“This is a great next step in my career and I’m honored to now wear the stars-and-stripes jersey for the next year of marathon races,” said Paton after his win. “The pros faced a lot of unexpected challenges in this race and I’m really proud I was able to stay focused and execute my strategy.”
Paton, a privateer supported by Giant who specializes in marathon XC and gravel racing in North America, chose his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 for the 46.4-mile course in Chewacla State Park. Conditions were ideal, with cool temperatures at the start before it warmed up into the mid-80s.
Paton led the way for a blistering fast men’s race that saw the top-five all finish within 32 seconds of his winning time of 2:46:43. Cayden Parker of Arkansas finished second, followed by Carson Beckett of North Carolina in third.
“It was apparent right away that my Anthem Advanced Pro 29 was going to be the right call for this race in Alabama,” Paton said. “The course was flat and twisty, and always bumpy with tree roots. The Anthem was perfect for keeping my cornering speed high and staying efficient while putting power down through the constant trail chatter.”
The win was the latest achievement in a strong season for Paton, whose focus has been the Life Time Grand Prix, a series of seven gravel and marathon XC races in the U.S. The Washington state native has been consistent all year long, scoring three podium finishes in the five races to date. His latest came at the Chequamegon 40, where he finished third. Paton raced his XtC Advanced SL hardtail at Chequamegon, a 40-mile XC race in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
“That was the shortest race of the series and it turned out to be the most exciting race so far this year,” said Paton after his Chequamegon podium. “A lead group of 15 riders stuck together and fought hard for positions all the way up to the finish. My XtC was the best choice for the punchy climbs and a high-speed sprint finish. I’m stoked to continue my consistency and move up to second overall in the Life Time Grand Prix with two races left.”
Paton now turns his attention to the next event in the series, a 110-mile gravel race at this weekend’s Rad Dirt Fest in Trinidad, Colorado. He currently sits second overall in the rankings with two races left in the series.