2015 BullDog Race Report
2015 Bulldog Race Report
by Alexis Escobedo & Nancy Shura-Dervin
BULLDOG 50K & 25K TRAIL RUNS
August 22, 2015
The 24th annual Bulldog 50K Ultra and 25K Trail Run treated runners to the coolest race day weather in recent years. Since this is Bulldog, at the end of August in So Cal, the coolest weather in years is still warm. A high of only 88°F meant that course records were expected to be broken.
A two-thirds moon and various bright stars guided o-dark-early volunteers who directed cars into the parking lots and distributed race bibs under the dim glow of the gas-powered lanterns just a few hours after the Bulldog trail markers, led by 2014 Grand Slam of Ultra Running finisher Andy Kumeda, had returned. With more than 100 race day volunteers, the Bulldog has proven to be one of the best supported ultras in the L.A. area.
At 6:30am, race director Nancy concluded her safety speech and unleashed a record number of 50K runners. Ricardo Ramirez (M/43), coming from his DNF at Angeles Crest 100, was comfortable setting the early pace knowing that just three short miles away, the sleeping Bulldog was waiting to attack.
Nancy repeated her famous speech for the 25K runners and the shorter race set off promptly at 7:30am. This field came to test their speed against the Bulldog but the Bulldog would eventually show them that it is a race of strategy over speed. In the middle of the pack, Brooks representative Victor Martinez (M/29) coasted comfortably as runners headed toward the Bulldog. New Basin Blues runner Caitlin Jacobsen (F/30) also took a conservative approach, gleefully waiving at friends who watched her leave the safety of the start area.
As the 50K runners approached the Bulldog, they heard her growl. Cold Gatorade at the 4-mile aid station was enough for some to stay in the battle. Runners in contention began leapfrogging each other to the top of the 3.7 mile, 1500’ climb. Bulldog newbie Adam Talan (M/23) tried to work with Jimmy Dean Freeman (M/38), but unhappy with Freemans hiking technique, set out to jog to the top. Freeman, who successfully completed the 2014 Grand Slam of Ultra Running, would eventually pass Talan.
The second aid station at mile 7.5, hosted by 805 Boot Camp, got the runners hydrated and on their way to a fast descent to the mile 13.1 aid station hosted by So Cal Coyote Running Club. The 15-mile station hosted by Fortius Coaching, would be a deciding point for runners who wanted to take advantage of the drop down to 25K option. 238 runners who didn’t take this option would face the fire-breathing Bulldog a second time.
Meanwhile, at 9:15am, the first 25K runner made his final push to the finish line. As Victor Martinez turned the corner, he saw John Purcell (M/24) chasing him. Martinezs final kick was enough to keep Purcell from closing the gap; only 34-seconds separated the two. Martinez snagged the win, an UltrAspire bottle, and free pair of shoes from Run With Us Pasadena, with his 1:47:53 finish. The two first-time Bulldog participants toasted each other with a bottle of iced Essentia Water.
Just 16 minutes later, the still gleeful Caitlin Jacobsen was to catch her New Basin Blues teammate Rene Canizales (M/38). Although she didn’t catch the 9th place male, she became the new 25K female champion with a time of 2:05:51 and took home a free pair of shoes from Future Track Running Store. Caitlin was followed by Sharon Moreno (F/38) who finished in 2:08:54. These two presented themselves as two of the strongest female runners in Los Angeles, and were more than 15-minutes faster than the next female finisher. Both Jacobson and Martinez were quick to make their way to the Vision for Enrichment booth for a recovery sports massage.
The heat began to be a factor for the sold out 50K. The cloud layers that protected the 25K runners had dissipated as Seamus Tomkins (M/34) neared the finish line. Tomkins was able to open an 8-minute gap between himself and Douglas Trujillo (M/34). With no runner in sight behind him, Tomkins focused his eyes on the red corrals printed with "A Runners Circle" sponsor logos. His time of 3:52:39 was enough to earn him a pair of shoes from Fleet Feet Sports Encino and the coveted RRCA Open Championship award on his first try at this venue. Trujillo was too far behind to plea his case for first place, but was in contention for second, under heavy pressure from Mario Martinez (M/40). Trujillo (4:01:51) won second place and a pair of Injinji Socks, with Martinez (4:02:27) just a few steps behind.
Martinezs third place finish would earn him his first RRCA Masters Championship at his third Bulldog in four years. Former Bulldog 50K Race Champion, Rob McNair (M/61), won the RRCA Senior Grand Master award with his 5:26:55 finish. The Grand Master prize was awarded to John Loftus (M/57) on his first Bulldog 50K, with a time of 4:26:57.
The 50K race was not as tight for the females. As the time moved closer to 11 AM, the suns rays were fiercely beating down forcing the runners to adjust their pace to accommodate the heat. The shift caused wide gaps between the lead females. Stephanie Fronk (F/27) won by over 10-minutes with a 4:47:27 finish taking the RRCA Open Championship and a beautiful new Running Skirts award. Sabrina Higashi (F/41) clocked in just forty seconds under five hours to earn second place and the RRCA Masters award. Amelia Valinsky-Fillipow (F/46) clocked in at 5:05:24 for a third place finish. A very honorable mention goes to Lora Zagnoli (F/53) for completing her 12th Bulldog 50K and winning the Grand Master award in 5:28:28. Another highly notable mention was presented to Willy Briujn (F/61) for winning the Senior Grand Master award and setting a new course record for her age division on her first Bulldog 50K attempt.
The 2015 Bulldog 50K accommodated a sold out field. The 2016 event is predicted to sellout earlier and will include many high profile runners, as many former champions will return for the 25th anniversary championship. This will be an opportunity for rising ultra-runners to test their strength against some of the strongest trail runners in Southern California as they all hope to bring home the special edition Bulldog finisher award; but until then, the Bulldog sleeps!