Haley, McCurdy take overall titles; proceeds benefit Sarazen family
The XTERRA Fort Yargo Trail Run was a memorable experience for Matt Haley, Deanna McCurdy, and just about everyone else who participated in the event on Saturday, October 12.
More than 300 runners from five different states participated in the event, which was held at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. Every registered runner contributed to a worthy cause, as all proceeds from the event were donated to the family of the late Geoff Sarazen.
Sarazen was a long-time friend and supporter of the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series, and he unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. His wife, Chalise, and children Britt, Bryce and Mary Landis all participated in the 5K short course at the Fort Yargo Trail Run.
The event also featured a 13.6-kilometer long course, and Haley and McCurdy were the overall winners.
Haley was the overall winner, and he did it in convincing fashion. The Buford, Georgia, resident completed the course in 53 minutes, 6 seconds, which was nearly seven minutes faster than the other top runners.
“It really had a little bit of everything for everyone, fast sections of hiking trail and fire roads, twists and turns, up and down, everything,” Haley said. “Overall, it was a great course.”
Haley said he jumped into the lead almost immediately, and maintained his fast pace throughout. He gradually pulled away from everyone as the course progressed, but said he was never aware of the large gap he was creating.
“I felt pretty strong early on and ended up building up a good size lead, probably 50 meters or so, but I was running comfortable,” he said. “Once we hit the first mile marker, I felt like I was running well, but within myself. I tried to use the early part of the course to run in a good rhythm and stretch things out without getting in over my head.”
There have been two races so far in the 2013-14 XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series, and the 29-year-old Haley has won both races.
“I think the biggest key for me has just been consistency,” he said. “This past year has probably been my best since college in terms of being consistent with my running. I had a solid fall and winter last year and running the XTERRA races really helped keep me motivated to get out the door every day. I think that led into a good spring and summer and now I am reaping some of the rewards of that summer training.”
Chester Topple from Athens was second in 1:00:04, Grahm Bahnson from Atlanta was third in 1:00:54, and David Jimenez from Watkinsville was third in 1:01:30.
McCurdy was an impressive fifth overall and ran away from the other top females. She finished with a time of 1:01:50, which was nearly five minutes ahead of the other top women.
“I ran most of the race with another guy which was a great way to force me to press the pace faster than my legs wanted to go that day,” McCurdy said. “He finally passed me at the water station at mile 6 and although I kept him in site until we crossed the finish line, I couldn't reel him back in.”
McCurdy, 39, is coming off a sixth-place overall finish at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship last month at Ogden, Utah., and she is currently training to enter a road marathon in Georgia next month.
“My legs are definitely feeling the high mileage of pavement pounding right now and I can tell my brain is tired of the structure of marathon training,” said McCurdy, who resides in Peachtree City. “Racing XTERRA Fort Yargo was a perfect excuse to tackle a tempo run on the trails and waken the legs and the mind.”
McCurdy has now entered two XTERRA Georgia Trail Run races in her career, and won them both. Her previous win came at the end of the 2012-13 season.
“Because the XTERRA Trail Series season follows a September to September calendar year, I raced for the first time as a ‘Master’ this past Saturday, even though my "big" birthday is not for months to come,” she explained. “Over the first couple of miles of the race, I kept dwelling on that thought, partially in disbelief, that I could really be turning 40 soon. By the final miles, however, my attitude shifted and I began to realize how awesome racing XTERRA as a Master really is. I am out here dodging trees, rocks and roots as I fly through the woods like a kid - a little bit of effort, but a whole lot of fun. Who says there is no such thing as the fountain of youth? They clearly don't know what "Living More" is all about!”
McCurdy is the founder and head coach of Team Miles for Smiles, a charity running team that raises funding for research through the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (F.A.S.T.). One of her daughters was diagnosed in 2009 with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
The 5K course winners were both high school students. Jackson Pearce, 16, was the overall winner; Madeline Pearce, 17, was the top female.
The XTERRA Fort Yargo Trail Run was the second of seven races on the 2013-14 schedule for the Georgia Series. The next races in the series will be the XTERRA Battle at Big Creek Trail Run at Roswell, Georgia, on November 2, and then the XTERRA Little Mulberry Park Trail Run at Dacula, Georgia, on November 16.
To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.