WENATCHEE — If the reaction from runners is an indication, Saturday’s Horse Lake Trail Run will not be the last.
The inaugural event in the Wenatchee Foothills northwest of the city came off flawlessly and had participants clamoring for more.
“You should do it every year. It’s perfect,” said Wenatchee’s Andy Johnson, who won the men’s 10-mile race.
About 150 people signed up for either the 10-mile or 5-mile runs. The event was organized by RunWenatchee as a fundraiser for the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust’s Wenatchee Foothills Campaign.
The recent heat wave in the Wenatchee Valley wasn’t a factor. Early morning cloud cover, a slight breeze and the higher elevation (1,750 feet at the start; 2,400 feet at the highest point) left temperatures ideal for the run.
“Everything went smoothly, the volunteers were fantastic, the runners had a great time and the weather held up nicely,” said race director Joel Rhyner of RunWenatchee. “It was a privilege to have the opportunity to hold an event up on the Horse Lake Reserve with the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and we hope that we can make this an annual event.”
Many of those who participated — including runners from as far away as San Francisco, Bend and Bellingham, but also some from Wenatchee — had never been to the Horse Lake Reserve before.
Megan Middleton and Mark Macias moved to Wenatchee just a week ago from Seattle — Megan for a position at Fibro Corp. and Mark for a position at Alcoa — and were amazed at Horse Lake’s sights and close proximity to the urban area.
“It’s really cool to see so many people out for trail runs in Wenatchee,” Middleton said. “I’m from Seattle originally and there are trail runs over there, but I didn’t think there would be any here. To be able to see the Cascades and the Columbia River — there’s so much to see here — it’s amazing.”
“Over on the west side, there are so many trees, you really can’t see the mountains,” Macias added. “Over here, it is so open.”
Johnson was in a tight race early with Wenatchee’s Chad McBride. Both crested the first hill climb in the loop course step for step. But Johnson had broken away by the 5-mile mark. McBride was eventually passed by Cashmere’s Will Young and finished third. Mike Broxson of Wenatchee was a close fourth.
Johnson was clocked in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 22 seconds; Young in 1:10:47; McBride in 1:13:43; and Broxson in 1:14:10.
“I thought the climbs were a perfect distance, and the banked turns are my favorite,” Johnson said.
In the women’s 10-mile race, Seattle’[s Sibylle Wilbert placed first in a time of 1:36:50. Taking second was Kari Hall of East Wenatchee in 1:38:37.
Wenatchee’s Jenn Vazquez-Bryan captured the women’s 5-mile race in 44 minutes and 44 seconds. Bellingham’s Angela Mischaikov was second in 45:57.
“This is a really fantastic trail run,” Vazquez-Bryan said afterwards. “It was well groomed. And with all the wild flowers and views, there is a lot to look at. I loved that downhill (stretch). I flew on that.”
Clayton Belmont took the men’s 5-mile run in 39:20, defeating Wenatchee’s Luke Hakensen, who was clocked in 39:41.
By the end, as runners and spectators mingled around the refreshment tent, the talk was already about next year.
Chelan-Douglas Land Trust executive director Bob Bugert said he was impressed with how flawlessly the event went off and credited RunWenatchee for its organizational and race course management skills. He also was appreciative of the shuttle service provided by the Mission Ridge Ski Team. Nearly 70 runners used the van shuttle to get from the Wal-Mart parking lot to the trailhead, and then back later.
“The Mission Ridge Ski Team shuttle was a great asset,” Rhyner said. “It really helped keep the road congestion to a minimum. Wal Mart’s parking space was key to that as well.”
“I was impressed,” said Emily Bjork of Wenatchee. “It’s very beautiful here. And there are great views of the mountains. The course was tough but very satisfying.”
“It was hard but I expected it to be,” said Susanne Cushman of East Wenatchee.
Added Tacoma’s Elise Richman, “It was just awesome. I’m glad there are plans to do this again. We’ll be back for sure.”