Joe Gray, the 2016 World Mountain Running Champion who led the Team USA mountain running team to their first-ever Gold medal in Bulgaria this September, is headed back to Kualoa Ranch to chase his second Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running World Championship December 4 in Hawaii.
“I just happen to love Hawaiian food and of course being that I spend most of the year in the mountains, it's nice to change things up and race near the ocean,” said Gray. “That, and I really enjoy the energy of the finish and start line areas at Kualoa Ranch.”
Gray has had perhaps his best year ever on the trails in 2016. In addition to his World Mountain Running title he also won the 30K USA Trail Run National Title, the USA National Mountain Running Championship, and the North American Continental Champion in Sky Marathon and Vertical Kilometer.
“It’s been one of my best years so far and I’ve had a blast racing and experiencing different types of races and challenging my personal records at old races,” said Gray.
In 2012 Gray and Ben Bruce crossed the finish line at the same time here at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds, and neither photo nor video could determine a clear winner so the two were declared co-champs. A year later, in 2013, Gray finished 2nd to Patrick Smyth and since then Smyth has won three in a row at the ranch.
“I'm ready to compete, and take on anybody who toes the line…I just wanna run,” exclaimed Gray.
As for getting the title back, he said “it would be nice to add another XTERRA World Title to my 2012 title but also nice to add to my recent 2016 World Mountain Running Championship Title.”
Smyth, who is racing in the NYC Marathon this weekend, will make the call on defending his crown after seeing how he feels after this weekend.
The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is the culmination of 100+ XTERRA trail races held around the world in 2016. The main event is an adventurous half-marathon (13.1-mile/21km) that starts at the base of Ka'a'awa Valley at Kualoa Ranch.
Established in 1850, Kualoa Ranch is a family owned and operated 4,000-acre working cattle ranch, spread from the steep mountain cliffs to the sparkling sea on the northeastern side of Oahu in the Hawaiian countryside.
The ranch terrain varies from dense rainforest to broad open valleys and from beautiful white sand beaches to awesome verdant cliff faces. It is truly a paradise for outdoor recreation with many places accessible only by horseback, on an all-terrain vehicle or by hiking.
There are two major areas of the ranch: the northern half of the ranch including Ka'a'awa Valley which contains most of the movie locations sites, and the southern half that includes Hakipu`u Valley, the 800-year-old Moli'i fishpond, and Secret Island.
If some of the views around the course look familiar, that's because Kualoa Ranch has been the site of many television shows and Hollywood films such as Jurassic park, Windtalkers, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, Tears of the Sun and 50 First Dates. TV shows include Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I. and the hit show LOST.
Kualoa Ranch will be further exposed by the race itself, which is being filmed and edited into a segment for a 2017 XTERRA Adventures TV series that will be seen by millions of viewers across the country via national syndication starting in May and online at XTERRA.TV.
Watch last year's Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship highlight video here: