More than 320 participate in Arizona Series race on Super Sunday
Experience counts a great deal in a race like the XTERRA McDowell Mountain Trail Run. Or does it?
Experience played a key role in Nick Coury taking the overall victory for the race, which was completed on February 3 at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona. But Ashley Taylor was able to win the women's division in her first try on the course.
Bottom line, both Coury and Taylor are fast.
Coury completed the 24-kilometer course in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 44 seconds. It was the second consecutive year that he won the event, and he topped his previous time by more than three minutes.
"My experience from last year was a huge help," said Coury, who is 25 and resides in Phoenix. "I knew exactly when to push the pace and when to cruise, and saved enough of my legs to hammer the last several miles to the finish as they are the fastest. I didn't get caught in the initial fast pace of the race, knowing the washes would slow the early rabbits and give me a chance to catch up."
(Nick Coury pictured, courtesy www.zazoosh.com)
Coury and fellow elite runner Jonathan Harmon broke ahead of the field after the first mile and engaged in an exciting duel for the lead for most of the course.
"I knew my main competition was Jonathan Harmon," Coury said. "Just as we started the first climb, I hooked on to Jonathan's back and we quickly pulled away from everyone else. We cruised along for several miles, sometimes Jonathan pushing it and nearly dropping me. At the descent into the Dixie Mine aid station, the trail became technical and Jonathan slowed. At that point I took the lead, putting a gap on him through the turnaround."
Harmon placed second with a time of 1:31:57, and Trent Taylor was third in 1:35:42.
Coury works as a race director for the Aravaipa Running Club in Arizona, so he is familiar with many of the courses in the state. He is also fast becoming the runner to beat in the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series. Coury has entered four races in the XTERRA Arizona Series since last year, and he has won three of them and placed second in the other.
The women's race featured a different type of story, as Taylor took top honors while entering as an out-of-state runner. She resides in Denver, Colorado, but often spends time in Arizona during the winter months.
(Ashley Taylor pictured, courtesy www.zazoosh.com)
"Denver winters can be brutal and have unpredictable weather," she explained. "The greater Phoenix area is always a winter vacation spot that can bring hiking and trail running that Colorado cannot offer during the snow season."
Taylor has been entering races in Colorado since 2009, but the XTERRA McDowell Mountain Trail Run became the first overall victory of her career. "Being from the overpopulated, runner community of Colorado, I feel that merely placing in my age group is a victory up in the Rockies," she said. "I was thrilled to take home my first victory on such a tough course."
Taylor completed the course in 1:51:17, which was more than three minutes ahead of the other females. "A few of the girls were close for the first half, and then I began to break away at the turn around," said Taylor, 25. "The best feeling in the world for females is trying to chase the boys, and clearly I mean in racing, not in life!"
The exciting race was actually for second place, as Gudrid Espenscheid from Big Piney, Wyoming, edged Terri Antonio from Scottsdale, Arizona, by one second.
More than 320 runners participated in the event, which also featured a 7-kilometer short course.
The McDowell Mountain Trail Run was the third of four events on the 2012-13 schedule for the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series. The final event of the season will be the XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run on March 24. That race is open to runners of all ages and skill levels.
To register for a race in the Arizona Series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.aztrailrace.com.
About the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be four races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 7 kilometers to 24 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 Arizona at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. Arizona is one of 16 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Atlantic, Southern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.