A new winner and a familiar one took top honors at the XTERRA Fall Fitness Trail Run last weekend at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford, Georgia.
Matt Haley was the overall winner, completing the 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 48 seconds. It was the first XTERRA Trail Run victory of his career.
Close to 200 runners ranging in age from 10 to 71 participated in the race, which was completed on October 13.
"Going into the race my goal was to finish in the top three, so it was really cool to win," said Haley, 28. "I have been fortunate enough to win a few races during my career … any time I am fortunate enough to win, it's special. I always try to enjoy it and have fun with each race I run, no matter the result."
Haley resides in Buford and often trains at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center. "The course was a tough one," he said. "It featured a lot of short steep climbs and drops that really took a lot out of your legs and made it difficult to get into a good rhythm. Fortunately for me, I live right were the race was held, so I've run on the trails a bunch."
Haley also credited his recent training with the Saucony Hurricanes team for getting him in shape, as he is preparing to run his first marathon later this year.
Haley said he took the lead midway through the course and then held off a late charge by Calvin Cofield to take the victory. Cofield, who is from McDonald, Tennessee, placed second in 19:04. David Bell from Atlanta was third in 20:01.
"I thought I had it won when I pulled away just before two miles, but it ended up coming down to the wire, which was definitely fun," Haley said.
In the women's division, Tara Gormley of Marietta, Georgia, added yet another victory to her record collection of XTERRA Georgia Series wins. She completed the course in 22:28 for her 17th victory in the past five years of the Georgia Series.
"The course is a challenging one!" she said. "A few technical sections, but mostly hills. There are many challenging climbs along the way. I know to not expect a usual 5K time. My time was around three minutes slower on this trail than it was on a road 5K the week before."
Gormley, 28, said she ran with some of the top men for most of the course, and was never aware of how far in front of the other women she was until she crossed the finish line.
Shannon Millikin, a senior at Stockbridge High School, in Stockbridge, Georgia, placed second in 24:04. Crissy Ivey from Pendergrass, Georgia, was third in 24:32.
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Gormley said she competed in another trail race the next day after her win and broke a finger during a fall. However, she said it should not prevent her from entering more races in the XTERRA Georgia Series.
The XTERRA Fall Fitness Trail Run was the second of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series. The next event will be the XTERRA Battle at Big Creek Trail Run on November 3 at Roswell, Georgia.
To register for a race in the Georgia Series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.dirtyspokes.com.