Owens and Akerhielm finish first in 15K
Runners overcame hot temperatures, sand pits and the threat of alligators at the XTERRA Gator Bait Trail Run last weekend.
Jonathan Owens from Beaumont, Texas, and Tracie Akerhielm from Denton, Texas, took top honors for the 15-kilometer course, which was completed on June 16 at Huntsville State Park in Huntsville, Texas.
Owens finished first overall, completing the course in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 11 seconds; Akerhielm was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:08:18.
“It was a little dry, so there were some sandy portions, but other than that, there were no issues,” Owens said. “The course has lots of roots, but pretty much zero rocks. It was hot and it was humid, but that’s what you get in Texas in June!”
Owens was up for the challenge, finishing more than a minute ahead of runner-up Christopher Chancey from Austin, Texas. “I stayed within sight of the leader the entire first half and finally passed him a little pass the halfway mark,” Owens said. “The top five or so finishers were all pretty spread out from the start, and even more so as the race went on, so it was a bit of a lonely race.”
Owens has competed in several races at Huntsville State Park in recent years, and he said his familiarity with the course and conditions played a key role in his victory.
“Being familiar with the trails is a huge plus,” he said. “When you can process the entire course in your mind, you know when the ups will come as well as the downs so that you know when you need to push and when you need to ease up over the entire distance. That way, you can manage energy and effort for the whole race.”
Akerhielm placed seventh overall with a time of 1:08:18, and continued her torrid pace in the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series. She has entered five races in the Texas Series in 2013, and has placed either first or second in each of those races.
She took the lead early in this race, and stayed in front the rest of the way, despite taking a fall over a root that was hidden under the sand. “I passed the female race leader around 1.5 miles, right before tripping on a sand-covered root and taking a dive,” she said. “I kept the lead from that point on, working on maintaining my pace and focus.”
Twelve-year-old Kaytlynn Welsch from Alvin, Texas, placed second with a time of 1:11:39.
The XTERRA Gator Bait Trail Run is named such because the area surrounding Huntsville State Park is known for alligators. Fortunately, none were sighted during the race.
“I was a little nervous due to seeing warning signs about alligators in the park and then seeing a coral snake on the trail during warm-up,” Akerhielm said. “Though afterwards I was a little disappointed that I hadn't seen any gators.”
The event was the fifth of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run at Waco, Texas, on June 22. The season finale will be the XTERRA Magnolia Trail Run at Navasota, Texas, on July 13.
To register for a race in the Texas Series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.xterratrailrun.com.