Lake Las Vegas Resort – Henderson, NV – Roberto Mandje of Boulder, CO and Amy Vantassel from Portland, OR won the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas 12.5-mile trail run in 1:16:13 and 1:35:16, respectively, on a beautiful morning in Henderson, Nevada.
In winning today Mandje, a former Olympian from Equatorial Guinea, successfully defended his back-to-back weekend of wins. The 32-year-old won the XTERRA Cheyenne Mountain 12K Trail Run in Colorado just eight days ago for the second year in a row as well. Making it more impressive was the change in scenery between the two venues, not to mention the 12-plus hour drive from Boulder, Colorado, to Las Vegas. There was still snow on the ground (at 6,000-plus feet) in Colorado Springs, in stark contrast to the barren desert in southern Nevada.
“I knew what to expect after last year and everything really went well,” said Mandje, who took the lead from Forrest Boughner early on and never let go. “Bougner stuck with me the first few miles and that made it fun, but challenging. I got away a little but never really knew how big a lead I had so was still running scared and pressed the whole way. With Bougner being 6-foot-5 I could find him in the crowd, but felt confident if it came to a kick I’d have the strength as my training has gone really well this winter.”
Boughner, from Flagstaff, Arizona, placed second more than four minutes back, followed by Henderson, NV native Forrest Jarvi. Mandje will now turn his focus on more training and a solid mix of trail and road races leading up to his marathon-distance debut this fall (he ran the 1500-meter race at the 2004 Olympics).
In the women’s race, experience ruled the day as Vantassel resisted the urge to follow a torrid pace set early by Amber Throop from Henderson (who eventually finished third).
“Amber started out really fast, but I’m 38, and I knew not to go out that hard because it was going to be a long day,” said Vantassal, whose husband Chris Bagg will race in the elite field at the XTERRA West Championship triathlon tomorrow. “About four miles in I picked it up a little, and Aimee (Balzer) and I ran together for a while. Neither of us are super competitive so we were talking out there and enjoying the run.”
Vantassel turned on the jets midway and crossed the line with a four-minute lead on Balzer.
“It was really tough, all XTERRA’s are,” said Vantassel. “There are no PRs out there, and your time doesn’t matter. That’s one of the reasons why I love XTERRA. “It’s such a refresher from the road scene, such a great vibe. The community and people and aesthetic of the event really brings the fun back into racing and I had a great day.”
Nearly 700 trail runners signed-up for today’s trail races, which also included 10K and 5K options. Jesse Wright and Crystal Baumgart won the 10K while Gabriel Rivera and Andrea Hinojosa captured the 5K titles.
Tomorrow several hundred athletes from around the world will take part in the XTERRA West Championship off-road triathlon on many of the same trails.
Learn more at www.xterralakelasvegas.com.
About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA
TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988. It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990. View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterratrailrun.com.