XTERRA Saipan report
A EUROPEAN SWEEP AT THE XTERRA SAIPAN CHAMPIONSHIP
SAIPAN (April 9, 2005) – On a stunningly beautiful day in paradise Renata Bucher stunned XTERRA superstar Jamie Whitmore and Olivier Marceau outlasted a remarkable effort by Hideo Fukui en route to winning the women and men’s overall championships at XTERRA Saipan.
Azure colored water, a powder blue sky, light island breezes, and a sunny 85-degree day greeted an international field of 150 competitors representing 10 countries to the fourth annual XTERRA Saipan Championship.
Earlier in the week the neighbor island volcano on Anatahan erupted, sending ash 50,000 feet in the air and an ominous black cloud over the island of Saipan. The locals had never seen anything like it, and they’d never seen Whitmore - the three-time Saipan Champ, current Nissan Xterra World Champ, USA Champ, and European Tour Champ – lose.
The black cloud for Whitmore came in the shape of a “huge stick” in her derailleur - which caused havoc for her during the last four miles of the 19-mile bike course - and a petite challenger that climbed hills the way Ned Overend used too (and certainly still does).
Bucher, a pro duathlete and primary school teacher in her hometown of Lucerne, Switzerland, came into the race with a reputation as being a great cyclist and really fast runner, but slow in the swim. She placed ninth in Germany last year in her first-ever XTERRA. Today she lost three-and-a-half minutes to Whitmore on the swim, but then posted the fastest bike and run splits and finished with a 13-minute margin of victory.
“My race starts on the bike and the hills are my strength,” said Bucher. “I like to stand-up because I can push much harder, then I am very casual with the downhills. I always think the uphill is more important and if I push there then I don’t have to race too much on the downhills.”
That’s exactly how it worked out, and on a course perfectly suited for that strategy with a few thousand feet of climbing to the top of Mt. Topatchau (1,500 feet). Bucher made up her lost time in the swim by the halfway point on the bike and only Fukui and Marceau peddled faster – and all on a borrowed bike from Romey at Saipan Bike Pro.
“She was standing up cranking, and obviously she had been riding that way up to the point she got me and I wasn’t,” said Whitmore. “I was caught off guard, and I don’t know if I was snoozing or what, but it woke me up and for the rest of the bike we were battling it out. She was stronger on the hills. She stood every single climb. The last person I’d ever seen climb like that was Ned Overend, someone that could stand the entire time on a mountain bike course. I was just kind of blown away.”
When the course got technical with twisty, turning steep descents Whitmore would catch up, but then luck caught up to her. A few miles before the bike-to-run transition her derailleur broke, and the champ was forced to coast and run with her bike all the way in. She had lost 10 minutes heading out on the run.
“It was just unfortunate luck, and if it would’ve happened any earlier I would have been done. There was nothing I could do,” said Whitmore. “It would have been a very interesting run though.”
First-year XTERRA pro Ingrid Rolles – a native of South Africa now living in Honolulu, Hawaii – finished 30 minutes behind Bucher in third. Japanese pros Mami Saito and Misa Nonaka rounded out the top five.
The two-time Swiss Olympian Olivier Marceau (32, living in Cannes, France) needed a course-record run to push past Japanese Olympian Hideo Fukui and win his second straight Saipan title.
“He gave me a hard time,” said Marceau. “I knew he was a very good swimmer but I was expecting to stay on his feet. I couldn’t because he was just a little bit too fast for me so I was 20 seconds behind him after the swim.”
And for Fukui, who was also second in the inaugural Saipan Championship back in 2002, the bike went just as well.
“At the beginning of the bike I started to catch him and I thought it was good because he won’t stay with me for a long time, but he did,” said Marceau. “I had a problem with my derailleur after I hit it against a tree and it wasn’t working very well so I couldn’t ride as fast as I wanted, but he had a very good bike.”
The result was a surprising one-minute advantage for Fukui heading out onto the run.
“I started running very fast to catch him and fortunately for me, but unfortunately for him, he got lost and missed an arrow,” said Marceau. “So Fukui kept going straight and had to turn around to come back, and we start again together. Then I was running a bit faster so I could break away until the finish, but it was very, very hard. Not easy at all.”
2003 XTERRA Saipan Champion Jason Chalker was in third the entire day, posting the third fastest swim, fourth fastest bike, and third best run. At 38-years-old, Japanese pro and XTERRA Japan organizer Taro Shirato placed fourth. Yu Yumoto, who was second in 2003, struggled with mechanicals but still managed to finish on the podium in fifth place.
“This place is fantastic,” said Marceau. “The swim is very enjoyable, the blue ocean, crystal clear water. The bike is tough, hot, humid and very steep, and the jungle is amazing. I had a very good time. For me Saipan is now an event not to be missed. I want to be here every year and have fun. I’ve met so many friendly people, and there is such a good atmosphere. The XTERRA Spirit, I can really feel it in Saipan.”
Saipan is located in the middle of the Western Pacific Ocean - 1,300 miles south of Tokyo, 1,400 miles east of Manila, 3,200 miles west of Honolulu, and 2,900 miles north of Sydney.
Athletes representing Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Mexico, Singapore, France, China, Guam, Saipan, and the United States participated in the event, which consisted of a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim, a 30k mountain bike that climbed 1,500 feet to the highest point on the island, and an epic 12k trail run that took participants through heavy jungle and into caves used during World War II.
The race served as an important Nissan Xterra World Championship qualifier for athletes from Guam, Japan, and Saipan. A total of 25 athletes earned their place at the start line in Maui by virtue of their performance today.
For the second straight year the top overall amateur male was Whitmore’s husband, Courtney Cardenas of Elk Grove, California with a time of 3:08:24 and the top amateur female was Dawn Hammermeister of Saipan in 3:52:04. The winning relay team was comprised of Ellen Argo (swim), Derek Horton (bike), and Ryun Mouton (run) of Guam. Their time of 3:09:14 was 10th overall and the best of nine teams in the championship.
There was also an XTERRA Sport race comprised of a 750-meter swim, 20k-mountain bike, and 5k trail run. The overall male winner was Philip Mcglade from Kobe, Japan in 2:05:07. The female champion was Meg Nuttall from Canberra, Australia in 2:13:18. Nuttall was also third overall out of 21 racers. The top relay team consisted of Marino Pungilug (swim), Quincy Johnson (bike) and Jeremy Winkfield (run) – in 2:28:46
Olivier Marceau, Renata Bucher, Jamie Whitmore, Jason Chalker, and dozens of others will try for the PIC Double award, which goes to the man and woman with the fastest combined XTERRA and Tagaman time. Winners receive $500 in cash, and 6-days/5-nights at the Pacific Islands Club. In between the two races are a whole slate of self-improvement clinics and fun activities for the family.
2nd Annual SAIPAN SPORTS FEST SCHEDULE of EVENTS (tentative)
4/10 8am North Island Bike Tour, 2pm Post-race beach BBQ
4/11 11:45am Tank-to-Tank Swim (pick-up at PIC), Clinic on “How to Prepare” 7pm at PIC
4/12 Marpi Go-Cart Races, Clinic on “Performing Your Best” 7pm at PIC
4/13 11:45am Tank-to-Tank Swim, Evening Hash Run 6pm
4/14 Managaha Island trip, Clinic on “Goal setting and motivation” 7pm at PIC
4/15 11:45am Tank-to-Tank Swim, Tagaman Pre-race dinner at PIC
4/16 5:30am Tagaman Triathlon, post-race awards dinner and costume party at PIC
4/17 TagaKids Triathlon, SOPHIA 7K/10K Walk, and post-race BBQ
The XTERRA Saipan Championship is presented by the Marianas Visitors Authority. Other sponsors include the Pacific Islands Club (official hotel), Paul Mitchell, and XTERRA Gear.
The XTERRA Saipan Championship was produced by TEAM Unlimited, a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company. TEAM Unlimited owns XTERRA, the world’s leading multisport, and this year there are 90+ races in 14 countries around the globe. Over the past 16 years TEAM has also produced more than 225 television shows resulting in two national Emmy nominations, three regional Emmy’s and 26 Telly Awards for production excellence.
XTERRA Saipan, the Saipan Sports Fest and the Tagaman triathlon are being filmed by TEAM Unlimited and all the action will be put together for a half-hour feature show to be broadcast in Saipan, Guam, on Gaora in Japan, and across the United States through national syndication starting in June of 2005. The images portray Saipan as a supreme adventure destination, which it certainly is. For more information visit www.mymarianas.com, or
MARCEAU, BUCHER WIN PIC DOUBLE / MARCEAU, WHITMORE WIN TAGAMAN TRIATHLON
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands - Olivier Marceau won the men's Pacific Islands Club Double award for the second straight year and Renata Bucher picked up her first with a narrow victory over Jamie Whitmore in the women's race on the island of Saipan on Saturday.
The PIC "Double" is awarded to the man and woman with the fastest combined 2005 XTERRA Saipan Championship and Tagaman Triathlon time, a feat reserved for only the most durable athletes as the two events are held just seven days apart.
Marceau, who also won XTERRA last Saturday, combined a 2:33:47 then with a winning time of 2:57:44 for a total of 5:31:31. Jason Chalker of Australia finished 13 minutes behind with a combined 5:44:14.
Jamie Whitmore won today's Tagaman for the second year in a row in 3:12:05 but had lost 14 minutes to Bucher in XTERRA, and came up more than two minutes short of winning her second Double. The Tagaman consisted of a 2k swim, 60k road bike, and 15k road run. XTERRA combined a 1.5k swim with a 30k mountain bike and 12k trail run.
The Pacific Islands Club awards winners 6-days, 5-nights at the PIC, and Taga, Inc. and XTERRA each give $500. A total of 23 athletes completed both full-distance courses and another 10 raced as a team or in the XTERRA Sport race last Saturday.
Courtney Cardenas of Elk Grove, California was the top male amateur for the second straight year, and Saipan's own Dawn Hammermeister has won the women's amateur Double title twice as well.
At 15-years-young Keenan Tydingco of Guam became the youngest athlete to finish both races.
|NAME||COUNTRY||XTERRA TIME||TAGAMAN TIME||PIC DOUBLE TIME|
|Jamie Whitmore||United States||3:04:45||3:12:05||6:16:50|
|Courtney Cardenas||United States||3:08:24||3:26:19||6:34:43|
|Stephan Samoyloff||United States||3:14:42||3:28:15||6:42:57|
|Jude Baker||United States||3:16:24||3:27:05||6:43:29|
|Tyce Mister||United States||3:43:25||3:43:00||7:26:25|
|Dirk Sharer||United States||4:04:08||3:24:42||7:28:50|
|Keenan Tydingco||United States||3:51:14||3:44:33||7:35:47|
|Richard Sikkel||United States||3:45:47||3:56:37||7:42:24|
|Rob Carruth||United States||3:47:37||3:58:09||7:45:46|
|Dawn Hammermeister||United States||3:52:04||4:03:12||7:55:16|
|Gary Padsing||United States||3:55:30||4:02:14||7:57:44|
|Ronald Cummings||United States||4:26:36||3:44:18||8:10:54|
|John Douglas||United States||4:14:51||4:06:18||8:21:11|
|Florian Braig||United States||4:16:11||4:07:15||8:59:14|
|Donna Baker||United States||4:47:57||4:11:17||8:59:14|
|Michael Johnson||United States||5:01:46||4:11:46||9:13:32|
|Brad Ruszala||United States||5:46:14||4:27:30||10:13:44|
|Susanne Knecht||United States||5:46:36||4:45:18||10:31:54|
|Richard Brostrom||Saipan Team|
|Cooper Schraudenbach||Saipan Team|
|Cooper Graf||Saipan Team|
|Glen Jewell||Saipan Team|
|Melissa Coleman||Saipan Team|
|Joshua Berger||Saipan Team|
|Ketson-Jack Kabiriel||Saipan Team|
|Butch Sublemente||Saipan Sport|
|Manny Sitchon||Saipan Sport|
|Mieko Motoyoshi||Saipan Sport|