MENDON – Runners hit the trails June 2 at Mendon Ponds Park as the Mendon Mauler Trail Race hosted the USA Track & Field Niagara Trail Championships. Kiplangat Tisia of Rochester won the men’s title and Elizabeth Matthews, also of Rochester, took the women’s title. Tisia covered the approximately eight-mile, hilly course in 57:41.
“I had a lot of fun out there,” Tisia said. “It is so peaceful running out in the woods you can hear the birds chirp. I do most of my runs around where I live in the city, so it was nice to get out more in the country and on some trails.”
Since moving to Rochester, Tisia has won three of western and centrals New York’s biggest races including Rochester’s Flower City Half Marathon, Syracuse’s Mountain Goat 10 Mile and the Buffalo Half Marathon.
Matthews, the women’s winner, finished second overall for women with a time of 1:10:59.
“I got nervous out there, with the course being a two loop course,” she said. “I realized going up the last big hill the first time I was going to have to go up it again.”
On Thursday night, Matthews also ran in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge where she finished tenth, covering the 3.5-mile course in 22:07.
The overall women’s winner from the Mendon Mauler 8 Mile was Jenn Spitzer of Fairport with a time of 1:10:14.
“I like challenging courses,” she said. “I love this race. This is the third time running this race.” Spitzer, who runs cross country for Rutgers University in the fall, is predominately a Miler and 1500 meter runner on the track but stepped onto the trail for this race.
USATF Niagara, the local governing body of Track & Field in this area, has hosted many road races and track and field championships but has not hosted a Trail Championship in years.
“Trail running is growing and becoming very popular,” USATF Niagara Trail Chair Jessica Snyder said. “I think it’s important to form a partnership with trail running and USATF.”
Snyder explained that like cross country running, trail running is similar in its off-road environment.
“Trail running tends to be tougher and generally longer than cross country running,” she said. “Trail running usually features very difficult up hills and down hills, and sometimes there can be obstacles such as fallen trees to navigate around or running though streams.”
In addition to the Mendon Mauler 8-mile, the race also featured a four-mile race and a 12-mile race. The race had 201 total finishers.