Close to 600 runners participate at Cerro Gordo
The XTERRA Puerto Rico Trail Run Series saved its best for last, as a record number of runners showed up to participate in the season finale.
The XTERRA Cerro Gordo Trail Run drew close to 600 runners, ranging in age from 10 to 68. It was the largest field ever for a Puerto Rico Trail Run Series event.
"We had a coupon offer for the 5K as an effort to get the message spread all over the island that XTERRA Trail Runs are here to stay and rock the running community," said Efrain Cardona, director of the Puerto Rico Series.
The event featured a 10K long course and a 5K short course. The elite runners entered the 10K race, and Heriberto Hiraldo Flecha ran away with the victory. He completed the course in 55 minutes, 15 seconds, which was nearly two minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
Flecha, 42, is considered one of Puerto Rico's top road runners and triathletes, and this was his first appearance in an XTERRA Trail Run race.
Aaron Hogan placed second in 57:01, and Erick Bernard was third in 57:29.
XTERRA Trail Run veteran Alberto Saldana placed fifth, and said of the course: "A very challenging course and one of the most difficult in the island with a lot of elevation changes. It's like a roller coaster, so is very difficult to increase some speed. Is a very technical trail, and you need a lot of balance and coordination. The conditions were a little bit muddy, because it rained early in the morning. Other than that, everything was fine. This trail has a beautiful ocean view and extraordinary vegetation."
Neysha Velez was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:05:57, and Sheila Soto was second in 1:08:27.
The 10K race went out first, but it was the 5K race later in the day that took the spotlight. More than 500 runners participated in the 5K, and the race for first came down to a photo finish. Fourteen-year-old Jobriel Navarro Collazo edged 32-year-old Waldemar Galarza after a sprint to the finish. Edithmarie Colon was the top female in the 5K
"This is only the tip of the iceberg for trail running in Puerto Rico," Cardona said.
The XTERRA Puerto Rico Trail Run Series will return for the 2013-14 season with at least four races on the schedule. The first race of the new season is scheduled for December 1, and it is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. To learn more about the XTERRA Puerto Rico Trail Run Series, please visit www.xterrapr.com.