Canada’s Nick Walker and Washington’s Sierra Speiker captured the Duke’s XTERRA Kapalua 10K titles on a warm morning at The Ritz-Carlton Resort, Kapalua, Maui on Saturday, October 26th.
The event was held a day before the 24th XTERRA World Championship triathlon and covered the same course on which the top off-road athletes in the world will be competing on October 27th. The day’s XTERRA Kapaula Trail Runs included the Duke’s XTERRA Kapalua 10K, the Hula Grill XTERRA Kapalua 5K, and the Leilani’s XTERRA 3.3K.
Walker finished the tough 10K course in 44:04. Johnny Webb of Kahului, Hawaii was second in 45:30, and Peter Gresser, of Regensburg, Germany, was third in 49:49.
Walker, 36, who lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, was a former runner on the Canadian National Team. This year’s race represents Walker’s 11th showing at the XTERRA World Championship and his fifth time winning the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run. He has also been a competitor in the following day’s XTERRA World Championship, which features the best off-road triathletes in the world.
This year, he came to Maui with his wife and two-year old daughter.
“After the race, I plan to relax, spend time at the beach, and eat good food,” said Walker, who finished third in this race last year.
The women’s winner, Sierra Speiker, 23, finished the intense, uphill course in 50:17, which was good enough for fourth-place overall. Originally from Oroville, Washington – home to only 1600 people – Speiker had to run cross-country with the boys in high school because none of the girls could keep up with her. Eventually, the larger world took note of Speiker’s speed, and she earned a scholarship at University of Idaho, a NCAA Division I program.
“I’m just running for fun now,” said Speiker after the race. “My family and I are here on vacation and I looked up a race I could run. My parents decided to run it with me.”
Yesterday, Speiker met an athlete competing in XTERRA Worlds tomorrow.
“He told me how brutal the course would be,” said Speiker. “He said, ‘It’s going to be so hard and you are going to be dead in the heat.’ I was so nervous after hearing that because the last run I did in Washington was about 30 degrees.”
Little did this triathlete know how talented Speiker was or that her last trail run included 2800 feet of elevation gain.
“I felt pretty good out there, and just kept picking people off one by one,” she said. “Although that hill at mile five was pretty brutal. But once I got to the top, I knew that it had to be all downhill, and I decided to go for it.”
The Swiss triathlon great, Renata Bucher, 42, from Jan Juc, Australia, was second behind Speiker in 55:19. Currently, Bucher is the technical director for the XTERRA Asia Pacific Tour. In her storied off-road triathlon career, she won 34 XTERRA championship races and four XTERRA European Tour titles. She is also the most successful racer in XTERRA’s Asia-Pacific region.
Oriana Quattrocchi, of Lariano, Italy, was third in 56:18.
Hula Grill XTERRA Kapalua 5K
In today’s Hula Grill XTERRA Kapalua 5K, Fabien and Romain Filoche of France, took first and second places respectively, with times of 23:46 and 23:55. Fabien Filoche also won this race last year.
Tommy Morwood, of Australia was third in 24:47.
In addition to being a talented runner and triathlete, Morwood is also an XTERRA commentator. He is beloved by the Tribe for his willingness to try out courses before the athletes and report back. Most recently, he explored the Kapalua trails on a fat bike. Additionally, he is routinely up before dawn to report on course conditions and detail the day’s athlete briefings as well as the opportunities to be had on land and in the waves.
“This year was as tough as ever,” said Morwood of the Kapalua 5K. “In the past, the trail has been muddy, so I thought this year would be easier because the course was dry. But in reality, dry trails just make it faster, which in turn means your heart rate is elevated, you’re constantly out of breath, and there are no recovery areas.”
The course this year was slightly altered with the first 500 meters going straight up the hill on the lawn outside the Ritz-Carlton.
“As usual, a bunch of young kids all went flat out from the gun with the goal of being first to the top of the climb,” said Morwood. “So I let them claim their 1K glory and paced myself. By the second kilometer, we had a small break on the field until Fabien made a quick move up a really steep pitch. Shortly after, Fabien’s older brother, Romain, went past me.”
Morwood continued to give it his all up the steep climb at the 4K mark and down onto the beach, where the sand can make it feel as if you are running in glue. He was soon called into the finish line by fellow commentator, Kalei Waiwaiole.
“So many people were smiling this morning or running with friends and having an absolute blast,” said Morwood. “Everyone left it all on the course. And trust me - it’s one of the most beautiful and rewarding courses to complete.”
For the women, Layne Millen, of Haiku, Hawaii, was first in 25:23 while Emily Day, of Lafayette, Colorado, was second in 27:52. Lola Donez, of Lahaina, Hawaii, was third in 30:08.
Leilani’s XTERRA Kapalua 3.3K
In the Leilani’s XTERRA Kapalua 3.3K Trail Run/Walk, Marie Martinez, of Xonrupt Longemer, France was first for the women in 20:24. Quiros Amalia, of Lahaina, Hawaii, was second in 22:49, while Lilou Faivre-Pierret, of Walheim, France, was third in 23:44.
Guillame Meunier, of Varennes le Grand, France, was the day’s champ in 15:07. Samuel Mehr, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was second in 16:31 and Kadin Finlayson – age 13 - from Lahaina, was third in 18:37. His brother Zaid- age 9 – wasn’t far behind. He finished in 20:52.
Their mother, Tenya Jayawuk, is one of most highly regarded yoga teachers on Maui, and their father, Brendon Finlayson, was an excellent runner in New Zealand.
“My mother-in-law was watching Kadin at paddling practice about four years ago when the team was running,” said Tenya, ”And she said to me, ‘You know, you should really get Kadin on a cross-country team.’ I took that advice to heart, and this is Kadin’s fourth year running cross-country for Sacred Heart on Maui and his fourth year being the fastest Maui resident in the Kapalua 3.3K.”
His younger brother Zaid appears to be another Maui runner, who will be tough to beat.
“Kadin was worried last night because he went to the school’s Trunk-or-Treat and ate a ton of candy,” said his mother. “But I told him, ‘I signed you up and your brother is going.’ Kadin loves being the top Maui finisher because he gets a gift certificate for TS Restaurants. And he loves to eat.”