Top 10 XTERRA Tales of 2014 – Numbers 8 and 7

Tune in each day as we countdown to our top 10 stories of 2014. Here’s a look at numbers seven and eight.


OUTBACK. The inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship at Jervis Bay in New South Wales was one for the ages. To go off-road in a place famous for its outback and where all the triathlon legends are from was a surreal experience; akin to the pilgrimage surfers must make to see Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. Kangaroos and laughing Cookaburras abound, complemented by a worthy elite field and eager amateurs. It was the start of something big down under.  April 18, 2015



ESPY. XTERRA Hall-of-Famer, World Champ, Cancer Survivor, Para-cycling Rock-Star, and Mom-of-the-Century Jamie Whitmore won the ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability this summer. Whitmore is still the winningest female elite of all-time having collected 37 majors in a dozen different countries including the World Championship in 2004 before being diagnosed with cancer in 2008.  After several surgeries, including one to remove her entire left gluteus muscle she was told she’d likely never ride or run again.  It was just the kind of challenge Whitmore thrives on and she was back crushing the competition in all kinds of races shortly thereafter.  And she still is…

XTERRA Top 10 of 2014 – Numbers 10-9


Top 10 XTERRA Tales of 2014 – Numbers 10 and 9

Over the next 5 days we’ll be bringing you a countdown of the Top 10 XTERRA Stories of 2014. Tune in each day as we get closer to No. 1.  Any guess on what or who it may be?


RVA. The longest-running venue outside of the XTERRA World Championship in Maui is in Richmond, Virginia (16+ years). It is also home to the most raucous collection of XTERRA spectators on the planet. While the Philippines races hold the record for most on-course spectators with thousands lining the streets, Forest Hill Park is home to Foghorn Leghorn Productions and Co.  Aliens and Wrestlers, Jokers and Thieves, Grillmasters and Monkeys, it’s Mickey Mouse at Mardi Gras and the experience should make every XTERRA racers bucket-list.  June 6, 2015.

RVA in Images



LOTA. Lota Ward is one cool kid. He fell in love with trail running this year and when his Mom told him about other runners who ran “for a cause” he knew he wanted to do the same.  At just 8-years-old, Lota started a campaign to raise money and awareness for two little boys in his neighborhood that have Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  He ran for this purpose, raised thousands for the boys, and won the 10-and-under XTERRA National Championship half-marathon title along the way.  Then in October he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor known as Teratoma, and has so far undergone two brain surgeries.  The family reports the stitches are healing nicely and Lota is doing great.  He has an MRI scheduled for February 24th, and our prayers are with him and the Ward ohana.

Read more about Lota, “Our little fighting warrior


Smyth, Mattox win Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship

Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii (December 7, 2014) – Star power prevailed at Kualoa Ranch as Patrick Smyth defended his title and Kimber Mattox won her first at the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running World Championship today.

Smyth, who resides in Salt Lake City, Utah and runs for the Nike trail team, was the overall winner, completing the 21-kilometer championship course in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 39 seconds. Although challenged early by Brett Hales, the current XTERRA U.S. Trail Run Champion, Smyth was out-of-sight by the halfway point and crossed the line more than three-minutes ahead of Hales.

Mattox, who is from Bend, Oregon and was an All-American steeplechaser at the University of Oregon, was the first female and placed sixth overall with a time of 1:32:34. She caught Allie McLaughlin at about the six-mile mark and despite taking a nasty tumble on one of the tricky downhills, still managed to finish almost three minutes ahead of McLaughlin.

More than 1,500 runners from 20 countries and 40 states participated in the event on an “Aloha from Hawaii” postcard-type of day at Kualoa Ranch.



Just like last year, it seemed like Patrick Smyth was shot out of the cannon that started the race.  His fast start didn’t catch anyone by surprise, and although Brett Hales did his best to match him stride-for-stride, Smyth pulled away and had time to enjoy the views before it was all over.

“I’ve raced a lot with Patrick this year and there’s one thing you know for sure, that first mile is going to be fast,” said Nike trail teammate David Roche, who finished third on the day a full 10-minutes behind Smyth.  “So, I was ready for that mentally, but still, he’s probably the best runner in the world right now when it comes to running fast over trails so to me, it’s an honor to race with him and I kind of expected him to do that today.”

Hales, who has run against Smyth a bunch since their high school days in Utah, knew the race would start fast but wasn’t sure what to expect out of the rest of the course. As a first-timer to Kualoa Ranch, and with pre-running not allowed on the private land, it was read and react for Hales.

“I was expecting the fast start, but then I found myself in uncharted territory.  I wanted to go with him but I didn’t know what lied ahead,” said Hales, who finished in 1:19:47, three minutes back in second place.  “Patrick had the experience from last year, and I was debating on whether to run with him or settle into my own pace.  When we hit the flats he would take off and accelerate.  Ultimately, about two miles in I settled in to see where it would take me.  I came out here to have fun with my wife and get a great experience and I did both of those things today, that’s really what today was all about for me.”

For Smyth, who has been riding a high since winning XTERRA Nationals and Worlds last year with wins at the U.S. Trail Half-Marathon Championships and a top 10 (top American) showing at the World Mountain Running Championships, the competition provided all the motivation he needed.

“It was an adventure for sure,” said Smyth.  “It was fun, it had a lot of elements – tough, difficult, crazy, and I had Brett chasing me the whole time. He was on my heels for probably five miles.  I didn’t break away until we were on the other side of the mountain.  It was tougher than last year so I was real surprised I ran close to the same time (Note; he ran exactly one-second slower than last year).  Coming over the ridge and descending it was a lot more slippery this year.  Last year I was able to mob down that hill, but this year I actually have rope burns from holding on to the rope for dear life.  I was just trying to stay on my feet, and even as we got out of there it was a little dicey.  There’s no way I would’ve run close to as fast as I did this year without someone chasing me like Brett was today.  That improved my performance for sure, having him on my heels.”

Hawaii Pacific University cross country runner Fermin Villagran from Mesa, Arizona finished fourth, and Maui’s-own Reid Hunter was the top Hawaii guy and placed 5th overall.

While Smyth was well aware of the beauty of the ranch, both Hales and Roche were taken aback by the scenery on hand.

“I’ve never been to Hawaii before and can tell you this course is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” said Roche, the US 10K Trail National Champ.  “It makes it easy to push yourself when you’re on trails like that and have views like this.  It’s the best venue in the world for sure.”

“You see videos of this and it doesn’t do justice to what you actually experience,” added Hales.  “You’re dodging things, ducking under branches, jumping over roots and running off the mountain half the time because that’s just where you end up so you’re bushwhacking it.  It was intense.  Absolute blast.”

“Kualoa Ranch is incredible, I actually got to take it in this time on the single track into the finish looking out over the ocean,” said Smyth.  “There are not many views like this in the world.  It was more enjoyable this year because I got to take it in a little better.”

Outside of the beauty of the course, everybody was talking about a) that climb and b) that crazy, slippery, jungle downhill after the course peaks out at “Pualoa Pass” and the 750-foot mark.

“Mile 9 to 10, it pitched straight up! It was like climbing a ladder to get up that mountain,” explained Hales.  “Then that downhill, I was debating whether to stay on me feet or jump on my butt and slide down.  I probably would’ve gone faster if I turned it into a slip-n-slide.”

“It was so hard, but in an amazing way,” said Roche.  “Neither my wife or I had ever been to a medical tent after a race and we both went in today.  It was very romantic.”

“We went to the hurt locker out there,” added Megan Roche.  “We’re not quite used to the heat and we were really pushing it, pushing the uphills and hammering the downhills and that combination was…”


Place Name Time Hometown Prize
1 Patrick Smyth 1:16:39 Salt Lake City, Utah $2,000
2 Brett Hales 1:19:47 Layton, Utah $1,000
3 David Roche 1:26:51 Sunnyvale, California $750
4 Fermin Villagran 1:29:26 Honolulu, Hawaii $500
5 Reid Hunter 1:32:34 Lahaina, Hawaii $300
6 Leandro Santillan 1:36:06 Honolulu, Hawaii $250
7 Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetaki 1:37:12 Curridabat, Costa Rica $200



Kimber Mattox, a track star in college, started to branch out into other formats of running recently and has had great success.  She was second at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals at Utah in her first-ever trail race this September, won the Warrior Dash World Championship in October, and added another world title to her resume today.

“It’s been a good, lucky year,” said Mattox.  “I’ve got a great team, a great coach, and started to explore some other things and it’s been really fun.  To try different races and meet the communities.  It’s such a fun group of people, and great to be on the start line with such a unique and diverse group of people with so many inspiring stories. I think that’s something so cool about the trail running community.”

With Mattox easy demeanor and ferocious running style she is certain to find that the trail running community feels the same way about her.  Today she trailed Allie McLaughlin and Megan Roche – the “Women’s Mountain Runner of the Year” and the “Women’s Sub-Ultra Trail Runner of the Year”, respectively, early-on but didn’t give up or give in.  First she caught Roche and by mile six it was McLaughlin and that was it.

“It was exciting, quite the experience,” said Mattox.  “I’ve only done one other trail race which was XTERRA Nationals and this one was a lot more technical than I’ve ever experienced.  On that muddy downhill I spent more time on my butt than I did on my feet but it was so fun and the views are just incredible.  When I got to the top of some of those climbs and looked out I thought ‘how lucky am I.”  No matter how much this hurts you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It was really fun.  Tough, but you’d get these little treats along the way to keep you moving.”

“Tough” is exactly how McLaughlin – considered one of the best mountain runners in the world – described today’s race.

“It was a beautiful course but it was a tough day for me,” said McLaughlin.  “The first half was awesome. I felt really good. Think we were averaging like 6:25/6:30’s and then … about six miles in (Mattox) caught me on one of the hills and it was in the sun … and I don’t want to say that’s when I hit the wall, but that’s certainly when it got tougher.  I hung on for a while and then let her go and she got out of sight.”

Megan Roche had nothing but praise for Mattox and McLaughlin, saying “They are excellent runners, and this is a true runner’s course, which is awesome.  The trails were really fast out there today.”

Much like the rest of the field, Roche was impressed with the landscape.  “It was beautiful,” she said.  “At one point we came up over a dirt road and it was overlooking the ocean and I got chills for a second just looking out, it was awesome.”

Melissa Newberry from Eugene, OR and Caitlin Smith from Oakland, CA rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth, respectively.


Place Name Time Hometown Prize
1 Kimber Mattox 1:32:44 Eugene, Oregon $2,000
2 Allie McLaughlin 1:35:32 Colorado Springs, Colorado $1,000
3 Megan Roche 1:39:06 Sunnyvale, California $750
4 Melissa Newbery 1:42:49 Eugene, Oregon $500
5 Caitlin Smith 1:46:30 Oakland, California $300
6 Vanja Cnops 1:49:01 Erps-Kwerps, Belgium $250
7 Lauren Ho 1:50:45 Kailua, Hawaii $200



The 2014 class of XTERRA Trail Run World Champions feature 25 men and women from around the world and across the U.S.

Standing out among them are Hawaii’s own Jakob Dewald (pictured), who won his third 15-19 division world title, Canadian Melanie McQuaid – the 3x triathlon World Champ from Canada who won her third trail run world title today, along with Wilhelm Northrop from Boise (45-49), Mike Heiliger from Canada (60-64), Lisa Gonzales-Gile from Colorado, and former Miss Hawaii Candes Gentry (35-39) who each won their second World Championship today.

One of the more remarkable performances came from 11-year-old Kasuga Watabe from Japan who not only won the 10-14 division in 1:51:52, she finished eighth overall among all women.

Also of note, Hawaii Sport Magazine founder/editor Christian Friis captured his first XTERRA Trail Run World Championship (after seven years of trying) in the 40-44 division.  There was even a wedding proposal on the trails today (and the answer was unanimously yes).

Above all, Kualoa Ranch was once again the star of the show, provided trails and views that are one-of-a-kind.

“Having raced extensively in the U.S. and abroad, this event ranks up there as one of those on the “must-do” list,” said Nancy Hobbs, the Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association, who placed 2nd to her buddy Anita Ortiz in the 50-54 division today.  “The course has it all…challenge, terrain changes, incredible scenery, gnarly single track, stream crossings, as well as tree roots and rocks to navigate. The course is truly a “trail” course with so much variety and challenge. It really was one of the tougher trail races I have done when combining the heat, humidity, terrain changes, slippery rock and mud, etc.”



Division Name Hometown Time
10-14 Kala’iku Kaneshiro Pearl City, Hawaii 2:32:17
15-19 (3) Jakob Dewald Mililani, Hawaii 1:38:42
20-24 Fermin Villagran Honolulu, Hawaii 1:29:26
25-29 (2) Patrick Smyth* Salt Lake City, Utah 1:16:39
30-34 Erick Agüero San Jose, Costa Rica 1:41:29
35-39 Mark Torres Lakewood, Colorado 1:37:56
40-44 Christian Friis Kailua, Hawaii 1:43:13
45-49 (2) Wilhelm Northrop Boise, Idaho 1:43:39
50-54 Ray Brust Honolulu, Hawaii 1:45:54
55-59 Patrick Wallace Danville, California 1:48:32
60-64 (2) Mike Heiliger Squamish, Canada 2:10:07
65-69 Keith Campbell Honolulu, Hawaii 2:13:06
70-74 Ellis Andrews Penticton, Canada 2:17:25



Division Name Hometown Time
10-14 Kasuga Watabe Japan 1:51:52
15-19 Bailey Haugan Fort St. John, Canada 2:13:47
20-24 Allie McLaughlin Colorado Springs, Colorado 1:35:32
25-29 Kimber Mattox* Eugene, Oregon 1:32:44
30-34 Caitlin Smith Oakland, California 1:46:30
35-39 (2) Candes Gentry Honolulu, Hawaii 1:55:09
40-44 (3) Melanie McQuaid Victoria, Canada 1:53:24
45-49 Julie Robb North Vancouver, Canada 2:02:49
50-54 Anita Ortiz Eagle, Colorado 1:56:39
55-59 (2) Lisa Gonzales-Gile Vail, Colorado 2:20:26
60-64 Sandra Vincent Knoxville, Tennessee 3:25:07
65-69 Emiko Kashiwagi Japan 3:19:01



In addition to the 21K championship course, there were also 10K and 5K races staged at Kualoa Ranch on Sunday.

Jorge Mendez from Honolulu won the 10K race for the second year in a row, finishing in 35:35.  Jordyn Smith from Eugene, OR was the top female in 42:42.

Kevin Enriques from Honolulu placed first in the 5K for the second year in a row with a time of 21:26, while Diana Eaton from Honolulu was the top female in 27:22.



The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is presented by Outrigger Hotels and Resorts and PowerBar. Sponsors include the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kualoa Ranch, Gatorade, Trail Runner Magazine, LifeProof, Hawaii Sport Magazine, Muscle Milk, XTERRA Fitness, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, Champion System, XTERRA Coffee, and Greenlayer.



TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at www.xterraplanet.com andwww.xterratrailrun.com.


Melanie McQuaid

Canadian Duo Add Intrigue to XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Women’s Race

A pair of elite Canadian runners from British Columbia – Marilyn Arsenault and Melanie McQuaid – are headed to Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian island of Oahu to take on American standouts Allie McLaughlin and Megan Roche at Sunday’s XTERRA Trail Running World Championship half-marathon.

McQuaid is no stranger to XTERRA or Kualoa Ranch. As a professional triathlete she won XTERRA’s triathlon world championship three-times; and well before XTERRA started hosting runs at Kualoa Ranch McQuaid was ripping up the trails on her mountain bike at the Hawaiian Mountain Tour in the valley.

This will be McQuaid’s third attempt at the half-marathon. She was 10th in her first try in 2009, and was fifth two years later in 2011. After her first run at the ranch she posted an insightful top 10 list about the race in her blog post titled “XTERRA Run World Champs 2009 – Where the Dinosaurs Roam” …

“When you decide to challenge yourself with the hardest half marathon ever, I will give you an idea of what to expect,” posted McQuaid…

  1. The longest 21km, ever.
  2. Possibly the slowest 21km you will run, ever.
  3. The longest switchbacking climbs in a run, ever.
  4. The most long, switchbacking climbs in a row, ever.
  5. Seriously incredible ocean views from the top of said climbs.
  6. Steep freefalling descents in jungle surroundings.
  7. Foot thick, incredibly slippery mud in spots.
  8. The most heat and humidity you will ever experience in December (unless you are from Hawaii).
  9. The coolest venue:  set for movies like Jurassic Park and the tv show Lost.
  10. Some really fast people and some super chillaxed people but overall a super fun, relaxed vibe that XTERRA is known for.

Aresnault, who has won championship titles on all surfaces, might just feel right at home in the hills of Hawaii and to put her speed in perspective, consider that she has run faster than 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Champion Lucy Smith this season.

“Marilyn is in great form and finished a minute ahead of me at Nationals last weekend and head to head, has been faster than me this year,” said Smith, who just pulled from Sunday’s race due to a bad cold. “She is a solid competitor and massively talented, but hasn’t run the worlds course. I am not sure of the pedigree of the two young mountain runners, but I think Marilyn’s stamina and maturity will serve her well at Worlds.”

Those two young mountain runners – McLaughlin and Roche – have been making quite a name for themselves this season and will be honored as the “Women’s Mountain Runner of the Year” and the “Women’s Sub-Ultra Trail Runner of the Year”, respectively, at the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council Awards banquet tomorrow.

Not to be overlooked is Kimber Mattox from Bend, Oregon who was 2nd at XTERRA Nationals in Utah this September, recently won the Warrior Dash World Championship, and won five All-America medals in her college career that included a ninth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while running for the University of Oregon Ducks in 2012.

“After enjoying the XTERRA race in Utah, I was excited to try another,” said Mattox. “I’ve heard great things about the trails in Hawaii, so thought this was a perfect opportunity to see them for myself.”

Other contenders include XTERRA pro triathlete Kim Baugh, and Hawaii’s-own Lauren Ho, who was seventh overall at last year’s race. One women’s runner of particular interest is actually still just a girl, 11-year-old Kasuga Watabe from Japan. Watabe has posted remarkable results this season, winning the women’s title at eight trail races at distances ranging from 15-to-32 kilometers.

Of course with registration for the race open until the day before, there’s just no telling who might join this super-fast field for Sunday’s main event.

Brett Hales

Utah Runners Lead the Way in Men’s Race

Patrick Smyth from Salt Lake City, Utah enters Sunday’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship half-marathon in Hawaii as a clear-cut favorite to defend his world title. Interestingly enough, his toughest competitor is likely to be a very familiar foe from Layton, Utah in the form of Brett Hales.

Hales won the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in September in dominating fashion, and it was his first-ever trail run. Last year, the same scenario applied to Smyth when he won Nationals in his first off-road race.

“It was phenomenal, I loved it. I had no idea what to expect having never done a trail race. It was amazing. A little wind, little rain, critters running everywhere, and there were so many people in the race but I felt like I was the only one out there. That was so addicting,” said Hales, 28, after Nationals.

Smyth can relate. Since focusing his running efforts on trail races last year Smyth quickly made a name for himself as one of the best trail runners in the U.S.

This year Smyth won the U.S. Trail Half-Marathon Championships in Bellingham, Washington and was the top American (10th overall) at the World Mountain Running Championships held in Italy in September.

Although Smyth and Hales are fairly new to the trail run scene, they know each other well having run against each other in high school more than a decade ago.

And just this July Smyth won the 10K race on the same day Hales won the half-marathon at the Deseret News classic.

Winning, however, is nothing new for either of them. Hales, a former track and cross country stand-out at Weber State University, had won the Big Cottonwood half-marathon in Salt Lake City just a week prior to XTERRA Nationals.

Smyth, who was a 7-time All-American across cross-country, indoor and outdoor track at Notre Dame, said XTERRA Trail Run Worlds “is the culmination of my 2014 season. I’ve been gearing all my recent training towards this race. The course at Kualoa Ranch is amongst the most memorable, beautiful I’ve ever run on, and that played a big role in my decision to come back, but more than anything I want to repeat as World Champ!”

Other men gunning to steal the title from Smyth include his U.S. Mountain Running teammate David Roche, who won his second US 10k trail national championship in two years at Lauren, NC with a time of 42:42 this year. Roche also won the XTERRA Earth Conservancy half-marathon in Mocanaqua, PA back in June.

“We are so excited to race Worlds to experience the beauty of the course firsthand,” said David Roche, who will be honored alongside his wife Megan as the “Men’s and Women’s Sub-Ultra Trail Runners of the Year” at the USATF annual meeting on Thursday. “We have heard incredible things about the trails, the views, and the area. Plus, XTERRA always puts on fun events, mixing a low-key vibe with stellar competition and challenging courses. Basically, Worlds represents just about everything that makes trail running awesome!”

Also of note is Olympian Roberto Mandje, who captured the XTERRA Beaver Creek half-marathon over the summer and was 5th at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds last year.

Learn more at www.xterrakualoa.com

Fit Kids - Photo: Kelli Bullock

Fit Kids Coming to Kualoa

Photo by Kelli Bullock

Taylor Tamashiro, a special education teacher at Manana Elementary School in Pearl City, is one of the leaders and coaches of the school’s Manana Fit Club.

In addition to promoting the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle – the club also encourages participation in a community events – and this they decided to focus on the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“It appeals to us because it is something different being a trail run and with the two events of the 5k and 1.5 mile walk, our students are free to participate in that event that they (we) feels best suits them,” said Tamashiro. “Most importantly, they’re outdoor being active. Plus, I’m from the windward side and I love that area, a lot of our kids don’t get to that side of the island so it’s a new experience for them as well.”

Kids have been a big part of the XTERRA Trail experience through the years, and there is even free runs for the smaller kids and an obstacle/adventure area for them to play at.

“We see so many kids these days glued to their tablets and TV that it really is great to see groups and clubs like this that push them to be active and outdoors,” said Dave Nicholas, XTERRA’s managing director. “It’s a step in the right direction, for sure, and we’re proud of Taylor and the kids at Manana for getting involved.”

The Manana Fit Club – comprised of 3rd and 4th grade students – started a training program (twice a week) in mid-September that involves a combination of cardio, full body workouts, and team sports.

“Our students are stoked to be a part of this,” said Tamashiro. “Since we announced this, we coaches get asked every day about practice as well as “when is our run/walk?”  The students that we have running the 5k are excited to get out there and run!”

After the race, Tamashiro talked about the fit kids day at Kualoa Ranch…

“This was a great experience for our kids and the staff, both runners and walkers.  We really enjoyed the event.  The other participants were awesome to us!  From the beginning of the race to the very end, our students received encouraging words and support from other participants and the XTERRA staff as well! They were stoked that so many adults were cheering them on.  Our students who participated in the run did well in their age division!  We had 2 of our boys tied for 3rd and our girls took the top 4 spots in the 0-9 divisions.  Our other run participants finished the race admirably as well, the first “long” run for most of them.  The finish at the chute was an exciting part for most students as this was their first times doing something like that. We look forward to participating in this event again!”

Sergio Florian

Florian Flourishing at XTERRA

Hawaii’s fastest XTERRA man this year is Sergio Florian.

He won the XTERRA Freedom Fest off-road triathlon (Hawaii’s qualifier) and was the top Hawaii guy at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, placing 13th in the highly competitive 35-39 division. Florian also won the Lanikai, North Shore, and Firecracker road triathlons this year.

Florian, 35, was born in Argentina, moved to Southern California at the age of 12 and has been living in Kaaawa since 2007. He got his doctorate in physical therapy from Loma Linda University and is the owner/ operator of Wellness Physical Therapy, a private pay, mobile PT service specializing in spinal cord and brain injuries.

He’s been racing XTERRA for four years now, and does it “because I love pushing myself, being out on the trails and enjoying nature.”

Sergio first learned about XTERRA through a friend who convinced him to do the XTERRA MountainMan Triathlon, and fell in love with the sport after that.

He says his favorite XTERRA race is Freedom Fest because “the event organizers are super cool and they really put their heart and soul into the event. Also, it’s held right in my backyard, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

This year, for the first time, Florian worked with a coach and was able to take his training and racing to a new level.

“I mostly train solo, except for swimming, as I have a great group of swimmers that push me (Michelle Simmons and Team BSC). Also, The Bike Shop Hawaii has taken me in as part of their family and really helped me out a lot,” said Florian.

He says his role model is Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz from South Africa.

“I started researching a little about how he lives and trains, and I was blown away. What impressed me is how disciplined he is and how smart he is about his training. He’s older now, but still doing well because he trains smart and lives a healthy lifestyle.

Florian also lives a healthy lifestyle, and moreover, helps others to do the same as part of his physical therapy business.

“My main motto—and I share this with my clients looking to reach their personal goals—is to never let anyone dictate what your limits are,” said Florian. “Never give up, and always set high goals for yourself. I have clients who have been told that they will never be able to do what they love again. I love to help them prove everybody wrong. And the same goes for my training and racing. Never give up, even when your own mind is telling you no.”

Despite being an XTERRA athlete and loving to swim, bike and run, when the waves are good Sergio’s favorite thing to do is surf, and “I’m fortunate enough to have warm water and waves year round,” he said.

Despite his busy schedule Sergio says his family is the foundation of his life.

“I couldn’t do any of these activities that I enjoy without the love and support of my family. I have a 2-year-old son, and spending time with him is a priority. Spending time with my family is the most important thing in my life. My wife and mother-in-law are both very supportive of my racing and have played a huge role in my success,” he said.

Florian’s positive outlook and great conditioning also put him in the right place at the right time for one family this summer. Here he tells the story on how he helped a Mom and her boy survive a rough outing in the ocean

“So I won a triathlon today…,” started Florian’s post on Facebook on April 13… “But what happened after is the only thing on my mind. And I think it will stay with me forever. After the race a group of us decided to swim to the mokes. We made it out there and had a blast. As we’re about to head back, myself and another swimmer spot a kayak flipped over and in distress just off the island. We swim out and attempt to help. We tried to get them back on the kayaks but the wind and the surf kept flipping us over. As we drifted in to the impact zone we got separated and our kayak was smashed by a 10 foot wave. So here I am holding a 7 year old boy in my arms as we take wave after wave on the head. Panic is setting in at this point. I thought of my son at that moment. I held that boy close and wasn’t going to let go. After getting pounded and hitting the reef a bunch of times we got to the deeper area with no waves. I spot the boys mom and got to her in time. She couldn’t swim anymore. I then breast stroked with them on my back to shore. Took a while but luckily everyone was saved. The other swimmer in our group helped the other kayak get to shore with two other people. The fire department rescued two other people who managed to make it to the island. Crazy day!!”

As further insight into the character of Florian, this week he opened his home to a couple of elite runners from California taking part in this Sunday’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

“My coach said they were looking for a place and got us in touch. I have an empty guest room available so I offered it to them. I don’t mind helping out other athletes. They sound like cool people. And I’m literally 2 miles from the ranch.”

Florian will also run at the ranch on Sunday, and is looking to make it a 3-for-3 as the fastest XTERRA guy in Hawaii. He’s already established himself as one of the coolest.

Amy Bennett Eck

Runners of Interest at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship

Elizabeth Braun, 33, West Islip, New York

In early 2011, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). PFO is a small opening in the wall of the heart that separates the two upper chambers or atria. Elizabeth had a procedure to close it in May, 2011, and as a result is now able to compete in long distance running. Starting off slow, she started with 5K runs and proceeded to build up to running the New York City Marathon in 2013. This is Elizabeth’s last race on her schedule this year and her first year racing XTERRA.

Bill Buonanni, 53, Merritt Island, Florida

Bill lived in Hawaii for four years and is now returning to race at Kualoa Ranch for his first time. Bill has been a high school Cross Country Head Coach at Merritt Island High School for the past four years. He will be running with family and celebrating his birthday on race day. Bill will look to make this day even more special with a respectable finish.

KC Carlberg, 51, Honolulu, Hawaii

KC, a local legend in the endurance sports community, is six years removed from her first XTERRA Championship after her recovery from Ovarian Cancer. KC enjoys helping people achieve their goals and currently is the owner of an all-women’s training company called Try Fitness. She uses trail running to have fun, to challenge herself and to better her balance.

Kimber Mattox, 26, Eugene, Oregon

This is Kimber’s first year racing XTERRA and she already has a second place finish at this year’s XTERRA Trail Running Nationals. Kimber has already fell in love with trail running and says trail runs test a runner’s mind and body but reward the spirit. She is motivated by her desire to challenge her body and seeing what she can accomplish. Kimber is a runner for a post collegiate running group in Eugene, Oregon, which is fittingly called Team Run Eugene. Kimber is also a coach for track and cross country at the University of Oregon.

Jo May, 66, Franklin, Pennsylvania

Jo will be returning to XTERRA Worlds for the fourth time in her running career, and what makes this year more special is that her husband and daughter will also be racing too. Jo has spent three weeks in the Alps to prepare for Worlds and cannot wait for this tough race. Jo is excited for the race but also cannot wait for a day of relaxation on Waikiki Beach.

Johan Nyberg, 35, Stockholm, Sweden

In May, Johan had the unfortunate accident of breaking his back. After five months of rehab, Johan was looking for a race in a warmer climate during this time of year than his hometown Sweden and came across the World Championship. He said he will race to challenge himself and to prove that he is healthy. He is ready for the stunning nature, the challenging course and to get back to competing.

Amy Bennett Eck, Kailua, Hawaii (pictured)

Hawaii’s own XTERRA guru Amy Bennett Eck from Camp Bennett and XTERRA Freedom Fest knows as much about Kualoa Ranch as anyone. Every July 4th weekend she hosts an off-road racing weekend at the Ranch with an XTERRA World Championship triathlon qualifying race, trail runs, swim races and more. She’s also been helping local athletes be the best they can be with year-round training camps and clinics for years. Amy is a certified USA Track and Field and USA Triathlon endurance coach, and in 2009 won the “Double” for having the fastest combined times at the Ironman and XTERRA World Championship races.

Finian Scott, 24, Auckland, New Zealand

Finian is currently working for the New Zealand Olympic Committee but uses trail running as an escape from office work and technology. He says trail running leaves him feeling like a big kid again because you have to jump around tree roots, wade through waist deep water and skid down muddy banks. Finian is excited to leave his country of New Zealand to race in Kualoa Ranch for the first time.

Sarah Seads, 38, Courtenay, Canada

Sarah is returning to Kualoa Ranch after racing for her first time last year. Last year, she ran with a team of six people that traveled from Canada. This year, she is looking to improve on her 6th place finish in her category. Sarah loves trail running because of the opportunity to spend time in nature. Nature also helps motivate her when she runs because of the peaks, views, Mother Nature and the big events.

Marty Smith, 56, Liberty, Utah

Marty won the female 55-59 National XTERRA National Trail Champion this year and is excited to compete with the best trail runners in the world at this year’s Worlds. Marty has been racing with XTERRA for 8 years but this will be her first time racing at Kualoa Ranch. She has been preparing with her training group in the meantime and they are encouraging her to do her best.

Robert Coslick

Robert Coslick bursts onto the XTERRA Arizona Series

By Donald Quinn IV
XTERRA Trail Run Intern

Robert Coslick has burst onto the scene of the XTERRA Arizona series, winning each of the first two races by five minutes. When asked how he heard about XTERRA he says, “I have just recently moved to the area in early August from Little Creek, VA. Shortly after getting here I wanted to join the local running community and came across this XTERRA Series online. I’ve never done any trail running before this race series and loved how the Arizona series moved around through all the major trails in the Phoenix area.”

You might expect someone who has never run on a trail before to be a little nervous, or not perform as well as they do on the road, but not so for Robert. As noted above he has won both of this year’s Arizona races by five minutes, putting in sub- 1:40 times for both half-marathons. Robert explains his quick transition to trail running: “When I did the first race at Estrella Mountain I was very excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect, being that I’m used to the road running scene. I was a little worried about how different the trail scene would be and what norms I wouldn’t be familiar with. However, when I got to the start line at Estrella it was awesome, people were friendly and the atmosphere was inviting. I really enjoyed the scenery of the course and challenge of the trails at both Estrella and San Tan. I definitely look forward to running in the rest of (the) series.”

Robert’s example shows that anybody can make the transition to trail running, although perhaps not everybody can expect to win their first two trail half-marathons. What made Robert choose the XTERRA  Arizona series out of all the trail races in the Phoenix area? According to Robert: “I like the smooth flow of the start and social atmosphere at the finish. It’s always good to be able to relax after the race and talk about the great time you had on the course with other racers.”

Having personally run in the Arizona series, I can attest that everything Robert says is true. You can feel the friendly atmosphere and smooth organization of the series in every facet of the races. With three more races in the new year there is plenty of time for people to test themselves against Robert and join one of the fastest growing XTERRA series. Robert is not the first person to switch from the road to the trail, but he certainly is enjoying early success. With a combination of strong competitors, inviting venues, and an outstanding race staff it is no wonder that the XTERRA Arizona series is more popular than ever. Come on out and discover it for yourself.