Farrell Chases Down a Victory in Pocono Series

Shokey takes women’s division again at Hickory Trail Run

Pocono SeriesGrant Farrell won the 11-kilometer XTERRA Hickory Trail Run on June 1, but the victory represented a much longer chase for the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, runner.

Farrell completed the course at Hickory Run State Park in 45 minutes, 10 seconds. It was his first overall victory in an XTERRA Trail Run race, following numerous top five finishes in both the XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series and XTERRA Atlantic Trail Run Series over the past two years.

“An overall win in this series is what I’ve been chasing since last season so it felt great,” said Farrell, 32. “I’ve had some good races and some not so good races, but the thing that keeps me coming back and hopeful for a podium finish is the number of unknowns involved in the sport.  Between the terrain, temperature, competition, trail markings, even the wildlife, a lot of things that are outside of our control dictate the race, so a first place overall finish is pretty special.”

Farrell described the course at Hickory Park as “the most challenging of the series, in my opinion,” although race-day conditions were ideal.

Farrell has been competing in both the Pocono and Atlantic Series this year as part of his training for triathlons. “I’m lucky to have two series so close to home,” he said. “Triathlon has been my primary sport which doesn’t leave me any time to train on trails.  So having a second series to compete in gives me the opportunity to get on trails that much more.  For anyone living in southeastern Pennsylvania, I would highly recommend both race series, the diversity in courses keeps the racing fresh and fun.”

While Farrell earned a breakthrough win among the men, Jaclyn Shokey continued her winning ways in the women’s division.

Shokey, 35, finished seventh overall with a time of 52:02. She has won all three races in the Pocono Series so far this season. Carolyn Popovic placed second in 53:14.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS

The XTERRA Hickory Trail Run was the third of five races in the 2013 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Earth Conservancy Half-Marathon Trail Run at Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania, on June 15. To register for a race or to learn more about it, please visit www.wilkesbarreracing.com.

Betts Completes Perfect First Season in Georgia Series

She is one of 20 runners to win age division title for 2013 season

The XTERRRA Georgia Trail Run Series can be addicting for anyone at any age. Danette Betts is the latest proof.

Danette BettsBetts, a 49-year-old mother of three from Alpharetta, Georgia, did her first XTERRA Trail Run last September and hasn’t stopped since. As a result, she is now the 2013 champion for the female 45-49 age division of the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series.

The season ended on June 1 at the XTERRA Deep South Trail Run in Jackson, Georgia, and as she has all season, Betts finished first in her age division.

“Yes, this was my first foray into trail running,” she said. “I was sidelined with some injuries in early 2012, so to get back the taste for running, I knew I needed to try something different. Trying to complete as many of the Series races as possible was a good way to stay motivated and always have something on the calendar to plan for.”

Betts finished the season with a perfect score of 600 for the Georgia Series. And she wasn’t just fast for her age, she was fast, period. Betts often placed in the top five overall among all females, and was the top “masters” female (ages 40 and older) at several of the races. She said the excitement of running on new courses inspired her to enjoy every race she entered.

“Looking back, I really enjoyed them all,” she said. “I loved that I had to and find these ‘new to me’ places. There are some great state parks with amazing trails around. I would have never gone to them otherwise.”

Such success does not come without experience, and Betts was a successful road runner for nearly a decade before embarking on her trail run season. She has completed 10 road marathons in her running career, and numerous other half-marathons and 10Ks.

For now, her first choice is the trails. “I really enjoyed the challenges of the trails and I love running outdoors anyway – being in the forests was a great escape from city roads,” she said.

The Georgia Series is one of the most popular on the XTERRA Trail Run national circuit, as more than 4,000 runners participated during the season.

As a Georgia Series champion, Betts earned a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Utah this September. She is looking into arrangements to hopefully make the trip.

Betts was one of three runners in the XTERRA Georgia Series to achieve a perfect score of 600. The others were Tara Gormley from Marietta, and Jhonny Garner from Oakwood. For Gormley, it was the fifth consecutive year that she won her age division in the Georgia Series.

The 2013-14 season schedule for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series is already set, and it will start in September. The schedule will feature seven races, with courses ranging from 5K to 42K. All races are open to runners of all ages and skill levels. To register for a race or to learn more about the series, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.

Here is the list of 2012-13 XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series champions:

 

Age Group Name Age Hometown State
Female 20-24 Samantha Finch 24 Lawrenceville GA
Female 25-29 Jennifer (Sam) Wallace 26 Oxford GA
Female 30-34 Tara Gormley* 30 Marietta GA
Female 35-39 Kara Scroggs* 38 Gainesville GA
Female 40-44 Mary Deane Davis 44 Lilburn GA
Female 45-49 Danette Betts 49 Alpharetta GA
Female 50-54 Lori Brown* 54 Suwanee GA
Female 55-59 Andrea Morgan 56 Atlanta GA
Female 60-64 Linda Romero* 61 Snelville GA
Male 10-14 Korey Shively 13 Madison AL
Male 20-24 Kyle Wachenheim 23 Flowery Branch GA
Male 25-29 Matt Haley 29 Buford GA
Male 30-34 Robert Allen 30 Winder GA
Male 35-39 James Taylor 36 Roswell GA
Male 40-44 Carlos Resendiz* 41 Tucker GA
Male 45-49 Todd Wilson 49 Suwanee GA
Male 50-54 Jhonny Garner 50 Oakwood GA
Male 55-59 Dave Morgan 57 Atlanta GA
Male 60-64 Richard Stokes 60 Ball Ground GA
Male 65-69 Jim Merritt* 66 Buford GA
*Repeat champion from 2012

Ruzafa, Bucher win XTERRA Spain

Cieza, Murcia, Spain –  Ruben Ruzafa (28 – Malaga, Spain) and Renata Bucher (36 – Lucerne, Switzerland) won the XTERRA European Tour season-opener, the XTERRA Spain Championship in Cieza, Murcia on Sunday, June 2.

Ruben Ruzafa Wins XTERRA SpainFor Ruzafa, a successful pro mountain biker who collected four national titles in cross country and marathon for Spain, it marks his full-time venture into triathlon almost five years after winning the 2008 XTERRA World Championship in Maui.

“Since 2008 I knew I wanted to be a triathlete, and this is my first year and first big professional race with that focus.  It’s a great beginning, and special to start here in my country,” said Ruzafa, who lives four hours away from Cieza by car.

This was just Ruzafa’s third XTERRA (he was second at XTERRA Italy in 2009) and although he went to XTERRA Worlds in ’09 he was unable to defend his title after crashing two days before the race.

XTERRA World Tour warrior Ben Allen gave Ruzafa a run for his money, but came up just short.

“What a battle,” said Allen, who has won five XTERRA World Tour races this season and placed second twice now (also 2nd to Courtney Atkinson in Australia).  “Happy to finish 2nd behind the ’08 World Champ.  I knew he was going to be very strong on the bike, but he showed he can also run.  I could see him the whole way on the run and started to gain ground towards the end but he had enough in the tank to take the win today.”

For Bucher, it’s her fourth straight XTERRA World Tour win (33rd career) following her impressive string of victories in April spanning XTERRA Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia.

“The race was great.  I felt really good from the beginning to the end, and finally I was able to enjoy the hard run as well,” said Bucher.  “I know that Helena can run, like Lesley (Paterson), so I pushed really hard on the bike but rode controlled without having troubles or making a mistake.  It was a great day for me, and I’m very thankful for it.”

XTERRA managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas was on-site and brings us this report…

The day started with local pro Roger “Raja” Serrano and Ben Allen leading the swim and putting a minute into last year’s Euro Tour runner-up Asa Shaw.  Ruzafa, who looked very fit and relaxed, had a solid swim just two minutes back.  Out on the bike, Allen and Serrano quickly dropped young Frenchman Brice Daubord (a certain future star) and Joan Ruvireta Brufau to battle for the lead.

Ruzafa caught the pair near the end of the bike but did not make a move to pass.  Later, both Raja and Allen thought Ruzafa could have passed but was conserving strength for the run.  They were spot on.

Into T2 there was not 10 yards between the three of them and all left in one fast pack.  The run from T2 goes uphill immediately and continues to climb for quite a while.  Ruzafa took off from the start and grabbed a lead he would not relinquish despite a lingering injury to his Psoas muscle he contracted in February.

Serrano, who is a road warrior and not used to this kind of running, had a hard time and eventually faded to 6th place, but this 22-year-old is a contender for the future.

Allen was not giving in at all and kept Ruzafa in sight.  Near the end on the dusty, hot flat sections, the Aussie was catching the Spaniard but it was too little, too late and he came home second just 47 seconds out.

Asa Shaw pulled his way back to third but not without a fight from Hector Guerra who had the second fastest bike split to Ruzafa by one-second.  Guerra raced XTERRA a bit last year and will concentrate on the Tour this season.  While Shaw got away from him, Guerro has to be very pleased with 4th, and contented for third all the way to the line.

Defending XTERRA European Tour champion Nico Lebrun put in the fastest run by far and came home 5th, a typical early season race for “The Professor.”  Nico still has the chops and nobody should think his last season after 11 fantastic years will be taken lightly.

Roger Serrano was 6th, Brice Daubord 7th, Belgium Jim Thijs 8th, Ruvireta Brufau 9th, and Cedric Lassonde 10th after a nasty training accident on Saturday that gave him three stitches and some bad bruising.

 

Pl Name Time
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 2:31:12
2 Ben Allen, AUS 2:31:59
3 Asa Shaw, GBR 2:32:18
4 Hector Guerra, FRA 2:32:37
5 Nicolas Lebrun, FRA 2:33:10
6 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:35:55
7 Brice Daubord, FRA 2:36:30
8 Jim Thijs, BEL 2:37:27
9 Ruvireta Brufau, FRA 2:37:40
10 Cedric Lassonde, FRA 2:38:20

Also: Francois Carloni, Tomas Kubek, Llewellyn Holmes, Fracisco Macias, Xavier Torrades, Pavel Jinora, Fabien Combaluzier, Antonio Cardona, Tyronne White, Juan Fernandez, Agusta Roc

Renata Bucher Wins XTERRA SpainIn the women’s race Germany’s Katrin Muller blitzed the swim for the women and came out 30-seconds ahead of Brit Jacqui Slack.  Both of them were caught by the amazingly fast Renata Bucher early on.  Bucher had three wins in April and is in fantastic form.  Slack was second at the half way point in the bike with Muller 3rd and then a long gap to Czech Helena Erbenova with young and improving Hungarian Brigitta Poor in 5th.  Bucher never looked back.

Erbenova, who is usually the fastest on the bike lost over three minutes to the speedy “Swiss Miss” at this race.  Out of T2 it was Bucher with four minutes over Slack, then Muller and Erbenova very close together.  Erbenova crushed the run taking back five minutes from Bucher but had lost too much in the swim and bike.  It was a great performance by the 2012 European Women’s Champ and if Bucher stays in form this has the makings of a great summer long battle.

Slack and Muller raced hard passing and then re-passing with Katrin besting Jacqui by just 3 seconds.  Bubu Lorblanchet was making her first start since a bad foot injury to finish 5th and quickly collapsed at the finish, totally exhausted.  She bounced back after a quick trip to the “medico’s” and will concentrate on training over the next few weeks.  She will miss Greece but return in Switzerland later this month.

So Ruben Ruzafa is now two-for-three.  World Champion 2008, 2nd in Italy 2009, and now Spanish champion 2013.  He plans on racing at XTERRA Berga, XTERRA Germany, XTERRA USA and World Championships this year.

Ben was OK with finishing second and gaining valuable points on Lebrun but wanted the win.  Asa was only OK with his 3rd and will go to Greece wanting a win.  The season has the appearance of a great shootout between Allen, Shaw and Lebrun with interlopers like Ruzafa coming along from time to time and let’s not overlook Alex Haas who came down with a chest virus and Hector Guerra who showed some amazing form today.

All I can say about the weekend is “wow”.  Organizers Eduardo, Catalina, Pepe, Diego, Thomas, Vincente and the others deserve the highest marks for pulling this one off and making it look great.  The weather in this part of Spain is fabulous and the northerners were simply smiling with joy at the great sun and breezes.  Cieza is a wonderful city with old Plaza’s and churches mixed with more modern buildings – narrow twisty streets next to flowered boulevards, and has great food and drink at less than budget prices.  It’s easy enough to get to with a 3-hour drive from Madrid or just an hour from Alicante airport.  All this and it was the first race of the year!  Best get some tickets bought and get over here for the battles and the Live More experience.

 

Pl Name Time
1 Renata Bucher, SUI 2:52:09
2 Helena Erbenova, CZE 2:53:48
3 Katrin Mueller, GER 2:58:58
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR 2:59:01
5 Marion Lorblanchet, FRA 3:02:02
6 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:02:34
7 Brigitta Poor, HUN 3:06:3
8 MercéTussel, ESP 3:11:52
9 Freya Martin, GBR 3:16:40
10 Judy Van Den Berg 3:20:03

Also: Rocio Espada Vazquez, Nuria Morrio Perez

Complete Results

Next on the XTERRA World Tour: XTERRA Spain was the first European Tour and ninth World Tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui on October 27, 2013.  Next up, the inaugural XTERRA Greece off-road tri at Lake Plastira in two weeks.

Date – Race, Location
Feb 24 –  XTERRA South Africa Championship, Western Cape
Mar 2 – XTERRA Philippines Championship, Cebu
Mar 9 – XTERRA Motatapu, South Island, New Zealand
Mar 9 – XTERRA Saipan Championship, Northern Marianas
Mar 23 – XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti
Apr 7 – XTERRA Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
Apr 13 – XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
Apr 28 – XTERRA Malaysia Championhip, Putrajaya
June 2 – XTERRA Spain Championship, Cieza, Murcia
June 15 – XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira
June 22 – XTERRA Brazil Championship, Ilhabela, SP
June 29 – XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux
July 7 – XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 14 – XTERRA Victoria, Canada
July 20 – XTERRA Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 3 – XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco
Aug 4 – XTERRA Canmore, Canada
Aug 10 – XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 – XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Aug 24 – XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma
Aug 31 – XTERRA Ecuador,
Sept 8 – XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey
Sept 21 – XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
Oct 27 – XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

XTERRA Spain Championship Sunday

XTERRA managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas is in Cieza for the XTERRA Spain Championship on Sunday which kicks off the 2013 XTERRA European Tour.  Here he brings us an update on the pre-race happenings.

The weather on Friday was perfect; partly sunny, light winds and temps in the mid-70’s.

Spain PressFor racers, there are lots of great things to enjoy, highlighted by the food and the most fantastic countryside.  This morning on the way to the swim start I had to stop and take a photo – 100 acres or so of grape vines just green and sprouting young grapes, right next to another 100 acres of long leafed Peach trees that had solid fruit just now beginning to turn colors and across the street another 100 acres of silvery olive trees, mountains in the backdrop, and small rural road running by.  You get the picture (pun intended); just beautiful.  Driving around is simply eye popping.

The restaurants here are small and family owned and it is a pleasure to walk around and make a pick.  None are super hip gourmet buerre blanc with capers caramelized onion style restaurants.  You have your choice of great seafood or tapas.  Every place always has pasta and soups including the regional potato and bean soup which is to die for.  Certain places will have Paella and having had that dish in Barcelona on the ocean – the high priced places pale in comparison to one of these small, mom & pop restaurants.  The local red wine is fabulous and makes it silly to order a vintage which is twice as expensive and probably no better or not as good.  In this area the Spanish serve their beer super icy cold and the brands of Estrella and Mahou are tasty and cheap.  I have to say I am very impressed with Cieza, Murcia…. pronounced Thee-eh-the and murr- thee-ah.

There was a great press conference this evening in the auditorium at town hall.  There are over 20 male and about a dozen female pros here and the majority were at the conference.  The big unknown is the return of Ruben Ruzafa, the XTERRA World Champion from 2008.  Ruben has concentrated on world cup mountain biking the past years and now has clearance from his team to return to XTERRA.  The mayor had some nice words to say to the crowd of about 100 people and some good questions of the athletes on stage – Nico Lebrun, Ben Allen, Ruben Ruzafa, Raja (Roger) Serrano the local pro, Renata Bucher, Bubu Lorblanchet, and Jacqui Slack.

From my limited Spanish what I can tell you is Cieza and the area are thrilled with the entry of nearly 400 athletes and the impact on hotels and restaurants has been duly noted.  Organizer Eduardo Smuts and his team of Pepe and Diego and Catalina deserve the highest marks for the hard work and dedication to make this happen.

As for the course, the bike checks in on the non-technical side, and is very fast with the majority of it on farm dual tracks.  It does have enough climbing to make it a solid challenge, but the 35K should go fast.  The run on the other hand is tough with lots of hills and some very fast downhills where a slip or missed step could cause a nice tumble.  There are great views from both the bike and the run.

The main event is Sunday but festivities start up tomorrow with more Paella and cold beer and tasty red wine at the briefing.  Hey, long-time XTERRA age grouper Andy Duenow and his family made it here all the way from Alaska and are loving it.  Where are you?

XTERRA East Championship Pro Start List

With Conrad Stoltz – winner of six of the last seven East Championships – still uncertain if he’ll be able to race next Sunday due to recent injuries and the current Series leader Josiah Middaugh not on the start list in Richmond; the men’s pro race is up-for-grabs.

Lesley PatersonAt first glance Dan Hugo looks to be the favorite. In Richmond pasts he has placed 2nd to Stoltz twice (2011 and 2010) and was second to Middaugh in 2008. This year only Richard Murray (South Africa), Ben Allen (Philippines/Saipan/Guam/Malaysia) & Middaugh (Southeast Champs) have been faster than Hugo.

Stealing a major win on the U.S. Tour has been an elusive task for more than just Hugo, however, so trust that guys like Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, Brad Weiss, Ryan Ignatz, Will Kelsay, and Francisco Serrano will take advantage of the opportunity and give it everything they have.

In the women’s race Lesley Paterson is the clear-cut favorite, and when you consider she finished fourth overall at the West Championship in April behind only Middaugh, Stoltz, and Rakita – she should be in the conversation to win it outright too.

That said, defending women’s East Champ Melanie McQuaid has some serious credentials in the River City with an unprecedented 12 straight podium’s on this course, including four wins.  Shonny Vanlandingham won the 2011 title in Richmond and is in good form, as are Luna Pro teammates Suzie Snyder and Danelle Kabush.

The women’s field is stacked with nine of the top 10 in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings on the start list.

Below is a look at the tentative pro field.  Click on their name to see an image of them in action and learn more about each one.  Click here for the full gallery.  Note: Rank indicates their position in XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings, t = tied, NR = not ranked.

XTERRA East Championship – June 9 – Richmond, VA

Rank – Men – Age, Hometown
2t – Craig Evans – 35, Hendersonville, Tennessee
2t – Branden Rakita – 32, Colorado Springs, Colorado
4 – Will Kelsay – 31, Boulder, Colorado
5t – Nick Fisher – 27, Ogden, Utah
8t – Conrad Stoltz – 39, Stellenbosch, South Africa
8t – Dan Hugo – 27, Stellenbosch, South Africa
10t – Bradley Weiss – 24, Cape Town, South Africa
10t – Ryan Ignatz – 34, Boulder, Colorado
15 – Cody Waite – 34, Lakewood, Colorado
17 – Will Ross – 23, Anchorage, Alaska
18 – Andy Lee – 41, Lakeway, Texas
21 – Tim Snow – 37, Brockton, Massachussetts
22 – Damian Gonzalez – 36, Stockton, California
NR – Ryan DeCook – 32, Rochester Hills, Michigan
NR – Francisco Serrano – 33, Monterrey, Mexico

Rank – Women – Age, Hometown
1 – Lesley Paterson – 32, San Diego, California
2 – Melanie McQuaid – 39, Victoria, B.C., Canada
3 – Suzie Snyder – 31, Fredericksburg, Virginia
4 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 44, Durango, Colorado
5 – Danelle Kabush – 37, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
6 – Brandi Heisterman – 37, Squamish, B.C., Canada
7 – Emma Garrard – 30, Park City, Utah
8 – Christine Jeffrey – 40, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
9 – Caroline Colonna – 48, Taos, New Mexico
13 – Katie Button – 28, Victoria, B.C., Canada
NR – Catherine Sterling – 36, West Boylston, Mass.
NR – Chantell Widney – 32, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Many Sides of Lesley Paterson

There’s never a dull moment in the life of Lesley Paterson.

To say the athlete, coach, producer, director, model, mentor, speaker, philanthropist, and entrepreneur is marvelously multifaceted would be an understatement.

Lesley PatersonSince finishing third in Richmond last June she has won every XTERRA she’s entered, including the USA and World Championship, and the XTERRA Philippines, West, and Southeast titles.

But that’s just XTERRA.

In the last three months alone the “Scottish Rocket” has done 13 races (3-XTERRA, 2-70.3’s, 3-pro mountain bike races, 4-running events, 1-Oly distance tri) and won nine of them.

And that’s just racing.

Lesley is also a film producer that recently signed a movie deal and has a reality series in the works; a coach that leads 27 athletes every week; a fitness guru who just shot a workout DVD; a beautiful model that graced the cover of three magazines recently; a volunteer at four charity events, a business woman who just inked a few new sponsors (including Paul Mitchell and Sony), and a corporate motivational speaker.

As the old saying goes, “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

With all the things on her upcoming ‘to-do’ list one event sticks out above the rest. This July, Paterson is hosting a fully-funded three-day Braveheart Bootcamp triathlon challenge for young adults 18-to-22 who are at a crossroads in their lives and for participants from the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  The goal is to help them overcome fears and reach their full potential and ultimately compete in a race this October.  Beyond just the camp, the athletes will be teamed-up with adult mentors for an entire year.

“It’s so emotionally fulfilling to do these kinds of camps and it just puts everything in perspective.  For me, giving back and helping others embark on an emotional and physical journey like this is what it’s all about,” said Paterson.  “What’s funny is that you’d think that putting something like this on my schedule would add to the exhaustion, but it’s the opposite, it’s rejuvenating.”

On Tuesday Paterson will make her way to Richmond, Virginia for the 15th annual XTERRA East Championship race.  It is one of the few events she has yet to conquer. In her first year in the River City back in 2008 – still new to mountain biking – she placed 7th.  Last year, after “crashing all over the place” on the bike, she was 3rd.

“Really excited for another go at that course,” said Paterson, whose improvement on the mountain bike was highlighted by leaving world cup mountain bikers in the dust at a Pro XCT event earlier this year.  “Richmond is a tough course for me because there is not a lot of climbing and a bunch of tricky little sections.  I just plan to go out there, have a solid swim, be aggressive on the bike, and be within spitting distance of the leaders for the run.”

Should that plan succeed, the women’s field will be racing for second-place as Paterson is the best trail runner in the sport right now.  She might also be the best at personifying XTERRA’s motto – “Live More”

To read more about Lesley’s fabled background as a pint-sized Rugby player on an all boys’ team growing up in Scotland, check out Susan Grant Legacki’s terrific cover story featured in the May issue of LAVA Magazine.

There’s also a fun video of Les posted on xterra.tv, and for the really ambitious – you can try to keep up with the champ on her website, www.lesleypaterson.com.

Winners Go a Long Way to Win at Muleshoe

Stewart and Akerhielm prevail for first time in XTERRA Texas Series

The XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series is all about discovering new adventures in new places, and Mitt Stewart and Tracie Akerhielm did just that at the latest race.

Texas StartStewart was the overall winner and Akerhielm was the top female at the XTERRA Muleshoe Trail Run, which was completed on May 18 at the Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area in Spicewood, Texas. It was the fourth of seven races in the 2013 XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series.

“It was challenging,” Stewart said of the 16-kilometer course. “It was full of rocks and low branches, so you had to be very alert. No mental breaks or you’d go down.”

Stewart completed the course in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 57 seconds. He lives in Sandy, Utah, but happened to be in Texas on a business trip and decided to enter the race as a way to stay in shape. His main sport is mountain biking, and he often races in the professional division.

Dylan Johnson from Dripping Springs, Texas, had the lead for most of the race, but he took a wrong turn late in the course and it dropped him to second place. Stewart said he was unaware of Johnson until the very end of the race, when they both made a sprint to the finish line.

“To my surprise with about two miles to go I caught third place,” Stewart said. “I was stoked! I passed third place with strength and knew I was going to podium.  About a half-mile from the finish, I looked over my shoulder and saw someone that I hadn’t seen or passed all race. He was gaining fast! So fast, that I had to full-out sprint to hold him off. Turns out he was in the lead and had gone off course.”

Johnson finished three seconds behind Stewart, and displayed sportsmanship after the race.

“I got off course probably the last quarter-mile of the race,” he said. “I was running alone for quite a while when a volunteer told me that I had gone the wrong way … while trying to catch up to the leader I didn’t have to pass anyone, it was just me and him battling it out for the win. I have been running XTERRA races for many years now, and this little mistake will not stop me from racing XTERRA in the future. I love XTERRA!”

Akerhielm placed seventh overall with a time of 1:20:17, and her persistence paid off in more ways than one. She has entered all four races so far in the 2013 Texas Series, and she had finished second in the previous three.

“My goal for the race was to improve on pacing,” Akerhielm said. “It is still far from perfect, but headed in the right direction.  Prior to my other race performances in the series, I think I am improving in my endurance and my ability to pace appropriately with the various terrain.”

Akerhielm, a former track and cross country runner at Texas Tech University, said the course offered several unique Texas challenges.

“What the course lacked in vertical challenges, it made up for in the footing,” she said. “There were several areas with big loose rock beds and a section of the course that went entirely off-trail and you had to dodge cactus, rocks and branches for a place to put your foot.  But like every race so far in the series, it was absolutely beautiful and I loved the venue.”

Kaytlynn Welsch, the 12-year-old running phenom from Alvin, Texas, had won the previous three races in the Texas Series. She placed second to Akerhielm at the Muleshoe race by about four minutes.

“Kaytlynn is a fantastic runner and is no doubt headed for great things. I think it is an honor to get to race next to her,” Akerhielm said. “After the first couple of losses, I just settled in and tried to run my best race and to enjoy the trail as much as possible.”

Akerhielm is currently a doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University. She discovered trail running only this year, and is hooked on the XTERRA Texas Series. “The Muleshoe win is very encouraging to me,” she said. “I can feel my aerobic fitness beginning to return and hope to run even faster for the next events in the series.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS

The next races in the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series will be held on back-to-back weekends: the XTERRA Gator Bait Trail Run in Huntsville on June 16, and then the XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run in Waco on June 22. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A TEXAS SERIES RACE OR LEARN MORE ABOUT IT.

Virginia’s Jackson Still Running Strong at Age 57

He’ll defend 55-59 age group title at Richmond Trail Run on June 8

Clark Jackson remembers his first experience at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run. It came in 2010, and it was his first attempt at an XTERRA Trail Run race. He sprained his ankle along the course and finished in seventh place in his age division.

Clark JacksonNeedless to say, it wasn’t the greatest race result for the 57-year-old insurance salesman from Charlottesville, Va. Still, Jackson credits that experience for getting him hooked on XTERRA Trail Run races.

“It’s the closest XTERRA race to where I live, but it’s also the first one I ever did,” he said. “I’ll be back to do it every year, as long as I can.”

This year’s XTERRA Richmond Trail Run is scheduled for June 8, and it is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. It will be part of an XTERRA weekend in Richmond, as the XTERRA East Championship off-road triathlon will take place on June 9. It is the 15th consecutive year that XTERRA has held an “urban adventure” event in Richmond.

Jackson used his initial experience in 2010 to improve on his trail running skills and by 2012, he won his age group at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run, and also won his age division in the XTERRA North Carolina Trail Run Series. He has made even greater strides in 2013, finishing second overall among all runners at two different races in the XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.

“I just try to improve each week and work on weaknesses that I noticed I had in the last race,” said Jackson, who recently celebrated his 57th birthday. “I’m relatively new to trail racing so I’m still learning. I wish I had the nerves to run down the hills like those younger guys. I love the challenge of tough races so the tougher the better.”

Jackson can attest that the long course at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run can be a tough one. The  21K course takes runners up, down, around and through numerous obstacles – both natural and man-made.

“Well, I haven’t run an XTERRA race that wasn’t challenging, but this one I find very difficult with all of the small climbs,” he said. “I mean, they really have a bunch of them.  The tight bridge walk I found especially challenging on the second lap, and you are totally exhausted.”

The 21K course is perhaps best known for “The Mayan Ruins,” which is a steep stair climb that requires all four limbs near the top.

“That is a challenge in itself, just to get up those stairs,” Jackson said. “If you are height-challenged, you will almost feel like you can’t make that last step because it is so high and steep.”

The course also includes crossings of the James River, single track paths in and out of lush forest area, and passes along historic buildings in Richmond. The contrast in sights is what earned the event the “urban adventure” description.

“Running through and along the James River is exciting and really gives you views you would never experience if it hadn’t been for trail running,” Jackson said.

As for his continued improvement on the trails at his age, Jackson credits, appropriately enough, a mature approach to competition.

“I get a lot of people asking me how do I keep running at this age, and my patent answer is ‘Not sure, I’ve never been this age before so I’m not sure how my body is supposed to react,’ ” Jackson said. “I revised my training through lots of reading, to be more age appropriate, and cross training to help eliminate injuries. I try to stick with my pace and not worry about the other guys. Just being able to run my best each race regardless of finish is reward enough.”

The top runners in every age group for the 21K race will receive a free entry to the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii this November. Numerous prizes will also be handed out to the top runners for both the 21K and 10K races.

To register for the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run or learn more about it, please visithttp://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/richmond.html

Dessy and Iglesias Prevail in Puerto Rico

Luigi Dessy and Alejandra Iglesias ran to impressive victories at the XTERRA Salinas Trail Run last weekend at Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Salinas Trail RunDessy was the overall winner, completing the 16-kilometer course in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 19 seconds. He finished more than a minute ahead of the other top runners, and it was his first overall victory of this season.

Melvin Rivera placed second, followed by Efrain Soto and Alberto Saldana.

“The course was really extraordinary – very competitive and a little bit technical,” Saldana said. “The terrain was varied, and there were some hills in the first few kilometers. The weather was hot, like 99 to 102 degrees, and the race was in the south part of the island, which is very dry.”

Iglesias placed 10th overall and dominated the women’s field. She finished with a time of 1:32:00, which was more than five minutes ahead of the other top females.

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The mayor of the city of Salinas came out to watch the race, and many of the participants stayed for the post-race awards party.

“It was fun and everybody really had a great time,” Saldana said. “It was XTERRA family day.”

The XTERRA Salinas Trail Run was the third of four races in the 2013 XTERRA Puerto Rico Trail Run Series. The final event in the series will be the XTERRA Vega Alta Trail Run on August 18. To learn more about the Puerto Rico Series, please visit www.xterrapr.com.