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The Dust Settles After Another Brilliant XTERRA World Championship
THIS WEEK: As the dust settles on another brilliant XTERRA World Championship we bring you the XTERRA Hall of Fame (Kerstin Weule) and XTERRA Warrior (Tae Yoong Kim) award winners that were announced on Saturday in Maui before the race. We also learn more about the age-group XTERRA World Champions, hear about some of the good stuff that happened, check out the videos, and see what’s on TV this weekend.
NOVEMBER TRAIL RUNS:
11/4 – XTERRA Oconee Heritage Park 5k/10k Trail Runs (Farmington, GA)
11/24 – XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot (Topanga, CA)
11/25 – XTERRA Oconee Heritage Park Half-Marathon Trail Run (Farmington, GA)
WEULE IS IN THE HALL: When XTERRA celebrated its 10th year back in 2005 they created the XTERRA Hall of Fame and started a tradition at the Night of Champions dinner in Maui by naming Ned Overend as the inaugural member.
Overend, a.k.a. “Deadly Nedly” and “the Lung”, was at the first-ever XTERRA in ’96 and won back-to-back World Title’s at the ripe young ages of 42 & 43. When he was 50 Ned had the 9th fastest bike split in Maui and race commentators respectfully called him “The Old Man of the Mountain.”
Last year triathlon great Scott Tinley – one of the first and most prominent ambassadors of the sport – was given a spot in the Hall and this year the award went to another blond with blue eyes…
(By Kahuna Dave Nicholas) … If you saw her walking down the street near her home in Evergreen, Colorado, you might think, "Oh, there goes another typical tree hugger Coloradan." Her blond hair would probably be in a braid, skin aglow from spending a little too much time in the mountain sun. She'd most definitely be smiling and her blue eyes would have that telltale glint of adventure. You might event think she was a Heidi poser. But you would be wrong…she is a real Heidi and even having retired in 2002, she could still probably stomp you on the course today.
Kerstin Weule, using equally deadly swim, mountain bike and run speed, won more XTERRA races than anyone, until Jamie Whitmore took on the challenge. She won 19 XTERRA titles, including the US. Pro Series in 1999 and 2000, and the 2000 World Championship. But, that's just one of her claims to fame...it has also been reported she can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue.
Born in Braunlage, Germany in 1966, Weule credits much of her athletic ability to her parents. "Growing up, they used to drag me to the running track twice a week where we would perform all kinds of track and field disciplines. Also, the Germans are very well organized in their "Verein," where you don't just practice one main sport, but lots of other ones too. I think all this early activity probably helped me in my coordination and balance."
Her first foray into real competition started with swimming at age 11. Here, a strict German coach engrained in her the values of hard work, doing long distances and athletic "suffering." By 17, swimming wasn't enough, and she ventured into the original multisport, modern pentathlon, for four years. The triathlon bug finally bit her in 1991, and it forever more shaped her life in large ways.
She moved to the United States (and to Colorado) because she loved the climate. In 1994, she was ranked fourth for US short course triathlons and was the runner-up for "Rookie of the Year." In 1996, her involvement in the sport spurred her to become a naturalized American.
Despite being ranked 17th in the world in 1997, the drafting format simply did not gel with what motivated Weule to do triathlons – competing individually and making her body perform at its highest level. She did not want to tow people around on the bike and turn her sport into a running race -- and she nearly quit the sport. It was at about this same time that she discovered XTERRA.
Weule’s name was synonymous with XTERRA for years. She was 5th at Maui in 1997 after a second in Kirkwood and a third at Big Bear. The winning started in 1998 in Louisiana and she won the next two big races. In her career, Kerstin won at almost every U.S. venue where XTERRA traveled too, including races in the UK and Canada.
Her early battles in 97-98 and 99 with Lorraine Barrow and Jody Purcell were wonderful to watch, but during those years she simply could not get it right at Maui. Neither could one of our best men Michael Tobin. The new millennium was the key for both and Kerstin and Tobin stood on the top as World Champions in 2000.
Weule brought much to XTERRA – an open disposition, the ability to share all that she knew at XTERRA University clinics, a great laugh, her cartwheel at the finish line, and blue painted toenails on race day. Kerstin retired from XTERRA racing in 2003 while still able to podium anywhere. Today she is a practicing massage therapist; she skis in the winter, still runs or bikes every day but hasn’t swum in years. Maybe it was that mean German coach many many years ago. She still lives in Colorado with her husband Robert and the greatest dog ever!
For her early contributions and influence on the sport…XTERRA salutes Kerstin Weule as the 2007 inductee into the XTERRA Hall of Fame.
KIM - AN XTERRA WARRIOR: Who is an XTERRA Warrior? XTERRA has awarded this honor on Brian Medrano who showed unbelievable spirit in coming back from a dreaded illness to show the world he was not going to quit. Willie Stewart overcomes disabilities to beat half the darn field and does it with style and a smile. Doc Mills is simply a spirit that had to be rewarded and has helped more injured XTERRA athletes than anyone can count. Nico Pfitzenmaier has traveled the globe chasing XTERRA’s and bringing the message of his kids in Mozambique through his racing.
This years XTERRA Warrior didn’t fit any of those profiles. He is a man known to many in the XTERRA family by his goofy smile and contagious laughter (that along with his cry of “woooooooooooo” when he crosses the finish line at XTERRA events all over the globe).
Korean by birth, but raised in Japan, his Japanese name is "Yasutaka Okabe". But nobody knows him by that name. Traveling overseas after high school, he met people around the world and found them proud of their heritage and cultural identity. He reflected on this when he returned to Japan and he made the decision to use his given Korean name “Tae Yoong Kim”, a courageous act in light of discrimination against Koreans that is still sometimes part of the Japanese experience.
Our 2007 XTERRA Warrior is a man who makes everyone smile in the only language that counts – friendship – The man known as Kim-San.
Kim came to XTERRA via triathlon, mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding, and a love of all kinds of sports. XTERRA, with its mix of disciplines challenged his spirit and he instantly fell in love with it. Kim pops up at XTERRA races around the world – traveling alone and speaking only a little English. But he is quickly embraced by every local XTERRA family (even though we have no idea what he is saying) and as years go by, more and more of the international athletes welcome him. In addition to his bike, he takes his chopsticks with him everywhere he goes – South Africa, Italy, France, Saipan, Maui. He says it saves trees as he uses only one pair…but it also is a great conversation starter.
So is Kim an international playboy – a man of mystery? Not really. We have often wondered what he does for a living – as he spends a lot of time and money traveling the world to race XTERRA.
However what you see is not always what is - Kim is a plumber…and works endlessly when he’s at home so he can take time off to travel and race. XTERRA satisfies his love of a challenge and he has made hundreds of friends around the world.
In recognition of this global traveler – our 2007 XTERRA Warrior award recipient is Kim Wooooooooooooo!
THE AMATEUR CHAMPS: Conrad Stoltz and Julie Dibens grabbed the headlines for winning the pro divisions of the XTERRA World Championship on Sunday, but there were also 22 amateur athletes that won world titles. The U.S. boasted the most champs with 10 (3 California and Colorado, 2 Nevada, and one each from New Mexico and Illinois) while New Zealand, France, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic each had two, and Costa Rica and Morocco had one.
Here’s more on this year’s age group XTERRA World Champions:
15-19 Martin Jiskra (Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic) 3:05:01 – The 19-year-old qualified for Maui by winning his age group at XTERRA Austria and this was just his second-ever XTERRA race. Jiskra came out of the water 114th but moved way up after top 50 times in the bike and run. He was 48th overall and 13th amateur, and his nearest competitor, Carl Jones, finished 8 minutes back.
20-24 Nicolas Fernandez (Pelissannee, France) 3:01:14 – First time in Maui, and just his second-ever XTERRA (he also raced in France this year), Nicolas was 47th out of the water and had the 30th-best bike. “Maui is very beautiful,” he said after the race. He was the 7th overall amateur and finished 13 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor.
25-29 Lars Fricke (Apolda, Germany) 3:00:01 – Fricke, who won his age group at the XTERRA European Championship race in Italy and finished 2nd overall in the Euro Tour standings, edged out Graham Wadsworth from the United Kingdom by 25 seconds to become an XTERRA World Champ. His day started brilliantly as he was the second amateur out of the water (20th overall). Fricke was 4th overall amateur; just three seconds behind former amateur champ Cal Zaryski from Canada.
30-34 Alexander Eiler (Kailua, Hawaii via Austria) 2:57:37 – The 31-year-old former world cup mountain biker from Austria, who moved to Kailua, Oahu four months ago, had the 9th best bike time and was the first amateur across the finish line. He finished 26th overall and ahead of 25 male pros despite coming out of the water in 186th place.
"This was my third triathlon ever and only my second XTERRA race,” said Eiler, who won the XTERRA Mountainman points series race held at Kualoa Ranch back in August. "I was a little bit unsatisfied with my swim, but I'm really satisfied with my bike and my run. The last two miles when I got my cramps and had to jump over all the roots in Spooky Forest – it was really tough for me. Overall XTERRA is a really nice, really fun competition; I'm thrilled to come in as the first amateur."
35-39 Laurent Beuzeboc (Saint Bonnet, France) 2:58:04 – His first-time to Maui and on his honeymoon, Beuzeboc ran like a man determined to get back to his wife at the pool. He had the fastest run of all age groupers (8th best overall) and missed beating Eiler for the overall amateur crown by just 30 seconds.
“Last year I did Ironman in Kona and this year I chose to do XTERRA,” said Beuzeboc. “Next year I will do the XTERRA European Tour, plus Japan, and I will come back to Maui. The hardest part for me was the swim because I’m not a swimmer.” Beuzeboc was 99th out of the water, and one of only three amateurs to break the 3-hour mark (also Eiler and Zaryski, 2:59:58).
40-44 Ulrich Katzer (Anger, Austria) 3:02:02 – For Katzer, the fourth time is a charm. “For two years I was second and last year I was third and this year, I win!”
Winning has been the norm for the 40-year-old this year as he won XTERRA Italy, XTERRA Austria, and the XTERRA European Tour in the 40-44 division.
“It was too hot for me this year, in Austria we had 0 degrees today, but when I win it’s all ok,” said Katzer, who finished nine minutes in front of his nearest competitor in the deepest age group (57 guys) there is. “The XTERRA experience is great – and here in Maui it’s the best experience of all over the world.”
45-49 Tom Lyons (Reno, Nevada) 3:09:01 – There’s been no better age grouper in the world over the last six years than Tom Lyons. As proof, he’s won the last six XTERRA World Titles (joining Wendy Minor as the only amateurs to win 6) and XTERRA USA Championships. He’s also the only 7-time XTERRA Regional Champ.
“Today I felt I earned it because I went really hard, as hard as I could,” said Lyons after the race. “You know we’re here to have a great time and finish that’s what I love about it. It just seems like the whole group of people are just cool because of the way XTERRA has a family atmosphere. To me XTERRA is family, it really is.”
Former 45-49 XTERRA World Champ Casey Fannin finished just over two minutes back in 2nd place.
50-54 Tom Monica (Walnut Creek, CA) 3:25:19 – In this, his third trip to Maui, the 50-year-old finished the swim faster than some of the pros and was in 41st place coming out of the water.
“I didn’t think it was possible to win here, I’m really very, very psyched. I crashed a couple of times on the bike, and my gears weren’t working and the run I just felt awful,” laughed Monica, who also won the XTERRA USA Championship title this year. “I love XTERRA. I used to do road tri’s and ever since I did an XTERRA I haven’t done a road tri since. XTERRA’s are much harder and tougher.”
55-59 James Lewis (Broomfield, CO) 3:45:39 – The 55-year-old from Broomfield had the fastest bike split in his age group and finished 12 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor for his first XTERRA World Championship crown.
60-64 Kent Robison (Reno, NV) 3:43:37 – Just call him a champ. Kent Robison won the XTERRA USA Championship on Sept. 30, the Ironman World Championship on Oct. 13, and the XTERRA World Title on Oct. 28. It’s the 5th time Robison has won in Maui, and he would have won in the 55-59 age group too.
65+ Art Gardenswartz (Albuquerque, NM) 4:27:07 – The 65-year-old finished 40 minutes in front of his nearest competition in just his second-ever XTERRA (he qualified at the XTERRA Mountain Champs in Utah. “I really enjoyed it, it was a good race today. I’m kind of a slow swimmer, so the swim was a little bit of a struggle but other than that it went fine. I took it easy on the bike, took my time and didn’t over do it. Saved it for the run, and had a pretty good run so it feels great. This feels like family, so I’ll have to do another few!”
Physically Challenged Division Fouad “Ed” Fattoumy (Honolulu, HI via Morocco) 3:46:33 – Fattoumy, 42, won the physically challenged division for the third year in a row. The Honolulu resident, originally from Morocco, is an inspiration to all. After surviving a hit and run that among other ailments gives him muscle spasms, chronic fatigue and pain – he is able to compete as a champion. At the awards dinner, he presented his first place medal to Blair Barklow, who devoid of knowing Fattoumy personally, heard of his tale and offered to fund his race fees.
15-19 Monique Avery (Rotorua, New Zealand) 3:56:35 – Not too many 18-year-olds are physically ready to handle this course, but Monique was. She finished 17 minutes in front of last year’s 15-19 champ Valeria Curridori from Italy, and her time was good enough to win the 20-24 division as well. “It’s amazing, the course is really just grueling and really unpredictable. The beginning of the run was the hardest part and you’ve got to be strong mentally just to push through it. I was so relieved to finish. The XTERRA experience is amazing. People are so cool and different and friendly.”
20-24 Erin Beresini (Hermosa Beach, CA) 4:06:11 – The 24-year-old, who qualified for Maui by winning her age group at the XTERRA West Championship in California, edged out the XTERRA USA Champ Sara Hanson by a little more than four minutes.
45-49 Meiling Yee (Sunnyvale, California) 3:54:57 – The long-time XTERRA competitor finally broke through with the biggest win of her career. “I never thought I would win anything like this,” said Yee. “I had a perfect day. It feels awesome. It’s been a really long year. This is my 20th race because I also do mountain bike races. Just being here in Maui has been the best part. I love XTERRA, I’ve done other triathlons, road triathlons, but this is awesome.”
50-54 Beverly Enslow (Metamora, Illinois) 3:56:52 – For the second time in as many months Enslow was able to hold off age-group great Barbara Peterson. Last month it was for the USA Championship, and this time it’s good for her second XTERRA World Title (also won 45-49 division in 2002). “It was a tough victory,” said Enslow, who was racing for the fifth time in Maui. “I haven’t had good runs out here. I’m from the Midwest and I can’t heat acclimate in October back in Illinois so I tend to cramp in the heat. I just keep coming back for the people. Once a year you get to see somebody and you’ve got to come back for that.”
55-59 Cindi Toepel (Littleton, Colorado) 4:24:55 – For the third straight year Cindi Toepel is an XTERRA World Champion. She also won her third USA Title in September. “It feels great, it’s a lot of hard work, but the XTERRA experience is so much fun because you are around all of these other people that enjoy doing the same thing and they’re competitive, but they are also out there to help you.”
A 3-DAY WEEKEND OF GIVING: On Friday of last week 25 XTERRA racers from around the world joined together to pick-up rubbish along a two-mile stretch of the course from Makena Beach to the Maui Prince Hotel. The “Eco Team” collected enough trash to fill several dumpsters and made the parking lots, roadways, and course paths a pleasure to navigate on race weekend.
On Saturday, the XTERRA Makena Beach Trail Runs – with 374 registered runners, raised more than $4,000 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui County.
On Sunday – with race announcers Greg Welch, Kalei Waiwaiole and racer Chris Legh pledging to shave their heads for the cause - the Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon raised $3,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
VIDEOS: A collection of photos and videos from the XTERRA World Championship can be found online at: http://www.xterraplanet.com/worldchampionship/videos.html.
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