Records Fall as Jaskowak and Isaac Claim Collegiate Trail Running National Titles
Race was held within the Thunderbunny 12K in Ohio’s Strouds Run State Park
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May 11, 2019 – Athens, Ohio – Daniel Jaskowak (Virginia Tech) and Ellen Isaac (Ohio University/Walsh University) were victorious in the Collegiate Running Association’s 2019 Trail Running National Championships this morning in Athens, Ohio. Held within the Thunderbunny 12K in Strouds Run State Park, the men’s race featured the closest finish in the Collegiate Running Association’s six year history.
Runners were greeted with sunny skies and morning temperatures in the low 50’s at the Thunderbunny Trail Races (12K, 25K, 50K). Despite muddy trails due to recent rain, college runners from as far away as Ashland, Oregon, came ready to attack the course. And attack, they did.
On the men’s side, a stellar field was led by Daniel Jaskowak (Virginia Tech/VT Elite), who finished 3rd in last month’s 2019 Collegiate 10K Road Race Championships (30:11); Joshua Park (Ohio University/Ohio Valley Running Company), the 2018 MAC Cross Country Champion; Anthony Raftis (Queens University), who ran 29:52 on the track for 10K two days ago; Noah Campbell (University of Richmond), a member of the 2018 U.S. Sky Running Team (U20); David Magda (Davis & Elkins College); and Colin Lamb (University of Dayton).
From the start it was clear the course record of 57:19 would be in jeopardy as the top ranked college runners separated themselves from the pack early on. After covering the opening mile at 4:50 pace on a road before turning to single track trail, Jaskowak led slightly over Park, followed by Campbell, Raftis and Magda in close pursuit. While on the six-mile single track Thunderbunny Trail, Jaskowak and Park gradually pulled away, while the top-six men all continued to run under course record pace.
After 7 miles of aggressive racing, Jaskowak and Park emerged from the trails together, with only 250m left to race on a mixture of road and grass. After making a charge for the lead coming out of the woods, Park had a one-step advantage on Jaskowak heading into the final 100m, however Jaskowak would have one final surge about 50m from the finish line that would propel him into 1st place, which he held until the end. Jaskowak’s time of 44:11 and Park’s 44:12 both crushed the previous 2017 course record of 57:19 held by Tim Myers, and earned them $750 and $500 respectively. Raftis (45:23), Campbell (46:49), and Magda (47:31) rounded out the top 5 collegian and overall finishers. Ultimately, the top 10 finishers all broke the previous course record.
In the women’s race, Ellen Isaac’s (Walsh University/Ohio Valley Running Company) run to victory was not nearly as closely contested. The Ohio University graduate, now in school at Walsh University for Physical Therapy, charged to the lead over the first mile and never looked back. By the mid-point in the race, at the State Park Road crossing, Isaac had amassed a nearly 90 second lead over Sydeny Niekamp (University of Akron), with Katlyn Luther (Walsh University) following another 30 seconds back.
The order would remain the same to the finish as Isaac claimed victory and was crowned the 2019 Collegiate Trail Running Champion in a time of 50:37 and the $750 prize as the top collegian. Her mark not only eclipsed the women’s course record of 59:53 set in 2018 by Hannah Charbel, it was also well under the previous men’s course record.
Niekamp ran a great race despite taking the ‘fall of the day’ during the race. Her head first slide in the mud did not deter her as she claimed $500 for the runner-up spot with a time of 56:05. Finishing in 3rd ($250), Luther closed well in the final stages of the race to run 56:52; the top 3 collegiate women broke both the men’s and women’s course records.
“We were extremely impressed by our collegiate fields this morning” said Collegiate Running Association co-founder Steve Taylor. “They were running fast up front. It is exciting to note this was the first trail race for 5 of the top 6 men and the top 3 women today. Without question this is a destination event and these are destination trails everyone should experience. The old forest growth and amazing rock formations throughout the course are some of the most unique I’ve ever seen in a race. We couldn’t be happier to partner with an event that opens the trail running community and opportunities to participants of all ages. The word will spread about these trails and this event so others get out and explore a truly unique place to run and exercise. Promoting healthy lifestyles through running is the CRA’s mission, and opening opportunities for college students through trail, mountain and road running is something we continue to do. There is no better way to accomplish our mission than to work with the Southeastern Ohio Trail Runners (SEOTR), an organization dedicated to exactly that.”
Look for details on the 2020 Thunderbunny Races to be announced in the coming weeks.