Photo Credit: Jesse Peters/XTERRA
Putting an exclamation point on an amazing season, rabbitPRO Dani Moreno defended her title in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii, holding off former champion Polina Carlson to secure the win by over 90 seconds. For Moreno, the added visibility of being the returning champion provided both pressure and excitement. “For me, this was probably the most nervous yet the most excited I was for a race. It was the first time I had to defend a title since I began trail running, so it was fun to embrace it.”
For Moreno, it was the fifth win of the season and a fitting follow up to her performance at the US Skyrunning Championships in November, where her victory in the 27k race distance secured her grip on the Sky Running USA Championship as well as the season-long points competition. Other notable results for Moreno this season included wins at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26k in June and at the brief but brutal Winter Ezakimak in Mammoth Lakes, both of which showcased her remarkable ability to perform at altitude despite being an ocean-loving sea level dweller.
Earning the victory in Hawaii took everything that Moreno had, with a stacked field that included elite marathoner Taylor Ward and two-time race winner Carlson putting her to the test. “These women not only know how to race but they know how to race when the stakes are high. Even on the start line, you could tell people were there to win and I loved it,” recalled Moreno. “When I pulled away around mile 4 I knew I had to keep pushing because anyone could catch me at a moment if I let my guard down. It was a lot hotter than last year and around mile 9 I felt some cramps coming on and I had to really breathe to make sure I could keep pushing.”
Moreno will now take a well earned and “much needed mental and physical break” before making her return to training. Needless to say, trail running fans everywhere will be looking forward to seeing what the champion has in store for 2019—rumor has it that her season may include her first attempt at an ultramarathon.