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.

 

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

Erika Aklufi’s Passion Projects

Erika Aklufi used to be a swimmer and a lawyer. Now she is a policewoman and a standout runner. What has stayed constant, no matter what she is doing, is her passion.

“It’s like what Pre said: ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,'” she said, referring to Steve Prefontaine, who once held American records in seven different distance track events from 2000 meters to 10,000 meters.

“As a lawyer, I did civil litigation, and it was very interesting work, but I worked with people who really loved it. And I realized I didn’t love it like they did.”

In 2006, Aklufi left her practice and began working for the Santa Monica Police Department.

“After law school, I had considered applying to the FBI,” said Aklufi. “I wanted to be Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. But I never considered it because I didn’t know anyone else who was a police officer.”

A swimmer all her life – from age five through high school and college at Yale – Aklufi started running for fun while in law school at UC Davis. On a whim, she signed up for a marathon in Sacramento, despite the fact that she wasn’t really training for it. She finished in 3:47. In her second marathon – the Pacific Shoreline Marathon – she won the whole thing in 3:06.

“I was never built like a swimmer,” said Aklufi. “I’m built like a runner. It’s definitely what I’m meant to do. I just love it.”

In 2016, Aklufi competed in almost every distance between a mile race and the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. She excels both on the road and on the trail. Last week, she won the XTERRA Malibu Creek 22K in 1:51:35. She’s run a 16:14 5K and has brought her marathon PR down to 2:50, which is right around the Olympic Trials qualifying time.

“I never want to pigeon hole myself,” she said. “I want to challenge myself. In swimming, no one swims just one stroke or one distance, even the distance swimmers. You have to be a jack of all trades. If I am going to be doing all that running, I want to test myself at different distances.”

All of Aklufi’s exploring has brought her to a sweet spot. She is part of The Janes Elite Racing Team and is a sergeant in the Santa Monica Police Department.

“Putting my name in with the Santa Monica Police Department was the best decision of my life,” said Aklufi. “Ten years just passed by in the blink of an eye.”

As with running, Aklufi wears many hats as a police officer. “I’m on patrol rolling around in a black and white, I’ve worked with kids, and I’ve been a detective.”

Yet, despite all of her success, Aklufi is modest about her accomplishments. She spent her last birthday marking the 11K course for the XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run.

“I don’t know,” she said, “Really, I’m just a person who signs up for things.”

 

 

Trails Heat Up at XTERRA Deep South

On Saturday, June 3rd, the XTERRA Georgia Train Run Series heads to Dauset Trails in Jackson, Georgia for the 9th annual XTERRA Deep South 15K/5K Trail Run.

“This race offers something for all off-road junkies,” said race director, Tim Schroer. “The 5K is super fast and relatively flat while the 15K starts with wide open space and then narrows to some sweet single track. There will be just enough rocks and roots to keep  you on your toes.”

The race is a short drive south of Atlanta and has no participant cap. A portion of the race proceeds will be donated to the Ocmulgee Mountain Biking Association (SORBA/OMBA) for helping with the race.

For more information and to register for the XTERRA Deep South Trail run, visit www.dirtyspokes.com

Next up in the series is the final race: XTERRA Georgia Allatoona Creek Trail Run.

 

 

Fagundes, Aklufi Win XTERRA Malibu Creek 22K

Anthony Fagundes and Erika Aklufi won XTERRA Malibu Creek 22K Trail Run on May 20th on a very hot day in Southern California.

“I started the race out faster than I did last year in the hopes of improving my time, but the sun and heat hit me pretty hard. I’m not acclimated yet, he said.”

Fagundes believes that XTERRA Malibu Creek is the most difficult trail run of the SoCal racing series.

“Bulldog Hill climbs from mile two all the way to mile six, gaining almost 1800 feet in the process,” he said. “Once you get to the top of that climb, there are three more little peaks to summit, a steep downhill, and then another small climb to the finish.”

Still, despite adverse conditions, Fagundes ran the exact time he ran last year down to the second, becoming the XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run Champ in 1:32:35.

“I’m pretty happy, considering how hot it was, and the fact that I ran a 25K last weekend and broke my own course record by four minutes.”

Fagundes says his training is going well. As a bike messenger, he is riding about 100 miles a week and is running 60 miles a week, on average.

“I’ve somehow been getting faster since college,” he said. “I always surprise myself now because in college, I never thought I had much speed. Everyone else on the team was faster than me.”

Fagundes is running his sixty miles in a combination of just two trail runs a week and a race. For the summer, he will do the Santa Cruz Wharf to Wharf, the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, and the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“I’m taking advantage of the heat and humidity to get myself ready for running in warmer climates,” he said, referring to the tropical conditions of the XTERRA Worlds in Oahu in December. “I look forward to racing Joe Gray. He’s an incredible runner. Just looking at the times he is putting up this year on the track and knowing his background as a mountain runner makes him all the more amazing. I hope I can hang with him at Worlds

View complete results for XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run at www.gemininext.com. 

 

Catching Up With Richard Kimani

Richard Kimani, the Oak Mountain 20K Trail Run Champ moved from Ngong, Kenya in July of 2016 to race and train in the US. He and his wife currently live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Q How did you feel during the race? Did you lead from the beginning?
A.I felt strong the entire time. I led from the beginning but I knew Darren Brown would be strong competition if he got close.

Q. What is your training like?
A. I train early in the morning and then late in the afternoon. Red Mountain Park is my favorite place to run. I also enjoy the blue trail at Oak Mountain State Park.

Q.How is training in Kenya different from the US?
A. I spent five years training Kenya in Ngong and Eldoret. In Kenya, large groups of runners train together every day, early in the morning. In the US, the groups are much smaller and meet only a few days a week. Also in Kenya, there are far fewer breaks during training and no days off for recovery.

Q. What else are you doing in addition to training?
A. I am currently volunteering at the Lakeshore Foundation with the youth adaptive track and field team. I hope that soon I will work in therapeutic massage. I want to athletes avoid injury and improve their recovery after competition.

Q. What are your long term plans?
A. I want to continue training and racing in distance events on both roads and trails. I am not currently training to make an Olympic team as I have been concentrating on local races and adjusting to life in the US. However I would like to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials in the future.

Q. Will we see you at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship this December?
A. Absolutely!

 

 

Bring Your Headlamp to XTERRA Rock Dallas Trail Run

For the first time ever, XTERRA Rock Dallas will be held at night. Starting at 8 pm, the 5K, 15K, and half marathon trail runs will be run under the stars at the North Shore Mountain Bike Trail near Lake Grapevine in Flower Mound, Texas.

“Night running and cycling is popular on this course, so many of the locals are accustomed to it,” said race director, Kathy Duryea. “North Shore Trail is a great place to run because it has beautiful single track with varying terrain. You will get everything from sand to technical rock gardens.”

This is the third year for the trail run which began in 2014 with a 10K and a 25K.

“The trail run was hugely popular its first year,” said Duryea, “But then we had a big flood in 2015, which necessitated canceling the race because half of the course was under water.”

Again, in 2016, rain was heavy the night before the race. Duryea was determined to hold the event and worked well into the night with her crew to rebuild the course, despite thunder, lightning, and downpours.

“I’m crossing my fingers it stays dry this year,” she said.

Lake Grapevine is located on the northern edge of Grapevine, Texas near Dallas. The lake has areas to bike, run, hike, camp, and fish. More information about the park is available at www.lake-grapevine.com.

For more information about XTERRA Rock Dallas Trail Run and to register, visit https://www.racedirectorsolutions.com

XTERRA Ilhabela Trail Run Winners Qualify for Worlds

In Brazil, the XTERRA Ilhabela Trail Run was held on May 13th, a day before the XTERRA Ilhabela Off-Road Triathlon. For the first time, the top five male and female runners qualified for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship 21K that will take place on December 3rd on Oahu.

“This is a very popular trail run,” said race director, Wanise Plischke. “The fact that the top athletes will qualify for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship race highlights the strength of our event.”

Antonio Jose Goncalves Da Silva won easily in 1:34:37 while runner up William Damiao Zeferino Paiva finished in 1:39:43. Joseilton Da Silva Santos was third in 1:39:59.

Geisla Dos Santos Moraes was the women’s champ with a time of 2:01:49, which was no surprise as she was on top of the podium last year as well. Claudete Nunes Lima with a time of 2:08:30, and Ana Carla Koetz Prade was third in 2:13:56.

The race was held on the beautiful island of Ilhabela, off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Located 207km/127mi from Sao Paulo, the island of Ilhabela can only be accessed by ferry. It is is a popular tourist destination because of its regattas, beautiful beaches, and excellent restaurants.

In addition to the Half Marathon Trail Run, a 9.3K Night Run was held at 7:30 PM on May 13th.

“The night run is always spectacular,” said Plischke. “The head lamps at the start make quite a show, and it’s beautiful to run the trails at night with other runners. The whole weekend was perfect for families and beginner athletes as well as the pros.”

Learn more at www.xterrabrasil.com.

Kimani, McGranahan win XTERRA Oak Mountain 20K

Richard Kimani from Kenya and Jennifer McGranahan from Pensacola, Florida captured the XTERRA Oak Mountain half-marathon titles on a cool, clear morning at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama.

Kimani, who now lives in Birmingham, ran a 1:12:30, more than three minutes faster than runner-up Darren Brown from Weymouth, Massachusetts.

“It was a good race and very hard,” said Kimani.  “The course is nice with all the trees and the sharp corners, and roots and rocks and slopes.”

Kimani now has his sights set on the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii this December.

In the women’s race McGranahan crossed the line in 1:33:41, nearly six-minutes ahead of runner-up Tiffany Dudley from Starkville, Mississippi.

“I ran it last year and got beat pretty good but that experience gave me a sense of the race so I started conservative this time around,” said McGranahan. “Honestly, I didn’t think I was in great shape but somehow I come alive when it comes to trails and adventure.  I don’t really look at it like a race, more of an adventure to just get out there and have fun.”

More than 300 runners from 15 states took part in today’s races, which was the last even of the 2016/2017 XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. We’ll have series winners posted soon after all results have been tabulated.  Each series age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Alabama at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah on September 17.

There were also XTERRA Oak Mountain 5k and 10k races today.  Caleb Baity and Brenda Sanchez won the 5k, and Marcus Barton and Jessica Riggs won the 10k.  For Baity and Barton the trail race wins conclude a very successful weekend of racing as both won their age groups at the XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon yesterday.

Highlight Video / Photos / Complete Results

Learn more at xterratrailrun.com

SPECIAL THANKS
XTERRA Oak Mountain was presented by Paul Mitchell, and our great sponsors from Shelby County, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Muscle Milk, Gatorade Endurance, Suunto, XTERRA Wetsuits, XTERRA Fitness, XTERRA Boards, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Alabama, Oofos, and the Shelby County Reporter. Special thanks to our volunteers, the Pelham Fire Department for taking such good care of our athletes, and all the BUMP members for maintaining the trails we love to race on each May.