Familiar Names Take Top Spots at Alabama Opener
Wall, Gormley prevail at XTERRA Cheaha Trail Run
The new season for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series got off to a fast start last weekend thanks to some familiar names at the front.
More than 130 runners ranging in age from 12 to 72 participated in the XTERRA Cheaha Trail Run, which took place on Saturday, September 29, at Cheaha State Park in Delta, Alabama.
David Wall from Madison, Alabama, was the overall winner, completing the 10-kilometer course in 38 minutes, 52 seconds. Wall, 26 and a former member of the Auburn University track and cross country teams, has won several XTERRA Trail Run events in Alabama in recent years.
(Start of Cheaha Trail Run, courtesy www.dirtyspokes.com)
"I don't think I would have asked for anything different. The course was great!" Wall said. "It was a challenging course with a range of conditions. There were lots of spider webs on the trail and a lot of people were stung by yellow jackets."
Wall said he took the lead from the start of the race and never looked back. He built a significant lead, but said he continued to push because he kept hearing rustling behind him … which turned out to be scurrying squirrels.
"I never really knew how far ahead I got; I kept hearing squirrels running through the woods which for several miles I thought were the guys behind me," he said. "After the race, I talked to the second and third place guys and they also heard a lot of squirrels and thought they were catching me."
Wall finished more than five minutes ahead of the next runner. Jacob Schwyn of Oxford, Alabama, was second in 44:21, and Jamey Taylor of Birmingham, Alabama, was third in 44:37.
Tara Gormley from Marietta, Georgia, placed fifth overall with a time of 44:52, and was the first female finisher. Gormley, 28, has been the top-ranked female runner in the XTERRA Georgia Series for the past four years, but this was her first attempt at an XTERRA Alabama race.
"It was great to see some new faces and competitors in Alabama," she said. "I love the trail race atmosphere -- no matter where you go the people are awesome! I would like to work a couple more Alabama races into my schedule now if possible."
(Tara Gormley pictured, courtesy www.dirtyspokes.com)
Gormley said she took the lead about three miles into the course, during one of the steep uphill climbs. "I took the hills as my opportunity to make my move and went for the lead," she said. "I feel like hills are where I am strongest. I ended up with a little over a minute lead on her by the end."
Ali Edwards of Birmingham placed second with a time of 46:14, and Rebecca Pedrick of Alpharetta, Georgia, was third in 49:58.
Gormley said she made a two-hour drive to get from Marietta, Georgia, to the race site. In addition to racing, she also served as a representative for PowerBar products.
"PowerBar did make this trip possible, and I was happy to represent the brand during the race, and to be there to answer any questions and distribute products after the race!" she said.
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The XTERRA Cheaha Trail Run was the first of six races in the 2012-13 XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. The next race will be the XTERRA Red Mountain Trail Run, scheduled for October 20 at Birmingham, Alabama.
To register for a race in the XTERRA 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 13 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.