This Saturday in the South Province of New Caledonia, an amazing tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 600 XTERRA trail runners will join together in a rare communal celebration of life and sport in 2020.
There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in the French Territory, the borders are closed, and flights have been suspended until March 27, 2021 to ensure the safety of its local population.
“Our island has been spared from the coronavirus,” acknowledged Nord Benfodda, the event director and president of the Paita Athletic Club. “The public authorities implemented a number of protocols that have allowed us to live normally, safe from this global pandemic. We are lucky, and we know it.
Benfodda and his army of volunteers from the athletic club are taking that same level of care for the community in organizing the third annual XTERRA New Caledonia Trail Runs.
“I think that is why our events are so popular here,” he said. “It’s always about safety first, creating courses that are suitable for everyone, young and old, experienced or beginners, and sharing a friendly family atmosphere."
The main event is a challenging 22K mountain scramble through technical terrain that takes runners to the top of several peaks for a splendid view of the plains and turquoise blue sea below. There are 5K and 10K options as well, and even a “kids K” race around Rivland Paita Resort.
For Benfodda, a noteworthy trail runner in his own right (he finished 19th at XTERRA Trail Run Worlds in 2019), bringing XTERRA to New Caledonia was a way to connect with the worldwide trail running community.
“Being a runner myself and having participated in races abroad, we developed this event in Paita to share our beautiful island with the XTERRA Family, to be part of this international community.”
Close to Australia, New Caledonia is an adventure paradise with spectacular natural scenery including a lagoon registered on the Unesco World Heritage list, and while runners from far away won’t be able to experience the magnificence of New Caledonia this year, the dream remains and 2021 beckons.
“The location is just stunning,” said Renata Bucher, XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour technical director. “The courses are challenging, beautiful, and safe. We wish Nord and his team, and all the XTERRA Family in New Caledonia the very best for a wonderful weekend. We are with you in spirit!”
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.