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Collin Smith, Des Ficker Win Rogue 30-K; Course Confusion Reigns

CEDAR PARK–The one big question looming over the third annual Rogue Distance Festival was whether it would even be held or not. The forecast for Sunday morning was pretty depressing. Ice, rain and the same bitter cold weather Austin has suffered through for the past week.

But, the overnight rain cleared out and even though the streets were damp with a persistent mist, they weren’t slippery and the temps mercifully rose to the high-30s by race time. It was certainly chilly and with just a light breeze, race conditions were significantly better than last year’s race when a bitter cold wind slowed the field.

Nearly 1000 people signed up for one of the three distances (30-K, half marathon and 10-K) and somewhat surprisingly, there were few no-shows for the fourth race in the 2014-15 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge.

That isn’t to say the races went off perfectly. There was a major hitch—there was police and EMS activity in the first half mile–that delayed the start by 15 minutes. Nobody seemed to mind that, but even though the field went right by the police, the course for the 30-K was altered and the first few runners in the half marathon went off course. Some were long; some were short. (The 10-K course was woefully short.)

For the second consecutive DC race, the dominant figure was 24-year-old Collin Smith. The former UT and Austin HS star won the Decker Challenge in December and, even though he was running the Rogue 30-K (18.6 miles) as a long run in his training shoes, he won again in 1:44 in a tight duel with Adam Waldum who was three seconds back.

Smith and his Team Mizuno teammate Joseph McCellon (who went 1-2 at Decker) hooked up again and led the field from the Cedar Park HS parking lot into the maze of neighborhood streets. The course had the same flat character as the prior year, but the Cedar Park PD requested course changes that required more than 100 turns. The turns weren’t especially tight, but there were so many that even though most of the turns were marked, some weren’t manned by volunteers and in the confusion between 30-K runners, half marathoners and the 10-K crowd, it was inevitable that some would go off course. Some of the 30-K runners ran the full distance, while others were about 2/10s of a mile short.

Nevertheless, Smith and McCellon worked together for the first 12 miles, running between 5:35 and 5:40 miles (going through 13 in 72 minutes). “Joe and I wanted to stick together,” said Smith afterward, “but around 14 miles Adam {Waldum} caught up with us.”

Waldum, a 21-year-old UT student who works at Rogue, pushed the pace and dropped McCellon, but he couldn’t quite shake Smith. The two duked it out over the final four miles when, on the run in to the finish with 400 meters to go, Smith caught Waldum and passed him to win in 1:44, four minutes slower than Erik Stanley ran last year in his victory.

“I felt pretty good until the last couple of miles,” said Smith who is running the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston next weekend and then 3M Half in two weeks. “But all the surging Adam did took something out of me. Still, I feel pretty strong and confident I can run 4:57 pace at Houston next week.” If he does that, he’ll nail an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier.

Following Smith and Waldum to the line was 51-year-old John Voeller in third place in a remarkable 1:45:52. McCellon was fourth in 1:46:46 and Colin Harrington, 36, was fifth in 2:05:09. Voeller was the first masters with 44-year-old Partrick Hall the second old guy in 2:05:21 and 52-year-old Michael Woo, prepping for the Boston Marathon, in third in 2:06. Craig Potts, 60, was the first really old guy in 2:26:41.

The women’s race wasn’t much of a race. Desiree Ficker had the fastest time of 2:06:01 but she was leading a pace group and wasn’t racing. Neither was Allison Macsas in second in 2:13:15 who was also pacing. Kate Gurfein was third in 2:21:27 and Ashley Voeks was fourth in 2:21:34. Elisabeth Pfaff was fifth in 2:23:13. Amy Farley, 40, was the top masters in 2:24:48 with 49-year-old Amy Rhea second in 2:25:30.

Confusion reigned in the half. Although Iram Leon won in 1:25:39 (pushing his daughter in a running stroller), he and the first bunch of half marathoners missed a turn. Leon’s GPS showed 14 miles. Nevertheless, Marlon Wynne was second in 1:35:37, Michael Bradford was third in 1:36:39, Wish was fourth (and first masters) in 1:37:25 with 54-year-old Randy Roebuck fifth in 1:38:05.

The first woman was Jodi Ondrusek who ran 1:40:55. Stephanie Boulette, 42, was second (and first master woman) in 1:43 with Alexandra Fisher third in 1:44:45.

The accompanying 10-K was short, but Tim Bayliss won in 35:46 with trigal Natasha Van der Merwe the women’s winner in 37:52.

Next up in the Austin Distance Challenge is the downhill doozie: The 3M Half Marathon on January 25.

UPDATE: The timing issues in the 10K were due to a timing error that incorrectly subtracted 10 minutes based on the delayed start behind the 30K and Half Marathon runners. This was fixed on the results page (http://edsresults.com/rdf15/) late Sunday afternoon. As such, we have corrected the above winning times.