Guzman, Dunn Prevail at XTERRA Claw Trail Run
Lithia, Florida - The XTERRA Claw Trail Run has developed a reputation as one of the most challenging races in the Sunshine State, and the latest edition did not disappoint. Steep hill climbs, waist-deep stream crossings, and wasp attacks were all part of the course during this year's race, which was completed on April 29 at Alafia State Park.
Hector Guzman of Bradenton, Florida, was the overall winner, completing the 10-mile long course in 1 hour, 18 minutes, 58 seconds.
"The weather was perfect," said Guzman, 43. "Trails, rivers, high grass and wild life - it's true contact with Mother Nature. I loved the race and the feeling of it all."
(The Claw race photos courtesy www.tamparaces.com)
Guzman took the lead about halfway through the course, and then stayed in front the rest of the way. Along the course, he rang alongside a deer - "it was a fantastic moment," he said - and bumped into a wasp nest. He was able to out-run most of the attacking wasps and said he ended up with "small bites, nothing serious."
Jimmy Patterson, a senior at Steinbrenner High School in Tampa, placed second with a time of 1:21:30. Ray Smith of St. Petersburg was a close third place at 1:21:40.
"I was constantly pushing myself to fend off other runners anxious to steal my spot," Patterson said. "Towards the end of the race, I was confronted by Ray Smith … he stuck to me like glue for the last few miles. Once I saw the finish I realized it was now or never and kicked."
Patterson said he was pleased with his performance for two main reasons - one, he knocked six minutes off his time from last year's XTERRA Claw race, and two, he clinched the overall title for his age group in the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series. It was also a "graduation present" of sorts, as he is scheduled to graduate with honors from high school in a few weeks and has plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall.
Kandis Dunn of Odessa, Florida, capped an undefeated season in the women's division. She placed fifth overall and was the top female with a time of 1:21:59.
"There were some new faces in the crowd and it's always good to see a race event grow in size," Dunn said. "I teamed up with a fellow runner, Adam (Smehyl), for a few miles and had a good conversation but for the most part I was on my own."
Dunn said the course provided several surprising challenges, including sections that did not even look like trails.
"The challenge this year was following the orange flags through areas that were not trails," she said. "There were a few times I found myself climbing over and under tree branches to find the next flag."
Dunn, a 43-year-old mother of two children, was the top overall female at each of the three races in the 2011-12 XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series.
For complete results, CLICK HERE.
Because the XTERRA Claw Trail Run was the final event of the 2012 XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series, the overall age-group winners for the series were crowned. Each age-group champion received a free entry to represent Florida at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Utah this September.
Dunn (female 40-44) and Jeff Morey (male 65-69) were the only runners to go undefeated in their respective age groups for the season.
The 2012-13 XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series is scheduled to start in November. To learn more about it, please visit www.tamparaces.com.
Here is the list of 2012 XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series champions:
Age Group Name Age Hometown State
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