XTERRA Trail Run National Champ – Giselle Slotboom

Giselle Slotboom wanted to run so badly that she left her home in Sassenheim, Netherlands when she was only 18 and and moved to Alabama.

“The combination of academics and sport doesn’t exist in universities in the Netherlands,” said Slotboom, who won the 20-24 age group at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship last month and was the overall runner up. “If you go to a university in the Netherlands, they don’t understand if you need a day to travel for a race or time at a training camp. Either kids don’t get the education they could or they don’t train. And I wanted both.”

Slotboom took a leap and said yes to a scholarship from a small college in Alabama. The weather, people, and culture were all new to her.

“That first year was so hard,” admits Slotboom. “I wasn’t fluent in English, it was a small town in the South, which was really different, and it was hard to make friends. It was so hard, that I almost went home.”

But Slotboom gutted it out and eventually transferred to the University of Utah, where she ran a PR of 17:07 in the 5K and 4:37 in the 1500. She loved the diversity of Salt Lake City and quickly was accepted as a valuable member of the track team.

Unfortunately, she was plagued by injuries and a chronic case of patellar tendonitis.

“The doctor told me I might never run again, and I was like, that’s not going to happen.”

Slotboom had surgery and went through physical therapy and grueling cross training that included 90-minute workouts on the elliptical machine and stationary bike.

“It took me a very long time to come back,” admits Slotboom. “It was frustrating because I came to the US to run. But now we are good.”

Slotboom found a sweet spot – she only runs 25 miles a week and cross trains with bike rides and hikes.

“I’m no longer as strict about the cross training. If I want to go for a bike ride, I go. If I don’t, I don’t. But for my running, I make sure most of it is quality.”

Twenty-five miles a week is unusually low mileage for someone training for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Even more unusual is that Slotboom was the 20-24 age group champ and the overall runner up to Lesley Paterson, two-time XTERRA World Champ.

Slotboom is primarily a 5K and 10K runner but her boyfriend – who is an ultra runner – introduced her to the trails this summer.

” I love hiking and being in the mountains. When I saw the XTERRA race, it seemed like a runnable course with great views, so I went for it.”

Slotboom was expecting to see fast runners at the race and hung with Paterson from the start.

“I was trying to keep up with Lesley but she was pushing strong, and that’s when the race felt a bit long,” admits Slotboom.”But I’m not one to give up, even if it’s hard.”

Slotboom, who is pursuing a masters degree in parks, recreation, and tourism, is also going to compete in the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Kualoa Ranch on December 3rd. This spring and summer, she will be back on the track, competing in European club meets and at the Dutch National Championship.

Slotboom loves running the trails and hills in the fall and winter, “But I always like to get back to the track after building up a base. One of my favorite workouts to feel smooth and get some turnover is 6×800 at threshold pace with a short rest. It’s great for building confidence.”




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