XTERRA World Champions Crowned in Maui

December 8, 2021

Organizers and participants in the 2021 XTERRA World Championships of trail running and triathlon overcame a myriad of pandemic complexities, colossal surf, and ‘catastrophic’ weather conditions to revel in the sports’ ultimate weekend of events on December 4-5, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

Organizers and participants in the 2021 XTERRA World Championships of trail running and triathlon overcame a myriad of pandemic complexities, colossal surf, and ‘catastrophic’ weather conditions to revel in the sports’ ultimate weekend of events on December 4-5, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

On Sunday, December 5, Tokyo Olympics triathlon bronze medalist Hayden Wilde from New Zealand and gold medalist Flora Duffy from Bermuda captured the 25th XTERRA World Championship elite titles on Maui’s northwest coast.

It’s the first XTERRA win for Wilde as an elite, however, he captured the XTERRA Worlds 15-19 age group division titles in 2015 and 2016. It’s the unprecedented sixth XTERRA World Championship crown for Duffy, who won four straight from 2014-2017 and again in 2019. Both earned $20,000 for their respective victories, their share of the $100,000 elite purse.

It was a wild day for XTERRA all around, with the swim being cancelled for the first time in 25 years since the inaugural 1996 race on Maui due to massive surf and hazardous rip currents. The race converted to a run-bike-run duathlon that started with a 3K run and followed with a grueling two-lap 31K mountain bike ride and finished with an 11K trail run through forest trails and beach sand.

The weather was cool and calm for the start of the elite race at 8am, but then came the rain for the start of the age group races at 9:15am. The bike and run courses went from being perfectly tacky to a literal slip-and-slide for bike riders. Add nearly 4,000 feet of combined climbing on the increasingly technical bike and run courses, and an already challenging course got even harder.

In the men’s elite race Wilde jumped out to an early lead with the fastest 3K run time, 10:34, followed by Brice Daubord (FRA) 22-seconds later, then shortly after by Mauricio Mendez (MEX), Seth Rider (USA), Arthur Serrieres (FRA), Josiah Middaugh (USA), and Ruben Ruzafa (ESP).

Once on the bike, Wilde continued to push the pace up front.

“Full gas from the go, and once I got on the bike I was riding at threshold to see if anyone wanted to come with me and got a little bit of a lead,” said Wilde. “I just kept the pressure on during the first climb, and then a group got me just as we went into the second set of trail so from there we worked together and were all real competitive.”

The group consisted of Rider, Middaugh, Serrieres, Ruzafa, and not far back were Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN), Francisco Serrano (MEX), Mendez, and Sebastien Carabin (BEL).

About halfway through the second lap Wilde and Rider were riding together up front, with Serrieres and Ruzafa about seven seconds back. The dynamic changed when the first rain started to falling.

“The last 15 minutes of the ride it started raining and got real slippery for me because the PSI was a bit too high,” said Wilde. “I was slipping everywhere and that’s when Ruben and the boys with all that experience on the islands flew away from us.”

As he always does, Ruzafa worked his way to the lead by the end of the bike.

“I couldn’t take the group until the end of first lap, but then I had to stop to fix my hand lever, but when it started to rain I went very fast and overtook them, and probably got 30 seconds. The mud changed the course a lot,” said Ruzafa, who posted the fastest bike split (1:25:35) and was first off the bike for the eight straight time at XTERRA Worlds.

Serrieres was second out of the bike-to-run transition five seconds behind Ruzafa, then Wilde and Rider another seven seconds later.

“That was awesome,” said Rider, who grew up going to XTERRA races with his Dad who was also racing today. “I was pleasantly surprised to be able to keep up with the group on the bike with Ruben and Josiah and Arthur. Everything was going really well, and on the second lap Hayden and I opened up a bit of a gap on the second climb, and then it started raining and everything changed. Me and Hayden were slipping all over the place, and Ruben and Arthur came right by us and we were just trying to stay up right for the rest of the bike.  We managed to keep the gap in control, but at T2 I realized coming off the bike in XTERRA is way different than ITU, my legs were totally smashed and I was just in survival mode trying to get to the finish.”

Wilde passed Serrieres and Ruzafa in the first mile of the run and never looked back.

“I just really applied the pressure as hard as I could in that first 5K and I knew it was downhill from there so just focused on staying on my feet and getting home safely,” said Wilde, who posted the fastest run split (40:11) and took the tape in 2:18:39, 23-seconds ahead of Serrieres in second.

“Feels good, awesome to come here and win it, and I still have unfinished business because I want to race here when it’s a triathlon so that gives me extra incentive to come back,” said Wilde, who won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics triathlon.

Serrieres was thrilled to finish second in Maui for the second straight time.

“I was really impressed with Hayden’s skill on the bike and his power, he pushed all the time, and on the first loop when it was dry he rode really fast,” said the reigning and two-time XTERRA European Champion. “If it rained a little more or sooner more maybe I could’ve won the race, but Hayden was stronger on the run. I’m really happy to battle with him, it was maybe the toughest race I’ve ever done.”

Ruzafa ran strong to hold on to third. He’s now been in the top four at eight XTERRA World Championship races in a row, including two wins, a second, four 3rd’s, and a fourth.

Rider finished about one-minute later in fourth and top American, while Carabin passed Middaugh to come in fifth, and Middaugh in sixth.

“I was really happy to mix it up, I was having a great day, and was looking forward to that second lap on the bike but my legs just kind of gave out a little and I had to back off a bit,” said Middaugh. “I felt like I had a really good day and a really strong run, but it wasn’t strong enough.”

Top 15 Elite Men

1 Hayden Wilde, NZL 0:10:34 1:26:33 0:40:11 2:18:39
2 Arthur Serrieres, FRA 0:11:08 1:25:54 0:40:41 2:19:02
3 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 0:11:13 1:25:35 0:41:16 2:19:33
4 Seth Rider, USA 0:11:08 1:25:51 0:42:14 2:20:43
5 Sebastien Carabin, BEL 0:11:28 1:26:22 0:41:22 2:21:02
6 Josiah Middaugh, USA 0:11:12 1:26:38 0:42:00 2:21:26
7 Maxim Chane, FRA 0:12:05 1:28:06 0:42:37 2:24:16
8 Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN 0:11:04 1:40:37 0:43:20 2:24:43
9 Francisco Serrano, MEX 0:11:24 1:31:15 0:44:07 2:28:04
10 Xavier Dafflon, SUI 0:11:57 1:29:23 0:45:31 2:28:27
11 Geert Lauryssen, BEL 0:12:16 1:32:34 0:46:51 2:33:22
12 Karel Dušek, CZE 0:12:24 1:35:37 0:44:10 2:33:58
13 Rom Akerson, CRC 0:11:16 1:35:32 0:48:39 2:37:07
14 Samuel Jud, SUI 0:12:14 1:36:21 0:47:17 2:37:40
15 Brice Daubord, FRA 0:10:56 1:42:27 0:42:47 2:38:00

Complete Results

In the women’s race it was Duffy all day long with the fastest first run, bike, and second run times to take the tape in 2:39:49, more than six minutes ahead of Loanne Duvoisin (SUI). It’s the fourth Maui race in a row that she’s had the fastest splits in each discipline, and she’s now won her last 13 XTERRA races and 18 of 21 since 2013.

“Happy to perform well and win my sixth title,” said Duffy, who won the Tokyo Olympics gold medal. “Racing a duathlon was definitely a surprise, it made it a lot harder out there, but it was definitely the right call (to cancel the swim). It’s incredible to be back here in Maui, I really enjoy finishing my season here, and I want to thank everyone who cheered, it felt really special, a beautiful way to finish this magical year.”

Even though Duffy dominated, she still called it a tough challenge.

“The course is tough, its always tough, but we got lucky it didn’t rain as much as we anticipated early on because the second lap of the bike when it started to rain it got real slick out there real quickly, so that was nerve-wracking. I just told myself to stay smooth, and stay on my bike.

Now, Duffy says, it’s time for a vacation.

“There was so much pressure and expectations on me going into the Olympics as the gold medal favorite, it was a five-year Olympic build, and that extra covid year really added to the intensity. After I won, I was on the highest cloud I could be on but also everything hit me – the expectations, the pressures I was carrying around on my shoulders. And since then it’s been difficult to balance all the media obligations while still trying to train and wanting to keep my season going because I had some big goals. I wanted to come here and defend my title, wanted to still race on the World Triathlon circuit, so it’s been a lot and I’m just thrilled I managed to pull off a great race day, win my sixth XTERRA, and now I can go on a big holiday.”

In the chase for second, Eleonora Peroncini was solidly in second place on the bike before the rain hit on her second lap and she had a big crash that broke her seat and set her back. Duvoisin and Flipo, who rode much of the bike together, took advantage to move into second and third where they remained to the finish.

“I’m so happy, and to have my family here with me today was really special,” said Duvoisin, who got her redemption in Maui after having to pull in 2019 due to a mechanical.

For Flipo, it’s her second top three in a row (she was 2nd in 2018).

“It was a tough race, it changed everything on the second lap with the rain, and then on the run I was by myself and trying to catch up to Loanne but I started cramping and was just trying to survive after that,” said Flipo.

Peroncini hung on for fourth, and Suzie Snyder came in fifth and as the top American in Maui for the fifth straight time.

Top 15 Elite Women

1 Flora Duffy, BER 0:12:38 1:39:57 0:45:32 2:39:49
2 Loanne Duvoisin, SUI 0:12:57 1:44:00 0:48:19 2:46:56
3 Michelle Flipo, MEX 0:12:56 1:45:15 0:50:16 2:50:17
4 Eleonora Peroncini, ITA 0:13:18 1:47:10 0:54:08 2:56:09
5 Suzie Snyder, USA 0:14:23 1:52:05 0:53:31 3:02:01
6 Alizée Paties, FRA 0:13:32 1:52:24 0:55:27 3:02:55
7 Carina Wasle, AUT 0:13:32 1:57:42 0:51:45 3:05:02
8 Amanda Felder, USA 0:13:46 1:56:09 0:55:45 3:07:54
9 Katie Button, CAN 0:14:56 1:56:04 0:58:37 3:11:29
10 Melanie McQuaid, CAN 0:14:03 1:58:42 1:02:42 3:17:21
11 Chelsea Raymond, CAN 0:15:31 2:13:05 1:00:29 3:31:13
12 Irena Ossola, USA 0:15:12 2:18:55 0:56:44 3:33:45
13 Brandi Swicegood, USA 0:15:58 2:20:07 1:03:33 3:42:26

Complete Results


In age group racing action Guillaume Meunier from France and Katerina Jezkova from the Czech Republic won the overall amateur titles and below is a look at all the day’s champions. We’ll have more on the amateur race next week.


Women Name, NAT FINISH
F20-24 BRONWYN TAYLER, USA (UT) 4:26:49
F25-29 HANA ODLOVÁ, CZE 3:18:12
F30-34 CAROLYNE GUAY, CAN 3:17:14
F40-44 HOLLY WRIGHT, USA (CO) 3:37:09
F65-69 LORENN WALKER, USA (HI) 5:27:09
F70-74 JO GARUCCIO, USA (UT) 5:43:01
M20-24 ANDERS JOHNSON, USA (UT) 2:44:41
M30-34 BRANDON NIED, USA (NV) 2:48:51
M35-39 ADRIEN PASCAL, FRA 2:44:11
M40-44 JASON MICHALAK, USA (CO) 3:04:59
M45-49 MICHAEL DORR, USA (CO) 3:04:47
M50-54 CAL ZARYSKI, CAN 3:04:24
M65-69 WALT RIDER, USA (TN) 4:33:42
M70-74 CARL PETERSON, CAN 4:29:03
M75-79 BRUCE WACKER, USA (HI) 5:23:01

2021 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Report

A day earlier, on Saturday, December 4, 2021, Joseph Gray from Colorado Springs, Colorado and Grayson Murphy from Salt Lake City, Utah won the 13th XTERRA Trail Run World Championship half-marathon titles with winning times of 1:22:25 and 1:31:18, respectively, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

It was a record-breaking fifth XTERRA Trail Run World Championship win in a row for Gray and his unprecedented sixth elite title in Hawaii. For Murphy, it was her second straight, and she finished a remarkable sixth overall.

Andy Wacker from Boulder, Colorado and Najim Mahmoud from Flagstaff, Arizona finished second and third for the men. Bailey Kowalczyk from Nederland, Colorado and Katherine Short from Halfmoon Bay, Canada placed two/three in the women’s race.

In the men’s elite race Joseph DeMoor led a pack of five up the first big climb at mile two of the run followed by Gray, Mahmoud, Brett Hales and Wacker. The five runners were within 10-seconds of each other and all looking strong.

“We were bunched up for a long period of time before it thinned out,” said Gray. “It was very much a race where no one could breakaway because one guy would be in the lead and slip and fall down or almost fall down and so people lost a lot of momentum here and there, so it ended up being a real back and forth battle most of the race.”

Mahmoud, who has been training in Uganda for the last three years, did his best to stay with Gray as long as he could and was running in second for some time.

“I was patient in the beginning, tucked in behind for the first few Ks, then Joseph and Andy and I got in a group, then me and Joe pushed up front until about the 13K mark when he moved away,” said Mahmoud.

Wacker and Hales were also lurking not far behind.

“There were a lot of good runners here, guys I’ve been racing all year here, but Brett was the one who had me the most nervous,” said Gray. “He’s got a lot of grit, he’s a tough guy, a veteran, he knows how to race and even when he wasn’t in the front pack I still, in the back of my head, thought he’d be dangerous, and he was, because out of nowhere here comes Brett.”

Hales is a three-time XTERRA U.S. National Champion and finished runner-up to Gray at Worlds in 2018, but had run just a couple of competitive races since then.

“The first four miles was just adrenaline, the excitement of being here and mixing it up with Joe and the guys from the US Mountain Running team,” said Hales, who ran with the US team in 2016 and 2017. “The course was one of those things where you could just never quite get into a rhythm. Every time there was a downhill you’d have a quick 90-degree turn with an uphill, so you never got comfortable, and I absolutely loved it, it had a little bit of everything in it.”

In the end, Gray pulled away from everyone with a solid, consistent effort, turning in 6:12 miles on a really tough course.

“It’s a blessing. If it was just one it’d be great, but to get six, you can’t really put words to it,” said Gray. “It gets harder to win each time because you have a target on your back and everyone wants to knock you down, but I love those pressure moments. And I thought the course was cool, very twirly like a roller coaster.”

In the chase for second Wacker caught Mahmoud on the ridgeline just 3K from the finish and used his trademark downhill running skills to pull away.

“Had a perfect downhill on that last stretch and just put in that gap and didn’t let it go,” said Wacker, who is representing Team USA for the 15th time. “I’m an old guy and I’ve learned that it’s not over until it’s over. This course had everything – big climbs, quick turns, mud, smooth sections, and it was fun to see everyone’s strengths come out on different sections of the course.”

Hales held on for fourth and Edward Owens rounded out the top five.

Top 5 Men

Pl Name Hometown Time Pace
1 JOSEPH GRAY Colorado Springs, CO 1:22:25 6:12
2 ANDY WACKER Boulder, CO 1:24:11 6:20
3 NAJIM MAHMOUD Flagstaff, AZ 1:24:39 6:22
4 BRETT HALES Billings, MT 1:25:16 6:25
5 EDWARD OWENS Larkspur, CA 1:26:28 6:30

In the women’s race it was Murphy from the gun.

“I wanted to get out good and get the first loop strong and push the second one, because on this course you could sell out to the top and then kind of just roll down,” said Murphy, who ran at a 6:52 clip and finished more than seven minutes ahead of Kowalczyk in second.

“I like this course, but the last stretch of sand on the beach is so hard because you’re tired and it feels like it lasts forever,” said Murphy.

That last stretch of D.T. Fleming Beach was where the race for second place was won.

Katherine Short caught Kowalczyk with 400-meters to go and took the lead on the beach.

“I cramped up around 10-miles, so the last downhill wasn’t what I was hoping for so that made it really exciting at the end there,” said Kowalczyk. “She caught me right at the creek crossing before the beach and I had it in my mind where I can either let this happen or I can fight for 400-meters. So I just pushed as hard as I could and got past her.”

It came down to a sprint finish in the chute, with Kowalczyk edging Short by just one-second.

“It was awesome, had a super smooth race,” said Short, who has been in Maui for two weeks enjoying the island life. “At the end I was going 120% and gave everything, but I was truly third.”

Megan Lacy came in fourth with Sam Lewis in 5th.

Top 5 Women

Pl Name Hometown Time Pace
1 GRAYSON MURPHY Salt Lake City, UT 1:31:18 6:52
2 BAILEY KOWALCZYK Nederland, CO 1:38:35 7:25
3 KATHERINE SHORT Halfmoon Bay, Canada 1:38:36 7:25
4 MEGAN LACY Boise, ID 1:41:05 7:36
5 SAM LEWIS Moscow, ID 1:42:31 7:43


In age group racing action 25 runners representing three countries and 10 U.S. states also captured XTERRA Trail Run World Championships. Of note, Ray Burst from Honolulu won his unprecedented seventh world title, Joseph Gray won his sixth, Gerald Romera won his third, and Andy Wacker and Grayson Murphy won their second.

Here’s a look at all of today’s winners:

Div Name Hometown Time
15-19 ABIGAIL SUTHERLAND Laie, HI 2:21:57
20-24 HANNE DE VET Wuustwezel, Belgium 1:49:11
25-29 GRAYSON MURPHY (2) Salt Lake City, UT 1:31:18
30-34 KATHERINE SHORT Halfmoon Bay, Canada 1:38:36
35-39 GEMMA SLAUGHTER Vancouver, Canada 2:02:44
40-44 MIEKO OCHSNER Honolulu, HI 1:53:45
45-49 CHARO EGAN Parker, CO 2:09:23
50-54 STACEY HENDRY Arvada, CO 2:13:36
55-59 KELLY HOWARD Kahului, HI 2:11:22
60-64 SABRA COHEN Alpharetta, GA 2:18:44
70-74 DEBBIE WAGNER Park City, UT 3:21:09
Div Name Hometown Time
15-19 PORTER MIDDAUGH Vail, CO 1:38:14
20-24 ANDREW OWENS Lafayette, CA 1:46:16
25-29 NAJIM MAHMOUD Flagstaff, AZ 1:24:39
30-34 ANDY WACKER (2) Boulder, CO 1:24:11
35-39 JOSEPH GRAY (6) Colorado Springs, CO 1:22:25
40-44 RICARDO CARRIEDO Santa Fe, Mexico 1:45:23
45-49 KEAN MIHATA Crater Lake, OR 1:47:14
50-54 GERALD ROMERO (3) Colorado Springs, CO 1:47:11
55-59 JOHN BORTHWICK Clinton, MO 2:08:22
60-64 RAY BRUST (7) Honolulu, HI 1:50:30
65-69 PAUL JENKINS Makawao, HI 3:05:05
70-74 BILL BRAUN Huntington Beach, CA 2:37:28
75-79 THOMAS MILLER (3) Park City, UT 3:49:28
PC CRAIG VOGTSBERGER Highlands Ranch, CO 1:42:33

Find complete results here. 

The 25th annual XTERRA World Championship is presented by the Maui Visitors Bureau and Paul Mitchell. Other partners include Gatorade Endurance, Kapalua Resorts, Maui Brewing Company, T S Restaurants, and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Special thanks to the XTERRA Volunteers, Medical Team, Doctors on Call, Maui, Krank Cycles, and the Maui Land & Pineapple Company.