Puerto Rico Runners set to Make History in Utah

Sep. 19, 2012

Island will be represented at XTERRA Nationals for first time

Runners from 30 different states and at least five countries will be represented at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship this Sunday, September 23. For the first time in the event's history, that list will include runners from Puerto Rico.

Alberto Saldana, Brenda Liz Rodriguez and Pedro Rafael Pou Alicea will make the trip from Puerto Rico to Utah to compete in the 21-kilometer championship race. The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, which is expected to draw more than 600 runners, will take place at the Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.

Alberto Saldana"I want to represent Puerto Rico and I also want to test my skills on a national level," Saldana said. "I am expecting to have fun and compete the best I can. One of my dreams is to win a national title."

(Alberto Saldana pictured, courtesy Saldana family)

Not coincidentally, 2012 marked the first year that an XTERRA Trail Run Series was staged in Puerto Rico. The inaugural series featured three races. At the conclusion of the season,  every age-group winner received a free entry to compete at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Saldana, Rodriguez and Pou Alicea were all age-group champions in the Puerto Rico Series.

"Exciting and grateful," is how Saldana felt about the series. "A wonderful experience and adrenaline rush along the challenging and adventurous trails."

Efrain Cardona, director of the Puerto Rico Series, said: "It's huge to see our runners competing at the XTERRA National Championship. It's an honor to be part of world-class racing series. We hope to have even more runners there in future years."

Saldana went undefeated in the men's 35-39 division in Puerto Rico, and is an experienced competitor. In fact, this will not be his first venture off of Puerto Rico for a race. In 2005, he placed ninth overall at a mountain marathon in Venezuela; later that year, he placed 14th overall at a 50K ultra trail race in California.

Thanks to sponsors in Puerto Rico, Saldana is able to train full-time. A typical week would consist of 10 to 15 miles per day, for six days a week, and almost all of his training takes place on trails.

"I have been running trails for 12 years," he said. "I started because I love nature around me. Racing on the trail is so different than racing on the road. I was an elite cross-country runner but when I hit the trails I was hooked. Running on trails forces a varied pace, more stimulation and enjoyment, and ask us to race more against ourselves and our competitors than against the clock."

Regardless of how the runners fare in Utah, the Puerto Rico Series will continue during the 2012-2013 season. According to race director Cardona, next year's series will feature at least three races, with the first event scheduled for November.

For more information on the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, please visitwww.xterratrailrun.com. For more information on the XTERRA Puerto Rico Trail Run Series, please visit www.xterrapr.com.

Trail Run