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XTERRA World Championship
THIS WEEK: The countdown to Maui is on! The XTERRA World Championship is just 17 days away (Oct. 28) and the 12th annual event promises to be the best yet with a growing international flavor (athletes from 20+ countries) and an incredible pro field that includes Olympic silver medalist Bevan Docherty. The race is the last race in the 100+ event XTERRA Global Tour that traveled to 17 countries around the world, it boasts a $125,000 purse, and will be televised as a one-hour sports special across the U.S.
As the saying goes, "Maui No Ka Oi" - Maui is the best. Below you'll find the Kahuna's pro race preview, the pro start list, this year's XTERRA Global Tour Championship race winners, and the weekend's XTERRA TV schedule.
10/27 - XTERRA Makena Beach Trail Run (Makena, Maui)
10/27 - XTERRA Boney Mountain Trail Run (Los Angeles, CA)
10/28 - XTERRA Parks and People Trail Run (Baltimore, MD)
10/28 - XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Makena, Maui)
THE KAHUNA'S PRO RACE PREVIEW: Nobody on the planet has been to more XTERRA Championship events than the managing director of the XTERRA Global Tour - "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas. Having been to every World Championship race in Maui since creating the sport back in 1996, and having been onsite to see this years races unfold in Saipan, New Zealand, California, Italy, Alabama, Virginia, Denmark, Austria, Germany, UK, and the U.S. - the Kahuna is more than qualified to speculate on who might win it all this year. That doesn't mean he'll get it right, in fact, he's hardly ever right (just 1 for 10 in picking winners over the last five years).
So, with a grain of salt (but with some tasty insight nonetheless) here are the Kahuna's '07 Maui prognostications:
It seems every year gets better. And I have to believe it does. The pro field is superb this year for both men and women; and the age group competitors are faster, stronger and more motivated than ever. So while I am excited, I face a real problem. Whenever I pick a winner it's as big a curse to that athlete as being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. My record is 1 right for the last 5 years. But no matter, here's how I see this fantastic upcoming event shaking out.
The women's field is deep and will bring a great race. Three-time World Champ Melanie McQuaid has not had the season she wanted and she knows this is the BIG one that counts. Jamie Whitmore wrote last year after Maui that she had the "eye of the tiger" for 2007. Who can doubt her speed after winning 4 of 5 in the USA Championship Series? But there is more than the Melanie-Jamie shootout.
Julie Dibens (England) raced against a good women's entry in Saipan and showed well. She stomped the field in the UK just a month ago and is rested and ready. Carina Wasle (Austria) had to work during the early part of the year and when she first appeared in Denmark did not have the spark of past years. But as she trained and raised her level of fitness she improved in Austria and won easily in Germany. This will be her third year in Maui and she says she knows what to expect.
Sibylle Matter has a 2d and a 3d at Maui the past two years and this year she is concentrating only on Maui. No Ironman double. Candy Angle has had an average year and surely wants redemption after last year's bad crash. Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer is a pro mountain biker who has triathlon history and won Denmark over Wasle and Matter. This is her kind of course. And speaking of mountain bikers we have many time mountain bike champ Shonny Vanlandingham and Dara Marks Marino, another NORBA gal, who has been consistently in the top 4 this year. Kiwi Jen Smith has been super fast this season finishing off the year with a stunning second at Tahoe and was 4th last year in her first attempt at Maui. Quiet and easy to overlook, Jen Smith is my dark horse.
You must look for Dibens and Matter to lead early. Julie is unbelievably fast in the water. Last year Matter came out about 2 minutes ahead of McQuaid and Julie is faster. Mel, Jamie, Carina and the others will have to chase these two on the volcano. The question is who will have the patience to stay within their limits and let their power and bike skills do the job?
For the men it seems to be the year of the Caveman. Other than a mechanical in Utah, he has gone undefeated all season starting in April in South Africa and finishing in September at Tahoe. For the US side folks, Seth Wealing has had an up and down season but is always fast, Mike Vine is having a strong year, winning in Brazil, and taking 2nd in the US Pro Series. Josiah Middaugh and Greg Krause love Maui and always have strong finishes there. Andrew Noble has not done well at Maui, but the "ageless wonder" is always at the sharp end of the field.
Olivier Marceau (Swiss) has gotten so close to the brass ring he is the sentimental favorite for sure. Always fast, always gracious, the man has talent and style to burn. While he has concentrated on qualifying for his 3rd Olympics, never look for Oli anywhere but close to the front or in the lead. 2005 Champ Nico Lebrun (France) is potent at Maui and won Austria and the UK to take the European Crown for the second time. The "Professor" knows how to race and how to finish strong. The wild card here is Olympic Silver medalist Bevan Docherty. We will never forget another Kiwi Hamish Carter showing up last year and winning in his first attempt. Bevan is equally skilled but is keeping quiet about his mountain bike skills. Marceau, when he found out Docherty was coming said "bloody Kiwi's". If Oli is concerned, everybody should be concerned.
Those are the clear options for the Global men, but young German Felix Schumann is getting faster every race and was just 9 seconds behind Lebrun in Wales. Ronny Dietz and Nico Pfitzenmaier are strong bikers and Maui demands power on the mountain. Both have been here before. The other Kiwi is Tim Wilding who won down under in the spring and has the talent to surprise. The unknown here must be Cedric Fleureton (France) who is an ITU World Cup winner and also surprised us all in Italy a few years ago beating Marceau. He won the French series this year and is ready to take on the best.
The age group field is equally strong with entries from 20 countries and 40 States fighting for that very precious World Champion jersey.
So now I have to make the choices; it seems to me that Conrad is simply too strong this year with the options of Olivier Marceau and Frenchman Cedric Fleureton. On the women's side it just seems it is Jamie's year and if she paces herself she can catch Dibens and McQuaid for her second title. OK, now you know and we can all laugh at the party Sunday night 28 October. I can't wait.
MAUI PRO START LIST: The professionals competing in Maui are the best-of-the-best in not only the world of XTERRA, but also the mountain biking, triathlon, and adventure racing communities. More than 70 pros, including eight Olympians and former XTERRA World Champions Nicolas Lebrun (2005), Eneko Llanos (2003-04), Conrad Stoltz (2001-02) Michael Tobin (2000), Melanie McQuaid (2003 & 2005-06), Jamie Whitmore (2004), and Candy Angle (2002), will toe the start line on October 28. Below is the tentative start list by race number, determined by their finish position at last year's XTERRA World Championship, then alphabetically. Tentative as of 10.10.07.
1 (2) - Olivier Marceau - 34, Cannes, France (Saipan/Italy)
PATH TO PARADISE: An athletes' journey to Maui is forged in dirt and determination. Their right of passage calls for swimming, mountain biking, and trail running in mystic environments from the Black Forest in Germany to the tropical jungles of Brazil. These XTERRA Global Tour Championship events qualified athletes to race in Maui where they join lucky at-large slot recipients.
Date Race & Location / Men's and Women's Pro & Amateur Winners
2/17 XTERRA Argentina Championship (Cordoba)
M: Oscar Galindez/Nicolas Villavicencio W: Maria Soldedad Omar/Maria Alejandra Vazquez
3/17 XTERRA Saipan Championship (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands)
M: Olivier Marceau/Gary Mandy W: Renata Bucher/Mieko Carey
4/14 XTERRA New Zealand Championship (Rotorua)
M: Tim Wilding/Graham Wadsworth W: Gina Ferguson/ Laura Smith
4/14 XTERRA South Africa Championship (Grabouw, Western Cape)
M: Conrad Stoltz/Tyronne White W: Michelle Lombardi/Alexa Lombard
5/20 XTERRA West Championship (Temecula, CA - USA)
M: Conrad Stoltz/Trevor Glavin W: Melanie McQuaid/Katrin Tobin
5/26 XTERRA Italy^ (European Championship) - Sardinia
M: Olivier Marceau/Lars Fricke W: Eszter Erdelyi/Taryn Laurie
6/10 XTERRA Southeast Championship* (Pelham, AL - USA)
M: Conrad Stoltz/Damian Gonzalez W: Jamie Whitmore/Tina Eakin
6/17 XTERRA East Championship* (Richmond, VA - USA)
M: Conrad Stoltz/Matt Boobar W: Jamie Whitmore/Marion Summerer
8/18 XTERRA Denmark Championship^ (Arhus, Jutland)
M: Ronnie Dietz/Thomas Mortensen W: Eszter Erdelyi/Kaja Polivkova
8/18 XTERRA Mountain Championship* (Ogden, UT - USA)
M: Seth Wealing/Mike Champigny W: Jamie Whitmore/Jill Sorensen
8/25 XTERRA Brazil Championship (Ilhabela)
M: Mike Vine/Joao Carlos de Almeida W: Candy Angle/Aline Ribeiro Silva
8/25 XTERRA Japan Championship (Marunuma)
M: Nico Pfitzenmaier/ Toshiyuki Furuya W: Jamie Whitmore/Shoko Sato
8/25 XTERRA Austria Championship^ (Carinthia)
M: Nicolas Lebrun/Max Renko W: Anna Baylis-Shelderbauer/Martina Wohinz
9/8 XTERRA Germany Championship^ (Titisee)
M: Frank Batelier/Carsten Bresser W: Carina Wasle/Andrea Vellano
9/8 XTERRA Costa Rica Championship (Playa Tambor)
M: Rom Akerson/Orion Akerson W: Viviana Chavarria/Alejandra Gutierrez
9/16 XTERRA UK Championship^ (Neath Valley, Wales)
M: Nicolas Lebrun/Cas VanAardenne W: Julie Dibens/Lisa Lieb
9/30 XTERRA USA Championship* (Incline Village, NV)
M: Conrad Stoltz/Matt Boobar W: Jamie Whitmore/Emma Garrard
*XTERRA America Tour ^XTERRA European Tour
Note: There were also non-championship XTERRA events in the U.S., France, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
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