This story has been archived from on 12/2008


San Leandro, CA, December 1, 2007— The North Face Endurance Challenge, a four-region, nationwide running event for outdoor athletes seeking to explore their personal limits, culminated in grand fashion north of San Francisco on December 1, 2007. The event featured distances of 10K, Half Marathon, 50K, and 50 Miles on courses that covered wide- and singletrack trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The 50-Mile race was a Championship event and featured the nation’s top endurance athletes battling for the largest prize purse in trail ultrarunning. The male and female winners each received $10,000.


The men’s 50-mile race brought in legendary speedsters Matt Carpenter (Manitou Springs, CO), Uli Steidl (Shoreline, WA), and a deep field that included past winners and course record holders of the world’s toughest 50- and 100-mile ultramarathons. After ten miles, it became apparent that it was a two-horse race, with Carpenter and Steidl running within seconds of each other, one on the other’s heels, for almost the entire race. As they left the Tennessee Valley Aid Station (Mile 44), girding for the final major climb of the race, Carpenter broke first, and Steidl maintained his pace up Marincello Trail before dropping down into Rodeo Valley.

At the finish line festival, surrounded by Monterey Pine and Eucalyptus trees, hundreds of spectators and runners—most of them finishers of the 10K and Half Marathon events—waited to see which 50-mile runner would appear first. Steidl rounded the final corner to a burst of applause and raised both arms in the air. He covered the course in an astounding time of 6:57:22. Afterward, he described the race with Carpenter as “a dogfight

Carpenter appeared several minutes later and finished with a final time of 7:10:10. Leigh Schmitt (Conway, MA), who won the Washington DC Endurance Challenge in August, placed third with a time of 7:51:06.


Early in the women’s race, Lizzy Hawker’s concerns shifted from winning the race to merely finishing it. While still running in the dark (runners began the race at 5 a.m.), Hawker, a The North Face Endurance athlete from the United Kingdom, took a spill and badly cut her right knee. She continued, hoping it would loosen up. Apparently it did, and she managed to outrun the very competitive field. By Mile 29, at the top of a 1,700-foot climb, she held a 10-minute lead over her next-closest competitor, Beverly Anderson-Abbs (Red Bluff, CA).

At the finish, Hawker ran side-by-side with her pacer, Nikki Kimball (Livingston, MT), also a The North Face Endurance athlete. The two embraced after crossing the finish, just before a crowd converged to congratulate The North Face Endurance Challenge 2007 women’s champion. Hawker registered an overall time of 7:59:55 and finished sixth overall.

23-year-old Jenn Shelton (Bend, OR) placed second in the 50-miler with a time of 8:22:19. Anderson-Abbs capped a very impressive year by clocking a final time of 8:25:24.


Following the Championship, The North Face immediately announced its plans for the 2008 The North Face Endurance Challenge. The five-region series will feature distances of 10K, Half Marathon, 50K, and 50-Mile, and will once again invite elite and beginners athletes alike to push their limits on a scenic, off-road course. Venues and dates will include:

Northeast Regional #1         April 12, 2008              Bear Mountain, NY
Northwest Regional #2        May 10, 2008               Seattle, WA
Mid-Atlantic Regional #3      September 6, 2008       Washington, DC
Midwest Regional #4           October 18, 2008          Madison, WI
Championship                     December 6, 2008        San Francisco, CA

Please check back in the coming weeks for more additional information specific to each race.

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