Oregon Runners Rely on Strong Finishes to Hold Off Competition
BEND, Ore. – Light rain and heavy competition were not enough to stop the reign of Max King at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on Saturday, Sept. 18.
King (pictured) won the XTERRA National Championship race for the third consecutive year, completing the 13.9-mile course in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 57 seconds. King, who resides in Bend, used his knowledge of the course to break away from the field late in the race.
“When you have good competition and you pull out a win like that, it always feels good, mentally and physically,” said King, 30. “I tried to be relaxed in the first half of the race and see if I could open it up in the second half to get the win, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t easy. This was a very difficult win for me.”
Lauren Fleshman, who is from Eugene, Ore., also relied on a late surge to win the women’s national championship for the second consecutive year. Fleshman, 29, finished 10th overall with a time of 1:24:24.
King’s third consecutive XTERRA National Championship victory was his closest. Fellow Oregonian Greg Mitchell and California’s Mario Mendoza pushed King the entire route.
Mitchell, who is from McMinnville, finished second with a time of 1:16:52. The 55-second margin was the closest any runner has come to King at the XTERRA National Championship race in the past three years. Mitchell had the lead for the first half of the race, but King passed him during a flat section along the Deschutes River with around three miles to go.
“The first half of the race I felt pretty strong so I pushed it,” said Mitchell, 37. “Then somewhere along the river, Max just came on by like it was nobody’s business.”
Mitchell (pictured in blue/yellow) is an experienced distance runner, but was making his first appearance at the XTERRA Nationals.
“You kind of figure that Max is on a different level, but you never know,” Mitchell said. “It was fun to be right there with him most of the way in a race like this.”
Mendoza, who is from Cambria, Calif., also held the lead for a brief stretch before settling for third place in 1:17:16.
“I tried to stay with Max at the end there and kind of overextended myself,” said Mendoza, 24. “I would have liked second, but (Mitchell) he passed me.”
Mendoza was also racing for the first time in Bend, but it won’t be his last. He plans to move there next month to train on the numerous running trails. He said he will even seek the advice of King.
“Now I’m convinced that moving to Bend is the best decision as far as my running is concerned,” Mendoza said. “This was a great race, great course, and a chance to train with Max … that just adds to it.”
Kalpanatit Broderick of Bend was fourth in 1:18:58, and Tyler Davis of Talent, Ore., was fifth in 1:19:50. In a true sprint to the finish, Derick Williamson of Texas was sixth (1:20:05), John Ngigi of Oregon was seventh (1:20:06) and Tim Van Orden of Vermont was eighth (1:20:08).
The women’s race was also supposed to be close, but Fleshman (pictured) turned it into a runaway by running away down the stretch. For most of the race before that, Fleshman and Michele Suszek of Colorado stayed near each other.
“I just tried to keep pace,” Fleshman said. “Then probably with around 5 (kilometers) left , I really picked up the pace to make it uncomfortable for the other girls in the race. My specialty is 5k, so once I knew there was 5k left, I felt comfortable picking it up.”
Suszek, who was racing in Bend for the first time, finished in second with a time of 1:26:40.
“She was right behind me, then she got ahead at the 10-mile mark,” Suszek said of Fleshman. “Then we hit the flat stuff and she was gone. I tried, but she’s really fast.”
Suszek, 28, was also fast as she finished more than two minutes ahead of third-place Mary Colburn (1:29:18) of Culver City, Calif.
Oregon runners Sopagna Eap (1:30:41) and Kami Semick (1:32:07) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
More than 400 runners from around the world participated in the race. The runners were greeted in Bend by light rain and temperatures in the 50s.
“The rain helped, actually,” Fleshman said. “It kept the dust down. And running when it’s cool is always better than running when it’s hot.”
King and Fleshman each received $1,000 and roundtrip airfares to Hawaii courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines. They can use the airfares to compete at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii, on Dec. 5.
In addition to the overall titles, 24 age-group national champions were crowned. Zoe Allen (pictured), who is 7 and the youngest runner to ever compete in the XTERRA Nationals, finished in 3:03:37 to win the female 9-younger division. Zoe, who is from Hillsboro, Ore., ran the course with her mother, Tara.
Runners (besides King) to win age-group titles for the third consecutive year were Don Hildebrand (men 75-79), Katie Caba (women 35-39) and Jessie Stratton (women 65-69).
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship was the last race in a 60-stop U.S. Tour that hosts races in 15 states ranging from 5km to 42km. Here’s a look at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Running National Champs:
2010 XTERRA Trail Run National Champions
BENDITES RUN WILD IN 5K/10K RACES: In addition to the 21-kilometer championship course, there were also separate 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races. Fourteen-year-old Piper McDonald won the XTERRA Bend 5k for the second year in a row, and this time she took the overall victory as well. The future running star from Bend turned in an 18:52, which was 45 seconds ahead of runner-up and men’s winner Danny Harris, also of Bend. In the 10k another Bendite, Zach Rowland, 20, won the men’s race in 37:05, while 23-year-old Adrienne Nova of Kirkland, Wash., won the women’s race in 40:18.
NOTES: Today’s trail races were a benefit for the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, a non-profit whose guiding philosophy is to encourage academic achievement and promote the positive values of competitive Alpine, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, and Cycling. Many of the young adults the foundation services showed up in costumes and made for a great atmosphere at the aid stations.
In addition to the main event, 5km and 10km trail runs, nearly 100 kids enjoyed the XTERRA Kids Zone obstacle courses, running races and agility drills, the Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon was six stylists deep creating cool hairdos as a benefit for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and an enormous crowd of spectators, friends, and family enjoyed an adrenaline-filled day in Bend.
The XTERRA Trail Running National Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell and Degree Men Adventure. National sponsors include GU Energy Gel, Gatorade, Zorrel, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Hawaiian Airlines, XTERRA.TV, Trail Runner Magazine and the XTERRA Alliance - Wetsuits, Gear, Cycling, Fitness, and Footwear. The destination sponsor is Visit Bend, and local sponsors include the Old Mill District, Oregon Sports Authority, Fleet Feet Bend, Earth2o Water, Strictly Organic Coffee, U.S. Forest Service, Mount Bachelor Village Resort, and the Phoenix Inn Suites.
A special thanks to Visit Bend, Bend Parks and Rec, Deschutes National Forest, the great volunteers from the MBSEF, and the entire Bend community for embracing the event and making it a world-class atmosphere for athletes from around the country.
UP NEXT: The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is December 5 at Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, and many of today’s runners have already signed-up to take on the world. Read more at www.xterratrailrun.com.
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