In Florida, over 400 runners showed up for the notoriously challenging XTERRA Claw Run.
“Simply put, The XTERRA Claw Run was fantastic,” said XTERRA Ambassador Jay Lund. “The course was well marked, the terrain was diverse, and there was a stacked field of runners from all over the US as well as from France, Canada, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, and Canada.”
“The weather was great,” said race director, Jim Hartnett. “It is usually pretty darn hot by now, but a cool front came through and we had some fast times. This is a very challenging course where runners aren’t even on a trail at times, but that didn’t stop David Ramos. He smoked the course.”
"As always, Jim Hartnett upheld the races standards, dishing out a fair share of cuts, falls, trips, and breathless obstacles,” said XTERRA Ambassador, Jimmy Patterson.
David Ramos crossed the line in 1:17:11 in the 10K race, almost four minutes in front of Eric Koenig, who ran 1:21:00. Mark Proch was third in 1:21:09.
Sarah Myers was the women’s champ and 23rd overall with a time of 1:36:47. Kandis Dunn was second in 1:38:36 and Colleen McLaughlin was third in 1:40:04.
XTERRA Ambassador Jay Lund was 15th in 1:32:22. Below are his thoughts on the race:
This year the Claw utilized a lot more off-trail mileage than last year as runners were constantly routed off the main trails and into dense waist and chest high vegetation and elephant grass. In certain areas, clearing overhead vines and branches was necessary before moving forward; all the while making sure to keep a keen eye out for course markers and flags. Though the course was marked extremely well, runners were constantly kept busy navigating through the scrub and debris.
The race started out on a service trail before quickly funneling into single track. Within the first mile runners were routed through a small creek and up a 10-foot dirt berm that did a fantastic job of separating everyone into smaller groups. Miles 2-8 were a combination of "bushwhacking" through dense brush, and scrambling up/down steep berms that tested not only leg strength but mental perseverance as well.
One thing that Alafia River State Park is wildly known for are its miles of mountain bike trails. And the Claw made great use of a one-mile section. After a river crossing that required runners to wade through 15-20 yards of chest-high water, we were emptied out onto a section of trail that slowly transitioned into the MTB trails. These single-track trails are notoriously technical challenging even the best runners and bikers to work through switchbacks, rolling berms, tree roots, blind corners, and low hanging tree branches while trying to maintain some sort of respectable pace. It is along these particular trails that participants can get a true sense of what a Florida swamp is if they take a second to look at what is around them.
"It’s a great race that leaves you with a tremendous great sense of accomplishment no matter what your time is," said Patterson. "After the race, everyone compares who has the “gnarliest” battle scar."
The XTERRA Claw Run was the series finale in the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series. The Regional Age Group Champs will receive their awards and will be gearing up for the XTERRA National Trail Run Championship in Ogden, Utah.