Runners Chase Personal Bests, Shed Baggage – August 12, 2007

Runners Chase Personal Bests, Shed Baggage

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon
August 12, 2007
Among his friends, Jeff Caba is known as “Second-place Caba.”

Saturday morning in the 32nd annual Crater Lake Rim Runs marathon, the 37-year-old from Bend may have rid himself of that moniker.

Caba prevailed in a seesaw battle with defending champion Todd Ragsdale of Talent, taking the lead for good in the final 4 miles to earn his first-ever marathon victory. Ragsdale’s victory last year was his first as well.

“My initial motivation during this was to just get in the miles,” Caba said. “But once I realized I was that close to the front, my motivation changed to wanting to win.”

Caba, who won in 2 hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds; and Ragsdale, who finished in 3:03:03; set a quick early pace and eventually put themselves miles in front of their competition. Caba didn’t realize how much of a cushion he had until the turnaround at Cloudcap Overlook in miles 14 and 15.

“I just had a pretty good feeling that (with) the pace that both Todd and I planned on running, we would be toward the front,” he said. “That’s the only time you really get a glance at the field, so I could tell where we were.”

His initial lead over Ragsdale gradually dwindled, and by the time the duo entered the Lost Creek campground and the 22-mile marker, Ragsdale had a slim lead.

“Just the thought of maybe grabbing it twice in a row would have made me look like a big hero with my kids,” Ragsdale said.

The 38-year-old from Talent held a clear advantage in the downhill portions of the 26.2-mile course, but Caba’s skill on the final uphill at Grayback Drive would be too much to overcome.

“That’s like the garlic to the vampire,” Ragsdale said. “If only we could finish the race before we go up the hill, it would be a much, much friendlier race.”

The infamous Grayback, as it turns out, wasn’t so kind to Caba either.

“That last climb is brutal. There is no better way to describe it,” said Caba, who competed in the half-marathon last year. “It sets you up with that long downhill, which really trashes your thighs and your quads, then to have to change gears and go back up that steep climb is a lot of work.”

Greg Mueller of Central Point placed third in 3:26:44, followed by Frank Livaudais of Austin, Texas (3:29:18). Becky Kirschenmann of Klamath Falls was the first of 34 female entries to cross the line, placing13th overall in 3:53:16.

Gear up for more racing

For Caba, Crater Lake was a good chance to run some hills and get some miles in while training for his goal of the New York City Marathon in November. Ragsdale said he is leaning toward competing in some ultramarathons in the future, but he’s not taking any sort of break from marathon competition.

Ragsdale will take part in today’s Haulin’ Aspen Trail Marathon in Bend, but it won’t be as competitive of a run as Saturday’s race.

“I’m gonna go as more of a spectator event, but just to finish it will be every bit as hard as racing this one with the legs I have after this one,” he said. “It’s just the new challenge for the year.”

Several other runners are pulling the Saturday-Sunday double, including 60-year-old Dharani Piplani of Phoenix, Ariz.

Piplani, who has nearly 14 years of marathon experience, is used to such weekends; this one will mark the 813th and 814th marathons of his career. Saturday was his fifth Rim Run.

“The beauty? There are no words to describe it,” Piplani said. “I’ve run Lake Tahoe, I’ve run all over the globe, but this is just so peaceful. You don’t even feel it.”

Another experienced competitor who enjoyed the scenic run was 70-year-old Martin Balding of Susanville, Calif., who completed his 29th Rim Run. The three-time champion was the last of 17 finishers who broke 4 hours, earning a time of 3:58:06.

“The scenery is unparalleled,” Balding said. “And it is a tough, demanding marathon. There isn’t anything boring about this marathon.”

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK – Trevor Hanlin comes to the Crater Lake Rim Runs for the challenge.

The Grants Pass alum and University of Puget Sound senior uses the 13-mile run as a tune-up for his collegiate cross country season, and he has enjoyed unprecedented success. He continued that success Saturday morning, winning the half marathon for the fourth time in five years with a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 21 seconds.

“I feel like puking, but I also feel an overwhelming joy, elation,” Hanlin said, “a sense of accomplishment and readiness that give me the signal that I’m ready for a good season.”

Hanlin, 21, became the first runner to win the half-marathon four times in the race’s 32-year-old history, and he did so in the toughest conditions he’ll see this year.

“Crater Lake is a drastically different race, because I will probably have as many hills, workouts and races combined as probably just that one last uphill,” Hanlin said. “They won’t be anywhere near as steep as that great monster of a finish.”

In addition to the course itself, Damian Baldovino presented Hanlin with a stiff challenge for the majority of the race. Baldovino, 40, won his fifth Lake of the Woods Run this June.

“I’m not a really good hill runner, but I wanted to get in a good training run today,” he said. “I felt good, so I just went with Trevor. I ran with him for quite a while.”

The last 2 miles are a long, steep uphill run, a part of the track Hanlin thrives on.

He had opened up some distance over Baldovino, who finished in 1:19:23, before hitting the hill. Hanlin maintained that distance as he charged the hill.

“I really look forward to challenging myself on the hill and pushing myself to just go that one extra step,” he said. “I’ve really taken to loving hills and loving the challenge that comes with it, and when I complete that challenge, the reward that comes with finishing.”

Klamath Union junior Alex Peterson, who at 16 was one of the youngest competitors, was third in 1:24:29. The performance not only gave him a chance to break up the monotony of his training sessions around town, it also gave him optimism for his upcoming cross country season.

“I’m really excited for the upcoming season. I’m in the best shape of my life right now,” Peterson said. “I just ran this one 4 minutes faster than I did last year, so I’m really looking forward to this season being a good year.”

Another four-time champ

Joe Dudman joined Hanlin in the record books with a victory in the 6.7-mile run.

The 43-year-old from Portland finished at Cleetwood Cove with a time of 36:59 for his second straight victory in the event and fourth overall. He also won in 1999 and 2002.

In the 6.7-mile walk, Amy Coe of Klamath Falls became the second female in the seven-year history of the event to take the overall win. Coe, 41, finished in 1:01:28 to defeat 2004 women’s champion Alice Huckins by more than 9 minutes.

– Josh Petrie

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