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Polina Carlson

Gray and Carlson win XTERRA World Champs

by Press Release
Monday 5th December 2016
Joe Gray and Polina Carlson won the 9th annual Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch on Sunday 4th December.
Gray, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, finished the grueling half-marathon course in 1:17:15, six-minutes ahead of runner-up Nick Arciniaga from Flagstaff, Arizona.
Carlson, from Kailua, Hawaii, cruised to victory in 1:38:06, more than seven minutes ahead of Caroline Veltri from Butler, New Jersey.
The men’s race started out fast with Gray and the reigning, three-time champ Patrick Smyth setting a blistering pace and pulling away from the rest of the field.  At the two-mile mark those two were charging down the mountain valley side-by-side but when they got to the intersection at the bottom Smyth went left and Gray went right.  Right was the right way and both the TV crew, who was filming the race for an XTERRA Adventures show, and Gray himself, yelled out to Smyth to turn around.  He did, and got back on track but not without losing a little time and perhaps more importantly, momentum.
“That one was my fault I think, because I’ve done this course a few times now,” said Smyth.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only wrong way of the day for Smyth.  Roughly six-miles into the race with Gray in front by more than a minute, Smyth missed an arrow which led to a 3/4-mile uphill.  Instead of going up, Smyth went straight and re-connected with the course just 1/3-mile later.  As a result, he took over the lead but didn’t know it until Gray caught back up at about mile nine.
“Didn’t see it, didn’t hear anybody yelling for me, had no idea,” recalled Smyth of the mistake.  “I thought Joe was still ahead and I was in second.  I heard someone behind me, but I thought that was Nick coming up.  When I saw Joe there I was totally confused.”
There were two marshals at the spot back at mile six who both called out for Smyth to turn around but with no success. Thus, Smyth was disqualified, a tough decision considering how gracious a champion he has been over the last three years at Kualoa.  He also was running strong and certainly would have finished at least second on the day.  Instead, second place went to Arciniaga, a 2:11 marathoner and former USA Marathon Champ who was running in his first trail race.
“I feel bad for Pat, both he and Joe left us all behind,” said Arciniaga.  
Ultimately, the day belonged to Gray, who won his second XTERRA Trail Running World Title and his second running World Championship this year.  He led Team USA to Gold at the World Mountain Running Championships earlier this year.
“It was a tough year out here with all the mud, slipping and sliding the whole way,” said Gray.  “Mud or not, I’m glad to be here and not Colorado where it was like 19-degrees today.  This win means a lot because I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on mountain running this year and this is different. It isn’t as steep, it’s more runnable, and it’s important to show diversity and how you can compete across a variety of distances and different types of events.”
Chad Hall, two-time Olympian Ryan Hall’s younger brother from Big Bear, California, finished third on the day followed by Tyler Curtis from Colorado and Jacob Fure from Washington.  Ryan Hall, the two-time Olympian who has notched America’s fastest half-marathon and marathon times, finished 18th overall in 1:43:39 and had a smile on his face all day.
In the women’s race Carlson led from wire-to-wire, and picked up her second overall XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in four years.
“I’m so happy to be here, it was such a great day,” said Carlson.  “This race is hard, but it’s so adventurous and so fun.  I love to run trails, especially here at Kualoa where it is so beautiful.”
For Veltri, the runner-up, today’s race was a grand welcome to Hawaii.  She just got in last night from New Jersey, and signed up for the run this morning.
“I planned this trip for the Honolulu Marathon but saw this and love to run trails so wanted to come try it out,” said Veltri, who runs for the Central Park Track Club in New York City.  “It’s simply beautiful.  The hills were devastating though, and I can tell you it is one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done.”
In third, and the top true local girl, was Malia Crouse of Makawao, Maui, followed by Leslie Nowicki in fourth and Kelly Wolf in fifth.

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