Rebecca Smith

More Than Just a Number

Stroll along the sandy shores of D T Fleming Beach on Sunday and you’ll see hundreds upon hundreds of the fittest people on the planet, each with their own unique number tattooed on their arm.

For the pros, the number represents where they finished at last year’s race. The reigning XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa will don No. 1; and last year’s women’s winner Nicky Samuels will wear No. 101. For the amateurs, their race number is indicative of what age division they’re in. For example, No. 201 is Rachel Anders, the youngest in the field at 16-years-old; and No. 962 is Ron Hill, the senior statesman of XTERRA at 77.

For timing purposes, the numbers are identifiers, a way to track how fast No. 781 can swim, bike, and run. Of course, there’s more to No. 781 than her bike split. No. 781 is Rebecca Smith from Pennsylvania, and she’s just happy to be alive.

Smith unknowingly moved into a cottage that had a slow, imperceptible carbon monoxide leak.  She said she started feeling terrible and one day blacked out and went to the emergency room.  They couldn’t discover the source and sent her back to the poisonous den, where she stayed for another five weeks.

“My dog wouldn’t come inside the house, and I couldn’t figure out why,” said Smith, who suffered through a series of near-death experiences from seizures to heart attacks as a result of consistently inhaling the toxic gas.

It’s been a tough, long road to recovery for Smith and as such, being healthy enough to line up on Sunday to race at the XTERRA World Championship amounts to one awesome celebration of life.

Indeed, behind every number there’s a story.  Here are just a few…

No. 539 is Alissa Magrum.  She turned 40 this year and her parents and 9-year-old daughter are in Maui to cheer her on.  “I’m racing for Colin Holst, Averie Owen, Ken Parmerter and Kathryn (Kat) Walker–all who lost their lives to a fatal drowning. All of these drownings were preventable and so I dedicate this race to them – their spirits and their families and friends.” Alissa is an athlete ambassador for Colin’s Hope, a non-profit helping to raise awareness for water safety.

No’s 532 and 694 are Angie and Jason Childre, and they’re celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary with their two kids here in Maui. This one is special for another reason as well. “I lost my 47-year-old brother suddenly to a rare cancer last October.  It made everyone in my family realize how short life is and you need to do the things you want to do and not wait for everything to be perfect.  My husband and I decided then that if either one of us qualified to go to World’s this year, we would go.  As it turns out, we both got invitations this year and we are racing this one for my brother Mark! Life is short. We have a whole new outlook on living more since the death of my brother and his sister at such a young age (47 & 52) this past year.  It could happen to us just as easy as it happened to them.  Be happy, do what you want to do, “Live More!”

No. 825 is Daniel Luhman. He’s 52 and couldn’t swim three years ago. “Never let your fears decide your fate,” he advises.

No. 278 is Tory Sigmond from Thailand. She runs for her Mom who has MS and lost her own ability to run. “I run because I can. Never take anything for granted,” she says.\

No. 853 is Kirk Vandeweghe. He keeps his daughters Winnie the poo towel with him in transition.

No. 900 is Kerry Nisbet from Canada. In 1999 Kerry and his wife created the group called Cops for Cancer in honor of Lyle Jorgensen. They’ve risen over $7 million in the battle against cancer. Kerry is inspired to race for those who are sick and continue to fight every day. Kerry has been an inspiration as well, for he has had two heart surgeries and admittedly says that they have slowed him down. However, he will continue to race to raise money for his organization. “Each day is a gift, I enjoy spending a ton of time with family, my three sons and their families,” said Nisbet. His mantra…“There will come a day when I can no longer do this….but today is not that day”

No. 269 is Caroline Ehlies, she’s a military intelligence officer in the Guam Army National Guard and picked up XTERRA after returning from Afghanistan last year. Caroline is dedicating this one to her husband Harry whose quiet strength and humility inspire her to be a better person. Her favorite XTERRA moment was “seeing other competitors stop when someone crashed on the mountain bike course to help them get back up. In the ultra-competitive environment of endurance sport it’s nice to know that in the end we are a community. We are relentless and ferociously disciplined mentally and physically, but ultimately we know our sport is more about pushing beyond barriers and celebrating that struggle with those who chose the hard way than it is about winning. Every breath, every pedal stroke, every step forward is a victory because each movement forward brings us that much closer to our greatest self.”

No. 375 is Blake Gill. Three years ago he cut his left thumb off and now he runs his left sram xo thumb shifter upside down (on top of the bar) and shifts with his fingers.

No. 282 is Debbie Val from Canada. She’s dedicating this one to her Mom and step dad who came from Calgary to cheer her on. She says she used to be fearless, then broke her jaw and got a sense of fear knocked into her. But then she broke her jaw again, and now she’s back to fearless!

No. 632 is Todd Tuescher. Two years ago Todd lost 50 pounds to become a better athlete and set an example of the healthy lifestyle for his kids. He’s racing this one in memory of Pete Zucker, a friend who lost his battle to ALS two years ago.

No. 357 is Emily Witman from Ogden, Utah. At XTERRA Moab a guy in front of her stopped while they were out on the slick rock that overlooks a valley. He said, “Sometimes you have to stop and take it all in.” “What he says sticks with me at every race. We live in a beautiful world and XTERRA gives me an opportunity to so many fantastic and inspirational places.”

Christophe Maury

XTERRA Warrior Christophe Maury

Since 2003 XTERRA has honored a member of its Tribe that has shown exemplary courage in the face of adversity, gone above and beyond to help the greater community, or personified the “Live More” spirit.

This year, at the Night of Champions dinner on Friday night at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua the honor went to Christophe Maury (No. 735) from France.

You might recognize him for his black racing kit and red socks. You have likely seen him at the finish line, jumping high in the air with his legs behind him and hands held high. You will most certainly recognize his bright blue eyes and inviting smile. And this year, you’ll see him on the top step of the XTERRA European Tour 45-49 podium.

He is Christophe Maury, aka the “Frenchman”, a nickname given to him by XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas, who was surprised to discover a French man who spoke only English around him. Dave started calling him the Frenchman every time he saw him, then others did as well, and finally Christophe adopted the name and branded his Facebook page “The Frenchman XTERRA Triathlete”.

Maury started racing XTERRA five years ago after seeing a picture of the race in France. His background in adventure racing and love for the outdoors were a perfect prelude to the rigors of XTERRA.

“After the second year when I raced XTERRA France then XTERRA Switzerland I knew this sport was for me, and it became a lifestyle and a passion,” said Maury. “It’s outdoors, its several sports into one. I need open space, and I love the experiences.”

A teacher by trade Maury has the luxury of spending summer vacation traveling the XTERRA circuit. He has raced eight of the 11 European majors – the most of any amateur. It has come with consequences, however.

“I miss my kids terribly,” said Maury, who has a 12-year-old son, 9, and 6-year-old daughters. “It is hard because I don’t see them as much as I want to, but I Skype with them every day. I bring them souvenirs, send postcards, and take so many pictures. I do this for them and post them on Facebook so they are with me that way.”

He’ll also work with them on math problems – everyday – and explain in detail the experiences he has.

“I tell them everything, how it is and what it is like. I think they are proud. Proud because I succeed in my age group. I tell them if you want to be good you have to practice, that sometimes it’s hard. Mostly, I tell them I love them. I know it’s hard for them, but they are with me every day.”

2014 has been a breakout year for Maury, with a win at XTERRA Sweden and several top finishes within his division. It’s part of a step-by-step plan that ends with a world title in 2015.

“I race first for the experience, but I keep in mind I’m an athlete and here to compete,” said Maury. “When I was 2nd in my division in Europe last year I finished 38th in Maui. I came up with a plan. This year to be European Champion, and top 10 in Maui. Next year I want to be Euro Champ, and Maui Champ. The plan is coming along, slowly, step-by-step. But these plans come after the experience. If I succeed its good. If I enjoy the experience, I win.”

And regardless of how he places, “the jump” will come.

“I always jump. I have to jump. It’s hard because when I finish I have no more legs, but I started doing it in Maui last year and now it is a must. To me it means I’m happy, that this is XTERRA. I think people can see my joy. I finish my race not when I cross the line, but after I jump and slap my legs on the way down with all my energy. Then it’s finished.”

Hunter McIntyre

On the “Hunt” for Success

Hunter McIntyre is one of the top ranked Spartan Obstacle Race athletes in the world. Recently, he decided to make the transition to the XTERRA SoCal trail race series. At the Point Mugu race on October 12th Hunter dominated the race, winning by two minutes over his closest competitor. When asked what his impression was of the XTERRA community, Hunter had this to say: “I had an awesome experience at the XTERRA Point Mugu event!! I really love the running community for how supportive and friendly they are, especially the trail runners.”

Some might think that a Spartan athlete would have difficulty transitioning to trail running, but Hunter believes that the two compare nicely: “The course was very hilly, something Spartans take great pride in tackling. The single track gave the opportunity to really pick up the pace which you rarely see in a Spartan event. Without obstacles I was a bit out of my element. I just hit the gas pedal hard around mile 6 and decided it was time to try winning this thing if I could survive the pace.” Hunter admits there are some differences between training for a Spartan and training to do an XTERRA race, but he believes his Spartan training gives him a solid base of running to work off of, saying,“The training I use for Spartan includes much more strength than an average runner would need to compete at a high level. I still have a major focus on being very conditioned for high speed trail running, but if I’m going to take on some of your world champion athletes like Max King, I’m going to need to focus more on raw running. I suggest every endurance athlete have a strong strength base, but for these races hard miles are king when it comes to winning.”

When asked if he would consider doing another XTERRA race Hunter replies, “I would love to make it to your next SoCal trail event! If I’m feeling fresh after worlds toughest you can expect to see me duking it out for another podium spot with you guys.” It looks like the XTERRA SoCal series will have a two-sport star in their future.

By Donald Quinn IV
XTERRA Trail Run Intern

Coming up next in the 2015 XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series:

11/27/14 – XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot Trail Run – Calabasas, CA – 5/10/15km
12/7/14 – XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run – Newport Beach, CA – 6/16km

Learn more about the XTERRA SoCal Series

MIchellie Jones

Congratulations Michellie Jones

XTERRA’s first-ever World Champion, Aussie Michellie Jones, was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on Thursday. She’s just the second triathlete to be inducted, following another XTERRA legend (and your master of ceremonies next weekend) Greg Welch.

Jones was part of one of the most exciting women’s races ever that first year in 1996. She was the first woman out of the water that day but her lead didn’t last. She was picked off on the trails by Shari Kain whose expertise on the mountain bike earned her a seven-minute lead over Jones by the time she hit T2.  But Michellie did not give up easily, and she chipped away at Shari’s lead and pulled alongside her only 800-meters from the finish.  The two ran together across Wailea Beach and in the final steps of the race Michellie inched away to take the first ever XTERRA World Championship by only 12 seconds.

Beyond XTERRA, Jones is arguably the most successful, and certainly the most diverse female triathlete of all-time. She won a silver medal in the first-ever Olympic triathlon event, won an Ironman World Championship in 2006, two ITU World Championships, and dozens of iconic races from the Chicago triathlon to Escape from Alcatraz.

Triathlete Mag Guide to Off-Road

Triathlete’s Ultimate Guide to Off-Road

The editors at Triathlete Magazine got dirty to put together a comprehensive guide to racing XTERRA.

The special digital-only issue (iPhone/iPad) can be purchased by downloading the Triathlete app;

The 90-page effort is all about XTERRA, from specific workouts to training tips from the pros, equipment options and nutrition advice. You’ll find a wealth of compelling profiles on the sports biggest stars, including a fun flashback with the original XTERRA World Champ Jimmy Riccitello and insightful videos showcasing Lesley Paterson’s World Championship race experience last year.

XTERRA’s tentative 2015 racing schedule is also included, along with a full-fledged plan to get a rookie ready to race their first off-road triathlon.

Maui by the Numbers

XTERRA Worlds by the Numbers

Here’s a look at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship race field, broken down by gender, division, and hometowns…

Men: 592 / Women: 224

Countries Represented: 41
Argentina (1), Australia (44), Austria (8), Belgium (8), Bermuda (3), Brazil (14), Canada (54), Chile (3), Common Wealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (2), Costa Rica (12), Czech Republic (13), Denmark (9), France (55), Germany (21), Guam (16), Guatemala (1), Hong Kong (2), Italy (14), Japan (15), Malaysia (1), Malta (1), Mexico (15), Netherlands (5), New Zealand (43), Norway (4), Peru (2), Philippines (32), Portugal (4), Reunion (2), Singapore (1), Slovak Republic (4), Slovenia (1), South Africa (10), South Korea (1), Spain (13), Sweden (15), Switzerland (12), Thailand (1), United Kingdom (21), United States of America (332), Venezuela (1)

United States Represented: 40
Breakdown: Alabama (1), Alaska (1), Arizona (6), California (75), Colorado (46), Connecticut (2), Delaware (1), Florida (9), Georgia (14), Hawaii (56), Idaho (8), Illinois (3), Indiana (1), Iowa (1), Kentucky (2), Maine (2), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (5), Michigan (6), Missouri (1), Montana (2), Nevada (11), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (5), New York (5), North Carolina (6), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (4), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (2), Texas (12), Utah (9), Vermont (2), Virginia (10), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), Wyoming (1)

By Age Group
Physically Challenged Men: 5
Men 15-19: 12
Men 20-24: 34
Men 25-29: 43
Men 30-34: 54
Men 35-39: 76
Men 40-44: 85
Men 45-49: 84
Men 50-54: 71
Men 55-59: 48
Men 60-64: 17
Men 65-69: 8
Men 70+: 8
Pro Men: 50

Physically Challenged Women: 1
Women 15-19: 3
Women 20-24: 8
Women 25-29: 24
Women 30-34: 23
Women 35-39: 31
Women 40-44: 32
Women 45-49: 36
Women 50-54: 22
Women 55-59: 6
Women 60-64: 4
Women 65-69: 1
Pro Women: 31

Oldest Male: Ron Hill – Heyden, Idaho, 77
Oldest Woman: Charlotte Mahan – Lenoir City, Tenessee, 69
Youngest Man: Lewis Ryan – Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, 16
Youngest Woman: Rachel Anders – Sandy, Utah, 16

Run Jump

EPC Tips – Bike – Run Workout Before Your Big Race

Ready for race day with this bike-run workout the week before your big race…

Taper time is about resting and recovering, while maintaining your feel and sharpness necessary for a peak performance. Try this session about a week out from your A-priority race to maintain your race-day energy systems, while not being too fatiguing. It’s best to do the session on the bike you’ll race on and terrain similar to what you’ll experience on race day.


  • 30:00 easy to moderate
  • 2-3x[10:00 race pace effort/power + 5:00 easy]
  • transition to run below


  • off the bike…
  • 3-4x[5:00 race pace effort + 2:30 easy jog]
  • 10:00 easy

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. Racing XTERRA USA and/or World Championships this Fall? Then checkout our XTERRA Championship specific Group Coaching Program for a complete XTERRA specific program leading up to the BIG races!

Lesley Paterson

Lesley Paterson Sidelined for Maui

In the last five years Lesley Paterson has been a powerhouse in Maui winning back-to-back World Championships in 2011 and 2012 and finishing runner-up twice in 2009 and 2013.

This year, however, she’ll have to settle for being a No. 1 fan.

Paterson courageously returned to the sport to race at the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah last month after being away all year while working through injuries and Lyme disease. She had an amazing race and finished third, but the effort proved too much.

“My Lyme Disease kicked up a notch after the race so I’ve decided to focus on getting it into remission so I can get back to form next year,” said Paterson. “As gutted as I am to miss it, I’ll be cheering on everyone from afar!”

Kapalua Trail Run

XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs for Everyone

For the fourth straight year the XTERRA Kapalua 5km and 10km Trail Runs on Saturday, October 25 will provide a chance for one-and-all to get dirty and experience the challenge of XTERRA’s grueling run course.

T S Restaurants of Maui serve as the title sponsor for the events, and the races are officially called the Duke’s Beach House XTERRA 10K, the Hula Grill XTERRA 5K, and the Kimo’s XTERRA Keiki Run.

To drive home the partnership with its employees T S Restaurants created a race within a race dubbed “The T S Restaurants XTERRA Challenge.” Each of the four restaurants will field a team of five runners and the team with the fastest cumulative time in the 5K race will take home the coveted TS Trophy.

Last year Hula Grill captured the perpetual trophy, which is proudly displayed at the restaurant all year round, for the second time in a row (Duke’s Beach House won the inaugural challenge back in 2011).

Collectively there will be more than 100 restaurant employees and the teachers they support running in the two races.

“We love partnering with the local schools on healthy, active, outdoor initiatives like this,” said Anderson. “It’s been a blast to see the teachers, along with a great representation from their respective student bodies, join in the runs.”

In all, more than 1,000 runners from around the world participated in the event last year. Both courses start at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, then traverse up and down the West Maui Mountains, and then along D.T. Fleming Beach before heading back to The Ritz. They are as picturesque as they are challenging.

“As far as views go, you can’t beat this race,” said two-time 10K winner Willie Schefer.

The 10K men’s and women’s winners and the top male/female Maui residents (if different) will each receive $100 Duke’s Maui gift certificate, while the 5K winners and top Maui racers will receive $100 gift certificates to Hula Grill. There are also prizes and medals for the top 3 in each division and all keiki runners receive a medal.  Plus, Leilani’s XTERRA Run Course primes will be awarded to the competitors with the fastest run times during the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon.

The Kimo’s XTERRA Keiki Run is for boys and girls ages 10 and younger. It is free, although parents must be present to sign a waiver form at the site of the race. Race distances will vary from 100 yards to 1-kilometer, depending on the age of the child. Parents are welcome to stay on the course as well.

In addition, a Paul Mitchell cut-a-thon will be held at the site of the race. Runners and their families can get their hair cut by professional Paul Mitchell stylists, with all donations benefitting the Challenged Athlete Foundation.

The Hula Grill XTERRA 5K Trail Run and Duke’s Beach House XTERRA 10K Trail Run are open to runners of all ages and skill levels, and registration is available on-site at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua starting Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 22. Learn more at