Sacchetti Takes Early Season Win at Bryce Canyon 50k

Sacchetti Takes Early Season Win at Bryce Canyon 50k
by Jordan Smothermon

Maria Sacchetti’s racing season reflects the very mountains on which she competes: plenty of ups and downs.

During her first two races, a marathon and the Scout 50k in Idaho, Sacchetti ran off the race trail without realizing and had to backtrack, costing her valuable time and leading to two back-to-back disappointing results.

“I wasn’t around people and the courses were new to me. Just glad I wasn’t the only runner that went off course,” said Sacchetti through a chuckle.
Discouraged, but resolute, Sacchetti found her path to victory at the Bryce Canyon 50k on June 14 with a 5:47 minute time, finished 6th overall, factoring in the men.
“I was close to a top 3 or 4. I was so close to the men ahead of me, but the final two miles were a draining uphill effort, and I simply couldn’t catch them,” reflected Sacchetti. “They finished 5:45 and 5:46 – I was so close.”

“Overall, it’s good for my head to win. Even if I hadn’t won, after getting off course in the previous two races, I just wanted to finish without mistakes. I stayed near people to make sure I stayed the course, which was well-marked anyway. I had no trouble, but was still worried.”
Sacchetti cited the strength and tempo running work as the prime drivers of her success.

“The strength training we do as endurance athletes makes a pivotal difference in feeling stronger hill after hill, and the tempo work is different than any way I’ve done it in the past. It makes you fast.”

Even with her training, she felt her relatively heavy early-season schedule.

“I definitely didn’t have the same bounce in my step as I did for my first races,” said Sacchetti about running two races in three weeks, “So I felt a little flat.”
Flat must have only been a feeling. Sacchetti finished 45 minutes ahead of the second place female.

The confidence from winning and the strength from training will be welcome running partners in the next month of training. Next up for Sacchetti is a 50 miler in July, the race distance she’s spent her time training for with Mountain Athlete, completing the 50-mile Ultra Plan in May.

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