Press and Media Center
Oct. 26 - Off-Road Triathlon's Greatest Day
The XTERRA World Championship in Maui was called "the most raucous, rollicking reunion in all the kingdom of multisport" by the editors of Inside Triathlon Magazine after last year's race.
And for good reason. The lure of Maui and this race is undeniable and no economic downturns or slumps in tourism can keep the XTERRA faithful away.
As proof, the race maxed-out months ago with 550 adventurous souls, more than half traveling in from far off countries to enter Sunday's contest between man and Mother Nature.
Last week we took a look at the 75-strong professional field and broke down the pro race (see "Kahuna Dave" predictions here). In this edition we'll talk about the course, the competitors, the Hawaiian Airlines Double, and Fire & Ice awards.
Maui’s XTERRA course is legendary, and conditions change radically from year-to-year, diminishing the advantage to repeat competitors and perpetuating the course's stature as the most intimidating in the series. Hawaii’s natural obstacles are unlike anywhere else on earth and for the 550+ athletes racing in Maui – the XTERRA World Championship is a truly unique experience. The victor will traverse this rugged terrain in roughly two and half hours (although Conrad Stoltz broke the record by almost two minutes when he crossed in 2:22:55 in 2002), with the lead woman approx. 30-minutes behind. Weather forecasts for Sunday call for what could be the mildest temps in recent memory with comfortable tradewind weather in the mid-80's.
The rough water swim is two laps of a 750-meter triangular course, with a 50-yard beach shuffle between laps to get the blood pumping in a totally different direction.
Swim to Bike (T1), and Bike to Run (T2) Transition
Competitors are not permitted to pre-ride the XTERRA World Championship course. For newcomers, it is read and react. For veterans, the experience might allow them to remember portions but more often than not it instills a solid feeling of respect for the Old Lady of XTERRA.
Every year competitors say, “XYZ course is tougher than Maui”. Every year around noon on Championship Sunday, the look – the eyes pointing down and the head shaking side to side – tells you that there is nothing like Haleakala.
Climbing from sea level to 1,200 feet then down and back up to 1,400 feet with a final portion called “the plunge” of 8-kilometers back to sea level, this track has everything. Full of rock strewn paths, gnarly golf ball sized gravel, short steep and long go-forever climbs, hard packed lava, and deep, dusty silt. There’s more than 3,000 total feet of climbing.
Out on the run athletes will find all sorts of sand - white, gold, black, salt and pepper, green or garnet. There’s a lot more climbing involved, a spooky forest to navigate, a dozen different surfaces to cross, and just before the finish line some of Hawaii’s most stunning oceanfront scenery.
There is no accounting for the heat generated by gnarly lava fields, making otherwise simple obstacles extremely difficult to conquer. The “Makena Beach Mile” is a grueling slog along soft sand, but a beautiful end run along the oceanfront golf course helps racers forget it all at the finish. Some construction going on near the 16th hole of the Makena South Course has altered the last half-mile of the run course so competitors will have some treacherous rocky shoreline to navigate right at the end and after pre-running the route this week former world champ Michael Tobin thinks the new section will add a minute or more to everyone's run time.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES DOUBLE
The Hawaiian Airlines “Double” Purse is awarded to the pro man and woman with the fastest combined 2008 XTERRA World Championship and Ironman Hawaii Championship time, a feat reserved for the world’s leading endurance athletes as the two events are held just two weeks apart (in year’s past it’s only been a week in-between races). “The Double” has become a sought-after title by both pro and amateur competitors. Hawaiian Airlines pays $2,500 to both the top man and woman professionals with the fastest times and in addition, will present the amateur winners with round trip tickets for two from the mainland to Maui.
Last year Spain’s Eneko Llanos was seventh at the Ironman World Championship with a time of 8:26:00 and placed 13th in Maui (2:51:17) for a combined 11:17:17. It was his second straight Double crown, and having just finished 2nd in Kona he’s poised to make it three-in-a-row this year. Nicolas Lebrun is Eneko’s closest competitor, nearly an hour back. For the women last year Erika Csomor from Hungary won the double – she was 10th at Ironman in 9:39:47 and 16th in Maui (3:33:03) for a combined 13:12:50. This year it looks like Sibylle Matter is the only pro female doing both events, so she’ll simply have to finish to win. For the amateurs, Graham Wadsworth from the UK and Beate Kleindienst from Germany won the double titles.
THIS YEAR'S DOUBLE COMPETITORS (as of 10.22.08)
Name Division Hometown IM Time
FIRE AND ICE - MAUI & UTAH
Brian Smith jolted past Josiah Middaugh less than 20 meters from the finish line to win the inaugural XTERRA Winter World Championship at Snowbasin Resort in Utah last year. After nearly two hours of grueling racing action that included mountain biking, snowshoeing, running and ski mountaineering in snow flurries at 6,000+ feet elevation, Smith pulled off a jaw-dropping come-from-behind victory by a little more than one-second in 1:58:29.92 (with Middaugh right behind in 1:58:31.21).
In doing so Smith not only won XTERRA’s Winter Worlds, but captured the first-ever Fire and Ice award for having the fastest combined times at the 2007 XTERRA World Championship in Maui (where he was third overall – top American) and XTERRA Winter Worlds in Utah.
Several other XTERRA standouts – including host of current and former national champions – made it clear that their athletic endeavors don’t end with the summer season. In the women’s race adventure racing phenom Sari Anderson won the Winter World Championship, but former XTERRA amateur national champion and mother of two Lisa Isom – who was third at Winter Worlds – won the Fire and Ice duel. Isom edged Emma Garrard, the reigning XTERRA amateur National Champ who was racing as a pro for the first time in the snow, by less than two minutes in the combined times event.
In the amateur Fire and Ice battle Ross McMahan and Caroline Colonna, who each won their XTERRA age group national championship (Ross in ’06 in the 35-39 age group and Caroline last year in the 40-44 division) posting the fastest combined times.
On Sunday the FIRE part of the 2008/09 double will be contested on the south shore of Maui, and on March 8 the ICE returns to Utah.
Just as the international field of athletes stretches out on the shoreline prior to the 9am swim start on Sunday a record number of television cameramen will be positioning themselves all around the course to capture the race action for a one-hour edited sports special to air across the U.S. via national syndication starting in January of 2009.
The TEAM TV crew has more than 30 cameras in operation on race day, including point-of-view cams mounted on motorcycles, mountain bikes and jet skis, under-water cameras, and of course the camera on top of the helicopter hovering high above the action. Be it land, air, or sea, the TEAM TV crew will have it covered. To see when the show will be broadcast in your area, check out the TV section at xterraplanet.com. Copies of the show will also be available for purchase by late January at www.xterragear.com.
Media, friends, family and fans that are not able to attend the World Championship can watch the action unfold in real time on the internet at www.XTERRA.tv. The race coverage, with live streaming video and text updates, will begin just before 9am Hawaii time (12 noon PST, 3pm EST, 9pm in Europe, 5am in Sydney, Australia, 8am in New Zealand, 4pm in Brazil).
PRO PRESS BRIEFING, 10/23
A pro press conference moderated by “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas will be held at the Maui Prince Hotel on Thursday, October 23, at 4:00 p.m. Hawaii time. The TEAM TV crew will film the briefing and edit into a clip for www.XTERRA.tv later that night.
Pros invited include XTERRA World Champions Nicolas Lebrun (2005), Eneko Llanos (2003-04), Conrad Stoltz (2001-02, 2007), Melanie McQuaid (2003, ’05-06), and Julie Dibens (2007), along with challengers Olivier Marceau, Brian Smith, Mike Vine, Shonny Vanlandingham, and Renata Bucher.
PRESS ROOM IN MAUI
Media covering the 2008 XTERRA World Championship can pick-up credentials and prepare for race day in the XTERRA Press Room located in the Ilima Room (#113) at the host hotel, the Maui Prince in Makena. Call Trey Garman at 808-216-8606 for more details.
Race footage in beta format and still photography will be made available to interested media. Please make arrangements in advance by replying to this email with requests.
INSIGHT FROM THE PROS
Last year we gathered four of the sport's leading pro athletes - Conrad Stoltz, Melanie McQuaid, Josiah Middaugh, and Jamie Whitmore - and asked them a series of training, racing, nutrition, and technical questions specific to the XTERRA World Championship. Their collective advice is insightful, colorful, and sometimes hilarious and we've reloaded the videos on XTERRA.tv for you to enjoy.
The XTERRA World Championship is truly a global affair with more than half of all competitors hailing from outside the United States. Here’s a look at the numbers.
Countries Represented: 25
States Represented: 35, Plus the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia.
Most populated competitors base: California (74), Hawaii (60), Colorado (41), Brazil (42), Japan (33), New Zealand (29), Germany (26), France (22), Australia (20), Canada (19), United Kingdom (19), Czech Republic (14), Austria (12).
By Age Group:
Physically Challenged Women: 1
Oldest Man: Manfred Klittich, 71
XTERRA ECO TEAM CLEAN-UP
The XTERRA Eco Team presented by GU has scheduled a litter clean-up event in Maui before the race on Friday, October 24 at 11:00 a.m. The team walk the run course from Makena Beach through Spooky Forest, along black sand beach and back to the Maui Prince Hotel (about a mile) picking up litter along the way. Competitors, friends and family are invited to join the group. Those interested should meet at the lower lobby of the Maui Prince (where athlete registration is) shortly before 11 a.m. and plan on being out for about 1.5 hours. Latex gloves, and trash bags will be provided. RSVP to Barbara Peterson - Barbara@california.com, 510.206.3308
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