Smyth, Stephen win Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Nationals

Sep. 20, 2015

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September 20, 2015 (Ogden, Utah) - Patrick Smyth and Liz Stephen won the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championship half-marathon titles in 1:13:55 and 1:28:39, respectively, on a picture-perfect day at Snowbasin Resort this afternoon.

It’s the second XTERRA National Title in three years for Smyth, and the second straight for Stephen.

In the men’s race Smyth, who is also a two-time Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Champion, took the lead early, kept pushing, and had more than three-minutes on runner-up Travis Morrison at the finish line.

“I was feeling good this morning so I figured I’d get after it and try to run away early,” said Smyth, who kick-started his trail racing career with XTERRA two years ago here at Snowbasin Resort by winning nationals.  “The course is in beautiful shape.  Now that I’ve run a lot of trail races all over the world it’s safe for me to say that this is definitely THE best, funnest, flowiest downhill out there.  You just zone out and before you know it you’ve knocked out three miles.”

The win is sweet relief for Smyth, who had to miss joining his USA teammates at the World Mountain Running Championship this weekend in Wales.

“I just took a new job in Santa Fe in July so it was too much time to ask to get off, plus Salt Lake City is home, my family is here, I love this course, and it’s a lot easier to get back to work tomorrow from here than from Wales,” explained Smyth.

Smyth works in GIS, computer mapping, and when asked how he’d map this course he said… “This would be a fun course to map.  On the course profile I would put an asterisk on the climb right where the false summit is and say “still a lot of burn to go” because you get to the aid station up there and you think you just have to run the ridge and it’s flat and easy-peasy, but it’s not.  It’s another grind to the top before you get to the sweet, awesome downhill.”

Behind Smyth in second-place Travis Morrison, a 23-year-old from Schaumburg, Illinois who ran at North Central College was thinking the same thing.

“The course here is awesome, super flowy, climbs were sweet, downhills were awesome.  It was sick!” exclaimed Morrison, who recently moved to SLC to attend the University of Utah to start his PhD in mechanical engineering.  “It’s flowing coming down, and fun to hit the berms because you can hit the corners real hard and keep your momentum…you could fly.”

On what he thought of Smyth, Morrison said… “He just kept opening it up, he’s a machine.  I’ve heard stories about him but never seen him run.  He’s real fit.  His fitness is through the roof.  It was fun to compete against him, but hearing that the gap kept opening up was a little demoralizing, but it was still fun. The views were beautiful, you could see the whole valley, real uplifting.”

Mike Popejoy from Flagstaff finished in third three minutes later followed by Richard Chelimo and Nathan Peters.


In the women’s race Liz Stephen, a two-time Olympic cross country skier who lives in Park City, captured the women’s championship title with time to enjoy the experience after a hard fought win last year against Kimber Maddox and two close second-place finishes in 2012 and 2011.

“A couple of years ago I was head-to-head with Lindsey Anderson the whole race and it was hard the whole time both mentally and physically,” said Stephen, who is training with the US Ski Team with sights set on South Korea in 2018.  “Today, I was smiling and really enjoying the run itself.   I absolutely love to run. Deep down I think I’m a runner at heart.  Skiing is darn fun too, but running is a one heck of a sport.”

Stephen said today was one of those magical days on the trail... "It literally couldn’t have been more perfect for running. Plus, it’s a well laid out course.  It’s really hard in so many ways but it’s up and then it lets you rest, and it’s flowy and wonderful, and gorgeous.”

In second-place, remarkably, was 11-year-old Alayna Szuch, a 6th grader at Evergreen Elementary School in Colorado.

“It was awesome to come out here, the course was really nice.  It was torture, but a lot of fun to come and race,” said Szuch, who donated the $600 she won for finishing second to charity in order to save her NCAA eligibility. “It was really pretty, and nice to run on top of the mountain here in Utah.”

Maggie Shearer finished third, followed by Rachel Cieslewicz and Elizabeth George.



Although the elite runners chase the overall crown at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, the event remains an age-group race.

Twenty-eight runners representing 10 different states took home age-group titles at the 2015 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Nationals.

The home-state Utah runners led the way with nine champions, not including Kevin Tuck (formerly from Salt Lake City but now living in Phoenix, AZ).  Tuck, 59, was an impressive 19th overall, and this was his unprecedented seventh Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championship age-group win.

Bob Evers (men 65-69) from Park City, Utah won his fifth straight XTERRA National title.  It was the third national crown for Stephen (25-29) and Tamara Tabeek, who also won the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon national championship yesterday.  Those who picked up their second national title today include Aimee Balzer from Reno, Nevada, Maggie Shearer from Newbury Park, California, and Taha Mahmood from Salt Lake City.

All of the age-group champions received a free entry to participate in the 2015 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which is scheduled for December 6 at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii.

There were also 5K and 10K races today, captured by Tyler Woods from Riverdale and Sandra Daschner from Vienna, Austria (5K), and Dan Cushman from SLC and Bonita Gray from Layton (10K).

Below is a look at the champs, and for full results visit

XTERRA National Champs (Male)    
Division Name Hometown Time
9-under Dallas Stricker Hattiesburg, MS 2:20:10
10 - 14 Joseph Urbanowicz Atlanta, GA 1:57:50
15 - 19 David Duncan Shingle Springs, CA 1:52:34
20 - 24 Travis Morrison Schaumburg, IL 1:17:29
25 - 29 * Patrick Smyth Salt Lake City, UT 1:13:55
30 - 34 Mike Popejoy Flagstaff, AZ 1:21:07
35 - 39 Albert Wint Salt Lake City, UT 1:34:09
40 - 44 Robert Ellerbruch Farmington, UT 1:32:41
45 - 49 Donnie Gray Layton, UT 1:33:39
50 - 54 Taha Mahmood (2) Salt Lake City, UT 1:35:00
55 - 59 Kevin Tuck (7) Phoenix, AZ 1:36:07
60 - 64 Ron Hendricks Castle Rock, CO 1:52:50
65 - 69 Bob Evers (4) Park City, UT 2:02:35
70 - 74 James Meskimen Truckee, CA 2:24:45
75 - 79 John Williams Culver City, CA 3:44:46
XTERRA National Champs (Female)    
Division Name Hometown Time
1 - 9 Alayna Szuch Evergreen, CO 1:45:32
10 - 14 Micala Schultz Fort Collins, CO 2:38:12
20 - 24 Alyssa Schrack Salt Lake City, UT 1:55:57
25 - 29 *Liz Stephen (3) East Montpelier,VT 1:28:39
30 - 34 Aimee Balzer (2) Reno, NV 1:52:33
35 - 39 Maggie Shearer (2) Newbury Park, CA 1:46:03
40 - 44 Caroline Szuch Evergreen, CO 1:49:22
45 - 49 Vicky Hadley Westfield, IN 2:13:22
50 - 54 Rainey Weaver Tempe, AZ 2:00:02
55 - 59 Tamara Tabeek (3) San Diego, CA 2:07:49
60 - 64 Anne Kilgore Salt Lake City, UT 2:10:05
65 - 69 Deborah Wagner Park City, UT 2:29:35
70 - 74 Dianne Rindt Ridgecrest, CA 2:47:28

Complete Results

Highlight videos & images from today’s race can be found at

The 2015 XTERRA Nationals weekend is presented by Paul Mitchell, the Utah Sports Commission, and XTERRA Travel. Sponsors include Outrigger Resorts, the GOAL Foundation, Gatorade Endurance, PowerBar, ENVE, Utah Media Group, the U.S. Forest Service, XTERRA Wetsuits, Snowbasin Resort, Muscle Milk, XTERRA Fitness, LifeProof, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, Greenlayer, Salming, and XTERRA Boards.

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