It’s time to start dreaming.  With more than 30 World Tour Championship races next year – all with qualifying spots to XTERRA Worlds – it’s just a matter of what your dream destination looks like.    
XTERRA has races at sea level and altitude, with swims in lakes, rivers, and oceans – in big cities and small towns – from one end of the earth to the other. 
While each race offers up its own unique set of challenges, there is one constant … the people.  XTERRA is One Tribe, and an adventurous “Live More” spirit unites the community.  You’ll find that friendly, helpful, encouraging type of camaraderie everywhere you go.
Have a look at last year’s Off-Road To Maui Video, look over the tentative 2017 XTERRA World Tour Schedule then get outside and go discover the XTERRA Planet for yourself!
In his very first year of racing XTERRA, Xavier Dafflon is on top of the World.
At the XTERRA World Championship in Maui two weeks ago he crossed the line in 17th place overall, the top amateur, and winner of the 30-34 division with a time of 3:08:35.
“I’m used to endurance sports, mainly mountain biking, but I was looking for some new challenges this year so I tried XTERRA for the first time in June and July for XTERRA Switzerland and XTERRA France,” said Dafflon, a 34-year-old from Fribourg, Switzerland.
The experiment worked out very well as he finished third overall in his first XTERRA at Switzerland, then was the top amateur in a very competitive field at XTERRA France.
“My swimming is not very good yet, but what motivates me is to make progress in this new sport,” exclaimed Dafflon, who has his sights set on earning his pro license for next year.
On race day Dafflon said he feared the big waves and the mud, but “everything went perfectly and I had a lot of fun because I was in very good shape.”
The week leading up to the race, however, was anything but perfect.
“I had a lot of bad luck right upon arrival,” he explained.  “A few hours after landing, I went for a first swim in the ocean, but after less than 2-meters in the water I got a bad cut below my left foot from a rock or something sharp. I had to go to the emergency room and get three stitches badly placed below the foot.  I was not sure the entire week whether I would even be able to race on Sunday, but luckily I could.”
Dafflon said he had no idea when he took the lead or even who is opponents were.
“I was passing other athletes during the whole race, you know, because I was very far behind after the hard swim,” he said.
His swim time was 29:45, well off the leader’s pace, but he more than made up for it with the best amateur bike and run times, 1:52:16 and 46:34, respectively.
After the race Dafflon traveled all around the Hawaiian Islands with his wife and said he loved it. Now, he’s back in Switzerland, “the country of mountains, chocolates, cheese and banks!” and the search for sponsors to turn his passion for XTERRA into a pro career is on.
Joe Gray, the 2016 World Mountain Running Champion who led the U.S. mountain running team to their first-ever Gold medal in Bulgaria this September, is headed back to Kualoa Ranch to chase his second Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running World Championship, December 4, in Hawaii.
“I just happen to love Hawaiian food and of course being that I spend most of the year in the mountains, it’s nice to change things up and race near the ocean,” said Gray.  “That, and I really enjoy the energy of the finish and start line areas at Kualoa Ranch.”
Gray has had perhaps his best year ever on the trails in 2016.  In addition to his World Mountain Running title he also won the 30K USA Trail Run National Title, the USA National Mountain Running Championship, and the North American Continental Champion in Sky Marathon and Vertical Kilometer.
“It’s been one of my best years so far and I’ve had a blast racing and experiencing different types of races and challenging my personal records at old races,” said Gray.
In 2012 Gray and Ben Bruce crossed the finish line at the same time at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds, and neither photo nor video could determine a clear winner so the two were declared co-champs.  A year later, in 2013, Gray finished 2nd to Patrick Smyth and since then Smyth has won three in a row at the ranch.

“I’m ready to compete, and take on anybody who toes the line…I just wanna run,” exclaimed Gray.

As for getting the title back, he said “it would be nice to add another XTERRA World Title to my 2012 title but also nice to add to my recent 2016 World Mountain Running Championship Title.”

Smyth, who is racing in the NYC Marathon this weekend, will make the call on defending his crown after seeing how he feels after the race.
The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is the culmination of 100+ XTERRA trail races held around the world in 2016.  The main event is an adventurous half-marathon (13.1-mile/21km) that starts at the base of Ka’a’awa Valley at Kualoa Ranch.
Established in 1850, Kualoa Ranch is a family owned and operated 4,000-acre working cattle ranch, spread from the steep mountain cliffs to the sparkling sea on the northeastern side of Oahu in the Hawaiian countryside.
The ranch terrain varies from dense rainforest to broad open valleys and from beautiful white sand beaches to awesome verdant cliff faces. It is truly a paradise for outdoor recreation with many places accessible only by horseback, on an all-terrain vehicle or by hiking.
There are two major areas of the ranch: the northern half of the ranch including Ka’a’awa Valley which contains most of the movie locations sites, and the southern half that includes Hakipu`u Valley, the 800-year-old Moli’i fishpond, and Secret Island.
If some of the views around the course look familiar, that’s because Kualoa Ranch has been the site of many television shows and Hollywood films such as Jurassic park, Windtalkers, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, Tears of the Sun and 50 First Dates. TV shows include Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I. and the hit show LOST.

Kualoa Ranch will be further exposed by the race itself, which is being filmed and edited into a segment for a 2017 XTERRA Adventures TV series that will be seen by millions of viewers across the country via national syndication starting in May and online at XTERRA.TV.

Watch last year’s Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship highlight video here:

The Transition Period for Endurance Athletes
When we talk periodization, the “transition” period is the small slice of your calendar between seasons used for rest and rejuvenation.  Typically this is a 2-6 week period with little or in some cases no activity.  In the Northern Hemisphere many athletes have already completed their final event of the season and may have some questions about this time of year.
How long should the transition period last?
Some athletes apply this term too liberally and stretch this phase all the way past Thanksgiving and through the Holidays to the New Year.  The transition period should not be confused with the off-season.  The off-season is a great time to work on a limiter or establish solid training habits in preparation for the next season (more on that coming in the next article).  The transition period, on the other hand, is an intentional loss of fitness and the main purpose is to let your mind and body rest.  For younger athletes or those with a very demanding, long season, they may opt for a longer period closer to the 6-week mark.  For athletes with a less demanding race schedule, or less overreaching, they can hold the transition period to 2-weeks, because they are dealing with less mental burnout.
There is a case to be made that competitive older athletes should be careful not to detrain their fitness too much and keep the transition period short.  VO2 max is known to decline steadily with age, as much as 10% per decade even with training.  Consistent training from season to season is a way to limit those losses and not going too long without some form of high intensity exercise or race.  Additionally, with years or even decades of cumulative training, there is reason to avoid a long, drawn-out base phase that is void of any intensity, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
How long before I lose all of my fitness?
This is a big concern for Type-A triathletes and as long as the transition period is short, there is nothing to worry about.  The science of detraining is very extensive and the bottom line is that nearly all of your fitness gains are reversible.  If you essentially go on bed rest or desk duty, VO2 max and performance can drop significantly in just a couple weeks, but not as low as an untrained person.  This is primarily due to lower blood volume and actual heart dimensions shrinking.  Fat burning is impaired and muscle glycogen stores return to baseline.  Beyond four weeks, long-term adaptations begin to degrade, such as capillary density and oxidative enzymes, causing longer-term loss in VO2 max.  Luckily even a small amount of exercise can limit the losses, and those with a longer history of training retain a higher baseline of fitness.
What should I do during the transition period?
Again, the transition period is not technically a training phase, so training with a purpose can be reserved for the other 92% of the season.  Put away the power meter and the heart rate monitor and only exercise if you feel like it.  Consider some form of cross training, but not if it feels like a chore.  Opt for activities rather than structured exercise.  Regular exercise is such an ingrained part of our lives, so quitting cold turkey might be more disruptive to sleep and diet patterns than just cutting out 50-75%.  Most of your fitness parameters can be maintained even when you cut your exercise by 2/3.  The point, however is that you are exercising to feel good, or so you can sleep at night, not to try to hold onto your fitness.
For athletes in peak form, it is unrealistic to try to maintain performance at the highest level.   Body fat may be hovering at unsustainably low levels and repetitive movement patterns have lead to some muscle imbalances.  Adding 5 lbs of muscle and 5 lbs of body fat might be the best thing for a hard-core endurance junkie heading into the winter.  Performance adaptations become so specific that cross-training can be great for general fitness, but expect a healthy drop in sport specific performance measures.  Two years ago I took 6 weeks completely off the bike and decided to perform a power test my first day back on the bike.  I was humbled to see a 40 Watt drop in my functional threshold power even though I had been running and strength training.
What can I do to maintain more of my fitness through a long break?
Generally I do believe in keeping fitness and performance in a narrow range throughout a year, but remember that peak performance wouldn’t be a peak without some valleys.  Assuming that you were just at your highest level of performance, expect some drop off.  Be okay with that.  If for some reason you are planning a longer transition period (beyond 4 weeks), then some sort of maintenance can preserve most of your hard-earned fitness.  For a longer break, engage in some low level cardio, strength training, have some dietary control, and include just one high intensity session per week.  Consider performing this scientifically proven workout one day per week to preserve VO2 max:  Warm up 10 min with easy jogging and then perform 3 x 5 minutes at 10k race intensity.  Even if the rest of your training is very minimal, you can further preserve your VO2 max with this type of workout just once a week.
Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Read past training articles at and learn more about their coaching programs at
Lebrun, Schleifer win Duke’s Beach House XTERRA 10K
Former XTERRA World Champion triathlete Nicolas Lebrun from France and Christine Schleifer of Germany captured the Duke’s Beach House XTERRA 10K at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua this morning.
Lebrun, who won XTERRA Worlds back in 2005, is retired from elite triathlon racing but is still a coach and a great runner.
He took the tape in 45:37, just three seconds ahead of Martin Diebold from Germany. Just a quick look at the results and you can tell it’s not your average Maui 10K race, as the top 10 finishers came from France, Germany, Korea, Argentina, China, Switzerland, Poland, the U.S. and Belgium.
“The trails were muddy from all the rain and some sections were very slippery but it was still a beautiful day,” said Lebrun, who serves as the technical director for the XTERRA European Tour and was one of the commentators for the live coverage of the triathlon. “The run course is very tropical, like you’re in a jungle, then goes to the beautiful beach next to the water. It’s a fantastic course.”
Jacob Fure from Lynnwood, Washington and Bailey Haugen from Canada took home the Hula Grill XTERRA 5K titles in 20:06 and 23:42, respectively. Jorn Van Der Veken from Belgium and Eden Newman from Makawao won the new Leilani’s XTERRA 3.3K Trail Run in 13:57 and 19:32, respectively.
2016 marked the sixth straight year T S Restaurants Hula Grill, Duke’s Beach House, Kimo’s and Leilani’s served as title sponsors of the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs.
Held in conjunction with the 21st running of the XTERRA World Championship triathlon, the Kapalua runs are an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels to get involved and experience the legendary XTERRA run course.
“They are all awesome races, and the vibe around The Ritz-Carlton rocked on Saturday morning,” said XTERRA President Janet Clark.
In addition to the trail runs a Paul Mitchell cut-a-thon was held at the site of the race where runners and spectators got their hair cut by professional Paul Mitchell stylists, with all donations benefitting the Challenged Athlete Foundation.
More than 1,000 runners from around the world took part in the events, and both the overall and top Maui finishers in each race were rewarded with T S Restaurant gift certificates worth $100.
In addition, employees from T S Restaurants held a race within a race dubbed “The T S Restaurants XTERRA Challenge » in which each of the four restaurants fielded a team of 10 runners; and the team with the fastest cumulative time from their best five runners in the 5K take home the coveted TS Trophy.
This year Kimo’s captured the perpetual trophy for the third straight year and have it proudly displayed in their restaurant for all to see.  The winning team members included Hailey and Koral Gill, Patrick Hannon, Cassie Jacinto, Jeremy Meis, Steve Pisacano, Megan Price, Megan Whitfield, and Victoria Zupancic.
Be Sociable, Share!