He'll defend 55-59 age group title at Richmond Trail Run on June 8
Clark Jackson remembers his first experience at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run. It came in 2010, and it was his first attempt at an XTERRA Trail Run race. He sprained his ankle along the course and finished in seventh place in his age division.
Needless to say, it wasn't the greatest race result for the 57-year-old insurance salesman from Charlottesville, Va. Still, Jackson credits that experience for getting him hooked on XTERRA Trail Run races.
"It's the closest XTERRA race to where I live, but it's also the first one I ever did," he said. "I'll be back to do it every year, as long as I can."
This year's XTERRA Richmond Trail Run is scheduled for June 8, and it is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. It will be part of an XTERRA weekend in Richmond, as the XTERRA East Championship off-road triathlon will take place on June 9. It is the 15th consecutive year that XTERRA has held an "urban adventure" event in Richmond.
Jackson used his initial experience in 2010 to improve on his trail running skills and by 2012, he won his age group at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run, and also won his age division in the XTERRA North Carolina Trail Run Series. He has made even greater strides in 2013, finishing second overall among all runners at two different races in the XTERRA Virginia Trail Run Series.
"I just try to improve each week and work on weaknesses that I noticed I had in the last race," said Jackson, who recently celebrated his 57th birthday. "I'm relatively new to trail racing so I'm still learning. I wish I had the nerves to run down the hills like those younger guys. I love the challenge of tough races so the tougher the better."
Jackson can attest that the long course at the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run can be a tough one. The 21K course takes runners up, down, around and through numerous obstacles - both natural and man-made.
"Well, I haven't run an XTERRA race that wasn't challenging, but this one I find very difficult with all of the small climbs," he said. "I mean, they really have a bunch of them. The tight bridge walk I found especially challenging on the second lap, and you are totally exhausted."
The 21K course is perhaps best known for "The Mayan Ruins," which is a steep stair climb that requires all four limbs near the top.
"That is a challenge in itself, just to get up those stairs," Jackson said. "If you are height-challenged, you will almost feel like you can't make that last step because it is so high and steep."
The course also includes crossings of the James River, single track paths in and out of lush forest area, and passes along historic buildings in Richmond. The contrast in sights is what earned the event the "urban adventure" description.
"Running through and along the James River is exciting and really gives you views you would never experience if it hadn't been for trail running," Jackson said.
As for his continued improvement on the trails at his age, Jackson credits, appropriately enough, a mature approach to competition.
"I get a lot of people asking me how do I keep running at this age, and my patent answer is 'Not sure, I've never been this age before so I'm not sure how my body is supposed to react,' " Jackson said. "I revised my training through lots of reading, to be more age appropriate, and cross training to help eliminate injuries. I try to stick with my pace and not worry about the other guys. Just being able to run my best each race regardless of finish is reward enough."
The top runners in every age group for the 21K race will receive a free entry to the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii this November. Numerous prizes will also be handed out to the top runners for both the 21K and 10K races.
To register for the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run or learn more about it, please visithttp://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/richmond.html