XTERRA Ambassador Nathan Helton hasn't been running as much as usual this summer.
"I sustained a stress fracture in my right foot during the Yamacraw 50k last April, and I have only been 100 percent back at trail running for two to three weeks now," said Helton, who didn't let the lack of training stop him from finishing in second place at the XTERRA Panther Creek Half Marathon on July 30th in Morristown, Tennessee.
Helton added that he would have started his training earlier. "But my regular training was slightly delayed by a trip to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro."
One might think that anyone who doesn't consider a 19,000 foot mountain summit to be "regular training," might be a bit intense about his performance. However, Helton's main goal is to have fun and encourage others on the trail.
Because of his injury, Helton missed the XTERRA Knoxville Half Marathon, but he was happy to volunteer "and spread good vibes." And what pleased him most about the XTERRA Panther Creek Half Marathon was that his wife finished first in her age group.
"She's been working very hard to improve her running abilities, so such an award was well-deserved and it was quite a delight for me to see her hop on that podium for a picture," he said.
Helton was also quick to praise his fellow Ambassador Nozomi Shinoda-Wade on her age group win and congratulate his mates on the podium: Trevor Turner - the XTERRA Panther Creek Half Marathon Champ - and Noah Kilgore, who finished 3rd.
"Noah is only 13," said Helton. "He left it all out there on the trail, for sure, and it's not an easy course."
XTERRA Panther Creek is one of Helton's favorite courses.
"Ryan Roma and the Dirty Bird Events crew do a masterful job at putting the race on and making all of the athletes feel accomplished and taken care of. I can't say enough about it---it's a perfect blend of hills, descents, flats, and wonderful scenic overlooks. It's a 13.1 that pushes you to your limits and makes you a more well-rounded athlete."
For the rest of the season, Helton is focusing on increasing his endurance and health from a holistic standpoint by incorporating yoga, CrossFit, and good nutrition into his training. In August, he is going to compete in a half-Ironman distance triathlon.
"I'm also wanting to check out other XTERRA trail runs in neighboring states so that I can encounter some more great courses and have the opportunity to share the trail with a host of wonderful runners."
To view the complete results for the XTERRA Panther Creek Half Marathon, visit www.dirtybirdevents.