T-2 Days to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship

(Honolulu, HI) – This Sunday, December 3, more than 1,500 runners will show up at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu to face off against the mountain, the mud, and themselves. Some have been coming to “the Ranch” since the first XTERRA Trail Run World Championship half-marathon in 2008.  For others, it’s their first time on these hallowed trails.

This year – as in all years – the field is tough. In the men’s race, defending and two-time XTERRA Trail Run World Champ Joe Gray is the clear-cut favorite. Last year Gray won the World Mountain Running Championship and led Team USA to their first-ever gold.

Gray’s US Mountain Running teammate, Andy Wacker, is hoping to keep him honest, as is three-time USATF National Champ Sage Canaday, and Patrick Stover from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Because this is XTERRA Trail Run Worlds, these Americans will be competing against other distance and mountain runners from all over the world, like Antonio Goncalves, who won the XTERRA Ilhabela Trail Run in Brazil and William Paiva, who was second in that same race.

In the women’s race, 2013 and 2016 XTERRA Trail Run World Champ Polina Carlson will be looking to win her third title at Kualoa Ranch. Currently training for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, Carlson won the XTERRA Gunstock Trail Half Marathon in October and was 9th at her first ultra – the Broken Arrow Sky Race 52K – which included many miles of snow and ice.

Jill Thompson will be joining Carlson at the start. The 37-year old has been focused on raising her four children, but Thompson was a standout runner at Georgetown University, which is one of the top NCAA Division I running programs in the country. At the XTERRA Gunstock Trail Half Marathon in October, she finished just five seconds behind Carlson.

Malia Crouse, who recently won the XTERRA Kapalua 10K on Maui, will be one to watch at Kualoa Ranch as well. She was third at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds last year and has been training hard for the Honolulu Marathon in December, so she’s in fighting shape.

Malory Young is an ultra and trail runner who finished sixth at Trail Run Worlds last year. Some of the top runners from the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship are flying out to Oahu to see how they do down at sea level as well such as Giselle Slotboom, who was second at Trail Run Nationals behind Lesley Paterson, and Megan Flanagan, who was fifth. Emma Kosciak, who was a regional champ in the XTERRA Texas Trail Series and placed ninth at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals, will also be at Trail Run Worlds, as will mountain runner Emma Kraft.

Geisla Dos Santos Moraes, who has been racing and setting records on the trails in Brazil for the past eight years, qualified for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at XTERRA Ilhabela in Brazil. She will be joined by runner up Claudete Lima.

In all, there are runners from 22 countries coming to Oahu to race on the iconic course, which features technical single track, about 1,700-feet of climbing, and varied terrain from high pasture to volcanic gulches.

Of note, there are 15 age group champions from the 2016 race returning to defend those crowns, listed here:

2016 XTERRA Trail Run World Champions in the 2017 Race:

Div M/F    Name    Hometown    Finish
1-9 F    Nova Stickley    Kaneohe, HI    4:00:50
15-19 F    Claire Cutler    Kailua, HI    2:27:27
25-29 F    Polina Carlson (3)    Kailua, HI    1:38:06
30-34 F    Malia Crouse    Makawao, HI    1:46:14
30-34 M    Joseph Gray (2)    Colorado Springs, CO    1:17:15
35-39 M    Sergio Florian (2)    Kaaawa, HI    1:36:54
40-44 M    Jerome Auruskuvecius    Anchorage, AK    1:45:13
40-44 F    Mindy Morizumi    Lahaina, HI    1:57:12
45-49 F    Maria Lourdes Rivera    Glendale, CA    2:15:31
45-49 M    Kengo Yoshimoto    Honolulu, HI    1:41:42
50-54 M    Mark Geoghegan    Honolulu, HI    1:42:19
50-54 F    Monica Ross    Anchorage, AK    1:53:27
55-59 M    Michael Fussell    Grapevine, TX    1:46:22
55-59 F    Marcy Fleming    Kailua, HI    2:41:46
65-69 F    Jo May    Houston, TX    3:57:59
Runner Stats:

Countries Represented: 22
Argentina (2), Australia (12), Brazil (10), Canada (33), Costa Rica (3), Czech Republic (1), France (3), French Polynesia (3), Germany (2), Guam (2), Hong Kong (1), Hungary (2), Italy (2), Japan (30), Malaysia (4), New Zealand (15), Poland (1), Puerto Rico (2), Sweden (1), Switzerland (2), United Kingdom (2), United States of America (1173)

United States Represented: 38
Breakdown:  Alaska (4), Arizona (18), California (57), Colorado (17), Connecticut (1), Delaware (1), District of Columbia (2), Florida (8), Georgia (6), Hawaii (924), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (1), Iowa (2), Louisiana (1), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (7), Michigan (1), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (1), Missouri (3), Nebraska (1), Nevada (3), New Mexico (6), New York (7), North Carolina (1), Ohio (13), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (3), Texas (12), Utah (9), Vermont (2), Virginia (10), Washington (15, Wisconsin (4), Wyoming (2)

By Age Group
15-19: 37
20-24: 68
25-29: 138
30-34: 218
35-39: 212
40-44: 163
45-49: 141
50-54: 101
55-59: 71
60-64: 40
65-69: 30
70-74: 13
75-79: 2
80+: 2

Youngest Female in the 21K – Nova Stickley – Kaneohe, Hawaii, 9
Youngest Male in the 21K – Justin Denny – Pahala, Hawaii, 15

Youngest Female Overall – Jacque Freeland – Kailua, Hawaii, 6
Youngest Male Overall – Ashton Morrow – Sydenham, Ontario, 6

Oldest Male in the 21K – Tom Miller – Park City, Utah, 75
Oldest Female in the 21K –  Sandi Kauahikaua – Waimanalo, Hawaii, 71

Oldest Male Overall: Bill Cunningham – Kaneohe, Hawaii, 84
Oldest Female Overall: Carolyn Laub – Kaneohe, Hawaii, 81

CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE STATS

Length: 21km/13.1 miles

Starting Elevation: 50’

Lowest point: 27’

Highest point: 751’

Total climbing: approx 1,700’

Trails: open dirt road, dual track dirt road, single track & sometimes no track

Age Groupers Prepare for XTERRA Trail Run Worlds

It’s easy to talk about winners. There is something incredibly inspiring about watching the fastest runners cross the finish line, grab the banner, and raise it high as a crown of Ti leaves is placed on their heads.

But, as anyone who has watched an XTERRA event knows, the runners who finish in the middle and back of of the back are just as incredible and just as inspiring. After all, there is usually a very good reason that someone decides to run up a mountain. Some people are just that adventurous. Others have used the race at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship as a goal for health, fitness, and living to the fullest. Still others are out there exorcising demons or chasing down dreams.

Whatever their motivation, this weekend, more than 1,400 runners will show up at Kualoa Ranch to face off against the mountain, the mud, and themselves. Some have been coming to “the Ranch” since 2008 and have done every XTERRA Championship Trail Run from XTERRA Oak Mountain to XTERRA Beaver Creek. For others, this is their first time on this hallowed ‘aina.

Sergio Florian has been a part of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for the past seven years. For the past six years, he’s done his own version of “The Double,” in which he races at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship and then does the Honolulu Marathon a week later. Last year was Florian’s best result. He was ninth overall at XTERRA Worlds against a tough field, and managed a sub-three hour marathon the next week, which qualified him for Boston.

“I love XTERRA Trail Run Worlds at Kualoa because it has a little bit of everything,” says Florian. “There are fast technical sections and steep climbs that literally bring you to your knees. And it’s just a gorgeous location which I’m lucky to call home.”

Florian is a PT specializing in spinal cord injuries at Wellness Neuro & SCI  and one of the reasons he races each year is to inspire the people he works with.

“What keeps me coming back is the process. I love preparing for these races and bringing my best out on race day.”

Doug Beagle and Jo May are true ambassadors of the sport and have been running at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for years.

May, who won her 65-69 age group at the 2016 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, will be returning this year to defend her title.

“This is a tough course,” she admits. “My friend Joe Gray just jumps from the top of that mountain to the bottom, but I need to use that rope to get down the hill.”

May also adds that one of the extra challenges of racing in the middle of the pack is that if the footing is difficult, it’s even more difficult after hundreds of other runners have come through.

“Last year, I grabbed onto the rope, and right after, someone heavier grabbed it behind me,” says May. “I spun around so all of a sudden, I was facing up the mountain.”

May is a die-hard competitor and comes to XTERRA trail runs to win. However, her competitors become friends as soon as the race is finished – and sometimes, even before. In 2012, while riding the shuttle bus from their hotel in Waikiki to the race at Kualoa Ranch, May and Beagle got to know two-time XTERRA Trail Run World Champ, Joseph Gray.

Because they have a house in Colorado – where Gray also lives – the couple have become close friends with Gray and his wife over the years and race the XTERRA Colorado Trail Run Series together.

“Joe even tried to get Doug and I to do an adventure race with him, but luckily, we had something else planned that day,” says May, who adds that Gray sometimes forgets he is 30 years younger than May and Beagle.

Another XTERRA Ambassador who will be climbing the mountain at Kualoa Ranch is Tom Dhans (pictured below), who is also a triathlete. He recently returned from Maui, where he competed in the XTERRA World Championship.

Dhans found XTERRA in 2012, while vacationing with his wife on Maui. He asked someone in the spa of their hotel for a good place to run. It just so happened that the XTERRA World Championship was taking place in a few days, and he joined a small training group who was heading out to run the trails.

Dhans, who competed in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2015, is returning this year with his wife Angie, who will compete in the Adventure Walk while Tom runs in the 21K.

“I never need a reason to race in an XTERRA event,” says Dhans. “If it’s XTERRA, then I know my ohana and my tribe will be there. I feel so at home on the island, and there’s a connection to the land that you have to experience in order to truly understand it. Race announcer Kalei (Waiwaiole) calls it the ‘aina.”

Dhans is also looking forward to racing the course at Kualoa Ranch, which is like none other.

“The course seems mythical when you are running,” says Dhans. “The tight single track and elevation test you mentally and physically. It’s beautiful, and passing by all of the movie sets is truly epic.”

Dhans will be at XTERRA University at the Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street, Saturday at 2 pm, to talk about his experience running at Kualoa Ranch and answer questions about the course. He will be on a panel with XTERRA Kapalua 10K Champ, Malia Crouse.

There will also be an XTERRA University at 10 am, featuring ultra runner, Malory Young and XTERRA Ambassador Melanie Koehl.

Koehl (pictured top) is beloved on Oahu. The founder of Hawaii Soul Runners. She not only organizes runs and races, but mentors distance and ultra runners young and old. This year marks Koehl’s third year in a row doing the the 21K – last year she was second in her age group. She has also done the 10K a few times as well.

“The scenery and views are unparalleled at XTERRA Worlds,” says Koehl. “The course brings you between the mountains and back into the valley, but it’s something about that turnaround when you head makai (toward the ocean) that you realize you are running cliffside with this amazing view of the ocean while majestic green mountains loom above. It’s just incredible.”

Marcy Fleming, the defending 55-59 age group champ says that she keeps returning to Kualoa Ranch each year because of the people.

“The XTERRA World Championship is like the Cheers of trail running, because everybody knows your name. There is something for everyone at XTERRA Worlds, meaning that you get everyone from families to elite runners. But it doesn’t matter who you are – after the race, we all chill out together and enjoy a cold one.”

Fleming, who lives in Kailua acknowledges that the recent rain will make this course muddy – as usual.

“My advice to the 21K racers is to make sure you have your laces tight, hydrate well and have an energy gel to get you up the long slogs, and plan to get dirty!”

The mud is its own annual tradition, and all who race at Kualoa Ranch revel in the challenge.

“The race can be summed up in the way Kalei calls us into the finish chute,” says Jo May. “She says, ‘Welcome home XTERRA Warriors.’”

XTERRA Defending Champions

WOMEN
Division Name Hometown Finish
1-9 F Nova Stickley Kaneohe, HI 4:00:50
15-19 F Claire Cutler Kailua, HI 2:27:27
25-29 F Polina Carlson Kailua, HI 1:38:06
30-34 F Malia Crouse Makawao, HI 1:46:14
40-44 F Mindy Morizumi Lahaina, HI 1:57:12
45-49 F Maria Lourdes Rivera Glendale, CA 2:15:31
50-54 F Monica Ross Anchorage, AK 1:53:27
55-59 F Marcy Fleming Kailua, HI 2:41:46
65-69 F Jo May Houston, TX 3:57:59
MEN
Division Name Hometown Finish
30-34 M Joseph Gray Colorado Springs, CO 1:17:15
35-39 M Sergio Florian Kaaawa, HI 1:36:54
40-44 M Jerome Auruskuvecius Anchorage, AK 1:45:13
45-49 M Kengo Yoshimoto Honolulu, HI 1:41:42
50-54 M Mark Geoghegan Honolulu, HI 1:42:19
55-59 M Michael Fussell Grapevine, TX 1:46:22
65-69 M Doug Beagle Houston, TX 2:28:00
70-74 Ellis Andrews Penticton, CAN 2:32:21

Online registration for the race is closed, but you can still register this Saturday, December 2nd at the Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street in downtown Honolulu. For more information, please visit www.xterraplanet.com/trailrun.

Photos courtesy of Enduro Photo and Mike Adrian.

More Than Just a Number – Mimi Stockton

Last month at the XTERRA World ChampionshipMimi Stockton (#271) captured her fifth age group title. She has won four times in the 40-44 division, and this year, she added the 45-59 age group win to her collection.

According to Stockton, the stars aligned for her at this year’s world championship race.

“All the little pieces have to come together perfectly for you to win. I just had one of those days.”

While this may sound like a normal response coming from most people, when Stockton says it, it recalls a certain scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian – the one when the Black Knight gets his arm chopped off and says, ’tis but a scratch.

Three days before the race, Stockton was riding the course and had a pretty bad crash.

“I saw a bird or something, who knows. See this is what happens when you take your eyes off the trail!”

Stockton hit a rock, flew off her bike, and landed on her right side.

“I thought I hurt my knee because it was bleeding, but after I got back, I found a hematoma the size of a golf ball on my right forearm,” said Stockton. “I thought holy cow, that’s going to be really sore. Then I woke up Friday morning and couldn’t move my arm – what I really injured was my deltoid. I couldn’t lift my arm above my ribs and I thought how am I going to swim?”

Stockton took a rare day off on Saturday, and on Sunday, before the race, she ran into Lorenn Walker, from Oahu.

“Lorenn said, ‘I’m taking you to the medical tent because there’s an amazing trainer there and she’s going to hook you up.’ The trainer massaged me and put on a bunch of icy heat and whispered in my ear, ‘Go take 800 milligrams of ibuprofin. That mixed with some adrenaline and you’ll be OK.”

So did it hurt during the XTERRA World Championship?

“It hurt like crazy,” admitted Stockton. “But I forced it to move to get through the water, and by the time I got on the bike, I stopped feeling it.”

Stockton is a natural mountain biker. She has exceptional balance, excellent skills, and an uncommon fearlessness. The worst part for her was that she had to pass so many men.

“That’s my only complaint – that age group women go last. It’s hard for the fast women to have to pass all the men who have started earlier.”

Still, Stockton had a blast on the bike. She didn’t need her arm, she crushed the climbs, and flew on the downhills. Even better, when she came into transition, her ten-year old daughter, Summer, said, “You got this Mom. You’re first in your age group. There’s no one else.”

In fact, Stockton did so well on the bike that her split of 2:11:48 was nine minutes faster than her nearest competitor. On the run, Stockton broke up the course into sections and tackled them one at a time.

“The first two miles are absolute hell. You come off a crazy hard bike ride and then start climbing. But the reason I love the run course on Maui so much is that if you can suffer through the uphills, you can just tear it up on the downhills.”

Even though Stockton knew she was first in her age group, she didn’t let off for a second.

“You know who I was thinking about the whole time?” asked Stockton. “Amy Carver. She motivated me. I knew she could show up at any time so I just kept pushing.”

And after the race?

Stockton admits she was too tired to attend the Halloween Party that night. And after racing so hard with an injury, she had every right to make tracks to the Ritz Carlton spa.

Instead, she took her three kids hiking on the Dragon Teeth Trail and then they all went cliff jumping at Namalu Bay.

“I always feel bad,” said Stockton. “They sit around all day waiting for me to finish racing. I want them to have fun too.”

After a pause, Stockton adds that her mom, who also came to Maui, was a bit worried about her. “She kept asking me, ‘What are you doing?’”

Knowing Stockton, her response was probably something along the lines of, “I’m fine, Mom. It’s only a flesh wound.

Catching Up with Emma Kraft

Unlike many world-class runners, who got their start in high school or college, Emma Kraft didn’t begin running seriously until after school.

“I went to uni in Melbourne City and did a lot of partying,” admits Kraft.

It wasn’t until she graduated and moved back to the small town of Alice Springs that she began to train and got fit enough to consider racing.

Her breakthrough came in 2011 when Kraft obtained an official Australian ranking in the 5K and 10K , won two gold medals at the Arafura Games, and won the NT News City2Surf road race.

The following year, Kraft competed in the Zatopek:10, which is one of Australia’s biggest distance events, and features both the Australian 10K Championship as well as the Victorian State Championship.

After this string of successful races, a friend suggested Kraft try out for the 2013 Australian Mountain Running Champs, with the opportunity to be selected for the Australian Team, which would travel to the World Mountain Running Championship in Poland.

“The next day I booked flights, changed my training around and got some hills in,” remembers Kraft. Alice Springs is about three kilometers from the Outback, meaning that Kraft could jump on red dirt trails whenever the hot sun allowed. At the qualifying race, she was third, which secured her spot on the Australian Mountain Running Team.

“This planted the seed,” said Kraft. “Poland was amazing, and I loved competing internationally. I wanted more.”

In 2014, Kraft made the team again and competed in Italy at the world championship race, but her luck ended the following year. She sustained a lower back injury, which prevented her from running. Despite her disappointment, Kraft stepped up and became team manager.

She didn’t make the Australian Mountain Running Team again until this year, but her experience was even sweeter after being sidelined for so long.

“Now that I’m injury free and running well again, I take advantage of every opportunity in terms of racing as you never know when your last race will be,” says Kraft. “I also know I wont be running at the level forever so really have to carpe diem it when I have the chance – or when I make my own chances.”

Kraft says that the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship has been on her mind since she made her first mountain running team. After winning the inaugural Oceania Trail Run – also a 21K – in May of 2017, she decided to take it to the next level and compete at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“I met a fellow runner from New Zealand who did XTERRA Worlds, and she spoke so highly of the experience, that it seemed a perfect way to cap off the year,” said Kraft. “I also want to raise the profile of trail running in Australia and get more Australians to come to XTERRA New Caledonia this May.”

Despite Kraft’s success and the new pressures on her, she hasn’t lost her love of the sport.

“For me, running is freedom. It’s where I go to get away, to think, to make plans, to dream, and to challenge myself. I love the fact that it gives me more clarity and happiness. Running has also allowed me to meet my fiancé, Brad, travel the world, and meet some of the most amazing people.

2017 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Preview
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