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Mike Vine, Renata Bucher Win the Inaugural XTERRA Malaysia Championship
Kuantan, Malaysia - Reigning XTERRA USA Champ Mike Vine from Canada edged Scott Thorne from New Zealand and Sam Gardner from England by less than a minute to win the first-ever XTERRA championship race in Southeast Asia on Sunday
“Conditions were near ideal - overcast and a few showers along the way to cool us down to just bearable levels," said Vine. "I led out of the swim and was riding well until a dandy spill launched me over the bars and I slammed hard on my side. No serious damage luckily (we'll see tomorrow when it all seizes up though!) and I carried on. Sam and Scott rode well together making up 2+ minutes and caught me with 12k to go. A bunch of vicious attacks ensued over pavement, beach, and rooty slick jungle, and that carried over to the run which had 2 loops of a big jungle uphill with a beach section and a tour through the zoo. Top notch! This event was a huge success with big backing and major media too. Sold out early with 500 racers. They really nailed it and for a first time event, just totally amazing. We even had The Royal Prince of Panang there who spectated the whole event."
In the womens race Swiss great Renata Bucher finished 10 minutes ahead of runner-up Mieko Carey from Saipan (via Japan). The victory was Bucher's 15th career XTERRA Championship win in her 9th different country.
Photos courtesy XTERRA Malaysia. Top pro finishers and official race report below.
Pl Name Country Time
It was a day of spills and thrills as XTERRA USA 2008 Champion Mike Vine emerged winner of the inaugural South East Asia XTERRA off-road triathlon today at Teluk Chempedak in a closely competed race. Vine clocked in at 2 hours 13 minutes 41 seconds to edge out New Zealander Scott Thorne for the title of the first XTERRA Malaysia champion. Thorne crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of third place winner, Sam Gardner from England who took 2 hours 14 minutes 42 seconds to complete the course which covered 1.5 km swim in the open sea, 30 km mountain bike ride and a 10 km trail run.
In the Women’s category, 5-time XTERRA Saipan champion and XTERRA Europe 2009 winner, Renata Bucher led from start to finish in a time of 2 hours 45 minutes 26 seconds. XTERRA Japan’s participant, 31-year old Mieko Carey was second with a time of 2 hours 55 minutes and 08 seconds, followed by 35-year old Daniella Erni of Switzerland who rounded it up in 3 hours 18 minutes 14 seconds.
For the relay category, which was being held for the first time ever in any XTERRA race, the winner was team Rock Bottom 1. Team Pacesetters Kuantan 2 and Tomago Team 1 were second and third respectively.
The local challenge provided by Malaysian top ironman finishers and triathletes, Shahrom Abdullah and Mohd Hafiz Wong Abdullah were no less interesting. They put up strong competition, giving the professionals a run for their money with Shahrom finishing a very respectable sixth overall. Shahrom’s time was 2 hours 39 minutes 24 seconds. Hafiz’s time of 2 hours 51 minutes 44 seconds was enough to get him 18th overall placing and champion of the age category of 35-39 years old.
The anticipated hot Malaysian weather became a non-issue as the famous Malaysian tropical rain poured. The rain however, transformed the cycling track into a technical one as it became slippery and quite a number of participants tumbled over their bikes.
The gloomy, overhung skies did not deter the gathering of onlookers at the Teluk Chempedak beach for the first XTERRA Malaysia to cheer the 500 participants on. Spectators flocked to the area as early as 6 in the morning just to check out the activities and settings of the beach. The participants and spectators were not just locals; some 40 percent of the competitors were from overseas and they brought their families and friends along, adding to the carnival-like atmosphere at Teluk Chempedak.
The anticipation and adrenaline was so thick in the air that you could have cut it with a knife. The moment the air horn was blown by Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Ibni Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah to signal the start, the first wave of participants in the individual category rushed into the waters which had a surprise visit of jelly fishes due to the temperature change. The relay participants joined them 5 minutes later.
Vine who is from Canada led the pack in the swimming leg as he made it to the first buoy in less than 5 minutes. It was an easy task for the “Vineman” who is ranked second in XTERRA championship. Next out of the water was Taro Shirato who is also the President of XTERRA Japan. The third person out of the water was Scott Thorne of New Zealand who is among the youngest of the international professionals participating at XTERRA Malaysia.
Each participant then rushed to the mountain bike racks with a quick burst of adrenaline to change and also put on their biking gear as fast as possible. They could have taken their time but the biking leg gives the chance to the faster participants to distance themselves from the slower participants. And if done without a glitch, this would easily ensure them a higher ranking on the leader board.
However, Vine lost time in the mountain biking track as he hit a pothole and took a tumble. Thorne and Gardner caught up quickly and the race was neck to neck from there till the finish line.
With Thorne and Gardner nipping at his heels, Vine gave it all he had during the run and it was not till the final home stretch, sprinting down from the hill that Vine thought he had a shot at Malaysian glory.
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