National Champion Crowned

Tyler Sigl of Seymour, Wis., and Larisa Dannis of Strafford, New Hampshire, both earned the title of U.S. 50-mile National Champion after a windy run to Sturgeon Bay. The Fall 50, serving as the U.S. 50-mile National Championship, saw 119 finishers from 26 states in the solo division. Sigl’s finish time of 5:32:24 was five minutes short of the course record set by Zach Bitter in 2011. Dannis led the women start to finish with a time of 5:59:11 to set the new women’s course record.

Three of the elite participants ran off the course in a battle for second place as one of the turning signs was taken from its designated spot. Approaching mile 27, a missed right turn onto Hwy 42 left three of the top contenders continuing on Peninsula Players Road. Zach Bitter, 2011 Fall 50 champion and race favorite, was among the group.

“My watch clicked at mile 27 and I didn’t see a sign and I thought ‘They have signs every mile.’ But I kept going and when my watch clicked again, I thought, ‘Uh oh,’” explained Bitter. Bitter hitched a ride back to the course, picking up two other runners on the way. One of the group decided to continue on the course while Bitter opted for a ride to the finish. Though disappointed, with the 100km World Championships approaching in Qatar, “it may be a blessing in disguise,” said Bitter.

Race Director Sean Ryan found in his experience it is often an enthusiastic relay team that will take signage from the course as a keepsake from the event. Still, Ryan felt that the organizers adjusted well to the addition of another 90 relay teams compared to last year.

Windy conditions pushed at the back of the athletes in the morning before shifting against them in the afternoon. The course followed the western shore of the peninsula from Gills Rock to Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay. Warmer weather put the elite runners at a disadvantage from ideal running conditions, while the remaining 450 relay teams found a comfortable day.

This was Sigl’s third 50-mile event after racing in the North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison for the previous two years. With tendonitis flaring up at mile 24 of the race, he found the back half of his run on Saturday more than just an endurance challenge. With Minnesotan Mike Bialick closing the gap between the two, Sigl pushed to finish 13 minutes ahead of second place.

Sturgeon Bay resident Aaron Schneider was the top finisher from the peninsula, finishing in a time of 9:07:53. In 2011, Schneider turned the Fall 50 into a 100-mile event by running a loop from Sunset Park to Gills Rock and back.

Top Male Finishers:

1. Tyler Sigl (5:32:24)

2. Mike Bialick (5:45:56)

3. Mark Thompson (5:52:00)

4.Eric Tatge (5:53:42)

5. Joshua Brimhall (6:10:39)

Top Female Finishers:

1. Larisa Dannis (5:59:11)

2. Carolyn Smith (6:28:17)

3. Katie Jackson (6:49:05)

4. Jessica Garcia (7:26:21)

5. Carrie Miller (7:27:48)