XTERRA Trail Mix Newsletter


Editor's note: Lucy Smith is the 2012 women's champion of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, and one of Canada's top endurance athletes. She has agreed to return to Kualoa Ranch on November 24, 2013, to defend her title. She has also graciously agreed to share her thoughts on the event, and provide some tips for runners headed to Kualoa Ranch for the XTERRA Trail Run Worlds:

Lucy SmithThis year marks my third year making the transpacific voyage from British Columbia to Oahu for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at the magical and stunning Kualoa Ranch. Like many Canadians, I love Hawaii for the heat, sun, beaches and natural beauty and have traveled there for holiday, to watch the Ironman, and to race several powerman duathlons on the North Shore.

My first go at the XTERRA Trail Run Worlds was in 2011, and was a chance encounter when our early December family vacation coincided with the race. We figured it would make for an adventurous and fun family outing for me to race the half marathon and my daughter to run the 5K. Having come off a great fall cross country season and a solid half marathon, I ran that first XTERRA World Champs by feel, pretty much pacing myself off some last-minute advice from a runner who had run the year before. He warned me about the big hill, but I never really knew which hill he was referring to as it seemed like one big hill after another to me. When I finally got to the 'hill' I almost laughed as I looked up at the single track disappearing into the jungle. I basically dragged myself up through the tangled tress, moved into second, and hurtled down the other side in a pell mell scramble to retain that spot. I finished elated, not over my second place finish, but by the sheer adventure of running such an extreme race!



Kualoa RanchIt is now November, which is the official month of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. This year’s race is set for November 24 at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii, and online registration is open for runners of all ages and abilities


There will be three running courses to choose from – the 21K world championship course, a 10K or a 5K. There will also be an “Adventure Walk” for those who want to take a leisurely stroll around the picturesque grounds of Kualoa Ranch.

The ranch is normally closed to the public, so this is a rare opportunity to run on the same grounds that have been used as a backdrop for numerous movie and television productions, including Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, LOST and Hawaii Five-O.

In addition to the overall champions, world titles will be determined in all age groups for the 21K race. There will also be a $10,000 prize purse at stake, with the overall male and female champions receiving $2,000 each.


Three Maui residents repeat victories

Willie ScheferFamiliarity was the key to success at the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs on Saturday morning.

Three of the four overall winners were repeat champions from last year: Willie Schefer (men's 10K), Benjamin Auerbach (men's 5K) and Dakota Grossman (women's 5K). All three are Maui residents. The only new overall champ was Emilie Menuet from France, who was the top female in the 10K.


More than 1,000 runners from around the world participated in the event, which featured two separate courses - the Duke's Beach House XTERRA 10K and the Hula Grill XTERRA 5K. Both courses started at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, then traversed up and down the West Maui Mountains, and then along D.T. Fleming Beach, before heading back to the Ritz-Carlton.

"As far as views go, you can't beat this race," 10K winner Schefer said. "I actually got to enjoy it more this year because I was in my own space, running on my own."

(Willie Schefer in the lead, courtesy XTERRA Photos)

Indeed, Schefer darted ahead of the pack from the start and stayed in front the entire course. He finished with a time of 38 minutes, 22 seconds, which was more than a minute behind his record time of last year, but still three minutes ahead of the rest of the field this year.

"Winning last year gave me a lot of confidence coming in this time, and I knew what to expect along the way," Schefer said. "I was mentally prepared for everything; I just didn't have anybody to push me this year like I did last year."



Runners from 21 different states participate in Hawaii Series opener

Honolulu runners Nathan Carlson and Polina Babkina are used to running with each other - they are an engaged couple who enjoys training together.

Polina BabkinaThey took it to a different level on October 19, when they placed first and second at the XTERRA Gunstock Ranch Trail Run in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii.

Carlson finished first overall, completing the 21-kilometer half-marathon course in 1 hour, 24 minutes, 58 seconds. Babkina was the top female - and second place overall - in 1:37:35.

"The course was extremely challenging with numerous long hill climbs and steep uphill and downhill descents," Carlson said. "The course required more focus to stay on course than most trail races I have done.  It had many forks in the road and terrain changes.  Definitely a mental as well as physical challenge.  Many portions of the wooded trails opened up at high points and provided great hillside views.  A few times I was chasing cattle, which was fun and adventurous.  I would definitely run that race again to try and run faster, since I am now familiar with the route."



Baldwin, Shearer continue winning streaks from last season

The 2013-14 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series opened in much the same way that the 2012-13 season closed - with Patrick Baldwin and Maggie Shearer taking top honors.

Maggie ShearerBoth elite runners continued their winning streaks at the XTERRA Point Mugu Trail Run, which was completed on October 13 at Point Mugu State Park in Oxnard/Malibu, California. A capacity field of more than 500 runners participated in the event, which was the first of seven races in the 2013-14 season for the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series.

Baldwin placed first overall, completing the 18-kilometer long course in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 26 seconds. Shearer was the first overall female, finishing in 1:21:50.

Baldwin held throughout the course, but had to shift into sprint mode for the final mile when he saw a fast-approaching competitor making ground.

"I pushed really hard at the start and got a gap that held," said Baldwin, who is 37 and resides in Encinitas, Calif. "I monitored a racer who was close, but tried not to look back. Anytime I hit a hill, I pushed it and focused on the fact that if I hurt, so will the people behind me. But on the final 2-mile downhill, I saw somebody new absolutely bombing the hill … I had to close with a big effort, 4:44 final mile! A learning lesson to keep your guard up."



Aguirre and Holt prevail at Henry Farms

A new race to the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series introduced a couple of new winners to the podium.

Joseph Aguirre and Lauren Holt took top honors at the inaugural XTERRA Henry Farms Trail Run, which was completed on October 19 at Jacksonville, Alabama.

Cheaha StartAguirre was the overall winner, completing the 4-mile races in 26 minutes, 21 seconds. Holt was the top female in 31:54. It was the first XTERRA Trail Run victory for both runners.

"I enjoyed the race at Henry Farms tremendously," Aguirre said. "The race staff was thoughtful, the other competitors were friendly, and the day was perfect for a fast time."

Indeed, Aguirre jumped in front early, and stayed in front the entire way, although he was never quite sure of his lead because of the constant switchbacks on the course. "You were blocked from the sight of your nearest competitors by the trees, so I wasn't sure where the other leaders were in relation to me," he said.

Aguirre, 24, is a law student at the University of Alabama. He said he ran cross country in high school, but took some years off while in college.

The race for second place was a close one, with Gene Hood from Attalla, Alabama, finishing in 28:04 to edge Jay Crosby from Madison, Alabama, by four seconds.

Holt is also returning to competitive running this year after giving birth to her second child last year. "I love to run, and have since I was 14 years old competing in local 5K races," said Holt, who is 32 and resides in Hokes Bluff, Alabama.



The XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series is set to begin its 2013-14 season on November 3, when the XTERRA Wild Horse Trail Run takes place at the Keith Waller and Sydney-Dover parks near Tampa.

XTERRA Florida SeriesThe event is unique in that it offers four courses for runners to choose from: a 21-kilometer half-marathon, a 10-mile course, a 10K course (6.2 miles), or a 4-mile course. All of the courses are open to runners of all ages and skill levels, although only the results from the 21K course will count for points toward the overall series standings.

All finishers of the 21K course will receive an embroidered Florida Series running cap, as will the top finishers from the other three courses.

All competitors from all the courses are invited to stay for the post-race pancake breakfast and awards party at the race site. To learn more about it, please visit www.tamparaces.com.

The Wild Horse Trail Run will be the first of three events in the 2013-14 season for the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series. The next events will take place in the spring of 2014, so now is the time to sign up for the Wild Horse Trail Run (or wait four months until the next race).


The XTERRA Trail Run family lost one of its treasured members last month, when Jennifer Stec-Gagliardi died unexpectedly at the age of 38.

Jen Stec-GagliardiStec-Gagliardi was part of a pioneering group of runners who became XTERRA Trail Run Ambassadors several years ago, when the XTERRA Trail Run circuit was still in its infancy. More recently, she was a regular competitor in the XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series, and often placed in the top three of her age division.

She was also an avid road runner who completed 15 marathons and four double-marathons over the course of her running career.

The XTERRA Trail Run family extends its condolences to her husband Kenneth Gagliardi, as well as the entire Stec and Gagliardi families.

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