Patrick Smyth from Salt Lake City, Utah enters Sunday’s XTERRA Trail Run World Championship half-marathon in Hawaii as a clear-cut favorite to defend his world title. Interestingly enough, his toughest competitor is likely to be a very familiar foe from Layton, Utah in the form of Brett Hales.
Hales won the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in September in dominating fashion, and it was his first-ever trail run. Last year, the same scenario applied to Smyth when he won Nationals in his first off-road race.
“It was phenomenal, I loved it. I had no idea what to expect having never done a trail race. It was amazing. A little wind, little rain, critters running everywhere, and there were so many people in the race but I felt like I was the only one out there. That was so addicting,” said Hales, 28, after Nationals.
Smyth can relate. Since focusing his running efforts on trail races last year Smyth quickly made a name for himself as one of the best trail runners in the U.S.
This year Smyth won the U.S. Trail Half-Marathon Championships in Bellingham, Washington and was the top American (10th overall) at the World Mountain Running Championships held in Italy in September.
Although Smyth and Hales are fairly new to the trail run scene, they know each other well having run against each other in high school more than a decade ago.
And just this July Smyth won the 10K race on the same day Hales won the half-marathon at the Deseret News classic.
Winning, however, is nothing new for either of them. Hales, a former track and cross country stand-out at Weber State University, had won the Big Cottonwood half-marathon in Salt Lake City just a week prior to XTERRA Nationals.
Smyth, who was a 7-time All-American across cross-country, indoor and outdoor track at Notre Dame, said XTERRA Trail Run Worlds “is the culmination of my 2014 season. I've been gearing all my recent training towards this race. The course at Kualoa Ranch is amongst the most memorable, beautiful I've ever run on, and that played a big role in my decision to come back, but more than anything I want to repeat as World Champ!”
Other men gunning to steal the title from Smyth include his U.S. Mountain Running teammate David Roche, who won his second US 10k trail national championship in two years at Lauren, NC with a time of 42:42 this year. Roche also won the XTERRA Earth Conservancy half-marathon in Mocanaqua, PA back in June.
“We are so excited to race Worlds to experience the beauty of the course firsthand,” said David Roche, who will be honored alongside his wife Megan as the “Men’s and Women’s Sub-Ultra Trail Runners of the Year” at the USATF annual meeting on Thursday. “We have heard incredible things about the trails, the views, and the area. Plus, XTERRA always puts on fun events, mixing a low-key vibe with stellar competition and challenging courses. Basically, Worlds represents just about everything that makes trail running awesome!”
Also of note is Olympian Roberto Mandje, who captured the XTERRA Beaver Creek half-marathon over the summer and was 5th at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds last year.
Learn more at www.xterrakualoa.com