Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine provides a spectacular backdrop for the pinnacle event of the XTERRA Trail Run World Series, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Having been the pride of Hawaii since 2008, the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is set to weave its path through the rugged trails of Maine’s North Country. This event is more than a race; it’s the culmination of the XTERRA Trail Run World Series from 2022 and 2023, offering athletes worldwide the chance to claim a share of the $10,000 prize purse. A weekend-long trail running festival will see top elite and amateur runners compete for crowns in full and half marathon distances, with four additional trail run options. Live music, great food, and family entertainment will keep the energy high throughout the weekend, with 5km and 10km trail runs and races for kids to ensure everybody can get involved.
The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship courses reward runners and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide with a quintessential Maine experience filled with roots and rocks, big climbs, vibrant colors, hero dirt, and views for miles around every switchback. Located in Carrabassett Valley, Sugarloaf is one of the largest ski areas in the East during the snowy winters. Still, in the Fall, the bright white gives way to a cornucopia of colors connecting softwoods and hardwoods with mountain streams and natural bridges. The topography at Sugarloaf Resort boasts more than 60 miles of twisting tree-lined trails from its base elevation of 1,417 feet to its mountain peak at 4,237 feet.
Event & Course Info
XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Marathoners can expect a tough 40-kilometer/ 24.94 mile course featuring more than 1,000 meters / 4,393 ft. of climbing, and half that for the 21K runners. Starting with a stimulating climb, the marathon route is a test of endurance and determination. With an elevation gain of about 1,300 meters, runners will navigate through trails that remain non-technical, balancing speed with the uphill challenge.
Certain things for both races include starts and finishes at the base of Sugarloaf Resort, a steep, rocky, and slow climb up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and some flat-smooth-and-fast sections through the valley that will feel like running on air. There are miles of trails undulating by idyllic mountain rivers and rails-to-trails sections made up of crushed packed stones that are “smooth and easy” for any age.
The half marathon features 12.60 miles with an elevation gain of 3,110 ft and starts on a note of challenge with a steep ascent. Designed to be less technical, the path allows runners to maintain momentum while soaking in the rugged beauty of the outdoors.
The term “Beast Coast” truly encapsulates the East Coast trail running experience. Expect terrain featuring granite boulders, streams from a rainy summer, steep climbs, and technical descents. The marathoners, in their journey, will cross the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, standing tall at 4237 feet, only to dive into the woods, tracing Sugarloaf’s Nordic and mountain bike trails. Rich in roots and rocks, runners are in for undulating terrains, mesmerizing vistas, and occasional challenges posed by natural bridges and mountain streams.
The Sugarloaf Resort area, with over 60 miles of trails, promises a roller-coaster ride from its base elevation of 1,417 feet to its peak at 4,237 feet. Both races guarantee adrenaline-pumping starts and finishes at Sugarloaf Resort’s base, a slow and rocky ascent to the mountain’s peak, and a refreshing run through the valley, giving runners a surreal feeling of racing on air.
The XTERRA Trail Run World Championship event isn’t just about fierce competition. It’s also about camaraderie, music, and celebrations. The welcome dinner on Friday sets the mood, while live music throughout the weekend ensures spirits remain high. An awards festival celebrates the grit and glory of each participant.
Other trail runs available for participants throughout the weekend include a 5k, 10k, Open Marathon and Half Marathon Individual or Duo.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
There are a variety of accommodations options for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship such as Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Hostel of Maine, and Mountain View Motel & Campground. For those that prefer a more home-like experience, there are vacation rentals to choose from that will cater to a range of preferences from cabins to condos. RV parking is allowed at the resort.
The culinary scene at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine, is a delightful blend of rustic charm and gourmet experiences, offering visitors a taste of New England’s finest, from fresh seafood to hearty mountain fare. Nestled amid snowy slopes and verdant trails, the resort’s eateries provide a warm ambiance, perfect for savoring local dishes after a day of adventure. Fuel up at some of the great local restaurants on and off the mountain before and after your outdoor adventuring!
Make it a memorable weekend by embarking on a variety of outdoor adventures in and around Sugarloaf Mountain. On Sunday, take a leisurely mountain bike ride with your family or friends on the newly developed single track, allowing everyone to enjoy the scenic views at a relaxed pace. Alternatively, for a change of scenery, hike up the Burnt Mountain Trail or venture to the summit of Sugarloaf for a rewarding experience. Consider exploring Maine Huts & Trails by hiking or biking to one of their huts, or head to Sugarloaf Resort for a thrilling chairlift or zip line ride. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the stunning Flagstaff Lake.
The XTERRA Trail Run World Series is an inclusive series that invites all trail enthusiasts to join the XTERRA community to connect, explore, and discover new and existing trails in idyllic running terrains worldwide. Designed to mix community and adventure, the series is open to all runners, from amateur to elite, individuals, and pairs, with over 30 races in 20+ countries across Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. The trail series events include both half-marathon (15-34km) and full-marathon (35km+) races, with individual and team (duo) categories available. Points are awarded on a custom system based on distance, participation, and segment speeds.
Slots are, in turn, awarded for Championship races in the full and half marathon distances.
Strambecco profiles several of the US events, including the McDowell Mountain Trail Run, Xterra Black Canyon Trail which is one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Southwest, Xterra Oak Mountain, Xterra New Jersey, and the Xterra Trail Running World Championship held this Fall in Maine.
For multi-sport athletes looking for other best in class endurance events in the state of Maine and the broader New England region, 12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain from Back 40 Events & Gear Works Productions, and Carrabassett Backountry Challenge which is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), are two of the Best Mountain Bike Events in New England.
The road cyclists of the group will appreciate the Gran Fondo Hincapie – Bangor from Hincapie Events, one of the Best Road Cycling Events in New England, and be sure to keep your eyes out for some of the Best Gravel Cycling Events coming up in Maine.