ASHLAND, WA — Bob Julian jokingly referred to them as "those darn mountain goats."
They were actually nationally-ranked, professional cross country skiers from Bend, and they ruled the 28th annual Mt. Ashland Hill Climb Run on Saturday.
Brayton Osgood, 26, won the grueling 13.3-mile run that started at Lithia Park and ended at the summit of Mt. Ashland in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 14 seconds.
Ashland's Hal Koerner, 31, the defending champion and the winner of the Western States 100-mile ultra marathon in June, pulled even with Osgood with a couple miles remaining but Osgood found another gear while scaling the final, brutally steep ski runs between the Mt. Ashland lodge and the finish line at the top of the mountain.
Koerner completed the race five minutes faster than last year but settled for second in 1:57:56.
Zach Violett, 25, another Bend-based cross county skier, took third in 1:58:19.
Two other members of the Bend group known as XC Oregon — J.D. Downing and Colin Mahood — finished ninth and 13th, respectively, while the group's Evelyn Dong and Sarah Max went 1-3 among the women.
"We're used to really hard, uphill climbs for long periods of time," said Osgood, who didn't even seem out of breath as he conquered the top of the Tempest ski run to reach the finish line. "But that was definitely the hardest run I've ever been in."
The rest of the article can be found at the MailTribune.com web site at: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070805/SPORTS/708050335
[In an e-mail to me, J.D. said, "That hill climb is a bleeping killer BTW. Easily one of the hardest races you'll ever find that isn't an ultra or something equally bizarre. I figure 2+ hours of grinding and 5000+ feet of climbing is plenty hard enough. Anything more is just abuse. " - Mike Muha]