The mild weather and periods of sun over the past several days have us languidly soaking up rays in our short-shorts, fawning over crocuses, thinking about cute little chipmunks eating watermelon, and entertaining other spring-like musings. It would be easy to forget that the final race of the Winter Trail Series is coming up this Saturday at Frost Eagle in Sammamish, except that we’re busy not only topping off all the puddles at Soaring Eagle Park in preparation for the event but also scratching our heads over who will win.
With six races in the books, there are still 63 runners who have a shot at a top-3 finish in one of the eight age groups! With the help of all the actuaries, numerologists, astrologers, and Nobel laureates we have access to, we compiled a list of this elite group of 63.
After studying that list carefully, we did manage to identify a few virtual shoe-ins:
- 61-year-old Ed Barney in Masters Men: If we ever grow up we want to be like Ed, at least when it comes to trail running. Even after going on a spontaneous off-trail slip-and-slide adventure at Interlaken Icicle Dash (in one of his characteristic fits of youthful exuberance, we can only assume), the four scores Ed already has on the board are good enough for him to almost be assured of winning without even having to show up–holy smokes! But not so fast–according to those aforementioned actuaries, 45-year-old John Fogliani, currently with just three strong races under his belt, could still leap up the standings to hand his elder a 1-point comeuppance if John eats his Wheaties and manages to win (among men of all age groups) in either the 5-mile or Half Marathon races on Saturday. Never say never, but Mr. Fogliani is not signed up, and we’re not holding our breath. Chasing Ed and vying for the remaining podium spots are a large cadre, some of whom have a full complement of scores, and others–like Mr. Fogliani–who have just three strong scores and could catapult up the standings with a fourth race. Jay Grubb, Tim Harris, Maurice Carson, Bill Kaiser, Kirk Blankenship, Eric Clark, Bob Weisel, and Kevin Kent are all signed up to run Frost Eagle and perhaps grab a top-3 spot.
- 18-year-old Wendall Lorenzen in Junior Men: The Sequim High School senior track and cross country runner seems sure to win the series overall if he comes to Frost Eagle and runs anything near as well as he did when he notched three wins at Ravenna Refresher, Seward Solstice, and Interlaken Icicle Dash. Even more sure that Wendall’s pretty-darn-sure win is that 15-year-old Jun Masunaga will place no lower than second place. Jun is not yet signed up for Frost Eagle but has four solid scores already, and this puts him out-of-reach of everyone in his age-group except Wendall, who have at most three runs. 13-year-old Austin Barney is signed up to run and notch his fourth score Saturday to round out the podium, joining his speedy father and grandpa as likely top placers.
- In the Masters Women age group, three runners still technically have a shot at winning it all (and by the way, “it all” includes a free entry to one of our many upcoming runs, along with other fabulous prizes and probably fame!) Michelle Harrison’s four very good scores make for a very strong bid to bring home the bacon. In fact, only a win in one of Saturday’s races can lift 60-year-old powerhouse Nancy Whipple or Seattle Running Club Brooks Team member and frequent saintly volunteer Ellen Lavoie to the top of the podium. The astrologers tell us that Saturday’s 5-mile will be a victory lap for Michelle, but the actuaries are vigorously gesticulating with their slide rules and pointing to the 0.783% chance of an upset. Of course Nancy or Ellen would have to sign up to run on Saturday for that to happen. Elizabeth Mitchell is unlikely to crack the top three, unless we’re talking about the Coolest Mom competition, in which she is totally crushing it after running with her 7-year-old son Evan at Ravenna Refresher and Absolution Run.
The top placements in the remaining age groups are much more wide open.
In the Youth Girls competition, only 10-year-old Sierra Mason has more than one score, with three races under her belt, and she is signed up for the 5-mile race at Frost Eagle, so she is very likely on her way to winning her age group. Her competitors have a chance to leapfrog her only if they run very well and she doesn’t finish. Of the chasing pack, only Sofia Locati (age 8 and currently in sixth position) is currently registered to start on Saturday, so she stands a good chance to secure second place, ahead of Seamus Atwood.
In the Youth Boys competition, there are two potential first-place runners: current leader 11-year-old Glyn Carson, and current third-position runner 10-year-old Noah Kaiser. Noah has just three scores on the board, so just finishing with an average performance will likely be enough to put him in close contention with his age-group rival. Glyn is signed up for the 5-mile at Frost Eagle, and his junior challenger is signed up for, let’s see…the Half Marathon! At the age of ten, we couldn’t stay awake for 13-mile car rides, and our definition of a long run was going all the way around the block. These kids are amazing, and they’re all winners in our book just for finishing, especially 7-year-old Evan Mitchell Barnhardt, who has completed four runs already and could very well end up third among his senior competitors. Ulysses Klebeck (age 9) has just two scores, but they’re high, so if he shows up, he’ll challenge for second or third.
The Junior Women age group competition is shaping up to be very interesting, with three (count ’em!) runners vying for the first place spot! Interlake High School runners Aishanee Wijeratna and Leela Sarukkai each have four strong point scores and are in the second and third positions overall in the women’s standings. Leela can overtake her teammate only if she runs at Frost Eagle and places 5th or better. Sequim High School runner Noelle Bittner alone is in a position to upend her fellow sophomores. Noelle is signed up for the 5-mile at Frost Eagle, but it will take a win or a second place to put her in first or second position (respectively) in her age group. Former Garfield High School cross country runner Loa Jones will finish third or fourth in the standings and is signed up for the 5-mile at Frost Eagle; if she finishes, she will be one of at most six runners to have run all seven Winter Trail Series races this season!
In the Open Women age group, Mollie Gabrys-Lake has been sitting atop the standings for most of the season, now with four solid scores. But her lowest score of 82 points (12th place) from the Absolution Run puts her within striking distance of five of her competitors. Among them, Lydia Ngai and Angie Kostrzewa–both registered for a showdown Saturday in the Half Marathon race at Frost Eagle–have three scores so far but appear poised to move into the top two places, unless Mollie shows up to defend her lead. Lydia is two points ahead of Angie in the standings and beat Angie by two minutes and two places in the 10k race at Interlaken Icicle Dash, so if we were betting types, we would put two dollars on Lydia to win the series on Saturday. But a Half Marathon is 13 whole miles (according to our Nobel laureates), and Angie has a second place under her belt from the 12k race at Ravenna Refresher, so don’t count her out. Several other women are in the mix to fill out the top places. Already signed up to race on Saturday are Jilian Ryan, Kasha Roseta, Allison Tripp, Kelly Oswald, Courtney Underwood, and of course Katie Duncan, who is on track to run all seven series races!
In the Open Men age group, Jeremy Topping is–well, topping the current standings with four strong scores on the board: two wins, a fourth place, and a fifth place finish. Jeremy is the only runner in his age group with a lock on a top-3 finish in the series, but he has fierce competition behind him, by the name of Tyler Mitchell and Ryan Parker. Ryan, with two second place results, is behind Tyler and is not yet signed up to earn a fourth score on Saturday, but Tyler’s three results so far are two wins and a second place, putting him in excellent position to win the series with a strong run in the Half Marathon on Saturday, where he will be joined by Christopher Hill and Brent Weisel, who each have an outside chance at a top-3 series finish. Meanwhile, in the 5-mile, Jeremy will be mixing it up with Barry Petzold (who is Mr. consistency, with five results that are all third or fourth place finishes, usually with tight margins ahead), Michael Barney (the middle generation of the Barney family trail running dynasty), and perennial top-placer Marko Slivka. We consulted our astrologers and numerologists, and they disagreed in their top-3 predictions, so we flipped a coin, and the numerologists won the toss. They have the top three as Tyler Mitchell, Jeremy Topping, and Barry Petzold, who they picked to break out of his pattern to win the 5-mile. We would never be so bold as to call a winner in such a close race, but we know better than to argue with a numerologist, so there it is!
So, that’s why we can’t wait to see what happens at Frost Eagle on Saturday. If you also can’t and want to be the first to know how it turns out, well, that’s too bad–you can’t, because our crack results team will be the first! But you can still be almost the first by joining us at Soaring Eagle Park for the Winter Trail Series awards.