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Three-time Xterra world champ Melanie McQuaid is always in search of the ultimate trail experience. Here are her top five favorite runs.
Xterra Trail Running World Championship course,
There are a ton of amazing trails on Oahu, but one of the coolest is this Xterra 21K course. This run can only be experienced by participating in the race, as it winds through the private property of Kualoa Ranch, location of movie and television shoots including “Jurassic Park” and “Lost.” It culminates with the steepest, longest, gnarliest climb you will ever do followed by a jungle plunge through muddy single-track.
PHOTOS: XTERRA Kapalua Trail Runs
Koke’e State Park,
Those looking for a challenge will want to connect the Awa’awapuhi Trail to the Nualolo Trail for 18 miles of spectacular views and lung-crushing climbs. The trail leads mostly downhill before you connect to the Nualolo Trail, which winds along the cliffs where you can spot helicopters flying tourists in for the same view.
Take note: The run is 9 miles one way and has no water sources.
Victoria, British Columbia
This trail network, which connects to Stewart Mountain, is the secret weapon of all of Victoria’s running talent. Finding the mountain can be confusing at first, but the annual Stewart Mountain 10 Miler is a good way to experience it. These trails are illegal for mountain biking, so this is one area of the sweetest rooty, rocky single-tracks on Vancouver Island reserved for feet.
Parque del Buen Retiro,
In the middle of Madrid is a 321-acre green oasis with reportedly more than 15,000 trees built for Spanish King Phillip IV. The mix of paved and gravel trails meander by a man-made lake, a rose garden and a beautiful Japanese garden.
Escape From Alcatraz course,
San Francisco, Calif.
The 8-mile run course of the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon is the most fun run course in road triathlon. It has long stretches of crushed gravel, and includes both single- and double-track trail and the infamous 400-step sand ladder. The most enjoyable parts are the incredible views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.