College tennis player stuns women's field with win
The XTERRA Rocky Top Trail Run proved that you don't have to be an experienced runner to be successful at trail racing.
Zoe Hamel, a tennis player at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, was the top overall female for the 21-kilometer course. Erin Ryan, a soccer player at UNC-Asheville, placed second.
"It was my first trail race and the fact of being surrounded by a very pretty landscape made the time go by faster!" Hamel said. "It was great. The very friendly atmosphere was something I really appreciated during as well as after the race. I am a tennis player, and I really didn't know what to expect."
More than 200 runners gathered at Bays Mountain Park to participate in the Rocky Top Trail Run, which was completed on December 1 at Kingsport, Tennessee. It was the opening event of the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series.
Hamel and Ryan are friends, and they were looking for a running event to keep help keep them in shape during the off-season for their respective sports.
(Zoe Hamel pictured, courtesy www.uncabulldogs.com)
"We were looking for a long-distance race, simply as a challenge," Hamel said. "At first, we were looking for a marathon, but then we thought about it and decided we should probably start with a shorter distance since we don't practice running outside of our sports."
Hamel and Ryan ran together for the entire course, and broke away from the other women at the midway point of the course. Hamel then pulled away from Ryan in the final mile to take the win. Hamel finished with a time of 1:57:28, and Ryan came in at 1:47:53.
The top overall finishers in the men's division were more traditional. Alex Griggs placed first overall with a time of 1:31:13. He is a freshman on the Mars Hill College cross country team, and earned all-region honors in 2012. Teammate Brady Adcock placed second with a time of 1:31:19 - just six seconds behind Griggs. Adcock and Griggs broke away from the rest of the field early in the race and stayed close throughout.
In addition to the 21K long course, there was also a 10K course. Winners of the 10K were Josh Fischer and Kathy Bronstetter.
The XTERRA Rocky Top Trail Run was the first of three races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series. The next race on the schedule is the XTERRA Power to the Tower Trail Run in April 2013. To register for the race or learn more about it, please visitwww.fleetfeetkingsport.com.
About the XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Tennessee Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be three races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 10 kilometers to 50 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 Tennessee at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. Tennessee is one of 14 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.