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Interview with XTERRA World Champion Calvin Zaryski

XTERRA catches up with the Men's 40-44 Champion from Calgary.

Cal Zaryski (40-44 Division) Calgary, Canada – 2:39:28

He started the day feeling sluggish, but ended up winning his fourth world title.

Cal Zaryski, aka “Coach Cal”, is a professional coach and exercise physiologist and also the President of XTERRA Canada.  His last hurdle to the title turned out to be Canadian teammate Simon Pulfrey, who he pulled past with about five miles to go on the bike.  We caught up with Cal and asked him a few questions:

XTERRA: When did you know you were a World Champion?

Cal Zaryski: As soon as I reached the highest part of the run course, I knew I was running well (I was passing many Pros). I felt great and had no muscle cramping. I knew all I needed to do is keep running but I wanted to see how fast I could go and kept pushing. I kept catching more and more runners ahead of me and my focus was top 3 amateurs…. I missed it by one. Not bad for a 43 year old. I finally had a run like years of old. This year my mountain biking has been really strong… stronger than years past.

XT: When did you have to dig the deepest?

CZ: The hardest part is often the few days leading up to the race… with all the anxiety about the race, in particular the swim start. But the most Hurt was experienced on a few of those run hills. It was so hot and the terrain was so punishing. Those who won on Sunday had to have executed the right fueling and hydration strategy along with superior fitness…. Bottom line!  Missing any of those components would have been disastrous.

XT:What was the craziest thing that happened on Sunday?

CZ: Early into the technical sandy single track, one of the cyclist fell back onto me and onto my bike. I thought he ruined my front wheel. I got lucky.

XT: How many times have you raced at XTERRA Worlds?

CZ: Eight times … of those eight I have been in the top 5 overall amateur 6X and top 10 all 8 races. My preparation for this event is like my personal Olympics. I do not want to have any excuses other than the athletes who beat me were just better than me when I am prepared. There should be no “I wish I would have, or wish I had some that”.  Diet, sleep, training, low stress, avoid illness and equipment is all dialed in.

XT: How does it feel to be a World Champ?

CZ: This victory is my best performance in all 8 World Championship races. Finishing that close to the Pro winners (2.29 from Lance Armstrong), 28th overall in the deepest Pro Field ever was amazing. I have not slowed down one bit in my 40s! Last year’s victory was more of a struggle when I was racing on 2 cracked ribs, and a partially torn hamstring. But with my fitness so peaked for late Oct, I was able to pull it off still.  Simon was second last year as well, but I had to run him down last year and caught him at mile 3. This year I made my move on the bike and ran away from him. I think Simon struggles in the heat… I seem to be good in the heat.

XT: How did you celebrate?

CZ: We went to the awards then were so tired we went home to bed. Our celebration is just staying in Maui another week… hee!