Erdmann makes it three in a row in Women's Boom Run
By Sam Eifling
Great Outdoor Games staff
Maybe that's the case, but when the top three medalists from the 2001 event all repeat, you start to wonder whether speed, balance and consistency count for more than the humble runners admit.
Shana Martin repeated as silver medalist and Margaret Bulk reprised her 2001 bronze, but Mandy Erdmann did them one better, winning her third Boom Run gold medal in the three years of the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.
"It feels great," Erdmann said of her three-peat. "I was hoping I could do it this year, but in the Boom Run, you never know what's going to happen. Some people have good days, you just never know."
Then again, considering the quarterfinal round, the idea that a hair's breadth separates the winners from the also-rans starts looking pretty good. Elizabeth Hoeschler got past Crystal Salzman despite Salzman beating her back to the starting platform.
Hoeschler's last step was enough of a leap that she crossed the finish line in 19.691 seconds, just before Salzman could take a second step for a 19.797 finish. Bulk strode past the Hoeschler's light and nimble younger sister, Abbigail Hoeschler, in a time of 16.863 seconds to 16.951 seconds, a difference barely visible even on the slow-motion replay.
The Hoeschlers were both hampered slightly: Elizabeth by ACL surgery five months ago, Abbigail because the relatively large boom logs mitigated her natural size advantage.
Less than half a step and three-quarters of a second separated Bulk and Elizabeth Hoeschler in the consolation heat. "I had a good chance of being up there," Elizabeth Hoeschler said afterwards, a bag of ice on her right knee. "I just wasn't that fast today."
Knowing she would need all that speed to unseat Erdmann, Martin ran without abandon in the finals and lost control, hitting the lake with only two logs to go.
With the race decided, she remounted, and dashed ahead to the starting platform, where she landed on the edge and banged her hand badly enough that she thought she might have broken a finger. (She didn't, but before she knew that, she said: "I'll be alright. It's a finger, who needs it.")
She finished 25.176 seconds while Erdmann clocked to the fastest time of the competition, 15.939 seconds.
After the races, Erdmann and Bulk, who have known each other since age 5, joined with Erdmann's mother in a warm, triangular hug. Some elements of the wily Boom Run are, it turns out, highly predictable.
"We're actually all really good friends," Erdmann said. "We're all hugging, and we're all happy for each other, no matter what happens. That's what's so great about our sport.
"Everyone always comments, 'You guys hug so much.' We're just used to it."