(Pelham, Alabama) –Charlie Epperson and Nelle Douglas captured the XTERRA Oak Mountain 20K trail run titles on a beautiful day at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama this morning.
For Epperson, a pro triathlete from Guam (via Tennessee) it was sweet redemption of sorts. At yesterday’s XTERRA Southeast Championship triathlon he took an elbow to his eye at the start of the swim and lost his contact lense in the process. Although he finished the swim he was rendered practically blind without his contacts and had to pull out.
“I was pretty disappointed after yesterday,” explained Epperson. “I thought my contact was in my goggles and I could find it after the swim but it wasn’t there so I was out of luck. Learned a lesson, though, in the future I’ll have an extra set of contacts in transition.”
In today’s race Epperson went out with the lead pack and pulled away along the dam section in the early stages of the first of two 10K laps.
“I was with Andy Lee and Joey Bemowski and pulled away a little bit at the dam. I thought those guys would reel me in but I got in a good flow, and I knew Andy could track me down so was trying to keep my distance,” said Epperson.
His winning time of 1:16:59 was almost a full three minutes ahead of Lee (who is also an XTERRA pro triathlete).
“Especially after yesterday, today was really fun. These trails are amazing, so flowing, plus we had perfect running weather today,” said Epperson.
Robert Pritchett finished third, Bemowski fourth, and XTERRA regular Brandon Mader – last year’s XTERRA Oak Mountain trail marathon champ – fifth. Also of note 14-year-old Korey Shively finished 11th overall.
In the women’s race Douglas took the lead early in the second of two 10K laps and put it in cruise control a bit until she saw Balian coming on hard a few miles from the finish.
“I got a little complacent there for a while until I saw her behind me picking up speed and that’s when the race really began,” said Douglas, a Birmingham native that’s just been running for a year now. “I had a baby in June and running was my idea to get in shape and be a cute mom, then I just fell in love with it.
Douglas did her first half-marathon two weeks ago in Knoxville and had so much fun she signed-up for this one.
“This course was really engaging, and I had never run without headphones before so that was a challenge but it was great to be immersed in Mother Nature like that. I really liked it.”
Her winning time was 1:47:21, and Balian finished in 2nd just 26-seconds behind, while Lindsay Collin and XTERRA pro triathlete Kara LaPoint ran in just 34-and-35 seconds back of Douglas.
Pelham running star Robby Letson and Sylvia Sontheimer won today’s 10K while Sloan Monk and Makenna Leathers captured the 5K crowns. You can find complete results for all three races at www.jtltiming.com/running
More than 300 runners from 12 states took part in today’s trail runs, the last of seven in the 2013-2014 XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. Points will be tallied and Series champions will be announced by the end of the week. Every age group champion will earn a free spot to run with the best from across the country at the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals half-marathon in Ogden, Utah on September 21.
The 2014 XTERRA Southeast Championship was presented by Paul Mitchell and Shelby County Tourism. Sponsors include Muscle Milk, XTERRA Wetsuits, PowerBar, Gatorade Endurance, XTERRA Fitness, LifeProof, XTERRA Boards, the Utah Sports Commission, XTERRA Cycle and Tri Gear, City of Pelham, Oak Mountain State Park, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, XTERRA Apparel and the Shelby County Reporter.
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.