Caitlyn OFlaherty November 13, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 2

Pre-Race Makeover

Adventure racer sheds 50 pounds in the lead up to his half marathon debut at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship

Richard Costello of Warminster, Pennsylvania, is already known in certain circles ...


Richard Costello of Warminster, Pennsylvania, is already known in certain circles—namely those of the XTERRA racing community—for an inspiring feat of self-transformation in preparation for a race. Gearing up for the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, which will take place December 2 at Kualoa Ranch on the island Oahu, Hawaii, he has yet again done just that.

In 2010, Costello competed in the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon on Maui. He spent the year leading up to the competition growing an impressively lengthy beard only to sacrifice it at the post-race awards ceremony. Needless to say, the “shave it” side of his unique “Shave it! or Save it!” fundraising campaign, in which he asked the public to donate to the Challenged Athletes Foundation in exchange for a vote on whether he kept his beard after the race or shaved it off, won out.

Photo Courtesy of XTERRA
Richard Costello mid-stride in the 2010 XTERRA World Championship Off-Road Triathlon

Returning to Maui for the XTERRA World Championship Off-Road Triathlon again the following year, weighing 247 pounds, Costello found himself finishing near the back of the pack, and blamed feelings of sluggishness on poor nutrition and excess body weight.

Costello was no stranger to carrying around the pounds. A former professional strongman in the Scottish Highland Games—the Games being a festival like series of competitions in everything from bagpiping and dancing to a range of “heavy athletics” (caber toss, hammer throw, stone put, etc.) held annually in celebration of Celtic culture and Scottish heritage—he’d once tipped the scales at 352 pounds. Upon his retirement from those endeavors, while flipping channels during a commercial break in the football game he was watching, Costello came across the XTERRA World Championship Off-Road Triathlon. From that moment on, “I was addicted,” he said in an interview with Maui News before the 2010 race. In the six months following that discovery, Costello dropped nearly 80 pounds, toeing his first starting line in 2010 at 230 pounds.

The disappointment he felt in the wake of his less than satisfactory performance in 2011 led him to focus his efforts entirely on trail running, saying it was “an ongoing frustration with my inability to put together a decent run in [my] races that had bothered me the most.” He ran the XTERRA Richmond Trail Run 10K along with a series of races in the XTERRA Pocono Trail Run Series to ready himself for this year’s World Championship.



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