If you think Tristan Potter’s road to the Arab region has been a long one – and it has been – consider the run he just completed at the end of last month.
Competing in the Run LOViT ultra trail race in western Arkansas, Potter finished fourth. That’s not the remarkable part. The annual race is 100 miles.
A. Hundred. Miles.
He completed it in 23 hours, 40 minutes and 18 seconds. He started the race at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 25. He finished it at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday.
He was just one of 30 to complete it. Thirteen others tried and did not finish (there is a time limit).
It was Potter’s third 100 mile run. Remarkably, a year ago he won this same race (LOViT stands for Lake Ouachita Vista Trail). His overall time was then 21 hours, 52 minutes and 24 seconds.
It was his first attempt at 100 miles. He tried another, the Dalton-based Georgia Jewel, last September, but didn’t finish.
He finished his third, however, with much personal satisfaction. That he didn’t win didn’t bother him much. That honor went to Karl Metzer of Sandy, Utah. He finished the race in 19:36:36.
Curiously, 45-year-old Potter doesn’t really like to run for the sake of running. He’s tried this before, doing cross country in high school and college before quitting both times.
“I just stank of it,” he said.
It is the adventure of running in nature that attracts him the most. He took that part to another level in last month’s race.
“He took a different approach this year and didn’t push as hard so he could have more fun along the way, despite the 29 degree drop on Friday night and some freezing rain,” his wife said. Natalie Lonsberry.
A hundred miles is a hundred miles, though, and it’s nonstop; however, these types of races, known as Ultramarathon races, Ultra Trail races or simply “Ultras”, which are something longer than the traditional 26.2 mile marathon, have aid stations along the course , usually every 5 to 8 miles.
This gives runners a place to stop briefly for water, food, and anything they might need in their packs or race team, like a change of socks, another pair shoes or a headlamp, etc.
According to the Run LOViT website, www.runlovit.com, the annual run is an endurance race of rocky, rolling hills and ridge lines that takes runners along the southern shore of one of the lakes of most pristine freshwater in America and through the beautiful Ouachita wilderness. Forest. The LOViT trail ascends, descends, and hugs mountain slopes through mixed hardwood and pine forests, and opens in several places to sweeping views of Lake Ouachita.
It’s the kind of racing that brought Potter back to the sport. After his college cross-country years, Potter quit running altogether. Then, in 2009, he came across a group of friends who were into “adventure” sports, that is, off-road activities such as running, mountain biking, canoeing and the kayak.
Potter and his friends participated in races that included these sorts of activities, but eventually Potter settled mostly into running. And where he runs brings back memories.
“I compare it to, when you were a kid, you would go running in the woods,” he said. “Adventure running is what kept me running longer.”
Recently, he completed the back-to-back 50 mile/50K Cloudland Canyon race at Cloudland State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. He finished the 50 mile race in seventh place on December 4 in 9 hours 56 minutes and the following day ran the 50K with a time of 7 hours, 14 minutes.
Residents of South Arab may know Potter as a familiar sight as he runs most mornings along county roads with his workout buddy, an Australian Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix named Skeeter.
“She’s been running with me for five years, since she was 6 months old,” Potter said. “She gives me a partner when I run.”
He and his real-life partner, Natalie, live in the New Canaan/Thrasher Crossroads community. They have two teenage daughters, ages 17 (Juniper Potter) and 18 (Bryce Potter).
They moved to Alabama in 2016 from New Orleans when Natalie was hired by a NASA contractor as a radiation physicist. They moved to the Arab region in the summer of 2018 from Huntsville.
“My dad, Mike Lonsberry, has lived in Guntersville for 20 years and is retired from the US Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, so I knew the area and decided to apply for a job here. “Natalie said. . “That’s how we ended up in Alabama.”
Potter is self-employed and works in residential construction. He grew up in Gentry, Ark., on a 400+ acre Santa Gertrudis cattle ranch with an older sister and younger brother. His family moved there from Colorado Springs, Colorado, when he was 9 years old.
In eighth and ninth grades, he lived in Vienna, Austria, where his father worked as a geophysicist, before returning to Gentry to finish high school. He graduated from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark.
“We both wanted land and livestock,” Natalie said. “And after scouring the Huntsville area for a year, we found the perfect sized Arabian town with an affordable property nearby.
“It reminds us of the small towns in Arkansas where we grew up and is large enough to provide all the essential amenities.”
And also lots of country roads to drive through.