King (left, XTERRA Photos), who is from Bend, Oregon, is no stranger to the event. He is the three-time defending champion of the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. "There is a lot that keeps me coming back," said King. "There is a good prize purse that is hard to pass up when it's in Hawaii, and I now have a streak going that will be hard to break. I love the challenging course, and it gives me a couple days away from the freezing temperatures of Oregon."
King, 31, is once again considered the favorite on the grueling course at Kualoa Ranch. In the past three years, he has won the race by an average margin of 2 minutes, 49 seconds. He won it last year - when he was feeling sick - by a margin of 1 minute, 20 seconds, which was the closest anyone has come to him during his three-year reign.
"There's always some pressure to keep a winning streak alive, and you never know who will be showing up on the start line," King said.
King is also the four-time defending XTERRA National Trail Run champion, and won the 2011 World Mountain Running Championship at Albania in September. In January 2012, he will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Olympic marathon team at the Olympic qualifier in Houston.
Arritola will be making her first appearance in Hawaii, but she could also be considered the favorite in the women's field based on her 2011 results. She won the 2011 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Snowbasin Resort, Utah, in her first try.
"When I decided to race in Utah, I saw that Hawaii was where the World Champs were being held and I kind of said to myself, 'that would be cool.' Then after the summer went on, I thought about it more and decided if I did well in Utah then I would go for it," Arritola said. "It's not every day I get to leave a week of winter and ski racing to go to Hawaii to run."
Arritola, 25, also won the women's division of the USA Half Marathon Trail Championships at Bend, Oregon, in June.
Interestingly enough, trail running is not even considered her top sport. Arritola is better known as a world class competitor in cross country skiing. She is a former member of the U.S. Olympic team, and participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver, Canada. She uses trail running as a form of training during the non-winter months.
"Of course I would love to be able to devote 100 percent of time to running because I really want to see my 'best-self' race, but for now this is what I can do and I like it," she said.
While King has won the XTERRA National and World titles in the same year three times before, no female has ever won both championships in the same year.
More than 1,500 runners of various ages and skill levels will participate in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. The 21K course will serve as the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, but there will also be 10K and 5K races.
For more information on the 2011 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, go to: www.XTERRAtrailrun.com