Anthony Fagundes keeps surprising himself. Last year, at the XTERRA Black Mountain 15K in April, Fagundes broke his own course record by 20 seconds less than 24 hours after completing a Ragnar Relay event.
On October 1, Fagundes, 28, broke another one – at the XTERRA Point Mugu 18K. This time, he did it less than 24 hours after a 24-mile training run. He finished the course in 1:05:03, over 11 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.
“It just didn’t make sense,” said Fagundes about his record. “In fact I was really surprised it happened. I did a 24-mile long run the day before, with over 4,600 feet of climbing, to try and tire my legs out for the race so I could practice running trails on a tried legs at a hard effort. Warming up for XTERRA Point Mugu, my legs felt tired, which I was glad for because I wanted them to be. But when the race started, my legs didn’t feel tired at all. In fact they felt really fresh. I had looked up my splits from XTERRA Point Mugu two years ago so I knew what my splits were going into the race. My first mile was maybe one second slower than two years ago and I thought, well lets see how this plays out. Second mile was 15 seconds faster than two years ago and then my whole mindset for the race changed. I thought, well I’m running faster than I did two years ago, might as well go for the course record.”
“Anthony is a great guy,” said Daniel Weissauer of Generic Events, who put on the XTERRA SoCal Trail Runs. “He has course records at Point Mugu, Crystal Cove, Black Mountain, and Mission Gorge. He’s training to break the 2008 Topanga course record next at the XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot 15K on November 23rd.”
Fagundes also had a solid performance at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Ogden, Utah last month. Again, he went into the race on tired legs, this time from running the Santa Rosa Marathon on August 27th, where he finished third overall and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Fellow XTERRA trail runner, Zachary Holt, was fifth.
For XTERRA Nationals, Fagundes flew in the night before to spend as little time at altitude as possible before the race.
“Once the race started and we hit the first hill, I felt the same as I did last year and I thought, oh crap, here we go again, a repeat of last year, which wasn’t my best race. But after the second mile, my legs started feeling better. I noticed I was climbing faster than I did the previous year and was feeling easier. I think I was sixth at mile two and actually caught fifth place before we reached the top of what I call the first climb of the race. By then, I had maybe a ten second gap going into the long down hill in fifth place.
“I knew the second half of the race was much harder, so I decided to relax on the downhill part. Sixth place caught me at the bottom of the downhill but when the second climb started, I put all my energy into getting as much distance as I could on the climb. I actually caught fourth place on the second downhill and thought about trying to pass him but decided that I’d save myself for the last little climb at the end and see if I could pass him then. But by that point my legs were pretty dead from the downhill and fourth put a move on me, so I just relaxed and ran it in, because I knew that I had achieved both the goals that I had set out to do. I ended up fifth overall and five minutes faster than last year, which was weird to me because last year I was in much better shape than I was this year, yet this year I was five minutes faster and felt a lot better throughout the whole race.”
Fagundes attributes part of this success to his job as a bike messenger, which he calls “continual cross-training.” And yet, Fagundes has a charming sense of bewilderment about his recent successes. Even more impressive is that Fagundes has not even been concentrating on the trails this season. Instead, he’s been focusing his training on breaking 2:30 at the California International Marathon on December 3rd.
“My PR is 2:38. If I can break 2:30 then I know for sure that I can drop it down with the proper training.”
If he can break 2:30, then he may try to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. He admits that he failed in his attempt to stay off the trails and focus solely on the roads – he couldn’t help himself – but he’s looking forward to hitting his goal in December.
“I have a lot of untapped strength that’s just waiting to come out for this marathon so I’m excited to see how it goes. I haven’t raced a road marathon since February of 2016 so it’ll be fun to break into the pain cave again in December.”
After the marathon, however, Fagundes will be back on the trails. So expect to see him this year in the XTERRA SoCal Trail Series, the XTERRA National Championship, and at the XTERRA World Championship in 2018.
“After Boston, I am dedicating my training to trail running. I would love to run on the US Mountain Running Team. That’s a big dream of mine.”