XTERRA Trail Mix Newsletter

OAK MOUNTAIN TRAIL RANKED AMONG TOP 25

XTERRA trail runners will get a chance to run on one of the top 25 trails in America -- according to Runner’s World Magazine -- at Pelham, Alabama, on May 21.

Brandon MaderThe Double Oak Trail at Oak Mountain State Park is one of 25 running trails across America recently listed as “The Crown Jewels” of the sport by the magazine.

That very trail will be used for the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs on May 21, which were listed in the same issue of Runner’s World as one of “32 of the top trail running races from sea to shining sea.”

Runners of all ages and skill levels can test it for themselves, as there will be four courses to choose from: a 42-kilometer full-marathon, a 21-kilometer half-marathon, and 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer “mud runs.”  Registration is open at www.xterrratrailrun.com.

Also, the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run will serve as the final race in the 2011 XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series, so the final age-group standings will be determined after the May 21 race. Both the 42-kilometer course and 21-kilometer course at Oak Mountain will count for equal points toward the series standings.

Each age-group champion from the final standings will receive a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, on September 24, 2011.

Brandon Mader of Huntsville, Alabama, has already clinched the men’s 25-29 age-group championship, but he still plans to run on the 42-kilometer course on May 21. Below, he offers tips for runners planning to make the trip to Pelham for the Oak Mountain Trail Run.

To register for the Oak Mountain Trail Run, or to learn more about it, please visit http://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/oakmtn.html.

Note:  XTERRA’s thoughts and prayers go out to all our friends and colleagues in the Birmingham area, the greater Alabama community, and the South in general as they recover from the damage caused by a series of devastating tornadoes that swept through the region this week. 

TIPS FOR THE TRAIL: PREPARING FOR PELHAM

Brandon MaderBy Brandon Mader

Mountain Mud Runs, it's worth taking a moment to discuss how middle-Alabama could come to earn such an honored listing.

Toughness is a common ingredient to all XTERRA trail runs but when you mix equal parts of red clay and lake water the result is something special: the infamous Alabama mud. For a real treat, spread this sticky mess evenly over one of the most technically challenging short-mountain regions in the country, age it in the Southern sun, and garnish with the grins of your fellow competitors. That's Oak Mountain.

So just how do you prepare yourself for this feast of trail glory as the May 21 race is now less than a month away? The first thing to note is the weather, which will likely be warm, sunny, and humid.  Hydration is absolutely essential and should be your top priority. There will be aid stations spaced throughout the course but you should take responsibility for your own care and be prepared.

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DON'T FORGET SANTA CRUZ ON MAY 14

XTERRA Santa Cruz ScenicWith its scenic setting – picture running along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and also through California vegetable patches – the XTERRA Santa Cruz Trail Runs may someday make the top 25 list of top trails.

But it has to start somewhere, and the first XTERRA trail run ever staged in Santa Cruz, Calif., is scheduled for May 14 at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz.

The event will feature three separate courses – a 20-kilometer championship course, and separate 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer short courses. Several top age-group runners from around the country are expected to compete in the 20k course, including Rachel Cieslewicz of Utah, Wendy Marrufo of San Mateo, Calif., Tatjana Trout of Meadow Vista, Calif., and Darian Seavey of Alaska.

To register for the XTERRA Santa Cruz Trail Runs, or learn more about it, please visit http://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/santacruz.html.

GU SPOTLIGHT: XTERRA MALIBU CREEK CHALLENGE TURNS 10

GUThe older the XTERRA Malibu Creek Challenge Trail Run gets, the better it gets.

Hans Unger knows the feeling.

The 10th running of the Malibu Creek Challenge is scheduled for May 7 at Malibu Creek State Park. More than 800 runners of various ages and skill levels are expected to participate. Registration is still open at www.trailrace.com and www.xterratrailrun.com.

Hans UngerOne of the interesting entries is the 68-year-old Unger (pictured), who started trail running after he turned 60, and is now a Southern California regional champion.

“When I hit my 60s, I started to get heavy, so I had to do something about my weight and running seemed like an easy way to do it,” said Unger, who resides in Sylmar, Calif. “It took me about a year to really get into it and lose the weight. But after that, I wanted to keep running and that’s when I started looking for races and I found XTERRA.”

In recent years, Unger has also found success in XTERRA races. Since the start of the 2009 season, Unger has entered 14 XTERRA Trail Run races. He has won his age group at 13 of those races, and shed 30 pounds along the way.

And he’s not just fast for his age. He’s fast, period.

For example, at the XTERRA Black Mountain Trail Run on April 10, Unger placed a respectable 114th overall in the 15-kilometer race, beating more than 140 other runners. The field featured 256 total runners, so Unger finished in the top half of the overall standings, well ahead of several runners in the 20s age groups.

“I try to keep track of some of the guys in my (age) group, because you get to know each other through the races,” Unger said. “But it always feels good to beat some of the younger ones.”

Making it more impressive, Unger is not some retiree who has lots of free time to train. In fact, he is a full-time mechanical engineer who works on various aircrafts. Due to his work schedule, Unger actually doesn’t put in as many miles during the week as he’d like.

“Some days, I’ll just run a 5K or something short like that during lunch,” he said. “I really don’t run on trails until I get to the race. Sometimes I’ll train in a park, but that’s not the same as a trail. I think that might be why I like the (XTERRA) races so much. It’s my chance to get away and be in nature and run with all those people away from the traffic and the buildings.”

It is that same appeal that has made the Malibu Creek Challenge one of the most successful events on the entire XTERRA Trail Run national circuit.

Brennan Lindner and his Generic Events crew have seen the participation numbers more than double for the Malibu Creek event in the past few years. Lindner said part of the attraction is the “family atmosphere,” which includes a post-race breakfast spread for all participants.

He added that there are other draws, including the fact that scenic Malibu serves as the backdrop. “Who doesn’t want to hang out in Malibu?” Lindner said with a laugh.

In addition, the 22-kilometer long course at Malibu Creek is one of the most challenging events in the XTERRA SoCal Series. As the veteran Unger stated: “It’s really tough. I would rate it first or second out of all the races (in the SoCal Series).”

To ensure that runners of all skill levels can participate, there is also a 6-kilometer short course on offer at the Malibu Creek Challenge.

The May 7 race at Malibu Creek will also be the final event on the 2011 XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series, so it will be the last chance for runners to earn points for the season. The top age-group runners in the final standings will receive a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, in September.

To enter the Malibu Creek Challenge, or learn more about the SoCal Series, please visit www.trailrace.com or www.xterratrailrun.com.

PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME

The XTERRA Ecothon Trail Run is scheduled for this Saturday, April 30, at Cumberland, Ohio. The race is not part of any regional series for 2011, but it will be part of the new XTERRA Southern Ohio Trail Run Series in 2012.

In effect, the Ecothon Trail Run will serve as a preview of things to come for Southern Ohio runners. There will also be a separate Northern Ohio Series in 2011 and 2012.

“We wanted to create two separate regional events to better support the participants,” Southern Ohio Series director Brandon Huff said. “Based on 2010 participation, we found that most runners stayed close to home. By having separate series, it will allow better competition without the need for excessive travel.”

It should be noted that runners can enter both the Northern Ohio and Southern Ohio series in 2012, although points will be kept separately. Huff said that the trails in Southern Ohio offer something different from the Northern Ohio races.

“The trails in Southern Ohio, especially Southeast Ohio, are beautiful travels that offer constant elevation changes,” Huff said. “This area includes foothills to the Appalachian Mountains, so the terrain is like nothing else anywhere in Ohio.”

To register for a race in the Southern Ohio Series, or for more information, please visit www.xterraohio.com.

FLORIDA FINALE

Florida SeriesThe inaugural XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series will conclude its 2011 season on Sunday, May 1, with the XTERRA The Claw Adventure Run at Alafia River State Park, Florida.

More than 300 runners are expected to participate, including several who are in contention for regional age-group championships. The Claw Adventure Run will be the final chance for runners to earn points for the 2011 season, and the Florida region champions will be determined after this race.

Race-day registration will be available if space is available. For information, please visit www.tamparaces.com.

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