After graduating from Sacramento State, Lisa Kerrick and a friend decided to move to Alaska.
“We were fresh out of college and living in Lake Tahoe. Moving to Alaska seemed like a good idea,” says Kerrick. “The problem is, you need a lot of gear to live in Alaska. And we didn’t have any money.”
Kerrick had a friend who worked on a boat in Maui and suggested they move there instead. After six months, Kerrick’s friend ended up moving to Alaska (where she landed a job with REI so gear was no longer a problem), but Kerrick stayed put.
“I don’t quit something I start,” she adds. “I decided I’d give it a year.”
Today, she’s been in Maui for nearly 17 years.
Her stick-to-it-ness applies to more than just geographical location. Kerrick is a fierce athlete, who inspires everyone she comes into contact with. Most recently, she encouraged 38 of her fellow employees at Hula Grill in Ka’anapali to sign up for the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs on October 27th.
Now, the event has grown so much that employees from TS Restaurants created a race within a race dubbed “The TS Restaurants XTERRA Challenge” in which each of the four restaurants – Hula Grill, Duke’s Beach House, Kimo’s and Leilani’s – field a team of 5 runners; and the team with the fastest cumulative time in the 5K take home the coveted TS Trophy. Duke’s claimed the title in 2011. From 2012 until 2013 it was Hula Grill. And from 2014 through 2016, it was Kimo’s. Last year, Kerrick was extremely proud that Hula Grill took back the title, and this year, she’s determined that they repeat the performance.
“I didn’t even register our team yet because I know I can get 40 runners. We do such a good job of getting everyone excited about the race and taking everyone out to run the course ahead of time so they feel confident about the race.”
In addition to the inter-restaurant challenge, Kerrick creates an additional competition for the Hula Grill harriers and awards the fastest Hula Grill finisher with a big prize, like a zipline tour. Clearly, Kerrick likes to win, but even more important to her is that all of her teammates feel a sense of accomplishment.
“I research what the other TS Restaurant teams did the previous year and tell our runners what pace they need to be on to beat the other restaurants,” says Kerrick. “If they are shooting to run under 26 minutes, I help them figure out what pace they need to be on.”
Kerrick also creates workout plans, runs the course with her co-workers, and helps them come up with a race strategy for the hills, the sand, and the recovery.
“Normally, I don’t recommend you shoot off from the start, but with the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run you have to because of the single track,” says Kerrick animatedly. “You just have to get to that single track before everyone else gets there or you’ll get stuck behind all those people you could be passing. I remind them that the race is only three miles long. Come on,” she laughs. “Yeah, I guess we are a very competitive restaurant.”
A standout runner at Sacramento State, when Kerrick first came to Maui 17 years ago, she was drawn to the sport of paddling. While virtually unknown to most of the world, outrigger canoeing is the official state team sport of Hawaii as well as a rich cultural tradition.
“It’s incredible,” says Kerrick about the sport. “That’s why I got into triathlon – to cross train for paddling. With paddling, you need a strong upper body and legs. But you also need everything in between. I was surrounded by these strong women paddling and there was always a group of us training for other races too. When you are in that environment every day, it just fires your up.”
Kerrick’s first triathlon was the Kings Trail Triathlon in Makena, Maui.
“I didn’t know how to swim at the time and I’d never swum in the ocean,” says Kerrick. “But I did a couple of training routes before the triathlon and thought, well, swimming is the shortest part of the race. I’ll just figure it out.”
Another race that was also in Makena in 2013 was the XTERRA World Championship. (Today, the race is held in Kapalua.)
“After I did my first triathlon, I knew I wanted to do the XTERRA. At that time, the XTERRA course in Makena was a bloody course. It was known to be one of the bloodiest courses and I was like, I want to do it. I want to do this triathlon so how do I get in?”
The general manager of TS Restaurants told Kerrick that if she trained a team for the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run, the restaurant would pay for her entry fee into the XTERRA World Championship.
“I told him, ‘I’m on board!’” remembers Kerrick. “I fired everyone up for the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run because I was so excited. XTERRA Worlds was on my bucket list.”
Despite being a self-taught swimmer and never venturing out on a mountain bike, Kerrick signed up for the XTERRA World Championship.
“I have to give all the credit to Scott McGill, who is the most patient man ever,” says Kerrick. “He’s the executive chef of TS Restaurants and he agreed to show me the trail. I still remember my first training ride. Scott was like, ‘Wow, I thought you were going backwards.’ That’s how slow I was going. But Scott had so much patience and he kept taking me and taking me. I would spend like four hours up there on that trail."
Kerrick describes racing at the XTERRA World Championship as a dream come true.
“I got into a race that was always on my bucket list and I literally had a big fan club of people cheering for me on race day. They told me I looked like the happiest racer out there. Well, that’s because I was.”
When Kerrick became pregnant with her daughter – now almost four – she switched to trail running. With her job in the evenings at Hula Grill, it was natural for Kerrick to run with her daughter in a jogging stroller.
“I put my daughter in the stroller and train that way,” she says. “We run to a beach, play, and then we run home. That’s how I do all of my training runs. So when I’m actually in race mode and I’m not pushing a stroller, I feel so much faster. It’s almost like strength training. It helps that my husband is a functional movement specialist.”
Usually, Kerrick runs the 10K at the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run, but last year she did the 5K to help out Hula Grill. This year she is doing the 5K because of something even bigger and better. Kerrick is due to have her second child on Thanksgiving Day. While she’s been running and swimming throughout her pregnancy, she decided that she is going to dial it back for this year’s trail run competition.
But after her baby is born?
“After all the motherhood duties are done, I want to get back on my mountain bike,” says Kerrick. “I just love everything about XTERRA and everyone I meet. They are just the happiest people.”
The XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs consist of the Duke’s Beach House XTERRA 10K, the Hula Grill XTERRA 5K, and the Leilani’s XTERRA 3.3K races. Additionally, the Kimo’s XTERRA Keiki K is free for children eight and under.
Learn more about the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs.