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Cross Timbers Trail Run 2014 Results – Interview: Running & Roller Derby with Tracie Akerhielm

Cross Timbers delivered a challenging course under run-happy conditions for its 33rd anniversary. The biggest threat to the trail party was a fire on the other side of Lake Texoma that sent smoke towards the race site. Fortunately all was good race morning!

Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Credit: Celeste Walz ©

CT is a race that has something for everyone including a 5M, 1/2 marathon, marathon, and 50M for those wanting to see the entire trail system – twice! The first six miles of this course are some of the toughest and most beautiful trail around north Texas as you dance along rugged singletrack. Over 300 runners earned a finish at one of the four distances. crosstimbers_map

Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Credit: Celeste Walz ©


5 mile

The 5 mile dash was a sweat flying, leg screaming run between Ryan Oppel and Gregory Carlson. The downhill, twisty, turny, rooty singletrack to the finish allowed a mere three seconds separating the two at the finish. Ryan takes home the male win this year in 45:22.

Sheila Bonner took home the female win in the 5 miler with a time of 58:20.

Half Marathon

Oklahoma City boys take home 1,2,3 in the half marathon burn fest led by course veteran, Chris McClure. Chris has been after a sub-2 on these trails and put together a 1:57:02 for the win.

Chris Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Chris McClure pushing the pace from the start. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Michelle Gilbert leads the female inspiration train for a half marathon finish in 2:32:26.


Another experienced Cross Timbers runner comes from Colorado as Don Solberg bests his 2013 marathon time by over three minutes to earn another marathon win in 3:39:38.

Don Solberg back for another scamper in north Texas. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Don Solberg back for another scamper in north Texas. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Tracie Akerhielm decided to double the distance from last year’s half marathon effort and put together a second overall, 3:51:05 marathon finish for the female win.

50 Mile

Last year Patrick Stephens ran a 10:23 in the 50 mile. This year, an 8:35:30 for the win.

Patrick (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Patrick Stephens double-fistin’ it to stay up on hydration and calories. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Out-of-staters Lacy Wilson (CO) and Shelley Egli (OK), put on display an exciting race for the female win. Lacy was able to create a small three-plus minute gap on Shelley as the two inspired each other to the finish line. Lacy finished sixth overall in a winning time of 9:59:30.

Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Shelley Egli root hoppin’ in the early going. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Harold Toomey was our Tough-As-Nails finisher in 15:51:24!

Complete results for all races.

Inspiration Point

Keep playing! Keep exploring!

Our wisest finishers getting it done at CT – Le Topham (72), Robert Kosec (67), George Kempston (69), Jay Norman (76), Robert Hancook (69), Carol Lindenblatt (66), Bib Williams (71), Betty Norman (74), Bruce Hill (65), Drew Meyer (66), and Terry Scott (67)!

Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Jay Norman sportin’ a classic CT sweatshirt – 15th anniversary! (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Running and Roller Derby – Interview with Tracie Akerhielm

Enjoy our Q&A interview with women’s marathon winner and XTERRA Trail Race Ambassador, Tracie Akerhielm.

Tracie Credit: Celeste Walz ©

Tracie working through the Cross Timbers course. (Credit: Celeste Walz ©

EB: Through the years, it appears you have played in the run, duathlon, and triathlon scene. Over the last year or so you seem to have played more on the trails. What is your running background and what led you into the trail running scene?

I first discovered my love for running in junior high. It was the first thing I found I was good at and dove in head first. I went to an extremely small school and often found myself running alone at practices and during the season. The area was so rural where I grew up, that I don’t recall ever running on paved roads! I was very fortunate to run on scholarship at TTU for their track and cross country teams. One of the best parts of running at TTU was sharing the experience with teammates like myself who loved the sport. Getting to travel across the US and race on different courses and tracks was pretty amazing as well.

After graduating, I took up road cycling and gave running a break for nearly a decade. Briefly I considered multisport events, since I loved cycling, running, and didn’t mind swimming. I stuck with road cycling from around 2004 to around 2010. A few bad bike crashes and a newly developed interest in skating took a hold of me then and I joined a roller derby team.

The roller skating first began as cross training activity for cycling, and grew from there! I loved the team aspect and strategy of road cycling, and this was even more predominant in roller derby. I have been skating at the House of Quad and North Texas Derby Revolution for a few years now, and it gets more fun every season.

Although I love the strategy and team work that goes along with roller derby, I was missing the one-on-one competition of running and cycling. I would even have dreams that I was racing through forests, and would wake up and think, maybe I should do that. So early in 2013, I started training for my first trail race, and also my first half-marathon. I had friends competing at the Cross Timbers race, so I decided to join them. Once finished, I told them I’d never return to that course, while doubled over, coughing, and knees shaking. I believe I signed up for my next trail race, an Xterra race, less than a month later.

EB – What are some of the most enjoyable aspect of trail running for you?

I love the trails, the scenery, and the challenge. There’s nothing quite like a good single track trail over rocks, boulders, and cactus. 🙂 Equally amazing are the friends I get to share the trail and experience with.

Fun at Big Bend. Tracie trying on some local flair. (Photo Credit Tony Roman)

Fun at Big Bend. Tracie trying on some local flair with friends. (Credit: Tony Roman)

EB – What does a typical training week look like for you? (I am guessing it is not all running.)

Initially I had a hard time transitioning from a 5 km runner to a half-marathon trail racer. I wanted to run fast from the start, and it made the finishes quite painful that way. I picked up a coach to help me with balancing roller derby and running schedule and to get help with pacing on the trails. It helped me tremendously, and that’s an understatement! I began working with Ben Drezek in the late summer and have seen huge improvements. I have been running a lot of base training this winter in preparation for racing later in the year. I have been running ~70 miles per week, along with skating ~6 hours a week and strength and agility work.

EB – You seem pretty involved with the north Texas roller derby scene. How did that come about? How long have you been involved?

Yes, I have been with North Texas Derby Revolution from the ground up. We are fortunate enough to have our own facility here in Denton, called the House of Quad. It began as cross training for other sports and quickly took over. I am a member of the Main Street Mafia home team, and captain of the Fighting Unicorns, our league’s travel team.

Tracie (Left) with teammate putting the squeeze on a fellow competitor. (Credit: R&R Photography /

Tracie (right) with teammate Lauren Powers putting the squeeze on fellow competitor, Kasey Winsor. (Credit: R&R Photography ©

Cross Timbers:

EB – You ran and won CT half marathon last year. This year you doubled the distance. Was there any specific training you did to prepare for this course and the distance (as I believe it is the longest trail race you have done so far)?

I had a busy first year of trail racing in 2013. I raced all seven Texas XTERRA trail races last season. They were around 15-20 km, on some very challenging courses across Texas. This past fall I was part of a relay team at Cactus Rose, and we each ran 25 miles. That was a great experience, and loved that the course was one big loop. I am looking forward to racing the trail division in the Texas Trail Championships this season, and many of the races are around the marathon distance. In preparation, I have been doing longer runs and working on difficult trails when my legs are tired. I also traveled to the Cross Timbers race course to preview the entire trail, running point to point, and think that definitely helped my race this year.

More Big Bend fun. (Photo: Credit Tony Roman)

More Big Bend fun. (Credit: Tony Roman)

EB – It seems you may have put together the fastest female marathon time on this course in 3:51. I also think the first sub-4. Could you share how the run played out for you? What are your thoughts on the trail marathon distance?

Yes, Teresa recently confirmed that it was a course record, and I’m very happy with that. I was very excited to start my racing for the season. I took off a little hot at Cross Timbers, and was worried about maintaining pace for the entire race. I entered the trail second overall and maintained that for the entire race, so it was a lot of solo running. I did slow down quite a bit on the return trip, but I gave all that I had. Started giving myself pep talks to myself on the way back. My hat is off for the racers who did the 50 mile event!

The course is just fantastic, and I loved that it was an out-and-back design. My feet started to get heavy on the way back, and I kept clipping my toes on rocks and roots. I raced in Altra Lone Peaks, and they were perfect for the course. They had great traction on the rocks without feeling them underfoot, and are still light and responsive enough for racing. So I was lucky that I didn’t have to deal with blisters or toenail issues.

EB – What were a couple of your strongest memories from the adventure?

Driving in the day before the event and thinking that the park was on fire! There was a huge plume of smoke that was visible for miles and miles away as I drove up Friday. There was a moment when I was afraid the race would be cancelled. It turns out there was a grass fire directly across the water from the race course. Also on my mind during the race, was the derby bout I was playing in that night. It was our league’s season opener the same day. It wasn’t ideal to race a marathon that morning, and skate that night, but I couldn’t resist doing both.

Check out more great race pics from Team Danger Ventures.

Special thanks to Tracie Akerhielm, Celeste Walz of  Team Danger Ventures, R&R Photography, and Tony Roman for their gracious support of this article!

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About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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