Only 79 runners completed the fourth annual Pine to Palm 100-mile mountain race from Williams to Ashland that began Saturday and ended Sunday.

Only 79 runners completed the fourth annual Pine to Palm 100-mile mountain race from Williams to Ashland that began Saturday and ended Sunday.

Temperatures that reached into the 90s proved to be the hottest conditions in the course's history. The 40,000 feet of climbing and descending combined required by the course made the race that much tougher.

New race entrance requirements did not deter the 126 starters, 37 percent of whom did not finish.

"We instituted the (completion of a) 50-mile qualifier," said race director Hal Koerner. "But we still had 55 first-time 100-mile entrants."

After leaving Williams, runners crested three 7,000-foot climbs, following popular hiking routes to the tops of Dutchman Peak and Wagner Butte, the making a long descent to the finish at Pioneer Hall in Ashland. It was in the second quarter of the race that both the eventual men's and women's winners took the lead for the first and final time.

"This was my first 100-mile race," said women's winner and Klamath Falls resident Becky Kirschenmann. "I went into it with an open mind and tried to start off being very conservative because it's so long."

For the first 30 miles or so, Kirschenmann trailed defending champion Jenn Shelton before Shelton slowed with stomach troubles.

The winning strategy proved less physical than mental.

"It was breaking the course down into 10-mile sections," Kirschenmann explained. "It was a mental mode for me of forward movement whatever that meant — walking, running, very slow jogging."

Kirschenmann prepared for this race by running — and winning — the Siskiyou Outback 50-mile race at Mount Ashland in July. Her finishing time of 21 hours, 25 minutes and 11 seconds at Pine to Palm broke Shelton's course record set last year by nearly one hour. (Correction: See below)

That time was good for eighth place overall for Kirschenmann.

"When it became clear I was in the front I really thought I was going to get passed," she admitted. "Nothing was a 'give me,' even in the past couple of miles, someone could have come blasting down."

Gerad Dean of Mt. Shasta, Calif., defended his 2012 victory with a time of 18:25:47, shaving 1:28:03 off his first effort. Dean began the race trailing a pack that consisted of Josh Brimhall, Dan Olmstead, and Andy Pearson.

"I knew that they were a lot faster than I was, especially the pace they can maintain on the flat areas," said Dean. "I wanted to run my own race, (so I) stayed back a little to see what happens."

Brimhall made a move to the front on the climb to Stein Butte and only Dean followed.

"At the bottom of the Little Grayback trail I caught Josh while he was getting water and didn't see him for the rest of the day," Dean added.

Brimhall dropped soon after, but Olmstead began to cut into Dean's lead. Between the Dutchman Peak station at mile 67 and the Wagner Butte trailhead at mile 80, Olmstead narrowed the lead to less than 20 minutes.

"He's a really good hiker so he put a lot of time on me going up Wagner Butte," said Olmstead. "I think I surprised him on the long out-and-back, he didn't really know how close I was."

Dean works for the U.S. Forest Service in forest inventory management, so he hikes nearly every day. The long steep climb suited him well.

"I was feeling pretty weak and just maintaining through much of the second half, but when I saw Dan, something changed," said Dean. "I just tried to push as hard as I could all the way to the finish."

Most of the runners took far more of the 34 hours permitted to complete the race. For some, the fatigue was overwhelming.

"I really couldn't keep my eyes open while I was running and I didn't think that was a good thing for me to do, so I lay down in the middle of the road which I thought was a better thing to do," said Seattle runner Chris Schultheiss.

Fortunately for Schultheiss, his fatigue also caused hallucinations.

"We tried to get a few seconds of sleep," Schultheiss recalled. "Then I said, I think we better get up, there's a car coming, but there was no car."

The final runner completed the race in 32:57:19. Fatigue didn't seem to bother Krista Cavender, a competitor from Rockland, Calif., whose training regimen has focused on weightlifting and pulling sleds rather than running.

"I might top out at 20 miles a week," Cavender said.

The Pine to Palm was her first 100-mile run. She has completed four shorter ultramarathons.

"I knew I had the ability to complete it but I really kind of doubted myself, it took a lot of work to get the confidence to know that I could complete it," said Cavender. "I had to put faith and trust in my training."

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Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Email him at

Correction: The type of race won by Becky Kirschenmann has been corrected in this version.