XTERRA Arizona Series Gets Off to Hot Start
Martin and Ellis turn in blazing times to take top honors
After driving seven hours across the state, an 81-minute run proved to be quick work for Shaun Martin at the inaugural XTERRA Estrella Mountain Trail Run on Sunday, Oct. 3, at Goodyear, Ariz.
Martin completed the 20-kilometer course at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 45 seconds.
Professional triathlete Katie Ellis was the first female with a time of 1:39:31.
More than 250 runners participated in the event, which was the first race of the 2010-11 XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series. It was the first XTERRA Trail Run ever staged in Arizona.
"It really epitomizes what trail running is all about," said Martin, 29. "There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of rocks … it was technical and fun at the same time."
It was also hot. Temperatures were in the high 90s for the race.
Despite being unaccustomed to the heat, Martin posted a sizzling time to run away from the field. Runner-up Shaun Haley finished more than three minutes behind at 1:25:07.
Martin is a teacher and cross country/track coach at Chinle High School in Northern Arizona. He made the seven-hour drive to Goodyear a few days before the race, and then did the drive back shortly after the race.
"There's about a 40-degree difference between Northern Arizona, where I train, and what it was for the race," Martin said. "But other than that, it was great. One of my goals was to make sure and enjoy the views because I've never run there before, so I did that."
Martin said he stayed with the lead pack for the first half of the race, then broke away in the second half.
"I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know that trail, so I figured I would stay close to the local guys at the start," he said. "A couple guys started dropping off (the pace), so I just kept going by myself."
In the women's field, Ellis regained some confidence with her convincing victory. She was coming off what she described as a disappointing 13th place finish at the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon at Ogden, Utah, on Sept. 25. She returned to her Phoenix home a few days later and decided to enter the XTERRA Trail Run.
"I felt that the Estrella Trail Run was a good opportunity to retest my fitness and gain a little confidence... more than anything have some fun," said Ellis, 25. "Mission accomplished!"
Dawn Stone of Flagstaff, Ariz., placed second with a time of 1:42:13.
Ellis stayed in front for most of the course, and tried to keep pace with male runner Flash Santoro. They work together at a running store in Phoenix.
"We like little inter-store competition throughout the year," Ellis said. "I was on his heals until about mile 7 when we hit a super steep pitch; that's when he dusted me."
The next race in the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series is the White Tanks Trail Run at Waddell, Ariz., on Jan. 9. The Arizona Series will feature three races during the 2010-11 season. At the end of the season, the top age-group runners will receive free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship.
"I'm totally stoked that Arizona finally has a trail run series," Ellis said. "Working at running specialty store, I come to find that trail running is totally underrated. We have tons of fantastic trails."
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