Going the Distance – Your First 50K

Finishing a marathon or longer ultra race like the XTERRA Shepaug 80K takes serious endurance. Ultra runs are considered to be any distance beyond the marathon, and typically, held on trails. While gaining much popularity throughout the running community, ultras still remain an enigma to most.

“Do I pin my bib on my shorts? Is that even legal? Those guys look fast. Maybe I should move back. What’s that on his head? A light? Am I the only person holding a flashlight? Do I need a drop bag? That guy has a drop bag. Crew? I need a crew? Aid stations have real food? What about all these gels? Should I carry a water bottle? Hydration pack? What kind of shoes are those? Why is everybody smiling and joking around? Wait… is that toilet paper in a ziplock? Why does he have toilet paper? Toilet paper? Do I need toilet paper?”

However, while much longer than a 10K, training for an XTERRA ultra run isn’t radically different than training for a shorter race. Online training plans are becoming more prevalent and XTERRA trail runs are offered at longer distances in more places. Speed work still plays a major part in training. Maintenance runs and long runs still hold equal value. Strength training and core work remain a solid must. The biggest difference is time. A marathon plan may peak with 50-55 miles and 7-8 hours of running. A 100-mile training cycle may peak with 110 miles and 15-17 hours of running. During marathon training, most will work up to and run a 20 miler a couple of times. Any ultra distance training will cover that distance several times and a runner looking forward to 100 miler will become so comfortable with the distance that they will be thankful to see an “easy 20” on their schedule.

David Murphy, head ultra coach of PRS Fit and XTERRA’s new “Couch to Trail Program” advises athletes to keep it simple. “Find a plan or coach to get you there,” Murphy says. “Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Walk the line smartly between tired and injured. Learn how to eat real food and drink more than you think you should. Buy a headlamp. Carry toilet paper. Collect finisher medal or buckle. Brag on social media.”

Murphy adds that when you have a simple but solid training plan, you can devote your attention to mindset, which is a key element of a successful ultra. “It gets lonely on the trail,” says Murphy. “There can be stretches of solitude that last for miles. Walking becomes part of the race and is no longer something to be embarrassed about. Learning how to walk and, more importantly, when to run again is not easy but is very necessary.”  A small hill that would be easily conquered even in the late stages of a marathon become giant mountains and a welcome opportunity to walk. Effort-based training becomes your best friend as pace based training can lead you astray if relied upon as the sole factor during training runs.

“The key to mindset is knowing that you will finish before you even start,” continues Murphy. “Fear is good. Even necessary. Fear will keep you hungry and fighting. But doubt is the destroyer of dreams and will either kill your day before it starts, or prolong the agony to levels of pain you have never known. Before embarking on an ultra, you need to resolve to go the distance.”

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

David Murphy is the Head Ultra Coach at PRS Fit. His personal accomplishments include:

5 x sub 24 100 mile finishes
MO AG State Record 50 miler
Sub 3 marathon PR
Numerous ultras and marathons
For more information on Ultra Training and Racing

Frozen Fun at XTERRA Brandywine

Despite frigid temperatures which literally froze everything from water cups to beards, the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K and 5K was a true celebration of the great outdoors.

“Between the snow on the course and the cold weather, the race was a genuine adventure run,” said race director, Jefferson Nicholson. “The fact that we had a record turnout says a lot about the future of the sport and the character of our athletes.”

The men’s race was quick over the challenging course, and the excitement at the finish generated serious heat with Evan Daney, Iain Banks, and Taylor Shoulders going one, two, three in 50:15, 50:16, and 50:19. In the women’s race, Amanda Pupillo crossed the line a minute ahead of Lyndsey Fraser and Christine Reiner who both finished in 1:06.

“The times were impressive for the conditions,” said Nicholson. “We are looking forward to warmer race weather, but it’s wonderful to be part of a community that consistently shows up with such a love of nature and willingness to have fun no matter what.”

The XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K and 5K is the first of five trail races in the 2017 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Race Series The runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it.

Photo courtesy of Chris Patterson. You can follow Chris on Instagram @chrispatterson1919

First Annual XTERRA Blackwater 21K and 6.5K Trail Run

On April 2nd, the XTERRA Blackwater Trail Run will have its inaugural start in Milton, Florida, just a day after the popular XTERRA Blackwater Off-Road Triathlon.

“For two years, we’ve had such a great turnout to the XTERRA Blackwater,” said race director Ben Dillon. “’I’m thrilled to add an XTERRA trail race to take advantage of the incredible trails here and provide something special for the runners.”

The 6.5K race consists of well-maintained and clearly-marked single track that weaves around Bear Lake. “The course is flat and fast,” says Dillon, “But it includes enough rocks, bridges, and roots to satisfy adventurous athletes.”

The 21K course includes two loops of the inner hiking trail and the outer loop of the Blackwater bicycle trail.

Having participated in over 30 XTERRA races all over the world, Ben Dillon knows how to put on a great race. He is the founder of Blackwater Multisport, the organization behind both XTERRA events. “I was drawn to XTERRA because I could train for the races the way I used to train when I was an Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Navy.”

U.S. Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmers are one of the top emergency response teams in the world. They routinely complete rescue missions in some of the most extreme environments, including mountain rescues, missions at sea, and humanitarian efforts in remote locations during natural disasters.

“The motto of every Aviation Rescue Swimmer is ‘So Others May Live,” says Dillon. “It’s a privilege to serve at this level, and after I separated from the Navy, I wanted to keep giving back. XTERRA’s “live more” philosophy is aligned to my own beliefs, and I love to see people test their limits and succeed.”

XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Race Moves To October

After careful consideration, the race directors of the XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Race moved the race to October 1, 2017.

“While we are grateful for the much-needed rain that fell in Southern California this winter, it was not conducive to safe trail running. In order to preserve the race experience our runners expect as well as the beautiful Point Mugu trails, we are moving the race to the first Saturday in October, where it will kick off the 2018 XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series,” said race director, Brennan Lindner.

Points scored for the 2017 XTERRA SoCal Series will now be based on the best 5 out of 6 races for the season.

All entries from the XTERRA Point Magu Trail Race scheduled for February 26, 2017 will be automatically transferred to the XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Race on October 1, 2017. If you are unable to attend the XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Race on October 1, you will receive a credit from Generic Events enabling you to enter any of the following:

XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot – November 23, 2017

XTERRA Crystal Cove Trail Run – December 10, 2017

XTERRA Boney Mountain Trail Run –  January 7, 2018

XTERRA Mission Gorge Trail Run – February 4, 2018

XTERRA Black Mountain Trail Run – April 8, 2018

XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run – May 19, 2018

XTERRA Laguna Beach Triathlon & Trail Run – October 7, 2018

Turkey Trot Los Angeles – November 23, 2017

Carrera de los Muertos Los Angeles – October 28, 2017

Carrera de los Muertos San Diego – October 29, 2017

Pasadena Triathlon & 5k – March 10, 2018

Learn more about the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run SeriesYou may transfer your registration at myevents.active.com.

Photo courtesy of XTERRA Ambassador Freddy Luis and Chris Rea.

Test Your Endurance at the XTERRA Shepaug Run Raiser Trail Run

The XTERRA Trail Run Series will kickoff for the Northeast Region on March 25th at the XTERRA Shepaug Run Raiser Trail Run in Bridgewater, Connecticut. The carnival of races includes a 10K, 25K, 50K and 80K (50 miler). Proceeds from the race will benefit the Shepaug Baseball and Softball program.

“We are so excited to kick off the season and celebrate spring with lots of mud sloshing on the trails. Maybe even ice,” said race director, Denise Mast. “It’s March, after all.”

The course winds through Bridgewater and Roxbury’s backcountry over some of the most beautiful land in Connecticut. Over roads, railroad beds, and trails, runners gain 2000 feet of elevation on the 25K course, which is the full loop. 10K runners climb less than 1000 feet, and 50K runners do the 25K course twice. 80K runners complete the 25K course three times.

The well-marked race starts on grass and gravel, heads onto a paved walking path, and then turns into the woods for an out and back run. The 25K extends the 10K course out to the tranquil trails of the Roxbury Land Trust and around the Roxbury Pond for a different path back to the finish.

The Shepaug Trail Run is the first of four races in the XTERRA Northeast Trail Run Series.

Learn more and register for the 10K, or test your endurance and try a longer distance.

The Runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it. .



Expect Flat and Fast at XTERRA Trout Creek

On Sunday, March 26,2017, the XTERRA Trout Creek 15K and 5K Trail Runs will celebrate their 110th year. The race has a unique start in that the 15K and 5K racers start simultaneously but head out on different loops. The 15K runners take the 10K loop before the 5K section, while the 5K runners hit their course first.

The trails wind through pines, oak hammocks, and lakes on challenging single and double track. Competitors also enjoy a cross-country section of the course on an elevated berm for some fast fun.

“Trout Creek has the best running trails in the Tampa area,” said race director, Jim Hartnett. “There’s so much history and celebration to this race.” The race will be held rain or shine and followed by a post-race party under the oak canopy.

Last year, Steve Reeves, won the 15k with a time of 1:03 at a steady 6:46 pace. Erin Hearn of Orlando took the women’s race with a time of 1:19.

Learn more and register for the race.

The XTERRA Trout Creek Trail Run is the second of three races in the Florida Trail Run Series. The Runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it.

Melanie Koehl Runs with Soul

XTERRA Ambassador Melanie Decker Koehl started running when she was twenty. “I only ran on a treadmill back then,” she says. “What was I thinking?”

Almost three decades later, Melanie is about as far from a treadmill as she can get. These days, when the founder of Soul Runners Hawaii isn’t running off road, she is encouraging other runners up Oahu’s lush trails, or organizing a trail race. In her down time, she manages her own design firm and is the mom of three active kids, including a set of twins, which is an endurance event on its own.

Originally from the east coast, Melanie came to Oahu 18 years ago. “As soon as I returned home from Hawaii, I was planning my next trip back,” she says. “Now I never have to leave. And the trail running community here is wonderful.”

One of the reasons it is so wonderful is because Melanie plays an instrumental role in organizing runs as well as encouraging those who might be otherwise intimidated to veer off the roads. She created Soul Runners Hawaii and its Facebook page as a central hub to post long trail runs and enable local trail runners to connect. Today it has almost 1000 members. “You can find a race or see if anyone will join you for a run. You can even sell your shoes there if you want.” She says with a laugh that punctuates many of her sentences. Her regular Friday morning runs up and down Mount Tantalus (five miles each way) welcome a wide range of runners and paces.

“We usually run between eight to ten miles so people pair off,” says Melanie, “But we never leave anyone behind, and we often stop to wait for people new to trail running. I just want people to love it as much as I do. So many road runners develop a new love for the sport when they head into the woods.”

Melanie became hooked by off-road running after completing her first marathon in Bermuda in the late 1990’s. Now, a marathon is a relatively short race for her. She regularly competes in 50Ks and is preparing for a 40 miler this summer around Mt. St. Helens. And she almost never misses the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Kualoa Ranch. “My favorite is technical single track,” says Melanie. “And uphill. The XTERRA World Championship has it all: amazing views, super challenging trails, and steep climbs. I never pass up a chance to do that race.”

Ironically, Melanie attributes some of her ability to stay strong and healthy to the bike. “I really, really enjoy cycling,” Melanie says. “It fits what I like to do and challenges me in new ways.” She hopped on a bike after she fractured her femur during a trail race in 2015. “I couldn’t run for three months and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?” Melanie says. “But I started cycling as well as swimming after Bikram Yoga and I got so strong. After three months, I jumped back on the trails and it was like I never missed a beat. I think the bike makes me even better on the hills.”

These days, Melanie balances an intense workout schedule, heavy on the cross-training. “Usually I do an eight-miler on Monday and schedule 12 to 16 on Wednesday and 10 on Friday. “ In addition, she bikes 80 miles a week and takes a day for hot yoga and swimming.

She also is a co-race director for Mango Madness, which usually happens in June. “The fun part is, it’s an undisclosed course,” says Melanie, with a wicked grin. “It’s a ten to twelve mile run but I am the only one who knows where the race is going. Even the race marshals don’t know more than their section.”

The problem – or maybe the beauty – is that Melanie’s race only goes uphill. Some years, athletes have had to do hill repeats in the middle of the race. “It’s become a really big thing,” says Melanie. “And a super hard thing. That’s why I give out good prizes.”

Expect Mud, Sweat, and Mayhem at XTERRA Brandywine

On March 12th, stalwart winter runners will kick off the start of the 2017 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Race Series at the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K and 5K in Wilmington, Delaware. 2017 marks the race’s fifth year, and like every year, some of the best runners in the area are expected to tackle this challenging course.

“There’s well-maintained single-track with enough technical sections and rocky downhill to keep you on your toes,” said race director, Jefferson Nicholson. “When you get to the last two and a half miles, you come out onto wide, rolling fields. If you have speed and gas left in the tank, this is where you can really open it up.”

Brandywine Creek State Park was originally the historical DuPont dairy farm. Some of the old farmland is unchanged, giving runners fields, forests, and even a creek to cross.  Best of Delaware recently named the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run one of the ten best races in the state, adding, “Expect mayhem – hills, mud, and river crossing, not to mention awards if you can roll through the rocks and make it out in the top three.”

Last year, Richard Bounds was the 2016 XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K champion, also winning the 35-39 age group in 48:11. Laura Lundardi was the first female (10th place overall) and won her 40-44 age group as well.

Register and learn more about the XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K and 5K.

The XTERRA Brandywine Creek Trail Run 12K and 5K is the first of five trail races in the 2017 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Race Series. View 2016 XTERRA Atlantic Trail Race Series results.

The Runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it. The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will be held September 17, 2017 at Snowbasin Resort up the hill from Ogden, Utah.

XTERRA Champions and New Racers Impress at Pedernales Trail Run

The XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series kicked off the spring season with the 2nd annual XTERRA Pedernales 10K and 25K Trail Run at Pedernales Falls State Park. Andy Lee won the men’s race with an impressive time of 1:51:51. A firefighter near Austin, Andy has numerous XTERRA National Trail Run Championships under his belt and several top finishes at XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon National Championships.

A true endurance athlete, Andy has competed in several back-to-back races less than 24 hours apart. In 2012 and 2013, Andy won the XTERRA EPIC Rustman Off-Road Triathlon and came back the next day to double up on victory in the XTERRA Gator Terra.

Thirteen-time, XTERRA Regional Off-Road Triathlon champion, Kyle Grieser, took second place overall, finishing with a time of 1:58:04. Rounding out the top three was Roeland Kemp of the Netherlands who finished in 1:59:07.

“It was great to have distance legends on the course today, but I was also surprised by talented newcomer Emma Kosciak.” said race director Joel Grimmett. “I can always count on Kyle and Andy to set the bar high, and Emma certainly matched their efforts by finishing twenty minutes ahead of second place.”

First-time XTERRA participant, Emma Kosciak, won the women’s title and placed fourth overall with a remarkable time of 1:59:26. Emma beat out second place finisher Lelis Gonzalez by more than twenty minutes. Lelis finished in a solid 2:20:51 on this rocky course. Third place finisher, Laura Gilmourk, crossed the line in 2:26:07.

Pedernales Falls State Park is considered to be the jewel in the Texas state park system. The trail run is highlighted by a steep canyon trail leading to the rocky shore of the Pedernales River. Runners navigate a technical trail through large rock outcroppings and deep crevices while making their way to the main attraction, Pedernales Falls.

The XTERRA Pedernales 10K and 25K Trail Run is the second of nine trail races in the XTERRA Texas Trail Race Series. Next up in the series are the ATX Trail Run on April 23,2017 and the Rock Dallas Trail Run on May 27, 2017. The Rock Dallas Trail Run is a night run, kicking off at 8:00 pm.

You can view the athlete standings in the XTERRA Texas Trail Race Series here for the 2016/2017 season.


Male and Male Master– Andy Lee – Lakeway, TX – 1:51:51

Female – Emma Kosciak – Houston, TX – 1:59:26

Female Master – Trisha Stavinoha – San Antonio – 2:26:07


Male – Pete Wise – Friendswood, TX – 44:05

Male Master – Jason Black – Austin, TX – 44:43

Female – Kelsey Landrum – Waco, TX – 48:19

Female Master – Rebecca Mires – San Antonio, TX – 54:42

Complete results can be found here.

Runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it. The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will be held September 17, 2017 at Snowbasin Resort up the hill from Ogden, Utah.