The 2022 AC-100 Endurance Run In Wrightwood Proves Challenging

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - Tri-Community NewsPlus

Runners to the finish line at the annual AC-100 Endurance Run in Wrightwood.

Sprinting out of the woods Sunday morning, August 7, to the finish line, Wyatt Million, 26, of Agoura Hills, CA, has won the 2022 Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run in the Male Division. He Finished with a time of 21:09:42, an hour faster than Michael Eastburn of Porter Ranch, who took second with a (22:07:44), and Anthony Snitker of Monrovia (23:25:37), who finished third. Ashley Hall (25:53:00) placed first, Jade Belzberg (27:01:22) second, and Rosalia Guarischi (27:59:08) finished third for the ladies. Out of the original two hundred fifty-eight competitors, one hundred and five completed the course.

Downtown Wrightwood welcomed the start of the 33rd Annual Angeles Crest 100 Mile Out-and-Back Endurance Run (50.7 miles out, 50.7 miles back) early Saturday morning, August 6, 2022. After an afternoon of registration and trail briefings the day before, the race contestants “carbed up” on spaghetti dinner at the Wrightwood Community Center with a pre-marathon raffle and fundraiser. After two years of separation from the last AC100 series event, the Ultra-Class runners of the 2022 AC100 were primed for the 5:00 am start.

With a starting pace of roughly nine minutes a mile, the leaders would quickly take early positions for a race that would take them across some of the most rugged terrain in North America. The Pacific Crest Trail was recently inspected and repaired by the race contestants and staff the previous week. This duty was required under race rules. One runner described the elevation climbing, switchback winding hundred miles, saying, “It is a hard hundred miles. I mean, this is legit!” Aside from hazards like rattlesnakes and various other cautions, The San Gabriel Mountains’ backcountry and primitive wilderness provided a grand backdrop for an endurance run.
This year’s AC-100 Ultra-Running competition started in the dark early Saturday morning and would end in the dark for the top finishers of this alpine race early Sunday morning. For the winners in the championship spots, bronze cast statues and handsome silver buckles were presented. Plaques were also awarded to all finishers under the race time limit. Examples of these awards are currently on display at The Wrightwood Museum.

When asked about having the Angeles Crest/Pacific Crest Trail Ultra-running event in Wrightwood, Race Director Ken Hamada shared, “You know, people need to be challenged. That is what it really comes down to. Some of us have an urban lifestyle, so to run a hundred-mile race is a big thing. You can run locals, marathons, fifties… but this is a hundred-mile point to point. Ok? It’s usually the pinnacle of the whole season. This is considered a big race.” Mr. Hamada also mentioned that the Annual Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run would return to its original course next year. The Out-and-Back style race was chosen due to extensive trail damage from the 2020 Bobcat Fire and flooding from heavy December rainstorms. This year’s route also went around Mount Baden-Powell (9,406 ft). This added difficulty to the already challenging course.

Inspiration Point 2 is the last Aid Station before descending the switchback-laden trail to Wrightwood and the AC-100 Finish Line. On station and ready to greet, comfort, advise, or guide, race volunteer Victor de Silva will camp out on this high-altitude Highway 2 and Pacific Crest Trail crossing. His duties included answering questions from the runners on trail conditions as they ran by. When asked about the difficulty of this last stretch of the trail, he was advised not to say, “It’s downhill all the way!” but rather, “It is a nine-mile quad busting decent to the finish!” That being said, the athletes that had made it past checkpoint Chilao 2 would be navigating steep, narrow, and winding switchbacks in the moonlight with headlamps on their trek back to Wrightwood.

Arriving in the early morning darkness was Wyatt Million, first in at 2:09:42 AM, with a pace time of 12:33 and a course time of 21:09:42. Michael Eastburn came in second with a 22:07:44, with Anthony Snitker third posted a 23:25:37.

Ashley Hall came in tenth place overall with a time of 25:53 flat. Jade Belzberg finished second for the ladies, 27:01:22, nineteenth overall. And finishing third, 27th in the overall, was Rosalia Guarischi with a 27:59:08. Dominick Layfield was the top Men’s Solo in fourth place overall with a 23:28:03 time. The AC-100 Awards Ceremony took place while the remaining runners were applauded as they ran/walked through the finish line. The athletes and audience were treated to a “Golden Hour Celebration” on Park Drive afterward with Music, Bar-B-Que, and Festivities.

Special thanks to the Wrightwood Historical Society and Museum, Mountain Hardware, Wrightwood Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Forest Service at Lone Pine, the crew of the C.B. and Ham Radio/Wi-Fi Aid Station, Ken Hamada, and the friendly staff and volunteers of 33rd Annual Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. Also, Thank You to the city of Wrightwood and the devoted ultra-running athletes and families for their amazing contributions to this annual event.

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