Tristan Potter

Tristan Potter of Arab won a 100-mile race in Arkansas on Feb. 27. He trains on roads throughout Marshall County and at the Lake Guntersville State Park.

Marshall County resident Tristan Potter won a 100-mile running event in Arkansas at the Ouachita National Forest on Saturday, Feb. 27.

The Run LOViT ultra trail race is an annual race in Arkansas which contains over 17,000 feet of total elevation change and is an endurance run of rocky, rolling hills and ridge lines that takes runners along the southern rim of the ruggedly beautiful Ouachita National Forest.

The LOViT trail is mostly single-track and travels up, down, and along mountain slopes through mixed hardwood and pine forests, and opens up in several places to breathtaking views of Lake Ouachita. 

Potter won the race with a time of 21 hours, 52 minutes and 24 seconds. Potter and his girlfriend, Natalie Lonsberry, live in south Arab. Several roads around their house and the Lake Guntersville State Park provided the training grounds for Potter before the daunting race in Arkansas.

“I really like to run down portions of Red Hill Road and onto Warrenton Road where I end up getting on Browns Valley Road,” he said. “I also use the State Park quite a bit to train and specifically for the race in Arkansas. The terrain at the Guntersville State Park prepared me very well for the race in Arkansas. I was actually surprised at how well it trained me.”

Potter said some weekends he’ll run as many as 26 miles in the State Park mainly on trails like the Meredith, Seals and Lick Skillet trails.

The natural assumption is that Potter has been running most of his life. That assumption would be wrong as the Arkansas native didn’t really begin the hobby until his college years.

“I tried running in junior high for the cross-country team but I just didn’t have it physically,” he laughed. “It wasn’t until my college years that my body developed enough to reach my full potential. I started running for fun with some guys in college, graduated in 1998 and picked it back up in about 2009. I was in Missouri at the time working for a group home. We had a great PE program there and I met a guy who was into adventure racing. That’s when my interest really started in running those kinds of races.”

Potter’s next event is the Wild Irish Run in Guntersville, which happend today (Saturday). He will run the 10K portion of the race. Last year, he ran the 10K in 44 minutes.

He said pavement races are always fun to be a part of but it’s the races in nature he loves the most.

“I grew up on a ranch in Arkansas so we were always outside playing,” he said. “Running races adventure races in the woods make for a great race. I won’t lie, the race in Arkansas a few weeks back was very tough. The last four miles were absolutely miserable. I was elated when I finished and realized I had won but still very exhausted.”

Potter works all across Marshall County as a contractor. He owns and operates Mountain Vista Home Improvement and Natalie works as a contractor for NASA in Huntsville.

Besides the Wild Irish Run, Potter has another big race scheduled for this month.

“On the 27th I’m going to run in the McKay Madness race in Huntsville,” he said. “It’s a 25K at Monte Sano Park that I’m very much looking forward to.”

He concluded, “I’m still a little sore from the race in Arkansas but it was well worth it. I was thrilled to have won that race and excited to be able to train for more.”

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