Numerous Contenders at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals
King still man to beat; women’s race wide open
The list of elite runners continues to grow for the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Bend, Ore.
More than 320 runners from across America have already registered for the Sept. 18 national championship race. By race day, more than 500 trail runners are expected to be on the starting line at Bend.
Many of them are considered the best of the best in the ever-growing sport of trail running.
It all starts with the “XTERRA King of Trail Running,” Max King. He is the two-time defending champion of the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. King, 30, works as a bio-chemical engineer right in Bend, so the trails of Central Oregon serve as his training base.
King won last year’s 21-kilometer race with a time of 1 hour, 6 minutes, 46 seconds. He finished more than six minutes ahead of his closest competition – an astonishing margin when considering the depth of the field.
King is the overwhelming favorite again this year, but there are many other contenders. An intriguing entry is Fujio Miyachi from Japan. He placed fifth at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship race in Hawaii last year, and this will be his first try at the XTERRA Nationals in Bend.
Among the home-state runners with the potential to stay with King are Scotty Carlile, Greg Mitchell, and Mike Olson. All three have fared well in Oregon races this year.
Among the out-of-state contenders are California runners Sean Kievning and Scott Dunlap, who placed 10th and 12th, respectively, at last year’s national championship race. Also, Derek Schultz of Pennsylvania is back to try and improve on his 11th-place finish last year.
Among the “new” contenders are former professional triathlete Justin Thomas from Nevada, and Brent Wright from Pennsylvania. Other contenders are expected to register in the days leading to the Sept. 18 race.
Also of note, two teenagers made headlines in their respective regions of the XTERRA Trail Run Series and are looking to stay near the lead pack in Bend. Dylan Johnson of Texas actually finished first overall at an XTERRA race last month; Jaxon Rickel of Arizona was a consistent top-10 finisher at the popular XTERRA SoCal Series races. Both Johnson and Rickel are 16-year-old high school students.
The women’s field appears to be far less predictable, and a new national champion could emerge. Defending champion Lauren Fleshman of Eugene, Ore., is questionable to enter the XTERRA Nationals this year due to a scheduling conflict. Also, Susannah Beck of Maine will not enter the 2010 race. Beck won the women’s national title in 2008, and placed second to Fleshman last year.
With that said, another elite runner from Bend – Kami Semick – will likely be the top seed among the women. She placed second at the 2008 XTERRA Nationals, and third last year, and is one of the world’s best ultra-marathon runners.
If Semick is to break through this year, she will have to be faster than several other top female contenders from Bend, including Katie Caba, Stephanie Howe and Pam Bradbury. At last year’s race, Caba placed fourth among the women and Howe was eighth.
Female out-of-state contenders include Rachel Cieslewicz of Utah and Claudia Spooner of Texas.
XTERRA TRAIL RUN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
WHEN: Sept. 18, 9 a.m. start; first finishers expected around 10 a.m.
WHERE: Bend, Ore. Start/finish will be at Old Mill District, and course will traverse along the Deschutes River.
WHO: More than 500 runners from around the world, ranging in age groups from 10-14 to 80-older.
COURSES: A 21-kilometer course will serve as the national championship race, but there are also separate 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races that runners can enter.