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Hugo, Bucher win XTERRA Philippines Championship

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(Liloan, Cebu) – Dan Hugo (29, Stellenbosch, South Africa) and Renata Bucher (36, Lucerne, Switzerland) captured the 4th annual XTERRA Philippines Championship on a steaming hot day at the seafront of Barangay Jubay in Liloan (Cebu Province) on Saturday.

Ben Allen, who won the last two XTERRA Phil titles and 9-of-10 races in the Asia-Pacific region since 2012, took the early lead with the days fastest swim split (18:57).  Brad Weiss and Dan Hugo were 2nd and 3rd out of the water about one-minute back.

By the end of the first-of-two laps on the bike course Allen had crashed and flatted twice allowing Hugo and Weiss to move up front.

“On the treacherous volcanic descent I misjudged a line between some rocks and it bucked me completely off my bike into the lantana. I had a lot of speed and I felt like a superman flying through the air,” explained Allen.  “Luckily I managed to grab a couple of trees to slow me down mid-flight. That’s when Dan passed me, but I managed to quickly dust myself off and jump straight back on and continue to the fight.”

At the swim-to-bike transition Hugo had a commanding 7-minute lead on Weiss and the only question was if his ankle – that he rolled so badly in his XTERRA South Africa Championship win three weeks ago it tore his anterior talofibular ligament – would hold up.

Not only did Hugo’s ankle hold, he posted the fastest run split of the day to boot.  It’s Hugo’s third straight XTERRA win of the season (to go with titles at Buffelspoort and the SA Champs) and the 9th XTERRA Championship title of his career.

Fellow South African Bradley Weiss finished 2nd, a career-best performance.  Cebu’s own Joe Miller finished 3rd overall to win the Filipino Elite Division.  Allen, who carried on despite his misfortune on the bike, placed fourth overall – third pro.

Charlie Epperson, who was born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee but now lives in Guam and serves as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, finished 5th overall/4th pro in his first race as an XTERRA Pro.  The pride of Malaysia Sharom Abdullah rounded out the pro podium.

In the women’s race Bucher captured the XTERRA Phil crown for the second time in three years but it wasn’t easy.  Jacqui Slack led out of the water and through the first lap of the bike before Bucher took over.

The “Swiss Miss” had the fastest women’s bike split by far (it was fourth best overall behind only Hugo, Weiss & Miller) to take a big lead onto the run.  It nearly wasn’t big enough, however, as Austrian Carina Wasle – who had the fastest run of the day – caught and passed Bucher toward the end of the run but “then almost fainted 300-meters from the finish and Renata re-passed,” explained XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas.

Bucher took the tape in 3:24:59, 19 seconds ahead of Wasle for her 32nd career XTERRA Championship victory.  Reigning and 4x XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey finished 3rd, Slack was 4th, Aussie Dimity-Lee Duke was 5th in her XTERRA debut, and Daz Parker placed 6th.

Pro Men



Pl Name Time Swim Bike Run
1 Dan Hugo, RSA 2:48:48 19:56 1:43:26 45:26
2 Brad Weiss, RSA 2:56:39 19:51 1:50:37 46:11
3 Ben Allen, AUS 3:21:52 18:57 2:11:17 51:38
4 Charlie Epperson, USA 3:30:07 24:03 2:09:19 56:45
5 Shahrom Abdullah, MAS 3:32:58 28:32 2:12:44 51:42
Pro Women



Pl Name Final Swim Bike Run
1 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:24:59 23:48 2:03:31 57:40
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:25:18 24:08 2:08:48 52:22
3 Mieko Carey, JPN 3:27:34 23:24 2:10:29 53:41
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR 3:29:19 22:08 2:08:03 59:08
5 Dimity-Lee Duke, AUS 3:42:16 24:59 2:24:02 53:15
6 Daz Parker, GBR 3:46:45 25:27 2:21:18 1:00:00

COMPLETE RESULTS

Here’s the story of the day according to “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas…

The 4th edition of the XTERRA World Tour stop in Cebu, Philippines was typical, which means fabulous.  I was delayed with mechanical problems, planes being changed and other horrible experiences and only arrived the day before the event.  It had rained hard that day and while the sun and a nice breeze had dried up most of the water, there were still a few muddy places.

Racing starts early in the Philippines to avoid the humid, hot afternoon weather.  Organizers had changed the course for the better this year.  Last year was the first at the new location in Liloan and the Mayor Duke Frasco, helped enormously in getting permission to have T2 and the finish on the mountain side of the major road we crossed 4 times last year.  While their patience showed the great spirit of the Filipino people, we created a huge traffic jam in 2013 and wanted to avoid that this year.  T2 and the finish were located in the yards of the local elementary school – problem solved.

At 6:58am the pros started with the full field just two minutes later at 7:00am.  The shorter course riders went into the sea at 8:00am and the chase was on.

Ben Allen easily led the swim followed by South Africans Bradley Weiss and Dan Hugo.  For the women Jacqui Slack held the lead.  While the air temp was not super hot – about 84° – the humidity was pouring out of the wet ground and you could feel it.

Ben flatted early on the first lap giving the lead to Hugo and Weiss who were in tight formation.  Ben flatted again – and then once more on the second lap, but last year’s champion is a fighter and he never considered quitting.  Bradley Weiss could feel his rear derailleur binding a bit and backed off to make sure he did no damage to it and could finish.  This gave a clear lead to Hugo while Weiss kept control of 2nd and Filipino pro Joe Miller rode quickly in 3rd.  For the women, Jacqui led the first lap with Swiss Renata Bucher making time quickly.  Renata passed Jacqui on the 2nd lap to lead into T2.  Carina Wasle looked in great form in 3rd and Guam/Japan Mieko Carey was smiling and seemingly not affected by the heat.

Dan turned in a solid run and was never threatened on his way to his 3rd straight victory of the year.  Brad Weiss was a bit pained but came in with a solid lead over Miller.  Ben kept going and pulled himself up to 4th overall.

It was quite different for the women.  Renata came out first on the run by a few minutes over Jacqui Slack with Carina Wasle and Mieko very close in 3rd and 4th but another two-minutes minutes back.  The tiny Austrian Carina had returned to the form that won her races a few seasons ago and she blitzed the run early on catching Jacqui and finally passing Renata for the lead.  But her energy ran short by about 500m.  To cross a high cement wall that effectively split the run course – organizers built a great ramp up and over the wall that was a busy spectating area.  On the return, after crossing of the bridge, one must go up a rocky dirt path for about 150m.  On a normal day, without having pounded yourself for hours, this hill would not be a challenge.  But on this day, after a hard race in harsh conditions it was heartbreak hill.  Carina crossed the bridge first but I could see her walking the hill from side to side, clearly wobbly from exhaustion.  Near the top of heartbreak, Renata caught her, but she did not look all that strong either.  The final few hundred meters were a true test of will.  Renata won by just 20 seconds with Carina 2nd.  Mieko ran a fast pace and passed a tired Jacqui, for 3rd.

Another great event.  The Filipino spirit simply needs to be experienced to understand.  Thousands of spectators at all the interesting places over the bike and run, riding through small villages and through people’s yards, past cows and goats and chickens, it’s just amazing.  Nobody leaves here without a big smile and great stories.

Some of the pros took to twitter and Facebook after the race, here’s what they had to say:

Women’s winner Renata Bucher

What a race!  What a super warm day here in beautiful Cebu. Raced with all I had. Just made it to the finish line a couple of meters in front of Carina and got the happy win. Congrats to all the finishers. Thanks for an awesome event.

Men’s winner Dan Hugo

Big shout out to all twitter mentions, and all who make an effort to see results first thing. Thanks for the support and interest. Just back to hotel, reception and aircon. Scorched day, happy day.  Got it done alongside @BSWeiss_Tri.  Ankle held up. So relieved. Bang.

2nd Pro Woman Carina Wasle

2nd place at XTERRA Philippines! It was an amazing course with lots of cheering kids! What a finish! After 3h 25 Renata had more power in the end and just finshed some seconds ahead of me. Congrats to all XTERRA warriors!

3rd Pro Woman Mieko Carey

Finished XTERRA Cebu happy to finish 3rd, but more happy is I survived with this heat. Congratulations to Renata and Dan for 1st and all of the XTERRA Warriors in Cebu. And. thank you to organization and volunteers. The local people on the course made me feel like a rock star!

Ben Allen, 4th overall, third Pro

Happy days.. A gnarly crash & a couple of flats, but fought on for my family, friends and awesome sponsors and still managed to finish 3rd! Thanks @XTERRAPhils You guys ROCK!  Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you don’t, that’s racing!

XTERRA PHILIPPINES ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS
Year Men Women
2011 Sam Gardner Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Lesley Paterson
2014 Dan Hugo Renata Bucher

2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENTS

The XTERRA Philippines Championship was the third of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 26, 2014.  Up next, more exotic locales with XTERRA Guam, Great Ocean Road in Australia, and Costa Rica on March 29 & 30.

Date Race Location
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Grabouw, Western Cape
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu South Island, New Zealand
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Cebu
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Piti
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road Angelsea, Victoria, Australia
30-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Playa Reserve Conchal
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Northern Marianas
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Rotorua
13-Apr XTERRA West Championship Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
26-Apr XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
3-May XTERRA Malaysia Putrajaya
17-May XTERRA Southeast Championship Pelham, Alabama
24-May XTERRA Mauritius Bois Cheri
25-May XTERRA Spain Championship Cieza, Murcia
1-Jun XTERRA Portugal Golega
8-Jun XTERRA Brazil Championship Ilhabela, Sao Paulo
15-Jun XTERRA East Championship Richmond, Virginia
21-Jun XTERRA Greece Lake Plastira
28-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship Vallee de Joux
29-Jun XTERRA Norway Horten
5-Jul XTERRA Ontario – Canadian Cross Tri Championship Milton, Ontario, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA France Championship Xonrupt, Gerardmer
6-Jul XTERRA Victoria British Columbia, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii
13-Jul XTERRA Sweden Hellasgaarten
19-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, Colorado
20-Jul XTERRA Ireland Killaloe, County Clare
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship Abruzzo, Scanno
2-Aug XTERRA Mexico Championship Tapalpa, Jalisco
9-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship Prachatice
16-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship Zittau
17-Aug XTERRA Canmore Alberta, Canada
24-Aug XTERRA England Cranleigh, Surrey
31-Aug XTERRA Denmark Tisvilde
31-Aug XTERRA Quebec Lac Delage, Quebec, Canada
7-Sep XTERRA Sleeping Giant Thundery Bay, Ontario, Canada
20-Sep XTERRA USA Championship Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
26-Oct XTERRA World Championship Maui, Hawaii