Vanderlugt Family is Going a Long Way to Run with XTERRA

Aug. 9, 2013

Sheri Vanderlugt is the inspiration for husband and sons to run

The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is open to runners of all ages from all states, and the Vanderlugt family is a perfect example.

This year's event is scheduled for September 22 at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden,Utah, and ONLINE REGISTRATION IS OPEN BY CLICKING HERE.

The VanderlugtsPhil Vanderlugt and his sons, Alec and Reed, will all be entering the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals together for the first time this year, and they are taking a circuitous route. They reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but got introduced to XTERRA Trail Run events in Colorado.

"We are a family of road warriors!" Phil said. "Our kids have been making long road trips since 6 months of age.  They are amazing travelers. We did drive to Colorado for every race!"

The Vanderlugts often take winter vacations to Colorado for skiing, so they are familiar with the area. The drive from Michigan to Colorado, however, is never an easy trip - even in the family's recreational vehicle. The drive takes approximately 24 hours each way, and they often did it with only a few stops so that Alec and Reed would not miss school time.

"As you know, there is no XTERRA Trail Series in Michigan," Phil explained. "The boys and I ran our first half-marathon together in Colorado two years ago in the town of Granby, and their confidence in running soared. We love Colorado!"

The drive and dedication paid off, as two members of the family earned age-group championships for the XTERRA Colorado Trail Run Series. Phil captured first place for the season in the 40-44 division, and Reed took first in the 10-14 division (Alec was a close second).

Because of that success, they decided to enter the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah. That trip will be a little too long to make in the family's RV during the school year, so they will book flights.

Phil has competed at the XTERRA Nationals triathlon in past years, but this is the first time that Alec and Reed will join him as competitors in the Trail Run event. When the boys were just 4 and 6 years old, they would ride their bikes to follow Phil on his training runs. A few years later, they ditched the bikes and started running as well.

By the time they were 8 and 10, the boys were passing Phil along the course. "I remember them getting ahead of me on the trail, but never feeling they were out of reach," Phil said. "It was on the last dune climb that I started having doubts about catching them. I never did. I have rarely beaten them at any distance since."

Alec is now in the eighth grade and Reed is in the sixth grade, and they both attend Ada Christian School. They are members of the school's cross country and soccer teams. They also train regularly with the Dirty Herd trail running group.

Phil, Alec and Reed have been inspired on their running adventures by Sheri Vanderlugt - Phil's wife and the mother to Alec and Reed. Sheri used to participate in the family runs and bike rides until five years ago, when she was diagnosed with a degenerative axonal motor neuron disease. She now requires a wheelchair to get around, as the disease has resulted in complete muscular atrophy of her legs.

"The last five years have been a journey where her health has been our primary concern," Phil said. "She is an incredible person! We love her deeply, and just being able to run is good enough for us.  My wife has an incredible faith, and is an inspiration to many.  Although we have been quite private about our journey, we hope that those who have been touched by our story will be inspired to grow through whatever crisis they may face as family."

To join the Vanderlugt family at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, please for more information.

Trail Run