By Rachel Cieslewicz
In so many people's lives today, it can be easy to fall into a thinking mode that all is not right in the world. Fortunately, XTERRA is an icon of what is right and beautiful. The 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship represented the culmination of another year of sacrifice, fun, community and commitment of thousands of athletes, race directors, volunteers, and family.
As always, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship race was absolutely unforgettable. It is an amazing feat that XTERRA events celebrate all who come. All who take on the motto of "Live More" are individuals who matter and are cherished members of the XTERRA Tribe.
The Trail Run Worlds course at Kualoa Ranch is exceptionally unique. Yes, the course is challenging -- hot and humid, with gut-wrenching climbs and breathtaking descents. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, while at the same moment, relentlessly brutal. It is a long 21k course that challenges even the most elite of athletes. Unique to XTERRA is, yes, this is a world championship course bringing together top runners to compete for the overall and age group titles. Yet, embraced are all, regardless of age and ability level to learn by experience what they are truly capable of. My favorite part of the race is lining up with hundreds of athletes literally from as young as the age of 10 years old, on up. We are all on the start line together regardless of ability. I love the opportunity to race with runners just learning, as well as some of the fastest in the world.
This year, my experience was incredibly inspiring. As sometimes happens, 2012 has been a challenging year of personal growth for me. The goal of racing worlds after missing last year due to an E Coli infection helped keep me focused on eating, sleeping and training properly. This healthy balance assisted me through life itself. Despite a variety of challenges along the way, knowing I was training for Worlds for purposes greater than myself, is what made my race extra special.
I love traveling to the warmth of Hawaii, and especially experiencing the grandeur of Kualoa Ranch. The energy of this fantastic venue, in conjunction with the XTERRA community, made all of my own sacrifices to race come full circle.
My favorite things about visiting Hawaii and racing trail run worlds are many. First is about the people. I love teaching others all I know by example, writing trail running tips, as well as the opportunity to teach XTERRA University. I love my ever growing XTERRA family and the grand reunion each big race ensures. Many hugs and kisses are guaranteed.
I love the opportunity to swim in the ocean and run barefoot on the beach in December. The tears that came to my eyes when watching Team X-T.R.E.M.E. run for wounded veterans, I will always remember. The representation of the sacrifice these soldiers make for our country is very close to heart. They leave no man behind and do what it takes to protect our freedom. I stayed at the race for hours beyond my finish time to watch them cross the line. These warriors finished over three hours behind me. They were together and strong. They ran in honor of those who could not. It left an incredibly powerful message imprinted in my heart.
And of course I love to race. I enjoy pushing my body. I love to learn what is inside my soul. With each opportunity I have to toe the line and run with a fierce joy, I bring from within myself, what only a championship race can bring out. I enjoy the overall spirit of "Live More" with the collaboration of racers, family, friends, volunteers and TEAM Unlimited, the creators of XTERRA events. This year I ran with my son in my heart, as he could not attend the race. I pray each day he will be returned home to me.
I am already planning for next year. For any who didn't make it to Worlds this year, I challenge you to make the commitment to race in 2013. It is a soul building experience that will ensure you leave with a full heart and a stronger sense of self than you came with. You will remember for certain that there are many good amazing people and experiences with XTERRA.
Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, and placed ninth overall in the women's field at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1 [at] gmail.com () or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.