First XTERRA Trail Run win for both runners
The XTERRA Snow Valley Trail Run turned into a memorable event for Max Biessmann and Kelly Leonard.
Biessmann was the overall winner of the 21-kilometer race, and Leonard was the top female. More than 120 runners participated in the race, which was completed on August 5 at the Snow Valley Ski Resort in Running Springs, Calif.
Biessmann placed fourth at this race last year, and vowed to return this year to improve his placing. He did just that, leading the race from start to finish. He completed the course with a time of 1 hour, 37 minutes, 54 seconds.
"This one was pretty satisfying because I was able to keep pushing myself towards the end, even though it wasn't a close race," said Biessmann, who is 27 and resides in Irvine, Calif.
Brad Smith of La Verne, Calif., placed second with a time of 1:43:25, and Jason Prince from Aliso Viejo, Calif., was third in 1:49:59.
Biessmann said his strategy was to get in front early, so as not to get stuck in a pack when the trails narrowed. The course took the runners on two loops, and Biessmann said his lead was already significant by the start of the second loop.
"It was definitely harder the second time and I struggled a bit during the last few kilometers to get back to the finish," he said. "I figured I had a good lead but didn't realize that it was that big."
Biessmann is actually a triathlon competitor who uses trail runs as a form of training.
Leonard placed 10th overall and was the runaway winner in the women's division. It was the first overall victory of her running career.
"This Snow Valley victory ranks as my best yet," said Leonard, who is 34 and resides in Newport Beach, Calif. "I have never placed first woman overall to win any other event, so needless to say, I was thrilled and happy."
Carrie Royed from Costa Mesa, Calif., had the women's lead midway through the course, but Leonard relied on a strong finish to score the victory. Leonard finished with a time of 2:09:00, and Royed was second at 2:14:08.
The combination of warm temperatures (80s) and the high elevation (7,000-plus feet) at Snow Valley made for tough - but scenic - conditions for the runners. As Leonard put it: "I would describe the course from Snow Valley as great. The conditions were warm and it did take a few miles for my body to get acclimated from the thin air and high elevation."
There was also a 10-kilometer short course. Christian Soto was the overall winner, and Amy Vasquez was the top female.
To view complete results from the event, please visit www.xterrasnowvalley.com.