Burning River 2015
Kelly Dickerson, Western Reserve Racing
The Burning River Endurance Runs and Relay is a point to point course with the option of running 100 miles, 50 miles, or as part of a 4 or 8 person relay team. This year marked the second year for the relay division with over 60 relay teams. The inaugural 50 mile distance introduced 200 runners to the beloved race. There were a total of 883 participants – a 72% increase over the previous year. Cleveland really is on fire!
To say that Burning River is a community supported race would be a huge understatement. Over 400 volunteers staffed the 19 well-stocked aid stations from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio. Hammer Nutrition and Whole Foods generously helped keep runners fueled by providing vegan, gluten free, and whole food options in addition to the standard endurance fare. Solo and Relay runners alike showed their love of the trails by signing up to run the race on behalf of local park systems. Entry fees were waived for these runners who chose to raise funds for Cleveland Metroparks or The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Over $14,000 was donated to these organizations for trail maintenance and development.
Burning River boasts a point to point course through the best Ohio has to offer; The Cleveland Metroparks, The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and The Summit County Metroparks. Despite the mountainless landscape, runners shouldn’t underestimate the rocks, rooty hills, and stairs that make up 6100’ of elevation gain. Extremely well marked with over 3000 reflective arrows and tape, the single track trails are balanced nicely with a sprinkling of roads and the flat crushed limestone of the historic Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Solo runners appreciated the relay company on the second half of the course this year as much as they loved the cool evening temps and multiple water crossings. 125 participants overcame the heat and the distance to earn their 100 mile buckles. Daven Oskvig from Amherst, NY was the overall winner with a time of 17 hours and 50 minutes. Following closely on Daven’s heels was Brian Oestrike who closed 23 minutes of a 25 minute gap in the final 20 miles of the race. Brian gave Daven a run for his money and earned second place in 17 hours and 52 minutes. 200k American record holder, Katalin Nagy from Sarasota, Florida claimed the top female spot in 18 hours and 36 minutes. The debut 50 mile race was a success with 152 finishers. Cleveland local Jeff Schuler’s first 50 mile attempt brought him the win in 7 hours and 22 minutes. Elissa Ballas hailing from Chicago took second place overall and first female with a time of 7 hours and 31 minutes.
2015 100 mile winner Daven Oskvig says “Any 100-mile race is epic. Whether one is the first runner in or the last to cross before the course is closed, the task is the same and the accomplishment monumental. This experience showcased incredible parks in Ohio, warm and hospitable people, great support, and due to this shared toil cast and crew that have become family.”
Eleven time US National Team member, Howard Nippert participated in the 50 mile race this year. Howard states “The amazing people of Cleveland and the beautiful course through Ohio’s parks make Burning River a highlight of my running year. We are always thankful to the Race Directors, staff, and volunteers for making our experience just awesome. Looking forward to next year already!”
Burning River is looking bright and celebrates a decade of point to point adventures in 2016. Race directors anticipate awarding the 1,000 mile buckle to at least one dedicated local runner and adding an additional 50 mile “back half” race for hardy runners who enjoy an affair with their headlamps.