More than 290 runners registered for the 18th annual Bishop High Sierra Ultra-marathons, held on May 21, beginning and finishing at the Millpond Recreational Park.
Runners travelled from all over the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia to participate in the 20-mile Fun Run, 50K, 50-mile and 100K events.
Proceeds from the race benefit the Northern Inyo Hospital Foundation, which will be very involved in projects at the new Hospital building. This year’s donation will bring the total funds raised from the last 16 races to over $105,000.
The 100K race (62 miles) has a total elevation gain of almost 10,000 feet with more than half the course above 6,500-feet in elevation.
Runners were challenged by altitude, vertical gain and loss, dryness and exposure.
The race record was lowered by 55 minutes to 9:40 by Jorge Maravella, and will stand for some time, although word of the course difficulty has spread to many other elite level runners who will be tempted to participate in the future.
The ladies’ record also fell convincingly by 35 minutes, with Andi Ramer winning in 12:27.
Local runner Ryan Spaulding, competing in his first 50-mile event, won convincingly in 8:01. This race belongs to Bishop, with local runners Jeff Kozak and Phil Kiddoo also winning in past years. The 50-mile event was the initial Bishop High Sierra race, attended by 47 runners in 1994.
Previous ladies winner Sada Crawford ran the distance in 9:15.
Dan Yarborough from Mammoth Lakes attempted to lower his 2010 50K record of 4:00:28, but this was not to be. His time of 4:08 was sufficient to be the winner however.
Caroline Baricheivich was the women’s winner in 5:32. This race proved to be the most popular distance, with many 50-mile and some 100Krunners opting for the shorter distance.
Perennially favorite distance, the 20-mile Fun Run attracts an elite and beginning level field. This year, 55-year- old Mark Drake led the field with 2:36, not a record breaking time, but impressive for a man of his age.
Ladies winner Megan Laub posted a 2:56, again not a record time, but fast nonetheless.
The race was electronically timed by Elemental Running, communication provided by the Bishop Amateur Radio Club, assisted by several out of town radio operators.
The pre-race dinner was held at Whiskey Creek Restaurant. The finish line picnic was catered by Michelle Denault and the Salvation Army Field Kitchen.
Many volunteers manned the 10 aid stations, the course was marked and cleared by several local runners, headed by Jan Gnass. Sage to Summit provided facilities for runner check-in before the race, and obtained many door prizes from vendors. Race photographers Ben Jones and Maxine Evans took many candid photos during the event.
The Bishop Ultras are firmly established as a world- class event, bringing runners to the Eastern Sierra from many parts of the country. All were impressed with the beauty of the area, and the small-town friendliness extended to the visitors. Most said they would be back, with several planning on staying longer to explore other area attractions.
The race budget was spent locally, supporting many of Bishop’s businesses.