Despite the terrible wildfires ravaging Southern California, the XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run took place December 10th and featured a few very fit and fast Santas.
"Initially we canceled the race and notified the vendors and staff," said race director Brennan Lindner. "Then, when the parks called and said that we could hold the race after all, we had to scramble in reverse. Ultimately, it was all worth it to see so many happy runners out on the trails."
Lindner added that the air quality was surprisingly good, although the day was hot and dry. "I'm still parched," he said.
The men's winner was Anthony Fagundes, who hasn't lost a race in the XTERRA Southern California Trail Series in over a year. He finished the 15K course in 1:01:08, about five minutes ahead of Maik Twelsiek, who finished in 1:06:48. Elliot Bijlsma - age 18 - was third in 1:09:24.
Fagundes, who just ran a 2:25 at the California International Marathon on December 3rd, gave a shout out to Bijlsma on Facebook after the race:
"I first met Elliott and his father Ron at the first XTERRA SoCal race I did almost three years ago now. Elliot has done almost as many XTERRA races as I have and has continued to climb the overall finish ranks to his first podium finish today, and he’s only in high school! I can not wait to see what his future trail racing career looks like but it looks pretty bright in my eyes. I’m sure one of these days he’s gonna pass me for 1st overall. It’s people like Elliot that make running these XTERRA races so enjoyable. Major props to you my dude!"
Samantha McGlone won for the women in 1:12:35. Christy Fritts was second in 1:25:25 and Cameron Biscay was right behind her in 1:25:34.
McGlone was a professional triathlete before she retired in 2013 to attend medical school in Arizona. During her successful career, she represented Canada at the 2004 Athens Olympics, she won the 2006 70.3 World Championship, she finished second to Chrissie Wellington at the 2007 Ironman World Championship, and in 2009, she won Ironman Arizona.
XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run takes place at Crystal Cove State Park, which is located five miles south of Newport Beach and about five miles north of Laguna Beach. Runners had their choice of two distances – an introductory 6k trail run and a longer 15k trail run for the more experienced runner.
The race covers fire roads and single track trails in the El Moro area of Crystal Cove State Park. Every runner receives a hot breakfast, a cold beer, a tee shirt, entry into a raffle, a finisher's medal, and amazing views.
Photos courtesy of Scott Stolarz,