Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, once again proved to be the perfect setting for an XTERRA Trail Run last weekend.
Brandon Mader and Elena Linn were the overall winners, but close to 300 other runners got a chance to experience the award-winning trails at the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run on November 11.
"I've raced at Oak Mountain seven times and have yet to run the same course twice," Mader said. "It's an adventure every time."
Mader, who resides in Huntsville, was the overall winner, completing the 21-kilometer long course in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 25 seconds.
"Conditions were perfect, about 50 degrees and sunny," he said. "Only about half the leaves have fallen so far, meaning the trails still had a clear path to follow and the rocks were still visible. Not too many slippery sections or hidden ankle attacks, which are more common in the first few weeks of the leaves falling."
Mader and David Wall broke ahead early, and engaged in a close battle for the lead in the first half of the course. Mader eventually pulled away in the second half of the course.
"We were in a dead heat - I would gain a yard, he would take it back," Mader said. "Then nearing the 4-mlle mark, we passed a technical section and I stretched about 10 yards on him. At that point, I knew it was time to determine how the race would unfold. I pressed hard, inching away from him for the next six miles."
Wall placed second in 1:22:44. He had won the previous two races this season in the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. At this same event last year, Wall placed first and Mader was second.
"I have so much respect for David," Mader said. "We are very evenly matched and it looks like the Alabama Series might have the best rivalry in XTERRA right now on the men's side."
Linn was an impressive sixth overall and the first female with a time of 1:32:36. She finished about a mile ahead of the other females.
"I ran with the guy who got fourth overall for the first eight miles (until the hills hit), then he took off and passed me," she said. "The guy who finished fifth passed me the last half mile (again going up a hill). It was a good race with both of them. They were both very encouraging and friendly! I wasn't sure how far I was ahead of the other women. Once you're in the trails, it's hard to know where everyone else is."
Linn, who is a graduate student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has been the top female runner in the Alabama Series for the past three seasons. She won two separate races at Oak Mountain last season. But like Mader, she said that the trails at Oak Mountain always offer a unique challenge.
"It helps a little, more for the mental aspect of being at a home course," she said. "However, there are so many trails at Oak Mountain, I feel like I run a new trail every time."
The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run also included a 10K course and a 5K course. Other winners were Wade Morris and Kat Sweatt in the 10K, and Dillon O'Hare and Hannah Scott in the 5K.
CLICK HERE for complete results.
The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run was the third of six events in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Coldwater Mountain Trail Run at Anniston, Alabama, on December 15.
To register for a race in the series or learn more about it, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.