After 38 qualifying events in 18 different countries, the reimagined XTERRA Trail Run World Series is set to culminate on the famed trails of Sugarloaf Mountain with the first ever qualification-only XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Those with a place on the start line will have earned it the hard way. They are the Sugarloaf Trailblazers, and these are their stories.
Lisa Currier is a 44-year-old mother of three. She didn’t start running until 2012, but says her running journey began long before she ever laced up a pair of shoes.
At the age of 18, Lisa was married and pregnant with her first son. Sadly, Isaiah was born premature and only lived for a few minutes. “He was beautiful, however he also became a seed of trauma that I never dealt with,” she says. “We tried again a few months after his birth, but I lost that baby due to miscarriage.”
Five years later, Lisa was divorced. After moving back home, she reunited with an old love. They now have three children who are 19, 18, and 15.
As time went on, Lisa had to find a way to deal with the trauma that she hadn’t faced. She started going for walks that turned into run/walks and, before she knew it, she had signed up for a 5K with her daughter.
“Running became therapy. Every mile I ran, I unraveled some trauma,” she says. “It felt natural, and it was lifesaving. I lost 72lbs, and I felt amazing. We ran that 5K together and, from that day on, it was part of my daily routine to run.”
“Running became therapy. Every mile I ran, I unraveled some trauma.”
The therapeutic outlet that running provided would come to Lisa’s aid a few years later when she lost her mother to Parkinson’s Disease. “That hit me in the face and gut,” she says. “She was only 60 years old. The year she died, I promised her I'd run 1,000 miles for her. I ended up raising over $1,500. I used her passing as fire to do good and keep going. To this day, when things get hard on a run, I imagine her by my side. She's my running buddy in spirit.”
The act of trail running has helped Lisa process emotions like grief, heartache, and sadness. It serves as an outlet through which she can “unspool” the complex yarn of emotional baggage down to the source.
“Being one with nature is life changing,” she says. “You never know what it will throw at you, and it has helped me deal with what life throws my way. I’ve found a deep connection with the woods and nature. It soothes my soul with every step I take.”
“Being one with nature is life changing. You never know what it will throw at you, and it has helped me deal with what life throws my way."
Lisa qualified for the XTERRA World Championship at XTERRA New Jersey. She and her good friend, Tara Gangi, raced together and qualified, finishing hand in hand with big smiles on their faces.
“I’m most looking forward to the World Championship, because we’re going together!” she says. “We show other women our age that you can do hard things and do them well. It’s just one foot in front of the other.”
“I'm forever grateful for running, trails, and my running community. It has seen me through life and helped me find my way and place on this earth. I'm a better me because of it.”
Christine Doran is a 55-year-old mother of three. Her running journey began when she joined the cross country team in high school.
“I hated it and quit after one day,” she says. “Fast forward many years later, and I gave running another try. I’ve run a few half marathons and marathons since.”
These days, Christine has what she describes as a “giant crush” on trail running, and she can’t get enough. You never know what to expect when you head out on a trail, and that’s what makes it exciting.
“You have to be really careful not to twist an ankle or take a flying leap (I’ve done both) but thankfully nothing serious has happened,” she says. “Also, I’m a crazy animal lover, and I love seeing deer, turtles, and bunnies. I have yet to come upon a bear, but they’re definitely on the trails I frequent.”
Like Lisa, Christine qualified for the XTERRA World Championship at XTERRA New Jersey. It was the first time she’d ever run a trail half marathon, so she didn’t hold herself to any great expectation on time. Her goal was simply to run her best, have fun, not get hurt, and finish. “Somewhere after mile 7, a little competitiveness kicked in, and I was making it my mission to pick people to pass!”
“Competing on trail has given me a new drive, one I didn't realize I had until I stepped onto the trail at XTERRA New Jersey."
Although she was pleased with her performance, Christine never imagined that she would receive a top finish, let alone qualify for the World Championship. “You can’t imagine the shock of hearing my name called second place in my age group. I was stunned!” she says. “Better yet, a week later I received an email saying I qualified for the World Championship in Maine. I was over the moon with excitement.”
Christine eagerly accepted the invitation to Sugarloaf and will dedicate this run to her parents. In 2001, Christine lost her father to brain cancer, and, in 2011, she lost her mother to lung cancer. “Both my parents were diagnosed at stage 4, and their time remaining was far too quick, but both were so strong and held themselves with such grace,” she says. “I have my parents to thank for the person I am today.”
For the last several weeks, Christine has been training while raising money for the American Cancer Society. She’s already raised $2,800.
“The lessons I’m taking with me to Maine are: don't stop, chin up, eyes forward, and keep moving, no matter what,” she says. “Competing on trail has given me a new drive, one I didn't realize I had until I stepped onto the trail at XTERRA New Jersey. I can crush that rocky hill. I can get through the mud or over that stream. It has taught me not to doubt myself. Anything is possible if I put my mind to it.”
"I can get through the mud or over that stream. It has taught me not to doubt myself. Anything is possible if I put my mind to it.”
Sugarloaf Trailblazers is an ongoing series, with edition #1 and #2 already published and more stories still to come from those preparing to take their place on the starting line of the XTERRA Trail Run world Championship in Maine, USA.
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