PINE — Michael Friedberg had two primary reasons for running in the fifth annual North Fork 50 ultramarathon. First, he decided to give it a whirl after talking to previous competitors who complimented the 50-mile race. Two, it was a training session of sorts.
The 36-year-old Boulder resident and former University of Colorado runner is a first-year ultramarathon runner. He just ran his first one seven weeks earlier in Fort Collins, and he’s signed up to run the Leadville 100 in August.
“I’ve always wanted to run (Leadville). There are a lot of guys that I ran track with at CU that have always said to do Leadville at least once. I’ve kind of followed in their footsteps,” Friedberg said.
But, first things first, he ran North Fork, and he won that June 28 at Pine Valley Ranch Park. Friedberg finished in 7 hours, 47 minutes and 20 seconds, winning by a little more than 21 minutes over 43-year-old Rick Scott of Castle Rock. Scott finished in 8:03:22.
“It was just an awesome course. It really is beautiful,” Friedberg said. “I’ve never been in this area to run or anything. It’s a little bit of a drive from Boulder to train out here. I knew you guys had a lot of trails down here, but they’re really nice. They’re really pretty trails.”
Cindy Stonesmith, 50, of Louisville was the first female finisher in 9:17:09. She was eighth overall.
Chuck Radford didn’t run in high school. Instead, the 43-year-old Castle Rock resident was a jumper on the track and field team. He didn’t take up running until 2000, competing in 5Ks and 10Ks, not to mention a marathon or two, before taking a sabbatical.
He got back into running five years ago, and he won this year’s North Fork 50K in 4 hours, 18 minutes, 49 seconds. He finished more than 30 minutes ahead of 36-year-old Dan O’Connell, who crossed the finish line in 4:48:53.
“I knew that I had the mental ability to get through. For me, training is always harder than the race, because you invest a lot of time and months with really hard training. I don’t really particularly enjoy that,” said Radford, who was running his third ultra this year. He also ran the Quad Rock 50-miler in Fort Collins, and two weeks earlier he took sixth in the Leadville Trail marathon.
But the long, slow runs like the ultra are tailor-made for Radford.
“I’m motivated by the camaraderie on the trail and stuff and getting out there and enjoying running again,” Radford said.
Rebecca Much was the top 50K female finisher. The 28-year-old Colorado State University student finished in 5:26:17. She was nearly 13 minutes faster than 52-year-old Lisa Mills.
Much, a wildlife biology student, previously ran North Fork in 2011. She said it was nice knowing the course this time around, and she enjoyed it just as much.
“I think it was a pretty similar course. A lot of ups and downs,” Much said. “The burn areas are all kind of sad, but also picturesque.”
Two other runners — Army captains Nathan and Jessica Miller — shadow-ran the 50K at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, race director Janice O’Grady said. They started their run at 2 a.m., Afghanistan time to avoid running in the dust and heat, she said.
O’Grady said 255 people signed up for this year’s race, with 178 starting. There were 68 finishers in the 50-miler and 98 in the 50K.
“It’s gotten so competitive now. There are so many races,” O’Grady said.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.