Walker, Van Vlerken win Inaugural Duke's Beach House XTERRA 10K
New course at Kapalua entertains more than 700 runners
Even on a new course, Nick Walker and Yvonne Van Vlerken were able to maintain a tradition.
Walker and Van Vlerken were the overall winners at the Duke's Beach House XTERRA 10K Trail Run on Saturday morning at Kapalua, Maui. More than 700 runners from around the world registered to participate in the event, which featured a 10-kilometer course, a 5-kilometer course, and a 1-kilometer children's course. All three courses started and finished at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua resort hotel.CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RESULTS
Walker won the Duke's Beach House 10K with a time of 40 minutes, 42 seconds. It was the third consecutive year that he won an XTERRA 10K race on Maui. In 2009 and 2010, he won it when the race was staged at Makena. The event moved to Kapalua this year.
"I loved it, it was an amazing course," said Walker, who is from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. "I really liked all the single track and all the twists and turns."
(Nick Walker pictured at left)
As the winner of the 10K race, Walker received a round-trip airfare on Hawaiian Airlines. He also won airfare in 2009 and 2010, and used it to return to Maui for the XTERRA Trail Run. He said he will continue the tradition so that he can defend his title again in 2012.
"It's just a very, very relaxing place and each of these races are put on in amazing resorts, and this Ritz-Carlton is unbelievable," Walker said.
Paul Hopwood of Makawao, Maui, placed second with a time of 43:33.
Van Vlerken was an impressive third place overall, and the first female finisher. Her winning time was 44:20, which was nearly seven minutes ahead of the next female.
"I just went off and didn't look back," Van Vlerken said. "Last year was a little different. I had a hard time with a German runner … couldn't keep up with her. This year, I could just do my own thing."
(Yvonne Van Vlerken pictured at left)
Van Vlerken won the XTERRA Trail Run at Makena in 2009 and used her first-place prize from Hawaiian Airlines to return to Maui the following year. She placed second at last year's trail run at Makena. Like Walker, she said she will use her Hawaiian Airlines airfare to return to Maui for the 2012 XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs. Her boyfriend, Thomas Vonach, is an annual competitor in the XTERRA World Championship, so they have been traveling to Maui for the past several years.
"Winning this race, it always pays for our trip to come here," Van Vlerken said. "Definitely, I will come back every year, not only because of the (free) ticket, but because it is a lot of fun."
Christina Mata of Panama was the second female with a time of 51:10.
The new course was equal parts beautiful and brutal, and it received rave reviews from the participants.
"The course is really nice; I like the part on the beach a lot," Van Vlerken said. "The whole course is beautiful. It's an upgrade from the course that was already really good the last couple of years."
Joe Morgan of Lahaina, Maui, won the Hula Grill XTERRA 5K Trail Run, completing the course in 21 minutes, 4 seconds. "Beautiful course," he said. "Great to be in my backyard. What a great place to win a race."
Eleven-year-old Emily Armstrong of Spokane, Washington, was the first female finisher for the 5K, with a time of 26:19.
The XTERRA weekend in Kapalua will continue on Sunday with the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon. The triathlon's run course - called the Leilani's On The Beach Run Course - will follow the same trail that the 10K runners completed on Saturday.
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