Record Numbers Entered 50-Mile Race

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The 69-year-old heir to one of the most successful golf equipment companies in the country was among the 81 men who finished the grueling Zane Grey 50-Mile Endurance Race.

Karsten Solheim, son of the man who invented the putter with a "Ping," finished the April 29 run in 14 hours and 53 minutes. Solheim, who was competing in his 11th run, is also the champion of the first-ever Zane Grey run.

The winner of the men's division, Josh Brimhall of Henderson, Nev., finished in 8 hours and 51 minutes.

The women's champion, Tania Pacev of Littleton, Colo., was clocked in 11 hours and 7 minutes.

In 2004, course records were set when 34-year-old Dave Mackey of Colorado covered the rugged trail in seven hours and 51 minutes to claim the $500 bonus that goes along with a new standard.

In the female open division, Nikki Kimball, a 32-year-old New York runner, also set a record, finishing the course in 9 hours and 14 minutes.

Kimball is also the women's defending champion of the run, but did not enter the 2006 event.

Scott Creel of Bozeman, Mont., the men's defending champion, also did not enter.

Of the 150 men and women who entered -- the largest field ever -- 98 runners managed to beat the 16-hour time limit.

The final two, 55-year-old Lorraine Lavelle of Capitola, Calif. and 47-year-old Donald Halke from Newport Pa., were timed in 15 hours, 50 minutes.

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Melissa Heggen of Austin, Texas was the third female finisher in the Zane Grey run.

The only local entrant, Darran DeRouin of Strawberry, hiked the course in 16 hours, 24 minutes.

The race began at 5 a.m. at the Pine Trailhead just south of Pine and ended 51.2 miles away at the 260 Trailhead east of Christopher Creek.

The trail, which lies entirely in the Tonto National Forest, was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1979. The Forest Service and many volunteers, including several ultra-runners, have worked countless hours to restore, maintain, clear and mark the historic trail.

According to Martin Szekeresh, a local runner who has competed in the event and who now serves as a race director, Solheim was in the Rim Country a week prior to the race helping clear the trail of fallen trees and obstacles.

"He came up with his chain saw and worked for a day," Szekeresh said. "At the pre-race dinner, he was acknowledged for all his work on the trail."

For the race, five aid stations were set up along the course, where runners could receive sports drinks and snacks to help them battle heat stress and dehydration.

"There were no serious injuries and only a couple of IV's were administered by paramedics who monitored the runners along the course," Szekeresh said. "Communications were handled by amateur radio operations stationed along the course between the aid stations."

The course is considered one of the most demanding on the ultra-racing circuit.

"It is the most difficult 50-mile trail run in the country," Szekeresh said. "Because the course is so difficult, a lot of 100-mile runners use it as a tune-up for the summer trail ultra-racing season."

For one of the runners, the event was highlighted by an unexpected sighting.

"He reported seeing a bear on the course," Szekeresh said. "The first thing that popped into his mind was, ‘I don't have to outrun the bear, just outrun this guy next to me.'"

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