There is an old proverb:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
On April 29th, at XTERRA Fort Yargo in Winder, Georgia, Marcus Barton was the gazelle, and 2017 XTERRA Blackwater Champ, Yaro Middaugh, and 2017 XTERRA Myrtle Beach Champ, Caleb Baity, were the two lions in close pursuit.
After the race, Marcus Barton wrote on his blog:
It’s rare I get to truly experience the thrill of being chased. Usually it’s a combo of chasing someone AND being chased, but at this point in the race, the feeling was 100% “get your butt moving, they’re coming for you.” I felt like a gazelle being chased by a bunch of cheetahs and that at any point one of them would pounce from around the corner and take me down.
If this seems a bit personal, that’s because it is. Middaugh, Barton, and Baity have a history of taking turns being the hunter and the hunted.
Backing up to April 23rd, at XTERRA Myrtle Beach, Barton and Baity were battling it out, with Baity the eventual champ, coming in less than three minutes ahead of third place Barton.
Sandwiched between Barton and Baity was Dwayne Dixon, who snuck in for second, finishing in the same place as he did the previous year, just ahead of Barton.
What makes watching XTERRA America Tour races in the Southeast Region so addicting, is that the top guys are out for blood on the course but good friends as soon as the race is over.
“Yeah, we have a close-knit group,” said Middaugh. “The races have been very competitive, which makes them fun for us.”
Barton admitted he had a good, clean swim on Saturday and a lucky ride, devoid of any mechanical issues or crashes.
From his blog:
As I got closer to T2, I kept catching a glimpse of someone through the switchbacks and twisty trail behind me. Every now and then I would catch the sound of their rear hub whirring down the trail. As I was finishing up my transition in T2, Josh Shaffer came in and threw his bike on the rack next to mine. We exchanged winded pleasantries and I took off running out of T2 and the chase was back on.
I didn’t know who else was behind Josh, but knowing fellow XTERRA Ambassador, Caleb and his fast bike splits, I knew he couldn’t be far behind.
I knew if I could just turn out a good run split, I might be able to hold them off. With each passing mile, I fully expected to see Caleb, Yaro or Josh to come up behind me and give me that virtual tap on the shoulder, but it never happened. Coming into the finish I was elated to have stayed in front of some of the stiffest competition on the circuit.
In the women's race, Christine Grant was the cheetah, staying in front of runner up Angie Childre for the win. While Grant made it look easy, she says that like Barton, she was "running scared."
"The trail was in perfect condition and I passed a few riders, but I did not know I had moved into first place until part-way into the course," said Grant. "I heard cheers as I crossed over a section of road back into the trail where I was told I was the first female so the pressure was on!
When I heard the announcer say, 'We have another group being led by Angie Childre, my heart rate jumped. Angie is extremely strong and we have battled before. I passed my husband then who yelled, 'You better get moving!'"
Third for the women was Jess White.
Next up on the XTERRA America Tour is XTERRA Renegade on May 6th in San Dimas, CA. For more information, visit www.renegaderaceseries.com.
View complete results for XTERRA Fort Yargo at www.goneriding.com