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Posted: December 3, 2012  

Athletics: Bruce and Gray Tie for First at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds

Source: XTERRA Date: December 2, 2012

Smith takes championship in women's division

KUALOA RANCH, Hawaii - History was made in more ways than one at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. For the first time in the history of the prestigious event, there was a tie for first place. After 21 grueling kilometers at the majestic Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii, not even a photo finish -- or video replay -- could determine the winner.

Ben Bruce and Joe Gray crossed the finish line simultaneously, and are officially the co-champions for 2012. After reviewing several angles of video and photos, XTERRA race officials declared it a tie.

In the women's division Lucy Smith of Canada proved that age is no barrier when it comes to winning. She was the overall winner of the women's division, and at 45, is the oldest runner ever to win the overall XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

More than 2,000 runners from around the world participated in the event, ranging in age from 6 to 77. There were runners from 15 countries and 37 states.

For the first time in the five-year history of the race, Max King of Oregon did not enter the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which meant a new champion was guaranteed. King won the title every year from 2008-2011. But who knew the race to find a new king would be so exciting?

"It was one of those things, you keep trying to press on and never give up in a race," said Bruce, who caught Gray in the final section of the course. "You do what you can to finish first, and this time, it ended up being a tie."

Gray said: "I saw him coming. I was trying to hold him off as best I could." Gray, who resides in Renton, Washington, had the lead for most of the race, but he ran off course twice, and lost some time. "It happens," Gray said. "There were some logistical issues, but as far as challenging, this course is very challenging."

Bruce said he could see Gray in the lead at several points during the race, but he never caught up until the finish line. "It's tough because when the course opened up, I could see him, but a lot of times it would be going on the steeper hills, so it looked like he was right there, but in reality it might be 20 to 30 seconds. I could never really tell how far ahead he really was, but it kept me going, thinking that I was close."

Bruce and Gray were each credited with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes, 58 seconds, and each received $1,500 for the co-victory.

Will Christian of Virginia placed third with a time of 1:25:54. "I ran this race in 2010, and the course seemed a lot harder this time," Christian said. "I was not prepared for the humidity and all the elevation changes."

Interestingly enough, Bruce (2008), Gray (2009) and Christian (2010) had all finished in second place at this event in previous years. Mario Mendoza of Oregon was fourth in 1:26:35, and Willie Schefer from Kihei, Maui, was fifth in 1:26:41. Rounding out the top 10 were: Jacob Puzey (1:28:58), Roberto Mandje (1:29:19), Thomas Rivers Puzey (1:29:52), Leandro Santillan (1:30:22) and Kenichi Komatsu (1:30:24.).

On the women's side, Lucy Smith entered the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for the first time in 2011. She placed second that year and vowed to learn from the experience.

"I didn't know the course at all last year, and I knew what I could do to train for the course this year," she said. "Training for all the hills is the hardest part, and I feel like I was better prepared for it." Smith finished with a time of 1:41:39, and may have benefited from a wrong turn by another runner.

Polina Babkina had the lead for the first half of the race, but a wrong turn on the course cost her the lead. She is originally from Russia, and is currently a student at Hawaii Pacific University.

"I was running with her for a while, and then I said I'll let her get in front because I knew some of the tougher hills were coming and I wanted to save something for that. When I came up the hill, some of the people up there were saying I was in first, so I'm not sure what happened, but I just tried to keep motoring home after that."

Amber Moran from Asheville, North Carolina, placed second overall with a time of 1:43:41. It was a nice follow-up from her third-place finish at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship two months ago in Utah.

"The Nationals was my first big XTERRA experience, and it was such an amazing experience, I said I have to go to Hawaii and do the Worlds," Moran said. "It was everything I thought it would be and more. The course is really pretty out there and the atmosphere is incredible."

Babkina placed third in 1:45:34, and Natalia Kravchuk of Honolulu was fourth in 1:47:31, and Georgie Rutherford from London, England, was fifth in 1:49:58.

Rounding out the top 10 were Mary Castelanelli (1:51:23), Stephanie Weigel (1:53:14), Susie Stephen (1:53:40), Rachel Cieslewicz (1:54:59) and Janelle Lancaster (1:55:42).

Hawaii runners Lee Saltonstall and Ed Fattoumy highlighted the age-group divisions by winning their fourth XTERRA Trail Run World Championship titles.

Saltonstall was first in the 65-69 women's division with a time of 2:49:28. Fattoumy was first in the physically challenged division with a time of 1:53:16.

Three other runners -- all from Hawaii -- won their third titles: Mark Speck (men 40-44), Ash Dustow (men 55-59), Edward Bugarin (men 60-64)

Runners winning their second titles were Keith Rieger (men 45-49), Raymond Brust (men 50-54), Lucy Smith (women 45-49) and Vicki Daniels (women 50-54).

Complete results are available at: JTLTiming.com

A photo gallery is available at: Facebook.


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