Alejandro Vasquez is only 10, but he’s already an XTERRA Trail Run World Champ.
“He’s pretty self-motivated and a strong desire and will to win,” said his mother, Carolina Ospina. “It’s hard to hold him back.”
Alejandro has great role models as parents. His dad competed in XTERRA Guam twice, XTERRA Freedom Fest, and at the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon in Maui in 2015 and 2016. Those years, Alejandro and his sister, Gabriela, age 12, both did the 5K XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run.
“Both of them won and Gabriela paid for dinner with her race money,” said Carolina. “They both love to be involved and in charge.”
Before moving to Hawaii the family lived in Guam. When Alejandro was four and his sister was six, they both competed in a fun triathlon for kids organized by the Guam Triathlon Federation. When the family moved to Kailua, the kids began working with XTERRA triathlete Ben Williams, a coach at the Hawaii Triathlon Center. Both Alejandro and Gabriela have balanced training schedules. Alejandro plays soccer twice a week, swims with Aulea Swim Club, and alternates biking and running.
“It’s so great to see what they can do with their little legs,” said Carolina. “Now they are faster than my husband and I in swimming and running.”
While there is no doubt that these kids are adorable, don’t tell them that. They want to be known as fierce competitors. Two years ago, when they were in Maui, Alejandro and Gabriela met Mauricio Mendez, who remains the youngest athlete to have won an XTERRA World Championship at age 22 (although he was only 18 when he won the race as an amateur).
“They told Mau that they were going to take the title of ‘Youngest Champion’ away from him in a few years,” said Carolina.
In addition to being the mom of two future XTERRA World Champs, Carolina also works a full-time job. She must fit her own training in before five in the morning or after seven at night.
“I’m not fast,” she said modestly. “I don’t win anything and I don’t podium. I just get a lot of tee shirts.”
While the entire family plans on running in the 21K at the XTERRA World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, expect to see the kids ahead of their parents as Alejandro seeks to defend his title in the 10-14 age group and Gabriela looks to win her 10-14 age group as well.
But for their parents, the true reward is not watching their kids win, but watching them persevere and adapt.
“Running and triathlon are so good for kids because it gives them discipline and determination and of course they sleep well,” said Carolina, who adds that her children enjoy the structure of the training routine and the independence and adaptability that coach Ben Williams fosters.
But the best part?
“Through XTERRA, Alejandro and Gabriela have learned to persevere. Even when things get tough, they won’t quit.”
Learn more about the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.