From Germany to Kansas, X Marks the Spot
THIS WEEK: A stacked field readies for XTERRA Germany on Saturday, Nicolas Lebrun and Renata Bucher capture XTERRA European Tour titles, the Kahuna reports from XTERRA UK where Seth Wealing wins big XTERRA, a look at the XTERRA Scramble Trail Run Series stop in Kansas City.
XTERRA GERMANY: A world-class group of athletes are headed to the final stop on the XTERRA European Tour in Titisee, Germany on Saturday. Some of the notables racing include reigning XTERRA World Champ Nicolas Lebrun, UK great Paul Amey, Marc Ruhe from Liechtenstein, Liewue Boonstra from South Africa, and German favorites Nico Pfitzenmaier, Andreas Böcherer, Ronny Dietz, Sascha Wingenfeld, and the young up-and-comer Knut Hoehler (who was 3rd in England last week).
On the women's side Swiss Sibylle Matter will be racing in her first XTERRA since finishing second at last years XTERRA World Championship. Matter will have her hands full chasing down last years German champ Carina Wasle from Austria, hometown favorite Claudia Frank (second in XTERRA European Tour), and Michelle Lombardi from the Netherlands.
XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR: Renata Bucher put the final touches on a brilliant season with her fifth consecutive win (at XTERRA UK) last weekend. It's the second straight XTERRA Europe title for Bucher. Nico Lebrun notched three wins (Italy, Czech, Denmark) and a second-place finish in France for his first European Tour title. We'll look at the final standings after Saturday's race in Germany.
WEALING WINS WALES/RENATA ROMPS: David Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA Global Tour, was in Wales over the weekend for the XTERRA UK Championship and brings us this report:
It's not that rain is unusual in Wales, but the summer of '06 in this country was wonderful and it simply was not expected this weekend. But, as has been typical this summer, we had plenty of rainy weather for the XTERRA UK National Championship held in Glynn Neath, Wales.
Part of the story must be the magnificent crew of Welshmen and women who simply would not be defeated by the weather. Rains late Friday made the parking fields impassable so plans were made on how to get a thousand folks into the compound for Saturdays 35K and 75K mountain bike races, 5K and 10K and half marathon trail runs and kids events… But Saturday came even worse than Friday complete with high winds blowing over the finish gantry, the portable toilets, pop up tents and any signs and spectator barricades that tried to stand against it. Truly a mess, but the weather Gods did give us a break on XTERRA Sunday with cloudy and breezy weather, but no rain.
The Wales course features a crystal clear double lake swim about 1K from the main compound. There were split transitions setup with T1 at the lake and T2 in the main field. The rain had totally soaked the area and it was soon apparent we could not get an ambulance or medical vehicles out to the swim area and the decision was made that the race would become a duathlon. A 2.5K run was configured and the Sport race got underway only ½ hour late.
At 11:30 a very healthy field of over 200 took the horn and headed out running into the bogs. Seth Wealing took command early with Eneko Llanos and Mike Vine shadowing. Vine soon went in front on the bike, but a sore back and fatigue set in and the Canadian settled back into 3rd place at the end of the first 14K bike loop. Andrew Noble and Liewe Boonstra were tight on Vine's wheel with newcomer Knut Hoehler, from Germany, not far back. A similar battle was happening between Renata Bucher, Candy Angle and South Africa's Michelle Lombardi. Try as she might, Angle could not shake Renata and the Swiss Miss came into the Bike to Run area with a small lead she gained on the final descent.
Vine dropped farther back leaving Wealing and Llanos to battle for the lead. Noble came through in 3rd with Hoehler 4th. Noble pulled up close to Llanos on the run for a brief time, but the Spanish World Champ hit the very steep first climb hard and moved away. Indeed, Andy's energy was running close to empty and Knut passed him shortly before the end to take a stunning 3rd place in his first event. Sasha Wingenfeld had a great race to 5th with Fraser Cartmell of Scotland 6th and first Empire finisher.
Just as her husband was being chased down by the German Hoehler, Candy lost a few minutes to Lombardi in the hills and they came home 2nd and 3rd. Rikke Kelja ran a very quick 10K and passed Ingrid van Lubek for 4th.
Pumping his hands in the air and grinning through a face covered in mud, Wealing was a convincing winner here. He took the lead early and held a solid 2-minute advantage going out onto the run and never let Eneko get close enough to challenge. Seth has been threatening all year with 3-second places and this breakthrough win against a very good field could be the catalyst to catapult him into the top step at Tahoe. Bucher has dominated Europe this year winning everything she's entered. Julie Dibens was expected to challenge Bucher here in her home country, but got sick in Chicago and had to withdraw.
All in all this had to be as good a first time event as we have had. The area has something for everyone. Swansea is close by with dozens of great restaurants and shops and a place called Wind Street (pronounced wind as in winding road) that I can't say too much about here. You'll have to ask Mike Vine about it.
Ruins and castles and old Abbey's are everywhere for those who love sightseeing. Wales is quite a bit less expensive than the main of England and even I got along driving on the wrong side of the car and the road. Although all us Yanks and Euro's did have stories to tell about making mistakes while behind the wheel. Some of the more expert mountain bikers commented the bike course wasn't technical enough, but the climbs are tough, the downhills fast and in the end, the hill country of Wales gave everyone more than enough. The run starts with a brutal climb, rocks and rolls along the hilltops and than has a super steep downhill near the end that startled everyone. Nobody said IT was too easy.
Regardless of the weather a good 500 Welsh racing fans and families came out to enjoy a big expo, lots of products, sausages and bacon frying up in the food tents along with jacket potato's with beans, cheese and corn on top - or as our winner Wealing delighted in finding - tuna. Yes, what we would call a baked potato that was smothered with tuna fish. I might add he ate the whole thing and loved it.
Everyone who was there loved the event. A combined entry in Sport and XTERRA of over 400, gobs of entertaining things to do, runs and rides and fantastic countryside not to mention those wonderful Welsh folks who welcomed everyone with open arms and big smiles… this is a must do race.
RUNNING WILD: The final event of the 2006 XTERRA Midwest Scramble Series - the XTERRA Dot Trail Trot Scramble - will be held Saturday at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City. The top 5 finishers of the 10K in each age group of the point series (this is the last of the 3-stop Midwest Points Series) qualify to participate at the XTERRA National Scramble Championships in Lake Tahoe, Nevada on September 30.
It's called a Scramble for a reason -- twists and turns, ups and downs, rocks and roots, make up only a handful of the diverse ingredients in the recipe for this adventure. Forget running in circles around a track, monotonous treadmill workouts, or killing your knees on the pavement! The Dot Trail Trot challenges people to get back to nature, breathe some fresh air and remember just how good it feels to RUN WILD!
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and the Wyandotte Parks and Recreation will host the race. "WyCo" Lake and Park is a stunning venue for the race and is the perfect escape for the entire family. The 400-acre lake with marina is surrounded by 1500-acres of wooded area as well as picnic shelters, a large playground, boat rentals, concessions, fishing and abundant wildlife.