Runners from 21 different states participate in Hawaii Series opener
Honolulu runners Nathan Carlson and Polina Babkina are used to running with each other - they are an engaged couple who enjoys training together.
They took it to a different level on October 19, when they placed first and second at the XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Trail Run in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii.
Carlson finished first overall, completing the 21-kilometer half-marathon course in 1 hour, 24 minutes, 58 seconds. Babkina was the top female - and second place overall - in 1:37:35.
"The course was extremely challenging with numerous long hill climbs and steep uphill and downhill descents," Carlson said. "The course required more focus to stay on course than most trail races I have done. It had many forks in the road and terrain changes. Definitely a mental as well as physical challenge. Many portions of the wooded trails opened up at high points and provided great hillside views. A few times I was chasing cattle, which was fun and adventurous. I would definitely run that race again to try and run faster, since I am now familiar with the route."
Carlson basically ran alone in first place, although he recalled looking back within the first mile of the course and seeing Babkina behind him.
"There were miles that I did not see anybody and wondered if I was racing the right direction, but mostly I was praying that Polina would continue to have a good race and stay on course," he said. "Every mile there was mile markers and then colored ribbons and XTERRA ribbons that kept me on track."
Babkina held off several of the other top male runners to capture second place. Tom Dansie from Hurricane, Utah, placed third overall (second male) in 1:38:21, and Nate Johnson from Kailua, Hawaii, was next at 1:39:56.
Carlson and Babkina will next enter the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which is scheduled for November 24 at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii. They are considered the top Hawaii runners in the field.
In addition to the 21K half-marathon course, there was also a 5K short course. Pat Hayburn from Pennsylvania finished first overall for the 5K, and Brynne Adams from Waialua was the top female.
The XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Trail Run drew more than 300 runners, ranging in age from 5 to 65. It also featured runners from 21 states, making it one of the most diverse races on the XTERRA Trail Run circuit.
The XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Trail Run was also the first of three races in the inaugural XTERRA Hawaii Trail Run Series. The XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs followed on October 26, and the XTERRA Freedom Fest Trail Run will be the series finale on July 5, 2014.