Taiwan and Andorra have already been announced as the hosts of the APAC and European Championships respectively, with plenty of additional qualifying races set to take place on trails across Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and the America as the series winds back to where Mason Coppi, Caitlin Patterson, Andy Wacker, and Rachel Tomajczyk became the reigning World Champions in October of 2023.
For those looking to run purely for the love of adventure, pick a trail and have at it. Adventure is what lies at the heart of a series designed for all runners to connect, explore, and discover the most idyllic trails the world over. For those looking to test themselves against the world’s best at the pinnacle race of the season, that will still need to be earned the hard way. This year, TRWC slots have been weighted according to the anticipated strength within the field, with more slots meaning higher competition. Also new this year is the XTERRA Pass program, introduced to help local races grow and give more runners the opportunity to step up to the line at the big one in Sugarloaf later this year.
Check the series page for more info on slots, the World Champs, and the full schedule of qualifying races, and get a taste for what’s coming up with the 2024 races set to take off this February.
Of the 6 events that make up the Arizona Trail Run Series, McDowell Mountain ranks right at the top when it comes to fast courses. Ideal for those hunting PRs, the trails are fast, flowing and extremely well groomed. Expect mild technicality along the way and almost perfect running weather with daytime highs of around 15-21°C (59-70 degrees F).
The 43K Trail Marathon is a single loop, starting off with a subtle incline as you wind your way along the eastern part of the course. However, that soon turns into a leg-testing climb as the short-lived respite you’re sure to feel on the descent from Lousley Hill ends abruptly with a 10K grind to the highest point on the course. From there, the hard work is behind you as descending rollers with just a few punchy hills make for a fast second half.
The 24K Trail Half Marathon is billed as one of the single best runs in the series. Featuring a trail that winds through cholla forests and fields of beavertail cactus, the single-loop course has plenty of steady climbs and fun, gradual descents that are easy on the knees and perfect for those in search of speed.
The McDowell Mountain Regional Park dates back to 1958 and now has 21,099 acres and over 64K of trails to explore. 10K and 6K trail runs are available for those looking for something a bit shorter and the trails are also open to hiking during the event. The MC and DJ will keep the energy high throughout the day and be sure to rest the legs around the community fire pit for some quality time in good company after the race.
New to the trail run circuit this year and complete with XTERRA Pass slots, XTERRA Matterley offers an excellent chance for a multi-terrain trail run during the heart of the UK winter. The course, set in the Hampshire countryside, is intentionally designed to provide a challenge for trail runners of all abilities, while avoiding becoming an excessively tough, boggy ordeal.
The 21K Trail Half Marathon takes place over a 3-loop course that twists and turns around the estate, blending a mix of fire roads, open meadows, and woodland paths in a constantly changing course that is guaranteed to keep runners entertained and on their toes. With only a little over 100m of elevation gain, there will be a lot less time staring at your feet and a lot more time taking in the scenery and historic feel that surrounds the city of Winchester, where King Arthur once held his legendary Round Table.
Expect a warm welcome and a personal, family feel at the event’s debut, with trail runners and the multi-sport enthusiasts sharing the stage at this 2-day off-road festival. Alongside the Half Marathon Trail Run, XTERRA Matterley will also include 7K and 14K trail runs on the Sunday, while multi-sport athletes will get the show started on Saturday with the Duathlon and Sprint Duathlon races.
The race is accessible from almost everywhere in Southern England, taking less than 1hr 20 mins from Central London with public transport options available.
XTERRA South Africa is a proper off-road racing festival, done South African style. The trail runs take place on the Sunday, but going for the entire weekend event is advised to soak up the atmosphere that comes complete with glamping and camping, a beer garden, a massive bonfire overlooking the dam, live music, and no shortage of XTERRA racing throughout the 2-day festival.
The iconic trails of Grabouw are instantly recognisable and nothing short of a trail runner's dream. Each of the 3 runs on offer include long stretches of singletrack that cut through the vast swathes of pink and white that radiate from the flowering fynbos, winding past the majestic sandstone features and cutting through the contrasting greens of the pine tree plantations.
The 21K Trail Half Marathon opens with a gentle climb on jeep track to thin the pack before the trail narrows and the elevation continues on the infamous Caveman’s Climb. 3.6K marks the end of the opening climb and from there the profile is rolling, switching between flowy singletrack through the fynbos, rocky technical trail through the majestic sandstone fields, and stretches of jeep track to offer respite and a chance for the speedsters to get to work. The course finishes strong with the final kilometres switching terrain once again, taking runners along the dam through blazing white sand and large blackened tree stumps to where the finish line, and a selection of South African refreshments, await.
While only the Half Marathon provides TRWC slots, a 12K and a 6K complete the 3 trail runs on offer. The 12K packs a punch in the form of a nasty climb and 2 technical river crossings, while the 6K offers plenty of singletrack goodness without getting your shoes wet.
XTERRA South Africa is an all-out trail festival, with the Full Distance Triathlon and the first of the new Youth Tour races going down on Saturday and the trail runs set for Sunday. XTERRA’s most decorated athlete - Conrad ‘The Caveman’ Stoltz is once again at the helm, so expect the signature trails he is famed for designing and the unmistakable spirit of XTERRA camaraderie. Those looking to spend the night can choose between the glamping and BYOT (bring your own tent), with Peregrine Farm keeping stomachs more than satisfied with a wide variety of healthy food and drink throughout the event.
Another proper off-road festival, only this time it’s all about that signature Kiwi hospitality with all the action packed into a single wall-to-wall day of racing. A total of 7 races make up the event, with trail runners treated to a choice of 3 distances through the breathtaking views and rugged coastlines of Wellington.
The 21K Trail Half Marathon begins at Whareroa Beach before winding its way back to Whareroa Farm where a superb trail through the beautiful Kohekohe and gum forest awaits. The trail heads up a bike link track before making its way down a fantastic twisting, turning downhill section. A few ponds and the Yankee trail brings you back to the beach to weave through the dunes and back to the finish. Almost all the elevation gain is front loaded into the first 5K, leaving the speedsters to really take advantage of the rest of the course and perhaps notch a new PR under the belt.
A truly jam-packed day of XTERRA racing, the XTERRA Wellington Festival also includes 14K and 6K trail runs for those not chasing World Championship slots, Full Distance and Sprint Triathlons, a Duathlon, and a 31K MTB race for the riders out there to tackle head-on.
Don’t rush straight home either because what would a Kiwi-style festival be without a healthy dose of good food, great music, and cold summertime beers to round out the day (and night)?
For more trail runs coming up in the series after February, check the qualifying race schedule and also look for XTERRA Pass races to see if a local race near you could secure a slot to XTERRA Trail Run Worlds. The season is just getting started, with plenty of kilometres ahead.
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