XTERRA Georgia Trail Series Finishes on a High Note

On August 11th, the XTERRA Georgia Trail Series concluded its 2016-2017 season with the XTERRA Allatoona Creek Park 15k/5k trail runs. This series is incredibly popular with local runners, but also draws athletes from all over the country.

XTERRA Ambassador and four-time XTERRA Georgia Regional Champ, Matt Haley is a huge fan of the XTERRA Georgia Trail Series in part because of race director, Tim Schroer and his team, Dirty Spokes Productions.

“I’ve run a lot of races and I’ve yet to come across anyone else that puts on a better event,” Haley.  “Dirty Spokes does close to 30 events a year and each one is incredibly well-managed. This is what keeps myself and plenty of others coming back time and time again. They have created a community around their races, so you see a lot of the same faces whether it’s a trail half marathon, duathlon or mountain bike race. Everyone knows that when they show up at a Dirty Spokes Productions event, no matter how the race goes for them, it will be a fun experience.”

The XTERRA Georgia Trail season kicked off on September 24th, 2016 at Harbins Park with a 10k and included seven races ranging in distance from 2.8 miles all the way up to a full marathon.

“The 2016-2017 season was an absolute blast,” said race director, Tim Schroer. “I love the energy you feel on race day from the participants – there is just a vibe in the air that’s hard to describe. We are such a close-knit group of people that everyone who comes to the races becomes family. It’s the coolest thing in the world to see people toe the line, compete against each other, then high five each other and cheer each other on at the finish.”

Schroer noted that he has a number of excellent runners compete each season, including Matt Haley, Simone Bergese, and Sally Bray. All three are in contention for the title of regional champ for their age groups and have come to almost every trail race in the series. At XTERRA Allatoona Creek, Bray and Haley finished second in their age groups while Bergese was the 40-44 age group champ.

But Schroer is quick to note that the XTERRA Georgia Trail Series welcomes runners of all levels from first-time racers to elites.

“We want to create the best all-around experience for everyone who participates in our races,” said Schroer. “The mix of venues and unique trail systems we use offer some of the best trail running you can find. Next year, I look forward to building on what we have already established.”

Next year, the series will include eight races. New in the series will be XTERRA UNG, which will be held on May 19th in Oakwood, Georgia.

We also added a shorter distance to the XTERRA Georgia Thrill In The Hills Trail Run so people who aren’t ready to tackle a half or full marathon but want to experience one of the best trail systems in the Southeastern US can still do so.” 

The new series will kick off on September 23rd at Harbins Park with a 10k and 5k. You can find additional information at www.XTERRAplanet.com.

For complete results from XTERRA Allatoona Creek, visit www.dirtyspokes.com.


Joe Gray’s Tips for the Trail

Joe Gray has emerged as the face of American trail running. The reigning XTERRA Trail Run World Champ and World Mountain Running Champion recently graced the cover of Trail Runner Magazine, a worthy honor for his efforts in leading Team USA to their first-ever Gold medal in Bulgaria at the World Mountain Running Championships last year.

This summer, Gray will travel to Europe to compete before shifting his focus to prepare for XTERRA Worlds on Oahu, December 3rd.  While running in Hawaii is high on his list, Gray also enjoys running trails in Norway, Switzerland, and his home state of Colorado.

We recently caught up with Joe and asked him to share a few of the secrets to his success.

On Hills:
The best way to make hills easier is to familiarize yourself with the terrain similar to the course you plan to challenge yourself on.

If you don’t have big hills, getting outdoors is still better than a treadmill as you can develop the stability muscles necessary for trail running. “Nature’s Gym” will always provide you with what you need for trail races!

On Staying Relaxed:
Again, familiarizing yourself with the terrain you plan to challenge is key. If you are not used to extremely technical terrain, then you probably should avoid it for a race. Your level of comfort will be increased with intermittent exposure to the types of terrain you seek to race on.

Always check out the course ahead of time so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Nothing worse than toeing the line and finding out there is a long section of ridge line running when you are afraid of heights. So be smart and be prepared! 

On Shoes:
Many times we are faced with courses with differing levels of terrain, sometimes muddy, sometimes, rocky, and sometimes cinder-like ATV roads.

It’s important to make sure you test your shoe on the terrain on which you plan to race. Doing a workout or two with the shoe you plan to use will help you find out if its the perfect shoe for you.

Jumping into a brand new pair for a trail race can be a nightmare as you may get a surprise blister. Or perhaps you find that you needed a shoe with a rock plate for rocky terrain courses.

For me, I look for a shoe that is comfortable around the toe box. A shoe that allows the toes to splay is very important as this will allow the toes to provide added power output on the uphills as you dig into the terrain. It also allows for better toe grip on muddy courses, like Hawaii.

XTERRA Lake Tahoe – August 19th

On August 19th, XTERRA Lake Tahoe brings classic XTERRA to California. With its traditional-length course and some of the best scenery in the world, this is an adventure you won’t want to miss.

The race begins in Lake Tahoe, one of the purest and deepest lakes in North America. The bike starts up a gradual climb on Tunnel Creek and then pops out onto the epic Flume Trail, which skirts the mountainside overlooking Lake Tahoe. Riders continue on past Marlette Lake and down a rocky and fast Tahoe Rim Trail.

“Both the Duathlon and the Sprint will complete the 22 mile bike course with approximately 4000 feet of climbing,” said race director Todd Jackson.  “The 10K trail running course is relatively flat, fast and scenic with tall pines, aspens, and creek crossings.”

XTERRA Lake Tahoe will also host a Sprint, consisting of a 750m swim, a 22 mile bike, and a 3 mile run. The XTERRA Lake Tahoe Duathlon is comprised of a 3 mile run, a 22 mile bike, and another 3 mile run.

The XTERRA Lake Tahoe 5k and 10k Trail Runs occur on the same day as triathlon and duathlon.  The course starts and finishes at the Village Green in Incline Village, NV, which is a large, open, grassy community field.

From the starting area, the course heads north and onto Lake Tahoe’s amazing trail system. Athletes will run one lap for the 5K or two for the 10K. The second lap starts right back in the venue creating a fun viewing area to cheer on the 10K participants.

There will also be short, kids races for ages 4-12.

To register for XTERRA Lake Tahoe off-road triathlon, duathlon, and trail run, visit www.bigblueadventure.com.

Trail Warrior Stephayne Gibson

Ambassador Stephayne Gibson is a regular in the Texas Trail Run Series. This season she ran XTERRA Pedernales Trail Run, XTERRA Muleshoe, and XTERRA ATX,  XTERRA Magnolia Hill, and will be at XTERRA Cameron Park. She will also be at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals in Utah.  Gibson is the reigning Texas Regional Champ for 2016 and placed 5th in her age group at Nationals. 

“And I also love XTERRA Jurassic. Any time you get dinosaur tracks, that’s just a bonus.”

As ebullient as Gibson is about trail running, you would think she has always been a runner. But this isn’t the case. In fact, this makes her laugh. “No, I have definitely not always been a runner.”

Gibson has always been an athlete though, playing both softball and volleyball from elementary school up through college.

Then, life took its toll – kids, career, and injuries left the then 32-year old Gibson 60 pounds overweight and needing a knee replacement.

“Like every mom, all my attention went to my kids,” she says. “And that’s great, but then I woke up ten years later and I didn’t like where I was.”

As a way to avoid surgery, her doctor suggested that she start trail running very slowly on soft surfaces in order to strengthen the muscles around her knee.

“I was a softball player!” says Gibson. “I was used to running 90 feet. I thought, there’s no way I’m going to be a trail runner. I hate running.”

Gibson also hated the idea of knee surgery.

“I realized I like hiking and I don’t want a knee replacement. So I started hiking faster. Then, bit by bit, I started running. I’m not fast, but I loved being out in nature and challenging myself. It was therapeutic.”

Additionally, Gibson wanted to be a role model for the kids she coached in softball.

“I always said I would never become that coach who looked like she never threw a ball,” says Gibson. “But that’s what I looked like. And I didn’t want to be that way anymore.”

As Gibson lost her preconceived ideas about running, she also lost the weight and gained confidence. She began with small steps. First Gibson started hiking longer. Then she began running 30 seconds at a time.

“When I could run three or four minutes at a time I thought maybe, maybe I can run a 5k,” says Gibson. “I set a goal, I did a nine-week training program, and I did the 5k. My next challenge was the half marathon and then a full marathon. As I learned to love the challenge, I started pushing myself further and faster.”

Today, Gibson also runs 50k and 50-mile races during the XTERRA off season. She is a full-time personal trainer, and she is helping people like herself believe that they too can exceed their expectations. She can also be found at most XTERRA Texas Series weekends – volunteering on Friday and Saturday for the triathlons and then racing on Sunday. 

“I work with people who think it’s too late and that they just have to accept their body as it is,” says Gibson. “I say, ‘You don’t have to accept this anymore. Let’s go out and do something.'”

Gibson believes what holds most of us back from trying something new or challenging ourselves is fear.

“Clients always ask, ‘What if I fail?’ My first response is ‘What if you fly? What if this becomes your passion and brings you joy and turns out to be exactly what you need?'”

In addition to coaching adults, Gibson also initiated a kids’ running club, which is now a fixture in eight Texas elementary schools as an after-school program. The club meets for an hour and includes 25 minutes of running time. The students can choose to be part of the 5k club or a 10k club depending on their ability and how far they want to go. Gibson helps the kids come up with a short-term goal, which they try to meet in five weeks. They also come up with a long-term goal, which they try to accomplish at the end of the school year.

“It’s so cool to watch these kids set a goal because we live in a society where everything is immediate. Like I want that and I want that right now. We teach kids how to set daily goals that lead to bigger goals. It doesn’t matter if they want to run one mile or 50 miles. We care about helping them achieve the goals they set for themselves.”

As she helps and coaches others, Gibson seems to improve as well. In 2016, she was the XTERRA Regional Champ in her age group.

In my second season running XTERRA races, I set my sights on being Regional Champion. For two seasons, I was in a pretty competitive age group and missed my goal by 5 and 10 points those years. Finally, I did it in 2016.”

This year, Gibson is an XTERRA Ambassador.

“I’m loving every minute of it,” she said. “I love XTERRA and I love to help people get across those finish lines.”  

Today, Gibson acknowledges that she is in a good place.

“I feel stronger than I’ve ever been – physically and mentally. I know there are things we struggle with and things we push through. But at the same time, you have to like yourself and be happy where you are. And I’m much more happy where I am now and where my family is. We do things together all the time. We go hiking and biking and kayaking.”

This November, Gibson is celebrating her 45th birthday by running a 50k – something she never would have believed a decade ago.

“Back when I started – needing a new knee and carrying 60 extra pounds – I knew that drive was in there and I just had to just go find it,” says Gibson. “And I did. I found it on the trails.”

Gray, Veltri Win XTERRA Castle Rock 20k

Caroline Veltri and reigning XTERRA Trail Run World Champ, Joe Gray won the XTERRA Castle Rock 20k on Sunday, August 6th at Philip S. Miller Park.

The course showcased the newly constructed trails in Phillip S. Miller Park and the single and double track trails that surround Castle Rock, Colorado. The course was designed by Peter Maksimow, also known as “The Prez.” Maksimow is an elite mountain, trail and ultra runner and member of the silver medal-winning US team at the 2015 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.

Caroline Veltri cruised to an easy win in the women’s division, finishing in 1:40:47, about six minutes ahead of runner up Kelly Devlin. Kevyn Stokes was third in 1:50:49. All three women ran the challenging 20k course at sub-nine-minute pace. Veltri ran at 8:08 pace.

Joe Gray expertly navigated the trails, finishing the two-loop course in 1:19:10 and averaging 6:24 pace. Additionally, he ran negative splits, with the second lap about a minute faster than the first. This is typical of Gray’s relaxed, confident style and top-notch endurance.

“XTERRA Castle Rock was great,” said Gray, after the race, “And Arnold sure knows how to put on a superb event. This is what running and racing is all about – community. There’s nothing like getting on the trails for some miles as you challenge yourself and encourage others in the running community to reach their goals as well.

Gray will be heading to Europe to continue his racing season. “Some of my favorite trails are in Switzerland and Norway,” he said. “When I’m back I’m going to shift focus to train for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championships in Oahu. Right now, my training and health are great and I’m looking forward to Europe.”

Also racing last weekend were reigning XTERRA Age Group World Champs Jo May and Doug Beagle. At XTERRA Castle Rock, both Jo and Doug won their age groups, and Jo ran 27 minutes faster in the 20k than she did last year. They are also XTERRA Colorado Series Regional Champions, despite that they live in Texas.

“We are both healthy and having fun racing,” said Beagle. May added that they will both be at the XTERRA Trail Run National and World Championships later this year.

View complete results at www.onlineraceresults.com.

Watch highlights of the race:

XTERRA Cameron Park Caps Off Texas Season

XTERRA Cameron Park Off-Road Triathlon and Duathlon on August 12th, and the Trail Run on August 13th will be the final races of the 2016-2017 Texas Series. The series consists of five triathlons and six trail runs. 

“XTERRA Cameron Park is one of our most physically demanding courses in the Texas series,” said race director Joel Grimmett. “Racers navigate rocks, roots, limestone ledges, tight twisty turns, short power climbs, narrow bridges and fast descents.  Add in the summer heat and this race is challenging to even our toughest athletes.”

According to Bike Magazine, “There is nothing else like this anywhere in the country.”

Grimmett added that he receives a lot of support from The Waco Bike Club and The Waco Striders Running Club who organize our volunteers, help mark and teardown the course, and pre-ride the trails each morning.  

A USAT Certified Race Director and XTERRA Regional Event Director, Grimmett has been an accomplished mountain bike and road racer for over twenty years. He has competed in events such as the Trans Alp Challenge, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the Leadville 100, Trans Andes Challenge, and won the two-man division of the 24-hrs of Adrenaline at the National Championships in 2001.

Prior to working as a race promoter, Grimmett devoted over 20 years to working with at risk youth, and from 2001-2010, he was the executive director of a non-profit therapeutic program for at risk boys ages 13-17.

“For me, the highlight of the season was seeing so many new racers and finally building a solid group of dedicated volunteers,” said Grimmett.  The most notable triathlete of the year was definitely Kyle.  He’s such a gifted athlete and seems to get better and better each year, and he’s a super nice guy!  On the trail running side, I was really impressed by Emma Kosiak.  She’s new to XTERRA this year and is super fast.” 


The XTERRA 2017-2018 Texas Season opens on April 22nd, 2018 with XTERRA ATX Off-Road Triathlon and Trail Run. Next season will also include XTERRA Bluebonnet.

“I was very disappointed to lose the venue for 2017,” said Grimmett,  “But I can’t wait to bring it back in a new location.”

You can register for XTERRA Cameron Park Off-Road Triathlon and Trail Run at www.racerevolutions.com.


Matt Haley’s Favorite Workout

XTERRA Ambassador Matt Haley has been the XTERRA Georgia Regional Champ every year since 2013. 

One of the secrets to his success is fartlek training, or “speedplay.” In a fartlek workout, you alternate your steady-state pace with faster bursts. This is a great way to simulate race conditions and learn how to put in surges when you need them. Additionally, fartlek training reduces the chance of overuse injuries because it alternates high intensity with periods of rest.

Q. Matt, can you share one of your favorite workouts?
A. I typically hit the track once a week for an interval workout. I tend to like longer repeats where I can settle into a groove. Then I finish with something shorter and faster to get in some turnover.

If I had to pick a favorite though, it’d probably pick a fartlek workout. I’ve been doing 30-60-90 workouts since college at Keene State in New Hampshire and that’s always been a staple for me.

I pick a run between 7 and 10 miles and throw in three to five sets of alternating pick ups and rest. I go 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds rest and then 60 seconds hard with 60 seconds rest and then 90 seconds hard with 90 seconds rest.

After I finish five sets, I finish the run up-tempo to increase my lactic acid threshold. 

Countdown to XTERRA Nationals – Meet Runner Kevin Tuck

XTERRA Ambassador Kevin Tuck will be making his 9th trip to the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah this September. Last year, he won his 60-64 age group with a time of 1:37:23. This comes out to a speedy 7:26 per mile on a very challenging course at altitude! Even more impressive was that this was Tuck’s eighth straight age-group title.

We recently caught up with Tuck to learn more about his training, his love of running, and what keeps him coming back to Utah year after year. His humble and sincere responses are further evidence that you will meet the most wonderful people on XTERRA trails.

Q. How has your season been? 
A. It’s been a great year! I am lucky and have the opportunity to run in many desert races in Arizona during the winter season. I got to jump over a rattle snake on the trail, which was a highlight!

I have done about 10 races since January in the 13-18 mile range.Because of my racing during the winter months in Arizona, the summer has turned into my off-season and it’s when I hit the fun runs. 

Q. Can you talk a bit about your training? What kind of mileage do you log?
A. I am a very low mileage trainer, around 30 miles per week depending upon if I have raced recently.  I currently live and work in Sun Valley, Idaho during the summer, so I do what I call adventure runs – I pick a new trail each week and try to see the wild back country. By the time I do one a big run each week I’m all tapped out.

Q. What are your favorite workouts? Do you train by yourself or with a group?
A. I used to train with my best friend in Salt Lake City – Dr. Bob Evers, a six-time XTERRA National age-group champ.  We were very compatible and the old push pull really helps training efforts.  In addition Dr. Bob came up with creative training runs.

Currently I run independently. I think too many runners tend to run someone else’s program, and I believe that running should be more individual and more fun. The most important thing is to listen to our bodies. 

Q. How do you balance career and training?
A. Again, I’ve very lucky. I own a consulting company and my largest client offers me the flexibility to train on my schedule in spectacular locations like Sun Valley, Idaho; Flagstaff, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and even Snowbasin!  

Q. What are your goals for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship
A. My goals are the same every year. I try to run as fast as the year before and avoid any nagging cramps. So far, I’m 0/9. My times keep getting slower and the cramps get worse!

Q. Can you share a favorite memory of XTERRA Nationals from the last decade?
A. Ha! I remember the first year I did XTERRA Nationals – it was still held in Lake Tahoe. I was so busy with work that year, I flew into Reno at around midnight. Early the next morning, I drove to Tahoe only to discover a course covered in snow. And it was raining. We ran through mud, jumped over logs, and dealt with the snow. I had a noon flight to catch out of Reno, and I swore I would never do that race again.

Here I am, over ten years later! XTERRA Trail Run Nationals has come a long way! I love the Utah course. It’s very challenging but I look forward to it every year. It is wonderful how XTERRA treats runners of all ages! That’s what it is all about: participating and having fun.

Gonçalves, dos Santos Win XTERRA Ouro Preto

On July 22nd, XTERRA returned to Ouro Preto after two years and held the third race of the season in Brazil’s historic city. 

The champion of the half marathon (25.8k) on the trails was favorite Antônio Gonçalves who finished in 2:18:16. This is Gonçalves’ sixth win, but the 27-year old was surprised by his performance. 

“I had a stretch in my right thigh two weeks ago, and I did not think I would be able to do my best, so I did not expect to get first,” confessed Gonçalves. “This victory deserves to be celebrated in double.”

In the women’s division, Geisla dos Santos Moraes was the day’s champ, completing the test in 3:07:28. 

Both dos Santos and Goncalves won XTERRA Ilhabela Trail Run in May.

XTERRA Ouro Preto also featured a night run (10k), a kids race, a duathlon, and  a MTB Cup Pro race (46k). XTERRA Brazil Champ, Sabrina Gobbo, won the MTB Cup.

XTERRA Costa Verde, which is presented by SESI, will be held on August 12 and 13, in the region of Costa Verde, in Mangaratiba, Rio de Janeiro.

Learn more and register at www.XTERRAbrasil.com.