The Off-road to Nationals with Adriana Nieves
By Devin P. Quinn
XTERRA Trail Run Ambassador Adriana Nieves is headed to the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championships for her fourth time this year after once again achieving the title of XTERRA Florida Regional Champion. Adriana—mother of four and grandmother of three—has built an impressive racing résumé over the last few years in the Florida and Puerto Rico series, steadily climbing her way up the competitive hierarchy from running newcomer to seasoned champion.
Adriana started running in 2009 just as a way to stay in shape, starting with 5k races and gradually building her abilities and confidence until she set her sights on half-marathon races the next year. The following year yielded a serendipitous introduction that would chart the course of her running career. “My husband was the one that actually discovered the XTERRA races,” recounts Nieves. “He suggested one in Tampa and after the first one in November 2011, I was hooked! I loved running on trails and really enjoyed the atmosphere.” The rest is history. In 2014 Adriana sealed her ascension to the competitive level at a Puerto Rico race, finishing as the 2nd overall female in one of her proudest racing moments.
Despite her level of achievement, the road to Nationals this year was no cakewalk for Nieves. “The competition in the Florida series is pretty stiff,” she explains. “The Tampa area races are challenging which draws a competitive crowd. There are some amazing athletes racing.” Nevertheless, after a strong performance in Miami, Adriana was reasonably confident in her position. “It’s exciting to see the points build after each race,” she says, and build they did: once again, Adriana emerged victorious from a talented field as Florida Regional Champion.
With the journey complete, Adriana is ready to enjoy the destination. “Coming from the Florida heat, I LOVE the weather in Utah this time of year,” she gushes. “The course at Snowbasin is perfect trail running. Ogden is a lovely town and the race expo is always fun.” Adriana has just one concern: the altitude—which, she admits, “usually kicks my behind.” After suffering headaches and nausea from altitude sickness at her first Nationals, Nieves emphasizes the importance of acclimatization to Snowbasin’s elevation. “To prepare for Nationals, it’s all about getting acclimated to the elevation. There's NO WAY to prepare for that in Florida, so what I do is arrive in Ogden on Thursday and use Friday and Saturday to spend time hiking at the much higher elevations.” A savvy tip from a resourceful champion—Nationals newcomers take heed.
Ultimately, Adriana takes an appreciative perspective, advising runners to relax and enjoy themselves. “It’s a beautiful course—when you get to the top, take a moment to look at that view and appreciate the beauty of life and the blessing of good health.”
The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will take place on September 18th at the Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah.
By Devin P. Quinn
XTERRA Trail Running Intern