Marceau, Butcher dominate XTERRA Saipan anew
By Roselyn B. Monroyo
Marceau topped the men’s pro division for the fourth straight time after clocking two hours, 27 minutes, 16 seconds in the swim-bike-run race.
He was 10 minutes ahead of second overall finisher Sam Gardner of the United Kingdom, an indication that Saipan XTERRA is his territory. Gardner finished the race at the 2:37:04 mark
“Even though I know I am ahead in the race, I keep on pushing myself harder. This is part of my training, as I am preparing for a bigger race in Australia next week,” Marceau added.
The Swiss cut about eight minutes from his time in the 2006 race. In Marceaus’ third straight triumph in XTERRA Saipan, he clocked 2:35:06.
The 33-year old two-time Olympian timed in at 19:54 in the 1.5-kilometer swim at Micro Beach. He came out of the water second overall behind UK’s Julie Dibens.
Marceau was the fastest in the 30-kilometer bike leg, which took participants to Mt. Tapachao, through caves and ravines. He timed in at 1:17:21 in the bike leg more than three minutes ahead of Gardner, who had his baptism of fire in XTERRA Saipan when the Brit crashed during the bike leg.
Marceau crossed the finish line about three minutes before 10:30 a.m., as he timed in at 50:01 in the run leg, and for the fourth time wore the mwar on his head and was acknowledged by fellow participants and fans for another dominating performance.
Australia’s Andrew Noble placed third.
Renata Butcher also wore the mwar, but not before she rallied past Dibens after trailing by about eights minutes in the swim leg.
Admitting that she is an awful swimmer, Butcher moved out of the water at the 27:13 mark. Dibens had the fastest time in the swim leg with her 19:52.
But the Swiss triathlete, who ruled XTERRA Saipan for the past two years, redeemed herself in the bike and run legs taking advantage of her familiarity with the course.
Dibens, who beat Butcher in the 2007 XTERRA Guam, was a first timer on Saipan an during a post race interview, admitted she had difficulty keeping pace with Butcher in the run and bike legs, especially when they reached the ravines and caves.
Butcher timed in at 1:23:20 and 54:13 in the bike and run legs, respectively, while Dibens posted 1:30:51 and 58:14.
Butcher and Dibens were in a neck-and-neck battle in the bike to run transition with the former a few steps away from the latter before the Swiss completely dominatedthe run leg and crossed the finish line at the 2:45:08 mark, more than three minutes ahead of Dibens, who posted 2:48:57.
Butcher’s time in the 2006 XTERRA Saipan was 2:49:00.
Last year’s runnerup Jamie Whitmore slid to third place with her 2:51:24. But it was a significant improvement from her 2006 time of 2:56:02 and a good sign of recovery after a bad bike crash in Maui, Hawaii last year.
The third Olympian on the field, Sibylle Matter of Switzerland, finished fourth with a time of 2:56:03. A first timer, Matter admitted she was not expecting the course to be so hard and vowed to recover next time.
Nineteen pros from Japan, Estonia, South Africa, U.S., Hungary, Canada , Germany, Australia and Switzerland participated in Marianas Visitors Authority-organized XTERRA Saipan.
Aside from the XTERRA Championships, the annual tournament also featured competitions in XTERRA Sports, which had a shorter course and held contests in different age groups.
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