20 OCTOBER 2002
Originally printed in the Duluth News Tribune

Colorado runner wins Fitz Ultramarathon


DULUTH, MN - Duluth's Dusty Olson has earned a reputation in the running world as Scott Jurek's sidekick.

Jurek, a Proctor native, has won four straight Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run titles and Olson has paced the winner over the final 38 miles near Auburn, Calif., the last three years.

But Olson showed Saturday he's not too bad on his own. He finished second in the U.S. 100-Kilometer Road Championships, held in conjunction with the 21st Edmund Fitzgerald Ultramarathon from Finland to Brighton Beach.

Chad Ricklefs of Boulder, Colo., won the 62.1-mile race along the North Shore in 7 hours, 9 minutes, 29 seconds on an overcast, 30-degree day against a 14 mph crossing wind. Olson, 29, was second in 7:17:02 overtaking Charles Hubbard of Minneapolis in the final 10 kilometers. Hubbard, 41, was third in 7:23:29 and defending Edmund Fitzgerald champion Mark Godale, 32, of Streetsboro, Ohio, was fourth in 7:39:59.

It was the longest race and first road ultra of Olson's running career.

"I thought it would hurt a lot more than it did. It wasn't all that bad,"said Olson, a self-employed carpenter, who has spent the last few weeks roofing a church in Brookston. "I'm really a trail runner, but I've heard some people say that trail runners are slow and I wanted to make a point."

He made a point, won $200 and qualified for the U.S. team competing in the 2003 World 100K Championships next November in Taipei. The top three men and women made the American team.

Olson was 61st in Grandma's Marathon in June in 2:39:45 and 19th in the U.S. 50-Mile Trail Championships in July in 8:13:08.

Connie Gardner, 38, of Medina, Ohio, led the women's field in 8:30:31. Earlier this year she won the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run in Raleigh, N.C., in 17:21:38 in April and was fourth in the U.S. 50K Championships in Pittsburgh in 4:00:45 in March.

Laura Nelson, 37, of Waynesboro, Md., was second Saturday in 8:47:49 and Ann Heaslett, 38, of Madison, Wis., third in 8:53:03.

A field of 57 solo runners started at 7 a.m. Saturday, while about 1,000 relay-team entrants began in waves from 5 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

Ricklefs, 35, continued an impressive racing season with his victory worth $250. He won the Chicago Lakefront 50-Miler in 3:12:15 in April and broke the Leadville (Colo.) Trail 100-Mile course record by more than seven minutes in 17:23:18 on Aug. 17.

The former nordic skier-biker turned to ultrarunning three years ago and found his niche.

"I just love the way you feel -- facing a challenge and being out there in motion for so long. It's a real test of your will," said Ricklefs, employed by the city of Boulder as a long-range planner.

Ricklefs, 5-foot-5 and 118 pounds, was running just his second 100K race. He was with Hubbard for the first 35K before running alone the rest of the way. Ricklefs has just a month to rest before competing in the 40th JFK 50-Miler in Boonsboro, Md., as defending champion.

"I was a little concerned about racing so soon after Leadville because of some injuries, but this went well, except it was tougher than I thought," said Ricklefs, ranked No. 5 in 2001 among North American men by UltraRunning Magazine.

He outran one of the best Edmund Fitzgerald fields since 1990, when the race was held in conjunction with the 100K World Championships. Six men ran under 7 hours that year led by Roland Vuillemenot of France in 6:34:02.

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