It was the first mountain bike race of the season, and Walton's first cross country race of his life. Nevertheless, him and Roman Kilun lined up on the front row next to Stephen Ettinger, a BMC Pro and multi-national champion.

Walton and Roman on the podium

Walton and his squeaky chain took off on the whistle and got the holeshot. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter his maladjusted front derailleur drops the chain and he is forced to correct it. After this mishap he slotted into fourth position, behind Stephen. As soon as Stephen had the opportunity, he turned it on and dropped everyone but Walton and Cody Kaiser, another Specialized sponsored rider. For fifteen minutes they hung on but eventually could do no more and dropped back. Stephen, in the stars and stripes, went on to win by five minutes. 

Walton and Cody were eventually caught by Roman and Chris Kelley (Evergreen Cycling). This group stayed together until the finish, when Roman set Walton up for an attack on a climb that secured him second place! Roman had trouble with his shifting in the sprint and finished fourth.