The first complete runthrough of the reimagined XTERRA Trail Run World Series is set to finish at Sugarloaf Resort in Maine, USA, where each of the the top performing age group athletes from more than 30 qualifying races across 20 countries will push for the run of their season in a bid to cross the line as the 2023 XTERRA Trail Run World Champion.
With the reimagined and recently-launched Trail Run World Series (TRWS) set to culminate in the first-ever qualification-only XTERRA Trail Run World Championship later this year, finding a stage worthy of the occasion was never going to be easy. But as of today, we now know that the notorious trails of Sugarloaf Resort, Maine, USA have officially been called upon to decide the 2023 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. And with good reason, too.
Sugarloaf is no stranger to big-stage events, with the Enduro World Series and the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships having also called upon the 60+ miles of tree-lined trails to put top MTB riders and skiers through their paces. But this year it will be XTERRA’s strongest and fastest trail runners who will need to navigate the rocks and roots, climbs and descents, river crossings, and just about everything else the trail-famous Carrabassett Valley can throw at them on their quest to join the 2023 class of XTERRA Champions.
Held on the weekend of September 30 and October 1, the two-day festival is expected to collide with perfect weather and a kaleidoscope of colours as the fall season in Maine serves up near-perfect trail running conditions for those who qualify for a place on the starting line. Over a thousand professional and amateur trail runners are expected across the multiple races over the weekend, with a total of $10,000 in prize money on the line for the half-and-full marathon championship races.
The history of the championship race dates back to 2008 when it was first held at Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu before moving to Kapalua, Maui in 2021. Since that first race in 2008, a number of prolific names have laid claim to the title, including 4-time champion Max King, 6-time champion Joe Gray, and 2-time champs Grayson Murphy, Kimber Mattox, and Dani Moreno.
With XTERRA now committed to a regular rotation of its championship races for both the triathlon and trail run series, Sugarloaf is next in line to pick up the torch in what is set to be a landmark year for the XTERRA Trail Run World Series.
There is a lot to be excited about with the new format of the TRWS.
For starters, it’s the first time in history that the entire global XTERRA trail running community has been united under one umbrella. Following almost the exact same format of the renowned XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon, the TRWS now allows trail runners from counties across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions to compete in a single series complete with qualifying races, regional and world championships, and a custom-built global ranking system to track the performance of runners around the globe.
This means that 2023 will also see the first ever qualification-only XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. The series currently includes more than 30 qualifying races spread across 20 countries, but only those fast enough to claim the limited number of championship slots will have earned the right to compete in a race that is sure to deliver championship-level competition from start to finish at Sugarloaf this fall.
The full-marathon distance is now also on the cards both in the championship race and throughout the series. Since its inception the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship has only ever been a half-marathon distance, but with the relaunch of the series, both marathon and half-marathon races are on offer with some events able to provide both distances while others may only provide one. Distances are indicated on the TRWS event schedule, but those chasing championship slots must keep in mind that slots earned in half-marathon races are only valid for the half-marathon championship race, with the same applying for the marathon distance. Exceptions for elite athletes and amateur runners who cannot find their desired distance at an event near them can be found on the qualification rules page.
On top of the two separate distance categories, 2023 will also also see the introduction of the new duo category, which will allow teams of two to race together at select races within the series with the fastest duos reserving the right to compete at Sugarloaf on October 1.
And finally, the 2023 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is set to include the newly-introduced segment challenges. So not only will the race crown the fastest trail runners on the planet across every division, but we’ll also know who amongst them have the rightful claim to the title of fastest sprinter, fastest climber, and fastest downhill bomber.
Designed to create the high-energy atmosphere fitting of a championship event, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship races will be the highlight of a two-day trail run festival that will feature a number of additional races for fans, friends and family to get involved and feel the true spirit of the XTERRA trail running community.
While the TRWS is an inclusive series with qualifying races open to anyone and everyone keen to explore the endless trails that wind around the planet, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is an invite-only race where participants must have earned their place by claiming a championship slot via a qualifying race.
The series currently includes over 30 qualifying races for the 2023 championship race, with a total of 116 championship slots spread across all age divisions up for grabs at any marathon distance race, and a further 116 for any of the half marathon races.
The first of those coveted slots have already been claimed at XTERRA White Tanks Trail Run and XTERRA South Africa, meaning the road to Sugarloaf has already begun. But there is still plenty of opportunity for those with championship aspirations to punch their ticket to Carrabassett Valley.
The Americas region will host 20 qualifying races this year, with 13 of those races taking place inside the USA, 4 in Canada, and the remaining races in Puerto Rico, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic.
The APAC region also has an abundance of qualifying races to choose from in New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
The EMEA region is covered by races in 10 countries, including some of the most challenging and scenic trail runs on the XTERRA TRWS circuit in the likes of Italy, France, and Switzerland.
Check the complete TRWS schedule for confirmed dates, distances, and the number of qualifying slots available.
Much like the XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon, the TRWS will also see three regional championships held each year in the build up to the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
These regional championships are open to all runners, with no qualification necessary. Even those who do not reside within the region are welcome to contest the race. Regional championship crowns simply go to the fastest age group male and female athlete on the day, giving top local runners just that little bit of extra push to keep the crowns on home turf.
Asia-Pacific kicks off the first of the three regional championships with the APAC Trail Run Championship taking place in the rocky mountains and tropical forests of Kenting National Park in Taiwan on April 16. The Americas Trail Run Championship then follows on May 21 with the race set to be contested on the legendary Oak Mountain trail system.
The EMEA Trail Run Championship has yet to be announced, but with the final details currently being put in place, an official announcement is expected in February.
You can see the full list of qualifying races here, where you’ll be able to find dates, distances, course maps and more. For information regarding the championship race, check out the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship event page.
Also be sure to follow XTERRA’s trail running pages on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated, informed and inspired for an epic season of off-road racing that is only just getting started.
For news, event updates, stories and more.