The 2013 XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series got off to an adventurous start last weekend. An issue with some of the directional signs along the course created an interesting finish at the XTERRA Hungry Mother Trail Run.
The event was completed on Saturday, April 6, at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, Virginia. It was the first of three races in the 2013 XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.
A pair of runners from North Carolina took top honors. Mark Wallace from Reidsville, N.C., was the surprised overall winner, and Amber Reece-Young from Skyland, N.C., was the determined female winner. Wallace completed the 12-kilometer course in 1 hour, 17 minutes, 27 seconds.
"I was surprised to hear that I had finished first," he said. "There had been some confusion early in the race with some signage issues, so I had no idea how many runners were ahead of us."
Wallace ran behind Clark Jackson for most of the course, then took the lead for good with a late surge. "I had just enough kick left to pull ahead of him for the first time on the final flat stretch leading up to the finish line," Wallace said.
Jackson, who is 56 and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, finished with a time of 1:17:32, which was five seconds behind Wallace.
"It made for an exciting finish," Jackson said. "He just passed me going into the final stretch. We talked to each other a lot during the race. I told him to watch out for the ice on the bridge, and we laughed about having to run about an extra mile due to a wrong turn."
Reece-Young placed third overall and was the top female with a time of 1:18:06. She was with a different group of lead runners that was led astray by an incorrect sign early in the course.
"Unfortunately, someone changed the directional signs during the night and sent over half the field off-course," she explained. "At the time, I was in second place overall (first female) and feeling relaxed. I had reviewed the course map the night before, but was in the zone and didn't realize that the signs had been changed until I had gone three-fourths of a mile the wrong way. Once I realized it, I shouted out to those around me and we backtracked to hit the right trail. I took this as a mental toughness test and dug even deeper to try to get back to a solid pace. It took quite a while to catch up with the rest of the field but I gradually caught them one by one."
Wrong turn aside, Reece-Young is no stranger to fast finishes at XTERRA races. She placed second at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship (she was known as Amber Moran at the time) in Hawaii.
Ryan Woods from Boone, N.C., was far ahead of the field when the wrong turn occurred, but he did not turn around with the rest of the group. He was not given a finishing time.
In addition to the 12K course, there was also a 9.5-kilometer course. Chris Reece-Young, Amber's husband, was the overall winner of the 9.5K with a time of 1:01:28.
The next race in the Virginia Series will be the XTERRA Fairy Stone Trail Run at Stuart, Virginia, on April 27. To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.gorunevents.com or www.xterratrailrun.com.