Fastest of the Fast Blaze the StumpJump

Fastest of the Fast Blaze the StumpJump

A cool, crisp morning and a new start/finish greeted runners at the 4th running of the Cumberland Trail StumpJump 50K/11 miler.  Temperatures in the 50’s greeted runners from Hawaii, Colorado, New York and points in between.

The StumpJump continues to attract new runners from far and near.   This year veteran StumpJumpers found the start/finish area relocated to Nolan Elementary School giving runners much better facilities as well as a place to wait for the race to begin had we been greeted that morning with the rainy weather of the previous year.  Relocation of the start/finish necessitated a slight course change but the distance stayed the same.

Some of the frontrunners went off “course” just a little but made up their error and still broke last year’s course record. The first few miles have many side trails intersecting the course and despite our best efforts at trail marking, the fastest of the fast blazed right through and added a few miles to their journey.  Quick actions by our volunteers had the runners back on course.

If not for his added miles, first-timer and first place winner Bryan Dayton could easily have broken four hours; instead, 4:01:17 will be the new course record for the 50K.  Last year’s winner Josh Beckham was runner up in 4:09:38, easily beating his record by 10 minutes.  These two battled recently in the 50K National Championship in California and again proved themselves to be the fastest of the fast at the StumpJump.  Bryan was raised in nearby Tullahoma and Josh, a graduate student at Vanderbilt, had nothing but praise for the course.  Bryan stated, “It was the most technical course I have run…I really had to concentrate and pay attention to every step.”

Jeff Edmonds, John Anderson and Andy Anderson came in together for 3rd place with almost identical 4:22 times.  New York runner Christophe Lanaud was sixth in 4:27 and “first local” in seventh was Tom Sell at 4:43.

Lisa Ledet came from Boulder, Colorado to take the 14th overall and 1st place female finisher with a time of with 5:26.   Florissant, Missouri’s Becky Leaky took 2nd place with 5:28 followed by “locals” Avril Copeland’s 5:37 (Nashville) and Sally Brooking (Marietta, GA) with 5:51.  Rebecca Anderson and Tara Crowley in at 6:11 rounded out the Colorado contingent.  Kathleen Daumer from Knoxville, Tennessee followed in seventh with a fine 6:19.  She just recently finished third in the female division at the Vermont 100 in July.

Other notable mentions were Steve Cipelle, 68 from Florence, Alabama 7:58 along with Florin Panaitescu 6:09 from Romania through Bluffton, S.C. and Robert Culp 7:25 from Honolulu, Hawaii.

The 11-miler continues to welcome unsuspecting runners each year despite its tough sections, which take runners along some easy trails for the first four miles and then plunge them down into Suck Creek Gorge and out the other side to the turnaround.  Geno Phillips (1:08) and Courtney Watkins (1:23) negotiated the twists and turns, ups and downs to win their respective divisions.

This article would not be complete without offering a special thanks to all of our volunteers and sponsors that make the StumpJump possible.  Rock Creek Outfitters provided a free carbo meal for the runners Friday evening and other sponsors contributed awards and prizes.  As usual all registered runners were given a synthetic race shirt from Marmot along with a special drop bag from The North Face stuffed with additional goodies.  Runners were treated to an assortment of post race snacks, pizza and drinks at the finish line.  Volunteer workers again gave their Saturday to man five well-stocked aid stations and encourage runners on their way.

Thanks to the folks at the Cumberland Trail Conference and Jim Lane, Tennessee park ranger, the trail was in excellent shape.  The Cumberland Trail offered the runners spectacular views of the Tennessee River Gorge, if they dared to look away from the trail.  With names like Mushroom Rock, Suck Creek Gorge, Indian Rock House and Snooper’s Rock, is it any wonder that people come each year to sample our beautiful, rugged 50K trail?  We can truly boast that this is “Tennessee’s toughest 50K trail run.”  See you next year on October 7th!