Four-peat for King; event record field of more than 2,000 participate in Hawaii.
KA’A’AWA, Hawaii — The anticipated rain never hit Kualoa Ranch, but the reign of Max King continued at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
King, 31, won the XTERRA Trail Run World title for the fourth consecutive year, this time topping a record field at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii on Sunday, December 4.
More than 2,000 runners from around world participated in the event, and in keeping with the tradition, none of them came close to King.
King, an Olympic Marathon hopeful from Bend, Oregon, completed the 21.9-kilometer course (13.6 miles) in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 27 seconds. He received $2000 and a roundtrip airfare from Hawaiian Airlines for the victory.
“I’m surprised,” King said. “I knew there was good competition, and to be honest, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. So at the start, there were three of us and we kind of broke away, and I was surprised that more guys weren’t there with us. Then about halfway, I kind of broke away again and was really surprised to finish here that far ahead.”
King said he was suffering from a cold and a sore Achilles. “I don’t know what it is about this race,” he said. “Maybe it’s because of the time of year and the travel, but I never seem to come here fully healthy, so I’m just happy to win it again.”
The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch was created in 2008, and King has won it every year. It rained on the island of Oahu earlier in the week, but the challenging trails at Kualoa Ranch remained dry for the race.
“It was real humid out there,” King said. “It was tough as always. You think you’re through the worst part and then that big hill comes up at you, so this race is always challenging.”
Peter Pechek of the Czech Republic was this year’s runner-up, finishing in 1:22:56. It was his first time racing in Hawaii.
“It’s a very difficult race,” Pechek said. “The downhills were really hard for me. I ran with (King) for the first 10K, then he got ahead. We have zero degrees in the Czech Republic right now, so to run in this hot weather was difficult, too.”
Ben Bruce of Eugene, Oregon was third in 1:23:01 – just five seconds behind Pechek. Bruce was in second for most of the course, but got caught in a logjam of the slower runners who were getting lapped.
“For me, this is totally out of my realm,” Bruce said. “I’m usually a track runner, and I do better on the roads. But it was chaos toward the end there, and I wasn’t expecting that. I kind of had to dodge the (slower) runners and got bumped and almost fell and that’s kind of when (Pechek) passed me.”
Bruce has participated in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship three times and has finished second (2008) and third twice (2009 and 2011).
For the women, Morgan Arritola was an impressive 10th place overall and first in the women’s division in 1:33:00. It was her first XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in her first race in Hawaii, and she said she now understands why the course is often described as breathtaking in more ways than one.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “I wish I wasn’t dying so much out there so I could have enjoyed it a little more. The humidity really got to me.”
That’s excusable, considering that just last week, Arritola was training on snow skis in minus-15 degrees in her home state of Idaho. She is a member of the USA cross country ski team.
“The start was mayhem, there were so many runners,” she said. “So I kind of just kept running and never really saw any of the other women.”
That’s because no other women were close. Arritola finished more than four minutes ahead of the other females.
Lucy Smith, 44, a former Canadian cross country champion, placed second in 1:37:46. It was also her first appearance at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
“It was an amazing experience, probably one of the hardest trail runs I’ve ever done,” Smith said. “I loved the way the trail took you to so many different parts of the park. I feel so much gratitude to be able to do this race and be on vacation in Hawaii at the same time.”
Former Ironman world champion Heather Fuhr, 43, of Encinitas, California, was third in 1:40:52, while Cindy Anderson, the 2008 women’s XTERRA Trail Run World Champion, was fourth in 1:42:08.
The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship was the last race in a 70-stop World Tour – a national and international series of trail races ranging from 5K to 42K held in eight countries and 15 U.S. states.
The race also was filmed for a segment in the nationally syndicated XTERRA Adventures TV show that will start airing in May 2012.
XTERRA Trail Run World Championship
Oahu, HI, Sunday, December 4, 2011
1) Max King (OR), 1:21:27, $2000 plus roundtrip airline ticket
2) Petr Pechek (CZE), 1:22:56, $1000
3) Ben Bruce (OR), 1:23:01, $750
4) Rivers Puzey (HI), 1:25:45, $500
5) Jacob Puzey (OR), 1:26:59, $300
6) Jeffrey Moreland (NV), 1:27:10, $250
7) Brandon Laan (CAN), 1:31:04, $200
1) Morgan Arritola (ID), 1:33:00, $2000 plus roundtrip airline ticket
2) Lucy Smith, 44, CAN, 1:37:46, $1000
3) Heather Fuhr, 43, CA, 1:40:52, $750
4) Cynthia Anderson (HI), 1:42:08, $500
5) Melanie McQuaid (CAN), 1:47:08, $300
6) Susie Stephen (AZ), 1:49:35, $250
7) Eva Skalnikova (CZE), 1:51:43, $200
Full results including 2011 XTERRA age-group world champions and more at: www.XTERRAtrailrun.com