Kualoa Ranch Set to Host XTERRA Trail Run Worlds Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haley Wins Third Consecutive Georgia Series Race

Little Mulberry draws 300 runners at inaugural event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for complete results.

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

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

Clark, Davanzo Take Top Honors at Topanga Turkey Trot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for complete results.

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

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

XTERRA Trail Run World Titles up for Grabs in 2012

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

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

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

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

In his absence, the list of contenders is impressive:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online registration is still available. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

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

TEAM TO END AIDS to Run at Kualoa Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mader, Linn Prevail at Oak Mountain

Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, once again proved to be the perfect setting for an XTERRA Trail Run last weekend.

Brandon MaderBrandon Mader and Elena Linn were the overall winners, but close to 300 other runners got a chance to experience the award-winning trails at the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run on November 11.

“I’ve raced at Oak Mountain seven times and have yet to run the same course twice,” Mader said. “It’s an adventure every time.”

Mader, who resides in Huntsville, was the overall winner, completing the 21-kilometer long course in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 25 seconds.

“Conditions were perfect, about 50 degrees and sunny,” he said. “Only about half the leaves have fallen so far, meaning the trails still had a clear path to follow and the rocks were still visible. Not too many slippery sections or hidden ankle attacks, which are more common in the first few weeks of the leaves falling.”

Mader and David Wall broke ahead early, and engaged in a close battle for the lead in the first half of the course. Mader eventually pulled away in the second half of the course.

“We were in a dead heat – I would gain a yard, he would take it back,” Mader said. “Then nearing the 4-mlle mark, we passed a technical section and I stretched about 10 yards on him. At that point, I knew it was time to determine how the race would unfold. I pressed hard, inching away from him for the next six miles.”

Wall placed second in 1:22:44. He had won the previous two races this season in the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. At this same event last year, Wall placed first and Mader was second.

“I have so much respect for David,” Mader said. “We are very evenly matched and it looks like the Alabama Series might have the best rivalry in XTERRA right now on the men’s side.”

Linn was an impressive sixth overall and the first female with a time of 1:32:36. She finished about a mile ahead of the other females.

“I ran with the guy who got fourth overall for the first eight miles (until the hills hit), then he took off and passed me,” she said. “The guy who finished fifth passed me the last half mile (again going up a hill). It was a good race with both of them. They were both very encouraging and friendly! I wasn’t sure how far I was ahead of the other women. Once you’re in the trails, it’s hard to know where everyone else is.”

Linn, who is a graduate student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has been the top female runner in the Alabama Series for the past three seasons. She won two separate races at Oak Mountain last season. But like Mader, she said that the trails at Oak Mountain always offer a unique challenge.

“It helps a little, more for the mental aspect of being at a home course,” she said. “However, there are so many trails at Oak Mountain, I feel like I run a new trail every time.”

The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run also included a 10K course and a 5K course. Other winners were Wade Morris and Kat Sweatt in the 10K, and Dillon O’Hare and Hannah Scott in the 5K.

CLICK HERE for complete results.

The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run was the third of six events in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series. The next race in the series will be the XTERRA Coldwater Mountain Trail Run at Anniston, Alabama, on December 15.

To register for a race in the series or learn more about it, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.

2012-13 XTERRA Florida Series is Underway

The XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series got off to a fast start this month, with Eric Koenig and Jessica Wagner running to convincing wins in the season-opening XTERRA Wildhorse Trail Run.

XTERRA Florida Trail Run SeriesMore than 300 runners participated in the event, which was completed on November 6 at Dover, Florida. It was the first of three races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series.

Koenig was the overall winner of the 21-kilometer long course, finishing with a course-record time of 1 hour, 31 minutes, 57 seconds. He finished more than a mile ahead of the rest of the field.

“At the start and for most the race, a thick fog, hung in the air that made the weather cool and crisp – ideal for running,” said Koenig, 23. “The course was mostly double-track over short grass with some sandy patches, and started around some soccer fields.  However, there was between 4 to 5 miles of single track or off-trail terrain.  The single track meandered through the forest and the off-trail terrain was often very technical, following faint game trails through brush, mud, and up and down steep, short, and often abrupt hills.  I often had to slow down substantially to look for the next flag marker in the off-trail sections.  It was hard to get a rhythm going in the technical part of the course.  I was even attacked by vines on a couple of occasions, which held me captive for up to 15 seconds.”

Koenig took the lead after the first mile and increased his lead throughout the course. His pre-race goal was to finish in less than 1 hour, 30 minutes, but said after the race that he was satisfied with his time of 1:31:57, because the course offered many challenges.

“When I came out of the woods, and back around the soccer field, I still managed to duck less than 92 minutes, finishing in 1:31:57,” he said. “I had apparently extended my lead to eight minutes at this point and set the course record by over three minutes.  I felt pretty good about it.  Maybe sub-1:30 next year?”

He said his only previous race victories came when he was a runner at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Koenig is now a graduate student at the University of South Florida.

Zvanko Smlatic from Sarasota, Florida, placed second in 1:40:00. Making his performance more impressive is his age – 48. Preston Vaughn from Plant City, Florida, was third in 1:40:26.

Wagner placed 14th overall and was the first female with a time of 1:52:58. She finished nearly 10 minutes ahead of the other females.

“At about mile 11 a guy told me he hasn’t seen any other women ahead of me, however I didn’t believe him!” said Wagner, 40. “With the different race lengths and all of them similar routes, when I passed women I wasn’t quite sure which length of race they were running. Honestly, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was focused on going as fast as I could and passing all the guys!”

Wagner resides in Windermere and works as the Senior Membership Director for the YMCA of Central Florida. She placed third overall at this event last year, and second in her division in 2010. “I stumbled upon this race a couple of years ago when I was new to the area and spending many months at Tampa General with a very sick husband,” she said. “Running was my only release and therapy! I loved the run and the trail and have done it each year.”

Rebecca Reese from Orlando was the second female in 2:05:21, and Cindy Hazel from Tampa was third in 2:11:15.

The Wild Horse Trail Run features four different courses. Koenig and Wagner were the winners of the longest course. Other course winners: Jeffrey Hurd Jr. and Amy Meinig in the 10K, Matt Shanklin and Rae Ann Darling-Reed in the 10 mile, and Jon Howry and Kerri Dienhart in the 4 mile.

CLICK HERE for complete results.

The next race in the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series will be the XTERRA Trout Creek Trail Run in March 2013. To register for the race or learn more about the series, please visitwww.tamparaces.com.

Haley and Gormley Win Again in Georgia Series

Capacity field of more than 350 runners participate at Big Creek

The XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series is fast becoming a showcase for Matt Haley and Tara Gormley. For the second consecutive race in the series, Haley and Gormley ran away from the competition. This time, it was at the XTERRA Battle at Big Creek Trail Run at Roswell, Georgia, on November 3.

Haley was the overall winner, completing the 10-mile course in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 26 seconds. He finished more than a mile ahead of all the other runners. Haley is a former cross country and track runner at Keene State College in New Hampshire who now resides in Buford, Georgia.

Matt Haley“The race course was a fun one,” Haley said. “It had some ups and downs along with some good twists and turns, and minus a few rocky sections and the obvious roots, it was really well groomed. It wasn’t a super-fast course but it felt far removed from everything. It was nice to feel like we were just out there cruising through the woods.”

(Matt Haley pictured, courtesy Mark Robertson /www.powerbar.com)

There was a “short course” race of 5.5 miles, and Haley said he chased some of the leaders of that course early on, thinking they were in the lead for the 10-mile course.

“Just before the 5 mile mark, I heard beeping from the timing mats at the finish line and thought, ‘I don’t think we go through the finish on our first lap (in the 10 mile race). Man it would be awesome if those guys were only running the 5.5,’ ” Haley said. “Sure enough at the 5 mile mark I passed Tim Schroer, the race director, and he said the guys up front ran the 5 and that I was leading the 10. This was a huge boost of confidence and really reaffirmed my decision to be a little more conservative at the start.

“I had been running in no man’s land for most of the race, but once I knew I was leading the 10 mile race I was completely on my own until I started passing some of the people that were still on their first lap. It was nice to be able to kind of cruise for some of the second half of the race, but with a lot of these trail races it’s hard to really know where you stand because of all of the twists and turns.”

Brian Rogers of Loganville, Georgia, was second with a time of 1:13:41. Gormley was third overall and the first female with a time of 1:14:03. She edged Travis Presnell, the third-place male, by one second.

“The race was a great one for me, personally,” Gormley said. “I ran with the second place male for a bit in the first loop until he passed me, but I tried to keep him in sight all the way to the end. The third place male started running with me with about three miles to go. He stayed right behind me the whole time and said that I helped pull him through the finish.”

Winning an XTERRA Georgia Series race is nothing new for Gormley, who resides in Marietta, Georgia. This was her 18th victory in the last five years. She also won the Battle at Big Creek in 2009 and 2010.

Tara Gormley“The course is one of the more technical courses of the series,” she said. “There are a lot of twists and turns, roots and rocks, and I saw more than a couple people fall out there, but that’s what makes it exciting, right?”

Gormley actually had a fall in one of her previous races, and ran this race with a broken finger on her right hand. “My injuries from the trail race I ran earlier in October are much better,” she said. “My bruises on my hip and knees are almost completely gone and I feel no pain there. My broken finger on my right hand is healing well too. I have minimal swelling and it doesn’t bother me at all when running.”

(Tara Gormley pictured, courtesy Mark Robertson /www.powerbar.com)

Elizabeth Callaway from Atlanta was the second female with a time of 1:19:56, and Crissy Ivey from Pendergrass, Georgia, was third in 1:21:59.

CLICK HERE for complete results.

The Battle at Big Creek was the third of seven races in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series. The next event will be the XTERRA Little Mulberry Park Trail Run at Dacula, Georgia, on November 17. To register for a race in the series or learn more about it, please visit www.dirtyspokes.com.

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

Costello Transforms for Trail Run World Championship

Pennsylvania runner has dropped 47 pounds while training for event

Remember Richard Costello, the “Shave It or Save It” bearded guy from the 2010 XTERRA World Championship triathlon?

You may not recognize him now, and it’s not just because he shaved off his massive beard on Maui two years ago. Costello has lost nearly 50 pounds in the past year while training for the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Rich Costello and Richard BurgunderCostello, who resides in Warminster, Pennsylvania, said he weighed 247 pounds when he competed in the 2011 XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon on Maui. The excess weight took its toll, as he finished near the back of the pack for the race.

(Richard Costello, middle, and Richard Burgunder at right; courtesy Richard Burgunder / www.powerbar.com)

“Athletically, I was feeling overweight and sluggish,” said Costello, 45. “My nutrition was in the toilet. My performance in all three (swim, bike, run) suffered that day, but it was clearly an ongoing frustration with my inability to put together a decent run in these races that had bothered me the most.”

For 2012, Costello decided to focus his efforts entirely on trail running, leaving triathlons aside for the time being. He entered races in the XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series, and also did the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run 10K. He now weighs 200 pounds, and will compete in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship for the first time. This year’s race is scheduled for December 2 at Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

To prepare for the race, he sought coaching help from Richard Burgunder, a fellow Pennsylvanian and a longtime successful XTERRA Trail Run competitor. “His inspiration and input was and has been huge for me throughout in building my confidence,” Costello said of Burgunder.

Burgunder said he knew of Costello through XTERRA triathlon races and the LONGTRAILHEAD blog, and was surprised when Costello first called for assistance.

“I was surprised and extremely honored due to how prolific of a figure Richard is in the XTERRA and adventure sports community,” Burgunder said. “I knew who Richard was, but I had never met him personally prior to the Pocono Trail Run Series. We first met at the Mount Pocono Trail Run in early May, which was the first race of the 2012 XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series. I was absolutely enamored by Richard and ecstatic about finally meeting the mighty beard guy!”

Costello famously shaved his beard on stage at the awards ceremony for the 2010 XTERRA World Championship as part of a fundraiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Burgunder said he prescribed a weekly workout schedule for Costello that mostly featured hill climbs and other training techniques on technical terrain. As an example, Costello said he would run for 15 to 20 minutes, then stop and do a set of bodyweight squats, then start running again, and repeat the process over and over.

Rich Costello Utah“I found these to not only be a great exercise in stressing all the muscles in my lower limbs, but also a great way to mimic the expected muscle fatigue I will encounter and have to overcome during the race,” Costello said.

(Richard Costello pictured, before shaving his beard and losing the weight, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

His background in triathlons also allowed him to cross-train with swim and bike sessions. Overall, he said he has been training four to five days a week for the entire year.

Still, he has no delusions of grandeur when it comes to the race. For starters, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship will be the first 21-kilometer race of his career. All his previous running races were 11K or shorter.

“My personal goals set for the impending 21K world championship race are to simply complete the entire distance, and to feel as though I have put my best effort into accomplishing it performance wise,” Costello said. “Looking at pictures taken from previous years’ events tells me that this race will also be incredibly fun to take part in. Truthfully, I’m pretty stoked! The Kaaawa Valley venue looks absolutely amazing, beautifully challenging, and XTERRA tough for sure. I can’t wait to see and experience it all first-hand!”

There will also be the long travel from Pennsylvania to Hawaii, not to mention the drastic weather change. Temperartures were in the 50s in Pennsylvania this week, and in the 80s in Hawaii.

“Clearly I know it is going to be challenging for me, there is no disputing that,” Costello said. “The nature of the course, and the expected demands overall of which I will face, are all part of what lures me to such athletic opportunities offered. As for the heat, I say bring it on! Right now, I’d rather be sweating in Hawaii than shivering in Pennsylvania.”

Burgunder, who will also run at Kualoa Ranch on December 2, said: “I think that it’s absolutely phenomenal what Richard has done with his transformation. He’s an incredibly inspirational individual and athlete. Richard is the ideal role model and active lifestyle ambassador that everyone should look up to for motivation to better their lives. Through immense determination, persistence, and immaculate focus, Richard has shown the world how to overcome extreme adversity.”

The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, from anywhere in the world. Online registration is available at www.xterratrailrun.com.

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