This past weekend the Rock/Creek Race Team took several podium spots in trail races around the country. The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) held the southeast regional championship for trail running at the Sweetwater 50k and Half Marathon. Both titles went to Signal Mountain residents and Race Team members this year. Long-time Signal Mountain resident and team member Sheridan Ames took first place in the 50K with an impressive time of 5:01:44. Rock/Creek team captain and new Signal Mountain resident Matt Sims continued the domination by taking first in the half marathon with a time of 1:38:16. Kathy Johns finished as 6th woman overall. She was the 30th overall finisher of the 50k with a time of 6:41.
This second annual race took place on Saturday, April 26th. Located right outside of Atlanta, Sweetwater State Park offers a challenging course including steep climbs, gnarly downhills and treacherous creek crossings. This year, team Rock/Creek made their presence known at the race, and they obviously made an impression that will not soon be forgotten. For Sheridan Ames, the 50k title had special significance as his first ever 1st place win. Ames has been to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, has run the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim solo, and has run races for years, so the southeast regional championship was well deserved. Ames reflects on the race, explaining that "the course was very challenging, physically and mentally. The river crossing was particularly interesting. Wading through waist deep cold rushing water while holding onto a rope to keep you from being washed downstream was a new one for me. Sharing the win with fellow team members made the race particularly special, and I'm now looking forward to the Shadow of Giants 50K at the end of the month."
Matt and his wife Natalie Sims as well as Kathy Johns and Sheridan Ames, all Rock/Creek Race Team members, met up at 4:45 a.m. in Chattanooga and arrived at the race about two hours later, ready for a challenge. Matt Sims had to fight for the half marathon title. Since there were 150 runners in the half marathon, he headed out to the front early. Sims maintained his lead throughout most of the race. He says: "As soon as we joined the trail, I was able to get away from [the other runner challenging for the lead] on some technical turns and steep rocky downhills and never saw anyone again until mile 12.5. I thought I pretty much had this one in the bag until I heard the leaves rustling behind me with a younger runner bearing down on me in the last half mile. Miraculously I was able to hold him off and crossed the line with 15 or so seconds to spare."
Several other Rock/Creek Race Team members finished strong this weekend as well. Race team members Johanna Gartman and Stephen Taylor won the overall women's and overall men's titles at Chattanooga's Scenic City Triathlon. Johanna is a new member of the team, and at only 15 years old has already won several races including the 2007 Ironkids National Championship in Phoenix, AZ.
John Anderson, fresh off a win at the Old Pueblo 50 Miler in Arizona, managed another impressive podium finish this weekend. He finished second behind La Sportiva athlete Anton Krupicka at the Zane Grey 50 miler, which takes place on the Highline Trail near Payson, Arizona. John is a Signal Mountain native who currently studies medicine at the University of Colorado. He describes the race course, which "has around 11,000 feet of climbing and the 'trail' consists of downed trees, washed out gullies and tons of loose, ankle-breaking rocks. While the race is billed as the toughest 50 miler in the US, I don't know if it's the most difficult, but it is certainly one of the most technical courses with only a few steps of actual smooth trail."
Rock/Creek and all the race team sponsors congratulate Sheridan, Matt, Johanna, Stephen, and all the race team members for their victory and continued support of the sport of trail running: "These racers continue to blow away our expectations as they have taken the podium in races across the country this Spring. In addition, our race team members have been working on building new trails, organizing and supporting the Rock/Creek Trail Series, and raising money for The Boonies," explains Rock/Creek co-owner Dawson Wheeler: "We're proud to have them associated with Rock/Creek."
For more information about the Rock/Creek Race Team, visit http://www.rockcreek.com/raceteam/
Rock/Creek, member of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is an independent specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association.