Gray wins eighth straight 10K Spring Runoff title at GoPro Mountain Games
Lifetime Grand Prix athletes continue to enjoy stop at GoPro Mountain Games
The Adidas Terrex 10K Spring Runoff course might change, but its men’s winner never seems to.
Joseph Gray was the first to cross the finish line of the trail running race for the eighth straight time Sunday morning at the GoPro Mountain Games, winning in 40 minutes, 57.0 seconds.
“It went good, man. Effort-wise, it felt a lot smoother and a little easier than last year for sure,” he said on his cool-down jog.
“I wanted to win — get that eighth one in — and just get ready now for Mt. Washington.”
In last year’s race, Gray paused before the Strawberry Fields singletrack, looking around to ensure he hadn’t made a wrong turn. The anxious moment ended up being inconsequential.
“Today, I could just go,” he said of the new course, which provided a few more “ups and downs” throughout the route.
A lead group of eight runners established themselves on the initial climb. Veteran elite trail runner Joseph Demoor was the leader of the chase-pack, which included Ace Brown, Ryan Phebus, Anthony Raftis, Jacob Dewey and Adidas Terrex-sponsored athletes Jeshurun Small and Josh Eberly.
Going in, Demoor didn’t have a specific “plan of attack” for dethroning Gray.
“Just run my race, do what I can do and try to have fun,” he said of his mindset.
“First race in a couple of months, so a bit of a rust-buster. And yeah, just trying to hang as long as I could,” he added, noting he’s still waiting for his skimo fitness to translate into running speed as his race calendar heats up. With U.S. Mountain Running nationals in New York and the Loon Mountain race in New Hampshire shortly after, he’ll have another look at much of the elite Mountain Games field.
Demoor enjoys the Mountain Games for its interesting mix of road racers — “people with a lot of wheels” — and trail-specific athletes. No matter the background, the race’s first uphill was a bit of a shock.
“It definitely puts your legs to the test. Mentally, you got to be ready for it,” said Demoor as he was simultaneously cooling down, talking to the Vail Daily and being recorded by his brother, YouTube-sensation and fellow pro runner Seth.
“Luckily I got some practice Friday night,” said Eberly, who wound up seventh after placing second in the Apres 5K two days ago. The race was “a good fitness check” for the 41-year-old, who is looking to race a marathon in Leadville next weekend.
“I didn’t want to kill myself too badly — it’s tough in this competitive of a race,” Eberly said of reigning in his competitive desires.
“I felt like I was redlining pretty much from the get-go,” added Phebus, who finished fourth overall.
“Just full of lactic acid on that first climb because you know it’s super competitive — super strong guys out there — I was just trying to keep up and work the downs as hard as I could.”
The order was relatively set after the initial vertical ascent, though there was some drama for the final piece of the $11,500 prize purse.
Eventually, Small broke away from Eberly and Dewey, maximizing the downhills to catch up to Phebus. The pair worked together — “he was pushing the climbs and I was pushing the descents,” said Small — until the course recruited gravity for the last time.
“And then I wiped out,” Small said of a sharp singletrack turn that left him with a bevy of bloody souvenirs to help him remember the Mountain Games for at least a few weeks.
The fall breathed new life into Raftis, who started gaining on Small and entered the final downhill 100 meters neck-and-neck. Raftis ended up nipping the Western State alumnus at the line by a tenth of a second, securing the final podium place.
“I thought I had him and then he just came around me,” said Small, who was bright and bubbly as medics worked on his rash-laden limbs.
“It was good. Friday I wasn’t very smart and just went out way too hard. Today, I was like ‘let’s be tactical and just take the first climb and stay in myself today and hope for the best.’ I was stoked about it.”
Hoka athlete Dani Moreno controlled the women’s race, running 48:29.8 to defeat defending champion Janelle Lincks by just over a minute. Two-time U.S. champion Ashley Brasovan (49:34.1) finished third, with Boulder’s Lauren Goss (53:18.0) and Longmont’s Stevie Lawrence (56:42.6) rounding out the podium.
“I was really happy with how I felt today because I’m about to go overseas for a race,” said Moreno, who will head to Chamonix, France, for the Marathon du Mont-Blanc on June 26. The two-time Xterra World Champion contests the Golden Trail World Series, a six-race international race series in which she placed fifth last year.
Sunday’s 10K served as a perfect opportunity for Moreno to prepare for European pacing. “They go out really hard, so today I tried to replicate that,” she said.
“It feels really good because these shorter races are really intimidating for me. I like doing the marathon distance, so this feels like a sprint to me.”
Moreno was in control at the top of the first climb but knew there was no time to relax.
“Colorado is so deep with trail runners. I knew a few of the girls in the race, and I was very aware of where they were going on the uphill,” she said.
“But I just felt good, so I went up the first uphill, and I was in first and I kept it in control for the first four miles, and then the last mile and a half I turned it on.”
After a successful morning, Moreno was keen on taking in the rest of her GoPro Mountain Games experience.
“The dogs are my favorite part. I have no upper body strength, so I’m always in awe of the climbers, especially the female climbers,” she said.
“I love the GoPro (Mountain) Games because it’s kind of like a celebration of the whole outdoor industry. It’s really cool to see what’s coming out in the outdoor space and all the innovations. I love how there’s always new small business spinning up and here you can see a lot of those.”
Men’s Open Podium
- Joseph Gray – 40:57.0
- Joseph Demoor – 42:22.3
- Ace Brown – 42:51.3
- Ryan Phebus – 43:05.0
- Anthony Raftis – 44:30.3
Women’s Open Podium
- Dani Moreno – 48:29.8
- Janelle Lincks – 49:34.1
- Ashley Brasovan – 49:40.9
- Lauren Goss – 53:18.0
- Stevie Lawrence – 56:42.6