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Professor First In Age Group In 50K Race

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. January 4, 2011 -- Dr. Rick Aster placed first in his age division and 7th overall of 57 finishers in the 50 kilometer Rodeo Beach Trail Ultramarathon in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco on December 18, 2010.

Aster covered 31 miles of trail near the Golden Gate Bridge in 4:56:21, beating the next fastest finisher in his age group by more than 30 minutes. A winning time of 3:56:27 was posted by 34-year-old Pieter Vermeesch of London.

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Dr. Rick Aster running up Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.

The race took place in rainy and misty conditions that Aster reported as perfect for running a long race, with only one section of bad mud. The run had a vertical elevation gain and loss of about 6,000 feet.

Aster is a professor of geophysics and the chairman of the Earth and Environmental Science Department at New Mexico Tech. He is also the president of the Seismological Society of America. He was in San Francisco for the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union.

In October 2010, Aster was the first person to complete the 'M' Mountain Run, finishing in about 48 minutes. Aster said he “really felt the difference in elevation running near sea level after training in Socorro and the Magdalena Mountains. Socorro’s elevation is about 4,600 feet, and local runners can train at elevations of up to 10,700 feet on South Baldy.

Aster and his wife, Jan Tarr, are avid runners of trails and road races around New Mexico and beyond. Tarr recently organized the fall 5-kilometer running series in Socorro. The couple competed in the Boston Marathon in April 2010 and have been running races together for the past five years. They have also competed in marathons and ultramarathons in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. Aster said that Socorro, with its highly varied elevations, trails and terrain and great weather is “perfect for trail running and training.” Tarr and Aster typically run 40 to 50 miles a week when training for races.

For the past several years, Aster has made close to a dozen field trips to Antarctica to conduct research of that continent’s geology, glaciology and volcanology. These visits can extend for several weeks. How does Aster manage to keep up his fitness while in Antarctica? “I run on the 10,000 foot runway.”

-- NMT --

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Club Sport Director