June 26, 2005

In what is probably the most stunning upset in the 17-year history of the premier global ultramarathon, the American women's team took the gold medal for the second time this weekend at the 100K World Cup in Lake Saroma, Hokkaido, Japan.  The team was led by second-place finisher and silver medalist Anne Riddle-Lundblad, 38, Asheville, NC who posted a 7:54:22 just 40 seconds out of first place after a grueling 62.1 miles. Second for the American women was Nikki Kimball, 33 Bozeman, MT in 8:22:58 in seventh position and rounding out the scoring and also finishing in the top 10 was Tanya Pacev, 44, Lakewood, CO in ninth with a time of 8:29:19. 

“At the 80K mark there was an out and back. We ran to about 88.5k and then turned around. When I saw Anne she was in fourth place and I told her she’d catch the third place gal, but the first two women I saw were so far ahead I thought for sure they’d go one-two. It was awesome to see Anne charge to the finish, pass the second place woman, and just miss first,” remarked Howard Nippert, 39, Pembroke, VA the top American male with an 8th place finish in 6:59:20. 

Nippert was the only U.S. man to finish in the top ten, but two of his teammates finished with PRs including Patrick Russell, 28, Duluth, MN in 16th place with a time of 7:14:48 followed by Greg Crowther, 31, Seattle, WA  in 20th with a time of 7:20:51. The men's team score may have put them in fourth position after France, Japan, and Germany, but the official results had not been posted at press time.  Unusually warm conditions caused a high attrition rate during the second half of the race, and, employing their usual strategy of even-paced running, Nippert and Riddle-Lundblad moved through the field dramatically during the final 30K. 

The national 100K team, unarguably the most successful U.S. long distance running team of the past decade, remains the only official USA national team to a legitimate annual World Title event which is unfunded.  The athlete team members bear most of their travel expenses themselves, as they did again this year in getting themselves to the far reaches of Japan to represent their country in this event. 

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