Monday, August 11, 2008 - Zuga Challenge
Carleton Invitational Race Recap - Now with Race Photos!

On a hot August morning at the Canmore Nordic Centre, the 2008 ZRS Running Circuit continued with the Carleton Invitational. The women's 5km event was the largest women's field yet with 5 competitors. This race marked the long-awaited arrival of former Queen's Golden Gael, Magi Scallion and a return to the overall battle between independent racer Dasha Gaiazova and Sarah Daitch of the National Ski Team. Though she has spent much of her leisure time on a mountain bike of late, Scallion still managed to seperate herself from the rest of her competitors quickly following the start. Her superior foot speed then allowed her to continually build on this lead over the course of the race. Gaiazova also created a gap early on Daitch, but was unable to maintain the leaders pace. The top three competitors all went under Daitch's course record. Gaiazova has now extended her lead on Daitch to 83 seconds going into the final race of the series, October's Zylberberg Invitational.

All of this was followed by the highly anticipated men's 10km race. Erik Carleton, second overall before the race, had been looking for many ways to improve his running speed over the previous 6 weeks and was especially motivated for a race named in his honour. Gavin Hamilton missed the first race of the series but looked to be improving as he trained with the University of Calgary men's cross-country team in anticipation of the upcoming season. Course Record Holder and 2007 champion Dan Roycroft was the unknown since he had been slow in June but was only two weeks removed from an intensity training camp with American stalwart Kris Freeman. Unfortunately, series leader Brendan Green and third overall Nathan Smith had to withdraw at the last minute with colds so the five-man battle became a three-way dogfight. The field also included long-time competitors Luke McGurk and Mike Argue of RMR and independent Shane Stevens, as well as RMR newcomers Kurtis Wenzel, Alex Lyon, Eric Groeneveld and John Groeneveld.

The first ever ZRS boys 5km running race was also included in the men’s start with Sam Groeneveld and Stuart Harden challenging the epic course.

After a false start the race got under way with Carleton going to the front immediately and trying to impose his dominance on the first hill out of the stadium. Hamilton and Roycroft remained nearby and Hamilton used his superior running efficiency to take the lead on the first downhill. He then lead the group up the main climb before Roycroft attacked at the top and only Hamilton was able to counter. Hamilton and Roycroft quickly established a 15 second lead on Carleton and it remained that way through the end of the first lap. On the second lap, Hamilton dropped Roycroft in the hills while Carleton maintained the gap steady at around 15 seconds. As the race progressed, Carleton was gaining time back on Roycroft and caught him going into the final climb above the stadium. Roycroft was unable to match the pace as he was passed and Carleton came in for a solid second place, 16 seconds behind Hamilton. His 38:50 is the new course record, while Carleton set a four second personal best on the course with 39:08. They were followed by Luke McGurk and Shane Stevens in 4th and 5th. Stevens started quickly but then faded slightly, allowing McGurk an opportunity to open up a gap. Stevens narrowed McGurk’s lead over the final 2km but was unable to move up a position. Young ALex Lyon passed Mike Argue for 6th on the second lap while juniors Kurtis Wenzel and Eric Groeneveld finished 8th and 9th. With Green's illness and his 29 second gap to Roycroft, Erik Carleton has taken the series lead with an advantage of over two minutes going into October's finale.

Women 5km:
1. Magi Scallion 21:41 (course record)
2. Dasha Gaiazova 22:57
3. Sarah Daitch 23:27
4. Cindy Clark 27:12
5. Emma Lodge 28:09
Boy 5km:
1. Sam Groeneveld 29:39
2. Stuart Harden DNF
Men 10km:
1. Gavin Hamilton 38:50 (course record)
2. Erik Carleton 39:08
3. Dan Roycroft 39:37
4. Luke McGurk 42:15
5. Shane Stevens 42:31
6. Alex Lyon 45:26
7. Mike Argue 46:06
8. Kurtis Wenzel 46:52
9. Eric Groeneveld 48:39
Overall Standings (after 2 races)
1. Dasha Gaiazova 58:11
2. Sarah Daitch 59:34
3. Cindy Clark 65:35
1. Erik Carleton 67:07
2. Dan Roycroft 69:38
3. Alex Lyon 77:53
4. Kurtis Wenzel 79:26

Andrea Dupont toward the finish

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Carleton, Hamilton, Roycroft, McGurk, Stevens and Argue at the mid point of the first lap

young guys.JPG
Kurtis Wenzel, Alex Lyon and Eric Groeneveld battle on the first lap

RMR's Stuart Harden

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Former National Team Member Shane Stevens

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Men's leaders Hamilton and Roycroft coming to the end of lap 1

Erik Carleton on lap 1 final climb

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The first lap leaders

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The lead group on the largest climb - second lap - Hamilton, Roycroft, Carelton

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Erik, having closed the gap on Dan, heads to the finish

Luke McGurk finishing

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Alex Lyon finishing strongly with Mike Argue following

The ZRS Committee apologizes for the lack of female race photos.

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