Middaugh, Mendez Rematch May 20

2016 XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez is preparing for a rematch against 2015 XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh at the XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park off-road triathlon scheduled for May 20th in Shelby County, Alabama.

Last year in Alabama Middaugh came out of the 1.5-kilometer swim in eighth position nearly three minutes behind Mendez. Once on the bike he quickly worked his way into the fourth spot, then passed Branden Rakita and Karsten Madsen about two-thirds of the way up the big climb, but didn’t reel in Mendez until a few miles before the bike-to-run transition.

“It was really good racing,” said Middaugh at the awards ceremony after the race, flanked by Mendez who finished 2nd, Madsen who was 3rd, Rakita in 4th, and Kieran McPherson in 5th.  “All these guys, I came out of the water behind all of them.  And as I went by them on the bike I kept asking them ‘Where is Mauricio’ and they couldn’t tell me anything, just that they hadn’t seen him.  I was working harder and harder the whole day, and finally caught him towards the end of the bike and it was just a battle on the run to stay a few steps ahead of him.”

Mendez even put up the fastest run split, but Middaugh held on for the win in 2:19:17, 11-seconds in front of him.

Of course, Mendez – at just 21 years of age – got the last laugh with the big win in Maui, and both of those two are off to fast starts in 2017.  Middaugh just won his first race of the year at XTERRA Costa Rica last weekend, and Mendez won the IM 70.3 Texas title two weeks ago.

And the talent lined up for the fifth stop on the XTERRA Pan America Tour doesn’t stop with those two. Karsten Madsen, winner of XTERRA Mine over Matter and XTERRA Victoria last year, returns as well.  Madsen was third last year.  Branden Rakita, who was fourth last year and is currently ranked 2nd on the Pan Am Pro Series, is on the start list, as is XTERRA Thailand Champ Kieran McPherson (who was 5th last year).  In fact, it looks like everybody in the top 10 from last year is returning, including Chris Ganter, Ian King, and others.  Plus, Veit Hoenle from Germany, one of the top performers on the XTERRA European Tour last year, and Cedric Wane, the pride of Tahiti, will be in America to give the Pan Am Tour a try.

We previewed the women’s elite field for XTERRA Oak Mountain last week, find it here.

XTERRA Oak Mountain is an amateur qualifier for the 2017 XTERRA World Championship, a gold level XTERRA Pan American Tour stop and a 100-point level XTERRA America Tour championship race. XTERRA will also offer a shorter distance sprint race, an entry-level Xticer race, and 5, 10, and 21km trail runs.

The event will feature $15,000 USD in prize money for elite athletes, who will compete over a 1.5km swim, 30km mountain bike and 10km trail run. For amateurs, there will be 51 spots into the XTERRA World Championship – to be held October 29 in Maui – up-for-grabs.

Learn more and register at www.xterrapelham.com.

Middaugh Coaching Corner – Swimming Part 3 : Open Water

Presented by Suunto

You’ve mastered the breathing techniques and body positioning required for freestyle swimming and your swimming times are dropping in the pool, but you just hopped in your first race and swam the same pace or slower than you did last year. Anyone who has been participating in triathlon long enough has experienced this frustration at some point. So how do you put it all together? We think these pointers will help you excel in your next open water swim:

1. Open water stroke with high turnover

Pool swimming and open water swimming are very different. In the pool, stroke length is generally a key to success and stroke rate depends on body size and race distance. There is a certain body type that comes to mind when you think of Olympic sprint and middle distance swimmers.  These swimmers are very good at maximizing stroke length with propulsion and streamlining and this style of swimming requires not only perfect technique but also great strength.  However, long distance open water swimmers are at the other end of the continuum and often sacrifice some stroke length and focus more on tempo, rhythm and timing.  It may seem counterintuitive, but this style of swimming can be very efficient with less muscling of each stroke and a less propulsive kick.  In the pool, water is very calm so there is less penalty for over-gliding, but in the open water it is more important to keep your momentum and avoid the pauses in your stroke.  An increased turnover helps you keep your momentum especially when there is a current present or the conditions are choppy.  An easy way to increase stroke rate is to take away the dead spots in your stroke by initiating the catch a little sooner and spending less time on your breath.  Think about your hands always moving, so the hand pierces the water, extends and then immediately the hand tips down, with fingertips lower than the wrist, wrist lower than your elbow. Keep in mind that whenever you are gliding you are slowing down.

2. Sighting

Sighting is key to a successful open water swim. Familiarizing yourself with the course so that you know exactly where you enter, exit and which direction you swim helps make sighting easier. Often times, each turn is marked by a different color buoy that is bigger than the rest. Know this buoy so you’re not wondering where to turn. If easily visible, you can sight off the turn buoy, but if it is not visible, then sometimes you can look for a contour on the horizon above the swim buoy like a hill in the distance or a saddle.  Scope this out during your pre-swim the day before the race.  The exit is usually marked with banners or an arch or both. Practice swimming back to the exit. If you have trouble sighting the arch look for large landmarks behind the exit such as tall trees or buildings that can easily be seen if your goggles start to fog or you have sun in your eyes. Most swimmers sight every 6-12 strokes. Sighting more often will slow you down and break your rhythm, but swimming in a zig-zag adds unnecessary distance to your swim.  Each time you sight you lose momentum because most swimmers pause their kick, drop their hips and legs and change their stroke. To keep your momentum, you must keep your kick going near the surface of the water so that your hips and legs do not drop. Practice sighting during pool swims, not just during open water swims.  One idea to simulate sighting in the pool is to swim eyes closed, except for when you sight above the water.  This way you practice both sighting and swimming in a straight line.

3. Drafting

Drafting is free speed. The best place to be is right behind someone and slightly off to your breathing side so that you can feel their wake, but you do not need to be tapping their feet with every stroke. This can often make the lead swimmer upset causing them to slow down or veer slightly off course. Swimming on someone’s hip is another good place to be, but it does slow down the leading swimmer. This could be a strategy if you know the swimmer is faster and you will likely get dropped if you move to their feet.

4. Staging

Staging or where you line-up to start your swim can have a huge impact on your performance. If you are a strong swimmer, you should start towards the front, slow swimmers towards the back etc. It sounds simple, but there are many athletes that start in the wrong place. They either don’t like the pressure of starting in the front and start back only to find they get stuck swimming easy most of the race because they can’t get around those in front of them. There’s also the slower swimmers that hope to grab some fast feet so they start up front only to get run over by the swimmers behind them causing panic and an even slower swim. You probably have a pretty good idea how you stack up. Ask those around you what they plan to swim. In many XTERRAs you know your competition well. Remember, swimmers will all converge on the first buoy so the more nervous you are of contact the further you should start towards the outside, especially if the first turn buoy is close. Are you in the top 5%? If so, starting in the front towards the inside is probably best. Just outside the top 5-10%, you can probably still start on the front line, but on the outside or if you don’t mind contact start in the second row in tight and catch the feet of those in front of you.

5. Warm Up

A good swim warm up is always important if you want to have your best possible swim. Your body needs to be warmed up and ready for the intense start of the race so that you don’t get 200 yards into the swim and have to stop because of a panic attack. When the water is cold a warm up is even more important. If you know it is cold, run for a few minutes in your wetsuit first and then get in the water for your warm up. Get in a good 5-10+ minutes of continuous swimming with a few pick-ups, warming yourself up from the inside out. Often the biggest shock is putting your face in the water. While waiting for the start, put your face in the water and blow bubbles to simulate swimming. If you get called out of the water before race start, but already performed a proper warm up, the second time entering the water will be much less of a shock.

6. Getting through the shore break

Getting through the shore break takes timing, but you have no control over the start of the race so your swim start can be tricky. In general, you want to run out until you are about knee deep and then dolphin dive. As a wave is about to break dive under it until you find the calm spot under the wave. As the wave goes by dig your fingers into the sand and pull yourself forward and up. This may have to be repeated several times, but keep moving forward, and do not try to take on a wave head on. If you are running out and are only ankle to knee deep, dive over the wave instead of under. This takes practice, but it can be a ton of fun!

7. Swimming straight

Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, “That swim was long. I had my gps on and it says…”? Maybe it was long or maybe they zigged and zagged so much that they made it significantly longer. We all know the fastest route from point A to point B is a straight line and it’s easy to follow the lane line on the bottom of the pool. Open water is a whole different beast. For many races, the water is so dark you can’t see a thing unless you are sighting. Think alligator eyes!  You want to lift your eyes up out of the water just high enough to see, but the higher you lift, the more momentum you lose. Don’t lift enough and you end up having to sight twice slowing yourself down even more. The best way to get better at swimming in a straight line is to practice. Use landmarks or buoys in open water and practice swimming towards them sighting as few times as possible. In the pool, close your eyes and swim ten strokes and then sight so that the only time you can see where you are going is when you lift your head. Pick a lane with no one in it and see if you can get so that you can swim right down the middle with your eyes closed, but please don’t smack your head on the end of the pool! Just remember, you will likely have to lift your head higher in open water to sight than you do in the pool.

Open Water Take-a-ways

  • Incorporate a higher turnover and concentrate on the front end of your swim stroke.
  • If you’re gliding, you’re slowing down.
  • Keep your legs and hips up by continuing to kick up and down when sighting. Don’t pause your kick!
  • Find landmarks that will help you sight.
  • Staging yourself appropriately will make the swim less chaotic.
  • To swim well you must get in a proper warm up, especially for less experienced swimmers.
  • You must practice your open water swimming skills in the pool and the open water if you want to get faster.

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and the 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for more than a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at http://middaughcoaching.com.

About Suunto

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More Middaugh Coaching Corner Articles

Running 101 with World Champ Michael Fussell

A few weeks ago, we were running over ice and snow. Now, we are slogging through mud, joyfully shedding layers and looking forward to summer. After all, longer days mean longer runs.

However, as XTERRA heats up and heads south for next weekend’s races at XTERRA Victoria Bryant (Royston, GA), XTERRA Myrtle Beach (Myrtle Beach, SC), and XTERRA ATX (Austin, TX) it’s important to respect the heat and train accordingly for warmer weather and increased humidity.

To dive deeper into this subject, we caught up with the 2016 XTERRA ATX Trail Run men’s champ Michael Fussell who will be heading to the race a day early this year, not to walk the course, but rather to provide medical assistance for the XTERRA ATX off-road triathlon held the day before.

“Most difficulties in a race come from not training properly,” said Fussell, a Registered Respiratory Therapist. “Neither the course nor the body lie. If you’re training at a nine-minute pace, you shouldn’t start running at an eight-minute pace just because it’s XTERRA Worlds.”

Fussell knows firsthand what he’s talking about. The 2016 55-59 division XTERRA Trail Run World Champion started running in the 1970’s when it wasn’t just a sport but a movement. Think Bill Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine, and Joanie Benoit. He set records at Hagerstown Junior College and the University of Georgia and raced against greats Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, and Marty Liquori. In 1980, he was a rabbit for Alberto Salazar as he tried to break Pre’s 5K American record at the Martin Luther King games in Atlanta.

Currently, Fussell works as a consultant to a medical device company that provides therapy to a failing heart, helping restore a more normal function.

He measures the success of the device the same way he measured the success of the high school runners he used to coach: by recording VO2max, which is the maximum oxygen uptake by muscles during intense activity.

“VO2max is another way of saying cardiac output,” explained Fussell. “If you bring more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles, you have less lactic acid.”

Just as diseased hearts can become healthy again, normal hearts can become fitter and better able to handle the physiological stress of an endurance event. “And the better a body is at undergoing muscular stress, the easier it is to run faster in difficult conditions like heat or altitude.”

The bad news is that increasing fitness takes as long as it takes, which is anywhere from two weeks to acclimate to heat and altitude and three months to significantly increase VO2max.

“During the first 90 days of training, intensity has very little to do with improving fitness,” said Fussell. This is because it takes a minimum of 90 days for the body’s biological systems to react and adapt to new or additional stress. “Your body won’t respond faster than it can inherently respond.”

The good news is that we don’t have to kill ourselves to get stronger.

“Start where you are,” advised Fussell. “Run or jog at a pace so that you can carry on a complete conversation – not just a few words or half a sentence. Enjoy your time running, because you won’t continue something you don’t like. Whether you are just starting to run or you are running at a hotter time of day or in a warmer climate, go easy on yourself to avoid heat exhaustion, dehydration, and injury.”

Next, Fussell suggests signing up for a trail run. “Sign up for the 5K at XTERRA Victoria Bryant or XTERRA Myrtle Beach. Start small and see where you are. Test out your fitness by kicking the tires.”

Then, ask questions. “Everyone at an XTERRA trail run is there because they like trail running and healthy living. It’s a wonderful community and most runners want to share what they know and what they’ve learned.”

Fussell adds that most runners are happy to help you find trail shoes, locate running groups in your area, and share training tips.

Finally, Fussell recommends that runners sign up for an XTERRA regional series. “Most of the same people come to the races in a series and you’ll have a whole new set of friends. When you’re at that stage, fitness isn’t work but a lifestyle and something you will look forward to every day.”

Find an XTERRA race near you at xterratrailrun.com.

Trail Partners: Jo May and Doug Beagle

Jo May and Doug Beagle have been training and racing together for over three decades and have covered every endurance event from the Kona Ironman to the XTERRA World Trail Run Championship. They have completed a marathon or ultra in each state and are almost finished doing it a second time.

Last year, both Jo and Doug won their 65-69 age groups at the XTERRA World Trail Run Championship. At the XTERRA National Trail Run Championship, they were both third.

XTERRA caught up with the couple and talked about endurance, marriage, and why you should always carry money for pastries when you run.

Jo: We met through triathlons.

Doug: In the early eighties, I was competing in Oklahoma City triathlons and a woman asked me where I trained. She said, ‘Oh, you must know Jo May. You have to meet her.’ I heard Jo May would be at the Texas A&M triathlon so I found her and introduced myself.

Jo: I don’t remember that.

Doug: You didn’t remember me then either.

Jo: My focus is on numbers not people. I’m a tax accountant.

Doug: One of my talents is that I persevere. I just kept calling and calling and it worked out.

Jo: I think maybe our first date was going to lunch. But I know our dates turned into workouts.I was a big swimmer then.

Doug: My strength was not swimming. That took some effort. I was always a runner.

Jo: You did OK.

Doug: We love to talk together. And we love to race together. In the eighties, we would  jump into our VW Camper and Jo would pay for our food and gas by winning masters races. We had a lot of good adventures.

I remember one trip to eastern Tennessee. We often chose the roads less traveled. We came to the Mississippi in a storm and the only way across the river was on a ferry that only held two automobiles.

Jo: Think raft.

Doug: Yeah, but there was always good running in Tennessee.

Jo: We transitioned into ultra running after I got hit on my bike by a drunk driver while I was pregnant. But I was lucky. I ended up on grill instead of under the truck.

Doug: We got a baby jogger after that.

Jo: After our daughter was born in 1990, we would go out for three to four hours with the baby jogger. We would watch garbage trucks, cows, pick berries – all the things a baby likes. Running can lead to so many different things.

We’ve seen so much of Europe through running. The U.S. too. We’ve already done a marathon in all fifty states.

Doug: We do about fifteen marathons a year. We’ve qualified for Boston more than 18 times. We were both there in 2014 during the bombing.

Jo: Doug had finished the race, but I was still on the course.

Doug: I was walking back to the hotel and thought an electric transformer exploded. But I had a hunch it was something bad. There were a lot of sirens. I couldn’t reach Jo on my cell phone so I went back to the hotel.

Jo: I was about a mile from the finish and the race officials stopped us. No one knew where we were and most of us didn’t have phones with us on the course.

Doug: I wasn’t worried. We’ve done hundreds of races together and we always do our own thing. I knew she would show up.

Jo: He doesn’t worry. He never worries.

Doug: We eventually met up at the hotel. It was quite chaotic since a lot of people couldn’t get to their keys or phones or wallets in their drop bags. And no one could get across the river.

Jo: The silver lining was that we heard from people we hadn’t heard from in years.

Doug: It was like the Oklahoma City bombing. When something terrible happens, the goodness comes out in people too. The next day, we went to a bakery in Boston and everyone was talking to everyone else.

Jo: We were all just happy to be there.

Doug: Yep. Whenever we run in cities, we carry money so we can stop in bakeries or for coffee. We always meet wonderful people and it’s the best way to discover a new city.

Jo: We meet a lot of people on the trails as well. And we’ve met a lot of great people at XTERRA runs. If you fall, there’s always someone willing to help you up and it’s a wonderful atmosphere.

Doug: You walk into Boston and feel the electricity in the air. In Kona, you feel the anxiety and anticipation. In XTERRA races, everyone is low key. Whether someone is ahead of me or behind me, there isn’t that negative energy.

Jo: I think we will stay with running as long as we can. You can get a lot of running in without a huge time commitment. And, you can run in the dark. You can’t bike or swim in the dark.

Doug: We live near the trails in Houston, so most days we get up and go. I think that’s the secret as we’ve gotten older. I only run on soft surfaces and stay off pavement.

Jo: If you’re looking for dirt, you can find dirt.

Doug: On Wednesdays, we meet friends at 5:30 AM and do five to eight miles on trails.

Jo: We run more slowly now so we don’t get injured. I’ve traded speed for health.

Doug: I did get hurt three years ago in the Breckenridge Marathon. I fell and hit my shoulder on a rock.

Jo: Of course he finished the race.

Doug: We cross train too. I go to the gym a few times a week and Jo and I still swim.

Jo: Running keeps you on an even keel. My job is stressful during tax season but I always make time to run because I’m so much more efficient throughout my day.

Doug: Even if you aren’t a morning person, you can start a new habit. It might be tough to get started, but you will feel so much better in the day if you exercise. Get someone to meet you at 5:30 am. Find a reason to get out the door.

Jo: Or just set your alarm an hour earlier.

Doug: Running lets you see what you are made of inside. We have no plans to stop.

Shepaug Runners Go the Distance

The second annual XTERRA Northeast Trail Run Series officially kicked off April 8th with the XTERRA Shepaug Run Raiser in Bridgewater, Connecticut. The day proved to be a true festival of running with 10K, 25K, 50K, and 80K courses.

“Two feet of snow melt and seemingly endless rain turned the 10K course into an energy and soul sucking mud run,” said race director, Austin Planz. “Luckily, memories of the torture were quickly replaced by smiles as runners shared stories of survival over bowls of post race grub.”

Michael Lapsa was first in the 10K with a time of 55:50. Jackie Smith came in for the women in 1:06.

The 10K has a gentle elevation gain of 634 feet, while the 25K includes over 2000 feet of uphill, metered out over the entire loop. The 50K and 80K runs are two and three laps of the 25K course, respectively.

“The end of loop one was great,” said XTERRA Ambassador Simon Edgett, who won the 50K. “I crossed the line side by side with Raphael Sarfati, who went on to win the 80K. I stopped and changed my shoes and socks before heading out onto lap two. Even though my feet were only dry for about ten minutes, it was definitely worth it for my state of mind.”

Knowing he was in the lead kept Simon Edgett going strong. “I carried pieces of paper with my goal split times on one side and my favorite quotes on the other. One of the quotes was ‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear–not absence of fear.’ which is attributed to Mark Twain.”

Dmitry Girgoryeu and Kira Ragazzo took the 25K in 2:10 and 2:27, respectively. Simon Edgett came through the 50K in 5:44 and Jennifer Kimpel was the women’s champ in 7:57.

Raphael Sarfati finished in 8:09:57; over two hours ahead of second place Ramon Bermo.

“I would like to thank all the runners for their wonderful spirits and upbeat attitudes under challenging trail conditions on a rescheduled date,” said Planz. “Good people make good races.”

Learn more about running your first ultra.

Complete race results can be found here.

Next up in the XTERRA Northeast Series is the XTERRA Wawayanda Trail Run on May 7th in Hewitt, NJ. Points will be given for the 25K, 50K and the 80K at the first three races and the 20K at the season finale held in Syracuse, NY on August 13th. The top athlete in each age group and the end of the series will be rewarded with free entry to the XTERRA Trail Running National Championship in Ogden, UT on September 17.

Photos courtesy of Ransom Edgett

Big Smiles at XTERRA New Zealand Races

This weekend, New  Zealanders had a tough choice between two fantastic races: XTERRA Rotorua and XTERRA Wellington’s second race of its series: The Orongorongos. The two cities are about 450 km apart and are extremely different from each other. Rotorua is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire where you can run between geysers and geothermal vents. XTERRA Wellington was held at the southernmost tip of the North Island in Rimutaka Forest Park, a lush park near Wellington Harbor.

In the XTERRA Rotorua run, Johanna Ottoson won the women’s 21K easily in  1:29:52 while Tama Christensen took the men’s title in 1:20:20.

View the XTERRA Rotorua results.

Down south in Wellington, Will Bell and junior Anoush Shehadeh won the 20K in 1:46:07 and 1:59:24, respectively. In high school, Shehadeh was a standout runner. She was 4th in the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in 2013 and was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

“The Orongorongo Valley is the spiritual home of XTERRA trail running, with our first event held here in 2008,” said race director, Mike Thomason.

The Orongorongos Valley in the Rimutaka Forest is a very special place, pristinely maintained by the Department of Conservation. The area wasn’t settled until the 1920’s, when people built wooden huts out of materials on hand. The area is so beautiful that some people made these huts their homes, while others came to the Orongorongos valley to “tramp,” also known as backpacking. The last hut was built in 1980, and the Department of Conservation currently protects and manages the 50 huts in the valley.

“Trail running is such a great way to connect to tradition,” said Thomason. “And the XTERRA Rotorua and Wellington races are a great way to keep that tradition alive.”

View the XTERRA Wellington results.

The XTERRA Wellington series consists of five races. The next one up is Awesome Akatarawas on April 30th. 

Photo credit: Stephen Barker/Marathon-photo.com

XTERRA Fort Yargo = Fast + Fun

The races keep on rolling in XTERRA’s Southeast Region this month with XTERRA Fort Yargo, set for Saturday, April 29, at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia.  It’s the third SE race in April, and one of nine in the region this season.

“We’ve got a fast, fun course,” said race director Dave Berger. “And that attracts fast, fun people. Last year we had a super close race between AJ Petrillo and Yaro Middaugh, and I guarantee more great racing this year.”

Last year, AJ Petrillo finished just 20-seconds ahead of Yaro Middaugh for the win, and in the women’s race Carly Anderson came out of the water so quickly, no one could catch her. View last year’s results here.

Located between Atlanta and Athens, Fort Yargo State Park has some of the most well-maintained trails in the area. The race will start with a half-mile out-and-back swim, continue with a 10-mile mountain bike, and finish with a 5-mile trail run.

XTERRA Fort Yargo is the fifth race on the 2017 XTERRA America Tour, where “Every Race Counts.”

To find how the series works and see the full schedule visit www.xterraplanet.com.

Learn more and register for XTERRA Fort Yargo at goneriding.com.

Fagundes, Paterson Win XTERRA Black Mountain

In most cases, if you went to a race and discovered that one of the “fast guys” had just completed a Ragnar Relay, you would breathe a sigh of relief.

Not so if that “fast guy” is Anthony Fagundes, who broke his own course record on the XTERRA Black Mountain 15K course by 20 seconds last weekend, less than 24 hours after finishing the SoCal Ragnar Relay. He crossed the line in 56:13, over six minutes ahead of second place finisher, Frederic Tete.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Fagundes, two-time winner of XTERRA Black Mountain. “I didn’t even look at my watch for the first three miles because I didn’t want to get discouraged. When I finally looked at my time, I realized I had a chance to break my record so I pushed up the last hill.”

A steeplechaser in college, Fagundes entered the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach last year on a whim. He won the whole thing in 2:38, battling cramps and a fever for the last 11 miles. Next, he did the XTERRA SoCal Series, where he won six of the eight races and set a course record on five of them.

“On Sunday, Anthony literally ran to the race from Huntington Beach,” said race director Brennan Lindner. “After running three very tough legs of the Ragnar on Friday, Friday night, and very early Saturday morning, he pretty much blistered the rest of the field at Black Mountain.”

Fagundes raced at altitude for the first time at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Snowbasin, Utah where he finished 8th.

Last month, he finished 7th in the Way Too Cool 50K in Cool, Calfornia, which was his first ultra run.  He was surprised when he looked over at a runner he was passing and realized it was 2015 XTERRA Trail Run World Champ, Patrick Smyth.“He must have been having a bad day,” said Fagundes.

“No one knew who I was at that race, but I like being the underdog. I show up and people are like, who’s this guy?”

When he’s not shattering records, Fagundes is a bicycle courier. “I like to think of it as paid cross-training. Most of the other couriers race bikes and I’m the only one who runs. But I really noticed my fitness coming together after riding so much.”

His goal for the rest of the year is to run at the XTERRA World Championship on Oahu and hopefully, secure a few sponsors and a coach. “Right now, I just look at what the fast guys do and imitate them. I like to have fun with it.”

On the women’s side, professional triathlete and coach, Lesley Paterson, won the 15K in 1:07, which was 9th place overall. The two-time XTERRA World Champion won XTERRA Tahiti, XTERRA France, and XTERRA Italy in 2016.

“It’s always cool to do just one event,” said Paterson. “And since running is my first passion, it’s a bonus that I got to do a trail run. Plus I get a chance to see and meet a whole new XTERRA community.”

Paterson’s first book will be coming out June 8th, titled, The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion. It’s available for pre-order here.

View the complete results.

The XTERRA Black Mountain Trail Run is the fifth race in the XTERRA SoCal Series. The final race is XTERRA  Malibu Creek on May 20th.

Green Flash Lights Up XTERRA Seneca Creek 

Runners at the XTERRA Seneca Creek 5K/10K were surprised by the Green Flash that showed up at the start. Not to be confused with greenish glow at sunset, this Green Flash was the BelieveinMe Family Running Club (its youth program is nicknamed The Green Flash) from Frederick, Maryland.

“I really want to give a shout out to the Green Flash cross country team for bringing out a huge group to the 5k,” said race director Jefferson Nicholson. “It’s great to see so many youth entering the endurance running sport. Most of our 16 and under runners were from that club.”

The men’s 5K went to Varun Misha, who won in 22:04. Coming in second was ten-year old Raymond Cobb, who ran 25:43. Raymond has been running with the BelieveinMe club since he was five.  The women’s race was won in 26:07 by one of Raymond’s coaches, Mary LaRocco, and second place went to his teammate Sydney O’Clery with a time of 27:12.

“We’re all about family distance running,” said head coach Darcy Strouse. “Today at XTERRA Seneca Creek we had 12-year old Sydney come in second while her brother Blake won his 15-19 age group. Their father Doug was first for his 50-54 age group.”

Coach Darcy, as she is known, is a developmental psychologist and sports psychology consultant. An elite masters runner in her own right, she founded BelieveinMe because she was seeing too many high school and college athletes burn out from the pressure.

“We do a lot of trail running because it’s so healthy. It strengthens tendons and ligaments, we’re out in nature, and it’s soft to keep them from getting injured. If you run on trails, you can do it forever.”

View 5K results here.

While the 10K didn’t feature as many speedy kids in green, it was another close race between Iain Banks and Evan Daney.

“The top two 10k finishers were neck and neck through the whole course,” said Nicholson. “Iain Banks finished just a tenth of a second ahead to win it.”

“We literally ran stride for stride at the front of the race for the entire course and both knew it was going to come to the final mile to see if either one of us could crack the other,” said Banks. “I did have the advantage in that I raced and won on this course in 2016 so I knew  how close the finish line was from the final corner.  I made sure to get to that corner first and started the sprint early. It was so close coming across the line that no-one could even guess who won and it all came down to the timing chips across the mat.”

This was the second match-up between Banks and Daney. In last month’s XTERRA Brandywine, it was Daney who won by a second, coming in at 50:15 to Banks’ 50:16. 

“I am sure we will meet again and push each other for the rest of the series,” said Banks. “I’m just glad we aren’t in the same age group.”

In the women’s race, Alison Knight made it look easy, finishing in 45:42, nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up Rachel Layer. 2016 XTERRA Regional Champ, Diane Magill, won her 40-44 age group handily in 56:06.

View complete results here.

XTERRA Seneca Creek is the second race in the XTERRA Atlantic Series. Next up is XTERRA Lums Pond 12K/5K on May 7th in Bear, Delaware.

Photos courtesy of Greg Strouse