Top US Mountain Runners To Race XTERRA Trail Running World Championships

Eight members of the US Mountain Running Team are heading to Maui, Hawaii this weekend for the 13th XTERRA Trail Running World Championship at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. The 21km race takes place this Saturday December 4 and features 2100’ of climb and descent along the lower slopes of volcanic Puʻu Kukui mountain. A maximum capacity field of 1,000 runners is expected for the event, and $10,000 in prize money will be awarded to the top five men and women.

Wearing the prized “USA” branded racing kit, the US team will be led by defending XTERRA Trail Run World Champions Grayson Murphy (Salt Lake City, UT) and Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO).

2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship bronze medalist Joseph Gray. Photo: BikeLife.

In 2019, Gray won his unprecedented fifth XTERRA World Championship, surpassing Max King who won four-straight from 2008-2011. For Murphy, it was her first XTERRA title, and she finished a remarkable fifth overall. Even more impressive, those two had just won the 2019 World Mountain Running Championship titles in Argentina the weekend prior.

This past Monday Murphy and Gray were named USA Track & Field’s 2021 MUT Runners of the Year for outstanding accomplishments during what was a second challenging year for racing under COVID-19.

2019 World Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy. Photo: Trail Running Argentina.

Other US team members racing in Maui include Eddie Owens (Larkspur, CA), Joseph DeMoor (Carbondale, CO), and Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO) for the men; and Rachel Tomajczyk (Lynchburg, VA), Bailey Kowalczyk (Nederland, CO), and Megan Lacy (Boise, ID) for the women. Leading them will be Jason Bryant and Anita Ortiz, two experienced team staff members who also have been accomplished mountain and trail runners.

These eight elite athletes qualified for the US team at the USATF Mountain Running Championships held this past August in conjunction with the Gnar Gnar race at Mt Hood, Oregon. Originally they were to have competed in the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand until the event was postponed until November 2022.

Always a high quality competitive event, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship was chosen by the team staff as an alternate domestic competition that would not be subject to USATF’s current ban on international travel for US teams.

US Team Athlete Quotes

Defending women’s champion Grayson Murphy shared her thoughts writing, “Racing for Team USA is always an honor and I am so happy we will get to do that this year. XTERRA World Champs is one of my favorite races ever so I can’t wait to share that with my USA teammates this year!”

2019 NACAC Mountain Running Champion Andy Wacker. Photo by Tad Davis.

Multiple USATF national champion and US team veteran Andy Wacker wrote, “Each of the three times I have raced the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship has been an incredible experience! The competition, the scenery and the people behind the race are what keep me coming back. I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over the Hawaiian islands, or jumping into the Pacific after the race. Being part of Team USA makes this year even more special. Team championships bring out the best in runners. It makes the race more competitive, and also creates a positive atmosphere, where teammates can push each other to achieve a bigger goal. Wearing the USA jersey is always special, and has led to some of the biggest achievements of my life!”

Rachel Tomajczyk – 2nd place at the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Michael Scott.

About this Saturday’s race, Rachel Tomajczyk said, “I’m really excited for XTERRA Worlds! I’ve never raced here before and I always love exploring new trails so I’m most excited for beautiful views on the trails and great competition. I’ve been running since high school and grew up dreaming about making US teams so it really is an honor to put on that red, white, and blue jersey and represent the USA.”

Megan Lacy – 4th place at the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Michael Scott.

About the team aspect of the race Megan Lacy wrote, “One of the coolest things about college running is being part of a team in cross country. As someone who doesn’t represent a specific team right now in normal races, I am looking forward to getting to experience that again by racing as a team. I am also looking forward to spending the whole weekend with the rest of Team USA and getting to know all the other athletes better.”

Joseph DeMoor – 3rd place at the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Michael Scott.

First-time US team member Joseph DeMoor wrote, “I am happy to be on the team with some really strong runners on the men’s and women’s sides. I’ve always considered running to be a team sport, from support crews to coaches, family, friends, teammates, I’m grateful to everyone who helped me get to where I am today.”

Bailey Kowalczyk – 3rd place at the 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championships. Photo: Michael Scott.

The youngest athlete on the US team, Bailey Kowalczyk wrote, “I am very excited to race on my first US mountain team! During a hectic time in the world, it is really great that we will be given the opportunity to race as a team in some capacity! I have dreamt of being on a US team since running track in high school and college, and it will be amazing to live out that dream. This will also be my first time to Hawaii, and my first XTERRA worlds race. From what I have seen so far, I am expecting a very fast course, and am preparing accordingly. I am very excited to finish out the season wearing red, white and blue!”

Grayson Murphy winning the 2019 XTERRA Trail Run World Championships. Photo: XTERRA.

“We are thrilled to have the US Mountain Running Team join us in Maui,” said XTERRA Trail Run Series manager, Emily McIlvaine. “This is the first year our tri and trail run world championships will be held on the same weekend, and we can’t wait to have the best athletes in XTERRA racing together in one place. It is sure to be an epic weekend filled with excitement, and having the stars from the USMRT with us will make it even more historic.”

For LIVE updates from the race weekend follow USATF MUT and ATRA social media channels. Start time is 8:00 AM Hawaii time on Saturday.

All runners of the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to packet pick-up and/or race morning.

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