XTERRA Japan Championship
(Maranuma, JAPAN) - Unlike previous years, the weather gods smiled on Maranuma and produced blue skies and cool, clean air - perfect conditions for the XTERRA Japan Championship.
The battle for first place was expected to be between American Courtney Cardenas and duathlon champion, Yasuo Takahashi - a very strong mountain biker and runner - in his first race at Maranuma. Takashi had driven from his home in Western Japan the night before the race and slept four hours in the car before the starting gun went off. Cardenas took the lead early in the bike and kept it until about 6-7km before the bike when Takahashi caught him. The two rode side by side and Cardenas took the lead again only to fall and get trapped under a big log. Takahashi stopped his race and helped Cardenas up from under the log. The rest of Cardenas' bike race was slow, and he was passed by mountain bike pro Kyosuke Takei who had the fastest bike split of the day. Takashi never looked back and went on to win the 2006 XTERRA Japan Championship with Takei second and Cardenas third.
American Jamie Whitmore took her third XTERRA Japan victory (and fourth overall) with fellow American Melissa Thomas second and Mami Saito third. Saito flatted early in the bike and had been forced to carry it over two-thirds of the bike course.
The first amateur was multi-time XTERRA World Champion and legendary Japanese adventure athlete - Keiji Matsuba.