Texas Series race features hot and challenging conditions
Ryan Woelfel and Aimee Newsom ran to convincing victories at the XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run last weekend at Waco, Texas.
Woelfel was the overall winner of the 21-kilometer race, completing the course in 1 hour, 40 minutes, 11 seconds. He finished six minutes ahead of the rest of the field. Making it more impressive, Woelfel is still in high school - about to start his senior year at Stony Point High in Round Rock, Texas.
"The course at Cameron Park is my favorite of the trail runs I've done so far," said Woelfel, 17. "It's real technical and has many twists and turns."
Woelfel took the lead almost from the start and stayed in front the entire course. Greg Rankin from Parker, Texas, placed second in 1:46:11. Rankin is Woelfel's godfather, but Woelfel had no idea who was behind him until after the race.
"I actually ran the whole race by myself," Woelfel said. "I didn't realize Greg was in second until the end of the race."
Eloy Gonzalez from Fort Worth was third in 1:47:41.
Newsom was an impressive fourth overall and the first overall female in 1:50:57. She finished more than nine minutes ahead of the other top women in the field.
"At one point I just had to stop looking at the pace on my watch ... it was too hot, not to mention too hilly and rocky, to worry about exactly how fast I was going," said Newsom, who works as a writer for a non-profit organization in The Woodlands, Texas. "That's what makes these conditions really interesting, I think. It's not always pace alone that determines the front-runners. Sometimes, a big factor is also who can stay hydrated or who can stay upright. Cameron Park had a lot of variables going for it, and I liked that."
Tracie Akerhielm placed second in 2:00:02, and Jessica Scott was third in 2:06:27. Only a week prior to this race, Akerhielm placed first at the XTERRA Gator Bait Trail Run, and Newsom placed third. Newsom said the steep and rugged terrain suited her running style better than the faster course the week before.
Newsom passed Akerhielm during a steep climb up the "Jacob's Ladder" staircase midway through the course, and stayed in front the rest of the way.
"Because it was such a twisting course, I was never really sure if Tracie was going to pop around a corner and catch me, and I had this nagging thought that maybe someone else was in front of me and I just hadn't seen them yet!" Newsom said. "I wasn't 100 percent sure that I was in the lead until some of the aid station folks told me so, and I had no idea how far ahead I was until I crossed the finish line."
Once Newsom built a lead, she still had a scary moment on the course, though it wasn't because of another runner. A hawk swooped down and hit the back of her head between miles 8 and 9.
"Maybe I got too close to a nest, or maybe it thought my bouncing hair was some sort of rodent lunch ... I have no idea, and I didn't stick around to look," she said. "I thought for sure that my scalp would be bleeding, but it wasn't."
There was also a 5K short course, and Collin Carter and Sami Walters took top honors.
The XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run was the sixth of seven events in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series. The season finale will be the XTERRA Magnolia Trail Run at Navasota, Texas, on July 13.