The 2021 XTERRA Trail Running World Championships took place on Saturday, December 4. This year’s 21K event relocated from the island of Oahu to Maui for the first time in the 25-year history and the USATF Mountain Running Team team was on hand to compete.
The eight-member squad included Joseph Gray, Edward Owens, Joseph DeMoor, and Andy Wacker for the men and Grayson Murphy, Rachel Tomajczyk, Bailey Kowalczyk, and Megan Lacy for the women. The USATF Team was selected at the USATF Mountain Running Championships on August 15 at Ski Bowl at Mount Hood, Oregon.
Race morning in Maui brought cloudy skies and much calmer conditions compared to Friday’s blustery rain and wind, which left the trails slick in places on the mainly single track route. However, for defending champions Gray and Murphy, slippery trails proved to be no problem as they mastered the terrain.
Gray claimed his sixth XTERRA Trail Running World Championship title in a time of 1:22:25 leading from start to finish and besting second place finisher and teammate Wacker by nearly two minutes. Likewise Murphy took the women’s field out fast and held off her nearest competitor by more than seven minutes to take home her second XTERRA Trail Running World Championship title in a time of 1:31:18.
“It was a muddy roller coaster that had Jungle Book vibes,” said Gray. “The course here was very different from the past course on Oahu, but both had their respective challenges. One of the best things this year was having team staff support. Anita and Jason were out on the muddy trails helping us out and cheering us on.”
Murphy said, “It was a blast to get to defend my title and have Team USA here with me. It’s a great event and a fun place to end the year!”
Team USATF athletes finished strong with second place finishes for both men and women, Wacker crossed the line in 1:24:11 and Kowalczyk crossed in 1:38:35. Owens placed fifth among the men in a time of 1:26:28, followed by DeMoor in ninth place in 1:37:12. For the women, Lacy placed fourth in a time of 1:41:05 and Tomajczyk was sixth place in 1:48:54.
Staff member Anita Ortiz said, “It was exciting watching the team compete and I’m very proud of all the athlete’s performances. It was a great day in Maui.”
Staff member Jason Bryant added, “The team dynamics were great throughout the event and it was energizing to support all the athletes.”
After postponement of the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Thailand, the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship was chosen as an alternate domestic competition for the US Mountain Running Team that would not be subject to USATF’s current ban on international travel for US teams.
2021 XTERRA Trail Running World Championship results for the 124 men and 80 women finishers can be found here.
More race weekend photos of the US Mountain Running Team can be found on Google Photos.