By Devin P. Quinn
If you’re fortunate enough to attend the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship this December on the island of Oahu, keep your eyes peeled for a team of runners in red. You’ll be able to pick them out by their enthusiasm—no, those aren’t grimaces on their faces, those are smiles, even on the uphill stretches. They are the TEAM TO END AIDS (T2).
The story of this team begins roughly 35 years ago with the genesis of Aids Project Los Angeles (APLA) during the early days of the AIDS crisis. Initially an AIDS service organization, APLA evolved into APLA Health and has since significantly broadened its scope in the field of medical care, becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center in 2014. APLA Health’s mission is to achieve health care equity and promote well-being for the LGBT and other underserved communities and people living with and affected by HIV. They now run two state-of-the-art medical clinics in the Los Angeles area in addition to providing case management, food, transportation, dental care, behavioral health, residential services, and more.
The T2 program began in 1997 under a different name, assuming its current moniker in 2010. Since its inception, T2 has trained over 11,000 athletes and raised over $34 million in Los Angeles. This will be the team’s fourth appearance at Worlds.
“We recruit athletes of all fitness levels, from complete beginner to advanced,” explains Kerry Quakenbush, Director of Endurance Events for T2. Kerry has been involved with APLA's endurance event training program since 2003 and has completed over 55 marathons, several half marathons, and various trail races, relays and 10K and 5K races. He is also an accomplished triathlete and two-time Ironman. “All of our Worlds athletes are enthusiastic amateurs who love coming together to train and raise funds for a worthy cause. We offer each person group training at least once a week (three times for triathletes) in exchange for their raising funds for the organization. Each runner at Worlds will raise at least $3500. To date (for Worlds) we have raised $105,000 and we expect to hit $125,000 or more.”
Kerry describes this year’s group as “Very easy to work with, very excited about Hawaii (who wouldn’t be?) and eager to enjoy the scenery of Kualoa Ranch. Our runners will not be the fastest on December 4, but they will likely be some of the most excited.”
So, if you’re one of the lucky ones headed to Hawaii for this year’s Worlds, be sure to look for those 37 runners in red. Cheer them on—they’re running for a cause.
The 2016 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship takes place December 4th at the Kualoa Ranch on Oahu, Hawaii. More information can be found at www.xterrakualoa.com.
If you want to donate to this amazing group, visit https://www.t2eala.com/XT16/Donate.