On May 26th, on an overcast but warm day in the South Pacific, Leslie Nowicki and Patrick Vernay claimed the titles at the XTERRA New Caledonia Trail Run. Both from New Caledonia, Vernay and Nowicki dominated their respective divisions. The trail runs catered to all ages and ability levels by offering a range of distances. Over 500 participants competed in the 21K, 11K, 7K and a 1K kids’ run.
Vernay is one of France’s most successful endurance athletes. He lives year round in New Caledonia and is a nine-time Ironman champion. Twice, Vernay finished in the top ten at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. He finished XTERRA New Caledonia in 1:50:06. He was followed by Caine Warburton who completed the course in 1:51:03. Philip Nausien was third in 1:54:37.
In the women’s race, Leslie Nowicki covered the distance in 2:02:03. Angelique Plaire was second in 2:09:05 and Australia’s Emma Kraft was third in 2:11:05.
Kraft, who finished fifth in the 2017 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, traveled 3500 kilometers from her home in Alice Springs, Australia to run XTERRA New Caledonia. Last year, she ran this race when it was called the Oceania Trail Run.
“The course for XTERRA New Caledonia was run in reverse of last year’s race, which made it slightly easier as most of the hard, technical stuff was out of the way in the first 9K, including the 30 percent grade hill climb which entailed me - and many others - to use our hands to pull on grass and trees, up the mountain,” said Kraft. “The remaining 11 to 12K were still tough but running past the 11K participates who were about to start their race and seeing them cheering and clapping made it that much easier.”
She added that the runners traveling to New Caledonia from other countries were treated with the utmost respect by the race organizers. The international runners included: Johan Vanhoovels- 11th Place (New Zealand), Phillip Nausien – 3rd Place (Vanuatu), Caine Warburton (2nd Place), Brad White (10th Place) and Emma Kraft (3rd Place) from Australia.
“We cannot thank the amazing volunteers and sponsors enough for their hospitality,” said Kraft. “I would also like to thank Mr. Nordine Benfodda, President of the Athletic Club Paita, for all his hard work and to congratulate all of the other competitions across the events. I really recommend others to do the race in the future and to come and see beautiful New Caledonia.”
XTERRA New Caledonia also featured 11K and 7K trail runs.
Frederic Coulson won the 11K in 49:57 while Thomas Testet was second in 50:34 and Charly Fonrobert was third in 51:03. For the women, Alice Le Quentrec won the 11K in 59:39. Alexandra Dervillez was second in 1:02:32 and Audrey Thomas was third in 1:06:08.
Gilles Hubault won the 7K trail run in 36:02. Pierre Qenegei was second in 37:33 and Fabien Gloaguen was third in 41:44. Clara Rostaing won the women’s 7K race in 47:33 while Cornelia Vernay was second in 48:57. Laetitia Relly was third in 51:54.
You can watch the race highlights on YouTube.