‘Sky Race’ challenges participants in two-lap race at Squaw Valley | SierraSun.com

‘Sky Race’ challenges participants in two-lap race at Squaw Valley

Roughly 1,000 athletes showed up at Squaw Valley to test themselves at the third annual Broken Arrow Sky Race, competing "where the mountains meet the sky" on a punishing route from The Village at Squaw Valley to the top of Squaw Peak and back.

Dubbed as the intersection of mountaineering and trail running, sky running is a popular sport in Europe, and beginning to gain traction in the US. This year's race at Squaw took place June 15-17, and featured a 52-kilomter course with more than 10,500 feet of vertical gain and loss.

"Last year we had about 90 percent of the course covered with snow," said Race Director and Owner of Alpenglow Sports Brendan Madigan. "It kind of went from 90 to one percent, but that's the fun thing about having it in Squaw in June — the course is always a little different."

The two-lap route took athletes from The Village at Squaw Valley onto trails, and then to ski area access trails to the top of Snow King. Eventually the runners make the climb up KT-22, and then over to Squaw Peak before traversing down into Shirley Basin. The route concludes with a run to High Camp, and then a descent back to the finish area at the KT Sun Deck to complete the first of two laps.

Jimmy Elam, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won this year's race with a time of 4 hours, 54 minutes, 43 seconds.

The top performance by a local came from one of the area's top ultra athletes, Rory Bosio, who finished with a time of 5:52:12 for third place in the women's division. Bosio, 27, finished the race 13th overall out of 235 competitors.

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After Saturday's 52-kilometer race, Broken Arrow held its 26-kilometer event the following day. Max King, of Bend, Oregon, captured first place with a time of 2:09:21. Michelino Sunseri, of Kings Beach, was the fastest local, finishing with a time of 2:13:35 for fourth place. Truckee's Peter Fain also cracked the top 15 with a time of 2:28:04 for 13th place. Sofia Sanchez, of Kings Beach, was the fastest local woman, with a time of 2:52:08 for seventh in the women's division. Sanchez, 17, was the fastest female under 18.

New this year was a 10-kilometer distance, which would be won by Jose Cruz, of Gilroy, with a time of 42:02. Kings Beach's Phoenix Sanchez was the fastest local with a time of 44:44 for fourth place overall. Sanchez was the fastest in the male 18-and-under division.

Broken Arrow also featured its Vertical Kilometer race, which opened the weekend's competition. Ryan Phebus, of Basalt, Colorado, won the race with a time of 41:16. Kings Beach runner Sunseri also competed in the event and took second with a time of 41:47. Sofia Sanchez also ran in the event and finished in fifth place with a time of 53:08. Sanchez was the fastest in the female 18-and-under division. Several athletes competed in each of the Vertical Kilometer, 26-kilometer, and 52-kilometer races during the three days of completion, according to Madigan.

Of all the performances during the weekend, Madigan said he was most taken back by that of Boulder, Colorado, ultra athlete Hillary Allen. The 29-year-old returned for her first competition after suffering an accident at a European skyrace that could have taken her life.

"She was really seriously injured about a year ago in Norway at another sky race where she fell off, basically, a cliff. I think it was over 100 feet," said Madigan.

"This was her first race back, she wasn't 100 percent, but she was competing. And for her to get on the podium for the (Vertical Kilometer), and then place really well in the 52K was impressive."

Allen was second in the women's division of the Vertical Kilometer and sixth in the 52-kilometer race with a time of 6:08:21.

Running for a cause

Last May the running community was hit with tragedy when 27-year-old Julia Millon was killed in a car accident.

Millon was a member of the Donner Party Mountain Runners, and according to Madigan was registered to compete in this year's Broken Arrow Sky Race.

The Millon family set up the Julia R Millon Memorial Scholarship Fund in her honor.

"We renamed one of our aid stations after her and are going to give some money to the scholarship fund," said Madigan. "She was an inspiration to a lot of people locally."

The race also benefits the Donner Party Mountain Runners.

For more information on how to donate the memorial scholarship, visit DonnerPartyMountainRunners.com.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.