The 8th annual Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running World Championship returns to Kualoa Ranch on Sunday, Dec. 6, with one of the most scenic half-marathon trail races on the planet.
The course itself is pure nature – secluded singletrack trails and dirt roads framed by a pair of dramatic knife-edged mountain ridges that drop into the ocean. More than one thousand runners from nearly every state in the U.S. and dozens of countries have traveled to Oahu for the challenge.
“Kualoa Ranch never ceases to inspire me even though I have been there upwards of 20 times," said Laurel Dudley, a Vermont-native who has made quite a name for herself in the Hawaii endurance sports scene over the last decade.
"There is something about it that is truly magical. Trail Run Worlds allows you to run through both valleys which is a little tortuous but also really beautiful.”
Kualoa Ranch has been used as a backdrop for numerous television and movie scenes, including Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, LOST and Hawaii Five-O.
“XTERRA Trail Worlds at Kualoa Ranch is one of my favorite running events of the year,” said local runner Sergio Florian, who is originally from Argentina but now lives right down the road in Kaaawa.
“Not only is the scenery stunning, the course is super fun throwing a little bit of everything at you. The terrain varies from open grassy cow pastures to single track with lots of climbing to boot. It's definitely not your average half marathon.”
In addition to the main event which dishes out $10,000 in prize money and attracts big name runners like Patrick Smyth and Kimber Mattox, there are also 5km and 10km fun runs, an adventure walk that explores the movie sets in the valley, and free kids races.
Having the rare opportunity to run in one of Hawaii's most pristine landscapes should be reason enough to jump into this event, but for runners looking for even more incentive, need only heed the advice of Florian and Dudley.
“It really is a fun activity for the whole family and offers a little something for everyone,” said Florian. “You can go hardcore and attack the 21k course or just do a mellow 5k taking in all the beauty around you. Kids are also welcomed! They have games and a kid’s race! Great way to introduce them to a healthy/active lifestyle.”
For Dudley, it’s all about the spirit, she said “training for and doing an XTERRA run is hugely motivating. It’s harder than a normal road race, but it is so much more fun! The best aspect of it is that regardless of how fast or slow you are, or whether it’s your first race or your 100th, the spirit of the race casts no judgement and instills you with a sense of gratitude for being able to be outside and active in a beautiful place.”
While online registration is closed, runners and walkers can still sign-up on Saturday in Waikiki (at the Waikiki Beach Walk from 9am-to-5pm) or Sunday from 7-8am before the race at the ranch.
Learn more at http://www.xterrakualoa.com or call toll-free to 877-XTERRA-1.