CLEARFIELD — David Henestrosa never planned to stay in Utah when he moved to Clearfield to teach Spanish in an elementary school.
But the lure of the state's outdoor opportunities proved to be too much for the native of Spain to resist.
"Now we're planning staying at least six more years," he said. "We love it here. We love the mountains; we ski with the whole family. I just like the outdoors. I think it's the perfect place to stay and raise children."
Living in Utah offered the 35-year-old father of two girls more than the chance to raise his family in an environment rich with outdoor opportunities. It offered him the chance to rekindle an old love — triathlons.
Henestrosa began competing in triathlons when he was 16 years old. He worked his way up to professional competition before putting his career on hold to focus on his family.
"I kind of left triathlons for maybe four or five years," he said. "When I moved to Utah, I went to Snowbasin in 2009 to watch the XTERRA (off road triathlon). In 2010, I really had the feeling I wanted to come back again and last year I started training."
He said the XTERRA professional circuit is very manageable as there is just one race per month. He scheduled his training around teaching and being a dad.
"If my family wasn't supporting me, I wouldn't be able to do it," he said. He trained about 10 hours per week in the winter and increased that to 15 hours in the spring. He worked out for an hour before school, about 5 a.m., and then alternated running and biking every other day.
So why at 35, and why XTERRAs?
"I especially enjoy being out there on the trails, in nature, in the middle of the mountains," he said. "For me it's like a feeling of peace. I feel free when I am outside."
Henestrosa is sitting fourth in the XTERRA standings heading into the National Championships on Saturday at Snowbasin. His goal is simple: move up at least one spot and get on the podium.
"This is the final, and I know there are a couple of guys, who are full-time professionals, and they are a bit ahead of us," he said. "But (being in Utah) is maybe a little advantage for me. I've been training since the middle of August (at Snowbasin). I know every rock, every route, every turn. But you never know."
Also looking to make history is South Africa's Conrad Stoltz, 38, who is looking to win his ninth title Saturday. He said he continues to race because he is enjoying himself.
"The sport lends itself to having fun, and if I keep the pressure out of it … I continue to enjoy it," said Stoltz, who's won the XTERRA World Championship four times. "That's why I'm so old and still here."
Colorado native Josiah Middaugh, 33, is hoping to redeem himself this year after blowing a tire just a mile from the finish of the bike section of the race. He sits in second place, while Craig Evans, 34, Texas, is in third place.
In addition to Saturday's triathlon, there is also the Trail 10K and half marathon national race on Sunday at 9 a.m. That is open to anyone and runners can register Friday and Saturday.
Two days of in-person registration will be available this week for the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, and runners of all ages and skill levels can enter. On Friday, runners can register for the race at the Ogden Amphitheater Park at the corner of 25th and Grant streets, between noon and 6 p.m.. On Saturday, the registration site will be set up at the Snowbasin Resort from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship race itself is scheduled for Sunday at Snowbasin Resort, and it is open to all runners. There will be three courses to accommodate the various levels of runners — the 21-kilometer course will serve as the national championship course, but there will also be 10K and 5K courses available.
The event is expected to draw more than 600 runners from across the country to the picturesque trails at Snowbasin Resort.