Inspiration Abound at USA Champs

Sep. 20, 2013

There is no shortage of cool stories about inspiring competitors coming out of this year’s XTERRA USA Championship race.  Here’s a look at just a few of them;

Colin’s Hope:  Alissa Magrun, a 39-year-old from Austin, Texas, is competing for a higher purpose.  Alissa is the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope and using this race to officially launch the newly formed Colin’s Hope Athlete Ambassador Program which raising both funds and awareness for water safety and drowning prevention. So far, she and her team have raised more than $65,000 and are just getting started.  The mission of Colin’s Hope is to provide life-saving water safety information to families and sponsor swim lessons for children who need it.

“The XTERRA US Championships is an incredible opportunity for me to not only race with some of the best athletes in the country but also allow me to bring the Colin’s Hope Athlete Ambassador program to the National stage,” said Magrum.  “Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children under five in this country. This is my chance to marry my passion for off-road triathlon with my passion to prevent children from drowning. My hope is to qualify to race at the World Championships, but more importantly to raise awareness and funds for this cause- ultimately recruiting more people to join me as an Athlete Ambassador to prevent drowning.”

Learn more at

Willie StewartPhysically Challenged Athletes:  We have a great collection of inspiring athletes competing in the physically challenged division this year including “One-arm” Willie Stewart, a long-time XTERRA racer who has also conquered the grueling Leadville 100 mountain bike race, competed at the Ironman World Championship, and kayaked the Grand Canyon among other adrenaline-pumping adventures. Willie is joined by Michael Stone – a visually-impaired racer and XTERRA champion who will work his way around the course with the help of guide Kimberly Baldwin, the 40-44 XTERRA World Champ in 2011. We also have paracycling great Craig Vogtsberger, and racing in his first XTERRA USA Championship is Andre Szucs, a below-the-knee amputee.

XTERRA Ambassadors:  We have the greatest collection of amateur athletes on the planet sharing the Live More spirit far and wide and a ton of them are here in Utah.  Have a look at their pictures and profiles in this gallery, which represents about half of the 40+ ambassadors. Not included (but will be, promise guys!) are Lisa Brummond, Rob Butner, Kathy Couthino, Gina DeTolve, Amy Eck, Frank Fernandez-Posse, Todd Gottfried, Roger Kern, Brad Myers, Ron Olmsted, Julia Peck, Ken Robins, Meghan Sheridan, Anthony Snoble, Rob Spooner, John Lindros, and Adam Xaysuda.

XTERRA Across America: Brent Bieshaar became the first racer in history to complete an XTERRA every weekend over the course of the entire XTERRA America Tour regular season.  Twenty-two races in 23 weeks in 17 states across the country (his lone break was over Memorial Day weekend when no races were scheduled). Along the way Brent raised a significant amount of money and awareness for the Blazeman Foundation - a family-run non-profit named after the late Jon Blais, whose courageous battle against Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired a generation of triathletes. Bieshaar still has two races left on his docket – the USA Championship tomorrow and the XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 27.  Learn more at

Emma Garrard and BabyPro Moms: There was a great story in the Deseret News this week about XTERRA’s Pro Moms featuring local favorite Emma Garrard from Park City and Canadian star Brandi Heisterman.  In the pro ranks here this weekend we have a bunch of inspiring pro Moms including Danelle Kabush, Caroline Colonna, Rachel Challis, and Chantell Widney (Kelley Cullen too but she's not racing Saturday ... because family comes first!). Read about the dedication it takes here.

Local Favorites:  Just a few years ago there were just a handful of racers from Utah that qualified to compete in the invite-only USA Championship race.  This year there are 30, proof that the XTERRA spirit has caught in the Beehive State.  Among the notables are young gun McKay Hunt from North Ogden, women’s age group contender Meghan Sheridan from Salt Lake City, and four pros – XTERRA veterans Emma Garrard and Nick Fisher, along with newcomers Heath Thurston and Tom Goth.  Here’s a look at all the locals racing for a national title tomorrow:

Madalyn Allred (Ogden, 15-19), McKay Hunt (North Ogden, 15-19), Jessica Septon (Ogden, 25-29), Emily Witman (Ogden, 25-29), Devin Hirschi (Park City, 25-29), Gerry O'Melia (SLC, 25-29), Spencer Peterson (SLC, 25-29), Mark Primosch (SLC, 25-29), Meghan Sheridan (SLC, 30-34), Brian Dobias (Cottonwood Heights, 30-34), Rick Henriksen (SLC, 30-34), Michael Nunez (SLC, 30-34), Julie Baker (Logan, 35-39), Eric Landon (Farmington, 35-39), Matthew Campbell (Park City, 35-39), Karen Holmes (Ogden, 40-44), Cori Biggs (SLC, 40-44), B.J. Leonard (Herriman, 40-44), Michael Raemisch (SLC, 40-44), Ryan Higginson (SLC, 40-44), Eric Tennant (West Jordan, 40-44), Cheryl Krusko (SLC, 45-49), Betsy Spiegel (SLC, 50-54), Carl Horton (Sandy, 55-59), Jo Garuccio (Sandy, 60-64), Emma Garrard (Park City, Pro), Nick Fisher (Ogden, Pro), Heath Thurston (Orem, Pro) and Tom Goth (SLC, Pro).