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Runners brave rocky conditions in Purgatory Trail Run

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A map of Purgatory Creek Natural Area hangs near one of the trailheads to the park.
Photo by Tyler Jackson | Staff Photographer

Runners of all ages came together on Jan. 6 to participate in the 6th annual Purgatory Trail Run, a competition full of rocky terrain, twists and turns that benefits the local high school

David Moody, owner of San Marcos’ Core Running Company, created the race in 2012. The event has since been embraced by the community and is known for being tricky.

“There were no trail races here in San Marcos and we have a beautiful Purgatory green space here that the city was wanting the citizens to know about and to use as one of their recreation areas,” Moody said. “When I bought my running store six years ago, creating a trail race was was one of the first things I wanted to do.”

The race consists of two divisions: the 5K division and the 10 mile division.

Participants pay a fee that is dependent on which division they enter. All the proceeds earned are donated to the San Marcos High School cross country team. The funds raised help the Running Rattlers afford new uniforms and other essentials.

This year there were 140 runners who participated in the race. The number of participants has ranged from 100 to 300 runners over the past six years.

Among the participants, were many newcomers like Matt Haverland who ran in the 10 mile division.

“This is my first time running the Purgatory run, and the only goal I have is not fall too hard,” Haverland said.

The Purgatory trail is rocky, making it a difficult run for many participants.

“We haven’t had any major injuries over the years, but many people claim when they come out here, they fall down all the time,” Moody said.

Whitney Oldfather, a participant in the 10 mile division, fact checkedalso voiced concerns about the conditions of the trail.

“As long as I don’t fall down I’ll be fine” Oldfather said. “I just want to finish it alive without bleeding.”

There were no major injuries reported from the race this year.

The top three winners of the 5K division were Nicholas Wittkopp, Pablo V. Franco-Olvera and Travis Rounds. While in the 10 mile division, Justin Uresti, Travis Decker and Daniel Chidester won

The victory was Wittkopp’s second consecutive in the 5K division.

“I wanted to win, but honestly my only goal was to not get a twisted ankle because this place is pretty technical,” Wittkopp said.

No matter the risks or difficulty, Wittkopp plans to return to next year’s Purgatory Run.

“Out of all my races, this one by far is my favorite and is the funnest of them all,” Wittkopp said.

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