Morgan Johnson Hoffman was a competitive triathlete until she took a break from training in 2014 to focus on coaching and managing the Playtri Race Team. Last year, as she was getting back into triathlon training, she jumped into the XTERRA Rock Dallas Trail Run 15K and surprised herself by winning her age group.
“After getting back into trail running at the XTERRA Rock Dallas 15K last spring, I decided to try and tackle the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series to see if I could be competitive in my age group and perhaps overall. I’m a full-time coach for Playtri so my own athletic endeavors are generally second to my athletes’. Having said that, I still love to compete and I especially like the 21K trail run because they are long enough to challenge me without requiring too many extra hours of training.”
Hoffman is no stranger to trails and ran in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2009. Still, she spent much of the winter cross training on her bike and in the pool to save her legs for the season.
“Going into XTERRA Gator Bait, I wasn’t sure where my fitness was. My last half marathon was at the Dallas Half in December, but I decided to go into XTERRA Gator Bait like I was racing for first place and see what happened.”
Hoffman was third overall female in the 13.1 mile trail run and was second in her 30-34 age group.
“I did the XTERRA Cameron Park 21K last year and was eighth overall, so XTERRA Gator Bait was a big improvement for me,” said Hoffman.
For the first six miles of the race, she was running with another woman, trading second and third place, although neither of them realized there was another athlete ahead on the trails. At about the six-mile mark, they were passed by the day’s eventual winner, Elizabeth Newton Hayes.
“I tried to stay with Elizabeth but she was too strong on the climbs. It’s clear what I need to work on if I really want to compete this season, but my mile of pacing with her was enough to put me into third place and I just had to stick those last five miles out. It was just fun to be in the race and definitely motivated me to do more races in the XTERRA Texas Trails Series.”
Hoffman doesn’t have firm plans to race at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship but it is definitely on her radar screen. She plans on running at least three more trail races on the XTERRA Texas circuit in addition to some local triathlons and some gravel bike races.
“There are definitely some very strong women at those events so we will see what happens.”
Learn more about the XTERRA Trail Series at www.xterraplanet.com.
Learn more about the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at www.xterraplanet.com.
Photos courtesy of Morgan Johnson Hoffman, Kim Topp, and Terra Firma Racing.