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Chicago invader claims American River 50 victory

By: By Todd Mordhorst / Special to the Journal
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Matt Flaherty’s latest trip to the Auburn area turned out much better than his previous visit last month for the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run. Back on March 8, Flaherty’s hopes of keeping up with the speedy pack in Cool were dashed by a nasty stomach virus.

On Saturday at the Auburn Dam Overlook, Flaherty was again feeling queasy, but only from sheer exhaustion after winning the American River 50-mile Endurance Run. Flaherty covered the trail from Sacramento to Auburn in 6 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds.

“I went out hard from the start and I paid for it a little bit during the second half,” Flaherty said. “Those last three miles were the longest miles of my life. But it was a beautiful course. Overall it was very enjoyable.”

Flaherty ran with Eric Senseman for about 15 miles before breaking away and he ran solo the rest of the way. He finished the first 26 miles – marathon distance – in roughly 2:45.

The Chicago runner recently quit his job as an attorney to focus on his running career. A cycling accident left him with an Achilles injury that wiped out most of his 2012 season, but he has come back stronger than ever and added an impressive win to his resumé on Saturday.

“Overall it went pretty well, all things considered,” Flaherty said of his victory.

Senseman finished in 6:20 as his mother took the microphone to announce his arrival at the finish line.

Paulo Medina draped a Peruvian flag over his shoulders as he cruised across the finish line for a strong third-place finish in 6:45. Medina, who lives in Citrus Heights, was running just his fourth ultramarathon and looked to be in fine form as he preps for the Western States Endurance Run in June.

“I was shooting for sub-seven hours so 6:45… it’s all gravy,” said Medina, 28, who is originally from Lima, Peru.  “Western States is going to be my first 100-miler, so hopefully it goes well. I’m very excited. I’m glad to be a local runner and run these trails and get help from so many local runners and the support of local businesses.”

Pam Smith was all smiles after she outlasted fellow veteran runner Tera Dube to win the women’s race. A two-time top-10 finisher at Western States, Smith was determined, and clocked in with a time of 6:54.

“I definitely like to focus on pacing and starting slow, but this race has the fast part up front and I come from a road background so I definitely wanted to be a little faster on the road section,” said Smith, a pathologist from Salem, Ore. “And then I focused on holding as strong as I could during the second half.”

Dube was well back, finishing second in 7:11 and Ana Guijarro took third in 7:28.

Auburn’s Tim Twietmeyer, who finished 25 straight Western States Endurance Runs, added 25 straight AR 50s to his list of accomplishments on Saturday. He made it to his hometown in 7:27.