Afton 25K Winner Anna French – Photo Credit Mike Wheeler

An interview with 2017 Afton 25K winner Anna French (AF). Interview conducted by John Storkamp (JS) – Afton Trail Run Race Director

 

JS – Anna, congratulations on your first Afton 25K win!  For only being 20 years old, you already have some history with this race, this being your 5th finish – did you think you could / would win the race someday!?

AF – Thank you so much! My first year running here at Afton I was just hoping to finish because I had never run that far before. The next few years I started to get more competitive and try to beat my times from the previous years. I had hoped that I would be able to win it someday, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this year because I have been struggling with injuries for the past year and a half.

 

JS – How were you first introduced to the Afton Trail Run?  I am assuming you were running high school track and cross when you first ran the race?

AF – My mom is the one who found out about the race and introduced me to it. She’s been doing it with me ever since. I think I was entering my sophomore year at Wayzata High School my first year and I saw it as a great way to get a fun long run in as training for my cross country season.

 

JS – Do you ever want to try the 50K?

AF – Yes!! I definitely want to try the 50K! I probably won’t get to try it until after I am done competing in college, but I’m looking forward to it.

 

JS – The race ended up fairly close… were you in the lead the entire way or did it change hands a couple of times?

AF – I went to the lead early, but I could tell Jillian and Cassie were catching me at times.

 

JS – Would you be surprised if I told you that your time was the 5th fastest ever for the modern day 25K course?

AF – Yes, that does surprise me! While I was racing I was feeling good so I hoped that it would be faster than my previous best time on the course, but I didn’t realize that it would rank that high overall.

 

JS – Are you running in college?  If so, tell us where and how is it going?

I am running in college. I competed for West Virginia University for my freshman and sophomore years, but I am transferring and will be competing for Montana State in the fall! I’ve had some highs and lows with college running. My freshman year in cross country I set a PR and was able to compete at the Big 12 and regional meets, but after that I began to struggle with stress reactions and a torn labrum and redshirted in track and cross country. This past track season I finally started returning to health and am excited to be getting some consistent summer training in and for what’s ahead at MSU!

 

JS – Anything else stick out for you from this years race or Afton in general?

AF – I actually almost didn’t run it this year because of my hip. It had started hurting again and I was concerned that I had another stress reaction or fracture. I got an MRI and received the results (no stress injury thankfully) right before registration closed. I kept an eye on the number of entries remaining and registered on the very last day, and I am so glad I was able to do it. Afton has always been one of my favorites and this year was no exception. Afton State Park is such a beautiful location for it, and the volunteers along the way are so supportive and really help you through the toughest parts. I love all the unique artwork as well; whenever I wear the race t-shirts people always comment on them. Thank you so much for putting it on and to all the volunteers who make it possible! 

 

JS – Thanks Anna, we look forward to seeing you back next year for your 6th Afton Trail Run!

AF – Thank you! 

 

+ Click HERE for Quick Info

Afton Trail Run
50KM & 25KM Trail Races
Afton State Park – Hastings, Minnesota
July 1st, 2017
50KM 6:30AM
25KM 7:30AM

Registration:
Opens Sunday January 1st 2017 at 12:01AM CST
Closes Friday June 23rd 2017 at 11:59PM CST
*Or once the field limit has been met
Complete Registration Details HERE

Directions to Race Start:
Afton State Park
6959 Peller Avenue South
Hastings, MN 55033
Hastings, Minnesota
Google Maps Directions HERE
Approx 25 minutes East of St. Paul, MN and 40 minutes East of Minneapolis, MN

Terrain / Course Description:
The Afton Trail Run consists of a hilly 25K loop (two loops for the 50K), winding through Afton State Park’s trail system. The race is held 100% off road, primarily on very runnable / not very technical single double and single track. There are 7 long climbs per loop, rising from the river valley and down again with a good mix of rolling and flat terrain between the hills.  Be sure to see maps, elevation charts and stats provided on this website HERE.

50KM:
2 x 15.5 mile loops =  31 miles
Elevation Gain 4,670 FT
Elevation Loss 4,670 FT
NET Elevation Change 9,340 FT
11 Aid Stations
9 hour time limit
Complete 50KM Info HERE

25KM:
1 x 15.5 mile loop = 15.5 miles
Elevation Gain 2,335 FT
Elevation Loss 2,335 FT
NET Elevation Change 4,670 FT
5 Aid Stations
8 hour time limit
Complete 25KM Info HERE

More About the Race / Area:
The Afton Trail Run is one of the most challenging and beautiful trail races around.  The race was established in 1994 and is now one of the oldest, largest and most competitive trail races in the country and routinely draws runners from all 50 states and beyond.  The race takes place entirely within the borders of Afton State Park.  Afton State Park lies on a glacial moraine, scribed with deep ravines running down to the St. Croix River.  The 169 mile St. Croix River was one of the original eight United States rivers to have significant portions placed under protection by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.  Within the park sandstone outcrops have been exposed in some of the ravines. The vertical drop from the blufftop to the water is 300 feet.  A few patches of remnant prairie survived the decades of farming that took place on the blufftop. Today the former fields are being restored to prairie and oak savanna. The ravines leading down to the riverbank are thickly wooded with oak, aspen, birch, and cherry.