XTERRA Gator Terra Post Race Report
By Ann Mickey, XTERRA Rep
This is one of the oldest America races, one of the original courses and a classic. With names like "Schumaker Hill" named after the infamous Scott Schumaker because he took a nasty spill that left him with a few scars I'm sure the course was in great shape.
The night before the race mother nature showed us how much power she had by blowing up a nasty storm. The lightning was intense with the wind & rain blowing and threat of tornados in the area there was no telling what race day would be like. Another Milwaukee?
Race day turned out to be a beautiful day, the sun shining light breeze and temps in the 50's, perfect race conditions. The course maintained very well despite the storm there was no down trees or debris on the course. Kudos the Park Manager James "Kimo" Ramser & his team for maintaining the course.
Water temp was 74 degrees it was wetsuit optional. Many chose to wear a wetsuit but after the first loop a couple stopped to take it off since it was too warm.
First out of the water was Todd Hoopman (11:02) followed by Matthew Thomas (11:45) and the winner 26 year old Kyle Grieser (11:53). For the women it was Leslie Brasher (12:34) followed by 1st time XTERRA racer Laurie Allen (13:21).
With the swim complete the competition got fierce and the competitors were gunning for one another. XTERRA Ambassador Mike Carter had a great swim coming out of the water 15 seconds after Kyle Grieser, Mike passed Kyle on the bike but Kyle didn't let him go. For the entire bike leg Kyle stayed just inches from Mike's wheel. Mike's bike split was 50:39 with Kyle right behind at 50:45. Quote from Mike "I knew I had to get ahead of Kyle by at least 1 minute if I was to hang on to win. I tried to break him on the bike and kept riding hard thinking he would break but he just wouldn't go away". Kyle being exactly 20 years younger wasn't going to allow that to happen. He said "I knew if I just stayed with him on the bike I can turn up the heat on the run." His transition was flawless, he left first and Mike left 25 seconds later even though he came into transition first. A simple mistake from Mike cost time precious time. "I couldn't decide if I wanted to take Gu or not, so I put it in my pockets then decided I didn't want to run with them bouncing around so I took them back out." That proved to cost him!
After his win Kyle said "I have to give credit to Mike, he pushed me on the bike and being his understudy & drafting partner I felt it was a good race between us. I am impressed with Mike's ability & fitness for being 20 years older than me, I hope I can be that strong when I get to that age".
On the women's side Leslie Brasher was first out of the water followed by 1st timer Laurie Allen. But the real race didn't start until the bike leg, Karen Robertson and Kim Jennings battled it out on the course. Karen's swim was 13:41 compared to Kim who swam 14:29. But Kim made up the time on the bike with a split of 59:04 and Karen had a 1:00 split. Kim is also new to XTERRA with this being her second race ever she wanted to make her mark. She has an extensive background in Mountain Biking, swimming is her weakest link. She said "during the swim I just could not swim in a straight line, I was all over the place at times swimming sideways because I got way off track, I tried to stay with the leaders but it just didn't happen". On the bike she made up time and caught the leader Karen. She said "when I came up on Karen on the bike there wasn't much room to pass but she was nice enough to allow me to pass which surprised me".
Karen being the elder of the two by 20 years had a great race. "I got caught in traffic on the swim and expended a little much energy trying to get out of it but I felt good on the bike the run was tougher for me and I didn't want to push too hard and blow up".
I had the privilege to interview Wilburn Powell (65 years young) the first athlete to ever sign up for the Ruston race back in the 1990's and a 1st timer Laurie Allen.
Wilburn was racing with a torn ACL doing both individual and team race with his Son Rayce and Grandson Blake. Wilburn could not be a prouder Papa and Grandpapa! His Grandson Blake (14 years old) wanted to start racing with Grandpa but didn't have a bike. His 1st bike was completely made of parts he collected from dumpsters. He later raced with that bike and won his first MTB race by over 5 minutes. He said "Once Grandpa saw I was serious about training & getting out there on the trails I got a new bike." When asked if he could have any thing in the world what would it be? His response was "I'd like to have a full suspension carbon fiber bike".
Wilburn's goal this year is to get back to World's this year and defend the title he won back in 1998. Depending on how well his ACL holds up we may see him at World's.
Laurie Allen's story is a little different. She gives the credit to Mike Carter for "dragging" her to her first off-road race ever. During warm ups she fell while running and bloodied her knee, so the day did not start off very well for her.
Laurie has been doing Ironman and ½ Ironman races and she did not know what to expect from this race or how things were going to go. Being a road racer this is quote "a completely different animal". When asked to compare road racing to off-road her response was "the community of competitors are so different, off-road athletes are much more gracious and have more fun and I love it".
Her strength is the swim and she proved that by coming out of the water in 2nd place. Going out on the bike it took a few miles before she found her legs, but after she found them there was no stopping her. Finishing 3rd in her age group she was on cloud nine! After the race she was jumping up and down because she had "the most fun I've ever had in my entire life, I don't know how I will ever go back to racing on the road again".
Thanks to everyone who was there volunteering and cheering their loved ones on!
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