Thompson, Youngren win Oak Mountain Marathon
Elena Linn tops all runners in the half-marathon
PELHAM, Alabama - The runners on the Charleston Southern University cross country team might want to listen to their coach from here on out.
Ryan Thompson, a cross country coach at the school in South Carolina, proved his capabilities as a runner with a victory in the full-marathon division of the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs on Sunday, May 20.
Thompson, 30, completed the 42-kilometer course in 3 hours, 6 minutes, 59 seconds. He took the lead from the start and ran by himself for most of the course.
"I was actually hoping to run with some people today," he said "I wanted to have a strong effort and use it as a strong training run. When we started climbing that long dirt fire road, at the back of the 17-mile loop, I could tell I put a little bit of distance. At that point, I was just kind of maintaining and keeping a steady pace."
(Thompson pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)
The 42K marathon was one of four courses in the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs. There was also a 20K half-marathon, a 10K and a 5K, and more than 600 runners participated in the event. All four courses were held at the picturesque Oak Mountain State Park on a humid day in Pelham, Alabama.
"I love the XTERRA races," Thompson said. "It's a great vibe. It's like a national-caliber meet, but at the same time, it's got the great local feel of where ever they put on the meet."
Making Thompson's victory even more impressive, he participated in a long race the day before. He was part of a relay team that participated in a 200-mile race that went from Atlanta to Birmingham.
"We had a 12-man team, and it was broken up, so I did about 17 miles," he said. "It worked out well."
Thompson stumbled and fell late in the XTERRA Oak Mountain race, but his lead was so large by then, he had time to dust himself off, gather his bearings, and continue to the finish.
Rick Brown placed second with a time of 3:18:27, and John Cobbs was third in 3:22:03.
Kathy Youngren of Huntsville, Alabama, finished 15th overall and was the first female with a time of 3:58:33.
(Youngren pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)
Youngren is an ultra-marathon runner who was using the XTERRA Oak Mountain marathon as a form of training. She plans to compete in a 131-mile race in Hungary next month.
"It's training for something really long," said Youngren, 37. "I ran with a couple of friends until about six miles to go, then I decided to pick up the pace a little bit and run a little harder. I was pleased with my time."
Youngren finished in 3:58:33, and was the only female to run under four hours.
Christy Scott was second in 4:03:52, and Hayriye Ayhan was third in 4:04:10.
Every age-group winner from the 42K division received a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which is scheduled for Dec. 2 at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii.
The full-marathon course may have been the longest course of the event, but the half-marathon provided the most intriguing story.
Elena Linn, a graduate student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, captured first place by completing the course in 1:25:51. Yes, Linn is a woman.
"It's very humbling because I wasn't expecting it at all," said Linn, 26.
However, Linn is no stranger to such an accomplishment. She also beat all the males at an XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series event last year.
(Elena Linn pictured, courtesy XTERRA Photos)
This event, however, featured a larger field, and Linn did it with a strong finishing surge - and an unfortunate fall by the top male.
Joey Bemowski, a cross country runner at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, ran in the lead for probably 90 percent of the race. But in the final two miles, he tripped over a tree root and fell on his left shoulder.
At the time, Linn was right behind him. She actually asked to see if he was alright, which he was, then she overtook him for the lead.
Bemowski eventually finished second overall, 13 seconds behind Linn, with a time of 1:26:04.
"I run here at least once a week during the summer and every single time, I fall," Bemowski said.
Despite the mishap, Bemowski said he felt good about his finish in the race. "I feel good about how I raced - decent time, good way to start summer training," he said.
(Bemowski pictured, courtesy XTERRA photos)
Stephen Calvert of Cullman, Alabama, placed third overall (second among the males) in 1:31:48.
Another intriguing storyline came from the fourth-place finisher (second among females), Lesley Paterson. Less than 24 hours before the Oak Mountain Trail Runs, Paterson won the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship / XTERRA Southeast Championship, which was held at Oak Mountain State Park on Saturday, May 19. Paterson is also the defending women's XTERRA World Champion for off-road triathlon.
"I know the world champion, who finished first (on Saturday) was running today, so that was pretty crazy," Linn said. "We were together for the first couple of miles, but she was pretty tired I think."
Every age-group winner from the 21K course received a free entry to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which is scheduled for Dec. 2 at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii.
It was also the final event of the 2012 XTERRA Alabama Series. Every age-group winner from the overall series standings will receive a free entry to represent Alabama at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, in September.
10K / 5K
Matthew Green of Warrior, Alabama, is working his way up the distances of the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs, and finding success at it.
Green won the 10K division of the event, finishing with a time of 41 minutes, 37 seconds. Last year, he placed second in the 5K division.
"Last year, the 5K was my first race and I've been running consistently ever since," said Green, 27.
Green raced into the lead from the start and never relented. He finished more than three minutes ahead of runners-up Brandon Mader and David Wilson, who tied for second at 44:45. Mader, who is considered one of the top trail runners in Alabama, missed the start of the race by about three minutes and had to pass the entire field of runners (except for Green) to earn his second-place finish.
Gwen Howard was the first female in 55:52, followed by Janie Davis in 57:41.
Shannon Dorsey of Huntsville, Alabama, took first place in the 5K division, finishing with a time of 19:27. Daniel Roberts was second in 19:34.
Nicole Valentine of Rockville, Maryland, was an impressive fourth overall and the first female in 22:06.
For complete results from all divisions, please visit www.jtltiming.com.
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