"[the 2005 schedules includes] 15 trail running races, expanding to 50-75 races in the future."
If this is true, Xterra could be bringing a point series to short course trail running similar to their wildly popular Xterra triathlon series. And with Xterra's successful sponsorship and TV coverage, it could boost the sport to a whole new level. Xterra has done a great job creating an international triathlon pro circuit chasing over $500k in prize money around the globe, and an "adventure lifestyle brand" similar to Ironman. I was excited at the possibility and thought I would dig around a bit.
After getting more info, I didn't find any indications that Xterra is creating an international point series anytime soon, but was happy to see that they will be applying their growth engine to trail running. All the facts to date indicate that Xterra is using trail running to "grow" a larger audience for their outdoor adventures, particularly as they create destination events for more of their big races. Each of the seven announced races (the other eight are yet to be announced) work with local race promoters to put on a 5k and 10k, often using the same two-lap course that will be used for the Xterra triathlons. Each race begins with a free Xterra University trail running clinic as part of the entry fee. Awards go down the the "9 and under" category, showing an interest in getting folks hooked early. And a few of them have even listed the event as "run/walks", opening up their audience to just about anyone with a pair of shoes.
A new point series in the making? Doesn't sound like it. Raising interest in trail running? Definitely. Free trail running clinics that invites kids of all ages will help encourage a healthy lifestyle and appreciation for the outdoors, and is likely to turn up the next Dean Karnazes or Monica Scholz. I will keep my fingers crossed that they might create a bigger series in the future.
P.S. - Thanks for all the e-mails welcoming me to the Catalina Marathon next Saturday. I look forward to meeting you all!