On September 16th, some of the best trail runners in the country will gather for one of the most epic races you can imagine. Starting at about 6100 feet and climbing up to 7300 feet, the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship hits all the highlights on its 21K journey along the epic trails at Snowbasin Resort. From twisted singletrack to fast and flat sections to jaw-dropping descents, the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is as close to a perfect race as you can get.
A true championship course, the race attracts some of XTERRA’s most talented runners, including a mix of marathoners, ultra runners, and trail and mountain warriors. Leading the charge for the women is Utah-resident Emma Garrard, who won the XTERRA USA Championship triathlon title at Snowbasin in 2015, and this year turned her focus strictly to trail running. To say she knows the course well is an understatement.
Last year’s champ, Lesley Paterson is always a wild card, and because she is competing in the XTERRA Pan Am Championship triathlon the day before, she may be at the starting line, where she is sure to be a threat to Garrard and anyone else who dares take on the “Scottish Rocket.”
2017 runner-up Giselle Slotboom will be in Andorra on September 16th, representing The Netherlands in the World Mountain Running Championship, but last year’s third, fourth, and fifth place finishers are returning to Utah for another run at the podium.
Jeanette Mathieu finished third last year in an impressive 1:38:56, meaning she covered the tough course at about a 7:33 pace, despite the thin air and her lack of experience on the dirt. Last year, Mathieu relocated from Nashville to Utah. While at med school at Vanderbilt University, she clocked a speedy 1:24 half marathon on the roads, but showed in 2017 that her talent translates to the dirt.
Also returning are Penelope Freedman of Steamboat Springs and Megan Flanagan from Providence, Utah.
Freedman – like Emma Garrard and many other successful trail runners – got her start as a skier and became a competitive snowboarder as a teenager in New Zealand.
“I didn’t really want to do any road running because I love being in the mountains,” she says. “So I started trail running and fell in love with it. It was another way for me to compete in a mountain sport.”
In 2015, Freedman was third at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championships behind Kimber Mattox and Polina Carlson. In 2016 and 2017 she was fourth at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Utah, and this year, she hopes to take another step up on the podium.
But first, she has to contend with Megan Flanagan and a posse of fast women who will be running at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals for the first time. Last year, Flanagan was fifth in Utah and placed 12th at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship on Oahu. Flanagan, who lives in Logan, Utah, is more comfortable at altitude, so definitely look for her in the lead pack.
New this year are Corinne Shalvoy, Emily Parker, and possibly, Megan Roche. Shalvoy, who lives in Castle Rock, Colorado, is a solid runner from 15K all the way up to ultra runs. Last year, she was the first female at the XTERRA Castle Rock 20K, the XTERRA Golden Gate Canyon 22K, and the XTERRA Cheyenne Mountain 24K.
Unlike Shalvoy, Parker is new to the trails but left a clear mark on the XTERRA trail running community when she was the first overall finisher – male or female – at the XTERRA Muleshoe 21K on August 12th in her home state of Texas. Like last year’s third-place finisher, Mathieu, Parker has clocked a sub-1:24 minute half marathon, so there is no telling what she will do on the trails next Sunday.
Also returning this year are last year’s seventh- and eighth-place finishers Lauren Zimmer and Megan Kupres.
In the men’s division, last year’s champ, Brett Hales, is returning to defend his title. Hales, a former track and cross-country standout at Weber State, captured the titles at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in 2014 and 2017.
Hales will have to contend with Anthony Fagundes, the three-time XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Champ. In 2018, Fagundes broke course records at XTERRA Point Magu and XTERRA Boney Mountain before his season was cut short by injury. Judging from his runs on Strava, Anthony is back to fighting shape and he’s looking forward to running up in the mountains. He recently completed a 5-mile race and clocked sub-5:30 pace.
"My goal going forward is to continue to move up in the finishing placement at XTERRA Nationals," said Fagundes who was seventh in 2016 and fifth in 2017. "I'm just excited to return to Snowbasin and race that course again. I love running in Utah and running that course in particular."
Hales will also have to fend off XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Champ Adam Danks, who won the XTERRA San Tan Trail Run, the XTERRA White Tanks Trail Run, and the XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run. Like Fagundes, Danks ran a sub-three-hour marathon at the California International Marathon.
Other contenders include Travis Lavin, who has been running ultras for most of the year and won the Berryman 50-Mile Trail Run in May. And Andy Lee, a firefighter from Texas, won the 20K at XTERRA Oak Mountain in May and was an XTERRA Regional Champ in the off-road triathlon this year as well. He will be competing in the XTERRA Pan Am Championship triathlon the day before, but he is still tough enough to leave a mark on the XTERRA Trail Run National Course the following day. He won his division at both races last year. David Roche, who won the XTERRA Castle Rock Trail Run, may also join in at the start.
Also of note in next Sunday’s race are Kevin Tuck (pictured above) and Tammy Tabeek. Last year, Tuck, 61, scored his ninth XTERRA Trail Run National Championship age-group win with his 16th overall finish. Similarly, Tabeek won her 55-59 age group last year and will be returning to the course.
You can also look forward to seeing XTERRA Texas Trail Run Champ Robert Lopez, XTERRA California Trail Run Champs Elliott Bijlsma, Lamar Sepulveda, and John Williams, and XTERRA Florida Trail Run Champ Jill Corbett.
In addition to the 21K course, there will also be 10K and 6K races so that runners of all levels can experience the beauty of Snowbasin Resort.
Every age-group winner from the 21K race will be awarded a free entry to compete in the 2018 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii.
The top five overall male and female competitors from the 21K race will also receive their share of $5,000 in prize money. Medals and other prizes will be awarded to the top age-group runners from all three races.
Learn more and sign-up here.