Nozomi Wade didn’t start running until she was 52 years old.
“I was a real frou frou girl,” admitted the 2012 XTERRA Age Group Trail Run World Champion and 2013 XTERRA Age Group Trail Run National Champion. “I was into shopping, and sleeping in, and wearing make up.”
In 2009 Nozomi wanted to improve her health. Her son had recently graduated from college, and she felt like an “empty-nester." Her husband – also an XTERRA triathlete – encouraged her to start running.
“I ran a block the first day,” said the Lawrenceville, Georgia resident, “And the next week I ran two blocks. My husband and son told me I should enter a race just to stay motivated.”
Soon after this, she decided to enter a 5K trail run. “My husband was doing it, and I’m pretty competitive with him,” said Wade. “James always beats me but he was impressed I was second in my age group!”
Wade’s first half marathon was at the XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail Run in Georgia in 2010. Again, Wade was second in her age group.
During the next two years, Wade ran on a lot of trails. “I became match tough,” she said. “People called me ‘The Little Engine That Could’ because I never walk. Even on the gnarly hills.”
In 2012, Wade was second in her age group at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Ogden, Utah. In December she continued on to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu.
“We were at the awards ceremony at Worlds, and when they announced the winner of my age group, they said ‘From Lawrenceville, Georgia,’” said Wade. “I thought, ‘Who else is here from Lawrenceville?’ Then I realized it was me! It was my name being called.”
Next weekend, Wade will be traveling to Pelham, Alabama for the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run 20K. Last year she was second in her age group, and this year she is going for the win.
“It’s my favorite race,” said Wade. “I love the rolling hills and the Alabama landscape. I love Snowbasin, but it’s so challenging with the thin air. And climbing up and down in that mud at Worlds is scary. At Oak Mountain I can really run and enjoy it. I do still have a scar from a fall I took last year, but there are also places you can just cruise.”
Wade added that she loves the XTERRA community. “Trail runners are just more laid back,” she said. “I enjoy nature and listening to the birds. And I like how unpredictable it is. It’s just so much better than running on asphalt.”
As a first grade teacher, fitting in time to train can be challenging. She and her husband get up at 4am on weekdays. “I have my coffee first,” said Wade. “But between 4:30 and 4:45 I’m off for my run.”
The couple races twice a month at least. “There’s no off season for me,” said Wade. “Racing keeps me tough. And if I’m not racing I do a long run on my own. “
Wade admits that she didn’t expect the success she has achieved. All she wanted was more energy to keep up with her first graders.
“It’s all very surprising,” admitted Wade. “But I’m a perfect example of don’t ever think you can’t do something because you really can. It’s just been a very unexpected turn of events. This is awesome!”
Photo Courtesy of Wingfoot Photos