Texan of the Week: Samantha Campbell, 17, Wins Austin Rattler MTB

by Brook Benten on December 2, 2022 in Entertainment, Sports,

Life Time, A Healthy Way of Life Company, presented Stages Cycling Austin Rattler Mountain Bike Race on November 5, 2022. Over 1,000 athletes competed in the sold-out event. First place female in the 60-mile mountain bike went to 17-year-old Samantha Campbell from Austin. For that reason, this young powerhouse is our Texan of the Week!


Annually, Life Time hosts 30 premier athletic events, including the highly coveted Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race/Trail Ultramarathon. Leadville mountain bike athletes must first qualify, then race the clock to earn a feather in their cap and a buckle on their belt. (Finishers in 9-hours receive a large belt buckle; 12-hours receive a small belt buckle).

Samantha Campbell is a young woman who demonstrates what a high schooler can do with committed training, great role models, and determination. She finished the 60-mile Stages Cycling Austin Rattler Mountain Bike Race in 5:20:44, earning her first place female and securing her a spot in Leadville Trail 100 MTB, which will take place in Leadville, CO, on August 13, 2023.

Samantha’s first place female win in the 60-mile Austin Rattler MTB qualifies her for the 100-mile Leadville Trail 100 MTB. Photo courtesy Samantha Campbell.

What other LifeTime races have you done? 

The Austin Rattler was the first Life Time race that I’ve competed in. Leadville will be the next Life Time event that I’ll compete in, but I hope to do others in the future! I really enjoyed the environment and the community. 

How do LifeTime races compare to other organized races? 

The big difference that I noticed between LifeTime and other events that I’ve competed at was the after party/podium ceremony. Everyone was celebrating each other’s performances and results. The live music added to the party atmosphere, and the live rattlesnake guarding the awards was apropos. 

A live rattlesnake guards the awards for the Austin Rattler MTB. Photo courtesy Samantha Campbell.

Will you describe the 2022 Stages Cycling Austin Rattler MTB? 

The 2022 Austin Rattler course was loose, rocky, and rugged – typical for most Texas hill country trails. The first half of the course challenged riders with multiple punchy climbs, and finished with technical rock gardens. 

What was your strategy? How did you win it? 

My strategy for this race was to find a group of people to work with that was pushing a suitable pace for me. I did this for the first 2 laps of the race, occasionally leapfrogging from group to group, continuing to stay at my desired pace. I actually had a mechanical issue during the second lap. My dropper seat cable broke at the beginning of a technical descent and it was stuck down. When I got back onto the double track, I got off my bike and started to fix it as quickly as possible. Another rider came by and helped me to generate enough force to pull on the frayed wire to make my seat come back up again. It worked and I think I spent 5 minutes or less, stopped. I had no other mechanical issues for the rest of the race. By the time I got to the third lap, I was still feeling really good, so I turned on the gas in the last 10 miles, treating it like a cross-country race. I didn’t see many women around me – there weren’t any women in close proximity to me for the entire race. I was surprised about this but continued to work with the other guys. I think that some of the guys were caught off guard to see a young girl riding and keeping up with them. 

At only 17, this is an amazing accomplishment! Was this your first major mountain bike race win? 

Thank you! I felt really good physically – feeling better and stronger the further I got into the race. This is my first time winning a major event. I’ve been to several out-of-state cross country races over the past couple years like the US Pro Cup in Fayetteville, AR (UCI) and Mountain Bike Nationals in Winter Park, CO, and I finished respectively within the top third of these races. 

Where is your favorite place to train (mountain bike) in Austin? Is there a specific trail? What do you love about it? 

There are so many great places to ride in Texas! My favorite local trails to train on are at Pace Bend Park in Spicewood, TX, about 15 minutes away from where I live. My favorite trails include Straddle Yer Saddle (a technical, downhill flow trail), Well Worth It (a steep, loose, and rocky climb), and Wookie Way (the most technical trail, consisting of many rock

gardens/features), the trail Pace Bend is most well known for. I love these trails because of the technical features they offer. I learned a lot of my technical skills from riding on these trails. Even though they can be challenging at times, I still find it really enjoyable and rewarding. 

Other honorable mentions include the venue that the Austin Rattler was at, Reveille Peak Ranch, and Canyonlands, my “backyard” trails. 

Samantha proudly displays her gold medal following the Austin Rattler MTB. Photo courtesy Samantha Campbell.

What tips do you have for Austinites who may want to get into mountain biking?

For anyone that would like to get into mountain biking, and is in the Austin area, I highly recommend coming out to the hill country and riding at Reimer’s Ranch. It’s a great place to learn the ropes of mountain biking, and I still go there to practice and refine skills like cornering. This is the place where I started mountain biking with my Mom and Dad around the age of 5. Recently, there has been a new flow trail addition that is accessible on the multi-use trail and is great for practicing technical descending and catching some air. 

What are some of the workouts you do for cross training? 

For cross training, I mainly do basic core, upper body, and mobility work. Most of these are body weight exercises like planks and push-ups. I do use a kettlebell on occasion to do kettlebell swings. When I stretch, I mainly focus on stretching muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings, and calves. I also do mobility work for my shoulders and hips. 

I also have a gravel bike that I use for road and gravel rides. Switching disciplines keeps it fun and fresh for me when I’m training. 

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

The Leadville 100 has a lot of meaning behind it for me. My Dad, who is one of my biggest inspirations, did Leadville in 2009 and now it’s my turn to race for the coveted belt buckle. It will be so special to have him there when I race, supporting me, as he always does. I can’t wait! My mom also rides.

I’m going to Colorado Mesa University in the Fall of 2023, and I’ve signed to be on their varsity mountain bike team. They’re currently the national collegiate mountain bike champions for the 3rd year in a row. I’m stoked to be a part of the team! 

I started mountain bike racing when I was in 6th grade and competed in TMBRA XC races. In 8th grade, I joined the Lake Travis Mountain Bike Team and started to race in NICA. Since my sophomore year of high school, I’ve been racing in Varsity girls and have held my state champion title in this category for two years (sophomore and junior year). I’m currently a senior in high school and hope to defend my title in my final year in NICA.

I still race TMBRA XC and Marathon races for Texas Devo, a development team for junior cyclists who live in Texas. This team supports and gives athletes the opportunity to compete in out-of-state races.

Track Samantha’s performance in her next major mountain biking competition, Stages Cycle Leadville 100 MTB at LeadvilleRaceSeries.com. Follow Samantha on Instagram @samanthajcampbell_.


Cover Photo courtesy Samantha Campbell.

Brook Benten, M.Ed., is an exercise physiologist in Austin, TX. She has taught group fitness classes at Life Time, a Healthy Way of Life Company, since 2006. Ride indoors with Brook any Friday or Sunday morning at Life Time Austin NorthAs a mother and advocate of active children, she covered this interview to laud Samantha’s accomplishment and also to shine a light on Life Time’s commitment to supporting healthy children and adolescents. Life Time Foundation’s charity slot program allows athletes to bypass event registration lotteries by agreeing to fundraise for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which works with school districts across the country to improve school food nutrition and get kids active. Brook uses social media to “help other mothers lift the motherload.” Follow her @BrookBenten.