NEW DATE: XTERRA World Championship At-Large Registration Opens Dec. 5, 2012

NEW DATE: At-large registration for the 2013 XTERRA World Championship will open December 5, 2012 at 7am Hawaii Time (9am PST, 12pm EST, 6pm in Europe – adjust to your timezone).

Go to www.xterramaui.com for your chance to claim one of 150 at-large entries into the 18th annual XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui to be held Oct. 27, 2013.

At-large spots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

At large entry fee is US$500.00. Entry fee for qualified athletes will be US$475.00 (or US$450.00 for Hawaii residents). Entry includes admission to the Night of Champions Dinner and Awards Dinners.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be received via email to info@xterraplanet.com no later than August 31, 2013, and are eligible for a partial refund of US$125.00. No refunds will be issued for requests made after August 31, 2013. Transfers or deferrals are NOT permitted.

Note: Non-U.S. athletes residing in countries hosting XTERRA World Tour Championship races will not be accepted into the “at large” pool prior to their National Championship event. You should apply directly to your National Organizer for an “at large” slot from any unused qualifying positions.

XTERRA World Championship

Kualoa Ranch Set to Host XTERRA Trail Run Worlds Again

A diverse and talented field of trail runners from around the world will participate in the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship on Sunday, December 2.

Kualoa RanchMore than 2,000 runners from 15 countries and 37 states are entered, but once again, the site of the race will be the star of the show. The majestic Kualoa Ranch will serve as the host site for the fifth consecutive year, and the runners will be treated to trails that are breathtaking in more ways than one.

“The course is totally unique,” said Canada’s Lucy Smith, who placed second overall among the elite women in 2011. “I have run many World Championships in cross country, and while some were unbelievably hard, the XTERRA World Championship course is the most remote and the ‘wildest’ and craziest run course I have ever done.”

Part of the lure is the mystery. The trails at Kualoa Ranch are normally closed to the public, and the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is one of only a handful of events that has been granted a permit to stage a race there.

Most of the time, the beautiful natural backdrop of Kualoa Ranch is reserved for filming of movies, television shows, or commercials. Among the credits are blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, and hit television series such as LOST and Hawaii Five-O.

It has also become the perfect setting to determine the XTERRA Trail Run World Champions.

Oregon’s Max King won the event in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He will not enter the race this year due to the expected birth of his child. However, he explained why he considers the course at Kualoa Ranch one his favorites: “It’s one of my favorites because of the atmosphere surrounding the race. There aren’t too many races that take place in such a beautiful place. The Kualoa Valley surrounded by massive green ridges on three sides and the crystal clear blue ocean on the other is a 360 degree awe-inspiring place to compete for a World Championship. I love the course since it is one of those that requires an all-around athlete — strong in all aspects of different running surfaces.”

There are some hidden dangers within that beauty. Although Kualoa Ranch reaches a peak of less than 750 feet above sea level, the 21-kilometer championship course will still feature close to 3,000 feet of total climbing.

“I think the constant climbing and descending makes the course challenging and fun,” Smith said. “From dealing with the steep climbs right off the bat to the final mad dash down the hill, you are constantly trying to find a rhythm in the inconsistent elevation. I would describe the course as relentlessly hilly and the final hill as most wonderfully and hilariously insane.”

There is also the weather to deal with. Although it takes place every December, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is not exactly known for its winter conditions. In fact, temperatures are usually in the 80s on race day.

Brandon Mader has made the trip from Alabama to Hawaii to do the race several times, and said the drastic difference in weather change can be shocking for some runners coming from colder climates. “If you haven’t been preparing for the weather, it can be very oppressive in middle of the race,” he said. “Coming from colder climates is particularly difficult because of how long it takes your body to adapt to heat.  Most of the country has been in cold weather for two solid months.”

As if the intrigue of the course were not enough, there is also the drama of the actual race this year. New world champions are guaranteed in both the men’s and women’s races, as there are no past winners in the field.

In the men’s race, top contenders include Ben Bruce, Joseph Gray, Mario Mendoza, Will Christian, Thomas Rivers Puzey, Jacob Puzey, Willie Schefer and J. Marshall Thomson. Leading women’s contenders include Smith, Amber Moran, Polina Babkina, Kim Kuehnert and Marion Summerer.

The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, and every age-group winner from the 21-kilometer long course will earn the title of 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Champion. Age groups range from 10-14 to 75-79.

In addition to the 21K championship course, there will also be separate 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer courses for the less-experienced runners.

There is still one last chance to join the race and see what this course is all about. In-person registration will be held on Saturday, December 1, at the Waikiki Beach Walk (Lewers Street) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about the race, please visit www.xterratrailrun.com.

XTERRA World Champ Triathletes Spotlight – Part 3

Over the last few weeks we’ve tracked down the age group world champions to see how their day unfolded.  Here we learn more about Hannah Rae Finchamp, Benoit Lalevee, Carol Rasmussen, and Oliver Shaw.

Hannah Rae Finchamp (15-19) Altadena, California – 3:05:55

Hannah Rae FinchampHannah Rae Finchamp wasn’t just the fastest woman in the 15-19 division at XTERRA Worlds, she was the fastest amateur woman in the entire field.  The 16-year-old junior at Maranatha High School finished 13th overall, ahead of six pro woman, and more than seven-minutes ahead of the next age group female.

“My race went extremely smooth, well as smooth as the ocean, sand, dirt, sun and a little rain can go,” said Finchamp, who did her first XTERRA (a trail run) when she was just 10-years-old.

“I had a better race than I could have ever imagined.  God truly blessed me and was with me the whole race.  I spent much of the race thinking it was too good to be true and I still couldn’t believe I was in first until mile four on the run when I passed a man from an older age group.  He said, “You’re going to be XTERRA world champion and you know it!”  At that moment I felt my eyes tear up and began to thank God for such an amazing race.”

It’s the second straight 15-19 division XTERRA World Championship for Finchamp, who was also the top amateur and winner of her second consecutive XTERRA USA Championship in September.  Together with 16-year-old Neilson Powless (who won the men’s USA and World Championship overall titles out of the 15-19 division) the duo became the youngest competitors to ever win the overall titles in the amateur division at both races this year.

“I have always been an adventure seeker and XTERRA fit the bill perfectly.  It was like nothing else I had ever seen and it was so exciting!  Then right when I turned 14 (race age 15) and I reached the age limit for the full XTERRA course I signed up.”

It’s clear that the future of XTERRA is coming of age.
“The best part of the World Championship in Maui, and XTERRA in general, is that you never know how your race will turn out because there are so many obstacles to overcome.  I absolutely love Maui, and while many people go there to simply vacation, I think I have the best of all worlds.  When racing in Maui I swam in the beautiful clear ocean, biked to what seemed like the top of the world and ran up hills some people wouldn’t even consider possible.  I am already looking forward to next year!”

Benoit Lalevee (45-49) St.Nazaire Les Eymes, France – 2:55:40

BenoitLaleveeMaui2012.jpgIn just his second year of racing off-road Benoit Lalevee can claim to be the fastest 45-49 division man in XTERRA.

“I did my first XTERRA in Switzerland last September and won, but before that I did mainly road tris. Now, I prefer off-road racing and being closer to nature,” said Lalevee.

The channel manager for Schneider Electric came to Maui with a group of Swiss and French athletes organized by long-time XTERRA pro Olivier Marceau.

“It was a wonderful trip.  We had good times during training, relaxing and visiting the island,” said Lalevee.

Raceday didn’t go quite as smooth as the rest of the trip, however… “The night before the race we got evacuated because of the tsunami and only had a few hours sleep, and the swim was not so simple due to the waves but I did my best.  On the bike I had problems with my rear derailleur due to the dust, and I did not know my position.  Then on the last climb on the run before the lake I had two big leg cramps and had to stop. I thought it could be finished for me, but on the descent everything fell back in order,” said Lalevee, who finished more than six-minutes ahead of runner-up Dan Smith from Canada.

Even more adventure greeted Lalevee on his return-trip home as he was re-routed through Chicago instead of New York to avoid Hurricane Sandy.

“The 2012 XTERRA could have been a disaster but in the end I am World Champion, proud and thankful for all my family and friends who believed in me.”

Carol Rasmussen (45-49) Karlslunde, Denmark – 3:33:09

Carol RasmussenBy trade Carol Rasmussen teaches Danish, English, German, physical education and swimming to kids ages 10 to 15.  After finishing Ironman Worlds in Kona (11:54:58) and winning the 45-49 division at XTERRA Worlds just two weeks later, she could probably teach them a thing or two about triathlon as well.

“I was actually a mountain biker that started to do some triathlon when I read about XTERRA last year,” explained Rasmussen about her entrance to the sport.  “So, my husband and I decided to participate in the German XTERRA, and I won, and we thought it was such a nice race that we participated again this year.  I also qualified for the Ironman so I thought why not go and do both.”

Rasmussen credits taking it easy (if that’s possible) during the marathon in Kona for her winning day in Maui.

“In Kona I decided to walk a third of the marathon back to the finish line, which I think saved my leg, so that I was able to run strong in Maui.”

Like many other competitors this year, Rasmussen got sidetracked by the Tsunami warning the night before the race.

“We were staying at a campground, and when we finally got back to our campsite after the pre-race dinner the police told us to evacuate and we drove up the nearest road towards the mountain.  I was trying to sleep in the back of the car but there was so much noise from all the other people it wasn’t really possible.”

The lack of sleep had little impact on her race or experience.

“We had a great time in Maui,” said Rasmussen.  “We did some sightseeing and got to meet a lot of friendly and interesting people from all over the world.  When people say that the Ironman in Kona is the greatest race they have ever participated in, I can only say, Kona is boring compared to XTERRA Maui. Everything is better on Maui; the welcome dinner, the award dinner, the Halloween Party, the bike and run tracks through the nature, the wild swim, and the friendly, easy going athletes. What a great experience.”

Oliver Shaw (20-24 Division) Rotorua, New Zealand – 2:42:49

Oliver ShawHe’s just 20-years but Oliver Shaw is already a seasoned XTERRA veteran.

“I started XTERRA five years ago at the New Zealand Champs which are held at Rotorua every year. I am from Rotorua and always wanted to do the race. My Dad thought I could do quite well if I trained for it, so I did and I’ve been to every New Zealand XTERRA and World Championship race since,” said Shaw.

Turned out Dad was right, as the young Kiwi has been a force back home and in Maui through the years. This year at the world championship Shaw finished 25th overall, second amateur, and just 14-seconds behind the overall amateur winner Neilson Powless.

“I was really happy on race day to see the clouds come over as all my build up had been done in New Zealand winter which isn’t Hawaiian-like at all,” exclaimed Shaw.  “I had an average swim but once onto the bike I felt pretty good and started to make my way up the field as I came out of the swim way back. I moved up to one of the top amateur’s off the bike and had a solid run. I took the lead about halfway through the run so I was pretty sure that I was leading my age group although it was nice to have it confirmed at the finish!”

Shaw edged Dennis Kruse from Germany by a little more than one-minute, and was nearly five minutes faster than Ryan Petry from Arizona who dominated the age group competition at the XTERRA West and Mountain Championships this year.

Having just finished his last year at the University of Waikato studying sport perhaps the next step for Shaw might be a pro career.  One thing is for certain, another trip to Maui is in order…
“Maui is an amazing place to visit and race. The beaches, resorts and people are some of the best in the world.”

XTERRA European Tour Stronger Than Ever

The XTERRA European Tour will feature an unprecedented eight majors in 2013; including new stops in England, Greece, and Spain; and new race venues in Italy and Switzerland.

Swim StartThose interested in racing at XTERRA France are encouraged to sign-up now, as the event is already close to selling out.

“XTERRA in Europe has never been stronger,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. “We started XTERRA in Europe in 1999 and have seen the popularity grow by leaps and bounds in recent years. Our big races are selling-out, and every October at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui we are noticing an increasing number of qualifiers from nearly every nation in the European Union. “

In 2013 XTERRA will host eight XTERRA World Championship qualifying events in Europe, and award approximately $150,000 (US) in prize money to professionals.

The Series starts in Murcia, Spain on June 2, travels to Lake Plastira in Greece for the first-time on June 15, discovers a new venue at Vallee de Joux in Switzerland on June 29, heads to Gerardmer, France on July 7, visits a new Italian stop in Abruzzo on July 20, heads to Prachatice in the Czech Republic on Aug. 10, then to Zittau, Germany on the following Saturday, Aug. 17; and the Series concludes in Surrey, England on September 8.

Professional athletes will count their best six of eight scores while amateurs will count their best five.

Nicolas Lebrun won the European Tour for the fourth time in 2012; while former Olympian Helena Erbenova won the women’s crown for the first time.

2013 XTERRA European Tour Majors

Date – Race, Location
June 2 – XTERRA Spain Championship, Cieza, Murcia
June 15 – XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira
June 29 – XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux
July 7 – XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 20 – XTERRA Abruzzo – Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 10 – XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 – XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Sept 8 – XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. to Honor Cpl. Sams

Team X-T.R.E.M.E. – the guys with the gas masks – will once again participate in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch on December 2, 2012.

Team XTREMETeam X-T.R.E.M.E. is a non-profit organization with an ongoing mission to Honor. Empower and Motivate wounded service members of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. The team features active and veteran military members who participate in various races across the country to honor the sacrifice of Wounded Warriors through feats of mental and physical endurance. This is the third consecutive year that Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is participating in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Each year, the team brings a wounded service member to the event as an honorary member as part of the XTREME DREAM program. This year, Cpl. Josh Sams is the honored guest. He lost both his legs to an improvised explosive device (IED) in January, while serving in Afghanistan.

“The XTERRA Trail Run World Championships is the perfect venue for the XTREME DREAM initiative,” said Jeremy Soles, Founder and President of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.  “There is so much beauty and adventure just waiting to be explored in Hawaii.  This is an opportunity for our honorees to relax and escape the challenges of physical therapy and the routine of hospital / rehabilitation protocol.  Along with the various programs that Team X-T.R.E.M.E. offers, XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii is a pivotal element in our cycle of rehabilitation for wounded veterans.  Not only are these warriors immersed in the excitement and beauty of paradise but they are also empowered by the XTERRA energy and through challenges they witness the team overcome at Kualoa Ranch.  The wounded warriors leave Hawaii and the XTERRA / Team X-T.R.E.M.E. experience highly motivated, refreshed and focused on living life to the extreme.”

Prior to the race, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. will take Cpl. Sams and his wife, Lindsey, on various adventures on the island of Oahu, including scuba diving and surfing. On the morning of the race, Cpl. Sams and his wife, along with other members of Team X-T.R.E.M.E., will skydive in to the race site at Kualoa Ranch with assistance from Skydive Hawaii.

This year, the team will have eight members running in the 21K race, including two Wounded Warriors. In keeping with the team’s tradition, each member will run the entire course with Avon Protection Systems C50 gas masks secured to their faces. They will run the entire course as a unit – leaving no man behind.

In keeping with the team concept, the members of the team will run under alias names. The names being used this year are Vigilance, Justice, Endurance, Loyalty, Conviction, Solace and Sacrifice. Both of the wounded veterans on the team will be identified as Sacrifice.

The members of Team X-T.R.E.M.E. will be traveling to Hawaii from various areas of the mainland United States, so sponsorship was crucial. Outrigger Hotels and Resorts will be hosting the team in Waikiki during their week in Hawaii. Other key sponsors include XTERRA/TEAM Unlimited, Skydive Hawaii, AccesSurf and American Airlines.

To join the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. mission or make secure online donations visithttp://teamxtreme2011.kintera.org

Haley Wins Third Consecutive Georgia Series Race

Little Mulberry draws 300 runners at inaugural event

A new race was unveiled in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series this month, but a familiar face prevailed.

Matt HaleyMatt Haley was the overall winner of the XTERRA Little Mulberry Trail Run, which was completed on November 17 at Little Mulberry Park in Dacula, Georgia. Haley completed the 10-kilometer course in 36 minutes, 3 seconds. It was his third consecutive overall win in the XTERRA Georgia Series.

“It was a great course and a great day to race,” said Haley, who resides in Buford, Georgia. “The temperature was a little cool, but once you started moving around it warmed up. The course was a lot of fun. The first part of it was on hard packed surfaces that allowed for a quick pace early in the race. The majority of the race took part on the equestrian trail, which had two pretty long, tough climbs. The trail was nice and wide though, which really helped me keep a good rhythm.”

He finished more than a minute ahead of runner-up Jason Veclotch of Tyrone, Georgia. Veclotch finished with a time of 37:19, and Matthew Rivers of Duluth was third in 37:57.

“There was a really solid field at this race, and to be honest I was really surprised with how I ran,” Haley said. “I just had one of those days where I felt good and the course played to my strengths.”

Jessica Ridley of Phenix City, Alabama, placed sixth overall and was the first female with a time of 42:09. It was her first XTERRA Trail Run victory.

Kristen Meadors placed second in 42:48, and XTERRA veteran Tara Gormley was third in 43:16.

Close to 300 runners participated in the event, which was the fourth of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series. It was the first time the series staged a race at Little Mulberry Park.

“Little Mulberry Park was a great venue for this race and I’m really glad that it was added to the XTERRA series,” Haley said. “I actually didn’t even know about the park until I saw the schedule for the series even though it’s only about a 15 or 20 minute drive from my house. I’ve run out there a couple of times but I’ll definitely be going back more often after running this race.”

CLICK HERE for complete results.

The next event in the series will be the XTERRA Victoria Bryant Trail Run at Royston, Georgia, this Saturday, December 1. To register for a race in the series or learn more about it, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.

About the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series
The XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 42 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Georgia at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Georgia is one of 13 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California Southern California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.

Clark, Davanzo Take Top Honors at Topanga Turkey Trot

More than 700 runners turn out for SoCal race on Thanksgiving Day

Jon Clark and Nita Davanzo were especially thankful this past Thanksgiving Day. They were the overall winners of the XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot Trail Run, which was completed last Thursday at Topanga Canyon near Calabasas, California.

Clark placed first overall, completing the 15-kilometer course in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 48 seconds. Davanzo was the first female, finishing with a time of 1:18:05.

A capacity field of more than 700 runners participated in the event, which has become an annual Thanksgiving morning tradition for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series.

“The whole festive environment is a special way to begin the day, and it has become part of my Thanksgiving tradition as much as the Macy’s Parade, Detroit Lions football, and sharing good laughs and full bellies with family friends,” Clark said. “Definitely another blessing to be thankful for as I continue striving to be worthy.”

Clark has been a standout in the XTERRA SoCal Series for several years, and is a past winner of the Topanga Turkey Trot. His familiarity with the course played a role in his most recent victory.

“Knowing the course from previous years, I fully planned on attacking the initial climb from the gun and that’s just what I was able to do,” he said. “I comfortably led the race from start to finish and although I gave an honest push on this day, I basically just cruised into the finish.”

Nita DavanzoRyan Ung placed second with a time of 1:03:38, and was the only runner to get close to Clark. Dominic Grossman placed third in 1:06:10.

In the women’s division, Davanzo also scored an impressive win – made even more impressive because it was her first time entering the Topanga Thanksgiving event.

(Nita Davanzo pictured, courtesy Justin Davanzo /www.justindavanzophotography.com)

“The conditions were beautiful – a crisp, clear day, not too hot, not too cold,” she said. “The trail was in pretty good condition. There were a few spots on the single track that were crumbling off into the hillside, which I am sure only got worse as more feet passed over. The camaraderie between the runners was stellar; it felt like a team of us in single file as we raced down the single track.”

Davanzo said there was one female ahead of her for the first two miles, but she took over the lead by mile 3, and stayed in front the rest of the course. “Afterwards, she and I spoke, and she said she pushed too hard on that lead out, and burned out too quickly,” Davanzo said. “I was glad to have her in the lead through the first half; without her pushing me I don’t think I would have run that section as fast as I did.”

Davanzo said her husband was at the race as a photographer, so they had time after the race to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. “This is my first race on Thanksgiving Day and I will surely do it again,” she said.

Kaitlin Lavin was the second female in 1:19:40, and Kate Freeman was close behind in third in 1:19:49.

The event also featured a 10K course and a 5K course. Winners of the 10K were Aaron Smith and Teva Johnstone, and winners of the 5K were Obin Sturm and Zoe Fleck.

CLICK HERE for complete results.

The Topanga Turkey Trot Trail Run was the second of seven events in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series. The next event will be the XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run on December 9. To register for a race in the series or to learn more about it, please visitwww.trailrace.com.

About the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series
The XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series is open to runners of all ages and skill levels. In the 2012-13 season, there will be seven races available for runners, with the courses ranging in length from 5 kilometers to 22 kilometers. The top runners in every age group will receive points after each race that will count toward the overall series standings. At the conclusion of the series, each age-group champion will receive a free entry to represent Southern California at the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. SoCal is one of 13 regions hosting an XTERRA Trail Run Series. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Northern California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pacific Northwest, Pocono, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Texas.

XTERRA Trail Run World Titles up for Grabs in 2012

No returning champions in this year’s field at Kualoa Ranch

Anybody want a world championship? The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is up for grabs this year.

This year’s event is scheduled for December 2 at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, and in the unpredictable sport of trail running, this much is certain – there will be new champions.

Oregon’s Max King is the only runner to win the men’s title at XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. The event was created in 2008, and he has won it every year. King’s reign will come to an end this year, as he will stay in Oregon with his wife for the expected birth of their second child in early December.

In his absence, the list of contenders is impressive:

  • Ben Bruce has placed in the top three of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2008, 2009 and 2011. He was a finalist for the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic trials in 2012 (he placed sixth).
  • Joseph Gray is a recognized name in the sport of trail running. He placed second at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2009, and is a three-time former winner of the USATF Mountain Runner of the Year award.
  • Thomas Rivers Puzey and Jacob Puzey are brothers who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the 2011 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Rivers Puzey has somewhat of a home-course advantage, as he competed in college at BYU-Hawaii, which is located about five miles away from Kualoa Ranch.
  • J. Marshall Thomson placed second to King at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah in September.
  • Will Christian placed second to King at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, and the margin of 1 minute, 20 seconds, for that year remains the closest any runner has come to King on the Kualoa Ranch course.
  • Mario Mendoza placed second to King at the 2011 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Utah, and is a past winner of the USATF Trail Runner of the Year award.

Several other dark horse contenders could emerge, as more than 2,000 runners from around the world are expected to compete in this year’s race. King said the eventual new champion will have to be “an all-around athlete” to conquer the field and the course. “It takes a little bit of everything,” he said. “Strong technical skills and hill climbing endurance are a must, but parts of the course also require a high level of speed as well. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that the significant hill at mile 9 really wipes people out. Climbing ability is important from the gun but having climbing endurance in this race is even more important.”

Lucy SmithThe women’s division is also in search of a new queen, as 2011 champion Morgan Arritola will not enter this year due to injuries and other schedule conflicts. What’s more, none of the other previous women’s champions are entered. In their absence, there is also an impressive list of female contenders:

  • Lucy Smith (pictured) placed second last year in her first try at Kualoa Ranch. She is considered one of the top masters (40-older) endurance athletes in all of Canada.
  • Melanie McQuaid is a three-time former XTERRA World Champion for off-road triathlon. She placed fifth at last year’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
  • Kim Kuehnert is a runner on the Hawaii Pacific University cross country team. She is originally from Germany, and placed second at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship (she did not compete last year due to illness).
  • Polina Babkina is another runner from the Hawaii Pacific University cross country team. She is originally from Russia and was the team’s top-seeded competitor this season.
  • Susie Stephen is considered Hawaii’s top female distance trail runner. She placed sixth overall at last year’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, and first in the 30-34 age group.

More than 2,000 runners representing at least 15 countries and 37 states are already registered to compete in the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. In addition to the overall titles, the various age-group world championships will also be at stake. Every male and female age-group winner from the 21-kilometer championship will be crowned a 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Champion.

Returning age-group champions from last year include: Keith Rieger (men 40-44), Ray Brust (men 50-54), Susie Stephen (women 30-34), Melanie McQuaid (women 35-39), Lucy Smith (women 40-44), Brigitte Stemmer (women 55-59) and Lee Saltonstall (women 60-64).

The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is an open race (no qualification necessary), and runners of all ages and skill levels can enter. There are even separate 10K and 5K courses for runners who want to choose a shorter distance.

Online registration is still available. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

XTERRA TRAIL RUN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
When: Sunday, December 2, 9 a.m. start
Where: Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii
Who: Open to runners of all ages and skill levels
Courses: 21K (championship course), 10K, 5K or “Adventure Walk”
Entry fees: $60 for 21K, $45 for 10K, $35 for 5K, $30 for Adventure Walk
Registration information: www.xterratrailrun.com

TEAM TO END AIDS to Run at Kualoa Ranch

The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch on December 2 will feature runners from 15 different countries and at least 36 different states.

Team 2 End AidsLos Angeles, California, will be well-represented thanks to 25 runners from the TEAM TO END AIDS organization. They are entering the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for the first time in an effort to raise funds to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Kerry Quakenbush, the Director of Endurance Events for the team, said: “I ran the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2009 and LOVED it. Many of our participants have been begging for a trail run destination event, so we decided to give this race a try.”

TEAM TO END AIDS has been training runners and entering races since 1998, but this will be the team’s first trail run. They have traveled to Hawaii several times in past years to run in the Honolulu Marathon.

To prepare for the grueling 21-kilometer course at Kualoa Ranch, the team has been training together once a week on various trails in Southern California. Each runner on the team is expected to help the organization raise funds for the cause.

Quakenbush said the team’s goal is to raise $100,000 through this race trip. More runners from the TEAMTO END AIDS organization will fly to Honolulu the following week to participate in the Honolulu Marathon.

Two ambitious runners from the organization – Edwin “Chachi” Camacho and Margaret Lorrie Drenk – will race in both the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship on December 2, and the Honolulu Marathon on December 9.

To learn more about the organization or make a donation, please visit www.t2ea.com.

To learn more about the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, please visitwww.xterratrailrun.com.