When XTERRA SoCal Regional Trail Run Champ Natasha Preece was 11, she went with her parents to an event for the charity, “Kids in the Game,” which enables underprivileged children to enjoy and participate in team sports for a season.
“I saw how happy these kids were when they were playing and I wanted to help too,” said Preece, now 15. “My mom said, ‘Why don’t you put on a race?’ I think she meant that I should get a few kids together and run around the block, but I thought, nah, that’s not really a race.”
Natasha’s dad worked for Active.com at the time so Natasha enlisted his help in creating a website for registration and her mother for getting the needed permits. But in terms of the actual event, that was all her.
Her inspiration for the event came from the first XTERRA trail run she did when she was eight – XTERRA Mission Gorge.
“It was my first ever trail race and I fell and skinned my knee in the first mile,” said Natasha.
While most kids would have stopped or put an end to their time on the trails, Natasha kept going.
“I kind of fell in love with trail running after that,” she said. “I just found it so fun. I never liked the sports I played before but I loved being out on the trails and in nature.”
Perhaps it’s in Natasha’s DNA.
“My parents are a little insane,” she admitted. “My dad is an ultra runner and my mom does Ironman races. So when they said that I was going to do a 5K, I was like, OK, I’ll see how it goes.”
Natasha put on her first Children for Children 5K at Mission Trails Regional Park using the same course as the XTERRA Mission Gorge 5K. While planning a race is complicated, Natasha kept it simple.
“Running in the Children for Children 5K is a chance to give kids the opportunities to play sports while being out in nature and being active,” she said.
Now, the Children for Children 5K has been going strong for four years in a row, complete with swag bags and finisher medals. Currently, Natasha is going to be a sophomore at Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley, just outside of San Diego, CA. She runs cross-country and still competes in XTERRA SoCal Regional races. This year, her place in XTERRA Black Mountain and XTERRA Crystal Cove were good enough to earn her the XTERRA SoCal Regional Champ title in her 15-19 age group.
“I love cross-country and trail running,” said Natasha. “I very strongly dislike running in circles.”
But Natasha is being modest. She is equally talented at track as she is in cross-country and made the varsity team in both sports as a freshman. Currently, she is on a two-week break, but then she resumes training with a high-altitude camp in Big Bear, California.
Also on her agenda is the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship this September in Utah. If you see her there on the trails, it’s likely she will inspire you not only to run faster, but to be better.
“Our kindness really does matter,” said Natasha. “It makes a difference.”
Learn more about the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship