Cook Cooks Baker

The 2009 Baker Trail UltraChallenge - August 29

Richard Cook, in his first appearance at the Baker Trail UltraChallenge, whipped up a spicy performance by simmering to completion in just over eight hours. Ok, enough of the nonsensical food analogies. He ran the fastest time on any section of the UltraChallenge to date. Impressive.

Last year's winner Andrew Weber kept up with Richard for nearly the first half of the course, then fell back.

Did Richard miss any turns? Of course, it's the Baker! Just beyond mile two, after running through the rhododendron patch along the Redbank Creek, the trail climbs up to Strausser Road, mounts a guardrail and turns left. Richard and Andrew turned right and ran for about half a mile before realizing the mistake.

Speaking of Andrew, he was hotly pursued in the final stretch by Kelly Kennedy, who couldn't catch him. Andrew was the second solo runner to cross the finish, followed by Kelly about two minutes later. But wait! Kelly dawdled at the starting line and didn't scan out until three minutes after Andrew. That put Kelly's elapsed time about a minute ahead of Andrew's, earning him second place! Welcome news for Kelly. Not so much for Andrew.

After running more than nine hours, only a few brief minutes determined finishing place. Finishers 4 through 7 (Andrew Colburn, Eric Deutsch, Thomas Hultz, and Kimberly Marshall respectively) all completed the course within four minutes of each other. Eric and Thomas finished a mere 30 seconds apart!

Relay team Skanks & Geezers returned again this year, new and improved, and left every other relay team in the dust (metaphorically, recent rains kept the road dust at bay). This was their fifth time in the kitchen, and they may have found their secret sauce (one more silly analogy, yes).

One runner, Laura Sadler, managed to take a wrong turn after aid station 6 and somehow looped around and ended up back there, adding quite a few extra miles to the day.

Mick Quen showed up at the farm well after the bus departed. Despite not being checked in and determined to do the race anyway, he drove to the start, left his car and started running around 8:30 AM, he says. Being unaware of his presence on the course, all the early aid stations were gone by the time he arrived. He said he was sustained by folks along the trail. It wasn't until AS5 in Eddyville, which was almost gone, that we learned of him. By that time, he had nearly caught up to the back of the pack. He ended up finishing with a respectable time, even ahead of other official runners.

The weather was quite nice for a late August endurance run, unlike the 2006 UltraChallenge. It was overcast most of the day, with a starting temperature in the low 60s and some humidity. There was an early afternoon rain shower, lasting about 30 minutes and soaking all the runners, many of whom welcomed it. After that, the skies cleared up and the sun made a showing, pushing the temperature into the mid 70s and making for a very pleasant finish at the farm.

Rebecca Slak, one half of our lovely host couple at the farm, ran the last leg of the relay to finish at the farm. She was met by the other half, Hisham Youssef, and their progeny Ivan and Leo, on the hill down to the finish. If you've been following the story, Rebecca and Hisham first agreed to host the event when Ivan was two (2006), and again when Leo was two weeks old (!) (2007), so she hasn't been able to get out much. We're very pleased she was able to do that and experience it from the other side.

Seven people earned commemorative rolling pin displays for finishing all three segments of the Baker Trail UltraChallenge. They are: Andrew Karnavas, Joseph Garcia, Brian Hammer, Pamela K Hershberger, Andrew L Weber, Philip B Westlake, and Ken Zellars.

The trophies were awarded as follows. Congratulations to all!

  • First Place Overall: Richard L Cook,46,Ben Avon Heights,PA (08:05:13)
  • Second Place Overall: Kelly David Kennedy,36,Port Matilda,PA (08:45:24)
  • Third Place Overall: Andrew Weber,29,Carrollton,TX (08:46:27)
  • First Place Male: Andrew M Colburn,23,Pittsburgh,PA (09:24:13)
  • Second Place Male: Eric Deutsch,38,Pittsburgh,PA (09:25:32)
  • Third Place Male: Thomas James Hultz,21,Monongahela,PA (09:26:02)
  • First Place Female: Kimberly Marshall,37,Wexford,PA (09:27:56)
  • Second Place Female: Stacey Falkner,38,Lewistown,PA (10:41:33)
  • Third Place Female: Rhonda J Hampton,49,Wake Forest,NC (11:45:00)
  • First Place Masters Male: Bill Thompson,43,Mars,PA (09:48:29)
  • First Place Masters Female: Laura Sadler,45,Branchburg,NJ (12:27:58)
  • First Place Coed Relay: Skanks & Geezers (06:48:30)

Many thanks to all our volunteers, who helped out tremendously! We are very grateful and humbled by your generosity: Dewaine Beard, Steve Beers, Jan Berg, Jennifer Braun, Matt Brownlee, Tony Chick, Helen Coyne, Betsy D'Ambrosia Houck, Lou D'Angelo, Bill Dietrich, Don Erdeljac, Mark Eyerman, Kate Fissell, Diane Frederick, Dick Frederick, Dave Galbreath, Donn Hedman, Jerry Hoffman, Ryan Hoffman, Debbie Hoffman, Larry Hoffman, William Hoffman, Jill Horvatic, Rick Horvatic, Betty Hovland, Randy Hueznic, Cathy Hughes, Tom Hultz, Shaun Huppertz, John Italiano, Diane Kostka, Joe Kostka, Dave McConahy, Tammie McGaughey, Dean Mienxer, Jim Ritchie, Sue Ritchie, Leslie Rodgers, Cindy Rogers, Debbie Sigworth, Bill Sigworth, Rebecca Slak, Vincie Smith, Kevin Snyder, Donna Stolz, Dave Syiek, Walter Tereszkiewicz, Mike Waldvogel, Steve Waltman, Isabella Weber, Jeff Young, Hisham Youssef, Ivan Youssef, Carol Zellars, and Tracy Zents.

— Steve Mentzer

Update: Relay team Good 2 Go posted a YouTube video of their endeavor: