On Saturday night in Ogden, Utah, Deanna McCurdy was named the 2017 Ms. XTERRA award winner.
The perpetual honor is given annually to recognize a member of the XTERRA Tribe who exemplifies the spirit of XTERRA – the challenge, commitment and camaraderie that is the essence of our sport.
Deanna carries the XTERRA spirit far beyond the finish line. Brave both on the course and off, McCurdy is a living example of courage.
"There is no doubt Deanna is a warrior, both in her personal life and on the athletic front," said XTERRA President, Janet Clark. "What I love about her is her selflessness - she's a cheerleader. It's all about other people and helping them achieve their goals or improve their life, whether the long-term goal is a PR or just demonstrating that there are things in their life that they can control."
Deanna and David McCurdy are parents to two amazing daughters — 11 year old Hailey and 9 year old Hayden. When she was 16 months old, Hayden was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, or A.S., - a rare neurogenetic disorder that’s often diagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy.
In her acceptance speech, Deanna was honest about how difficult it was to learn about and accept Hayden's diagnosis, and how alienated many people dealing with special needs feel.
"Hayden was born in 2008 and she was diagnosed in 2010," said Deanna. "Suddenly the world you think you are going to have changed in a heartbeat. As I entered this world of special needs I really didn't know much about, people I was close to didn't know how to approach us anymore. My child can't ask for playdates and we can't have sleepovers and goodness knows, people don't usually ask us out for dinner because it's a little crazy."
Rather than stay in a dark and lonely place, in 2011, Deanna decided to use her athletic talents to help find a cure for Angelman Syndrome. She founded Team Miles for Smiles — the fundraising arm for the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics — an organization founded by parents of children diagnosed with this disorder.
As founder of Team Miles for Smiles, Deanna views herself as head cheerleader. Initially her goal was to help raise money for research to cure Angelman Syndrome, but what has evolved over the years has been even more rewarding. Deanna is constantly empowering and inspiring other parents of A.S. children to train for and complete their first 5k, triathlon, or marathon and cross their finish line goal.
Deanna first came to XTERRA Trail Run Nationals in 2013, and she felt drawn in by XTERRA and the athletes she met. Since then, Deanna has turned towards the XTERRA triathlon series and has been a two-time regional champ, a two-time national champ, and she won the women’s amateur XTERRA Pan Am title in 2016 and 2017.
"The XTERRA triathlon has been very good to me and my family," said Deanna. "But what's really amazing is that every single person I have met through XTERRA has not turned their back on us, has not felt awkward around us, and they have loved us and embraced us and even gone out to eat with us and our children. They have celebrated our victories and have given us big huge hugs in our defeats. That's why I keep coming back."
"I love her friendship, competitive spirit, and the positivity that she exudes even during adversity," said friend and fellow XTERRA competitor, Jennifer Razee. "I really admire all she’s accomplished in the sport, all she gives back to others, and the way she juggles life. She really is Super Mom, and so deserving of being named Ms. XTERRA."
"When I would go out for a run, I used to play out ideas in my mind about what our little team could become," said Deanna about Team Miles for Smiles. "Did I ever think it would involve my winning big XTERRA Championship races or land me on the stage to receive the Ms. XTERRA award? Not remotely, but as I have learned, when one goal is achieved, such as setting the goal of completing a first triathlon, another door opens.
"The key is being open to listening to that inner voice that whispers to go for that next goal. I know I dream big and always have, but the way I see it, if you dream big and work every day to chip away at making that dream become a reality, you will never look back and wonder 'what if?' I may not achieve all the big dreams I have set, but I know that if our life changes and suddenly I can’t pursue these dreams with the same vigor as I can now, I will have no regrets. And that is something Hayden has taught me."