RaceThe Rest of the Story

Karsten Madsen – The Rest Of The Story

The author suggest this piece is best of read while listening to this song

Also, as part of this story Jordan Winar and DirtTRI will be offering a raffle giveaway of two coffee prizes from Regroup Coffee.

To enter, reply to this post below or on our FB page, email us, or DM us on FB. We will use a random picker app to select the winners. 

Good luck!

You can faintly hear the sounds of waves crashing in the background down at DT Flemming Beach at the XTERRA World Championship. Racing up the final shoot, finishers shoes squish with every step as they near the finish line just trying to survive the day. Historically, the XTERRA World Championship has been one of the most difficult races due to the muddy conditions. The banners that line the finish shoot flap in the humid, sticky, Maui air. Standing alone near the finish line is a tall man with a white t-shirt, CLIF bar ball cap and Oakley sunglasses covering his eyes.  The man looks down at his SUUNTO watch and takes a look up the finished time as he watches each second click away like he is waiting for a date that’s running late.  The timing system reads just over 7 hours. He’s leaning against the railing that’s lining the last 100 yards of the race. He looks down at the trampled mud covered grass and thinks about all the people that finished the race today and reflects on the fact that those who finished it will never be the same from this day forward.  He looks up and shifts his gaze down toward the beach to see bib number 818 coming toward him. He smiles from ear to ear like a child on Christmas morning and starts clapping his hands. The tall man cups his hands and starts yelling, “Let’s go!” Number 818 crossed the finish line with a huge smile on his face because he had conquered the XTERRA World Championship!


Number 818 and XTERRA pro, Karsten Madsen have something in common.  2018 was the first time for both, #818 and Karsten to cross the XTERRA World Championship finish line. Madsen posted an impressive 7th place finish but it wasn’t his first rodeo. If you dig a little deeper you will find out that in 2016 and 2017 Madsen showed up in Maui and took a DNF home with him both times.  In fact, in 2017 he came back on his bike to transition and slammed down his helmet in raw emotion. This was a clear outward representation of how he felt inside. People looked away as he threw a fit pretending not to notice him. If his mom were there, and she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have been thrilled. He was over ‘it’ and ‘it’ seemed like everything.  For the second year in a row he was packing for the airport before the race was even over. This time, just to make matters worse, on his way to the airport he stopped at McDonald’s and ordered a Big Mac just for good measure. It certainly wasn’t the Hallmark movie finish that was mentioned above, but how did he get to this place? He was a good looking, young, professional off-road triathlete who lived on a Caribbean island that seemed to have it all from the outside. The only thing true about that picture was that he was living on an island that was getting smaller by the day. Maybe you have been there? Maybe you are there now? You feel stuck. You don’t know what to do next and it’s everyone else’s fault except yours.

Photo – XTERRA


On December 1st, 2017 he picked up the phone and called his dad. While the sun was shining and the water was crystal clear on the island, a storm cloud was brewing in his mind. He told his dad he was done and was coming home and needed a lift and a place to stay when he arrived back in Canada. Life was happening TO him not FOR him.  He was flat broke. He just got out of another relationship that didn’t work. He just DNF’d again at the biggest race in off-road triathlon. So he dropped his coach and was done with triathlon. He sabotaged everything in his life and his coach was the last piece of that puzzle. He went to bed and when he woke up a question came to mind. What’s next?  For the first time in a long time he could do whatever he wanted. Anything! It was like a burden had been lifted and one of the most exciting days he had in a long time. He didn’t have any expectations just appreciation for the life in front of him. It was a clean slate! The sky was the limit and the smile that had been missing reappeared.

What he did next? He started planning out what would make him feel fulfilled.  Getting his finances right. Being happy again. Chasing a dream. So he did just that and started building WHAT he wanted on his terms and what would bring him fulfillment. In an instant, he was wide eyed and jumped online and started looking for marketing jobs. He quickly realized it wasn’t for him. So he picked up the phone and cold called Triathlon Canada and they offered him to come train.  He downloaded an app called 10% which is a meditation app to clear his mind and he consistently did it for a few minutes a day to gain appreciation and gratefulness (he still does this 4-5 times a week). He made amends with broken relationships and became transparent. Fear had been ruling his life but fear can not live in the presence of gratitude.

  1. Karsten learned to trade his fear for gratitude through meditation or prayer,  the 10% app. The fear of not being loved or the fear of not being enough is disguised as failure, stress, problems. Everyone has fears but learning how to deal with it can change your life in an instant.  There is always two sides to every story and depending on which side you CHOOSE to see. What you CHOOSE to see is how you will feel and how you feel is how you will act.
  2. Karsten then took MASSIVE Action: He made a plan with his former coach. He was flexible because he knew it could change and that was OK. When you write something out, like getting your finances in order, it helps to provide clarity but the act of writing it down is an action and that action is a decision. We all know what we should do in life but most of us don’t take the step of action.  Maybe its exercise, finances, or mending relationships. Karsten took action on EVERYTHING in his life.


Karsten wanted to live his best life and knew if he kept doing what he was doing in 2016 and 2017 his outcome would remain the same or worse. Seeking out the best option, he joined Triathlon Canada and surrounded himself with uplifting people. One in particular was Tyler Mislawchuk and they built into each other.  On off days they would do coffee rides around Phoenix where they train and sometimes the coffee breaks would turn into 3 hour conversations. It’s fitting that one of their favorite spots where Karsten gets his bike fixed and sips on coffee while waiting is called Regroup. The exact thing that Karsten was doing with his life.

In addition to Tyler, Karsten leaned into his parents for advice and then connected with Josiah Middaugh. In fact, Karsten started spending time around Josiah’s family. Karsten was seeking out those individuals he admired most and was finding out who he was again.  He was that happy, go lucky, ultra competitive, coffee loving kid from Canada.

Photo – XTERRA


Have you ever wondered why some of the richest people in the world are miserable while some of the poorest leave home each day with a smile on their face.  It’s because your reality is a feeling you create.  The night before the 2018 XTERRA World Championship Karsten was hanging out with a kid that would be racing Worlds as well but not as a pro.  The kid’s name is Jerone Samari and would be competing in the ‘men’s challenged’ division. You see Jerone has Cerebral Palsy on the left side of his body but it didn’t stop him from doing, being, or living more than what everyone expected from him. Karsten knew that if Jerone was going to finish tomorrow so was he no matter the outcome.

Karsten woke up to see swells near 10 feet high for the swim but he knew Jerone was going to swim through them as well.  The cannon blasted and just a few steps into the race Karsten face planted into the water and found himself in last place amongst the pros.  He pushed as hard as he could to make up ground and was near the front going into the second loop. Going into the bike he had prepared for a hard day and put on mud tires and screws in his shoes.  The course was a mess and he described it as “feeling like a yo-yo”. All day he couldn’t ride in a straight line. On the way down from Razors edge he took 4 hard slams and each time his brakes and gears would get twisted but he got up and kept going.  On his last crash his derailleur bent and he couldn’t shift into easier gears. If that wasn’t bad enough his seat twisted. As he continued to ride with a twisted seat, brakes at different levels, and gears near locked he pressed on. He started out on the run and when he hit the beach with some past champions behind him he crossed the finish line for the first time and well within the top 10.  

Just one year ago,  almost the day, Karsten had quit in the middle of the race, was eating a Big Mac, and was done with triathlon all together. This year he was celebrating with his friends, fellow competitors, XTERRA staff and was proud of his finish but more proud that he had accomplished something he had never done before, conquering Maui. While Karsten’s achievement was impressive his most memorable moment of the day hasn’t happened yet. With a smile on his face he went and showered. He put on a white t-shirt, a CLIF bar ball cap, and Oakley sunglasses and with his shoulders back and smile on his face walked back down to the finish line alone. The tall man at the beginning of this article was Karsten Madsen and he was waiting for his friend Jerone who was wearing bib #818.

Jerone and Karsten post race. Photo – Karsten Madsen


Everyone thinks fulfillment comes when we meet our expectations but that can’t be further from the truth. Benjamin Disraeli wisely said, “We are not creatures of circumstance, we are creators of circumstance.” From the outside Karsten doesn’t look much different than he did in 2017. He’s about the same height, still has the same parents, and is still racing XTERRA but on the inside he is a different person. He showed us that our past does not equal our future, to trade our expectations for appreciation, and what we seek we shall find.

In the end you are what you believe, so what will you choose to believe?

About Jordan Winar

The Rest of the Story series is contributed by off-road triathlete and freelance writer, Jordan Winar

Jordan competed in his first ever triathlon April 22, 2017. Prior to this, he had never competed in any triathlons, bike races, or outdoor swimming competitions. Jordan competed in 12 XTERRA events over the following 5 months, eventually qualifying for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, Hawaii.

Jordan attributes his success to his newly found Vegan lifestyle and The Gazelle Mindset.


As part of this story Jordan Winar and DirtTRI will be offering a raffle giveaway of two coffee prizes from Regroup Coffee.

To enter, reply to this post below or on our FB page, email us, or DM us on FB. We will use a random picker app to select the winners. 

Good luck!


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