Record participation at XTERRA Makena Beach Trail Runs
Walker and Schleifer Top Field of Nearly 700
Experience and inexperience shared the spotlight at the XTERRA Makena Beach Trail Runs today.
Nick Walker of Canada continued a winning tradition by finishing first overall in the 11-kilometer (7 miles) race. Christine Schleifer of Germany may have started a winning tradition by finishing first in the women's division in her first trail run ever.
The event featured two races - an 11-kilometer course and a 5-kilometer course. A record field of 696 runners registered for the races.
Walker completed the course in 42 minutes, 39 seconds, besting his time of last year by more than one minute.
"I kind of knew what to expect for the amount of climbing we had, and the descent, the long climb back down to Big Beach," said Walker, who is from Victoria, British Columbia.
The unique course features uphill and downhill sections along the lower slopes of Haleakala, followed by a run along the sand at Makena Beach, and a section into "Spooky Forest."
Walker said he took the lead two miles into the race and then "ran scared the whole way."
"I was looking over my shoulder a ton," he said.
But no other runner came close to Walker. Andy Downin of Eugene, Ore., placed second with a time of 43:51, and Pablo Ureta of Switzerland was third in 44:13.
Schleifer was an impressive fourth overall, and first among the women with a time of 44:42. She traveled to Maui this week to watch her boyfriend, Sebastian Kienle, compete in the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon on Sunday, Oct. 24.
"I heard about this beach run and said I'll try it," Schleifer said. "It's a pretty hard course, especially the climb. It's quite long. I didn't expect that … I usually don't run on stones. Usually I run only on the road."
Yvonne Van Vlerken of Austria placed second with a time of 47:06. Van Vlerken won the women's division last year, and placed seventh at the Ford Ironman World Championship two weeks ago on the Big Island.
"I knew that she is quite a fast runner," Schleifer said. "The first section she pushed pretty hard, and I said maybe it's going to be hard at the end. But I had a good day, I think."
Walker and Schleifer each received roundtrip airfare from Hawaiian Airlines, good for travel between Hawaii and the West Coast. Walker used the roundtrip ticket he won last year to return to Maui this year. He said he will follow the same plan next year.
"This course really is unique and fun, and so when you get a trip to Maui, that's hard to pass up," he said. "So I think I'll be back again next year."
In the 5-kilometer race, Maui's own Jake Jacobs (picture right courtesy Rocky Arroyo) was the surprise winner, thanks to a daring sprint down the stretch.
Jacobs is 13 and in the eighth grade at Kalama Intermediate in Makawao. He started distance running three months ago, and yesterday's course was the longest race he has completed.
"I was really surprised that I didn't have that much competition running in front of me," he said.
Richard Stoffel of Switzerland actually led for most of the 5-kilometer course, but Jacobs sprinted past him in the final 200 yards. Stoffel placed second, two seconds behind Jacobs.
Natacha Moreau (pictured left courtesy Rocky Arroyo) of France placed an impressive third overall and first among the women with a time of 24:23. She is in Maui with her boyfriend Asa Shaw, who is entered in the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon.
Moreau placed fourth in the 10-kilometer race last year, but opted for the shorter distance this year.
"I am here on vacation, so I didn't want to run too far," she said. "I want to enjoy it."
The XTERRA Makena Beach Trail Runs were a benefit for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui County.
The trail runs were held in conjunction with the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.
For a highlight video of the XTERRA Makena Beach Trial Runs, visit:
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