Runners take to Cougar Mountain for 8.2-mile run

June 14, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

A fleet of runners took to the second race of the annual Cougar Mountain Trail Run series June 11, led by 39-year-old Uli Steidl, who took first place in the 8.2-mile run with a time of 51 minutes and 31 seconds.

Amber Taylor comes into the final stretch of the 8.2-mile run on Cougar Mountain on June 11. Taylor was the first woman to finish, placing 39th with a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes and 35 seconds. By Tim Pfarr

Peter Samuels, a 24-year-old sporting a purple T-shirt, took second with a time of 52:01, and Amber Taylor, 31, was the first female to cross the finish line, taking 39th place with a time of 1:07:25.

The youngest runner of the day was 14-year-old Ellie Hendrickson, who finished 70th with a time of 1:12:33. Conversely, the oldest runner was 62-year-old Chris Lemke, who finished 82nd with a time of 1:15:07.

A total of 239 runners took to the hilly course, which was slightly longer than in previous years, as it opened with a loop at the Sky Country Trailhead.

“The guy who finished second, he took it out really hard,” Steidl said. “He actually dropped me on the first climb.”

Steidl managed to catch Samuels — who won the May 14 five-mile race — farther down the course, and the two ran closely until Steidl managed to pull away.

“After I had a little bit of a gap, I switched more to tempo run mode,” Steidl said. “Every time I looked back at a switchback I thought, ‘There’s a purple shirt. I’ve got to keep it up.’”

Steidl held the record for the previous, 7.6-mile course with a time of 47:58. It was a record he set in 2005.

The bridges on course were slick June 11, sending several runners tumbling to the ground. Among those who wiped out was Liberty High School cross country and track coach Michael Smith.

Smith was near the front of the pack, focusing on those in front of him when he slipped on the bridge three miles from the finish line, splashing into the creek below and scraping his thigh. He managed to get back on his feet to finish the race fifth.

“That’s racing, I guess,” Smith said with a laugh after the race. “I don’t have to cool down now.”

Taylor also ran the five-mile race in May, taking 38th. She said the previous race helped her prepare for the terrain she faced in the longer run.

“It was a fun race. I love coming out on this trail,” she said. “The second hill killed me.”

Taylor slipped and banged her knee on the course’s first bridge.

The June 11 run raised $3,600 for King County Parks. The series continues with a 10-mile race July 9, a 13-mile race Aug. 13 and a 31-mile race Oct. 30.

The cost to participate is $35 in advance and $45 the day of the race. Seattle Running Club members receive a discount when they register in advance. Register at Click “Events” and “Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series.”

Of each racer’s fee, $15 goes toward King County park maintenance and improvements.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or Comment at

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