If the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship was any indication, the future of the sport is looking very fast.
Seventeen-year-old Mauricio Mendez from Mexico City led the charge of teen runners with a fourth-place overall finish. His time of 1:21:19 is the best ever for any runner under the age of 20 on the Snowbasin 21K course. He is also the first runner under the age of 20 to earn a top-10 finish at the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals.
"It was awesome," said Mendez, who recently graduated from high school and is looking to attend a college in Mexico. "This is a really hard race, and I was pushing the whole time."
Mendez made the trip to Utah as part of his training for a bigger event in October - the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon. He will be a top contender for the 15-19 division, and maybe even for the overall amateur title at the race on Maui.
"For the future, my big goal is to be a pro triathlete, XTERRA of course," he said. "And on the way, do a lot of trail runs. Running is my strongest thing right now, but I train hard in everything - running, swimming, bike."
Thirteen-year-old Korey Shively from Madison, Alabama, also turned in an impressive performance in winning the 10-14 male division. His time of 1:41:39 was good for 34th overall, and would have placed him third among all runners under the age of 20.
"Toughest race I've ever run in my life," said Shively, who is in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School. "It was a very difficult course - lots of terrain, lots of hills. It was a great course for Nationals."
Shively qualified for the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals by becoming the youngest runner to win two XTERRA Regional titles in the same year (Alabama and Georgia). He would like to add to his XTERRA collection of titles later this year at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii. "We're going to Hawaii and I really want to win there, too," he said.