Close Finish at XTERRA Deep South 15K

It’s rare that a run as long as a 15K has a close finish, and even more rare that the top three are battling it out. But last weekend’s XTERRA Deep South Trail Run on June 3rd had a finish more suited to a 1500 than a nine mile race.

Cady Nix, Jameisha Washington, and Christine Curtin all finished within 30 seconds of each other. Nix came through in 1:22:13 while Washington and Curtin battled it out in 1:22:43 and 1:22:44.

“We had some really exciting performances today,” said race director, Tim Schroer. “Jameisha and Christine were neck and neck while in the men’s race, Alex and Aaron crossed the line together. Matt Haley also finished super strong and beat the field by about three minutes.”

Schroer added that his daughter Julia helped at the start and his daughter Blakely ran.

Both the 15K and 5K races started in an open field to allow runners to spread out before hitting single track. A bit before the two mile mark, the 15K and 5K runners split off into different directions. Each course featured different terrain, including dirt and gravel roads, bridge crossings, roots, single track, and double track.

“Temperatures were good but the humidity was pretty high,” said Schroer. “It felt good in the woods, especially as the runners dropped down towards the creek.”

XTERRA Deep South Trail Run was sixth in the XTERRA Georgia Series. The final race of the season is the XTERRA Allatoona Creek Park Trail Run on August 12th.

 

Klutenkamper Is Going for It at XTERRA Illinois Wilds

XTERRA Illinois Wilds is one of Larry Klutenkamper’s favorite races. Last year he was 12th overall and first in his 55-59 age group. This year he is going for another age group win.

“I’m trying for age-group regional champ this year in the hopes of making it to the big show at the XTERRA World Championships,” he said.

The 56-year old Lake St. Louis resident is semi-retired and a full-time athlete and coach.

“My wife and I have had a healthy, active lifestyle for years,” he said. “We have three kids and they’ve all done marathons. My wife is a breast cancer survivor and is doing her 13th Ironman in September. She’s so fast, she’s already qualified for Kona.”

But Klutenkamper’s life wasn’t always like this. In his twenties, his life revolved around partying and drinking.

“Honestly, when I was young, I was an alcoholic and ran around with a really bad crowd. Then I got sober and straightened myself out. Once I embraced triathlons at the smallest level, it changed my life.”

Klutenkamper remembers the moment that shifted his course. Newly sober, he had disbanded from his old drinking friends and partying lifestyle and needed something to fill the void.

“I will never forget this as long as I live. I was coming home from work and was like, you know what, I’m going to look into triathlon. So I went into Fleet Feet, bought Triathlete Magazine fresh off the rack, and went to an Italian restaurant. I ate pasta and read that magazine and I decided this is what I’m going to do.”

Klutenkamper didn’t look back. By the time he was 37, he reached his goal of completing an Ironman.

“But it got to the point where training for Ironman was such a commitment. I was working full time and it was a grind. Training felt like a job. Like, I have to ride. I have to run.”

While in Louisville for his wife’s race, a friend suggested he try mountain biking. Klutenkamper raced motorcycles and dirt bikes as a kid, so his transition was relatively easy.

“I started moving through the ranks of mountain bike racing up to Cat 1, but I really missed triathlons. So a few years ago, I did XTERRA St. Louis and XTERRA Illinois Wilds, and it was a great fit. The community is cool and I get to be out in the woods. Last year, I watched the XTERRA World Championships and thought man, it would be really nice to go there. So this year I decided, let’s go all in on this thing.”

Klutenkamper is focused on sharpening his skills on the bike.

“I gotta tell you, there is a huge difference between road biking and mountain biking. I always call mountain biking a ‘violent effort’ because you go to a corner, you slow down, you take off again, and you’re off, you’re up, you’re around. On a road bike, you basically get on and grind. But mountain biking is really, really fun.”

Klutenkamper approaches training like a science, and even though he is approaching 60, he has found ways to increase fitness while decreasing the risk of injury and retaining his love of the sport.

“My wife and I take more recovery days now. I ride more and run less. We train with heart rate monitors and power meters. And the human body is the most amazing thing. If you cut your finger it will heal. If you drop your iPhone, it’s not going to fix itself. You can spend tons of money on a car or the latest gadget, but really, crossing a finish line is going to bring you more joy. You can’t buy it. You gotta earn it.”

Klutenkamper’s goal is to be at his peak in October for the XTERRA World Championship race.

“I’m so jazzed to be part of XTERRA,” he said. “I was really into the Ironman scene for a while but that ran its course. Now instead of saying, I have to run or I have to bike, I say I get to run. I get to bike. And the races? It’s like a catered workout. Everyone is cheering for you and giving you food. It’s a beautiful thing.”

For more information and to register for XTERRA Illinois Wilds, visit www.wildlifeprairieparksports.

XTERRA Muleshoe June 10th and 11th

On June 10th, the XTERRA Muleshoe off-road triathlon will follow the beautiful trails close to the waters of Lake Travis, just outside of Spicewood, Texas. The cedar-lined trail system includes limestone outcroppings and ledges, hairpin turns, gravel washes, compressed dirt, and rock paths.

“The course will be fast and challenging for all levels,” said race director, Joel Grimmett. “For fun, we’ve included some technical areas, including a couple of off-camber vertical stair steps along the trail.”

The race will begin with an 800 meter swim, followed by 22.5K of twisty, shaded single track. The 6K run will follow a combination of single track, Jeep roads, and gravel.

On Sunday, June 11th, runners will be able to follow the same course in the XTERRA Muleshoe Trail Run. Three distances will be offered: a 6K, a 10.5K, and a 21K.

For more information and to register, visit www.racerevolutions.com.

 

Catching Up With XTERRA Oak Mt. Champ Jennifer McGranahan

Jennifer McGranahan won the XTERRA Oak Mountain 20K on May 21st in 1:33:41, which was good enough for 7th place overall. We caught up with Jennifer long enough to hear about her biggest dreams and her favorite trails.

Q. How did you feel during the 20K at XTERRA Oak Mountain?
A. I love this race! I ran it in 2016 and I knew I would be back this year. I felt really good on the first loop but got pretty tired on the second.

I kept using gravity of the downhills to provide natural momentum. That is the beauty of trail running! The constant challenge of navigating the roots and terrain entertains and invigorates your mind and body.

Q. At XTERRA Oak Mountain, did you lead from the beginning?
A. My strategy this year was to conserve more energy in the first loop. So, I got behind a group of runners and just tried to relax. I was the lead woman for most of the race, but I also knew that anything could happen in a 20K, so I couldn’t let up.

Q. What are your long-term goals? Are you thinking about the next Olympic Trials?
A. Funny you should ask that. My dream is to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials. I feel like if I had a very smart, consistent training plan with a group to train with, I could accomplish this dream.

Q. How do you find time to train? 
A. Until recently, I have been a full-time student studying physical therapy, so I have been only running to feel better and give myself a break from school. I also have a four-year old daughter, so as all moms know, she keeps me busy!

However, I am now at a crossroads in my career and I’m hoping I can spend some time training to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials (the qualifying window opens in September, 2017).

Q. What are your favorite trails?
A. I love running in the Pisgah Forest in Brevard, North Carolina; the Cheyenne Mountain area in Colorado Springs; the University of West Florida running trails; Pandapas Pond in Blacksburg, Virginia; and the trails in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

 I realize I have a lot of trails left to explore but these are pretty great.

Q. Why do you run?
A. What I love about trail running is the escape from the usual routine of a typical day. It allows me to fit in an adventure in the middle of normal life.

Trail running awakens my mind and body. It gives me time to reflect and have clarity of mind. I think it is one of the most natural exercises a person can do. It makes my body strong. 


Lockwood, Kelsay Win XTERRA Deuces Wild

Will Kelsay and Kathryn Lockwood took home individual championships at XTERRA Deuces Wild last weekend on a notoriously challenging course in Show Low, Arizona. It was made even more difficult by heavy rains, which provided an extra water crossing during the run section of the course.

“Our lake was so full that the trail was completely submerged,” said race director, Debbie Claggett. “It was basically a second swim.”

Will Kelsay was the overall champ with a time of 1:56:19, about three minutes ahead of John Sarikas, who finished in 1:59:26. Caleb Guest was third in 2:03:32.

This year was all about coming back and having fun, so the goal of this race was to have a good time,” said Kelsay. “I struggled on the swim with the altitude, cold water, and lack of time in the wetsuit, but I wasn’t panicked. The bike went smooth and comfortably for me as I didn’t push 100 percent. After going too hard on the bike and having bad cramps at XTERRA Oak Mountain just out of T2, I decided to back off a bit for this event. It worked perfectly as I felt smooth and comfortable on the run. It does make the race a bit more enjoyable when you aren’t absolutely burying yourself.” 

Like most competitors, Kelsay commented on how challenging this race truly is.

“The run course took a sharp turn and led us down to the lake, where we jumped in for a 50 meter swim across. Spectators were treated to a good view from the hill above as we struggled to make it across. Seriously, try swimming 50 meters with your shoes on. It’s not easy. Once you get out, you have about half a mile to the finish line and your legs feel like total lead. Add in about 30 stairs just 200 meters from the finish line and there wasn’t a racer out there who wasn’t struggling. It was so fun!”

Kathryn Lockwood, who won with a time of 2:19:49, came in about 15 minutes ahead of runner up Melissa Ross, who finished in 2:35:19. Marie Boone was close behind in third with a time of 2:36:33.

This was Lockwood’s first time competing in XTERRA Deuces Wild. In February, Lockwood had corrective surgery for a double hernia and didn’t start running or biking again until March. She was advised to go slowly and her first race of the year was XTERRA Renegade in May.

“XTERRA Deuces Wild was a challenging course with it’s own, unique quirks, like a short swim across a lake inlet at mile 4 on the run,” said Lockwood. “I felt good during the race and very relaxed, despite being at altitude. I had a good swim and found myself  in second place out of  T1, right behind the leader.”  

Lockwood took the lead shortly after she hit the first section of the trail.

“But I knew there were others in the field with more experience that were in chase mode right behind me,” she continued. “I was probably pushing harder than I thought when I took a spill on a sandy down hill of the bike, but didn’t get hurt. On the run I still felt good  -and probably felt just a little too comfortable – when I tripped  over a rock, so got to finish with a bloody knee. But what’s an XTERRA race without a little blood?”

View complete results at www.deuceswildtriathlon.com

Big Elk Trail Marathon Almost Sold Out

On June 10th, the XTERRA Atlantic Series will head to the old du Pont estate, Foxcatcher Farms. Established as a large horse racing stable in the 1920’s, Foxcatcher Farms eventually became the site of an amateur wrestling training facility (and the basis of the 2014 movie, Foxcatcher).

These days, the estate is better known as Fair Hill. This Saturday, it will host an almost sold-out crowd of marathoners and half-marathoners who will traverse its green trails and dirt roads.

For most of the XTERRA Atlantic Series, Iain Banks and Evan Daney have had a strong rivalry and traded first place back and forth. Iain will be back for the XTERRA Big Elk Half Marathon and will be toeing the line with three-time XTERRA Big Elk Champ and Ambassador Eric Barton.

“Eric made the bold claim that he will break his own course record and claim his fourth consecutive victory in the XTERRA Big Elk Half,” said race director, Jefferson Nicholson. “On the women’s side, XTERRA Ambassador Laura Lunardi is feeling so fast after her recent marathon and half marathon wins that she will give the boys a run for their money.”

Just like its history, the XTERRA Big Elk course has a little bit of everything. Consisting of two 13.1 mile loops, the course is the same for both races.

“Starting by the fairground recreation center, we’ll run a little bit of a road prologue to thin out the crowd before we hit the trails,” said Nicholson. “The course is a mixture of single track, double track, gravel road, bridge crossings, field crossings, and a creek crossing or two. The first third of the trail has a healthy amount of rock gardens to keep you alert and on your toes while the rest of the course has a fair amount of roots to keep you engaged.”  

The final race of the XTERRA Atlantic Series is the XTERRA Rosaryville 5K and 15K on July 9th.

For more information and to register for the XTERRA Big Elk Marathon and Half Marathon Trail Runs, visit www.XTERRAAtlantic.com.

 

McCurdy, Baldini Win XTERRA Gator Terra

Deanna McCurdy and Dane Baldini won the overall championship at the XTERRA Gator Terra on June 4th at DeGray Lake and Iron Mountain in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Baldini completed the 1500m swim, 32K mountain bike ride, and 10K run in 2:49:34, nearly four minutes ahead of runner up Ryan Terry. Marcus Barton was third in 2:55:30.

McCurdy won the women’s division in 3:05:22, more than 10 minutes ahead of Courtney Kaup. Jane Zeigler was third in 3:18:04.

At the XTERRA World Championship last year, Kaup was second overall in the women’s amateur standings and finished about 12 minutes ahead of McCurdy. McCurdy, who won the 40-44 age group at the XTERRA Gator Terra, is having an excellent year so far. Two weeks ago, she was the fastest female amateur at XTERRA Oak Mountain.

“You know what I love about XTERRA?” asked McCurdy. “The races are really just the excuse to get together with friends, share stories and make memories together that we will replay in our heads for years to come. This weekend was full of such great ones. Fred Phillips of DTL Events and his crew took a championship event and made it just that, but didn’t lose the feel of small town grass roots racing that I love. And nothing beats southern hospitality out on the trail.”

For the second year in a row, the XTERRA Gator Terra served as the USA Triathlon Off-Road Championship race.

USA Triathlon published the following race report:

Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.) and Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.) raced their way to overall titles on Sunday at the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championships, held at DeGray Lake and Iron Mountain in conjunction with XTERRA Gator Terra.

The course covered a 1500-meter swim, 32-kilometer mountain bike and 10-kilometer trail run. Athletes battled heavy rain and muddy conditions, racing over deep woods single-track featuring steep climbs and descents, large banked turns and more.

McCurdy was the top finisher for the women, clocking in at 3 hours, 5 minutes, 22 seconds to claim the overall win and the women’s 40-44 age-group title. She crossed the line more than 10 minutes ahead of Courtney Kaup (Richmond, Vt.), who placed second overall in 3:16:00 and successfully defended her women’s 35-39 title. Jane Zeigler (Tulsa, Okla.) rounded out the overall podium in third with a time of 3:18:04.

“It was so much fun. Running and biking upstream made for an exciting day,” McCurdy said. “The bike was a blast, it was a roller coaster out there. In Colorado we’re used to climbing for miles and miles, where here it was fast, it was flowy. The run course was fun, splashing through puddles. You just had to be a kid. If you think about how much it hurts and how tired you are, your race is over. But if you just play, it’s an adventure.”

Baldini had the fastest time of the day, with a final time of 2:49:34. In addition to the overall title, he also claimed the top spot in the men’s 30-34 age group. Baldini finished nearly four minutes ahead of runner-up Ryan Terry (West Sacramento, Calif.), who took the men’s 35-39 title in 2:53:33. Marcus Barton (Waxhaw, N.C.) was third in 2:55:30, successfully defending his men’s 45-49 title.

“I’ve been racing here seven years now, and this is the best venue around,” Baldini said. “The single track is fast, there’s a little bit of climbing which helps me out, and man, that run course was perfect for me. A little bit of road, a little bit of dirt. I got a nice lead and made sure second place couldn’t see me – that way they’d have to really pick it up.”

In total, twenty athletes captured age-group off-road national titles at DeGray Lake on Sunday. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place after applying the age-up rule, qualify to represent Team USA at the 2018 ITU Cross Triathlon (Off-Road) World Championships. The top-20 off-road triathletes per age group in the USA Triathlon off-road triathlon annual rankings as of Dec. 31, 2017, will also qualify for the World Championships. 

2017 USA Triathlon Off-Road National Champions
1500m swim, 32k mountain bike, 10k trail run
Complete Results

Overall Female: Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.), 3:05:22
Overall Male: Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.), 2:49:34
M17-19: DeWight Winchester (Bryson City, N.C.), 3:18:23
M20-24: Reiner Guenther (San Antonio, Tex.), 3:03:59
F25-29: Kaitlyn Siebert (Fayetteville, Ark.), 4:20:52
M25-29: Kevin Jett (Columbia, S.C.), 2:57:22
F30-34: Elisabeth Graham (Pea Ridge, Ark.), 4:03:14
M30-34: Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.), 2:49:34
F35-39: Courtney Kaup (Richmond, Vt.), 3:16:00
M35-39: Ryan Terry (West Sacramento, Calif.), 2:53:33
F40-44: Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.), 3:05:22
M40-44: Fernando Lopez (Houston, Tex.), 3:12:50
F45-49: Debra Monroe (Gypsum, Colo.), 4:01:21
M45-49: Marcus Barton (Waxhaw, N.C.), 2:55:30
F50-54: Patricia Smaldone (Portland, Ore.), 3:43:15
M50-54: Andrew Kelsey (Irving, Tex.), 3:08:36
F55-59: Wendy Ewing (Shalimar, Fla.), 3:52:47
M55-59: Cliff Millemann (Davis, Calif.), 3:12:53
F60-64: Lucia Colbert (Cordova, Tenn.), 3:52:27
M60-64: Scott Ewing (Shalimar, Fla.), 3:16:51
F65-69: Cindi Toepel (Pahrump, Nev.), 4:23:42
M65-69: Walt Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 4:04:13

 

Arias, Hoffman Shine at XTERRA Rock Dallas 15K

On a very windy night in Flower Mound, Texas, Sergio Arias and Morgan Hoffman won the XTERRA Rock Dallas 15K Trail Run on Saturday, May 27th. Arias came through in 1:20:17, almost five minutes faster than runner up Jonathan Moody. Hoffman won the women’s division in 1:53:21, less than a minute in front of Ashley Perrigo.

“This was an extremely challenging run,” said the 33-year old Arias, “But also thrilling. There were steep drops and obstacles that tested my footwork the entire way.”

Arias ran behind the lead pack for almost half the race. “I took the lead when visibility started to get tough and it was hard to prepare for the terrain ahead,” he said. “Once I was in the lead, I could see and finally stop worrying about turning my ankle.”

Trevin Bolding won the 5K in 29:37 and Tiffany Bruce won for the women in 37:10.

The race didn’t start until 8pm, so headlamps were necessary to navigate the North Shore Mountain Bike Trail near Lake Grapevine.

View complete results at https://www.racedirectorsolutions.com

XTERRA Warrior Ron Hill racing into 80+ Division

Ron Hill didn’t start running to compete in marathons. He began running so he could race motorcycles. Little did he know that decades later, he would win his age group many times at the XTERRA National and World Championships.

“This was the late 1970’s,” he said. “I was racing two-wheeled machines over rough terrain across the California desert. It was such a physically demanding sport, that if you weren’t in shape, you could die. In one race, I was exhausted after 15 miles because the heat got to me. And I was stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

Determined to not let that happen again, Hill began running one mile, three times a week. “It made such a fantastic difference,” he said, “So I started running a mile a day.”

By the following year, Hill had his mileage up to 30 miles a week. “Our offices would shut down at lunch because everyone was out running a 10K. It was contagious.”

By 1978, Hill was running marathons at six-minute mile pace. “Running kept me fit enough to stand up on the pegs of my bike and really put the hammer down.”

Hill swam in high school, he learned to run in the 1970’s, but he still didn’t know anything about riding a bicycle until 1993, after his family moved to Idaho.

“My sons came home from college and said, ‘Dad, you have to get a mountain bike. You have to do this thing called downhill racing.’ Well, I was a little apprehensive, but I tried it. And lo and behold, I won the race. It turned out, I was pretty good at that.”

For the next decade, Hill competed in downhill and cross-country races on his mountain bike until both local race promoters closed their businesses.

“In 2005, I saw there was an XTERRA off-road triathlon in McCall, Idaho (now XTERRA Wild Ride). I realized I could ride a bike now, so I entered. It was so much fun I decided to train harder and do it again the following year.”

In 2006, Hill competed in XTERRA Wild Ride again, XTERRA La Grande, and the XTERRA National Championship, where he won his age group. “They invited me to the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, and I said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

By the time he won his age group the following year, his son insisted he go to the World Championship race in Maui.

Hill was 70 at the time. Next month, he’ll turn 80. In the past ten years, Hill has enjoyed a friendly rivalry with  Costa Rican athlete Nathaniel Grew, encouraged members of his hometown cycling team to train for and qualify for the XTERRA World Championship, and watched his own sons compete in XTERRA events.

He has had hard times as well. Last year, Bobbi, his wife of 53 years, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm while they were traveling in Texas.

“I haven’t been the same since,” Hill said. “She came to all the races and we went everywhere together.” Bobbi was beloved by everyone at XTERRA and was the most cherished person at the finish line, where she often volunteered.

In 2012, Hill had a horrible crash on his bike that resulted in a crushed pelvis.

“In XTERRA Worlds in 2012, I was having a terrific race. Nathaniel usually caught me on the bike, but that year he didn’t. I kept thinking he would get me, but with less than a mile from the finish I clipped a tree with my shoulder.”

Hill landed so hard on his right side that his femur bone went right into his pelvic socket and shattered his pelvis.

“The pain was so bad I told God he had to turn it down a notch or knock me out. I thought I had broken my back so I pulled myself uphill by my elbows to relieve the pressure.”

Hill was taken by medevac flight from Maui to Honolulu where he had surgery immediately.

“I spent two and a half weeks in Honolulu doing rehab just so I could get on an airplane to go home.”

Hill worked diligently at physical therapy and was able to walk and swim again after four months. A month later, he was back on his bike.

“My focus has always been to heal quick and get back out. I never thought I should quit. The only question was, how long was it going to take to get back?”

When asked if he was afraid to get back on a bike again, Hill replied, “Afraid of what? I figured even if the bike leaned towards my weak leg, it was strong enough by then to hold it up.”

That September, Hill competed in the XTERRA National Championship and won his age group. And in October, he returned to Maui and not only raced on the course that caused him so much pain just 12 months earlier, but won his age group again.

At the Night of Champions Awards Dinner, XTERRA President, Janet Clark called the 18 athletes to the stage who were 65 and older.

“Janet gave a great speech about honoring the “kapunas,” or elders of XTERRA. As we started to walk off, she said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. The XTERRA Warrior this year is one of the kapunas.’ I wondered who among us could have done anything to earn that award. I just started looking at everyone and realized I didn’t know what any of these guys have done. Then, as soon as that thought left my head, I saw all of these photos of me pop up on the screen.”

Telling the story, Hill becomes choked up, as he was that night.

“When I saw the doctor for my follow-up appointment, he couldn’t believe my progress. I carried the ribbons from all of my races and from the XTERRA Warrior award and he was just dumbfounded. He expected me to come in on crutches or with a cane. He kept telling me I lived in rarified air. And it’s true. I have God in my corner. No question about it.”