SoCal Series is Underway for 2013-14 Season
Baldwin, Shearer continue winning streaks from last season
The 2013-14 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series opened in much the same way that the 2012-13 season closed - with Patrick Baldwin and Maggie Shearer taking top honors.
Both elite runners continued their winning streaks at the XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Run, which was completed on October 13 at Point Mugu State Park in Oxnard/Malibu, California. A capacity field of more than 500 runners participated in the event, which was the first of seven races in the 2013-14 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series.
Baldwin placed first overall, completing the 18-kilometer long course in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 26 seconds. Shearer was the first overall female, finishing in 1:21:50.
Baldwin held throughout the course, but had to shift into sprint mode for the final mile when he saw a fast-approaching competitor making ground.
"I pushed really hard at the start and got a gap that held," said Baldwin, who is 37 and resides in Encinitas, Calif. "I monitored a racer who was close, but tried not to look back. Anytime I hit a hill, I pushed it and focused on the fact that if I hurt, so will the people behind me. But on the final 2-mile downhill, I saw somebody new absolutely bombing the hill … I had to close with a big effort, 4:44 final mile! A learning lesson to keep your guard up."
Chris Gilbert from Tarzana, Calif., was the fast chaser, and he finished in second place at 1:09:44 - 18 seconds behind Baldwin. John Fedoroff from Thousand Oaks, Calif., was third in 1:10:25.
For Baldwin, it was his fourth consecutive victory in the XTERRA SoCal Series. He closed the 2012-13 season by winning the final three races of the series.
"This was my first time on this course, the only So Cal course I haven't raced," he said. "I really love the area, even after the recent fire. The drive through Malibu to get to the race is epic, not many better places in the world. I haven't done a new course in awhile, and it makes me realize how important knowing a course is. I ran the first 1.5 miles before the race and it clued me in to running hard at the start as it turned to uphill single track early."
The recent forest fires in the area cleared out some of the vegetation, giving the course a different look from previous years.
"The course was in great condition despite the recent firest that altered the landscape," said Shearer, who is 36 and resides in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. "Although I raced last year, it looked entirely different due to the fire destruction. The trails were more open with less brush and protection on the side of the steep winding switch backs. This was a good reminder to control my speed and footing as I was descending."
Shearer didn't slow down too much, as she finished more than seven minutes ahead of the other top females in the race.
"I never ran with any women," she said. "There was a lot of single track though out the course so it was like racing against the clock for much of the race. I took 5 minutes off my time from last year."
Like Baldwin, Shearer has now won four consecutive XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series races. She also closed the 2012-13 season with three straight victories.
"Last year was my first full year of XTERRA," she said. "Knowing what to expect in the races plays a critical part in success."
The XTERRA Point Mugu also included an 11-kilometer "short course" race. Roman Kats was the first overall finisher for the 11K, and Carly Johann was the top female.
Former NBA All-Star Reggie Miller participated in the 11K and placed seventh in his age group. He resides near the race area and said he often runs on the trails as part of his training.
The next race in the SoCal Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot on November 28 (Thanksgiving Day). The event will feature three course options - 15K, 10K or 5K - and all courses are open to runners of all ages and abilities. Please visitwww.trailrace.com for more information.