XTERRA TRAIL RUN NATIONALS: CHARTING A NEW COURSE
The 2011 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship has a new home state, a new course and a bunch of new runners.
The XTERRA Nationals will be staged in Utah for the first time in the event's history, and it has the Beehive State buzzing with anticipation.
The event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25, at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. Close to 400 runners from across the country are expected to participate.
Adding to the anticipation, a brand new trail has been cleared for the 21-kilometer championship course at Snowbasin Resort, so even most the local runners will be venturing into unfamiliar territory. Of particular interest, the course will feature more than 2,200 feet of total climbing, and will take runners to a peak height of approximately 7,300 feet at "Sardine Peak."
Taha Mahmood, an elite runner from Salt Lake City, Utah, said of the thin air: "If runners are coming from lower elevation they will feel the altitude for sure, but if they are in shape, they will be just fine."
As Alabama elite runner Brandon Mader put it: "I've spent my entire life below 1,000 feet (of elevation) so there is really nothing I could do to prepare at this point. I really anticipate this being an enormous advantage to the Utah and Colorado competitors. Instead, I have focused on hill work to prepare for the course itself. Outside of that I would have to rely on my natural aerobic capacity to make up the difference."
The runner to beat, however, will come from Oregon. Max King from Bend, Ore., is the three-time defending champion of the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. However, all three of those previous wins came in his hometown of Bend.
OLYMPIC SKIERS WILL RUN AT XTERRA NATIONALS
The place is called Snowbasin Resort, and it is known as one of the best skiing destinations in the country. Naturally, you would expect it to attract world-class skiers.
Morgan Arritola and Liz Stephen – both members of the USA’s cross country ski team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver -- are in that category, and they will be competing at Snowbasin Resort this weekend.
But there are some twists. First, the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will take place for the first time at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah, on Sunday, Sept. 25. Second, the slopes at Snowbasin Resort have not had any snowfall recently.
Still, Arritola and Stephen are considered two of the leading contenders in the women’s field for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Apparently, they are as good in trail-running shoes as they are with skis.
UTAH EMBRACING XTERRA NATIONALS
The new home state for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will be well-represented on Sunday, Sept. 25.
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is being held in Utah for the first time in the event’s history, and more than half of the field will consist of Utahns. The event was previously held in Nevada in 2007, and Oregon from 2008-10.
This year’s XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is scheduled for the morning of Sunday, Sept. 25, at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. Close to 400 runners from across the country are entered in the event, including more than 200 from Utah.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out that XTERRA Nationals was coming to Utah,” said Rachel Cieslewicz, an elite female runner from Salt Lake City. “We have amazing trails here and I think the runners are going to love it.”
The 21-kilometer championship course at Snowbasin Resort is actually going to be a treat for the Utahns as well. A new section of trail has been cleared for the race, so it will be a new experience for almost every runner in the field.
“It’s amazing,” said Cieslewicz, who got to test-run the course two weeks ago. “That second loop that takes you to the top at Sardine Peak is beautiful, but at the same time, it’s also a really tough climb to get there.”
The course will take runners on more than 2,200 feet of total climbing, and the peak of the trail – Sardine Peak – will reach an elevation of approximately 7,300 feet.
Some of Utah’s top trail runners will participate, including Cieslewicz and Evelyn Dong in the women’s field, and Kevin Tuck and Taha Mahmood in the men’s field.
Tuck, who is from Salt Lake City, is the last Utah runner to win an age-group title at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. He won the men’s 50-54 national championship in 2008, when the event was held in Bend, Ore.
Runners of all ages and skill levels can participate in the event, and there will be three courses to choose from. The 21-kilometer course will serve as the national championship course, but there will also be 10K and 5K courses on offer.
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is being held one day after the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon, which will also take place at Snowbasin Resort. It is the first time that the two XTERRA championship events are being held on the same weekend and in the same location.
LINN RUNS INTO XTERRA HISTORY IN ALABAMA OPENER
Elena Linn knew she was on a fast pace at the XTERRA Cheaha State Park Trail Run last weekend at Delta, Ala. She just didn't realize how fast.
Linn made history by placing first overall. Not just first among the women, she was first among the entire field of more than 100 trail runners.
"I was shocked," she said. "I passed the guy who was in first maybe just a little after mile 1, but I wasn't sure if there was anybody else."
Linn (pictured courtesy www.greatactionportraits.com) completed the 10-kilometer course in 42 minutes, 41 seconds, to become the first female to finish first overall in XTERRA Alabama Trail Run race. XTERRA Trail Runs started in Alabama in 2006.
Adding to the historic run, Mary Houchin-Brooks - another female - placed second overall with a time of 42:47.
2011-12 TRAIL RUN SERIES UNDERWAY
Following the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship this weekend, several regions will begin the 2011-12 season.
Here are some upcoming races:
Oct. 1 – XTERRA Fall Fitness Trail Run (Georgia Series)
Oct. 1 – XTERRA Bark Camp Trail Run (Southern Ohio Series)
Oct. 2 – XTERRA Estrella Mountain Trail Run (Arizona Series)
Oct. 8 – XTERRA Marathon of Trail Races (Colorado Series)
Oct. 9 – XTERRA Pure Austin Fitness Bluff Creek Trail Run (Texas Series)
The XTERRA Alabama and Georgia Series are already underway, and other regions will be hosting races in the weeks to come.
For more information or to find a race near you, please visit www.xterratrailrun.com.
CONTACT THE XTERRA TRAIL RUN SERIES
Toll-free: 877-XTERRA-1 (877-983-7721)
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