Meet XTERRA's Emily McIlvaine, Trail Run Guru

Aug. 24, 2017

Regardless of whether you've met Emily McIlvaine in real life, she's left her mark on you. If you've ever worn an XTERRA Trail Run race number at a championship race, looked up your series points, or received swag in the mail, that's because of Emily.

A few of the tasks on Emily's job description include managing the overall schedule of the XTERRA Trail Run series, tallying  participant numbers and running statistics, syncing databases, and making sure that athletes are assigned their correct points. She is the liaison between race directors, athletes, and XTERRA, and she manages the Trail Run Ambassador program. You may also see her at the registration table at XTERRA Trail Runs, such as XTERRA Beaver Creek, XTERRA Oak Mountain, and the national and world championship races.

Emily is beloved by her XTERRA Tribe, not only for the fact that she does so much, but because she does so much with a smile.

"Emily has done a fantastic job keeping up with the trail runs while working from locations all over the globe," says Dave Nicholas, XTERRA World Tour, Managing Director. "She handles the complaints, the schedules, ornery race organizers, and three kids plus a Navy officer, and I've never seen her without that big smile on her face."

"We are so lucky to have met and hired Emily when she lived in Hawaii," says Janet Clark, XTERRA President.

Emily distinctly remembers her interview with XTERRA and how much she wanted the job. "I wore a suit," she says. "And I am still getting a hard time about it nine years later. I think that was the first time anyone wore a suit into the XTERRA offices."

"When she was pregnant with her first child, I was worried about what we would do while she was on maternity leave," continues Janet. "Then I got a phone call one morning. She said, 'I'm sorry, I'm not coming in today because I'm in labor. But don't worry - I have my phone and my computer with me at the hospital.' She gave birth, and after a few days, she was working from home with her usual style."

This is nothing new for Em. She was offered a job in Chicago at a logistics firm at the beginning of her senior year of college and moved to the Windy City because she thought it was her only chance to see the world.

"Ha!" she says now from her home in Naples, Italy. "Little did I know I would live all over the world."

Emily's greatest challenge is dealing with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, but she copes by sacrificing sleep. Many nights she works until one or two am and then is up at five to work a bit more before getting breakfast for her three children, ages two, four, and seven.

"I love my job," says Emily, when asked why she works so hard. "And I want all the athletes to have a great race experience and be as excited about XTERRA as I am."

Her favorite race is the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, "because the trail runners are the stars."

However, as the one behind the scenes, making sure Worlds goes off without a hitch, Emily has never been able to run in her favorite race.

"But I was in my Jeep Wrangler mapping the course the first year," she says with a laugh. "It was very fun!"

Because she started at XTERRA in January of 2008, Emily was instrumental in getting the inaugural XTERRA Trail Run World Championship up and running. She posted flyers at local runnings stores, at gyms, in town, and on military bases.

"I did a lot of legwork. I really wanted it to succeed."

While her coworkers think that we are the best part of her job, Emily loves interacting with the athletes even more.

"I love going to the events," she says. "I love getting to meet the athletes face to face after communicating for so long by email.

She also likes sending them treats in the mail. "Today was a good day," she says. "I got to email the regional champs and tell them they were getting tee shirts and hats."

Despite her busy life and the demands all of us at XTERRA place on her, Emily has very clear goals for herself and XTERRA.

"My goal for the trail run division is to have a trail run series in every state. I would love to have XTERRA races available to everyone in the United States and have everyone be excited about it. Nothing would make me happier than seeing people at the local races go to the regional races and from the regional races to the national races and from nationals to worlds."

Additionally, while growing XTERRA's presence, she wants to maintain the same connection with her running tribe.

"It's rare to get a personalized email response from a big company or from a big race with 50,000 runners," she explains. "But one of my goals is make sure that no one's email goes unnoticed, and no one feels ignored. I want to make the runners happy as much as I possibly can. I want to always be that real life person to help them with their registration and any issues they might have."

With XTERRA Trail Run Nationals less than a month away and Worlds quickly approaching, Emily will be getting even less sleep than usual. But she's not complaining.

"It's great when you see all your hard work lead to somebody's happiness on the other side."



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Trail Run Series