Whitefish’s Lichter Takes Detour, Still Podiums at Speedgoat

Local pro trail runner suffered her first loss in a trail race — but ran four miles further than her competitors

By Micah Drew
Jennifer Lichter runs at the South Spencer Mountain Trailhead near Whitefish on April 22, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Whitefish trail runner Jennifer Lichter ran the Speedgoat Mountain Race 50k in Snowbird, Utah last weekend and finished second overall, despite taking a wrong turn early in the race.

Considered one of the most grueling 50k mountain races in the country, the 15th edition of Speedgoat took runners nearly 11,800 vertical feet around the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.

Lichter, a professional trail runner sponsored by The North Face, entered the race as a favorite after wins at The Rut in 2021 and recently the Broken Arrow 52k where she set a course record and qualified for the World Mountain and Trail Championships.

In the race, Lichter went to the front and led the women’s field through the first 15 miles, leading eventual winner Addie Bracy by nearly five minutes. Then tragedy struck as Lichter accidentally took a wrong turn on the course, running two miles before someone told her what had happened. Lichter said she was hit with a feeling of dread as she returned to the course and debated whether to drop out of the race as she watched the field pass her.

“I cried, threw myself a pity party (even said out loud I wanted to DNF, I know, ridiculous) cried some more, then got back on the saddle,” Lichter wrote in a post on Instagram. “I’d gone from leading to 14th place… and as hard as that was, I needed to finish the darn race.”

“I seriously thought about DNF’ing so many times since I was so frustrated, but I’m so happy that I stuck with it and had a change in attitude,” Lichter said about her race. “The male runner I was running close to told me I needed to get it together and finish with honor. I laughed and thought ‘you’re right.’ Everyone out here is doing this. I don’t have to win. It was a mindset of just being grateful you’re here in the first place”

Lichter worked her way up the field over the remaining 16 miles of the race, cutting her deficit from race leader Bracy to just 32 minutes by the end, finishing second overall. Her 50k split time en route to running more than 57 kilometers would have won the race by more than 10 minutes, and come close to breaking the course record.

“I’ve never been more proud to podium, of the mental strength I gained that day and of course I’ve never been more grateful for the fans and volunteers who keep us rolling when things get tough,” Lichter wrote.

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