XTERRA Nordic, the Latest Addition to the XTERRA Family

The latest addition to the XTERRA family is XTERRA Nordic. Running26, a Danish based company has added a whole series of races to the calendar in Denmark and Sweden, Norway will follow shortly.

The Denmark races begin May 11 with an off-road duathlon and continues with the main events August 29, 30 and 31 in an area called Tisvilde Hegn. Events include a mountain bike race, a 10km trail run and an off-road triathlon.

The events in Sweden will take place July 11, 12 and 13.

According to organizer Steen Walter, himself a multiple danish champion in cross country, athletes can expect well designed courses, with races of high quality, and “they will cover the varied scandinavian nature that can be found in Sweden, Denmark and Norway” Walter continued.

Despite the fact that Denmark is flat with its highest point at 300 feet the terrain will still provide enough challenges for the participant to make it a real XTERRA event. Just a few hundred kilometers to the north in Sweden you will find totally different terrain that will create a unique nordic experience.

Walter expects that an actual XTERRA Series for the Nordic countries will come in 2015.

With the addition of Denmark to the XTERRA family you now have the opportunity to experience the place that inspired the happiest place in the world. True there has been plenty of stories about Danes being the happiest people in the world, but we were thinking of Tivoli Gardens, build in 1843 this is the second oldest amusement park right after Dyrehavsbakken (by 260 years), which is just about 10 miles North of Tivoli Gardens.

Yes, 260 years is not so much in a country where things are kind of old. Right up the coast from where the XTERRA race is to be held “Hamlet’s” castle Elsinore is located, build in 1420.

If you go to Sweden you will have plenty of different choices for sightseeing. With 978 miles from North to South you will spend some time on the road and with a museum dedicated to ABBA how could you not like a city like Stockholm? If you want to get out of the city, you can go north to the mountains, and go all the way up to the arctic circle, or you can head down south toward the more populated areas.

Patrick Smyth – Not Your Average Trail Novice

At XTERRA Nationals in September Patrick Smyth took everyone by surprise when he went ahead and won with a commanding performance and by a large margin ahead of Joseph Gray, whom he also met later at XTERRA Worlds in Hawaii. The biggest surprise might have been to Patrick Smyth himself, this was his first try at XTERRA and trail running.

Patrick SmythWe sat down with Patrick to talk about his latest success.

XTERRA: What is your background in running?

Patrick: I ran collegiately at Notre Dame where I was a 7-time All-American across cross-country, indoor and outdoor track. In 2010, I signed with Nike and ran primarily on the roads (10k-marathon) but dabbled in cross country and track as well.

XT: How did you end up at XTERRA?

PS: In the fall of 2012, I enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Utah in my hometown of Salt Lake City. I rediscovered the thrill and escape of trail running around that time. Having logged a pretty good summer on the trails this past year, I decided to try my hand at the XTERRA U.S Champs held at Snowbasin. I was fortunate to get the win there and was able to keep the momentum going and win again at the XTERRA World Champs in Hawaii. Needless to say, I was hooked.

XT: What was your expectations of racing at XTERRA?

PS: I expected the races to be competitive, and knew it would be a dog fight to win at the U.S and World Champs. That was very much the case, as both were tough won battles.

XT: Tell us a little bit about your training.

PS: I am fortunate to have a lot of trails out my door in Salt Lake City, though most are covered in snow at the moment, so I utilize them often. I run a lot of hills in general, do a weekly long run and mix in some strength training when I can.

XT: Where will we see you in 2014?

PS: Hopefully another trip to Hawaii to defend my title!

Mader, Lemon win Alabama Trail Run Series Opener

Branden MaderAlabama kicked off 2014 with a blast at the Monte Sano 15km/5km. This was the last of six races, and the terrain was probably the toughest competitors will face in the series. The weather didn’t make it easier with heavy thunderstorms in the area the night before the race and rain stopping just prior to the race starting.

“Those two combined allowed for a true XTERRA Mud Fest!” said race director Tim Schroer.

There was never any doubt that Kylie Lemon would win the women’s 15km event. She crossed the line 13 minutes ahead of Erin Looney, while Beth Hiett was another six minutes back.

The men’s race saw Brandon Mader running away with the victory as Eric Charette and Jon Krichen battled it out for second and third.

In the women’s 5km Lisa Booher won with over a minute lead ahead of Elizabeth Helleand who had Jessia Houppert in hot pursuit only seconds after.

The men’s race was close with 14-year-old Korey Shively crossing the line six seconds ahead of 56-year-old Robert Whitaker and another teenager Bailey Herfurth, 16, 20 seconds back for third.

Top 3 -15km

Women
1. Kylie Lemon 1:21:47.4
2. Erin Looney 1:34:36.8
3. Beth Hiett 1:40:21.4

Men
1. Brandon Mader 1:08:07.9
2. Eric Charette 1:11:41.0
3. Jon Krichen 1:12:09

Top 3 – 5km

Women
1. Lisa Booher 27:37.2
2. Elizabeth Helland 28:55.5
3. Jessica Houppert 28:57.6

Men
1. Korey Shively 23:42.4
2. Robert Whitaker 23:48.5
3. Bailey Herfurth 24:08.9

Gilbert, McAdam win at Boney Mountain

XTERRA hit the trails last weekend in Southern California, at the Boney Mountain State Wilderness area where over 500 runners gathered for the 6km and 21km events. Runners were treated to near perfect conditions, mid to high 60’s with a bit of cloud cover that warmed up to nearly 70 degrees by the end day.

“The terrain was some of the most unique as a huge fire came through the area last may” said Race director Brendan Lindner, “So what used to be filled with oaks, vegetation, etc, was a barren wasteland, think of moon scape.”

Chris Gilbert finished with the half-marathon victory besting Jonathan Toker by nearly two minutes and Oscar Orozco in third.

For the women Jessica McAdam ran away with the victory nearly five minutes ahead of Jennifer Todd and Jessica Stern.

The men’s 6km belonged to the young runners, Connor Dunne, 16, with Cade Ruble, 15, placing second and Trevor Soder, 16, in third.

Likewise, for the women, fifteen year-old Nicole Burch ran away with top honors as Joanna Nygren, placed second and Lora Zagnoli third.

Top 3 – 21km

Men
1. Chris Glibert 1:29:33
2. Jonathan Toker 1:31:47
3. Oscar Orozco 1:36:20

Women
1. Jessica McAdam 1:46:54
2. Jennifer Todd 1:52:05
3. Jessica Stern 1:57:05

Top 3 – 6km

Men
1. Connor Dunne 27:50
2. Cade Ruble 29:24
3. Trevor Soder 31:37

Women
1. Nicole Burch 33:48
2. Joanna Nygren 35:45
3. Lora Zagnoli 38:19

Running After Routledge: Retracing an English Expedition

XTERRA runner Susie Stephen was merely out on a long training run when she placed fifth in her age group (35-39) and ran 1:51:56 at the World Championship, she even continued after she passed the finish line and ran another six miles to “get some miles in”.

Susie StephenIt is understandable as to “why” when you hear of Stephen’s upcoming schedule.

On January 18 she will be participating in the HURT 100 mile race on Oahu, on one of the toughest courses known to trail runners. Right after that race it is off to her native England for a totally different race, running the length of England, and then on a boat to Rapa Nui.

This spring, Stephen plans to begin a journey of epic proportions, by traveling from her hometown of Darlington in the UK, all the way to Rapa Nui, Easter Island – on foot, by bike, and by boat.

The trip is both a celebration of the 100th historic voyage, the 1914 Mana Expedition to Easter Island and an environmental awareness campaign.

The environmental message is one of clean water. As Susie runs, bikes and ‘boats’ to Rapa Nui she will be fundraising towards the purchase of a special sewage-digesting unit for the island – a BioMax. The BioMax has been designed to process sewage and produce grey-water that can then be used in gardens and outdoors – lowering the demand on tapped water supplies. Rapa Nui has a burgeoning population and pressure on its freshwater aquifer is leading to renewed calls for waste management improvements. The BioMax unit will be an example of how small steps can be taken by households and businesses to lower their draw on the water supply.

In 2005, as a volunteer with a youth outreach organisation on Rapa Nui (‘A Po), Susie discovered that she shared a birthplace (Darlington) with the only woman onboard the 1914 Mana Expedtion: Katherine Routledge. Since then Susie has planned to return to Rapa Nui and pay tribute to the work of the 1914 Mana Expedition and Katherine Routledge.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Susie started planning an expedition to retrace the voyage of the Mana. But as an avid runner, it made most sense for Susie to attempt an overland expedition, on foot, and hence ‘Running after Routledge’ was born.

Susie plans to leave her hometown of Darlington in February 2014, and run the 300+ miles to Southampton over a period of three weeks. From there Susie will jump onboard a boat to South America and travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The planned route from Argentina will take Susie across the Pampas region, and then over the Andes to Santiago, Chile. From there, Susie will then sail from Valparaiso out to Rapa Nui.

The 2014 expedition aims to not only inspire and promote environmentally sustainable practices, but will also create educational experiences for a wide range of people en route, and post-expedition. Susie will be traceable online as she travels, and will be logging ‘phone-ins’ via iPadio where you can catch up on news from the road. Additionally Susie will be documenting the expedition in numerous formats: digitally via video & photography; and on paper with pencil & ink. On return Susie will be publishing a full a post-expedition report in paper back format.

Currently Susie has an active Indiegogo Campaign online that will help ‘Running after Routledge’ to set sail. For more information about the expedition email rapanuiuk@gmail.com.

For more information on the Indiego campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/running-after-routledge-retracing-an-english-expedition-to-easter-island/x/5763842

Smyth, Babkina win XTERRA Trail Run Worlds

PHOTO GALLERY

Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii – Patrick Smyth found his way in the sport of trail running, and Polina Babkina found her way at Kualoa Ranch. As a result, both ran away as the new champions of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Patrick SmythMore than 2,000 runners from 12 countries and 36 states participated in the event on an “Aloha from Hawaii” postcard-type of day at Kualoa Ranch.

Smyth, who resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, was the overall winner, competing the 21-kilometer championship course in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 38 seconds. It was his first appearance at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii, and it came just two months after he burst onto the trail running scene with a victory at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in his home state of Utah.

Babkina, who is originally from Russia but now resides in Honolulu, was the first overall female, with a time of 1:37:24. It was sweet redemption for Babkina, who was leading the race last year until she took a wrong turn and eventually finished third.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS

Smyth tops elite men’s field

Patrick Smyth stunned the field back in September when he won the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals in his first ever trail run event at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. On Sunday – thousands of miles away from his home state and in temperatures dozens of degrees warmer – Smyth proved he is no fluke.

“I didn’t think it would come this quickly, taking back-to-back races like this,” said Smyth, 27. “I’ve run a lot of races against some of these guys, just not on terrain like this. Getting my mind and body ready for the trails was my biggest concern, so to get back-to-back wins is really nice.”

Just like in Utah, this latest victory came against a stacked field that included former world champions Joseph Gray (2012) from Washington, and Max King (2008-11) from Oregon.

Gray placed second in 1:17:26, and King was third in 1:20:53. Smyth, Gray and King broke away from the rest of the field early, and then Smyth eventually took off midway through the course.

“We were getting after it right from the get-go,” Smyth said. “And it was a battle of attrition after that. I think they were a lot more trail-versed on the downhills, where I was more conservative. Then I would try to open it up on the double-track. It was kind of a cat-and-mouse game.”

Smyth forged a lead of more than a minute late in the course, but he made it interesting when he fell while trying to go around some of the slower runners (who were getting lapped by the elite runners at that point).

“I tried to go around one guy, and went off the trail and then kind of tumbled head over heels,” said Smyth, who emerged with a scraped shoulder. “I knew I had the lead, but when something like that happens, all these thoughts go through your head, and I was just imagining Joe or Max sneaking up and catching me after that, so I got up and kept going as hard as I could to the finish.”

Gray rolled an ankle late in the course, and said his focus was on maintaining second place once he realized that Smyth got too far ahead.

“I gave him too much time, and then after I rolled my ankle, I kind of played it safe and made sure I could hold on to second,” Gray said. “I think a race like this is great for the sport. There were a lot of great runners here today, and we all went hard and fast trying to beat each other.”

For King, it was the first time that he did not win at Kualoa Ranch. He won the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship every year from 2008-11, then skipped it last year for the birth of his daughter.

“I don’t know, I didn’t feel quite like myself today and I had to let (Smyth) go,” King said. “I did what I could and came up in third. My (previously injured) ankle was fine. It wasn’t that. We were all running fast, so I would say the bar has been raised. I have to get back in shape and try again next year.”

Nathan Peters from Salt Lake City, Utah, was fourth in 1:23:44. It was also his first appearance at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Roberto Mandje from Boulder, Colorado, was fifth in 1:26:53 following a seventh-place showing last year.

Rounding out the top 10 were Chris Gomez (1:29:25) from Arizona, Hawaii Pacific University student Leandro Santillan (1:29:46), Matthew Battley (1:29:57) from New Zealand, HPU student Fermin Villagran (1:31:55), and Leif Kohler (1:32:24) from Honolulu.

 

PL NAME TIME HOMETOWN PRIZE
1 Patrick Smyth 1:16:38 Salt Lake City, UT $2,000
2 Joseph Gray 1:17:26 Lakewood, WA $1,000
3 Max King 1:20:53 Bend, OR $750
4 Nathan Peters 1:23:44 Salt Lake City, UT $500
5 Roberto Mandje 1:26:53 Boulder, CO $300
6 Chris Gomez 1:29:25 Flagstaff, AZ $250
7 Leandro Santillan 1:29:46 Martinez, Argentina $200

Babkina tops elite women’s field

Polina BabkinaPolina Babkina can now look back at last year and laugh. A year ago, it wasn’t so funny when she got lost in the forests of Kualoa Ranch and had to settle for third place instead of a breakthrough victory.

It took a year, but she finally made up for it with an impressive victory over the other top females.

“This means a lot to me because of what happened last year,” said Babkina, 25. “I was very cautious this year and I kept looking for the course marks and I think it was marked better this year. I didn’t find myself confused even once this year, so it was a good race.”

Babkina took the lead midway through the course and then held off a late charge from 2012 champion Lucy Smith of Canada.

Smith placed second in 1:37:55 – just 31 seconds behind Babkina. In the past three years, the 46-year-old Smith has placed second twice (2011 and 2013) in addition to her 2012 title.

“I’m more of a second-half runner, so I was trying to make up ground in the last few miles,” Smith said. “I could see (Babkina) toward the end there and it got me going, but she got a little bit too far in front.”

Babkina came to Hawaii in 2011 to join the Hawaii Pacific University cross country team. She is now a graduate student there, and is engaged to be married this December.

“I know many ladies, all very good trail runners, come here from all over to run in this race,” Babkina said. “I feel like I am representing Hawaii now, and this race is very big in Hawaii, so I was happy to get this win.”

Meggan Franks, another of Canada’s top trail runners, placed third among the women in 1:40:24. It was her first appearance at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“I really enjoyed it; loved the course,” Franks said. “To get third place in my first time racing here, I can’t complain. I look at the fourth-place girl (Rose Wetzel) and I know she’s really fast, so I’m happy.”

Wetzel, a standout on the USA Track & Field circuit, placed fourth in 1:40:46. It was also her first appearance at Kualoa Ranch.

Another newcomer, Corrine Fitzgerald from New Jersey, placed fifth in 1:43:08.

Rounding out the top 10 were Jill Thompson (1:46:34) from Honolulu, Lauren Ho (1:46:47) from Kailua, Hawaii, Reegan Ellis (1:48:58) from Australia, Monica Ross (1:49:08) from Alaska, and Mary Castelanelli (1:49:55) from Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii.

 

PL NAME TIME HOMETOWN PRIZE
1 Polina Babkina 1:37:24 Honolulu, HI $2,000
2 Lucy Smith 1:37:55 Sidney, Canada $1,000
3 Meggan Franks 1:40:24 Athabasca, Canada $750
4 Rose Wetzel 1:40:46 Seattle, WA $500
5 Corrine Fitzgerald 1:43:08 Rockaway, NJ $300
6 Jill Thompson 1:46:34 Honolulu, HI $250
7 Lauren Ho 1:46:47 Kailua, HI $200

King, Saltonstall top age-group winners

In addition to the overall champions, 26 runners received recognition as age-group world champions.

Kualoa StartLeading the way were Max King of Oregon and Lee Saltonstall from Hawaii, as they won their respective age-groups for the fifth time. King captured first in the 30-34 division, while Saltonstall took first in the women’s 65-69 division.

Runners winning an age-group title for the third time Keith Rieger from Arizona (men’s 45-49), Ray Brust (men’s 50-54), and Lucy Smith (women’s 45-49).

Two-time champions are Roger Kemppel from Alaska (men’s 70-74) and Polina Babkina from Honolulu (women’s 25-29).

The youngest and oldest age-group champions each completed a significant double-XTERRA victory in 2013. Korey Shively from Alabama won the male 10-14 division in his first try, and it came two months after he won his age division at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. Jesus Romero did the same in the men’s 75-79 division, capturing both the National and World titles for his age group in the same year.

Here is the complete list of age-group winners:

MALE

 

Division Name Hometown Time
10-14 Korey Shively Madison, AL 1:51:00
15-19 Matthew Battley Auckland, New Zealand 1:29:57
20-24 Nathan Peters Salt Lake City, UT 1:23:44
25-29 Patrick Smyth* Salt Lake City, UT 1:16:38
30-34 (5) Max King Bend, OR 1:20:53
35-39 (2) Nick Hirschfeld Hanmer Springs, New Zealand 1:34:28
40-44 Wilhelm Northrop Boise, ID 1:45:38
45-49 (3) Keith Rieger Surprise, AZ 1:35:10
50-54 (3) Ray Brust Honolulu, HI 1:44:36
55-59 John Trahan Honolulu, HI 1:51:33
60-64  Mike Heiliger Squamish, Canada 2:01:26
65-69 John Ingram Comox, Canada 2:17:36
70-74 (2) Roger Kemppel Anchorage, Alaska 2:29:06
75-79 Jesus Romero Snellville, GA 2:55:57

FEMALE

 

Division Name Hometown Time
15-19 Kim Kolzow Naperville, IL 2:24:19
20-24 Corinne Fitzgerald Rockaway, NJ 1:43:08
25-29 (2) Polina Babkina* Honolulu, HI 1:37:24
30-34 Meggan Franks Athabasca, Canada 1:40:24
35-39 Candes Gentry Honolulu, HI 1:51:58
40-44 Tina-Marie Poulin New York, NY 1:52:12
45-49 (3) Lucy Smith Sidney, Canada 1:37:55
50-54 Sara Graham Woodinville, WA 2:23:27
55-59 Lisa Gonzales-Gile Edwards, CO 2:25:24
60-64 Cindi Toepel Littleton, CO 2:19:12
65-69 (5) Lee Saltonstall Honolulu, HI 3:03:51
70-74 Amy Galbraith  Venice, CA 4:10:18

(#) Denotes number of XTERRA World Titles
Overall Champs in Bold
10K / 5K winners

In addition to the 21K championship course, there were also 10K and 5K races staged at Kualoa Ranch on Sunday.

Jorge Mendez from Honolulu dominated the 10K race, finishing in 38:37 – nearly four minutes ahead of the others. Karen Miller from Kailua, Hawaii, was the top female for the 10K in 47:57.

Kevin Enriques from Honolulu placed first in the 5K with a time of 20:55, and Nancy Hobbs from Colorado Springs was the top female in 24:26.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS

Rappole, McKenzie Come up Big at Little Mulberry

Capacity field of 300 runners participate in Georgia Series race

Jesse Rappole is getting used to this winning stuff. After notching his first overall victory in an XTERRA Trail Run race earlier in the month, Rappole did it again on November 24, when he won the XTERRA Little Mulberry Trail Run at Dacula, Georgia.

Little Mulberry StartRappole, who is 31 and resides in Atlanta, completed the 10-kilometer course in 36 minutes, 45 seconds. “First time running at Little Mulberry Park,” he said. “The course was perfect on a cool, misty morning.”

A capacity field of 300 runners participated in the event, which was the fourth of seven races in the 2013-14 season for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series.

Rappole also won the XTERRA Big Creek Trail Run on November 2. Just like that last time, Rappole out-dueled Matt Haley of Buford to win the Little Mulberry title.

“It had a cross-country course like feel for the first half,” Rappole said. “Matt Haley opened a substantial lead and I was just trying to keep him in sight through the fog early. At around mile 3, we ran into the woods, off the backside of the hill and down a long steep single track. I caught Matt at the bottom and used the adrenaline surge to get up the next long climb. Then I was hanging on, hoping he wouldn’t catch me again all the way through the winding trails to the finish.”

Haley placed second in 37:22, and Woody Dover from Decatur, Georgia, was third in 38:57.

Michelle McKenzie from Flowery Branch, Georgia, was the top overall female with a time of 43:56. She finished more than three minutes ahead of other top females. It was her first XTERRA Trail Run event of the year, but she is no stranger to success. She won an XTERRA Georgia Trail Run event during the 2011-12 season, and placed second overall at another event in the 2012-13 season.

Patrice Sweet of Gainesville, Georgia, placed second in 47:23, and Melissa Chapman from Lilburn, Georgia, was third in 47:41.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS

In addition to the 10K race, there was also a 5K “short course.” Sammy Holcomb and Camryn Petit were the overall winners of the 5K.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE RACE

The next race in the Georgia Series will be the XTERRA Victoria Bryant Trail Run on December 7 at Royston, Georgia. To register for the race or learn more about the series, please visitwww.dirtyspokes.com.

Kualoa Ranch is the Star at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds

Site has been used for numerous movies and TV shows

Runners come and go at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, but one star of the show remains true every year. Kualoa Ranch.

Kualoa ScenicThe 4,000-acre working cattle ranch on the northeast coast of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, is the lure that keeps bringing more than 2,000 runners from around the world to the race every year.

This year’s event is scheduled for November 24, and runners from 10 countries and 36 different states are registered to take on the unique challenge that only Kualoa Ranch can offer.

“The XTERRA half-marathon course at Kualoa is a pretty challenging and technically demanding race,” said Polina Babkina, a Honolulu resident who placed third at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. “The course is also one of the most beautiful and amazing courses I’ve ever run. The race sends runners maneuvering through the forest, crossing over streams, and across some relentless up-hills. The terrain is rugged and technical at times, but the scenery is breathtaking throughout the whole race.”

Part of the allure is the mystery of Kualoa Ranch. The trails are normally closed to the public, and only a handful of races are allowed there each year. In essence, there is no “home course advantage” because no runners are allowed to practice on the trails.

The beauty of Kualoa Ranch may often be closed to the public, but it has certainly been put on display on the big screen. Hit movies such as Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Battleship, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates and others have featured Kualoa Ranch as a prominent backdrop. Hawaii-based television shows LOST and Hawaii Five-O also filmed regularly at the Ranch.

As for the race itself, the 21-kilometer championship course takes runners on wild adventure that includes narrow single track along the top of a mountain, dirt roads, cow pastures, stream crossings, tropical forests, and passes alongside some of the remaining movie production sets.

Oregon’s Max King, who has won the race at Kualoa Ranch four times in his career, said: “The scenery of the course easily stands out as one of the main draws to the Kualoa course. Not only that, but it’s a challenging half-marathon that still requires a good amount of speed training to do well. It’s got everything a good trail race should have.”

Babkina did the race for the first time last year, and said she could not help but notice the sights along the course, even though she was racing at a fast pace with the leaders.

“Even though I tried to pay attention on rugged trail road, it was hard not to notice spectacular views from  the top of the hills,” she said. “Kualoa Ranch is an area of Oahu that’s very rich in nature. There is no doubt the XTERRA half-marathon course is one of the most scenic races I’ve ever competed in.”

Johnson and Houchin Prevail at Oak Mountain Trail Run

Runners from 14 states participate in Alabama Series race No. 4

Erik Johnson and Mary Houchin proved their worth as elite runners at the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run on November 10.

Alabama SeriesMore than 320 runners from 14 different states participated in the event, which was staged at the award-winning Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama.

The runner who traveled the farthest ended up running the fastest. Johnson, who resides in Seward, Alaska, placed first overall for the 21-kilometer half-marathon course. He finished in 1:29:36, which was nearly two minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

“The course started with close to a mile on the road but then transitioned to single track mountain bike trails, with lots of twisting zig-zagging turns,” Johnson said. “There was some gain in elevation in the run in the later stages of the race, but it was all run-able and easy grades. Overall the condition of the course was smooth with good footing.”

Johnson and Ieden Leckenby from Hoover, Alabama, broke away from the other runners early, and then Johnson got in front by himself after the first few miles. “I was running hard for the first five miles, then I backed off a bit since I wasn’t going to be challenged,” Johnson said.

Johnson is considered one of the top distance runners in Alaska, and he happened to be on a trip to the East Coast when he saw that the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run might fit into his trip.

Leckenby placed second in 1:31:14, and David Olsen from Birmingham was third in 1:37:35.

Houchin was an impressive sixth overall and first among the females. Her finishing time of 1:40:49 was nearly 15 minutes ahead of the other females.

Then again, Houchin has an impressive running resume that includes experience with Team USA at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She is also a former standout runner for the Arizona State track and cross country teams. She currently serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Alabama at Birmingham track and cross country teams.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS

The event also featured a 10K course and a 5K course. Overall winners for the 10K were Jason Gerard and Katie Metcalf; overall winners for the 5K were Dillon O’Hare and Mary Posser.

The XTERRA Oak Mountain was the fourth of seven events in the 2013-14 season for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. The next race will be the XTERRA Coldwater Mountain Trail Run on November 30 at Anniston, Alabama.

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