Local runner completes 100th ultra marathon

SRA Elite teammates Jesse Barragan and Melissa Penwell delivered strong performances in Saturday’s Gold Rush 50k to earn top honors while Carmichael’s Bill Hambrick completed his astonishing 100th ultra marathon.

Barragan, 39, was in second place for the first 25 miles before making his move to the front for the final 5-mile loop of the 31-mile course. The Folsom resident finished in an event-record 3 hours, 33 minutes and 37 seconds.

Penwell, 30, was the top female finisher and third overall with an event-record 3:50:50 performance.

The Rocklin resident ran step-for-step with SRA Elite teammate and fellow Rocklin runner Megan Oldenburger for the first 20 miles before pulling away over the final two loops for a 10-minute win.

Oldenburger, 34, finished her first ultra in 4:00:17.

A field of 100 runners started the race, organized by the Sacramento Running Association.

Hambrick, 63, crossed a finish tape made of his past ultra bibs in 5:34:52 in front of a large cheering crowd. His 100th ultra finish comes 28 years after his ultra debut at the Pacific Crest Trail 50k in 1989.

Race organizers believe that Hambrick is one of only a handful of Sacramento-region runners to have 100 ultra marathon finishes.

“It was a great party out there,” said Hambrick.

“As my name was called and everyone started cheering, it brought chills and a big smile to my face.”

“Even fellow runners were pulling for me.”

The race, originally scheduled for the trails through the Sierra foothills, had a venue change and was run on the famously fast and flat course on the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. With a start and finish near the Guy West Bridge, the course utilized a 5-mile mostly paved loop along the American River Parkway.

Barragan did not seem to mind the change of venue.

“Having more of a road racing background, the alternate course played to my strengths,” Barragan said. “The race conditions could not have been better.”

“Today my plan was to start the race conservatively, then gradually pick up the pace and that’s exactly what I did, and I was able to get the win with that strategy,” he added.

Penwell also enjoyed the looped course and savored the opportunity to run with teammate Oldenburger.

“Normally in a long race, I don’t get to see a lot of the people running, so it was fun to run through the finish line so many times and have everyone cheer you on,” said Penwell.

“I’m happy with the results, but the most enjoyable part for me was getting to run the first 20 miles with Megan and to see her finish her first 50k.”

Race organizers added a two-person relay to the event line-up for the second year in a row in an effort to make the distance more accessible to new trail runners.

With the venue change, the first leg of the relay covered 16.6 miles and the second leg covered the remaining 14.6 miles of the course.
The SRA Elite team of Erin Wachter and Liz Stehula captured the relay title, clocking in at 3:49:02.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA events include the recently completed Credit Union SACTOWN Run, the inaugural Gold Country Half on June 11, the Capital Cross Challenge on October 7, the Run the Parkway on November 4, the 35th annual California International Marathon on Dec. 3 and the Super Sunday Run on Feb. 4, 2018.