiped them out — runners traversed about 2,700 feet of net elevation gain, Clymer said.

Approximately 170 runners ran the race Aug. 8.

Joey Chirillo, of Sammamish, came in 16th overall with a time of 2:03:41. Issaquah residents Jesse Heise and Kris Palmer finished in 2:20:45 and 3:08:44, respectively. Bill and Courtney Favier, of Issaquah, both finished in 3:41:40 and Issaquah’s Cindy Yen came in at 3:56:20.

On the Web

Get complete results from the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series at www.seattlerunningcompany.com/Events/Cougar/cougarmtn1.html.

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