Nicole Studer, who lives near and trains often at White Rock Lake, set an American record over the weekend, clocking the fastest time ever recorded by a female in a 100-mile trail race.
(Published Feb. 1 on lakehighlands.advocatemag.com)
Before you even think of dismissing this as a moderate deal, imagining ultra-running as a less-than-competitive fringe sport, stop.
Ultra-running’s popularity — especially when it comes to races on tough, mountainous terrain — has steadily and enormously increased over the years, especially after the 2009 publication of Christopher McDougall’s nationally best selling ultra-running manifesto Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen, which also was responsible for a barefoot-running boom and those crazy-looking five-finger shoes.
It’s not soccer or football. It boasts no pop-star-and-her-dancing-sharks halftime shows.
Studer’s payday was a relatively paltry $2,000 ($1k for the win and $1k for breaking the record).
But the sport offers gritty, grueling and utterly compelling competition nonetheless.
Studer, about whom we have written before — like when she won the 100-mile Trail Championship last year — ran 14 hours 22 minutes at last weekend’s 2015 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile. This is her third year to dominate the women’s race.
Only three men finished ahead of her, and all by less than 20 minutes. The closest woman was more than an hour behind.
The previous 100-mile trail record was 14 hours 45 minutes, set by Traci Falbo in 2014. The previous record on the Rocky Raccoon course was set by Jenn Shelton in 2007. If you haven’t heard of Jenn Shelton, chances are you will soon enough. She is the female runner prominently featured in the aforementioned book Born to Run; her larger-than-life personality added drama to the story, so she potentially could become a household name once this movie comes out.
Studer, who is pretty exhausted at the moment, credits her husband and supportive friends with helping her through the race, and she says the full weight of her accomplishment hasn’t fully sunk in yet, adding, “I am just so relieved to be finished.”
This summer, Studer will compete against the world’s best trail ultra-runners at the prestigious Western States 100.