Toker and Todd Ring in New Year with Impressive Wins

Close to 500 runners hit the trails at Boney Mountain

Less than a week into the new year, Jonathan Toker and Jennifer Todd already found reason to celebrate.

Toker and Todd were the overall winners at the XTERRA Boney Mountain Trail Run, which was completed on Sunday, January 6, at Newbury Park, California. Close to 500 runners braved the rainy weather to compete in the event.

Toker finished first overall, completing the 21-kilometer course in 1 hour, 35 minutes, 23 seconds. Todd was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:52:08.

“Race day began with an unexpected downpour followed by clear skies and cool temperatures … perfect running weather,” Toker said.

Jonathan TokerToker resides in nearby Malibu, and often trains on the trails at Boney Mountain, and his familiarity with the course was a key to his victory. “These trails are my local training ground and a very familiar route, so I have a fairly good sense of pacing and what kind of terrain was still to come during the race,” he said. “Conditions on race day included some mud and cooler air temps and training on this kind of terrain in all types of conditions in the past certainly helped allow me to push through some of the tougher sections.”

(Jonathan Toker pictured, courtesywww.JonathanStewartPhotos.com)

Toker moved into the lead midway into the course, and then slowly increased the gap in the latter stages of the race. Shawn Waco of Santa Monica placed second in 1:38:33, and Eric Lahaie from Hong Kong was third in 1:39:44.

“I moved into first at about mile 7, part way up the climb,” Toker explained. “After that it was just about holding my effort at a controlled but significant level that I felt I could hold for the rest of the distance. The course has a lot of narrow singletrack and poor sight lines and so I really didn’t know how much of a lead I had, but by the time I reached mile 12, I was confident I would take the win. I really had no idea of my lead until second crossed the finish line a little while later.”

Toker is familiar with success at Boney Mountain. He also won this race in 2008, placed second in both 2006 and 2010, and third in 2009 and 2012.

Toker is the founder of a company called SaltStick, which is an electrolyte product used by athletes in various sports. He said he took two SaltStick Caps Plus during the race, and it helped push him to the win.

Todd placed 13th overall and surprised herself by taking top honors in the women’s field. Only three years ago, she was told by doctors to give up her athletic career because of a severe knee injury. She underwent surgery on the knee and it required nearly two years of recovery and rehabilitation.

Todd returned to endurance sports a year ago, mostly in triathlons. She lives in Newbury Park – “literally down the street” from the event – and wanted to test her running skills on a familiar course.

“The joy of being able to compete again is what brought me to this race,” she said. “In fact, the Boney race was my first running race over 10 miles since the surgery.  It has been a long process, and I never thought I would be able to do a race like Boney ever again.  I am truly grateful.”

Todd works as a third-grade school teacher in Calabasas, California, and said her plans for 2013 include several XTERRA events – both triathlon and trail runs.

Anissa Faulkner of Ojai, California, placed second in 1:54:15, and Tara Kulikov from San Luis Obispo, California, was third in 1:57:31.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS

The XTERRA Boney Mountain Trail Run was the fourth of seven races in the 2012-13 XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Mission Gorge Trail Run on February 3. Please visit www.trailrace.com to register or learn more about the series.

About the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series

The XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 22 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Southern California at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. SoCal is one of 15 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Atlantic, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Serwan and Vaughn Run Away to Wins at Coldwater Mountain

The final race of the 2012 calendar year was a merry one for runners in the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series.

The XTERRA Coldwater Mountain Trail Run featured a capacity field of more than 200 runners, and the final podium featured a pair of first-time winners – Chris Serwan and Kristina Vaughn. It was completed on December 15 at Anniston, Alabama.

Serwan was the overall winner, completing the 15-kilometer course in 1 hour, 8 minutes, 23 seconds. Vaughn placed eighth overall and was the first female in 1:14:09.

“This was my first time to win a race overall,” said Serwan, who is 23 and resides in Auburn, Alabama. “I’ve won my age group and placed in the top five overall in previous races, but this one definitely tops my list as far as best finishes.”

Serwan said he surged into the lead within the first two miles of the race, and stayed in front the rest of the way. “I didn’t know what kind of lead I had, and was worrying the whole time about how close the others were behind me,” he said. “I was a little surprised about the lead I had when I finished.”

The runner-up was a surprise himself. Korey Shively, a 12-year-old middle school student at James Clemens School in Madison, Alabama, placed an impressive second overall with a time of 1:10:45.

Dillon Hidalgo from Somerville, Alabama, was third in 1:11:01, and 49-year-old Matthew Holdbrooks from Trussville, Alabama, was fourth in 1:11:23.

In the women’s race, Vaughn entered the race with her friend, Alison Hulsey, and they ran together for the first three miles of the course. Vaughn then surged ahead, not realizing that she was the first female.

“The Coldwater Mountain race was actually my first win in a trail race,” said Vaughn, 22. “I just began competing in trail races this fall after finishing my collegiate track and cross country career this past May.”

Vaughn is a former steeplechase champion and cross country runner at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She is now training with the Alabama Outdoors running team, and is aiming to run in her first marathon in 2013.

Her friend, Hulsey, placed second among the women with a time of 1:17:09, and Rebecca Pedrick from Alpharetta, Georgia, was third in 1:21:17.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS.

It was the first time that an XTERRA Trail Run was staged at Coldwater Mountain, and the runners seemed to like the new venue. “The trail was rolling, with one long gradual climb, but there wasn’t anything too steep,” Vaughn said. “Even though it was a bit of dreary, rainy day, the scenery was beautiful, with several incredible lookouts. I would highly recommend this trail!”
The XTERRA Coldwater Mountain Trail Run was the fourth of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Monte Sano Trail Run at Huntsville, Alabama, on January 12.

To register for a race in the Alabama Series, or to learn more about it, please visitwww.dirtyspokes.com.

About the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be six races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 42 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Alabama at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Alabama is one of 15 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

XTERRA SoCal Series Wins Award

Dos Equis SoCal SeriesCompetitor Magazine has tallied the votes for its “Best of 2012″ awards, and the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series is the winner for “Best Post-Race Brunch/Party” for the Pacific West Region.

XTERRA SoCal Series director Brennan Lindner has turned the post-race festivities into an event that gives runners reason to finish the race and get to the party.

Dos Equis beer joined the SoCal Series as a sponsor in 2012, and provided free beer for runners of legal drinking age after each race. The breakfast spread usually included breakfast tacos, breakfast bagels, assorted fruits, pastries, and a Gourmet Coffee truck.

What’s more, a Kids Zone was set up at each event to provide activities for children, and a rock wall was also available for kids to climb.

“Love the post-race festivities … it’s a tradition that all of us look forward to, and the newly added beer is icing on the cake!” said Patrick Clark, winner of the last XTERRA SoCal Series race. “I also must add that we loved the kids area set up at the Malibu Creek race. It was a great addition that kept the family happy.”

XTERRA Fitness Give to Team X-T.R.E.M.E.

Team X-T.R.E.M.E.Todd Udowitch, VP of the XTERRA Fitness line of treadmills, fitness bikes, and ellipticals – was so moved by the courageous efforts of Team X-T.R.E.M.E. at this year’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship that he donated an MB 8.5 indoor cycle to team member Ed Lychik.

Lychik, a combat engineer tasked with clearing roadside bombs in Afghanistan, lost his left leg while in combat but that has not slowed him down one bit.  To get a glimpse of his resilience watch this FOX news story about Lychik that aired in Houston, Texas.
“I’ll put the equipment to great use,” said Lychik.

“This cross training capability will help him in his training for future Team X-T.R.E.M.E. events in 2013,” said Team X-T.R.E.M.E. founder Jeremy Soles.  “I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for this offer than Spc. Lychik as I am confident he will utilize it as a resource to advance his rehabilitation in an effort to honor, empower and motivate his fellow wounded brethren.”

XTERRA Fitness is also providing major discounts to the XTERRA Tribe with their current “SAVE40″ 40% off equipment promotion happening now.  For more info, visithttp://www.xterrafitness.com/buy/tr62.html.

Tennessee Series is Underway for 2012-13 Season

College tennis player stuns women’s field with win

The XTERRA Rocky Top Trail Run proved that you don’t have to be an experienced runner to be successful at trail racing.

Zoe Hamel, a tennis player at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, was the top overall female for the 21-kilometer course. Erin Ryan, a soccer player at UNC-Asheville, placed second.

“It was my first trail race and the fact of being surrounded by a very pretty landscape made the time go by faster!” Hamel said. “It was great. The very friendly atmosphere was something I really appreciated during as well as after the race. I am a tennis player, and I really didn’t know what to expect.”

Zoe Hamel More than 200 runners gathered at Bays Mountain Park to participate in the Rocky Top Trail Run, which was completed on December 1 at Kingsport, Tennessee. It was the opening event of the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series.

Hamel and Ryan are friends, and they were looking for a running event to keep help keep them in shape during the off-season for their respective sports.

(Zoe Hamel pictured, courtesy www.uncabulldogs.com)

“We were looking for a long-distance race, simply as a challenge,” Hamel said. “At first, we were looking for a marathon, but then we thought about it and decided we should probably start with a shorter distance since we don’t practice running outside of our sports.”

Hamel and Ryan ran together for the entire course, and broke away from the other women at the midway point of the course. Hamel then pulled away from Ryan in the final mile to take the win. Hamel finished with a time of 1:57:28, and Ryan came in at 1:47:53.

The top overall finishers in the men’s division were more traditional. Alex Griggs placed first overall with a time of 1:31:13. He is a freshman on the Mars Hill College cross country team, and earned all-region honors in 2012. Teammate Brady Adcock placed second with a time of 1:31:19 – just six seconds behind Griggs. Adcock and Griggs broke away from the rest of the field early in the race and stayed close throughout.

In addition to the 21K long course, there was also a 10K course. Winners of the 10K were Josh Fischer and Kathy Bronstetter.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS.

The XTERRA Rocky Top Trail Run was the first of three races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series. The next race on the schedule is the XTERRA Power to the Tower Trail Run in April 2013. To register for the race or learn more about it, please visitwww.fleetfeetkingsport.com.

About the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be three races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 10 kilometers to 50 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Tennessee at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. Tennessee is one of 14 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.

Tales from the Trails: Kualoa Ranch 2012

XTERRA Trail Run World Championship provided many storylines

The 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship has received its share of attention over the past two weeks. A photo finish that resulted in an unprecedented tie for first place between Ben Bruce and Joseph Gray has rightfully received most of that attention.

But more than 2,000 runners participated in the event at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, on December 2, and seemingly each runner has a story to tell. Here are just some of the “Tales from the Trails” of Kualoa Ranch in 2012:

A fast foursome from Alaska

A foursome of runners from Alaska warmed up quite nicely in their first appearance at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship on December 2.

Jon Lyon, Roger Kemppel, Tim Samuelson and George Haugen made the trip to Hawaii for the race from Anchorage, and they each returned home with a medal.

Roger KemppelLyon won the men’s 65-69 division, Kemppel won the men’s 70-74 division, Samuelson placed second in the men’s 65-69 division, and Haugen was third in the men’s 65-69 division. They have been friends for more than 20 years, and have been traveling to different races together for the past decade.

(Roger Kemppel pictured, courtesy www.brightroom.com)

They have done races in Hawaii prior to this year, but this was the first time they entered the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch.

“We’re not part of a club or anything like that, we’re just four guys from Anchorage, Alaska, who get together and run,” Kemppel said. “We do a bunch of things together throughout the year, and every year we pick a race that we can run together.”

Their success at Kualoa Ranch becomes more impressive when considering that they trained for it by running in the snow – in temperatures that often dipped below zero degrees – back in Alaska.

“Boy, it really was nice to run in weather like that,” he said of the 80-degree race day at Kualoa Ranch. “I ran without a shirt just because I never get to do that. It was like freedom to actually run with running shorts on, and not have to bundle up.”

However, it did help the foursome that Alaska has steep mountainsides to train on in preparation for the hills at Kualoa Ranch. “The course (at Kualoa) is beautiful, obviously,” Kemppel said. “But here in Alaska, we have some trails that are pretty severe and technical, so we were ready for anything.”

The foursome said they had so much fun on their “guys only” trip that they are looking to return and defend their medals at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. The only problem? “We were showing the pictures to our wives and now they want to come along,” Kemppel said. “So maybe we’ll have to save up more money to do it next year.”

The secret proposal

Stephanie Weigel made the trip from her hometown of Las Vegas to run in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, and she finished seventh overall among the elite women – which would seem like enough of an accomplishment to make it a memorable event for her. But it was what happened immediately after the race that made it unforgettable.

Kualoa ProposalImmediately after crossing the finish line, Weigel was instructed by the race announcers to turn around. There waiting for her on bended knee with engagement ring in hand was her boyfriend, Michael Ibasco.

“I figure this was the perfect place to propose since it was doing her favorite thing, running,” Ibasco said. “Hawaii has so much greenery, mountains and trails.”

Ibasco said he purchased the ring in Las Vegas and brought it with him on the flight to Honolulu. He carried it in his backpack everywhere they went during the Hawaii trip. “We arrived in Oahu four days before the race,” he said. “My excuse for carrying my backpack around with me practically all the time was so that if we purchased any gifts we could just put in my backpack instead of carrying it. She bought into it, but did I mention that I was stressed and couldn’t relax the whole time.”

Ibasco ran the 10K course at Kualoa Ranch, and then had event staffers help set up his secret proposal for Weigel at the finish line. Weigel said she was genuinely stunned when she saw Ibasco and the banner that read: “Stephanie, Will You Marry Me?”

“We never had that conversation,” Weigel said. “I just figured one day, but didn’t know when.”

Weigel and Ibasco have been dating for four years, and they own a training facility in Las Vegas called The Fitness Source. Weigel placed second overall at the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run back in April, and that earned her a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“I immediately thought it would be an amazing race to run and a lifetime experience,” she said. “Turns out I was right!”

The couple now plans to make the race at Kualoa Ranch an annual event. “No question that we are planning to do this yearly. I think we are calling ourselves the XTERRA couple.”

Another photo finish

The fantastic finish between Ben Bruce and Joseph Gray that resulted in a tie for the overall championship of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship was well-documented and captured from various camera and video angles.

But there was another close finish later in the race that decided an age-group world title that went much less noticed.

Janelle Lancaster Janelle Lancaster from Seattle made a last sprint to the finish line, and ended up passing another female runner by one second. At the time, she had no idea how it would impact the standings.

(Janelle Lancaster pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

Turns out that Lancaster’s final dash gave her first place in the female 40-44 division, not to mention an impressive 10th place overall among the women. Tina-Marie Poulin from New York placed second in the age group by that one-second difference.

“I became aware of my placing after checking the postings,” Lancaster said. “I was thrilled! How exciting to come all that way and take away first place. I had passed the second place woman at the very end, not being sure at the time if she was in my age group, or having any idea of my standings.”

It was certainly a memorable first experience at Kualoa Ranch for Lancaster, who works as a CEO of two solar companies in Washington, and is also married with a 1-year-old son. “Between the killer hills, technical trails and heat, I definitely got what I signed up for,” she said. “The Ranch was gorgeous!”

Hawaii well-represented again

The home-state Hawaii runners took advantage of the tropical conditions on race day – temperatures in the 80s and high humidity – and ran away with 12 of the 26 age-group world championships.

“I love everything about being on the trails – the smell, rich air, sounds, sights, technical challenge, instant solitude; it can seem different every time,” said Honolulu’s Mark Speck, who won the men’s 40-44 division. “Further, I think Hawaii runners are used to the climate conditions found here during December, whereas many mainlanders are coming out of colder and probably drier conditions.”

Polina Babkina The age-group champions hailing from Hawaii are: Jakob DeWald (men 15-19), Willie Schefer (men 20-24), Polina Babkina (women 20-24), Natalia Kravchuk (women 25-29), Mark Speck (men 40-44), Ray Brust (men 50-54), Vicki Daniels (women 50-54), Ash Dustow (men 55-59), Edward Bugarin (men 60-64), Nancy Andrade (women 60-64), Lee Saltonstall (women 65-69) and Ed Fattoumy (physically challenged).

Saltonstall and Fattoumy are now four-time XTERRA Trail Run world champs; Speck, Bugarin and Dustow are now three-time champions.

(Polina Babkina pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

Making it more impressive, several of the Hawaii runners competed in the Honolulu Marathon just one week after the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Five of the XTERRA age-group world champions went on to complete the marathon: Babkina, Kravchuk, Speck, Bugarin and Saltonstall.

Babkina placed third overall for the women at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship and 12th overall at the Honolulu Marathon, and was the first Hawaii female at each event. She is originally from Russia, but is currently a student at Hawaii Pacific University.

Thomas Rivers Puzey placed eighth overall at the XTERRA World Championship and 12th overall at the Honolulu Marathon. He was the top Hawaii finisher at the marathon (and second Hawaii finisher at Kualoa Ranch). He resides in Laie, Oahu, and is a former runner at Brigham Young-Hawaii.

Speck often enters both the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship and the Honolulu Marathon, and said he prefers the family atmosphere at Kualoa Ranch. This year, he did the 21K, his girlfriend ran the 10K, and his son participated in the OC16 Kids Race. After the race, they joined other friends and family members for a picnic at Kualoa Beach Park.

“It is more important to me than the marathon, which feels like a less personal race, and it is on the road which is not my preference,” Speck said.

The surprised champion

Nozomi WadeNozomi Wade and her husband James registered for the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship with plans to make the trip as much about vacation time as running time. In addition to some of the usual tourist memories and souvenirs, Nozomi got to take home an age-group world championship for the female 55-59 division.

“Oh, my gosh, this was one of the highlights of my life!” Nozomi said. “I had NO idea where I placed until my name was called at the awards ceremony!”

Nozomi has been a standout in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series for the past few years, but she is still a relative newcomer to competitive running. She started entering races in 2009 – when she was in her early 50s – and had no previous experience in any other competitive sports.

(Nozomi Wade pictured, courtesy James Wade)

“My friends who knew me since I was a teenager are scratching their heads!” she said. “Oh, and of course my family members are also wondering what happened to the old Nozomi! But it’s all good, because they know running makes me happy. I am living proof that it is never too late to try something new.”

James Wade is a competitive triathlete, but he was gracious enough to stay near Nozomi for the entire course so that he could take pictures and provide encouragement along the way. “He was ahead of me in the beginning, but he’d stop, wait, and take a few pictures of me as I passed him,” she said. “Then he’d run again and wait for me  for more pictures. Eventually, he stayed behind to take pictures of the scenery.”

Nozomi works as an elementary school teacher in Georgia, and when she returned to work a few days after the race, the students from the school had created a congratulatory art-work display to greet the new world champion.

“Who would have thought that a school teacher from the suburbs of Georgia would accomplish that?” Nozomi said. “I mean … I wanted to win, but I knew I was up against some tough women. It was beyond awesome!”

The fast guy from Fiji

A quick look at the overall top 10 finishers of the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship reveals some familiar names from familiar places … with one exception.

Kenichi Komatsu Coming in 10th overall was Kenichi Komatsu, and his hometown is listed as Labasa, Fiji. Yes, Fiji. He was also the first international finisher, as the top nine were Americans.

Komatsu is originally from Japan, but has been living and working in Fiji for the past two years. Because of the lack of big races in Fiji, he often travels to enter events, and this was his first try at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

(Kenichi Komatsu pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

“I was surprised to learn most of top 10 runners are road runners or track runners, and they are really fast and top runners,” he said. “I was happy to have been able to run with them. They are actually way beyond my abilities … I reckon I did my best.”

Komatsu teaches physical education to elementary school students in Fiji. Although he still considers Japan his home country, he is the first athlete to list Fiji as his hometown for an XTERRA Trail Run event.

Costello Completes Challenge

Sometimes, the runners near the back of the pack have the best tales to tell. Such is the case with Richard Costello, who completed the 21K course at Kualoa Ranch in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 44 seconds, which was good for 41st place in the men’s 45-49 division.

The fact that Costello finished the race was the real story. He trained for this race for nearly a full year, and dropped close to 50 pounds in 2012 as a result. Although he has completed several triathlons in past years, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship 21K marked the longest run he has ever completed.

burgunder and Costello“The 21K race went overwhelmingly positive for me,” he said. “I finished, and I finished in a time frame which I had allotted myself for personal success. I felt incredibly spirited throughout my entire run, and stronger in many areas than I had expected. Once I hit the mile marker of 8 miles, it was all smooth sailing from there. Each step I ran thereafter, was a new distance accomplished towards finishing my first 21K attempt.”

Costello trained in his home state of Pennsylvania throughout 2012, and enlisted the help of XTERRA Trail Run veteran Richard Burgunder for assistance.

“His accomplishment and journey are both awe-inspiring,” Burgunder said of Costello. “Richard dug deep and embraced an incredible challenge to compete in one of the most grueling races in the world against a remarkably competitive world class field of athletes. He persevered with incredible passion and shined brightly on a day that should be never forgotten.”

(Richard Burgunder, left, and Richard Costello, right, pictured courtesy Richard Burgunder)

Costello said the toughest section of the course came at mile 10, during a steep uphill climb. “The climb at mile 10 was not to be forgotten,” he said. “It was vicious and slow-going at times, but brought about a tremendous feeling of accomplishment looking back once I reached the summit. The quads were hurting at that spot there for sure! Overall, the experience was totally amazing for me, with much new ground and territory being covered from start to finish.”

Costello said he would like to run at Kualoa Ranch again, although he has other events he would like to try in 2013. Specifically, he is targeting the Continental Tour Divide mountain bike race in June. That event will require 20 to 30 days of commitment, as it will start in Banff, Calgary, Canada, and traverse down to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

Welsch sisters garner more attention

There was a reason so many cameras were following the two littlest runners on the 21K course at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Twelve-year-old Kaytlynn Welsch and 10-year-old Heather Welsch – sisters from Alvin, Texas – are not only young, they are fast. And the rest of the country has taken notice.

Welsch Sisters(Kaytlynn Welsch, left, and Heather Welsch pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

At the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, back in September, a reporter from the New York Times traveled to the race to write a lengthy feature on the Welsch sisters.

At Kualoa Ranch, a television crew from NBC was in Hawaii to film a segment on the sisters for an upcoming episode of Rock Center With Brian Williams. The cameras followed the family around in the days leading to the race, as well as on race day.

Kaytlynn was an impressive 15th overall among all females, and first in the 10-14 age division. Her time of 2:02:34 was faster than all the boys in that age group.

Heather finished 39th overall among all females, and second to her sister in the 10-14 age division. She also made history by becoming the youngest runner ever to complete the 21K course at Kualoa Ranch.

The Welsch sisters first gained attention during the summer, when Kaytlynn placed first overall and Heather was third at a race in the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series.

Their feature on Rock Center With Brian Williams is tentatively scheduled to air on January 10.

Puerto Rico runner has inspiring race

Alberto Saldana became the first runner from Puerto Rico to compete in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, and he did it in impressive fashion. Saldana placed 13th in the stacked 35-39 age division, and finished with a time of 1:57:31.

Sara Marie Pedragon Ojeda and Alberto Saldana During the tough sections of the course, and as he approached the finish line, Saldana said he had more than enough inspiration to push him through in the form of “a little angel.”

That angel is Sara Marie Pedragon Ojeda, a 2-year-old close family friend. As Saldana was preparing to leave Puerto Rico for Hawaii, he learned that Sara Marie was diagnosed leukemia.

(Sara Marie Pedragon Ojeda and Alberto Saldana pictured, courtesy Saldana family)

“That was a terrible notice for me going to Hawaii,” he said. “But I said in my mind that I have to be strong and fight for her. That’s why I dedicated this awesome XTERRA World Championship race to her and all the little kids in the San Jorge Children’s Hospital in Puerto Rico.”

Upon returning to Puerto Rico a few days after the race, Saldana visited Sara Marie in the hospital and presented her an XTERRA Trail Run World Championship event shirt.

“She helped me get through this race, and kept me positive,” Saldana said. “Now I want to help her get through her (illness) and keep her positive.”

Record run at XTERRA Crystal Cove

Baldwin, Shearer set new course records

The 2012 edition of the XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run was one for the record books.

Patrick Baldwin of Encinitas, Calif., and Maggie Shearer from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., shattered the course records to take top overall honors in the 15-kilometer race, which was completed on Sunday, December 9, at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach.

Patrick Baldwin Baldwin placed first overall, finishing with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, 10 seconds – nearly seven minutes faster than the previous course record. “Conditions were perfect – cool and clear with some incredible views up on top of the hills,” he said. “The course left me pretty beat up!  The most memorable section was about a quarter-mile steep, steep downhill that had a surprise u-turn that turned up what felt like a wall. I have never gone from free fall to climbing almost with my hands that abruptly. It was a shock!”

(Patrick Baldwin pictured, courtesywww.SuperSportsPhoto.com)

Baldwin, 36, is no stranger to XTERRA Trail Run success. He has placed in the top three of numerous races in recent years, including two previous overall wins in the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series. This, however, was his first try at the Crystal Cove course.

“I hadn’t raced Crystal Cove ever, as I usually miss it when it sells out,” he said. “I love the area and really just wanted to get back into the XTERRA mix.”

Baldwin and Michael Sevier set a quick pace from the start, and they exchanged the lead several times throughout the course. Baldwin took the lead for good on the final uphill climb and eventually finished 52 seconds ahead of Sevier.

Nathan Platt, a senior at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, placed third overall with a time of 1:05:11.

Shearer was the first overall female, and finished with a women’s record time of 1:10:50 – four minutes faster than the previous mark. Like Baldwin, Shearer was running at Crystal Cove for the first time.

Maggie Shearer “If you like hills, it offered an opportunity to get out ahead of the competition right from the beginning,” she said. “Prior to the start of the race, someone mentioned a big hill – ‘The Wall.’ I ran the entire hill, but I’m sure I would have gone backwards if I did not. It was pretty steep!”

(Maggie Shearer pictured, courtesywww.SuperSportsPhoto.com)

Shearer, 35, ran away from the other women from the start, and kept pace with the lead males for most of the course. “They were very supportive and encouraging!” she said of the men. “Many segments of the race were on a single track so there was a constant exchange of race efforts between a few of us.”

Shearer has placed second overall at several previous XTERRA SoCal Trail Run events, and this was her first overall victory in the series.

Mollie Rosing placed second in 1:14:56, and Tara Kulikov was third in 1:16:38.

The event featured a capacity field of 600 runners, ranging in age from 16 to 87.

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The Crystal Cove Trail Run was the third of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Boney Mountain Trail Run at Newbury Park, Calif., on January 6.

To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visit www.trailrace.com.

About the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series
The XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 22 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Southern California at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. SoCal is one of 13 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.

Haley, Gormley Continue Winning at Victoria Bryant

Each has won four races this season in Georgia Series

Matt Haley continued his amazing streak of wins and Tara Gormley got back on the winning track to highlight the latest race in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series.

Tara GormleyHaley was the overall winner of the XTERRA Victoria Bryant Trail Run, which was completed on Saturday, December 1, at Victoria Bryant State Park in Royston, Georgia. He completed the 10-kilometer course in 38 minutes, 51 seconds, which was more than four minutes faster than any other runner in the field of around 200 participants.

“The conditions were good for running,” Haley said. “I really enjoyed the crisp, country air, as this race was out in ‘the sticks’ as they say. The course was relentless, with the hills though. It was a constant up and down with a few flat sections in between all of the hills. Despite the difficulty, I’ve always liked courses that challenge you with some tough terrain. It’s nice to be able to roll on flat, easy courses but I’ve always been a little bit of a grinder, so the tougher courses seem to suit me more.”

Once the starting gun went off, Haley darted to the front of the pack, and ran by himself alone in the lead for most of the course.

“This one was a solo effort for virtually the entire race,” he said. “We started out on the road for spacing but as soon as we hit the trail I had built up a pretty good lead and by the time we got to the mile marker I was running completely alone. Even though I built up an early lead I tried to keep pushing myself to see how I’d run on a tougher course.”

Haley, 28, has entered the last four races in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series, and has won each one by a convincing margin. He resides in Buford, Georgia, and is a member of the Saucony Hurricanes running club.

Ben Smith of Danielsville, Georgia, placed second with a time of 43:14, and Brian Rogers from Loganville, Geogia, was third in 44:50.

Gormley placed an impressive fifth overall and was the first overall female with a time of 45:05. She has now placed first overall at 19 races in the XTERRA Georgia Series since 2008.

(Gormley pictured courtesy Mark Robertson / www.powerbar.com)

“There were several long climbs that seemed to keep going and going,” she said of the course. “There are a lot of roots and rocks along the trail, but luckily the trails are wide and the leaves were blown off, so the obstacles along the way were easier to navigate.”

Gormley said she took the lead halfway through the course, and stretched the lead late in the race during the grueling uphill climbs.

The race also provided a sense of redemption for Gormley, who finished in third place – disappointing by her own lofty standards – at the previous Georgia Series race last month at Little Mulberry Park. “I was very happy to pull out the win at this race,” she said. “I felt off my game at the Little Mulberry Course and it was good to be back!”

The effort did take a toll on Gormley, however. The day after the race, she was admitted to a hospital and treated for Viral Meningitis. She said she hopes to be ready for the next Georgia Series race in two months.

Kristen Meadors placed second in the women’s division in 45:57, and Crissy Ivey was third in 49:06.

In addition to the 10K course, there was a 5K short course. Carl Corley and Laura Phillips were the overall winners of the 5K.

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The XTERRA Victoria Bryant Trail Run was the fifth of seven races on the 2012-13 season schedule for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail Run on February 23. That race is considered one of the feature events of the Georgia Series because it offers a full-marathon course and a half-marathon course. To register for the race or learn more about the Georgia Series please visitwww.dirtyspokes.com.

About the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 42 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Georgia at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Georgia is one of 13 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California Southern California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.

Bruce and Gray Tie for First at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds

Smith takes championship in women’s division

Kaaawa, Oahu, HI – History was made in more ways than one at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Photo FinishFor the first time in the history of the prestigious event, there was a tie for first place. After 21 grueling kilometers at the majestic Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii, not even a photo finish – or video replay – could determine the winner.

Ben Bruce and Joe Gray crossed the finish line simultaneously, and are officially the co-champions for 2012. After reviewing several angles of video and photos, XTERRA race officials declared it a tie.

In the women’s division Lucy Smith of Canada proved that age is no barrier when it comes to winning. She was the overall winner of the women’s division, and at 45, is the oldest runner ever to win the overall XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

More than 2,000 runners from around the world participated in the event, ranging in age from 6 to 77. There were runners from 15 countries and 37 states.

MEN’S RACE

For the first time in the five-year history of the race, Max King of Oregon did not enter the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which meant a new champion was guaranteed. King won the title every year from 2008-2011.

But who knew the race to find a new king would be so exciting?

“It was one of those things, you keep trying to press on and never give up in a race,” said Bruce, who caught Gray in the final section of the course. “You do what you can to finish first, and this time, it ended up being a tie.”

Gray said: “I saw him coming. I was trying to hold him off as best I could.”

Gray, who resides in Renton, Washington, had the lead for most of the race, but he ran off course twice, and lost some time.

“It happens,” Gray said. “There were some logistical issues, but as far as challenging, this course is very challenging.”

XTERRA Trail Run World Championship StartBruce said he could see Gray in the lead at several points during the race, but he never caught up until the finish line. “It’s tough because when the course opened up, I could see him, but a lot of times it would be going on the steeper hills, so it looked like he was right there, but in reality it might be 20 to 30 seconds. I could never really tell how far ahead he really was, but it kept me going, thinking that I was close.”

Bruce and Gray were each credited with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes, 58 seconds, and each received $1,500 for the co-victory.

Will Christian of Virginia placed third with a time of 1:25:54.

“I ran this race in 2010, and the course seemed a lot harder this time,” Christian said. “I was not prepared for the humidity and all the elevation changes.”

Interestingly enough, Bruce (2008), Gray (2009) and Christian (2010) had all finished in second place at this event in previous years.

Mario Mendoza of Oregon was fourth in 1:26:35, and Willie Schefer from Kihei, Maui, was fifth in 1:26:41.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Jacob Puzey (1:28:58), Roberto Mandje (1:29:19), Thomas Rivers Puzey (1:29:52), Leandro Santillan (1:30:22) and Kenichi Komatsu (1:30:24.).

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS | CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

 

PL NAME TIME HOMETOWN PRIZE
1 Ben Bruce 1:21:58 Flagstaff, AZ $1,500
2 Joseph Gray 1:21:58 Renton, WA $1,500
3 Will Christian 1:25:54 Norforlk, VA $750
4 Mario Mendoza 1:26:35 Bend, OR $500
5 Willie Schefer 1:26:41 Kihei, HI $300
6 Jacob Puzey 1:28:58 Hermiston, OR $250
7 Roberto Mandje 1:29:19 Boulder, CO $200

WOMEN’S RACE

Lucy SmithLucy Smith entered the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for the first time in 2011. She placed second that year and vowed to learn from the experience.

“I didn’t know the course at all last year, and I knew what I could do to train for the course this year,” she said. “Training for all the hills is the hardest part, and I feel like I was better prepared for it.”

Smith finished with a time of 1:41:39, and may have benefited from a wrong turn by another runner.

Polina Babkina had the lead for the first half of the race, but a wrong turn on the course cost her the lead. She is originally from Russia, and is currently a student at Hawaii Pacific University.

“I was running with her for a while, and then I said I’ll let her get in front because I knew some of the tougher hills were coming and I wanted to save something for that. When I came up the hill, some of the people up there were saying I was in first, so I’m not sure what happened, but I just tried to keep motoring home after that.”

Amber Moran from Asheville, North Carolina, placed second overall with a time of 1:43:41. It was a nice follow-up from her third-place finish at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship two months ago in Utah.

“The Nationals was my first big XTERRA experience, and it was such an amazing experience, I said I have to go to Hawaii and do the Worlds,” Moran said. “It was everything I thought it would be and more. The course is really pretty out there and the atmosphere is incredible.”

Babkina placed third in 1:45:34, and Natalia Kravchuk of Honolulu was fourth in 1:47:31, and Georgie Rutherford from London, England, was fifth in 1:49:58.

Rounding out the top 10 were Mary Castelanelli (1:51:23), Stephanie Weigel (1:53:14), Susie Stephen (1:53:40), Rachel Cieslewicz (1:54:59) and Janelle Lancaster (1:55:42).

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS | CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

 

PL NAME TIME HOMETOWN PRIZE
1 Lucy Smith 1:41:39 Sidney, Canada $2,000
2 Amber Moran 1:43:41 Asheville, NC $1,000
3 Polina Babkina 1:45:34 Honolulu, HI $750
4 Nataliia Kravchuk 1:47:31 Honolulu, HI $500
5 Georgie Rutherford 1:49:58 London, United Kingdom $300
6 Mary Castelanelli 1:51:23 Kilauea, HI $250
7 Stephanie Weigel 1:53:14 Las Vegas, NV $200

AGE-GROUP WINNERS

Hawaii runners Lee Saltonstall and Ed Fattoumy highlighted the age-group divisions by winning their fourth XTERRA Trail Run World Championship titles.

Saltonstall was first in the 65-69 women’s division with a time of 2:49:28. Fattoumy was first in the physically challenged division with a time of 1:53:16.

Three other runners – all from Hawaii – won their third titles: Mark Speck (men 40-44), Ash Dustow (men 55-59), Edward Bugarin (men 60-64)

Runners winning their second titles were Keith Rieger (men 45-49), Raymond Brust (men 50-54), Lucy Smith (women 45-49) and Vicki Daniels (women 50-54).

MALE

 

Division Name Hometown Time
10-14 Jase Bell Madison, Alabama 2:07:16
15-19 (2) Jakob Dewald Mililani, Hawaii 1:51:24
20-24 Willie Schefer Kihei, Hawaii 1:26:41
25-29 Joseph Gray Renton, Washington 1:21:58
30-34 Ben Bruce Flagstaff, Arizona 1:21:58
35-39 Jeffrey Moreland Reno, Nevada 1:34:08
40-44 (3) Mark Speck Honolulu, Hawaii 1:34:16
45-49 Keith Rieger Surprise, Arizona 1:38:08
50-54 Raymond Brust Honolulu, Hawaii 1:43:39
55-59 (3) Ash Dustow Honolulu, Hawaii 1:47:39
60-64  (3) Edward Bugarin Honolulu, Hawaii 2:07:27
65-69 Jon Lyon Anchorage, Alaska 2:41:45
70-74 Roger Kemppel Anchorage, Alaska 2:29:47
75-79 Dieter Walz Portola Valley, California 3:07:51
PC (4) Ed Fattoumy Honolulu, Hawaii 1:53:16

FEMALE

 

Division Name Hometown Time
10-14 Kaytlynn Welsch Alvin, Texas 2:02:34
20-24 Polina Babkina Russia 1:45:34
25-29 Nataliia Kravchuk Honolulu, Hawaii 1:47:31
30-34 Amber Moran Asheville, North Carolina 1:43:41
35-39 Kathrin Schambeck Eckental, Germany 2:04:54
40-44 Janelle Lancaster Seattle, Washington 1:55:42
45-49 Lucy Smith Sidney, Canada 1:41:39
50-54 (2) Vicki Daniels Honolulu, Hawaii 2:23:02
55-59 Nozomi Wade Lawrenceville, Georgia 2:41:01
60-64 Nancy Andrade Kapaa, Hawaii 2:48:22
65-69 (3)Lee Saltonstall Honolulu, Hawaii 2:49:28

(#) Denotes number of XTERRA World Titles

Overall Champs in Bold

TEAM X-T.R.E.M.E.

For the third consecutive year, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. participate in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch.

The team of eight runners completed the 21K championship course while wearing Avon Protection Systems C50 gas masks secured to their faces. The team included two wounded veterans on the run this year.

Per tradition, the team skydived into the race site prior to the start, and also brought in another wounded veteran as their guest of honor. This year’s guest of honor was Cpl. Josh Sams.

 

The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell, AVIA, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, and Hawaiian Airlines. Sponsors include the Hawaii Tourism Authority, OC 16, Kualoa Ranch, PowerBar, Gatorade, Zorrel, XTERRA Footwear, Trail Runner Magazine, XTERRAShop.com, and Rudy Project.