Monday, December 23, 2013

Langelier, Bell Podium at Texas Trail Endurance Races

While Volte’s Randy Harris was leading all runners in prayer 25 miles south at the start of the final race of the 2013 Texas 10 Series, a pair of friends – best friends, rather -- were separately preparing for their Texas Trail Endurance Races at Huntsville State Park.

One, over the past six years, had covered every nook and cranny of the Park.

The other was furthering her education in the Park’s tree-rootology.

One was getting reacquainted with a bib number, having recently freed herself – and her training – from the high expectations that seemed to follow her initial successes in the sport.

The other might say that she never met a bib that she didn’t like.

And while the temperatures were much colder than the weekend their paths crossed in the Pacific Northwest, the friendship was grown much warmer from the roads and miles traveled – and the laughs and tears shared -- since then.

One was here to see where the next road might lead.

The other already had a return trip to the Park booked in exactly two months.

In Texas, well, we let our neighbors go first -- whether it’s through the supermarket checkout line (unless you’re trying to traffic 30 items in the 10-and-under line) or a 31-mile jaunt through the woods.

A sign of things to come for Langelier and Bell.  Regardless, smiles abound.
(Photo courtesy of Keith Bell)
So when the horn sounded at 7:30 a.m., Rebecca Bell, Volte’s favorite Alabama runner, stepped to the line first -- not only setting out to improve upon some finished business from 2012, but also with designs on a lofty achievement in the new year to come.

Thirty minutes later, Volte coach Adrienne Langelier – one of Bell’s besties (no, this word isn’t in the AP style book) – would attempt to recapture some past Huntsville State Park trail glory – although against much stronger female competition than her Hog’s Hunt 25K wins from 2008-2009.

And neither failed to disappoint.

Bell went home with another second-place overall finish in the 50K, but improved her 4:51:13 time from a year ago by just under 17 minutes -- to 4:34:39.

All – and then some – of it coming on the third and final loop, cutting her time from 2:10:27 in 2012 to 1:51-even this year.

She stated in her blog, “I had never been close to first place (San Antonio’s Marnie Staehly), nor had third place been close to me.  We held first through third the entire race, all contested.”

Meanwhile, Langelier, who hadn’t raced double-digit mileage in two years (which was a second overall RunGirl Half Marathon finish), drew an Olympic Trials participant in the field and a fellow college professor who has seven straight Boston qualifiers since moving to Texas three years ago.

After she took The Woodlands’ Heather McNiff, who ran in the 2012 United States Olympic Marathon Trials, and San Antonio’s Ashley McGee out on what she called, “one of the most challenging parts of the course”, Adrienne settled into third – and stayed there – to register a 1:38:39 finish.

“I remembered how to race again," said Langelier.  "From the feeling I get before the gun goes off, to when to dial back, when to dig deep, and how it feels when you put in a good morning's work and gave it your best for the day.”

And that best on this day was six minutes out of first, three minutes out of second, but also – and most importantly – a leader in all of our hearts.

To read Adrienne's race report, please click here.
To read Rebecca's race report, please click here.

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