Win in Colorado, followed by win at Lake Las Vegas
It was quite a back-to-back weekend of wins for Roberto Mandje. The 31-year-old Olympian won the 21-kilometer XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run on Sunday, April 14, just eight days after winning the 12K division of the XTERRA Cheyenne Mountain Trail Run in Colorado.
"I decided to put these two (as well as a few other XTERRA events) in my schedule around February," Mandje explained. "I was in the middle of the winter lull, and looking to find some races that would both excite me and help get me out the door."
He not only got out the door, he blew it down with convincing victories in both races. He won the 12K race in Colorado by nearly four minutes, then won the 21K race in Las Vegas by nearly six minutes while setting a new course record.
Making it more impressive was the change in scenery between the two venues, not to mention the 12-plus hour drive from Boulder, Colorado, to Las Vegas.
"The conditions were quite different," Mandje said. "XTERRA Cheyenne was at a much higher elevation (6-7,000 feet) with much cooler conditions. I've always been a pretty good warm weather runner, so I wasn't particularly concerned with going from winter racing in Colorado to the desert heat of Las Vegas the following week. I came away from Cheyenne Mountain a bit sore, and mainly focused on recovery in between the two races with easy running and some hard strides."
Mandje represented Equatorial Guinea in the 1,500-meter race at the 2004 Olympics , and he is training in Colorado to qualify for the 2016 Games, possibly in the marathon event.
His introduction to XTERRA Trail Runs came just last December, when he placed seventh in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. That experience encouraged him to seek out more XTERRA adventures in 2013.
"Despite my disappointing finish at the World Championships, I very much enjoyed my first and only foray into the XTERRA scene and therefore wanted to explore those races further," he said.
Mandje said he also plans to compete in the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs next month at Pelham, Alabama, and then the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, in September, and the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Hawaii in November.
"The big picture and main reason why I'm still in Boulder, Colorado, is to train towards the 2016 Olympic Games," he said. "As of now, I'd probably focus on the marathon distance. I believe these longer and more challenging XTERRA courses and events will help strengthen me and ease the transition towards the longer distances down the road."
Read more about Mandje's XTERRA experience on his blog: http://robertomandje.com/blog