In the coming weeks we’ll share the stories of how all the amateur world champions won their divisions in Maui. This week, we wanted to share one man’s story of his race day, No. 674 – Matt Kaplan – in his own words…
“XTERRA Worlds is something I’ve kicked around for many years and am glad that I finally got the opportunity to dedicate the training time to come to the race well prepared. It was a really incredible experience to be there and feel that I’m a part of the XTERRA family.
I finished the race but it certainly wasn’t the way I’d imagined. Unfortunately, my body didn’t cooperate as I’d hoped and I tore my calf muscle in my right leg, only three miles into the bike ride.
It was on a slippery slope where multiple cyclists unclipped and began walking up the hill. I did the same, and as I mounted a cyclist trying to stay on their bike rode through. I gave them a little push to keep them upright and get through the crowd. As I did that, I pushed off my back foot (downhill foot), slipped on the mud and the sudden flexing and slipping caused a painful “pop” deep inside my calf muscle that was followed by searing pain. Although my good karma of helping a fellow racer was well received, I knew something was quite wrong, but also thankfully knew it wasn’t my achilles.
I pulled off the course, and hobbled back to the aid station just 20 yards downhill at the junction of the upper and lower bike course where I spoke with Nicole and I think Chris (the big wave surfer who oversees the course layout). They were awesome and were ready to support me in whatever I needed. Nicole gave me some Advil and I talked through some options with Chris. I really couldn’t stomach the idea of heading down the mountain and calling it a day. This event has been a bucket list item for me for so many years and after over three months of training, dedicating the time and circling this event as “the one” … a DNF was not going to be an option.
I realized that if I kept my foot in a “tippie toe” position, always staying on the ball of my foot, I just had minimal pain. So, I hopped back on the bike, made sure to only use the ball of my foot for the down stroke of my pedals, and then on the run I became a hobbling forefoot runner to avoid the injury and the pain.
My time was about 90 mins slower than I’d hoped for, but hell, this is XTERRA and I gutted it out and got it done!!! Plus, I’ve got a pretty badass story to tell about my adventure.
I now can proudly call myself an XTERRA World Championship FINISHER and am honored to display my finisher’s badge!
I’ve already spoken with one friend who is an orthopedic surgeon and another who is a physical therapist, both of whom assure me that the torn gastrocnemius muscle in my calf will completely mend and be back to normal strength and flexibility in the a few weeks.
Thank you again for the incredible opportunity and amazing experience! It is one that I will always cherish and remember. I just may need to come back some year and try to get it done at full strength. :)