Crystal Davis didn’t just win the women’s division of the XTERRA Blackwater 21K on April 1st in Milton Florida. She won the entire race, beating the field of 41 runners with the time of 1:30:35.
“Coming away with the overall victory was a shock,” said Davis. “We had a group of about five of us for the first half and it dwindled down to me and another runner pacing off each other while the lead runner at the time stretched his lead about thirty seconds out from us. I felt really strong in the last four miles so I started pushing the pace. With two miles to go, I caught up with the lead runner and put it all out there.”
Davis is a stay-at-home mother to two children, ages four and two. She was an 18-year old freshman at the University of South Alabama on a track scholarship when she discovered she was pregnant. Her husband is in the Navy, so she made the decision to focus on her family and put her promising running career on hold.
“I always wondered what I could have done,” said Davis. “So last year, when my husband went on a seven-month deployment, running became my outlet. I bundled my kids in the double stroller and made it my goal to compete in every distance I could with them. “
Davis even did the Hellcat 30K Trail Run while pushing them and won overall. She has the stroller world record in all distances from the 5K to the marathon and is the first female to qualify for the Boston Marathon while pushing a stroller.
“When it comes to beating the guys or the gals, it makes no difference to me,” said Davis. “I race to be an example to my kids and to show them that nothing is impossible. It is because of them that I am the athlete I am today. I race to show moms and girls out there that gender makes no difference in who is supposed to win. I believe hard work, passion, discipline, dedication, humility and faith is the foundation to success for everyone.”
Second place finisher, Logan Roberts was just two-tenths of a second behind Davis and led for most of the race, which was located in Blackwater Forest State Forest. The 21K course was staged around Bear Lake and consisted primarily of single track on the hiking and mountain bike trails in the park.
“Ben Dillon and his crew did a marvelous job with course marking, aid stations, and organizing the start,” said XTERRA Ambassador Jay Lund, who finished seventh with a time of 1:43:58. “I appreciate that the race started in a parking lot to allow proper spacing of sequencing of runners before we hit the single track. Once in the woods, it was all trails. We crossed streams and ran under a forest canopy that gave us a sense of the sheer awesomeness of the area.”
Lund, like Davis, is a member of the military. He entered the army at the age of 28 and was forced to run. “I was never a runner,” said Lund. “And when I say ‘never,’ I mean never. I quit as soon as my enlistment was over.”
While Lund found it easy to give up running, what he wouldn’t let him go were the psychological and emotional scars resulting from several combat and high-risk deployments. “At first I hoped the flashbacks and horrific thoughts were temporary, something that would eventually fizzle out. But as my life choices led me down some dark paths, I knew I needed some help.”
Lund found that it was easy to get medication for PTSD but he decided he wanted a more natural solution. “I needed something I could do by myself or in a community that would push me physically like the military but that would also bring me a sense of spiritual connection.
It took Lund one experimental run on a Florida trail two years ago, and he knew he had found a source of healing. As another experiment, Lund signed up for the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series. “I was surprised to find out that I won my 45-49 age group in the overall series standing, and had the opportunity to race in the XTERRA National Trail Run Championship in Utah. Without question, I accepted the invite. It was this experience at Snowbasin that led me to love the XTERRA culture and vibe and run as much as possible.”
The next race in the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series is the XTERRA Claw Run 16K/8K on May 7th.