The last time Greg Mitchell entered an XTERRA Trail Run event, the year was 2010, and he placed second to the legendary Max King at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship.
Three years later, Mitchell proved that he is still an elite runner with a convincing victory at the XTERRA Hagg Lake Trail Run last weekend at Gaston, Oregon. He completed the 21-kilometer course in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 29 seconds - which was more than six minutes faster than the other top runners.
"I¹ve run around Hagg Lake quite a few times over the years, but I¹d never raced it until Sunday," said Mitchell, who resides in McMinnville, Oregon. "Turns out, it¹s a lot tougher on race day then I remember it being on any training run! On the best of days it¹s pretty technical with lots of tight turns, exposed roots, steep climbs and quick descents. It was pretty rutty too from the mountain bikes and the lack of rain over the past couple of months made it pretty unforgiving. I was almost as happy that I didn¹t fall as I was with the win!"
Mitchell said he took the lead in the first mile and kept pushing the pace, never realizing how far ahead he was until the finish. Fellow elite runner Derek Scott from Portland placed second in 1:32:52.
"I didn¹t realize it was Derek Scott behind me or I probably would have been more disconcerted than I already was," Mitchell said. "By the time I got to the finish I knew I had a sizeable lead, but was surprised it ended up being a 6 minute gap."
Mitchell, who will turn 40 this year, said his running focus has been on road marathons, as he is hoping for a good showing at the U.S. Masters Championship Marathon in October.
Beth Walsh from Cardiff, California, was an impressive fourth place overall and the first overall female with a time of 1:43:29. Marianne Falk from Portland was second in 1:44:38.
In addition to the 21K course, there was also a 10K race. Michael Cook (48:02) and Linnea Alvord (52:46) were the top male and female finishers for the 10K. Both are from Portland and both are in the 40-44 age group.