Indianapolis, IN – Mara Olson (Butler University) and Joseph Gray (Calvary Bible College) were victorious in the first-ever Collegiate Running Association Trail Championships (¼ Marathon – 10.55k) held Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The race, held as part of the Indiana Urban Wilderness Run, was the first public event to utilize a recently completed section of urban trails along the Falls Creek and White River corridors.
For Olson, the victory capped off an incredible 36 hours that started with an 11th place finish at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Thursday evening and culminated with her taking home the first place prize of $1,000 on Saturday morning at the CRA Trail Championships. Between the two races, Olson managed to catch a redeye flight that had her arrive in Indianapolis just a couple of hours prior to the 9:00am start time.
Former George Mason University standout Bethany Sachtleben proved to be a formidable challenge for Olson for the majority of the women’s race, but ultimately was not able to close the gap late. Competing in her first CRA National Championships, Sachtleben earned herself a $750 runner-up prize. Samantha Bluske (Toledo), Samantha Ginther (Indiana University) and Marion Cherop (Western Kentucky University) finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively, earning $600, $400, and $250.
On the men’s side, the victory served as a little bit of redemption for Joseph Gray after he finished 2nd in the CRA 10k Road Race Championships last March in Richmond, VA. The 18-time Team USA member and 9-time US National Champion used a strong push throughout the second half of the race to pull away from runner-up Stephen Cheptoek (Western Kentucky University). Will Christian (Old Dominion University) had a great race to finish in third and was followed closely by Lex Williams (Illinois State University) and Benjamin Snodgrass (Binghamton University).
“We were extremely impressed by our collegiate fields this morning” said CRA co-founder Jon Molz. “The race was able to attract student-athletes from eight different states representing three different countries, which shows that word is getting out about the CRA and the events we are putting together. Three of the top five men’s finishers have previously won prize money at a CRA National Championship and while we greatly appreciate their continued support, we were just as excited that all of our top five finishers on the women’s side were competing in their first CRA event.”
In addition to strong elite fields, the race also served as the first public event held on the soon to be named Indiana Urban Wilderness Trail in downtown Indianapolis. The challenging course offered a little bit of everything for the participants: cross country style grass fields that had segments of both smooth and rugged running; a flat and fast limestone path right beside Fall Creek where runners could push the pace, and a forest loop that included multiple log jumps, deep sandy sections, and many twists and turns on completely natural surfaces. Keeping true to the “urban” portion of the trail name, the race course also traversed beneath several city bridges and had a large section with the city skyline looming right overhead.
“We couldn’t be happier to partner with an event that was created to utilize a brand new trail system right in downtown Indianapolis” said CRA co-founder Steve Taylor. “Hopefully the people of Indianapolis spread the word about these new trails and this event so that others can get out and explore a truly unique place to run and exercise. Promoting healthy lifestyles through running is the CRA’s mission and what better way to accomplish that then to work with a new running event on new running trails.”
2015 Collegiate Running Association ¼ Marathon Trail Championships
- Joseph Gray – 33:01 – $1000 Mara Olson – 37:33 – $1000
- Patrick Cheptoek – 33:33 – $750 Bethany Sachtleben – 38:40 – $750
- Will Christian – 33:51 – $600 Samantha Bluske – 40:52 – $600
- Lex Williams – 34:43 – $400 Samantha Ginther – 41:52 – $400
- Benjamin Snodgrass – 35:41 – $250 Marion Cherop – 42:35 – $250
For more information on the American Trail Running Association‘s partner, the Collegiate Running Association, visit: www.collegiaterunning.org.