Turney wins Spartan Ultra 50K in California

December 18, 2019

Before last weekend, Taylor Turney of Anchorage had never raced an ultramarathon, let alone one with 60 obstacles.

Taylor Turney

But on Dec. 14 he nailed his first Spartan Ultra in Los Olivos, California, taking the victory in 5 hours, 24 minutes and 50 seconds over 50 kilometers (31 miles). Turney caught the frontrunner at about mile 21 and never looked back, winning by more than four minutes.

“I decided I REALLY like ultras,” Turney wrote on Facebook. “Winning was not the goal, but was certainly encouraging.”

At the Spartan Trail US Championships, also in Los Olivos, Anna Dalton placed second in the elite women’s 10K and Chad Trammell of Anchorage was third in the men’s 10K on Dec. 14.

Lars Arneson of Anchorage took 16th in the elite 21K. Unlike most Spartan events, neither of those races featured obstacles.

On Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore., Tristian Merchant of Anchorage Christian School finished 13th at the 5-kilometer Nike Cross Nationals boys championship in 15 minutes, 19 seconds.

Tristian Merchant

Merchant moved up throughout the race after being in 44th place at the 1-mile mark, 21st at 2 miles and 16th at 2.75 miles. Merchant, a junior at ACS and the two-time defending small schools state cross country champion, became the first Alaskan boy to compete at NXN, which has been going for 16 years (Alaskans boys have competed at Foot Locker Nationals, the other national high school championship meet).

Merchant earned his NXN spot by placing sixth last month in 15:18 at the Nike Cross Northwest meet in Boise, Idaho.

-By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog correspondent