Despite a broken toe, Heather Zimchek-Dunn was the XTERRA Wild Ride Women's Champ on August 20th in McCall, Idaho. Her time of 2:22:29 was seven minutes faster than runner up, Jenny Tobin, and Zimchek-Dunn finished 10th overall. Lindsay Jackson was third in 2:33:34.
This is Zimchek-Dunn's freshman year as a pro. She qualified at XTERRA Oak Mountain, where she finished first in her age group by 16 minutes, which would have been good for 14th place among the elite women.
Her first race as a pro was at XTERRA Victoria where she finished 11th among the elite women in a tough field that included Suzie Snyder, Morgane Riou, Katie Button, and Kara Lapoint. At XTERRA Beaver Creek, she was 8th in a race that included many of the same players plus Lesley Paterson and Julie Baker.
For a rookie, Zimchek-Dunn is surprisingly laid back about competing at the XTERRA National/Pan Am Championship in Ogden.
"I'm less stressed about doing well. At least for this season, I feel like there would have to be a lot of pros that had catastrophic races for me to podium, which takes some of the pressure off in a way," she said. "I've kind of viewed this first elite season as a learning experience. And the only way to fail a learning experience is to not learn, right?"
Currently, the civil engineer turned pro athlete is being coached by Lesley Paterson.
"Not only is she fast," said XTERRA Wild Ride race director, Darren Lightfield, "But she offered to help me redesign my website."
Lightfield added that he has been working with Ponderosa Park to create sustainable trails for trail running and mountain biking.
"The scenery is just spectacular," he said. "And the community is definitely behind XTERRA."
On the men's side, pro mountain biker, Anders Johnson crossed the line in 2:04:52, just 26 seconds ahead of runner up Matt Signoretty. Ryan Voyson was third in 2:08:03. Signoretty was faster on the swim and run, but Johnson demonstrated mad skills and finished his ride about three minutes faster than Signoretty.
The 2013 XTERRA Warrior, Ron Hill, also had a good race and won his age group.
"I was the only 80-year old there, as usual," he said. He raced XTERRA PDX in Portland two weeks before and had a 21 minute PR compared to the previous year.
"That was nice and shows the training was working," said Hill, who was planning on racing at XTERRA Nationals next month until a recent bike crash left him with a broken rib. We are hoping the energy of the Tribe can speed his healing so we can cheer him on in Utah.
View the complete results of XTERRA Wild Ride at www.wildrockiesracing.com.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Dunn