Press and Media Center
GU rejuvenates the relay team with the GU XTERRA Team Challenge
GU rejuvenates the relay team, XTERRA’s all-time winningest athlete – Jamie Whitmore – talks about the aftermath of her crash in Maui, looks back on her 2006 season and forward to XTERRA Saipan, Andrew Noble is the latest addition to Saipan’s pro start list, and the XTERRA USA show is on in Southern and Northern Nevada.
3/11 – XTERRA Guam (Piti)
3/17 – XTERRA Saipan Championship – The Crown Jewel (Northern Mariana Islands)
4/1 – XTERRA Miami (North Miami, FL)
4/1 – XTERRA REAL (Granite Bay, CA)
4/21 – XTERRA Arizona Xtreme (Mesa, AZ)
4/28 – XTERRA Ft. Yargo (Winder, GA)
4/28 – XTERRA Gator Terra (Ruston, LA)
4/29 – XTERRA Castaic (Castaic, CA)
5/20 – XTERRA West Championship (Temecula, CA)
SAIPAN PRESS GUIDE:
GU XTERRA TEAM CHALLENGE:
In an effort to get more athletes involved with the world’s leading off-road triathlon series GUsports is giving new life to relay teams by introducing the “GU XTERRA Team Challenge”.
“We believe that the team competition offers GU an excellent opportunity to expose off-road triathlon to athletes who may be intimidated by the task of completing all 3 disciplines,” said Moritz Hoemke, GUsports Marketing Manager. “A swimmer may not feel super comfortable on a bike. Or a cyclist might fear sinking. So the GU XTERRA Relay Team Challenge is a great opportunity for single sport athletes to approach triathlon and live the XTERRA experience.”
To lure more participants into the team challenge GU and XTERRA are 1) adding a national championship for relay teams to coincide with the XTERRA USA Championship for individuals, 2) reducing prices dramatically from $230 to $170 for teams in championship distance, and from $150 to $110 for teams in Sport distance races, and 3) “giving away generous heaps of GU swag for winners of the relay team challenge races”.
“The team concept can work as long as we can be inclusive in the way we sell the event, encouraging all walks of life to join in what could literally be a life-changing experience. Sounds hokey, but given the magnitude of the obesity problem in this country, pushing fitness and making our sports inviting to all comers is meaningful and not in anyway trite,” said Hoemke.
Barbara Peterson, who for the last few years has raced at XTERRA Nevada as part of a relay with her two daughters, agrees that it is a great way to get newcomers involved.
“We have introduced people to XTERRA through relay teams that would have otherwise never been involved with the sport,” said Peterson. “I raced to participate with my daughters for the shared challenge and family fun. My husband does the mountain bike leg for another team and it all makes for an unforgettable experience.”
Family is certainly a great place to start and where current XTERRA athletes can get their relatives involved in their passion, but the opportunities don’t end there.
“Seafarers and landlubbers unite, we say. A member of a club or shop team that finds the full XTERRA too daunting to tackle individually would be well suited to the GU XTERRA Team Challenge. There are plenty of mountain bikers that want no part of the XTERRA swim, but would be great teammates for strong swimmers and experienced trail runners that aren’t as comfortable picking their way through a rock garden on two wheels,” said Hoemke.
The challenge could also be easily tailored to corporations for team building efforts. Mountain bike, swimming and running clubs could join together and discover a new world off-road. Pros and top notch age groupers in the different disciplines can make a team and race just to see just how fast they can go.
The relay team revival is on, and GU is calling all athletes to get out and get active.
CATCHING UP WITH JAMIE:
Jamie Whitmore’s 2006 season ended on top of the great Haleakala Volcano. The last in a series of crashes on the unforgiving XTERRA World Championship bike course left her unable to continue. It was just the third time in her career J-Dawg hasn’t been able to cross the line. With the XTERRA Saipan Championship right around the corner we caught up with JW to see just what last year was like, and what to expect out of the petite star in 2007.
XT: Your career got kick-started in the Northern Mariana Islands back in 2002 when you upset Anke Erlank and Jodi Mielke to win your first-ever XTERRA. Was that race a turning point for you, as far as realizing XTERRA was what you wanted to do?
JW: I looked at that race and decided to go as a low-key tester to see if XTERRA was the direction I wanted to go. Regardless of the outcome I had so much fun there was no turning back. That race definitely hooked me!
XT: You’ve been to every XTERRA in Saipan, six years running now. What is it about Saipan that keeps you coming back year-after-year?
JW: We continue to put this race on our schedule because of the people and the race. There is no other race venue like this one. As I have said many times before it is like a mini adventure with so much history. It is a great way to start the season and have a little fun before getting to business!
XT: The women’s pro field this year is amazing, with Olympians Sibylle Matter (SUI) and Julie Dibens (UK), and Renata Bucher who won just about everything she entered last season. What’s it going to take for you to come out on top?
JW: There is going to be some tuff competition and although this is a tough course it is not the most technical at least not to a mountain biker's standards. The run on the other hand is very difficult . . . my kind of run. With this race so early in the season it is hard for me to be in tip top shape living where the weather can be a little challenge. I don't spend my winter in Australia like a lot of other athletes . . . a part of me races in Saipan for the nice weather. For me to come out on top the answer is simple it must rain like the first year I was there. It must rain and rain and rain to make the course sloppy. This gives someone like me a little more advantage because it makes the entire bike ride just a little more difficult.
XT: What’s your favorite tourist thing to do on Saipan?
JW: Every year we get to do something new . . . we never would have guessed there was that much on such a small island. We love visiting the grotto and Managaha. We also love the "Hash Run" and the water park at the PIC but our favorite after last year was the paintball war we had between the athletes. It was so much fun to be able to shoot Olivier (Marceau)!
XT: What other races do you have on your schedule this season?
JW: All the XTERRA U.S. races. Japan and Costa Rica for sure. We really want to go back to Europe. All of our Euro friends told us how much they missed Courtney and I in Europe this year so we are going to try and go back. We are looking at Italy and Czech!! Maybe some others but not sure. We hope to be able to go to France since we heard the Mountain bike portion was right up our ally being technical!
XT: What would you say is your No. 1 goal this year?
JW: I started racing because I loved it and I loved the competition. It feels great to do your best and beat the best. My number 1 goal this year is to remember why I started racing and stay true to that . . . nothing else matters.
XT: Your season in 2006 was like a bouncing ball. First a big win in Temecula, second in Birmingham, back to first at Richmond and Milwaukee. Then you were second at altitude in Utah. Going into the final race it was all Jamie or Melanie and historically that was always "your race". How tough was it to lose the race and the title?
JW: It wasn't tough to loose that race because I was not beat outright. I had a flat tire . . . a mechanical. It happens and there is nothing you can do. I lost the race by six minutes and it took me longer than that to change the flat. What I learned is to change a flat faster. So now I practice and am down to a 2-minute change in the front and 2-and-a-half minute change in the back. I love the Tahoe race and I was happy to get back into the race. The odds of picking up a nail on the Flume are so slim but it does happen to at least one person a year . . .this year God willing, it won't happen!
XT: Did that affect you going into Maui?
JW: It affected me for the better. I was pretty fired up! But as fired up as one can get Maui and the lava rock is pretty unpredictable and unforgiving. I learned a lot last year and won't make the same mistakes this year!
XT: You took a couple of pretty nasty spills, bad enough to force you to withdraw, coming down Haleakala at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui this past October. How have your physical injuries recovered, and what kind of shape are you in mentally?
JW: Crashing at worlds and pulling out of the race was very difficult for me. In 24-years of racing I have only DNF'd 3 times. I am hoping that was the last time. I was grateful Phillip Glen was there to keep me from going. . . if he hadn't been there I would have tried to finish and who knows what could have happened. The injury to my knee was severe but it could have been worse. I was on crutches for a week and had to go through physical therapy for several weeks after that. The good news was that as bad as it was there was no structural damage. My kneecap and all the ligaments were untouched. I was one lucky gal. The hole the lava rock made in my knee went directly between everything.
That said, physically I am pretty much 100%. Training got off to a slow start, so I am a little behind but with a new coach and a new sponsor, mentally I am better than ever. The crash turned out to be the best thing ever. It woke me up and made me realize it was time for change. I am happy to now be coached by Neal Henderson. He has been helping me tremendously.
XT: You are the all-time winningest XTERRA athlete with 32 championship victories. Look into the future and tell us how many you’ll end up winning and what year you’ll win your last one.
JW: I can't answer that because things seem to always change. I have a number in my head nut I am afraid if I say it out loud it will jinx things. Lets just say I am going to race as long as I can pop out a kid or 2 and return to racing. It is what I love to do!
NOBLE HEADED TO SAIPAN:
Aussie pro Andrew Noble – at 41-years-old the elder statesman of XTERRA – is heading to the Northern Mariana Islands to give Olivier Marceau a run for his money at the XTERRA Saipan Championship.
Noble had a remarkable year last season to finish third in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series. He posted seven top 5 finishes (Fifth at the first race in California, third in Alabama, fourth in Richmond, second in Milwaukee, fifth in Utah, fourth at XTERRA UK, and fourth at the XTERRA USA Championship in Nevada).
With the addition of Noble, there are now 17 professional triathletes (10 women and 7 men) representing eight countries registered for the 2007 XTERRA Saipan Championship.
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