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XTERRA Announces a New Program for Physically Challenged Athletes
SAIPAN PRESS GUIDE:
PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED RACING:
The six PC divisions, which are almost exactly like the USA Triathlon PC divisions, are: Below knee amputee, Above knee amputee, Below elbow amputee, Above elbow amputee, Blind (Legally blind: 20/200 with best correction), and Impaired (Including but not limited to: Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Arthritis, Spina Bifida, Nerve damage, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and Multiple Sclerosis).
Athletes in each division are also split into one of two age groups (15-39 and 40+). The top two points scorers in each region are invited to race at the national championship in Nevada.
XTERRA’s reigning physically challenged national champion Ryan Levinson (Muscular Dystrophy) helped develop the program and will serve as the XTERRA PC Ambassador to spread the word.
“I don’t know that we’ll see a huge increase this season as most athletes already have their season planned but I am confident that this program, combined with our marketing efforts, will lead to notable increase in participation for ‘08 and beyond,” said Levinson. “The divisions remove a major barrier to inclusion by enabling us to race against our peers. This is the first big step.”
There are a number of PC athletes that have done XTERRA races including Willie Stewart, Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Mike Hicks, Paul Martin, Sarah Reinersten, Warren Frank, John Siciliano, Fouad Fattoumy, Matt Henderson, Bobby McMullen, and Robbie O’Brien.
“There are quit a few newbie and established triathletes that have expressed interest in competing in XTERRA and many more would likely be interested but have no idea it is possible,” added Levinson. “Last season I entered Temecula, my first XTERRA, within minutes of learning that there was a division for athletes with disabilities. Racing XTERRA has been an amazing experience and I look forward to helping other athletes, with and without disabilities, discover that they too have a place in the XTERRA community,” said Levinson.
SOUTH AFRICA RECAP:
Horner was first out of the water but got passed by Roan Exelby and Iain Don-Wauchope in the early stages of the mountain bike leg. Don-Wauchope was, however, plagued with bad luck, first crashing his bike and then puncturing a tire, forcing him to run with his bike for the final 3km of the leg. Exelby was the first athlete to off the bike, but was caught by Horner early in the run.
"I am happy with my performance in the swimming and running legs, but I am slightly worried about my ride as a lot of other bikers caught up with me quite quickly. I lost a lot of time during the mountain biking leg and had to push myself during the run. I've competed in many races, but this course was unquestionably one of the most challenging I've ever done," said Horner, who completed the race in 3:00:54, more than four-minutes ahead of the runner-up Exelby.
In the women’s pro race Michelle Lombardi – who finished 4th on the XTERRA European Tour last season – proved to be in top form as she stormed across the finish line in 3:30:06.
"I had a nice start and am really happy with my swim on the day. The mountain bike route was rocky and really tough, which made it even more enjoyable for me. The run was lovely and was more a survival race as we had to scramble up through forest. I had a great race and am looking forward to the DUESOUTH XTERRA finals in Grabouw," said Lombardi, the reigning XTERRA SA Champion.
The XTERRA South Africa Championship takes place on April 14 in Grabouw, Western Cape. XTERRA star Conrad Stoltz has won three straight titles in his home country.
MEET YVONNE KRAUS:
Yvonne Kraus, who was born in the Netherlands, is a community outreach and public involvement consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. She’s also one of the newest members of the XTERRA Ambassadors program. Take a quick look at the passion she has for the sport and it’s easy to see that she’s a perfect fit for the job. Last year, she actually quit her job to travel around Europe chasing the XTERRA Tour.
“Last year I secured a sponsorship to race on the XTERRA Europe Circuit, and quit my job to do it,” said Kraus. “Brian (her husband) and I started the year by traveling around the South Pacific and found a way to compete in the New Zealand race with rented and borrowed gear. I then went on to race in XTERRA’s in Denmark, Wales, Germany, and Holland, meeting fantastic people along the way.”
Her favorite XTERRA venue was in the Black Forest of Titisee, Germany.
“Tough bike course, easy run, and great spectator support topped off with tasty German beers.”
This season Yvonne has seven XTERRA races on her schedule, including a return trip to Germany. With wins at XTERRA UK and XTERRA Denmark, and a 2nd place finish in Germany, Kraus earned enough points to win the XTERRA European Tour’s 30-34 division last season. Despite those results, and winning the first ever XTERRA she did – a points series race at Vashon Island, WA – Kraus’ is most proud of simply surviving Worlds.
“Making it to the finish line in Maui during the 2005 World Championships is what I’m most proud of,” said Kraus. “After my fall on the bike in 2006 I have a newfound respect for this course, the mountain, and the athletes that complete this race.”
That crash, oddly enough, also personified her love for the sport.
“A different kind of athlete is drawn to XTERRA: athletes who will stop their own race to help others in need – even during the world championships! My sincere thanks goes out to the gentleman who helped me off the trail and comforted me until help arrived after my fall in Maui. I don't know who you are, but thank you – you’re a true XTERRA hero!”
This year find Yvonne at a race, have a chat with her and get inspired. She’ll tell you that the whole key behind XTERRA is to, “Race hard, get dirty, travel the world, meet wonderful people, live more, and love our planet.”
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