Karl Stover and Mimi Stockton won XTERRA Illinois Wilds on a stormy and blustery day just outside Hanna City, Illinois on June 10.
Stover finished the 800 meter swim, 24K bike course, and 6.4K run in 1:37:38, almost three minutes ahead of 18-year old Juan Gonzalez, who finished as the runner-up in 1:40:18. Joe Pawlish was third in 1:41 flat.
Stover is an excellent swimmer, so it was no surprise he was out of the water over a minute ahead of Tim Swanson and Gonzalez. At XTERRA Oak Mountain last month, Stover was ninth overall out of the water, behind six elite athletes and two amateurs. Gonzalez had the fastest bike split, followed closely by Dan Ballheimer – who won his 30-34 age group at XTERRA Oak Mountain - while Joe Pawlish had the fastest run.
In the women’s division, five-time XTERRA Age Group World Champ Mimi Stockton easily took the top spot on the podium and finished in 1:44:22, ahead of all but six of the men. Kristin Wade was second in 1:57:56 and Lara Houseman was third in 2:03:58. In the swim, Emily Scott was first out of the water over a minute ahead of Stockton, who caught up on the bike. Stockton continued to lead with the fastest bike and run splits.
Wade, who was the 35-39 age group runner-up at XTERRA Oak Mountain, had to overcome some technical issues on the bike course at XTERRA Illinois Wilds.
“It was a great race and I couldn’t ask for a better birthday,” said Houseman, who celebrated her 37th birthday on Sunday. Two thunderstorms passed through the park before the race, leading to slick conditions that played to Houseman’s strengths on the bike.
“Laura and the race team did a great job rerouting the bike course in some areas that were too dicey to ride and still give us a challenging course,” said Houseman. “I am not sure I heard anyone who didn’t have some kind of wash out or slip on roots. But this is a tight and twisty course already so it made it even more challenging. The second lap had considerably better conditions with most of the tacky mud being packed down.”
Houseman, who is an excellent swimmer and finished second out of the water for the women, had a much better race this year than last.
“All in all it was a great day for me,” said Houseman. “I do well in the nasty conditions and it being a tight technical course it works to my favor. Knowing Mimi was out in front of me and seeing Kristen Wade a few times on the bike, I had an idea that I was in third place. I tried my very best to rally from the terrible run I had there last year and give it my all. I just kept saying to myself ‘You are third overall, this is your chance to get on that big podium.’ Then about two miles into the run I caught a root and found the ground.”
Houseman said she was shocked that no one passed her on the run.
“I pushed so hard to the end and leaped across the finish line,” she said. “I think my husband was surprised to meet me at the finish line so quickly. I was so excited, I punched him in the arm.”