Loop runners chew up endless dirt

Inaugural marathon through Ashland watershed features 4,700-foot elevation gain
Womenís winner Susannah Beck of Eugene gets a scare as she descends the BTI trail near the finish of Saturdayís Lithia Loop Marathon.Andy Atkinson

For many runners, a marathon can seem like an endless road. For the first Lithia Loop Trail Marathon Saturday, it was never-ending dirt.

Beginning at the top of Lithia Park, the 26.5-mile course led athletes around and through the Ashland watershed on dirt roads and trails. The route featured more than 4,700 feet in elevation gain — most of it in the first seven miles — which seemed to suit the winner, Jeff Caba of Bend.

"This course was made for me," said Caba, who finished in 2:47:31, five minutes ahead of Sean Meissner, of Sisters, winner of the 2008 Crater Rim Run Marathon. Susannah Beck from Eugene finished fourth overall and was the first female to conquer the dirt and hills, in 3:00:29. Beck was one of five women breaking into the top 11 of 86 finishers.

For results, go to http://roguevalleyrunners.blogspot.com

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