Runners of All Ages Welcome at XTERRA Nationals
2010 field includes a 7-year-old and 85-year-old
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship truly is a race for any runner.
More than 500 of them will be on the starting line for the 2010 edition of the XTERRA Nationals, which will take place Saturday, Sept. 18, at Bend, Ore. A handful of them are considered elite runners who will be vying for the coveted overall title and $1,000 first-place check.
However, the bulk of runners at the XTERRA Nationals are age-group competitors who will be vying to be the fastest within their demographic.
At one extreme is 7-year-old Zoe Allen of Hillsboro, Ore. At the other is 85-year-old John Keston from Sunriver, Ore.
Zoe, who is in the second grade at Quatama Elementary School, will be running the 21-kilometer championship course with her mother, Tara.
"She started tagging along with me on my runs a few years ago, and just loved it," Tara said of Zoe's young start in running. "Her goal is to do a marathon, but we wanted to see if she could do a half-marathon first and so we signed up for this race."
Zoe also plays baseball, gymnastics and soccer, but said running is her favorite sport. "Because it's fun," she said.
Zoe completed a 5-mile race earlier this year, and would like to train her way to a marathon in the near future. Tara said she will allow Zoe to set the pace for them on Saturday, and they are prepared to take extended breaks during the course.
"We're not going to force her to do anything," Tara said. "This is something she wanted to do, and she's done long runs before, so we're going to make it as fun as possible."
At the other extreme, Keston will add to his already-impressive list of distance runs. He is a past XTERRA age-group national champion, having won the men's 80-older division in 2008. He skipped last year's race due to a leg injury, but is making his return to Bend this year.
"I just love to run," Keston said. "If there's a race in the area that I feel I'm prepared for, I'll try to do it."
Keston started running at age 55 as a way to stay healthy, and has entered hundreds of races in the 30 years since. During that span, he set several national and world record times for his age group.
He is also talented off the trails. Keston is originally from London, England, and was an actor and singer there before moving to the United States in the 1970s.
Keston still enjoys singing, and will perform the national anthem before Saturday's race.
In between Zoe and Keston will be hundreds of other runners on the starting line at Bend. All told, more than 25 age-group divisions will be featured at the 2010 XTERRA Nationals.
Like Zoe, some are students. Like Keston, some are retired. There are also teachers, doctors, bankers and various other professions. On Saturday, all will be XTERRA trail runners.
XTERRA TRAIL RUN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9 a.m. start; first finishers expected around 10 a.m.
WHERE: Bend, Ore. Start/finish will be at Old Mill District, and course will traverse along the Deschutes River.
WHO: More than 500 runners from around the world, ranging in age groups from 9-younger to 80-older.
COURSES: A 21-kilometer course will serve as the national championship race, but there are also separate 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races that runners can enter.
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