Sambolec and Shokey Run Away at Mocanaqua

Experience plays a key role in the half-marathon race

A year of experience made a big difference in Eric Sambolec and Jaclyn Shokey racing to big wins at the XTERRA Earth Conservancy Trail Run at Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania.

Sambolec was the overall winner of the half-marathon (13.1 miles) trail race, and Shokey was the top female. The event – which was the fourth of five races in the 2013 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series – was completed on June 15 at the Earth Conservancy Land.

Sambolec completed the course in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 53 seconds, to win the event for the second consecutive year. He also won the race in 2012, and said the experience from a year ago played a key role in improving his time by nearly two minutes.

“It helped me to know where to push, and more importantly, where to ease up and save some energy,” he said. “Also, the top three finishers were the same as last year, so I had a sense of how the other guys would approach the race.”

Just like last year, Tony Korch (1:33:38) placed second and Grant Farrell (1:38:49) was third.

“I ran with Grant Farrell for the first four to five miles, and then I broke away on the flat sections at the top of the course,” Sambolec said. “I knew I was widening my lead after halfway, but wasn’t sure by how much so I worked pretty hard in the second half and tried to run a good time.”

Sambolec, 35, drove nearly three hours from Ithaca, New York, to enter the race. He said the challenging course at Mocanaqua has become a reason for him to make the trip every year.

“The course is tough with constant climbing over the first three miles, then it levels out at the top of the mountain and has some really tough descents in the last few miles,” he said.

Shokey placed 14th overall with a time of 1:49:24, and she finished more than 20 minutes ahead of the other women. She finished second in this same race a year ago, but said the experience led her to the convincing victory this year.

“I was more familiar with the course so I knew not to go out as hard in the beginning and to save myself for areas of the course where I could pick up the pace,” she said.

She described the course at Mocanaqua as “one of the most challenging of the XTERRA Pocono Series,” because of the steep climbs in the first half of the race.

“Those hills are extremely steep, making it difficult to walk up, let alone trying to run up them,” she said. “Due to the excessive amount of rain we had a few days prior to the race, the course was very muddy and had many deep puddles.”

Shokey’s victory came just seven days after she placed second in another half-marathon trail race – the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run in Richmond, Virginia.

“Occasionally I will run back-to-back races in one weekend so running two half-marathons on back-to-back weekends wasn’t all that bad,” said Shokey, who resides in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  “I didn’t push as hard for the Richmond half because I had the stomach bug, and I knew I had Mocanaqua the following week.  I wanted to be prepared for that race.”


The finale of the 2013 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Gouldsboro Trail Run on June 29 at Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. The 13-kilometer race is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, from all states. To register for the race or learn more about the series, please visit

Runners Treated to ‘Pretty Awesome’ Trails at Turkey Track

Thomson and Young win marathon; Hofferber and Falcon win half-marathon

When an expert trail runner like J. Marshall Thomson describes a course as “pretty awesome,” it must be good.

Such was the case at the inaugural XTERRA Turkey Track Trail Run, which was completed on June 15 at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Close to 200 runners from 10 different states participated in the event, which was the third of four races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Colorado Trail Run Series.

Thomson added to his list of XTERRA Trail Run victories by winning the full-marathon course in impressive fashion. He completed the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 1 minute, 43 seconds – nearly 27 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. It was his fourth overall XTERRA Trail Run victory in the past two years.

“This course was pretty awesome,” said Thomson, who is 34 and resides in Crested Butte, Colorado. “I always love a course that stays on trails. The course was 90 percent beautiful rolling, winding single track, with maybe a mile of dirt road to and from the start. The weather was awesome and everything was just about perfect.”

Thomson said he ran with the half-marathon leaders for the first half of the race, and then ran by himself for the second half of the full-marathon. His lead was so large that he even had time to “hit a wall.”

“Unfortunately, I fell apart at mile 21,” he said. “I just hit a wall … although my pace slowed drastically and I was starting to suffer, I was able to push through the last few miles and maintain my lead.”

Raul Manzanares from New Mexico placed second in 3:28:39.

Amber Young, also from New Mexico, placed third overall at 3:42:20, and was the first female. She also dominated her division, finishing nearly 25 minutes ahead of the other women.


A majority of the runners opted to enter the half-marathon course, and a pair of newcomers to XTERRA Trail Runs took top honors.

Jeffrey Hofferber from Durango, Colorado, finished first overall, completing the 13.1-mile course in 1:25:05. He is an experienced road runner, but this was the first trail race of his career, and it resulted in the first overall victory of his running career.

“This race will go down in personal history as my first win ever!” he said. “I knew I had the chance to do it given my overall strength and speed from road training. I had a lot of encouragement from friends and family, even though they didn’t make it out. This win really helped solidify some personal decisions about my future of running and will no doubt be the encouragement to come back next year.”

Hofferber said he was pushed throughout the course by Thomson, because the full-marathon and half-marathon runners started at the same time.

“A little over half way, I rolled through a beautiful meadow feeling relaxed but a little tired,” Hofferber said. “I came up over a hill turning slightly right and saw Marshall over my shoulder. It definitely helped push me through the next few miles, unsure if he was running the marathon or the half.”

Although this was Hofferber’s first XTERRA Trail Run, he did practice on the same course about a month before the race with race director Mike Le Roux. “This really helped me finish strong knowing the end was just around the corner,” Hofferber said.

Gordon Gianniny, a 16-year-old student at Durango High School, placed second in 1:30:01. Jess Montour from Flagstaff, Arizona, was third in 1:35:33.

Jaime Falcon from Breckenridge, Colorado, placed sixth overall at 1:43:14, and was the first female. It was also her first XTERRA Trail Run.

“I actually didn’t know until the finish that I had won,” she said. “There was some confusion on my part about who was in front of me. I passed two women maybe 4 to 5 miles into the race, but ran solo for large chunks of time, and was surprised to hear at the end that I had won.”

Falcon, her husband, and their 9-month-old son camped overnight at Pagosa Springs after the race. “We had heard many great things about the trails in Pagosa Springs, so combining a family camping trip with a trail race was a good reason to make the trip,” she said. “We loved the area and will definitely be back.”


Every runner in the event received a pair of custom event socks, as well as “Turkey Track” medals created by students from Pagosa Springs Elementary School.

The next race in the XTERRA Colorado Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Beaver Creek Trail Run at Avon, Colorado, on July 21. It will be the season finale, and the final chance for runners to earn points toward the overall standings of the series.

Runners Treated to Challenging 5K at Moab

Van Reenen, Gist take top honors

Sometimes, a 5-kilometer trail run can go a long way. Such was the case at the XTERRA Moab Trail Run last weekend at Moab, Utah.

Moab Podium“The course was surprisingly challenging for a 5K,” is how runner-up Richard Burgunder described it. “The diverse terrain included an interesting mixture of single track trails, sand, water crossings, suspension bridges, steep climbs, and a fully exposed half-mile trek across the dam at Ken’s Lake. Overall it was a beautiful course and provided some spectacular scenery. The waterfall was simply amazing.”

Robert Van Reenen from Salt Lake City was the overall winner, completing the course in 26 minutes, 53 seconds. Burgunder, who drove six hours from his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, to get to the race, finished second in 27:28.

Burgunder said he led for the first mile, then Van Reenen took the lead on one of the longer climbs. “We ran neck-to-neck through most of the race, rotating the lead a couple of times,” he said. “It wasn’t until the final half mile where Van Reenen pulled away.”

Katja Gist from Denver placed fifth overall and was the top female with a time of 29:12. Amy Hammermeister from Gunnison, Colorado, was the second female at 30:36.


All of the runners were treated to PowerBar products before, during and after the race, and Burgunder performed double-duty as a runner and PowerBar Field Marketing Associate.

This is the first year of the XTERRA Utah Trail Run Series, and the Moab Trail Run was the second of three races in the 2013 Utah Series. Burgunder recently moved to Colorado from Pennsylvania, and has become a regular participant in races in both Colorado and Utah.

“The races out west have proved to be a vastly different experience for me thus far,” Burgunder said. “First, I am coming off of a very serious injury that nearly ended my season. With only a couple of weeks of training over the past several months, the races have been especially challenging for me. The Moab race was extremely hot and exposed in the desert, which is something that I’m not accustomed to. I like the challenging nature and stunning scenery that the races out west have provided.”

The next race in the Utah Series will be the XTERRA Wolf Mountain Trail Run at Eden, Utah, on July 13. That will be the final race of the season, although the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will also be held in the state of Utah – at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah, on September 22.

To register for a race in the Utah Series or to learn more about it, please or

Rigdon and Hallagan Take Top Honors at Eureka Springs

Runners from five different states participate

Eureka Springs RunnersThe XTERRA Eureka Springs Trail Run was completed at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on June 8, and a pair of out-of-state runners took top honors.

Tony Rigdon III from Columbia, Missouri, was the overall winner, and Amy Hallagan from Loveland, Colorado, was the first female.

Rigdon, 40, completed the 12-kilometer course in 1 hour, 45 seconds, and finished more than two minutes ahead of the rest of the field. Seventeen-year-old Jake McClung – a hometown runner from Eureka Springs – placed second in 1:03:15.

Hallagan, 40, placed eighth overall with a time of 1:07:25, and dominated the women’s field. Stephanie Pendegraft from Mountain Home, Arkansas, placed second in 1:23:55.

In addition to the 12K long course, there was also a 6K short course. Eric Wilbur was the overall winner of the 6K course, and 61-year-old Patsy Miller was the first female.


Runners from five different states – Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma – participated in the event. The Eureka Springs Trail Run is not affiliated with any specific XTERRA region, as Arkansas does not have a full series.

Didawick and Jackson Earn Virginia Series Titles

Richmond was the season finale for 2013

In addition to being a fast runner, Josh Didawick is also a fast learner. Prior to this year, Didawick had never competed in a trail run. He is now the 30-34 age group champion for the XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.

Richmond StartThe 2013 XTERRA Virginia Series came to a close last weekend with more than 350 runners participating in the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run.

“I did triathlons and road races before this year, but I was looking for something different to do and decided to try and do a trail run,” Didawick said.

His first trail run experience came in April of this year at the XTERRA Hungry Mother 10K Trail Run at Marion, Virginia.  He placed fourth overall and first in his age group, and it provided enough of an incentive for him to sign up for the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run 20K.

“I liked that first one at Hungry Mother so much, I signed up for Richmond,” said Didawick, who is 31 and resides in Staunton, Virginia. “I’m glad I did because Richmond was awesome. The whole event was just phenomenal.”

Didawick placed third in his age group at the Richmond 20K race, and it gave him enough points to win his age division for the season for the XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.

“I try to do a little bit of everything to stay in shape,” he said. “But I definitely want to do more trail runs. I really enjoyed doing the two XTERRA races this year.”

Didawick was one of two runners to score enough points to earn an age-group championship in the 2013 XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.

The other is Clark Jackson, who won the male 55-59 division. Jackson placed first in his age group at all three races in the Virginia Series. He previously won an age-group title in the XTERRA North Carolina Trail Run Series.

The XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series will return in 2014 with at least three races. To learn more about it, please visit or

The 2013 XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series champions:


Age Group Name Age Hometown State
Male 30-34 Josh Didawick 31 Staunton VA
Male 55-59 Clark Jackson 56 Charlottesville VA

O’Reilly, Ward win XTERRA Richmond Half Marathon Trail Run

Jason Dowdy and Laura Welier of Richmond take XTERRA Fugitive 10km Titles

XTERRA Richmond 21K Results / XTERRA Fugitive 10K Results

2013 XTERRA Richmond 20km Winners(Richmond, VA) – Blaine O’Reilly (24, Williamsburg) and Emily Ward (31, Richmond) captured the XTERRA Richmond 20K, while Jason Dowdy (37, Richmond) and Laura Weiler (31, Richmond) won the XTERRA Fugitive 10K trail runs in cool, rainy conditions around James River Park this morning.

The courses for both races were changed to protect the trail system – eliminating the Forest Hill Park and “Dry Way” sections that have been pummeled with rain over the past two days – and replacing them with alternate routes on service and gravel roads.

O’Reilly, who ran for the Army Black Knights’ track and cross country teams from 2007-2011 before graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2011, led from start-to-finish and crossed the line in 1:11:37 (5:43 mile pace), more than four-minutes ahead of runner-up and last year’s 20K winner Ryan Middleton of Hanover.

“It was fun, my first XTERRA,” said O’Reilly, the two-mile record holder at Gloucester High School.  “My brother wanted me to come over and run and glad I did.  I’ll have to come back next year so I can get on those trails everyone raves about.”

In the women’s race Ward, a track and cross country star at the University of Richmond ten years ago, was equally as dominant despite getting a side-stitch that had her walking for the first time ever in a race.  Her winning time of 1:26:44 was good for eighth overall, and nearly seven minutes ahead of runner-up Jaclyn Shokey.

“Aside from the side stich I had a good time splashing through all the puddles today,” said Ward, who works for Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation.

2013 XTERRA Richmond 10km WinnersIn the XTERRA Fugitive 10K, Dowdy defended his title and has now won this race three times (it was way back in 2002 when he won his first).  Russell Reed stayed close early but Dowdy ran away at the famous Manchester Stairs, aka “Mayan Ruins” section.

“I wanted to set the tone early and I could hear the guy behind me until we got to the stairs and started dropping him there,” said Dowdy, who ran at Virginia Tech until 1999.

Women’s 10K winner Laura Weiler finished more than six minutes ahead of runner-up Lucas Daley, and said she was happy to see the course re-routed to protect the trails.

“Had a lot of fun today.  The course was a little different than normal but they did a great job re-routing us and keeping everyone safe and the trails in good shape,” said Weiler, a regular runner at James River Park.  “I love these trails, Buttermilk, North Bank, they are so much fun and such an asset to Richmond. Maintaining the integrity of the trails is far more important than just one day and we were still able to have a great race and a lot of fun so it worked out.”

Tomorrow, the XTERRA East Championship will take place in Richmond for the 15th consecutive year starting with the pro race at 8am.

Photos courtesy XTERRA, featuring 10 and 21K winners with Rich Hart, the Vice President Strategic Services at Luck Stone Corporation.

Shively Joins Elite List of “Double” XTERRA Champions

13-year-old wins age group in Alabama and Georgia

It takes dedication and speed to win an age group title in any state on the XTERRA Trail Run circuit. It often requires traveling to different parts of the state to enter the races, and of course, the speed to beat all the other runners in the age group.

Korey ShivelyImagine what it takes to do it in two different states.

Korey Shively became the latest XTERRA trail runner to join that elite short list when he won the male 10-14 age division for the 2013 XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series last weekend. It came a month after he won the male 10-14 age division for the 2013 XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series.

Korey, 13, is in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School in Madison, Alabama, and he is already a member of the varsity cross country and track teams at James Clemens High School, so his success in the Alabama Series is understandable.

He happened to be visiting his grandparents in Atlanta in February at the same time when an XTERRA Georgia Series race was taking place in nearby Winder.

“The timing was right, and he did well enough in that race that we looked at the next one and figured we might as well come back and try another one,” said his father, Sean.

Sean made the four-hour drive to take Korey to the XTERRA Deep South Trail Run at Jackson, Georgia, on June 1. Korey won his age group at that race, and it earned him enough points to win the age division for the season.

It capped a successful first year in the sport of trail running for Korey. His first sport of choice is actually lacrosse, and he started running as a way to stay in shape.

“He only started running last summer, but he loves this trail stuff now,” Sean said. “He has a blast at all the different trails.”

Korey and other members of the Clemens High School cross country team will make the trip to Utah this September to participate in the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship.

Korey is now one of only three XTERRA runners to win an age group championship in two different regions in the same year. The others are Joshua Horsager (Alabama/Georgia, male 30-34) and Richard Burgunder (Ohio/Pocono, male 30-34).

Inaugural XTERRA Utah Series is Underway

Two more races coming up this summer

The opening event for the inaugural XTERRA Utah Trail Run Series witnessed spectacular performances by 80 athletes representing six states – Utah, California, Washington, Colorado, Maryland and Wyoming.

XTERRA Hideout RunnersThe event was called the XTERRA Hideout Trail Run and it featured three different courses (5K, 10K and 21K) and provided runners with a very challenging course that consisted of singe track trails, grueling climbs and descents along the stunningly beautiful Jordanelle State Park Reservoir in Hideout, Utah.

Overall 21K winner Nate Blouin from Salt Lake City ran with the lead pack for the start, and he then slowly started to distance himself from his closest rivals, following the half-marathon turnaround. Blouin has been consistently training with daily mountain runs that include 2,000-foot vertical ascents. He was very well prepared for the grueling terrain and climbs that the Jordanelle course challenged him with.

“That hurt,”  he said. Despite his aggressive training routine, the picturesque Jordanelle State Park, which offers rolling terrain and scenic views – all at elevations above 6,000 feet, exceeded his expectations.

In the 10K, former XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon National Age Group Champion, Emma Garrard from Park City, Utah, ran away from the field with a remarkable performance to win the women’s race and finish fourth overall with a time of 45:25. She took off with a blazing start and paced with the leaders of all three events up until the 5k turnaround.  Emma was fourth (second American) in the final 2010 XTERRA USA Pro Series.

Tyrone Luke, a 10 year old running sensation from Hyrum, Utah, finished second place in the 5K with a time of 28.16.4 in a competitive adult field.  Tyrone endured a very challenging course and turned many heads with his incredible performance.


Racers described the course as strikingly beautiful, surprisingly difficult, and yet very enjoyable.  “This was a deceptively hard course with amazing scenery,” according to Richard Burgunder, a four-time XTERRA Trail Run Series Regional Champion.

The winners received a month’s supply of Wicked Fast Sports nutrition supplement products, a gift bag from Paul Mitchell, a voucher for free Rudy Project sunglasses or helmet, and free registration for an XTERRA event. All finishers received medals and a tech-t. Following the race, numerous prizes were raffled off to the crowd, including products from PowerBar, Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition, Rudy Project, and XTERRA.

The XTERRA Hideout Trail Run Series was the first of three events in the 2013 XTERRA Utah Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Moab Trail Run on Saturday, June 8. The series finale will be the XTERRA Wolf Mountain Trail Run on July 13. To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visit

Georgia Series Closes Season with Fast Finish

Shechtman and McCurdy take top honors at Deep South 15K

A pair of fast finishers highlighted the finishing race of the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series last weekend. Matt Shechtman and Deanna McCurdy raced to impressive victories at the XTERRA Deep South Trail Run, which was completed on June 1 at Dauset Trails in Jackson, Georgia.

Matt ShechtmanShechtman was the overall winner, completing the 15-kilometer course in 58 minutes, 26 seconds.

“The course was great,” said Shechtman, who works as an attorney in Atlanta.  “Well-marked and fantastic trails for running with lots of rollers for fun accelerations. It was a bit warmer than I am used to and the humidity made it more difficult than most of the winter and spring racing. It’s that time of year, so the conditions were great for getting acclimated to the Southern summer climate.”

Shechtman said he took the lead within the first mile of the course, and stayed in front the rest of the way. Aaron Roseberry from Atlanta placed second in 59:43, and Evan Dare from Marietta was third in 1:03:34.

“The course was pretty well covered with greenery so you couldn’t see more than 30 seconds or so back and I didn’t know how close Aaron was until the finish,” Shechtman said.

McCurdy was an impressive fifth overall and first among all the females with a time of 1:04:56.

“The trails themselves had a mixture of rocks, roots, hills and a fun, fast, sandy flat stretch along a creek,” said McCurdy, who resides in Peachtree City. “The trail along the creek around mile 5 easily gave a false sense of confidence as to the ‘ease’ of the course.  Little did I know that soon after, a gradual 3-mile climb would make the legs question what I was making them do and I would laugh at myself later when I realized I waved hello to a deer I spotted at the top of a hill.”

Whitni McConnell from Athens placed second in 1:06:17, and Tara Gormley from Marietta was third in 1:06:36.

More than 300 runners participated in the event, which also included a 5K short course.


It was a satisfying victory in more ways than one for McCurdy, who has been battling a hip injury for more than a year. She is also the founder and head coach of Team Miles for Smiles, a charity running
team that raises funding for research through the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (F.A.S.T.).

One of her daughters was diagnosed in 2009 with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. “This past year has been challenging as my daughter is getting older and we are facing new obstacles to overcome, plus my own injuries and frustration with not being able to commit and train for a specific goal,” she said. “The XTERRA Deep South 15K, however, ignited a fire in me again.  It reminded me of how much I crave the freedom of the trails, digging deep, testing my own limits, and crossing the finish line, surrounded by people who love doing the same things I do.”

The Deep South Trail Run was the seventh – and final – event of the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series. Interestingly enough, Shechtman and McCurdy discovered the Georgia Series late in the season.

For Shechtman, it was only his second XTERRA Trail Run. He won both of them. “I will definitely be back to more XTERRA races next season.  Now that I know there is a season points total and qualification for a nationals race, I think I have a good bit of motivation to run more of the series next year.”

For McCurdy, it was her first try at an XTERRA Trail Run event, though probably not her last. “I wish I attempted the XTERRA Georgia Trail Race Series before the final race of the season,” she said. “I have a craving to revisit the off-road triathons at XTERRA Clemson and Panther Creek again this summer, then jump back in to the XTERRA Trail Race Series this coming fall.”